Archive for the ‘Covers’ Category

Saturday Single No. 603

Saturday, August 4th, 2018

I was in a Nancy Wilson mood the other day – the pop jazz singer who was most popular in the early to mid-1960s, not the Nancy Wilson from Heart – so I was sorting through mp3s from a compilation, tagging them with the original album title and date.

When I do that kind of work (and of course, it’s not really work, it’s play), I use a variety of sources: my Billboard chart books (for non-album singles) and discogs.com and Second Hand Songs for album tracks. And I was having trouble tracking Wilson’s cover of the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”

That’s one of those titles that can be hard to track down, because of the last two words of the title: Sometimes cover versions have one or the other spelled completely instead of dropping the “g”. The original Philles release had – I believe – apostrophes at the ends of both of the last words, but I’ve also seen 45 sleeves for the Righteous Brothers with the second apostrophe dropped. So there are lots of choices to dig through.

Anyway, I finally found out at Second Hand Songs that Wilson’s version – released in 1965 on her album Today – My Way – listed the title with missing g’s and apostrophes on both of the last two words in the title. And then I saw a note at the top of the website’s main page for the song. It said that “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” was “according to BMI, the performing rights organization that represents songwriters, the most played song of the 20th century.”

That startled me. So I took a look at the Righteous Brothers’ entry in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, where I saw that bit of information confirmed with the addendum that, according to BMI, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and Phil Spector, was “the first eight-million performance song.”

I pondered that and then noticed that Second Hand Songs lists 188 versions of the song. The Righteous Brothers’ version was released in November 1964, and the first listed cover, released in early January 1965, came from Cilla Black. (It went to No. 2 in England.) Another cover followed in the U.K., by Joan Baxter, and then Nancy Wilson was the first to cover the song in the U.S.

The covers continued, of course, soon coming from, among many others, the Lettermen, Fontella Bass, the Boogie Kings, Johnny Rivers, Long John Baldry, the Pozo Seco Singers, Freda Payne, and George Hamilton. And that just gets us through 1966. The most recent cover listed at SHS came from Junko Onishi, a Japanese artist described by the website as a post-bop jazz pianist; she covered the tune in 1999.

I went back to Top Pop Singles to see which versions hit the Billboard Hot 100 or bubbled under. The Righteous Brothers original went to No. 1, of course, staying there for two weeks. Dionne Warwick’s cover went to No. 16 in 1969. A duet of the song by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway went to No. 71 in 1971. Another duet, this one by Long John Baldry (again) and Kathy MacDonald reached No. 89 in 1979. And the best performing cover was yet another duet, this one by Hall & Oates, which went to No. 12 in 1980.

(I should mention that R&B singer Vivian Reed bubbled under at No. 115 in 1968 with her medley of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling/(You’re My) Soul And Inspiration.”)

Several of those covers – and a couple not mentioned – are on the digital shelves here at the EITW studios. One of my favorites is the 1979 duet by Long John Baldry and Kathy MacDonald. It’s from the album Baldry’s Out! and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

More ‘More and More’

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

We dallied here Saturday with the original version of “More and More” by Little Milton and the 1968 cover of the tune by Blood, Sweat & Tears. I thought that today, I’d wander to Second Hand Songs and see what other covers are listed there.

The harvest is slender: The website lists two other covers of the tune, written by Don Juan Mancha and Vee Pea Smith. I had assumed when I saw those names that both were pseudonyms, but I may be only half right. Vee Pea Smith was actually Virginia P. Bland, whose list of credits at discogs is extensive, with her songs listed as being recorded by Monk Higgins (her husband), Etta James, Tyrone Davis, Junior Wells, Bobbie Womack, Clydie King, and among others, of course, Little Milton and Blood, Sweat & Tears.

As to Don Juan Mancha, that seems to be his real name, and it may be a name I should have run into long ago. His list of credits as a songwriter and producer shows work with the Falcons, Wilson Pickett, Edwin Starr, Bettye Lavette, Ike Turner, Barrett Strong, Tyrone Davis, and many more, including, like Bland’s list, Little Milton and Blood, Sweat & Tears.

