Saturday, 10 September 2016

Rockin' With Ricky

Ricky Nelson - Rockin' With Ricky
ACE Records CH85

Side A
Mighty Good
Milkcow Blues
If You Can't Rock Me
Be-Bop Baby
There's Good Rockin' Tonight
It's Late
Waitin' In School

Side B
Shirley Lee
There Goes My Baby
Boppin' The Blues
I Got A Feeling
My Babe
Stood Up
Down The Line

For many, Ricky Nelson is considered part of the clean cut wave of manufactured 'Bobbies' that flooded the charts after Elvis got drafted, teen idols produced by record companies desperate to regain control from the rock 'n' roll phenomenon. I first heard them called 'Bobbies' by Jerry Lee Lewis and the name fits as most of them were called Bobby. But to lump Ricky Nelson in with them is doing him a serious disservice. Despite the fact that he was a radio, TV and film star who had a very clean cut image and was very photogenic he could rock 'n' roll with the best of them, as this album proves.

The fourteen tracks on this LP were recorded for Imperial Records between 1957 and 1960 and showcase Ricky's rock 'n' roll and rockabilly credentials. Any of them stand comparison with any of the acknowledged greats of the time. Every track on this album is great, six of them made it into the Billboard top 40 and three of them into the UK top 40. Most of the tracks are cover versions but they all stand up to the originals and sometimes surpass them. For instance compare Ricky's 'Milkcow Blues' with Elvis' (not the original, I know, but most likely the version covered), personally I'm not sure who did it better. Ricky's version is a prime slab of rockabilly, recorded in 1960 when most rockabilly/rock 'n' roll artists had moved into country or pop. That's not to say that Ricky was not a pop singer, he was, and a lot of the good stuff was hidden away on the B-sides of pop singles, which is the case for 'Milkcow Blues', but name me one Elvis single from 1960, A or B-side, that rocked as much.

The guitarist on all theses tracks is a young James Burton, just starting out on his career. The "Master of the Telecaster" would go on to play with just about everybody in country and rock 'n' roll, most famously he led Elvis' TCB Band in Vegas. He's currently touring but it seems that he's mostly doing the Elvis Vegas stuff rather than anything on this album. Still worth going to see though, I would if I was well enough, he's playing locally.

I was given this album for my seventeenth birthday, almost thirty(!) years ago, and it's always been a favourite. I could easily pick any of the tracks on this album to share with you but I've gone for 'Milkcow Blues' because it's fantastic and I've spent half of this post banging on about, his amazing version of Little Walter's 'My Babe' and one of his biggest hits 'Stood Up'. I hope that if you consider Ricky a 'Bobby' these tracks will change your mind. Play loud............

(To compare with Elvis, click here)

Monday, 11 July 2016


You may have noticed a lack of blog posts over the past couple of weeks, this does not mean there won't be any more. Unfortunately I've not been doing too well recently and have not been able to post anything. Think of this as a (hopefully) brief intermission, as soon as the pain subsides enough and I can see and think a bit clearer, I'll start posting again. In the mean time please enjoy any of my previous posts that you may not have read. There will be more......

Monday, 27 June 2016

Work Song

Nat Adderley - Work Song
Originally Released By RIVERSIDE Records in 1960

01 - Work Song
02 - Pretty Memory
03 - I've Got A Crush On You
04 - Mean To Me
05 - Fallout
06 - Sack Of Woe
07 - My Heart Stood Still
08 - Violets For Furs
09 - Scrambled Eggs

Nat Adderley - Cornet
Wes Montgomery - Guitar
Bobby Timmons - Piano
Sam Jones - Bass, Cello
Keter Betts - Bass, Cello
Percy Heath - Bass
Louis Hayes - Drums

Nat Adderley's career is often overshadowed by his brother Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley whose side man he was for many years. But the cornet player made many fine albums of his own and this, in my opinion, is his finest. Recorded in January 1960 this hard bop album is a classic with a very distinctive sound. On many of the tracks a pizzicato cello is to the fore along with the cornet creating a sound that I've certainly never come across before or since (if there are others, let me know I need to hear them).

As well as a distinctive sound the album contains the first outings of two tracks that would go on to be jazz standards, 'Work Song' and ''Sack Of Woe'. 'Work Song', written by Nat, has been covered by an incredible amount of artists including Cannonball Adderley and lyrics were added by Oscar Brown Jr. (posts on him to come) later in 1960. Nat has described 'Work Song' as his retirement song. 'Sack Of Woe' or 'Sack O' Woe' was written by Cannonball Adderley and again has been covered by numerous artists and not just in the jazz field but soul and rock too. Lyrics were added in 1963 by master vocalist Jon Hendricks (posts on him to come). The rest of the tracks on the album are a mix of uptempo numbers and ballads that really work well together and stand many, many listens, a true classic.

Here are my favourite tracks from the album; 'Work Song', 'Mean To Me' featuring some amazing guitar work by Wes Montgomery and 'Sack Of Woe', and if that's not enough (and it shouldn't be) the whole album can be heard here on Spotify. Enjoy......

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Muddy Waters EP

Muddy Waters - Muddy Waters EP

Side A
You Shook Me
Little Brown Bird

Side B
You Need Love
Muddy Waters Twist

This is a very influential EP. Recorded in 1962 and released in the UK in 1963 it features two tracks that would go on to shape rock music for generations to come. With the exception of 'Muddy Waters Twist', Muddy's voice was overdubbed on to instrumental tracks already recorded by Earl Hooker. The A-side contains two slow blues numbers while the B-side contains two upbeat numbers. It is the first track on each side that are the influential and most covered ones. Both of these songs were written by the bass player/producer/songwriter genius Willie Dixon.

'You Shook Me' was famously covered by both Led Zeppelin and the Jeff Beck Group. Jeff Beck recorded it in 1968 for the 'Truth' album and Led Zeppelin recorded it for their debut album in 1969. Both versions are very similar and have lead to accusations that Led Zeppelin 'stole' the idea from Jeff Beck. No one seems to worry about the similarity to the original though!

It is 'You Need Love' that is the most famous track here though. It was covered by the Small Faces on their debut album for Decca in 1966 as 'You Need Loving' and was (and still is!) credited to Marriott/Lane no mention of Willie Dixon at all. Then in 1969 Led Zeppelin recorded it as 'Whole Lotta Love', again with no mention of Willie Dixon in the credits. Admittedly the music on both covers, especially Zeppelin's, is quite different to Muddy's original but the lyrics aren't. Subsequently, in 1985, Led Zeppelin have settled out of court with Willie Dixon and he now appears in the credits. So far the Small Faces seem to have got away with it.

Here's all the tracks of the EP in their original running order. If they inspire you to 'borrow' them to create a rock anthem don't forget to give credit to the original authors......

Time Has Come Today!

The Chambers Brothers - The Time Has Come
COLUMBIA Records - CL 2722 - 1967

Side A
All Strung Out Over You
People Get Ready
I Can't Stand It
Romeo And Juliet
In The Midnight Hour
So Tired

Side B
Please Don't Leave Me
What The World Needs Now Is Love
Time Has Come Today

By 1967 when the Chambers Brothers recorded this, their third album, they had been performing together for twelve years. Up until this point their music was mostly gospel based and they enjoyed a lot of popularity on the folk circuit and had recorded two albums for Vault Records (blog post to come). However, when they signed to Columbia their music shifted away from the folk scene to land smack in the middle of the burgeoning psychedelic scene of the 'Summer Of Love'.

