Archive for the ‘Single’ Category

What’s At No. 100? (October 10, 1970)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Time for another episode of What’s At No. 100? Today’s date – 10/10 – pretty much begged for that, and a quick look at my files of the Billboard Hot 100 showed that during the years we’re pretty much interested in around here, only twice did a Hot 100 get published on October 10.

The first was in 1964, and the second was in 1970. Now, the former of those two years would be a fun year to go digging around in, but the latter, well, anyone who knows me is aware that 1970 is a rich vein of gold in the mine of my memory. But before we go deep into the Hot 100 published forty-eight years ago today – and can it really be that long ago? – let’s look at that week’s Top Ten:

“Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“Candida” by Dawn
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“All Right Now” by Free
“Julie Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door/Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Green-Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters
“(I Know) I’m Losing You” by Rare Earth

Now there’s a fine forty minutes or so of late-night listening, perhaps after minimal attention to the demands of my senior-year classes or maybe after a football game. There’s nothing there that would make me move the tuner dial or hit the button in the car in search of better sounds. I did like the B-side of the CCR record better than that A-side, which has always seemed just a little bit silly.

And, as often happens, I’m a little startled to see Sugarloaf’s “Green-Eyed Lady” in 1970. The record always sounds to me – nearly a half-century distant from those radio waves – as if it should fall in 1976, where it would be, for some reason, a companion piece to Lighthouse’s “One Fine Morning.” (It works the other way, too: When “One Fine Morning” pops up in my listening routine, I always think it belongs in 1970, next to the Sugarloaf single, or the longer album track.)

A thought occurred to me as I write this: As my late-night listening in the autumn of my senior year of high school came from WLS in distant Chicago, what did that station have as its Top Ten as October 10 passed by? The answer comes from Oldiesloon:

“Cracklin’ Rosie”
“All Right Now”
“I’ll Be There”
“Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor
“Candida”
“Do What You Want To Do” by Five Flights Up
“Out In The Country” by Three Dog Night
“Looking Out My Back Door”
“(I Know) I’m Losing You”
“Julie, Do Ya Love Me”

Not all that different. Two of the three listed in the WLS Top Ten and not in the Billboard Top Ten are familiar. The Three Dog Night single is a favorite, but I can live without R. Dean Taylor’s hit (although I kind of liked it back then). I didn’t recognize by its title the record by Five Flights Up, but as soon as I heard the chorus this morning, it came back to me. I never heard it much – not surprising, as it only got to No. 37 in the Hot 100. And a quick glance at Oldiesloon makes me think that the record never reached the surveys of either of the Twin Cities’ Top 40 stations, KDWB or WDGY.

We’ll end the Chicago digression and get back to our business here, which is heading toward the bottom of that Hot 100 from  October 10, 1970, and seeing what’s at No. 100. And we run into a tuneful, tough and clanking instrumental by Brian Auger & The Trinity: “Listen Here.”

Not long ago, as our pal jb was visiting St. Cloud and we were driving near the St. Cloud State campus, a track by Auger with vocals by Julie Driscoll came on the car radio courtesy of WXGY in nearby Sauk Rapids. It was, I think, “Season Of The Witch.” (It could have been “Road To Cairo” or “This Wheel’s On Fire.”) And jb, who hangs his blogging hat at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, motioned to the speaker and said something like “This stuff is almost forgotten, and I cannot figure out why!”

Nor can I.

“Listen Here” showed up as a nine minute-plus version on Befour, a 1970 album by Auger and his band. I don’t know if the single is an edit, a shortened remix or an entirely different recording, but here it is. It spent two weeks at No. 100, and was the only record Auger ever got into the Hot 100 (although the previously mentioned “This Wheel’s On Fire” – with vocals by Driscoll – Bubbled Under for four weeks and got to No. 106).

Imprinted

Friday, October 5th, 2018

So last evening, as the small music group from our Unitarian-Universalist fellowship got some music ready for Sunday, our conversations wandered all over our musical landscapes. Three of us are about the same age, and we know pretty much the same songs (although the other two have a better grasp on folk while I know more pop and rock). Our occasional old fogeyness is leavened by our fourth member, who is a graduate student in her twenties.