And there are two more listings for the duo’s “More and More,” both recorded not long after Little Milton’s original was recorded and released. Jazz/R&B guitarist Phil Upchurch recorded an instrumental version of the tune for his 1969 album Upchurch, which was released on Chess Record’s Cadet label:

And four years later, in 1973, the song showed up in a version by the Sir Echoes on an album titled Super Hits, released on the Music Trends label. The album was no doubt one of those hastily recorded and packaged sound-alike pieces by a group of studio musicians, as most of the other tracks on the album were recent popular singles or album tracks by very famous acts: “You’re So Vain,” “Crocodile Rock,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “The World Is A Ghetto,” and more.

That suspicion is confirmed by a Google image search for the terms “super hits” and “Music Trends,” which brings up covers of other albums of songs – country and pop alike – covered by bands with names like the Country Busters, the Gallant Men, the Full House, the Now Sounds, the Sweet Nickels, the Royal Notes (who covered in its entirety Mike Oldfield’s album Tubular Bells), the Night Raiders, the Kings High and many, many more.

I’m sure that somewhere there’s a copy remaining of the right volume of Super Hits, but for now, we’ll just have to imagine what the Sir Echoes might have sounded like as they covered “More and More.”

Saturday Singles Nos. 596 & 597

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Sometime in the late summer of 1969, my sister came home from a shift of waitressing in the Woolworth’s restaurant at the Crossroads mall on the west end of St. Cloud, and she brought me a gift: Blood, Sweat & Tears’ 1968 self-titled album on cassette.

I’d recently spent the money I’d earned working at the state trapshoot – a three-time experience I’ve written about numerous times here – for a Panasonic cassette tape recorder, but I had yet to get myself anything to listen to. Rick and I had spent some time and giggles recording things around our two households and the neighborhood, but that was it. And then my sister spotted Blood, Sweat & Tears on sale at the mall, possibly at J.C. Penney but more likely at Musicland.

I knew the group, sort of. I think I’d heard “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” the previous spring, when it went to No. 2, and I know I’d heard “Spinning Wheel” during the early summer, when it also went to No. 2, but that was about it. So with a fair amount of curiosity, and grateful to have something to listen to in my tape recorder that didn’t feature my own voice, I popped the cassette in and hit “Play.”

I liked what I heard (and still do; seven of the album’s ten tracks are on the iPod). And I listened to the album enough in those long-ago days that its sequence and solos and turns are still ingrained in my head. When “Smiling Phases,” the album’s real opener (I tend to discount the Erik Satie pieces as filigree) fades out on the iPod, I expect to hear “Sometimes In Winter.” And when that one fades out, I expect to hear this:

And so on through “Blues – Part II” (followed by a reprise of Erik Satie and the sound of footsteps and a slamming door – more filigree). I’ve liked the album enough over the years that it’s one of two that I’ve owned as cassette, LP and CD. (The Beatles’ Abbey Road is the other.)

Fast-forward to this morning: I was heading downtown for a stop at the bank and then a haircut. Little Milton’s Greatest Hits – a 1997 Chess/MCA release – was in the CD player. And along came this, originally released in 1967 as Checker single 1189:

I’ve listened to it several times since then: on the way home from the barbershop and then a couple times as I’ve written this post. I have to admit that – even though I frequently dig into covers and their origins, I’ve never spent any time wondering where Blood, Sweat & Tears found the song. And that’s okay. There are a lot of tunes and covers to write about. This morning, it’s enough to say that Little Milton’s original “More and More” and Blood, Sweat & Tears’ 1968 cover of the tune are today’s Saturday Singles.

‘Don’t Be Concerned . . .’

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

A little while back, I looked at one of the Billboard Easy Listening charts from 1968 – fifty years ago – and was surprised to learn that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

I’ve been getting lessons like that for nearly sixty-five years, so my pride wasn’t wounded all that much. And, given a little more thought about how I came to hear easy listening tunes when I was in my early teens, I thought I’d take a look at another one of the magazine’s easy listening charts from the mid-1960s.

In that earlier post, I ascribed my exposure to – and my continuing love of – easy listening to the fact that we frequently listened to the Twin Cities radio giant WCCO at home. And we did. But there’s another source I didn’t think about as I wrote: my sister’s transistor radio.

I think I’ve told the tale, but if I did, it was some time back, so here goes: In either 1963 or 1964 – probably the latter – my folks gave my sister a transistor radio as a gift (Christmas, I think, though it could have been for her birthday). She evidently didn’t use it all that much, for not long afterward, my dad commandeered it for his nightstand, and every evening (save perhaps Saturdays), he would play the radio for about twenty minutes before we all closed up shop for the night.