The album is a fantastic mix of soul and psychedelic rock with covers of soul and pop hits as well as their own tunes. Storming soul tracks, such as 'All Strung Out Over You', 'The Midnight Hour' and 'I Can't Stand It' are interspersed with tracks that hark back to their gospel roots, including a beautiful version of 'People Get Ready'. But it is the last track on the album, the epic 'Time Has Come Today', that this album is most remembered for. At just over 11 minutes long this psychedelic opus has everything you could possibly want in a psychedelic record. The alternate striking of cowbells creates a tick-tock effect running through the whole track, with the edition of phasing, distortion, echo, fuzz guitars, screaming, manic laughing and a widely varying tempo it's quite disconcerting. There's even a few bars of 'Little Drummer Boy' in there. There are few records more psychedelic.

'The Time Has Come' is much more than just a vehicle for 'Time Has Come Today' though, it works very well as an album and stands many, many listens. It remains one of my all time favourites. So marvel at the beauty of 'People Get Ready', groove to 'I Can't Stand It' then prepare to have your soul psychedelicised by 'Time Has Come Today'........

Monday, 20 June 2016

Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party

Covers on all 5 LPs almost identical

Various Artists - Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party Vol.1
WINS Records 1010

Side A
Pretzel - The Alan Freed Band
Maybelline - Chuck Berry
Out Of The Picture - The Robins
Why Do Fools Fall In Love - Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
Your Promise To Be Mine - The Drifters
Tear It Up - The Johnny Burnette Trio
Whistle My Love - The Moonglows

Side B
We Go Together - The Moonglows
Cherry Lips - The Robins
Please Be Mine - Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
I Love Paris - The Robins
Oh Baby Babe - The Johnny Burnette Trio
Ruby Baby - The Drifters
Roll Over Beethoven - Chuck Berry

Various Artists - Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party Vol.2
WINS Records 1011

Side A
Push It - The Alan Freed Band
A Kiss From Your Lips - The Flamingos
She Loves To Dance - The Flairs
Candy - Big Maybelle
Money Honey - Clyde McPhatter
Lilly Maebelle - The Valentines
Hound Dog - Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps

Side B
Be Bop A Lula - Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps
The Woo Woo Train - The Valentines
Treasure Of Love - Clyde McPhatter
Cry Baby - The Bonnie Sisters
In Self Defence - The Flairs
Ring Dilly Dilly - Big Maybelle
The Vow - The Flamingos

Various Artists - Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party Vol.3
WINS Records 1012

Side A
Teen Rock - The Alan Freed Band
Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley & The Comets
Can't We Be Sweethearts - The Cleftones
Soldier Boy - The Four Fellows
Roll With Me Henry - Etta James
Why Did I Fall In Love? - The Jacks
(You've Got) The Magic Touch - The Platters

Side B
My Prayer - The Platters
Teenage Prayer - Gloria Mann
Little Girl Of Mine - The Cleftones
Why Don't You Write Me - The Jacks
I Sit In My Window - The Four Fellows
Crazy Feeling - Etta James
Hot Dog Buddy Buddy - Bill Haley & The Comets

Various Artists - Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party Vol.4
WINS Records 1013

Side A
Flag Waver - The Alan Freed Band
I Promise To Remember - Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
Ivory Tower - Otis Williams & The Charms
What's Your Name - Chuck Willis
The Verdict - The Five Keys
Love, Love, Love - The Clovers

Side B
Tweedle Dee - Lavern Baker
Foolishly/Runaround - The Three Chuckles
Why Do Fools Fall In Love - Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
It's Too Late - Chuck Willis
She's The Most - The Five Keys
Your Tender Lips - The Clovers
One Night Only - Otis Williams & The Charms

Various Artists - Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party Vol.5
WINS Records 1014

Side A
Let's Face It - The Alan Freed Band
Earth Angel - The Penguins
See Saw - The Moonglows
Rip It Up - Bill Haley & The Comets
I Almost Lost My Mind - Ivory Joe Hunter
I'll Be True - Faye Adams
Woe Is Me - The Cadillacs

Side B
Speedo - The Cadillacs
Ice - The Penguins
You Mean Everything To Me - Ivory Joe Hunter
Rock, Rock, Rock - Jimmy Cavello & The House Rockers
When I'm With You - The Moonglows
Shake A Hand - Faye Adams
Saints Rock & Roll - Bill Haley & The Comets

The disc jockey Alan Freed is often credited for coining the phrase "rock & roll", he didn't. The phrase had been around for a long time as a euphemism for sex, particularly in the African-American community. He was, probably, the first to use it to describe a genre of music though, and it was through the popularity of his radio shows, TV Shows and 'in person' concert package tours that made it stick. His shows championed R&B, doo-wop, rockabilly and rock 'n' roll regardless of colour and race, which was ground breaking and controversial. He did a lot to promote the music of black acts to white audiences and was therefore very influential in the development of rock 'n' roll and the breaking down of racial barriers. This should be remembered over the payola scandals that ruined his career, the fact that he made money out of it through back-handers etc. is irrelevant, what he helped achieve is not.

These five records are taken from his 'Rock n' Roll Dance Party' radio shows aired during his time at WINS in New York in the mid to late 1950's. They feature the cream of R&B, doo-wop and rock 'n' roll artists performing live backed by the Alan Freed Band (featuring saxophonists Sam 'The Man' Taylor and Big Al Sears). Each one sounds like it's a complete show (and probably is) with all of Alan Freed's introductions included and a very excited audience. They are a real slice of history and an absolute joy to listen to. If you ever see them I strongly advise you to buy them, you won't regret it.

Here's just a small sample of the greatness of Alan Freed's Rock 'n Roll Dance Party (there's lots more to find on YouTube). Play loud.......

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Arthur Alexander - The Greatest

Arthur Alexander - The Greatest
Ace Records - CDCHD 922 - 1989

01 - Anna
02 - You're The Reason
03 - Soldier Of Love
04 - I Hang My Head And Cry
05 - You Don't Care
06 - Dream Girl
07 - Call Me Lonesome
08 - After You
09 - Where Have You Been
10 - A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues
11 - Don't You Know It
12 - You Better Move On
13 - All I Need Is You
14 - Detroit City
15 - Keep Her Guessing
16 - Go Home Girl
17 - In The Middle Of It All
18 - Whole Lot Of Trouble
19 - Without A Song
20 - I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
21 - Black Night

Arthur Alexander is quite rightly seen as a pioneer of the country-soul sound. In 1961 he recorded 'You Better Move On/A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues' at a fledgling Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Producer Rick Hall was convinced he had a hit and shopped it around to the major record companies in Nashville but none were interested. So he played it for influential DJ Noel Ball, who was a scout for Dot Records. He agreed with Hall's conviction and sent a copy to Dot's president Randy Wood, who gave it the go ahead. By early 1962 'You Better Move On/A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues' was heading up the Billboard charts, peaking at 24 after Arthur appeared on American Bandstand. This started a run of highly influential (if not overly successful) singles and albums for Arthur on Dot throughout the early sixties.