Anyway, we were working on a couple of tunes to accompany a program on a local social justice initiative. We settled on Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and “The Hammer Song (If I Had A Hammer),” written, of course, by Pete Seeger although we’re performing it more in the style of Peter, Paul & Mary. And we came to a quandary as we worked on the latter.

I was running through the chords on the keyboard, playing from memory and by ear while Jane was following along with guitar, using the chord sheet she’d found in her binder. And at one point, we were playing different chords. So I pulled out my phone to jump onto YouTube to give a listen to Peter, Paul & Mary.

“It’s going to be in a different key,” said Tom, who was working out a bass line for the song.

“I’ll still be able to tell if they’re going to the tonic or to the dominant,” I said. (I’m kind of the music theory geek among the bunch.) And we soon found that the chords on Jane’s sheet were right and my ears (and memory) had been in error. And along the way we ran across Trini Lopez’ 1963 version of the Seeger song, a very rapid live version that went to No. 3 in the Billboard Hot 100.

I laughed, telling the others that I have the 45, which came to me from my sister. She got it in 1963 from one of those grab bags you could get at record stores, something like twelve records for a buck. And I mentioned that I liked the flip side – Lopez’ take on “Unchain My Heart” a little bit better.

Then we went back to work, getting a handle on the two songs for this coming Sunday. We’re still a little shaky on “Stand By Me,” but we’re okay on “If I Had A Hammer.” As we began to pack away guitars and close up the keyboard, our young friend Cassie headed out for home and sleep – a precious commodity for a grad student.

The rest of us chatted for a few minutes. We talked about our early records: children’s 78s, classical 78s and early 45s. Jane recalled having a copy of Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater” (No. 1 for six weeks in 1958), and Tom recalled David Seville’s “Witch Doctor” (No. 1 for three weeks, also in 1958).

And then we three old fogies found ourselves singing “Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang! Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang!”

And we laughed and marveled at how music imprints itself on us, the marvelous, the mundane, and sometimes, the just plain silly.

‘Gather Up The Brokenness . . .’

Friday, September 28th, 2018

I’m feeling pretty bruised today. Yesterday was a hard day; the events in Washington stirred up a whole lot of stuff that I keep on a back shelf in my emotional closet.

Today is a day for healing.

Here’s “Come Healing” by Leonard Cohen. It’s from his 2012 album Old Ideas.

O gather up the brokenness
Bring it to me now
The fragrance of those promises
You never dared to vow

The splinters that you carry
The cross you left behind
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
Come healing of the reason
Come healing of the heart

O troubled dust concealing
An undivided love
The heart beneath is teaching
To the broken heart above

Let the heavens falter
Let the earth proclaim
Come healing of the altar
Come healing of the name

O longing of the branches
To lift the little bud
O longing of the arteries
To purify the blood

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

O let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

‘No Knives For You!’

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

I came into the EITW studios this morning and found Odd and Pop, my imaginary tuneheads, playing mumblety-peg on the carpet with a letter opener. It wasn’t going well.

“Did too!”

“Did not!”

After a few more rounds of that – I didn’t bother to find out what issue was under debate – I confiscated the letter opener, an ornate steel and brass Spanish weapon my sister got for me in Barcelona in 1968. Replacing it in its sheath, I told the two tuneheads that mumblety-peg was a game for outdoors.

They were aghast. “In the dirt?”

Yep, I told them. Outside in the dirt. Not in the carpet.

Both of them wrinkled up their noses and muttered “Ew!” (I didn’t tell them that with that exclamation, they’d successfully used one of the new words that the Hasbro company has authorized for Scrabble.)

Anyway, I said, a letter opener is not a knife. And I reminded them that they were not allowed to play with sharp objects. “No knives for you!”

“Well,” said Pop, “can we play a song about a knife?”

“And I bet I know which one you have in mind,” said Odd, with a sour face.

Pop nodded. “Mack the Knife,” he said.

Odd heaved a major sigh and shook his head wearily. “Go ahead. Tell me,” he said to Pop.