And his station of choice was St. Cloud’s KFAM, an outfit located over on the south side that played easy listening music at that time of the evening. I clearly remember, for example, hearing Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind” – No. 1 on the easy listening chart for one week during October 1966 – coming from Dad’s transistor radio more than once. So I thought – even though it’s April – I’d take a look at that mid-October chart from 1966 and see what’s familiar and what’s not. Here are the top fifteen from that long ago Billboard Easy Listening chart:

“Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra
“Born Free” by Roger Williams
“Summer Samba (So Nice)” by Walter Wanderley
“In The Arms Of Love” by Andy Williams
“Dommage, Dommage (Too Bad, Too Bad)” by Jerry Vale
“The Wheel Of Hurt” by Margaret Whiting
“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” by Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
“Flamingo” by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
“Mas Que Nada” by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66
“A Time For Love” by Tony Bennett
“Free Again” by Barbra Streisand
“I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” by the Glenn Miller Orchestra
“Lookin’ For Love” by Ray Conniff
“Elusive Butterfly” by Jane Morgan
“Once I Had A Heart” by Robert Goulet

I think I do better with this set of fifteen than I did with the earlier grouping about six weeks ago. The top three are on the digital shelves here, as are “Mas Que Nada” and the record by Tony Bennett. I know “Dommage, Dommage,” likely from Vale’s version; I know “Elusive Butterfly” from Bob Lind’s original; and I know “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” from multiple versions (chiefly the Tommy Dorsey recording from 1935). And for what it may matter, I did refer to Whiting’s record in a post last September.

The rest would be mysteries, even “Flamingo” and “Lookin’ For Love,” despite my enjoyment of the work of both Herb Alpert and Ray Conniff.

Having dipped a toe into most of the unfamiliar tunes in the list above, I find myself liking Morgan’s sprightly take on “Elusive Butterfly.” It turned out to be her most successful record on the magazine’s easy listening chart, reaching No. 9.

Morgan’s chart history is interesting: Massachusetts-born (in 1920) and Florida-raised, she had ten records in or near the Billboard Hot 100 between 1956 and 1967, and seven records in the magazine’s easy listening chart between 1965 and 1968, but – if I’m reading things correctly – only two records showed up in both charts. Her best-performing record was “Fascination,” credited to Jane Morgan & The Troubadors, which went to No. 7 in 1957 in one of the several charts Billboard compiled at the time.

Here’s her take on Bob Lind’s “Elusive Butterfly.”

Chart position corrected after first posting.

‘Float Upstream . . .’

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

I woke up yesterday with the strains of the Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping” running through my head. They stayed there most of the day, and this morning – no doubt because I’ve been thinking of the tune – those strains are still there.

As is the case with most of the Beatles’ catalog, there is no video of the tune available, but I think that – like me – most fans of the band can pretty much play the tune in their heads, kind of a cranial on-demand. We’re going to go look for covers in a minute, but first, I thought I’d see what one of the books on my shelf – Beatlesongs by William J. Dowlding – has to say about the song and its recording.

Before that, though, I should note that American Beatle fans of similar vintage as I will remember the track as coming from the album Yesterday . . . and Today, an album made up of material previously unreleased in the states and several tracks from the upcoming Revolver. The three tracks thus displaced from Revolver in the American market – at least until the advent of CDs and the concurrent reissues – were “Doctor Robert,” “And Your Bird Can Sing,” and “I’m Only Sleeping.”

Thus, notes Dowlding, the U.S. version of Revolver had more of a Paul McCartney flavor than did the longer British version, as the three tunes shifted to Yesterday . . . and Today came mostly from the pen of John Lennon. “I’m Only Sleeping” and “And Your Bird Can Sing,” Dowlding notes, were entirely Lennon’s creation. As for “Doctor Robert,” Dowlding offers a quote from Lennon: “I think Paul helped in the middle.”

Dowlding says that “I’m Still Sleeping,” was recorded in late April and early May 1966. Perhaps the most notable thing about the record – beyond its utterly drowsy atmosphere – is the backward guitar section. Dowlding offers a lengthy quote from producer George Martin about how that was accomplished:

In order to record the backward guitar on a track like “I’m Only Sleeping,” you work out what your chord sequence is and write them down in the reverse order of the chords – as they are going to come up – so you can recognize them. Then you learn to boogie around on that chord sequence, but you really don’t know what it’s going to sound like until it comes out again. It’s hit or miss, no doubt about it, but you do it a few times, and when you like what you hear you keep it.