This CD contains the best of the recordings made by Arthur during his time at Dot Records, 1961 to 1965. The music is a glorious mix of R&B, country, early soul and pop which may explain why he didn't have great success. The American music industry was still very segregated at the time and music that had crossed divisions tended to fall down the cracks. This was not the case in the UK, most of the singles were released on the London label in the UK, but the market was limited. However, many that did buy the singles were in bands themselves and Arthur's songs became staples of the beat groups. Most famously 'You Better Move On' was covered by the Rolling Stones, 'Anna' by the Beatles and 'A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues' by Johnny Kidd & The Pirates.

Incidently, Rick Hall had a 2% lease deal on the master of 'You Better Move On/A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues'. This amounted to $10,000 which was enough to begin construction of a new Fame Studios where he would record two dozen million selling singles including Aretha Franklin's first major hit 'I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)'.

Here for your listening pleasure is Arthur singing 'You Better Move On', 'Anna' and 'Soldier Of Love'. Enjoy, you'll hear nothing better all day................

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Boss Soul

Various Artists - Boss Soul: The Genius Of Barry White

01 - I Don't Need It - Barry White
02 - A Man Ain't Nothin' - Barry White
03 - I Got Love - Viola Wills
04 - Lost Without The Love Of My Guy - Viola Wills
05 - This Thing Called Love - Johnny Wyatt
06 - To Whom It May Concern - Johnny Wyatt
07 - Together Forever - Viola Wills
08 - Don't Kiss Me Hello - Viola Wills
09 - It May Be Winter Outside - Felice Taylor
10 - Everybody's Going Mod - Johnny Wyatt
11 - I Feel Love Coming On - Felice Taylor
12 - You're Out Of My Mind - Viola Wills
13 - Under The Influence Of Love - Felice Taylor
14 - All In The Run Of The Day - Barry White
15 - Don't Take Your Love From Me - Barry White
16 - Love Theme - Barry White

Before Barry White became disco's 'Walrus of Love' he had a varied career. He played piano on Jesse Belvin's 'Goodnight My Love' at age 11 and sang with various vocal groups in the Los Angeles area. He also had a career outside of the law and was jailed for four months at age 16 for stealing $30,000 worth of Cadillac tyres. In 1966 he was hired by Bob Keane of Del-Fi Records as a songwriter/producer/artist for his Bronco, Mustang and Downey subsidiaries, for the princely sum of $40 a week. This album collects the best of his work for Del-Fi and all the songs are written by him. As an artist he released singles under his own name and the name Lee Barry. His first big success was with Viola Wills's 'Lost Without The Love Of My Guy/I Got Love' which got into the R&B Top 20 and pushed his wages up to $60 a week. But it was another female singer that Barry had the most success with, Felice Taylor. Her popularity, particularly in Britain, reputedly caused Barry's wages to rise to $600 a week.

Del-Fi ceased trading in 1967 and Barry went on to bigger things, but many of the singles that Barry had a hand in for Del-Fi are now soul and northern soul classics. Here's three of my favourites; Lee Barry 'I Don't Need It', Viola Wills 'I Got Love' and Felice Taylor performing 'I Feel Love Coming On' on Germany's Beat Club.....

Friday, 10 June 2016

Flash Lightnin' / Bad Boogie

(Covers of both albums almost identical)
Lightnin' Hopkins - Volume One: Flash Lightnin'
DIVING DUCK Records - DD 4307

Side A
I Love You Baby
Shine On Moon
Lightnin's Boogie (Boogie Woogie Dance)
Lonesome In Your Home
Remember Me
Sittin' Down Thinkin'
Lightnin' Special (Flash Lightnin')

Side B
Please Don't Go Baby
Don't Think Cause You're Pretty (Blues Is A Mighty Bad Feeling)
Life I Used To Live (Gonna Change My Ways)
Grandma's Boogie (Lightnin's Stomp)
My Baby's Gone
Early Mornin' Boogie (Hear Me Talkin')

Lightnin' Hopkins - Volume Two: Bad Boogie
DIVING DUCK Records - DD 4308

Side A
Sick Feeling Blues (I'm Achin')
Movin' Out Boogie (Let's Move)
Hopkins Sky Hop
Evil Hearted Woman
Don't Need No Job
Blues For My Cookie
Had A Gal Named Sal

Side B
They Wonder Who I Am
Nothin' But The Blues
That's All Right Baby - (Ruth Ames vocal)
Finally Met My Baby - (Ruth Ames vocal)
My Little Kewpie Doll (Bad Boogie)
Lightnin' Don't Feel Well (Wonder What Is Wrong With Me)

These two LP's collect together all of Texan blues guitarist, Lightnin' Hopkins's thirteen singles released on Herald Records in 1954. Recorded in Texas, in April of that year with Donald Cooks on bass, Sam Turner on drums and Ruth Ames singing on two tracks, these are some of his best recordings. From the low down country blues of 'Sittin' Down Thinkin' and 'Life I Used To Live' to the upbeat boogie of 'Movin' Out Boogie' and 'My Little Kewpie Doll' this is Lightnin' Hopkins at his most powerful and electric.

Around this time a rift occurred between Lightnin' and Muddy Waters. Lightnin' saw Muddy as a modernist who would cause the blues to decay, and Muddy saw Lightnin' as a traditionalist firmly rooted in the country blues of the old guard. Despite many of the recordings for Herald being upbeat, electric and modern the record buying public seemed to side with Muddy. None of Lightnin's Herald singles troubled the Billboard charts, whereas Muddy was headed for stardom. Lightnin' did enjoy considerable local success though, and let's face it local success in somewhere the size of Texas is nothing to be sneezed at. International success and recognition were only a few years away with the folk blues boom in the sixties.

Here are my two favourite tracks from the Herald sessions, 'Movin' Out Boogie' and 'My Little Kewpie Doll'. These are the two tracks that made me buy these albums, they were (and probably still are) very popular at rock 'n' roll club nights and sound amazing coming out of a big sound system. Play loud.....

Monday, 6 June 2016

The Rolling Drunks

The Rolling Drunks - Rolling Drunks

Side A
Snake Woman Walk
Hot And Sticky
Don't Tell Your Pa
Hot Fruit Baby
Hot Hot And Ready For Love
Rollin' And A Tumblin'
Messing With The Kid
Midnight Rambler (Live)

Side B

In the late 80's and early 90's The Rolling Drunks were legendary in the Bournemouth & Poole area, filling venues to capacity and beyond. Their brand of high octane blues and R&B never failed to win audiences over. In fact they were so popular that if you didn't arrive early to gigs, you often couldn't get in. I remember arriving a bit late for a gig at The Winston Churchill in Wimborne and not being able to park within walking distance of the place! Recently they have reformed and play occasional gigs around the area. Unfortunately, I missed their come back gig in 2013 and then got ill soon after so I haven't been able to see them this time round, but if they come to a town near you go and see them you won't regret it.