Pop nodded and began reciting: “First of all, Bobby Darin’s version was the top pop record for all of 1959, spending twenty-six weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, nine of them at No. 1, and it also went to No. 6 on the magazine’s R&B chart.”

Pop took a breath and then continued. “Seven other versions have reached the Hot 100.”

Odd shook his head wearily, and then said, “All right. List ’em.”

From somewhere, Pop materialized his perpetual legal pad and its accompanying marker and then wrote for a few minutes. He then handed the list to Odd:

Dick Hyman Trio, No. 8 in 1956
Richard Hayman & Jan August, No. 11 in 1956
Lawrence Welk, No. 17 in 1956
Louis Armstrong, No. 20 in 1956
Billy Vaughn, No. 37 in 1956
Les Paul, No. 49 in 1956
Ella Fitzgerald, No. 27 in 1960 (and No. 6 on the R&B chart)

Odd scanned the list and look at his pal. (They do get along, most of the time. They just have differing tastes in music – and pasta, for that matter.)

“There’s more, I assume,” Odd said.

Pop nodded and told us that the original version of “Mack the Knife” was actually “Moritat von Mackie Messer” from Die Dreigroschenoper (The Three Penny Opera) by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. It was originally performed – according to Second Hand Songs – by Kurt Gerron in 1928. Pop added helpfully that many sources erroneously claim that Lotte Lenya sang the song in her role as Jenny, “but that’s likely because she recorded the song as ‘Moritat’ for her 1955 German album Lotte Lenya singt Kurt Weill.”

“Okay, okay,” said Odd. “So how many recorded versions are there?”

“Well,” Pop said, “at least three hundred and twenty-five. That’s how many Second Hand Songs lists. Lots of them in German, many in English, lots of instrumentals. And some in other languages, too: Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Finnish, French, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish and Welsh.”

Odd was beginning to smile. “You had me at ‘Croatian’,” he told his pal. And he turned to me. “Have we ever posted a song in Croatian?”

“Well, no,” I said, “but I guess we could.”

Odd beamed. Pop pouted a little, but I reminded him that a huge proportion of what we listen to here is on one chart or another. He nodded, a little grudgingly, then looked at Odd and shrugged his shoulders.

And we turned our attention to the speakers to listen to the vocal group Optimisti, which – according to Second Hand Songs – was based in the city of Ljubljana. During the group’s recording years (1958 to 1963), the city was in Yugoslavia; it is now the capital of Slovenia. The group Optimisti, says the website, sometimes performed and recorded as a quartet and sometimes as a quintet.

Here’s Optimisti’s version in Croatian of “Mornar Mackie,” released in 1962 on the EP Chanson d’amour. The vocal group is backed by the Ljubljanski Jazz Ansambel.

2,397,000

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

That’s a hefty number, 2,397,000 is. Where’d it come from?

Well this morning, I looked at the number of pages in the Word file for this blog. Since sometime early this year, I’d been stacking new posts on the top of the file, letting it get longer and longer until editing within it started to get a little unweidly.

The file was sitting at 139 pages with a word count of 58,575. It was time to start a new file. Back in the early days of this blog, I was zipping condensed files of albums to share here and at a couple of boards, so when I began writing blog posts, I called the first file “Zipped & Shared No. 1.”

(The zipping and sharing of files ended early in 2010, when WordPress escorted me from its premises for violations of its policies, just as Blogger had done some time earlier. Being out in the cold of Blogworld, as it were, spurred me to open my own domain, as well as to change the way I offered music: embedding or linking to YouTube videos, some of them my own creation. But I continued to title the Word files I used “Zipped & Shared No. XX.”)

Today, I opened a new file, one titled “Zipped & Shared No. 52.” And I wandered back into the folders that hold the first fifty-one similarly named files, wondering if the lengths of each individual file were about the same. They were, averaging something more than 47,000 words each. The vast majority of those counted words were, in fact, text for this blog, but there were some things counted as words that were detritus, stuff that shouldn’t count toward a blog’s word count.

That detritus included notes to myself about this post or that, lists of links to include in posts and the coding for the embedding of videos. So, in a ham-handed bit of statistical division – my statistics instructor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism would have winced – I took that average of 47,000-plus and sliced it down to 47,000.