It wasn’t as easy as Martin makes it sound, according to a note from another volume on my shelf: Here, There and Everywhere by long-time Beatle engineer Geoff Emerick and collaborator Howard Massey. Emerick writes that getting that solo for “I’m Only Sleeping” made him wish “we had never come up with the concept of backwards sound.”

And then Emerick takes aim at Beatle George Harrison’s musical abilities (something he does regularly throughout the book):

At the best of times, [Harrison] had trouble playing solos all the way through forwards, so it was with great trepidation that we all settled in for what turned out to be an interminable day of listening to the same eight bars played backwards over and over again. . . . I can still picture George – and later, Paul, who joined him to play the backwards outro in a bizarre duet – hunched over his guitar for hours on end, headphones clamped on, brows furrowed in concentration.

Assessing the finished track, Dowlding offers a comment from Lennon’s long-time friend, Pete Shotton, who said the song “brilliantly evokes the state of chemically induced lethargy into which John had . . . drifted.”

Having known the track for almost fifty years – I got the U.S. version of Revolver as a birthday present in September 1970, four years after it came out – and having it run through my head for most of the last two days, I concur with Shotton’s assessment.

Since the original is not available to us this morning, let’s see about covers. Second Hand Songs lists thirty-seven covers, ranging temporally from the Lettermen’s shimmering 1972 version to a jazzy 2016 take on the tune by Brit singer Will Young. A couple of other names in the list are easily recognizable, like Lobo and Shawn Mullins, and there are a lot of names I do not know (though perhaps I should).

Another recognizable name in the list is that of Rosanne Cash, who released her version of “I’m Only Sleeping” on her 1995 album Retrospective. It showed up again on the 1999 compilation New Horizons: An Essential New Country Collection and once more on the 2005 compilation Yesterday (A Country Music Tribute To The Beatles). Here’s Cash’s version, which is not all that far removed from the original. I like it a lot.

Checking Out Ms. Jordan

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Okay, so: Sass Jordan. She’s a Canadian singer who’s had some decent successes on the north side of the border and a few bits of the same on this side. The most notable moment for her came, most likely, when her vocals were added to join Joe Cocker’s on a tune called “Trust In Me.” The resulting “duet” wound up on the soundtrack to the 1992 Whitney Houston film The Bodyguard.

On the southern side of the border, two of her seven albums have edged into the lower portions of the Billboard 200: Her 1992 album Racine went to No. 174, and Rats, released in 1994, went to No. 158. Both were Top Ten on the magazine’s Top Heatseekers chart, which highlights “new and developing” artists, according to Wikipedia.

I knew nothing of that when I began poking around today, checking out Ms. Jordan’s background. So why was I poking? Well, the other day, the Texas Gal and I were somewhere – having lunch, likely – when I heard from the overhead speakers the strains of the Eagles track “Ol’ 55.” It’s a decent track that was the B-side to “Best Of My Love” in 1974 and showed up on the group’s album On The Border.

And having heard the track for the first time in a while, I wondered about covers. I knew the Eagles’ version was itself a cover, as the song came from the pen of Tom Waits and was on his 1973 album Closing Time. So I began to look around the Interweb for information about covers. (I already knew of one; Richie Havens covered the tune on his 1980 album Connections.)

And I found Sass Jordan’s cover of the tune. It was on her 2009 album From Dusk ’Til Dawn:

And we’ll leave it there today, planning to check out a few more covers of “Ol’ 55” in the days to come (and to check out more of Jordan’s music, too).

‘Shooting Star’

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

I was glancing this morning at the Billboard Hot 100 from the second week of 1968, staying in our recent mode of fifty years ago. I was thinking about doing a post about the Bottom Ten from that list, a selection of records that would start with “United (Part 1)” by the Music Makers and end with “Funky Way” by Calvin Arnold.

(Joel Whitburn tells me in Top Pop Singles that the Music Makers evolved into M.F.S.B., which is not a surprise after seeing that the record, which Whitburn notes is an instrumental version of the Intruders’ “(We’ll Be) United,” was written and produced by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff and was released on the Gamble label. As to “Funky Way,” Whitburn has less information, noting only that Arnold was a Detroit-based performer. Neither record did much, with “United (Part 1)” peaking at No. 78 and “Funky Way” getting to No. 72.)