This cassette I bought at one of their gigs (Mr.C's I think) around 1989 or 90 and I've played it to death. I'm surprised it still works considering it lived in my car for years, but it does and it's still great. Seven of the eight tracks are studio versions of their songs they played live at the time, you can hear six of them here along with a bonus one from somewhere else.

Check out their Facebook page here for more info, videos and upcoming gigs. But meanwhile, here's a reminder of (or an introduction to) how good they were live as they perform 'Midnight Rambler' at The Malt & Hops, Bournemouth Christmas 1989 ..... (unfortunately, the video doesn't work on iPads etc, if you want to see it look on a PC, sorry).....

Get Smarter

Various Artists - Get Smarter - GUMBUBBLE 001 - 2002

Side A
Isbergues 2AM - Tony & The Mulestation - France - LISTEN
Freakout! - Les Merseys - Canada - LISTEN
Le Winston - The Nilsmen - Sweden - LISTEN
Baseline - The Beatstalkers - UK - LISTEN
I Was A Persian Fly - Jerry Allen - UK - LISTEN
Slightly - Slam Creepers - Sweden
Selppin' - David - UK - LISTEN
What D'I Say - The V-Rangers - Australia
Here Comes The Boot - The Johnny Harris Orchestra - UK - LISTEN

Side B
Underworld - The Reg Guest Syndicate - UK - LISTEN
Black Olives - The Bad Boys - US - LISTEN
Night Rider - The John Schroder Orchestra - UK
Arcipelago - The Underground Set - UK - LISTEN
Come On Back - The Wild Ones - US
Sweet Bacon - Julian Covey & The Machine - UK - LISTEN
Pepsi - The Mohawks - UK - LISTEN
Watermelon Man - The Artie Scott Orchestra - UK - LISTEN
Pinball - The Van Doren Hawksworth Collection - UK - LISTEN

One of the great things about being a dealer at record fairs (apart from coming home with more albums than you took with you), was that occasionally someone would sidle up to the stall and ask "are you interested in this record I made?". This album in one of those records, 'Get Smarter', a collection of groovy 1960's instrumentals from around the world. Every track on this album is great, so I've put a link next to all the tracks I could find on YouTube, I couldn't choose just a couple. Expect fuzz guitars, groovy organs and bongos aplenty, each track upbeat and dance floor friendly. Guaranteed to get the stubbornest of feet tapping.

Needless to say I bought a few copies and am glad that I kept one as they sold out very quickly. The guy who put it together said he had plans to do a series of them all with titles based on Michael Caine movies (Get Smarter = Get Carter), the next one was going to be called the 'Hipcress Files'. Alas it was not to be, and as far as I know this was the only release on Gumbubble Records.

Saturday, 4 June 2016


The Parliaments - Testify!: The Best Of The Early Years

01 - (I Wanna) Testify
02 - I Can Feel The Ice Melting
03 - All Your Goodies Are Gone
04 - Don't Be Sore At Me
05 - Little Man
06 - The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg
07 - Look At What I Almost Missed
08 - What You Been Growing
09 - Good Old Music
10 - Time
11 - A New Day Begins
12 - I'll Wait
13 - I'll Wait (inst.)
14 - All Your Goodies Are Gone (inst.)
15 - Baby I Owe You Something (inst.)
16 - Lets Make It Last - The Fellows
17 - She's Always There - The Fellows
18 - Heart Trouble
19 - That Was My Girl

The roots of George Clinton's Parliaments stretch back to the mid 1950's and a barber shop in New Jersey, where a group of teenagers formed a doo-wop group named after Parliament cigarettes. As a doo-wop group they released 'Poor Willie/Party Boys' on Apt Records in 1958 and 'Lonely Island/You Make Me Wanna Cry' on Flipp Records in 1960, without much success. In 1962 George got a job as a songwriter and producer for Motown in their New York office. Obviously George pitched The Parliaments to Motown, but a 1964 session in Detroit was rejected. That same year George teamed up with two other Motown employees, Sidney Barnes and Andrew 'Mike' Terry to form GEO-SI-MIK Productions. They sold their services to the newly formed Golden World/Ric-Tic/Wingate record labels of Detroit. As well as production and song writing duties, this resulted in a single for The Parliaments. 'Heart Trouble/That Was My Girl' was released in 1965 on Golden World and is included on this CD, although it says the tracks are demo versions I can't tell the difference. For me 'Heart Trouble' was the first Parliaments track I heard and is one of my all time favourite soul songs.

In 1966 GEO-SI-MIK began working for Revilot/Solid Hit Records, also in Detroit. While contributing to many numbers on this label, George and the latest version of The Parliaments recorded '(I Wanna) Testify/I Can Feel The Ice Melting' in 1966. This single spent so long on the shelf before it's release in 1967, that George went back to barbering in Newark for a while. When it was finally released it was a hit, reaching No.3 in the R&B charts. The band rushed back to Detroit and recorded the rest of The Parliaments tracks on this CD, allegedly in one mammoth session. The Parliaments released a total of six singles on Revilot between 1967 and 1969, none doing quite as well as '(I Wanna) Testify' but all great (in my opinion). The instrumental tracks were used as B-sides for other artists on Revilot/Solid Hit and the two tracks by The Fellows were recorded by a Temptations sounding group produced by George.

Unfortunately George got caught in a contractual dispute surrounding the bankruptcy of Revilot/Solid Hit and was no longer able to use the name The Parliaments. In order to keep recording for other labels George renamed the band Funkadelic and headed off in a whole other direction. But that's another story for another day, in the mean time enjoy some top notch vocal group soul from The Parliaments....

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Following by email....


It's come to my attention that following this blog by email isn't all it should be. The email shows the whole of each post but none of the links or videos work. To fully enjoy this blog you really need to see the videos and listen to the music. Just in case you didn't know, if you click on the title of the post in the email it will take you into the blog where everything should be fully functional. I've put a note above the 'Follow by email' link so hopefully it will be clear to future followers. Also, there is only one email a day and sometimes I publish more than one post in a day. Make sure you go all the way to the bottom of the email so that you don't miss anything.

I've also just added a 'Follow on Twitter' link. I always tweet when I publish a post so if you can't wait for the email, follow this way. Let me know through the comments section if there are better ways to follow, or if you want to chat. I'm always up for a chat about music.

Stritch Manzello

Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley - CHESS Records - GCH 8026
Originally released 1958

Side A
Bo Diddley
I'm A Man
Bring It To Jerome
Before You Accuse Me
Hey! Bo Diddley
Dearest Darling

Side B
Hush Your Mouth
Say Boss Man
Diddley Daddy
Diddy Wah Diddy
Who Do You Love
Pretty Thing

Where would we be without Bo Diddley, it hardly bears thinking about. There are very few bands that do not owe a direct or indirect debt to him. Along with Chuck Berry his music influenced a generation of beat groups and British R&B groups who in turn influenced US garage bands, who all went on to influence psychedelia and rock in all its many forms on both sides of the Atlantic. It's safe to say the musical landscape of the last 60 years would have been very different without the 'Bo Diddley Beat'.