Then I multiplied 47,000 times 51 – the number of filled Word files – and came up with 2,397,000. And that’s approximately the number of words I’ve written for this blog since early 2007.

Remember the detritus that includes notes to myself? There’s a little bit of that right at the top of each of the last twenty or so Word files. There’s a note reminding me that the width I use when I embed YouTube videos on the blog is 455 whatevers. That’s also where I keep examples of the three characters in the Danish alphabet that we do not have in the English alphabet – ø, æ, and å – in both lower and upper case. I also keep the entire Danish exclamation “Skål!” so I can post it on Facebook after the Minnesota Vikings win.

And there are four notes about blog posts. One of them reminds me that this year, I am rerunning the 2008 series First Friday – looking at the mad year of 1968 – only this time, it’s as First Wednesday. Another note reminds me that I should consider doing a blog post about the musical (and romantic) duo of Cymbal & Clinger. A third offers the Derek & The Dominos track “Keep On Growing” as a subject for one of my covers posts. And a fourth suggests the song “Guantanamera” as a topic for a similar post.

But I keep looking back at that number: 2,397,000. That’s a lot of words, sentences, paragraphs and posts, many of which were not nearly as good as I’d hoped they’d be.

So where do we go with that? There are about a hundred tracks in the RealPlayer with the word “words” in their titles. And after a quick scan of the titles possible for a tune, I’ve settled on “Encouraging Words” by Billy Preston, the title track from his 1970 album.

Everywhere & Nowhere

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

If I were asked to name my ten favorite pieces from more than eleven years of blogging, this would be one of them. It was originally published on July 7, 2007, and it’s crossed my mind recently, so here it is.

It’s the roadhouse of dreams.

Where is it? It’s nowhere and it’s everywhere, depending on the season and the memories and hopes of those sitting inside.

If you look out the window during the baking summer, you might see the flat fields and arrow-straight roads of the Delta, the humid air vibrating like a steel guitar string. The melancholy of autumn might find you near a lake in the North Woods, with the maniac cry of the loon joined by the honks of the geese leaving you behind as they head home. In winter, the roadhouse – probably named Times Gone, but we’ll see – welcomes you in from the gloom and grit of some city’s aging industrial neighborhood. Maybe it’s Gary, Indiana, or someplace on Ohio’s Lake Erie shore. The spring? Well, I think we’re in the mountains of Wyoming, or at least a place where spring comes late, making its days all the more precious and the roadhouse itself brighter inside than the windows and the lights can account for.

This is no slick place with light-colored wood finished to the texture of silk. The wood here is dark – except in those places where the varnish has been worn away – and you can feel the grain through the stain. It’s honest wood with rough-edged comfort. You know that when you slide into one of the booths on the far side of the room. And you know it even more when you lay your hands on the bar, nodding as your fingers read the nicks and dents in the bar top like a blind man reads a good story.

The bar stools are just that: bar stools, not chairs on long legs. They’ve all been reupholstered at one time or another, but always with the same red leather and brass nails. Hook your feet on the timeworn rungs if you have to anchor yourself, and don’t lean back because all you’ll find is empty air. That’s okay, though. It’s always better to lean forward, elbows on the bar, especially if you’re lost in thought, lost in memories or just lost.

In the center of the place is a dance floor, not large but big enough, with a stage off to the left end. We’ll come back there later.

On the right end of the dance floor, as you step inside the place – it seems that Times Gone is the right name for the place – is a pool table under a shaded light fixture, and on the wall, two pinball machines set back-to-back. These are pinball machines, not computers on legs. They’re old, but they still work, and they still give out that satisfying, solid “thwack!” when you win a free game. Some days – or nights, for that matter – there aren’t a lot of sounds better than that one.

Just the other side of the pinball machines is a jukebox, a real mechanical jukebox with records in it. It’s packed with songs from before 1980 – a few after that time, but just a few. There’s lots of R&B from the Fifties and the Sixties, and one or two Al Green songs for the slow dances. You’ll find some rock, mostly the blues-based stuff. There are a few country records, some to dance to and some to cry along with. There’s also a little bit of pop, mostly because it brings smiles to the folks in the crowd, some for the memory and some for the irony.