But one of the records in that Bottom Ten diverted my train of thought. I was pretty sure I’d written before about the record at No. 93, “A Little Rain Must Fall” by the Epic Splendor. And, in fact, I had, in a Chart Digging post in late January 2011. Having refreshed my memory about the Epic Splendor, I idly clicked past that post down to the next post, one written a couple days earlier, and I found myself re-reading my tale of some college friends who claimed to have gone into a bar in a rural area west of Minneapolis during the autumn of 1975 and encountered Bob Dylan, who got on stage and sang a few songs with a local performer.

In that post, I pondered what song I’d want to sing with the Bard of Hibbing if I ever got such an unlikely opportunity. I settled on “Shooting Star,” a melancholy memoir from the 1989 album Oh Mercy.

Still looking for a topic for this morning, I checked out my post from January 9, 2008, ten years ago today, a post in which I looked at what the world had been listening to in 1989 and what I was listening to that same year. The two lists were markedly different, which should be no surprise to anyone who knows me or who’s read even a few things here. And one of the tracks listed in my version of 1989 in that post was “Shooting Star.”

Bemused, I wondered how often I’ve mentioned “Shooting Star” in the nearly eleven years I’ve been throwing stuff at the wall here. It turns out to be three times. The third time was in a March 2009 post as I considered which ten tracks I’d play as my first ten if I had a radio show. For what it’s worth, here’s that list:

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult
“Don’t the Moon Look Sad and Lonesome” by Joy of Cooking
“You Don’t Have To Cry” by Crosby, Stills & Nash
“Bare Trees” by Fleetwood Mac
“Valdez In The Country” by Cold Blood
“Anyday” by Derek & the Dominos
“A Woman Left Lonely” by Janis Joplin
“Blue River” by Danko/Fjeld/Andersen
“Shooting Star” by Bob Dylan
“The Promised Land” by Bruce Springsteen

So in the course of 2,000-and-some posts, I mention “Shooting Star” three times, and this morning, looking for other stuff, I stumble on two of those mentions. Clearly the universe is at work.

I went to YouTube. As might be expected, Mr. Dylan keeps a tight rein on his music, and only two tracks from Oh Mercy are available there: “Political World” and “Most Of The Time.” There’s no point in my making a video for “Shooting Star” and putting it up; it will be taken down shortly and I’ll get a little note from the website.

So let’s look at covers. The website Second Hand Songs lists four. I only checked out one of them, finding a pleasant take on the tune by the duo of Andy Hill & Renée Safier. It’s from their 2001 album of Dylan covers, It Takes A Lot To Laugh.

Before we listen, though, remember that I called the song a melancholy memoir? Here are the lyrics:

Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of you
You were trying to break into another world
A world I never knew
I always kind of wondered
If you ever made it through
Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of you

Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of me
If I was still the same
If I ever became what you wanted me to be
Did I miss the mark or overstep the line
That only you could see?
Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of me

Listen to the engine, listen to the bell
As the last fire truck from hell
Goes rolling by
All good people are praying
It’s the last temptation, the last account
The last time you might hear the sermon on the mount
The last radio is playing

Seen a shooting star tonight
Slip away
Tomorrow will be
Another day
Guess it’s too late to say the things to you
That you needed to hear me say
Seen a shooting star tonight
Slip away

And here are Hill and Safier:

Saturday Single No. 570

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

The last days of Christmas busy-ness are upon us. We’ll spend much of the day finishing holiday-related tasks: mailing packages and cards (yes, they will arrive late), buying provisions for our own celebration Christmas Eve and for the family dinner at my sister’s in Maple Grove Monday.

We’re meeting a friend for lunch, and we’ll also take time to attend a memorial service for the husband of a fellow member of our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Add in some necessary household tasks – given my difficulties with my legs, the Texas Gal needs to spot me when I climb a ladder to replace light bulbs in the kitchen’s ceiling fixture – and we have a busy and demanding day.

So I’m just going to wish a Merry Christmas to all out there. May you spend these days with those you love in whatever place you consider home. And amid all the hubbub, be good to one another.

Here’s one of the two or three Christmas tunes we ever post here, John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” performed this time in Swedish by Linda Andrews with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra and Dobbletkvartetten (the male vocal group, I assume). It’s from Andrews’ 2009 album Husker du julen . . . (Do You Remember Christmas), and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Hucklebucking

Friday, December 15th, 2017

So, I thought, what do I have in the digital stacks that was recorded on December 15?