Bo signed to Chess in 1955 and his first release 'Bo Diddley/I'm A Man' was an instant success reaching No.1 in the US R&B charts. His third single 'Pretty Thing/Bring It To Jerome' was also released in the UK in 1963 and got to No.34 in the charts, giving a certain bunch of long haired musicians from London a name for their new band. This is Bo's first album, released by Chess Records in 1958 and is made up entirely from the A and B sides of singles released between 1955 and 1958. There's not a bad track on it, it's all top notch R&B and should live in everyone's record collection. If you don't already have it, get yourself to your nearest record dealer and buy a copy, it's essential listening!

Here are my two favourite tracks from the album, 'Dearest Darling' and 'Who Do You Love' and a live version of 'Bo Diddley' performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1955......

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Collector's Guide To Rare British Birds

The Birds - The Collector's Guide To Rare British Birds
DERAM Records - 564 139-2

01 - You're On My Mind
02 - You Don't Love Me (You Don't Care)
03 - Leaving Here
04 - Next In Line
05 - No Good Without You Baby
06 - How Can It Be
07 - You're On My Mind (demo)
08 - You Don't Love Me (demo)
09 - Say Those Magic Words (previously unissued stereo mix)
10 - Daddy Daddy (previously unissued stereo mix)
11 - Run Run Run (previously unissued)
12 - Good Times (previously unissued)
13 - Say Those Magic Words (early backing track)
14 - Daddy Daddy (previously unissued)
15 - La Poupe Qui Fait Non (previously unissued)
16 - Run Run Run (previously unissued)
17 - Daddy Daddy (early backing track)
18 - Granny Rides Again (previously unissued)
19 - That's All I Need (from the film 'The Deadly Bees') (hidden track)

This group of West Londoners originally formed as the Thunderbirds in 1964, but had to change their name after Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds had chart success. Renamed the Birds they started developing a hard edged British R&B sound, driven by Ronnie Wood's guitar, that would later be called freakbeat. They gathered quite a following, winning talent contests and playing at their own venue 'The Nest' at Yiewsley & West Drayton community centre. In order to play gigs further afield they bought a van which they painted 'The Birds' on the sides and back and famously cut a hole in the floor so that they wouldn't have to make toilet stops between gigs.

They recorded three singles for Decca 'You're On My Mind/You Don't Love Me (You Don't Care)', 'Leaving Here/Next In Line' and 'No Good Without You Baby/How Can It Be' between 1964 and 1965. Their, and in my opinion the best, version of Eddie Holland's 'Leaving Here' got to No. 45 in the charts. Sadly this would be the only chart action they would see. During this time they issued several writs against the American band The Byrds when they came to the UK on their first tour, saying they had no right to the name. Although the Birds had been around longer the Byrds had bigger backers, so both bands kept their names.

In December 1965 they signed to Reaction Records and briefly changed their name to Birds Birds for their next, and last, single 'Say Those Magic Words/Daddy Daddy'. Despite the lack of singles they toured extensively throughout the UK and Scandinavia in 1966. They even had a cameo in a very low budget British horror flick, 'The Deadly Bees'. In the film they can be seen playing 'That's All I Need' in a TV studio. Despite their big screen d├ębut, the lack of singles and punishing tour schedule caused the band's morale to drop and in 1967 they called it a day. Ronnie Wood, by far the most famous member, went on to be in the Jeff Beck Group, the Creation, the Faces and the Rolling Stones. Bass player Kim Gardner would also go on to be in the Creation and then to Ashton, Gardner & Dyke.

This CD contains everything they recorded; all four singles, a host of unissued material and in one of those annoying 'hidden' tracks their cameo in 'The Deadly Bees'. It's a fine testament to one of the greatest British R&B bands of the 1960's. Here's the Birds' definitive version of 'Leaving Here', their last single 'Say Those Magic Words' and their cameo in 'The Deadly Bees'. Play loud.......

Stormy Weather

Various Artists - Stormy Weather

01 - Main Title / Stormy Weather Ballet
02 - Walkin' The Dog
03 - There's No Two Ways About Love - Lena Horne
04 - Cakewalk / Camptown Races / At A Georgia Meeting
05 - Linda Brown - The Tramp Band
06 - Moppin' And Boppin' - Fats Waller
07 - That Ain't Right - Fats Waller And Ada Brown
08 - Ain't Misbehavin' - Fats Waller
09 - Diga Diga Doo - Lena Horne
10 - I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City - Mae Johnson
11 - Nobody's Sweetheart
12 - I Can't Give You Anything But Love - Lena Horne And Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson
13 - Geechy Joe - Cab Calloway And His Orchestra
14 - Stormy Weather - Lena Horne
15 - There's No Two Ways About Love - Cab Calloway, Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson And Lena Horne
16 - My, My, Ain't That Somethin' - Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson
17 - Jumpin' Jive - Cab Calloway And His Orchestra
18 - My, My, Ain't That Somethin' - Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, Cab Calloway And Lena Horne
19 - Good For Nothing Joe - Lena Horne (Not Used In Movie)
20 - Body And Soul - Cab Calloway And His Orchestra (Not Used In Movie)

This is the soundtrack to the 1943 movie 'Stormy Weather' that has an all African-American cast. The plot (slight though it is) is loosely based upon the life and times of it's star Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson. Returning from World War I, Bill and his friend Gabe (played by Dooley Wilson of Casablanca fame) return to Harlem to rebuild Bill's showbiz career. Bill meets and falls for singer Selina Rogers (Lena Horne) and vows to come back to her when he "gets to be somebody". The story of their relationship is almost continuously interspersed with musical song and dance numbers, tracing the development of African-American music from minstrelsy to big band swing, and culminating in a big finale.

The film is very entertaining and definitely worth watching, but it's the music that makes it great. For me the highlights of the film are Fats Waller and Cab Calloway (playing themselves) and the two dancin'est dudes that ever were or probably ever will be, the Nicholas Brothers. So here's a zoot suited Cab Calloway singing 'Geechy Joe', Fats Waller singing 'Ain't Misbehavin' and the finale that features Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers performing what Fred Astaire called the "the greatest movie musical number he had ever seen", 'Jumpin' Jive'. The Nicholas Brothers' eye-watering way of getting down stairs is probably best not tried at home........

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Poetry And Jazz At The Blackhawk

Kenneth Rexroth - Poetry And Jazz At The Blackhawk
BGP Records - BGP 1019
Originally Released As FANTASY Records 7008 In 1960

Side A
Married Blues
State And 32nd
The Deserted Courtesan
In The Wood
Go, Lovely Rose

Side B
The Shadows
The Orchard

Poetry set to jazz is considered a very 1950's and particularly Beat Generation phenomena, but Kenneth Rexroth had been doing it as far back as the 1920's. This album from 1960, finds him setting his own poems and his translations to some very cool west coast jazz at San Francisco's Blackhawk club. Despite his, at times, peculiar delivery I think this album works really well and I've enjoyed it for years. 

Unfortunately the original LP did not list who the band were and this reissue by ACE Records does nothing to put that right. After a bit of research I found a chap on line who has an original copy of the LP with guide notes inside by drummer Hank Uribe. These notes (you can see them here) list the group as:

John Mosher - Bass
Clair Willey - Piano
Dickie Mills - Trumpet
Brew Moore - Sax
Hank Uribe - Drums

Whether this is the group that appears on the album or performed it soon after the album's release, using the LP as a guide, is still not 100% definite. However, Brew Moore was associated with the Beat scene, recorded for Fantasy and regularly worked at the Blackhawk so there's a very good chance he's playing sax on this album. 