And there’s the blues. From Chicago and the Delta. From Texas, Los Angeles and the Piedmont. You come into Times Gone with the blues, and we can find the right song for you. In fact, the day always starts with the blues, a fact we hope isn’t matched by life. Every morning at eleven, as Times Gone opens its door, the jukebox plays Muddy Water’s 1948 single “I Can’t Be Satisfied.” That’s not a comment on life; we just like the song.

There are a couple other songs you’ll hear every day. At five in the afternoon, the jukebox plays “Roadhouse Blues” by the Doors. And just before we close the doors sometime in the early morning, Ringo Starr and his three friends bid us “Goodnight.”

We don’t rely entirely on the jukebox, as well stocked as it is. Remember the dance floor and the stage? Weekend nights, we’ve got live music. I suppose that Muddy and his old rival, Howlin’ Wolf, stop by now and then, since this is the roadhouse of dreams. And Brother Ray and Aretha must come by here too, every once in a while. But a lot of the time, the stage belongs to Delbert McClinton, a roadhouse singer if ever there was one. He’s got some records in the jukebox, to be sure, but there’s nothing like hearing him in person. The way he takes over the stage and holds the attention of the crowd on the floor, he could own the place.

It sure would be nice if somebody, somewhere, did.

Here’s a taste of Delbert McClinton on stage. “Going Back To Louisiana” is a track from the 2006 album Live From Austin TX, a release that offers McClinton’s 1982 performance on the Austin City Limits television show.

Edited slightly on reposting.

A Small Bud

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

I see the signs: A little bit of mist in the morning air. The turning of the sumac along the roadsides. The first leaves falling golden from the flowering crab next to our deck.

Autumn is coming. My time of year.

The Texas Gal and I talked about the seasons the other day as we lazed in the living room. She likes the spring, she said, when everything is green and new and possible. It’s a sweet time, she said.

I told her what she already knew, that to me autumn is bittersweet, and for as long as I can remember, bittersweet has been my default. It’s colored what I read and what I write, what I sing and what I hear, and – for many of the years of my life – what I felt and how I lived.

I no longer feel or live that way, thanks to the Texas Gal’s presence in my life for these past eighteen-plus years. But I still feel the pull of the bittersweet in literature, movies, television and song, sensing that tales of joyous but ultimately failed pairings and of barely missed chances that rarely resolve well are somehow more interesting and more valid to me than easy happy endings.

And I wonder where that sense came from. Was I formed by the art of my youth, when tales – whether in print, on the screen or on the radio – did not always end with smiles? Two examples come to mind quickly: Kirk Douglas’ crucified Spartacus watching his wife and child being taken to safety on the road outside Rome as he was dying. And then there’s the Association’s “Cherish,” a song that’s been mentioned here numerous times. Let’s take a refresher on Terry Kirkman’s lyric:

Cherish is the word I use to describe
All the feeling that I have hiding here for you inside
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I had told you
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could hold you
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could
Mold you into someone who could
Cherish me as much as I cherish you

Perish is the word that more than applies
To the hope in my heart each time I realize
That I am not gonna be the one to share your dreams
That I am not gonna be the one to share your schemes
That I am not gonna be the one to share what
Seems to be the life that you could
Cherish as much as I do yours

Oh, I’m beginning to think that man has never found
The words that could make you want me
That have the right amount of letters, just the right sound
That could make you hear, make you see
That you are drivin’ me out of my mind

Oh, I could say I need you but then you’d realize
That I want you just like a thousand other guys
Who’d say they loved you
With all the rest of their lies
When all they wanted was to touch your face, your hands
And gaze into your eyes

Cherish is the word I use to describe
All the feeling that I have hiding here for you inside
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I had told you
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could hold you
You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could
Mold you into someone who could
Cherish me as much as I cherish you

And I do cherish you
And I do cherish you

Cherish is the word

Anything that potent tends to throw discussion off-track, but anyway, I don’t think I project melancholy to the world. I’m pretty gregarious, quick with a joke (but not to light up your smoke), and all that. So where did that tinge of sorrow – the bitter that leavens the joy – come from? From those books, films and records of my youth? Or did those bits of media somehow validate feelings already present, feelings sown by frequently being the ninth boy at an eight-boy game and by the regretful smiles of a fair number of lovely young women?