Kenneth Rexroth was not really a part of the Beat Generation. As an already published and recognised poet, he acted as a kind of elder statesman and mentor for many of the Beat poets, and certainly did a lot to help Alan Ginsberg and Gary Snyder gain recognition. He was master of ceremonies for the famous poetry reading at the Six Gallery, San Francisco in 1955 that first publicly introduced the Beats, was a witness for the defence at Alan Ginsberg's obscenity trial and appears in Jack Kerouac's 'Dharma Bums' as Reinhold Cacoethes. Sadly he would end up being critical of the Beat Generation and when called the 'Father of the Beats' by TIME magazine, he replied "an entomologist is not a bug" (so there!).

Whether he was a cool patron of the Beats or a grumpy old man, this album is very cool. Listen to a couple of tracks and see.....

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Tell Mama

Etta James - Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions
CHESS Records - 2001
Original Release CADET Records - 1968

Original Album:
01 - Tell Mama
02 - I'd Rather Go Blind
03 - Watch Dog
04 - The Love Of My Man
05 - I'm Gonna Take What He's Got
06 - The Same Rope
07 - Security
08 - Steal Away
09 - My Mother In Law
10 - Don't Lose Your Good Thing
11 - It Hurts So Much
12 - Just A Little Bit
Bonus Tracks:
13 - Do Right Woman, Do Right Man
14 - You Took It
15 - I Worship The Ground You Walk On
16 - I Got You Babe
17 - You Got It
18 - I've Gone Too Far
19 - Misty
20 - Almost Persuaded
21 - Fire
22 - Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (alternate)

Despite having a string of hits for Chess between 1960 and '63, by 1967 Etta James had not had a significant seller for four years. Leonard Chess always believed in his favourite female singer, so he sent Etta to Rick Hall's Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama to see if they could work the same magic for her that they had for Aretha Franklin. In August 1967 Leonard went with a pregnant Etta, her Boyfriend and two poodles to the first of four sessions at Fame. The results were some of the finest work she ever recorded. The first release from these sessions was the hard sockin' single 'Tell Mama' backed with the sublime 'I'd Rather Go Blind'. 'Tell Mama' a reworking of Clarence Carter's 'Tell Daddy' was a top ten R&B hit and 'I'd Rather Go Blind' became a blues/soul classic. The original Queen Of Soul was back. The album was released in January 1968, went to number 21 in the R&B chart and produced another single 'Security'. Her take on the Otis Redding classic got to 11 in the R&B charts. Subsequent singles from the sessions, 'You Got It' and 'Almost Persuaded' didn't do quite so well, in fact none of her future singles ever charted so high.

For me the songs Etta recorded at Fame Studios captured her at her best. From the upbeat, hard driving, gutsy dance tunes of 'Tell Mama', 'Watchdog' and 'Fire' to the heart wrenching soul of 'I'd Rather Go Blind', 'The Love Of My Man' and 'Steal Away' and all points in between she was rarely better.

Enjoy both sides of the single 'Tell Mama'/'I'd Rather Go Blind' and the downright funky 'Fire'.....

Red Hot On Impulse!

Various Artists - Red Hot On Impulse! - 1994
GRP Records - GRP 11512

01 - Journey Into Satchindananda - Alice Coltrane
02 - The Creator Has A Master Plan (Edit) - Pharoah Sanders
03 - A Love Supreme (Part 1: Acknowledgement) - John Coltrane
04 - A Love Supreme - Alice Coltrane
05 - Astral Traveling - Pharoah Sanders
06 - Stolen Moments - Oliver Nelson
07 - Garvey's Ghost (Edit) - Max Roach
08 - Hora Decubitus - Charles Mingus
09 - Upper Egypt And Lower Egypt (Edit) - Pharoah Sanders
10 - Le Matin Des Noire - Archie Shepp
11 - Blue Nile - Alice Coltrane

Apart from John Coltrane's 'Love Supreme', which I already owned, this album was my first real exposure to Impulse! Records. When I bought it back in 1995 I had never heard of Alice Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders or indeed any spiritual jazz outside of 'Love Supreme'. I was completely blown away, particularly by Alice Coltrane and I began investigating more of this fantastic music. At the time I had gone back to university and money was tight so I didn't buy many more albums for a while. I did listen to this one though, a lot, and so did anyone who happened to be around me at the time. I spent a lot of time trying to convince my fellow students, most of whom had never listened to jazz before, that they really needed to listen to this amazing music. Unsurprisingly it mostly fell on deaf ears, didn't stop me trying though.

This album was released in conjunction with the charity the Red Hot Organisation to raise awareness and money to fight the spread of AIDS. Initially the project was a reworking of the Impulse! classics by contemporary and original artists and was released as an album 'Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool' with a related TV show. Despite the amount of hip hop (not my bag at all) the album worked well and I may do a post about it at a later date. This album was released to highlight the original versions, and saw the start of a long over due re issue campaign for Impulse! In fact some of the tracks on this CD had never been re issued since their original release.

Anyway, there's this really amazing music you have to listen to........

Monday, 23 May 2016

Voodoo Session

Tubby Hayes - Voodoo Session - TRUNK Records TTT005

Side A

Side B
Give Me Love (Kenny Lynch vocals)
Bailey's Blues

This is something special, Tubby Hayes' previously unreleased music to low budget British horror flick, Dr Terror's House Of Horror. Released by Trunk Records, only 666 of theses EPs were pressed, this is 219. The music as you would expect is superb, and there are comprehensive notes by Tubby expert Simon Spillett (who's no slouch on the sax himself). The music was recorded at Shepperton Studios in 1964 and features Shake Keane on trumpet, not Roy Castle as the film would have you believe.

I came to own this record by complete coincidence. I watched the film for the first time and was very excited to see the Tubby Hayes Quintet, the Radio Times hadn't mentioned it so it was an unexpected treat. I set about seeing if this music had been released, I didn't have the internet then so all I could find out was that the Rare Record Price Guide listed one very expensive single credited to Roy Castle. The following Saturday I went to my local record shop and while paying for that week's selection of albums, I saw this EP in the back room behind the counter. I asked to see it and was amazed to find that it was the music to the film I'd watched a couple of days earlier! Obviously my next question was "can I buy it?". The girl who worked there on Saturdays had ordered it for herself but said she would order another but I couldn't have it yet as it wasn't released until that Monday. They put it by for me, and I shot down there on a slightly extended lunch break that Monday to pick it up. I spent the rest of the day counting the minutes until I could go home and play it.

As I mentioned earlier the music is superb although my, now sadly departed, cat would disagree. Over the years he heard a lot of music, probably more than most cats, and he never really expressed an opinion either way about any of it. That is until he heard Tubby's 'Voodoo'. When Tubby makes his flute 'roar' it would cause his ears to flatten back and he would run from the room as fast as his legs would carry him!

Here is 'Voodoo' (cats may wish to leave the room) and a clip from the film featuring Kenny Lynch singing 'Give Me Love', enjoy.......

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Dangerous Doo-Wop

Various Artists - Dangerous Doo-Wop - DDW 801

Side A
King Odom 4 - All Of Me - LISTEN
Flairs - My Hearts Crying - LISTEN
Crowns - Hey Pretty Baby - LISTEN
Chords - Sh-boom - LISTEN
Robins - White Cliffs Of Dover - LISTEN
Larks - Lucy Brown - LISTEN
Eldoradoes - Go Little Susie - LISTEN
Artie Wilkins - Darling Patricia - LISTEN
Velvet Angels - I'm In Love - LISTEN

Side B
Bachelors - Baby - LISTEN
El Tones - Lovin' With A Beat - LISTEN
Flairs - Love Me Girl - LISTEN
Hearts - Girl Around The Corner - LISTEN
Poets - Vowels Of Love - LISTEN
Blisters - Shortnin' Bread - LISTEN
Del Chords - Say That You Love Me - LISTEN
Monograms - My Baby Dearest Darling - LISTEN
Flamingos - Let's Make Up - LISTEN

This is volume one of this amazing series (4 LPs) that feature some of the best doo-wop to be found. No filler in this album, every track is great and to prove it there's a link to a YouTube clip next to each track listed above. Being a bootleg however, there is no information on any of the tracks and in fact not all of the artists or tracks are listed correctly. I've done some research and compiled a very brief history of the groups and tracks listed.

The King Odom Quartet from New York formed in 1947 and recorded under a variety of variations of their name until 1953. 'All Of Me' was recorded for the Derby label in 1950 as the King Odom Four.

The Flairs were the in-house vocal group for the Bihari brothers' Flair label of Los Angeles. They recorded under many names and had within their ranks Richard 'Louie Louie' Berry and Young Jessie. Both tracks included here were released in 1954, 'My Heart's Crying' was released as the Chimes and 'Love Me Girl' as the Flairs.

Arthur Lee Maye had a dual career, not only was he a singer he was also a professional baseball player. 'Hey Little Girl' was recorded in 1957 with the Crowns for the Bihari brothers' RPM label.

'Sh-boom' is probably the most famous song on this compilation. Recorded by the Chords in 1954 for Atlantic subsidiary Cat, the record was quickly covered by the clean-cut white vocal group the Crew Cuts who had a big pop hit with it. This is the best version.

The prolific Robins hailed from Los Angeles, their best known recordings were made for Savoy and Spark Records. This fantastic, upbeat version of 'White Cliffs Of Dover' was recorded in 1961 for Lavender Records and was one of their last releases.

Recorded for The Apollo label of New York in 1951, 'Miss Lucy Brown' was originally recorded as 'Suntan Brown Baby' by the Norfolk Jazz Quartet in 1938. The Larks got national exposure for the song, singing it on the Perry Como TV show.

The Eldoradoes are the El Dorados of  'At My Front Door' fame but with a different lead singer. 'Go Little Susie' was recorded by Those Four Eldoradoes for the Academy label in 1958.

Artie Wilkins and the Palms from Chicago released only three singles. The excellent 'Darling Patricia' was their first, released on the States label in 1956.

'I'm In Love' by the Velvet Angels is the only acappella song on this album. The Velvet Angels were the Diablos of Detroit moonlighting from Fortune Records. 'I'm In Love' was released in 1963 on the Medieval label.

Dean Barlow and the Bachelors recorded only two singles for the New York label Earl in 1956. 'Baby' was their second and last release.

The El Tones are the possibly only white vocal group on this album. Formed in Brooklyn, 'Lovin' With A Beat' was the B side of their only single 'Like Mattie', released on the Cub label in 1958. A little bit more about the El Tones can be found here.

Lee Andrews and the Hearts are probably best remembered for 'Long Lonely Nights' on Chess from 1957. 'Girl Around The Corner' is the B side to their follow up single 'Tear Drops' and features Thomas 'Butch' Curry on lead.

The Poets were from L.A. and featured, future jazz vibraphonist, Roy Ayers in their line up. Released in 1958 on the Flash label, 'Vowels Of Love' is the B side to their only single, the Halloween themed 'Dead'.

'Shortnin' Bread' released in 1963 on Liberty may be the only release by the Blisters, no other info can be found.

The Del Chords' 'Say That You Love Me' is the B side to 'Help Me' which was issued by Louisiana label Jin in 1960. I can't find anything out about the group.

The Monograms from Indianapolis only released one single under that name, and one as the Turbans. 'My Baby Dearest Darling' was the B side of 'Please Baby Please' released on the Saga label in 1957.

The Flamingos are easily the most famous and prolific group on this album and surely need no introduction, even if doo-wop is not your bag you will know 'I Only Have Eyes For You'. 'Let's Make Up' is the B side of 'The Ladder Of Love' released by Decca in 1957.

Magic Sam (1937-1969)

Magic Sam - Magic Sam (1937-1969) - 1969
BLUE HORIZON - 7-63223

Side A
Everything Gonna Be Alright
Look Watcha Done
All My Whole Life
Love Me With A Feeling
All Your Love
Call Me If You Need Me (Shakey Jake)

Side B
Roll Your Money Maker (Shakey Jake)
Easy Baby
Magic Rocker
Love Me This Way
21 Days In Jail
All Night Long

Magic Sam Maghett was born in Granada, Mississippi in 1937 and moved to Chicago in 1950 where he developed a serious interest in the blues. Encouraged by his uncle Shakey Jake and Sunnyland Slim he bought a guitar and began to develop his own style. By 1956 he was a professional bluesman and had built up a solid reputation on Chicago's West Side leading to a contract with Cobra records. This album, released shortly after his death in 1969, contains all four of the singles released on Cobra, along with two unissued sides and two tracks released on Cobra's subsidiary label Artistic by Shakey Jake, which feature Magic Sam on guitar. Interestingly, just as Muddy Waters had 'borrowed' Ann Cole's 'Got my Mojo Working', Sam 'borrowed' her 'Easy, Easy Baby' for his 'Easy Baby' (a post on Ann Cole to follow).  The first single 'All Your Love' was a regional hit and it seemed Sam's career was under way.

Unfortunately Sam was drafted into the army in 1959 and although he only stayed in for seven months it seriously damaged his career. By the time he came out of the army Cobra records had shut down and the music scene had moved on. He signed with Chief and Crash records but his subsequent singles did not do well and Sam returned to playing the West Side clubs until he signed a deal with Delmark records in 1966 and his career took off again, only to be cut short by his tragic death from a heart attack in 1969, aged 32.

I will post more about Magic Sam's post Cobra recordings in the future. In the mean time enjoy 'All Your Love', 'Easy Baby' and Shakey Jake's 'Roll Your Money Maker'......