I have no firm answers to those questions. How each of our personalities is molded is a riddle. All I know is that an important portion of me is the one that begins to bud right around the end of August and then flowers during the last weeks of September and the first weeks of October

And I feel that small bud forming inside me this week. My time of year is coming.

Here’s “Autumn Brigade” by the English group Jackson Heights. It’s from the group’s 1972 album The Fifth Avenue Bus.

Exploring The Date

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

So, what do we know about August 22?

Well, the basics, first: It’s the 234th day of the year, with 131 remaining.

And just as it does with every other day of the year, Wikipedia offers a list of events that have occurred over the years on August 22. Here are a few:

The Battle of Bosworth Field in England in 1485, which marked, with the death of Richard III, the end of the House of York and of the Plantagenet dynasty and, with the claiming of the crown by Henry Tudor, the beginnings of the House of Tudor. Richard’s famous (if likely fictional) cry “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” comes from William Shakespeare’s account of the battle in his play Richard III. According to Wikipedia, British scholars have likely found – finally – the true site of the battle, located near the town of Market Bosworth in the county of Leicestershire. The newly researched site was found as a result of a 2005-2009 project and is actually not far from the previously assumed site of the battle. The battle most recently popped into the news in 2012, when historians discovered the grave of Richard III under a parking lot in the city of Leicester. His body was reburied in March 2015 in Leicester Cathedral.

Jacob Barsimson arrived in 1654 at New Amsterdam, the Dutch colony now known as New York City. He was the first known Jewish immigrant to American. He’d been sent there by leaders of the Jewish community in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to determine if Jewish immigration to North America was feasible. Following the fall of a Dutch colony in Brazil, twenty-three Dutch Jews arrived in New Amsterdam in September 1654 and established the first Jewish settlement in what would become the United States.

Automobiles made the news twice on August 22, 1902. The Cadillac Motor Company was formed out of the remains of the Henry Ford Company. (That company was Ford’s second short-lived firm; his third attempt, the Ford Motor Company, was formed in June 1903 and exists today.) And President Theodore Roosevelt became the first president of the United States to make a public appearance in an automobile. Sadly, Wikipedia does not identify which brand of auto Roosevelt rode in.

In 1941, German troops began the Siege of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Wikipedia says that the siege, which lasted nearly 900 days, “caused extreme famine in the Leningrad region through disruption of utilities, water, energy and food supplies. This resulted in the deaths of up to 1,500,000 soldiers and civilians and the evacuation of 1,400,000 more (mainly women and children), many of whom died during evacuation due to starvation and bombardment. Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery alone in Leningrad holds half a million civilian victims of the siege.” It was, says Wikipedia, the most lethal siege in history.

Let’s lighten it up a bit. On this date in 1989, Nolan Ryan struck out Rickey Henderson to become the first major league pitcher to record 5,000 strikeouts.

Sticking with baseball, on this date in 2007, the Texas Rangers set a one-game major league scoring record when they defeated the Baltimore Orioles 30 to 3.

And finally, let’s talk about music. Among tracks recorded on August 22 over the years, we find “Jumpin’ At The Woodside” by Count Basie & His Orchestra in 1938, “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” by the King Cole Trio in 1946, “The $64,000 Question” by Bobby Tuggle in 1955, and in 1967, Etta James laid down three tracks in Muscle Shoals, Alabama: “Steal Away,” “Don’t Lose Your Good Thing,” and “Just A Little Bit.”

All three tracks would be released on James’ 1968 album Tell Mama. Here’s “Just A Little Bit.”

Lookin’ At July 20

Friday, July 20th, 2018

So what do we have on the digital shelves that was recorded on July 20?

The three members of the Mississippi Jook Band had a busy day eighty-two years ago in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The band – made up of Blind Roosevelt Graves on guitar, his brother Uaroy Graves (who was almost blind himself) on tambourine, and Cooney Vaughn on piano – recorded four tracks that day. All of them were released on the Melotone label, and three of the four are on my digital shelves. All three came to me via the four-CD box set When The Levee Breaks, issued in 2000 by the British label JSP; one of the three was also released on the fourth volume of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, released in 2013.

The three tracks here are “Barbeque Bust,” “Hittin’ The Bottle Stomp,” and “Skippy Whippy.” The fourth track the trio recorded on that long-ago July 20 was “Dangerous Woman.”

Heading onward, we drop into a session in 1949, with Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers – augmented by guitarist Oscar Moore – recording “How Blue Can You Get (Downhearted)” in New York City. Fans of B.B. King or of the blues in general will recognize the song; this – according to the album notes – is the original version. The track was evidently not released until 1960, when it showed up on an RCA Camden compilation called Singin’ the Blues. I found the track on Volume 4, “That’s All Right,” of the thirteen-CD series When The Sun Goes Down, an extensive look at the deep roots of rock ’n’ roll.

Regular visitors here are no doubt aware of my fondness for the work of Big Maybelle, born Mabel Louise Smith in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1924. She pops up today because of her session in New York City on July 20, 1956, sixty years ago today. Among the tracks recorded that day was “Mean To Me,” which was released on the Savoy label. It came to me on the two-LP collection The Roots of Rock ’n Roll: The Savoy Sessions, which I bought for $1.25 during a record-digging session in Golden Valley, Minnesota, in April 1999. A CD version of the set arrived here in 2012 as a gift from friend and regular reader Yah Shure.

The traditional British folk song “Blackwaterside” shows up next, telling the tale of a woman seduced and then spurned. The song and several variants, including “Down by Blackwaterside” among others, are thought to have originated near the River Blackwater in Ulster. (One of those variants is the instrumental “Black Mountain Side” on Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut album.) Here, it’s a live 1983 performance by Linda Thompson for the (presumably British) television show Music On The Move. The track was included on the 1996 Hannibal compilation Dreams Fly Away (A History Of Linda Thompson).

Then we come to an entire CD recorded on July 20, 1991, when the trio of Rick Danko, Eric Andersen and Jonas Fjeld played a gig at the Molde Jazz Festival. The trio’s music is certainly not jazz and might be more accurately described as folk rock or roots or Americana with a slight Norwegian twist. However you describe it, their music is a delight. The live performance was released in 2002 on the Appleseed label as part of a two-CD package; the other CD was a remastered version of the trio’s 1991 release Danko/Fjeld/Andersen.

So now we sort these out. For all my historical interest in groups like the Mississippi Jook Band, I don’t listen much to those box sets. When the tunes come up when the RealPlayer is set on random, that’s fine, but I don’t often seek them out. So we’ll pass the Jook Band by. We’ll do the same, with some regrets, with Big Maybelle and Linda Thompson. And our regrets are greater when we pass on Danko/Fjeld/Andersen; their slender catalog has been among my favorites ever since I found their second album, Ridin’ On The Blinds. It was among the first CDs I ever bought.

But the work of Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, augmented by the guitar work of his brother Oscar, is too good to pass up, especially since the track is the original version of one of the classic blues songs. So here’s “How Blue Can You Get (Downhearted).”

Listen To The Wolf

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Looking for a tune with the word “moving” in its title – trying to match our reality with a post for today – I came across Howlin’ Wolf’s “Moving.” It’s a basic Wolf joint, and I wondered as it played: How many Howlin’ Wolf tracks sit on the digital shelves?

The answer turns out to be 149, ranging temporally from some sides recorded to the RPM label in West Memphis, Tennessee, in 1951 to “Moving,” a track from The Back Door Wolf, which was released in 1973, just three years before the Wolf laid down his harp. The track, like many others on the digital shelves, came from the box set Chess put together in 1991.

And since we are moving, and because I have some duties along that line today – we are making progress, but Monday’s arrival of the moving van looms large – I’ll just offer “Moving” here and get out of the way. I hope to offer a post on Saturday, but we’ll see how things go.