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Surfin' Bird

The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird - SUNDAZED Records SC 6064
Originally released 1963 on GARRETT Records

01 - Surfin' Bird
02 - King Of The Surf
03 - Henrietta
04 - Miserlou
05 - Malaguena
06 - It's So Easy
07 - Tube City
08 - My Woodie
09 - Bird Bath
10 - Kuk
11 - Money
12 - Sleeper
Bonus Tracks:
13 - Surfin' Bird (demo version)
14 - Bird Dance Beat (demo version)
15 - Walkin' My Baby (single)
16 - Dancin' With Santa (single)

Every body knows about the bird! This 1963 novelty/surf record has become such a part of popular culture that there can't be many people who don't know that the bird is the word, and that can only be a good thing. 'Surfin' Bird' was a huge US hit in 1963, allegedly selling 30,000 copies in the first weekend before eventually going to number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite being made up of 'The Bird's The Word' and 'Papa Oom Mow Mow' by the Rivingtons (a post about them soon), initially the drummer/singer Steve Wahrer was credited with writing the song. This was corrected after a successful law suit on behalf of the Rivingtons. There was even an urban myth that the song was written by Leonard Bernstein to prove that any song could become a hit.
The success of the single allowed "the best land-locked surf band in the country" to record this their only album. The rest of the album is pretty standard surf/hot rod rock 'n' roll, not that that's a bad thing all the music is excellent, especially their version of 'Miserlou', but none of it matches the intensity/insanity of 'Surfin' Bird'.

There will be more about the Trashmen another time, but in the meantime relive the madness of 'Surfin' Bird' and enjoy their version of 'Miserlou' and a song that highlights the problems of being a surfer from Minnesota, 'Kuk'......

Sun Song

Sun Ra - Sun Song - DELMARK Records DD-411
Originally released as Jazz By Sun Ra by TRANSITION Records - 1957

01 - Brainville
02 - Call For All Demons
03 - Transition
04 - Possession
05 - Street Named Hell
06 - Lullaby For Realville
07 - Future
08 - Swing A Little Taste (bonus track)
09 - New Horizons
10 - Fall Off The Log
11 - Sun Song

This is Sun Ra's very first album. Recorded in July, 1956 at Universal Studios, Chicago by an eleven piece Arkestra, it was originally released in 1957 by Transition Records with an extensive booklet. The booklet of Sun Ra's poetry, philosophy and notes on the tracks along with photos of Sun Ra and the Arkestra has been reproduced in the CD booklet. Sun Ra says "music paints pictures that only the mind's eye can see" and indeed his music does take you to other world. The music itself is largely rooted in big band swing with a bit of exotica thrown in the mix but it is so much more than that. There are no jolting 'space chords' on this album and the music is not really 'out there' yet but it definitely contains something 'other'. The music mesmerises you and takes you on a journey away from the world you're living in. When I bought this album I couldn't stop playing it and had to force myself to stop so that I could listen to the other albums I'd purchased that week. Very few albums have that much of an effect. I think Sun Ra sums this up very well in the booklet with his poem 'Enticement'.....

Imagination is a magic carpet
Upon which we may soar
To distant lands and climes;
And even go beyond the moon to any planet in the sky.
If we are here, why can't we be there?
Imagination is a living moving thought
Which seeks to be and do,
Forever pioneering like an eternal vehicle of joy.
I cordially entice you, I diligently tempt you:
Step upon my magic carpet of sound,
And share my adventures
On the land of pleasure Hi Fi....!

You can listen to the whole of the original album on Spotify here, or just dip your toe in with 'Brainville', 'Call For All Demons' and the sublime 'Sun Song' below.....

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Bunker Hill

Bunker Hill - Hide And Go Seek Parts 1 & 2 - 1962
STATESIDE Records - 45SS-135 - Originally MALA (US) - 451

In 1962 David Walker was singing gospel with the Mighty Clouds Of Joy, when he met Link Wray's brother Vernon. Vernon convinced David to go into the studio with Link and the Raymen and record some of the wildest r&b ever put on wax. When it came to releasing the first single, 'Hide And Go Seek', David was understandably worried about using his own name for fear of losing his main gig with the Mighty Clouds Of Joy by singing secular music. Vernon came up with the name Bunker Hill and a legend was born. 'Hide And Go Seek' did quite well reaching 33 in the US Billboard charts but the next two singles, 'Nobody Knows' / 'Little Red Ridin' Hood And The Wolf' and 'You Can't Make Me Doubt My Baby' / 'The Girl Can't Dance' although now cult classics, went nowhere. 'Friday Night Dance Party' from that session has since been discovered and released by Norton Records, but that's all there is. David went back to recording gospel music and after rejoining and leaving the Mighty Clouds Of Joy a few times he left the gospel world for good in the late sixties. Some reports say he died in the early eighties others say he's still living in Washington D.C. but either way his music will always live on with lovers of wild rock 'n' roll and r&b.

Here's his three best songs, 'Hide And Go Seek - Parts 1&2', 'The Girl Can't Dance' and 'Little Red Riding Hood And The Wolf'. Play Loud................

The Directions In Jazz Unit

The Directions In Jazz Unit - Directions In Jazz - 1964
PHILIPS Records BL 7625

Side A
Night Talk
Morning Theories
Lady Day
Honky Tonk
Caber Dance

Side B
Monkey Business
New Orleans
Times 2 1/2
Rustic Gait

The Directions In Jazz Unit - The Road To Ellingtonia - 1965
PHILIPS Records - BL 7673

Side A
It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Git That Swing)
Progressive Gavotte
Prelude To A Kiss
C Jam Blues

Side B
Upper Manhattan Medical Group
Come Sunday
You Better Know It

The Directions In Jazz Unit are -

Bill LeSage - leader, vibes, piano, arranger
Bob Burns - clarinet, alto sax
Johnny Scott - flute, alto sax
Ronnie Ross - baritone sax, bass clarinet
Spike Heatley - bass
Tony Carr - drums
The Freddie Alexander Cello Ensemble - Freddie Alexander, Maurice Westerby, Francis Gabarro, William De Mont

The Directions In Jazz Unit were one of the most inventive and adventurous British jazz groups of the early sixties. Featuring a sextet of jazz luminaries and a cello ensemble the group played 'third stream' music, the fusion of jazz and classical music, and the results are fantastic. Sadly only these two albums were recorded, although a slightly modified (and uncredited) version of the group did record 'Twice Times Keyboard' in 1965 for World Record Club. Largely their music has been forgotten over time which is a crime as they were so good.

The first album is mostly compositions written by Bill LeSage, Ronnie Ross, Johnny Scott or Spike Heatley with arrangements of Miles Davis' 'Milestones' and Hoagy Carmichael's 'New Orleans'. The Second album, recorded a year later, is made up entirely of new arrangements of songs made famous by the Duke Ellington orchestra.

Despite recording the albums the group were not really a working unit and in the time between recording the albums the group only made a few university dates, a television appearance and one major concert. Perhaps this lack of exposure is why they are largely unheard of today. A search of the internet to find clips to share with you only resulted in finding two videos of footage from the 1960's BBC program Jazz 625. One of them being the whole of the recent BBC4 documentary and the clip (also from that documentary) of the group performing 'Night Talk', which I've included below. I wish there was more to share with you and that this great music was still available and it's worth recognised. If you want to hear more check out the Jazz 625 documentary on YouTube (while it's still there) or track down the LPs they are still available at reasonable prices but I'm sure soon they will start to attract the ridiculously high prices of other British jazz classics from the 1960's.

Here is Steve Race introducing The Directions In Jazz Unit on BBC's Jazz 625 in 1964.....

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