And the RealPlayer brought me a few tracks: Lena Horne’s “Stormy Weather” from 1941, the King Cole Trio’s version of “Sweet Lorraine” from 1943, Deanna Durbin’s “Always” from 1944, Dion’s “Ruby Baby” from 1962 and three copies of “The Huckle-Buck” by Paul Williams & His Hucklebuckers, recorded in 1948.

And I stopped right there, because the tag on one of those three copies said the track was recorded in New York, while the tag on another said Detroit. The third had no location listed. And between the three copies of the same track, I had four catalog numbers, all on the Savoy label. But before we go any further, let’s listen to “The Huckle-Buck” as Williams and his band recorded it in December of 1948:

The record was a major hit in 1949, topping the Billboard Best Seller chart for twelve weeks and the magazine’s Juke Box chart for fourteen weeks. You’ll note that the catalog number in the video is Savoy 683, and that’s the number that Joel Whitburn has listed in Top 40 R&B and Hip-Hop Hits, so we’ll go with that. But according to the data at The Online Discographical Project, Savoy did in fact issue the record with three other catalog numbers as well.

But where was it recorded? Where did I find Detroit and New York mentioned? Well, I found New York listed as the recording site on the two-LP set The Roots Of Rock ’N Roll, a 1977 release on the Savoy label. And Detroit was listed as the site in the very detailed notes supplied with The Big Horn, a four-CD set from England of 106 tracks featuring saxophone, released in 2003 by Proper Records.

And I’m uncertain. Part of me says that the New York location make sense, because Savoy should know where one of its biggest hits was recorded. And part of me tends to think that Detroit is correct, because the notes in the booklet accompanying The Big Horn are so very detailed and could contain information found during the intervening years. I’d like to know, but I’m not going to let the discrepancy get in the way of the music. Because there’s a lot of stuff about “The Huckle-Buck” that I found interesting.

First, Paul Williams pretty much stole the song. The website Second Hand Songs notes that the tune was first called “D’ Natural Blues.” It was written by Andy Gibson and it was first performed by Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra in September of 1948. The website then notes:

Paul Williams heard Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra perform “D’ Natural Blues” and decided to perform this song too. He called it “The Huckle-Buck.” The reactions turned out to be very positive and he decided to record it (December 15th, 1948). Lucky Millinder recorded it a few weeks later (beginning of January 1949) . . .

Here’s Millinder’s “D’ Natural Blues.”

Soon enough, lyricist (and occasional composer) Roy Alfred wrote some words for the tune, and Roy Milton & His Solid Senders recorded a vocal version in January 1949 that went to No. 5 on the R&B chart. And the covers kept on coming: Big Sis Andrews & Her Huckle-Busters, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Hampton (No. 12, R&B), Homer & Jethro with June Carter (as the B-side of a 1949 record titled “The Wedding of Hillbilly Lily Marlene”), Benny Goodman, Pearl Bailey and on through the 1950s until we get to the 1960s and the only version of the tune that’s been a hit in the Billboard Hot 100: Chubby Checker’s cover went to No. 14 (and No. 15 on the R&B chart) in the autumn of 1960, just months after “The Twist” went to No. 1 for the first time:

The list of covers at Second Hand Songs – instrumentals and vocals alike – is pretty lengthy, and includes a lame 1961 vocal version by Annette Funicello, an instrumental version by a 1988 edition of Canned Heat*, and a wicked version by Otis Redding, recorded in September 1967 and released post-humously on The Dock of the Bay in 1968. And that’s where we’ll close today’s proceedings. Hucklebuck, ya’ll!

*That 1988 edition of the band has two original members, according to Wikipedia: Fito de la Parra and Larry Taylor. That’s pretty thin gruel from this side of the table. My sense is that once Al Wilson and Bob Hite were gone (1970 and 1981, respectively), so was Canned Heat.

Sorting & Gathering

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

I spent a bunch of time yesterday messing around with a file folder full of mp3s. The folder is labeled “Temp,” and it’s where I dump albums of stuff when they first land here and I haven’t got time at the moment to check titles and tag before I filter them into the RealPlayer.

Of course, stuff settles to the bottom of the folder and sits there, and every once in a while, I look at one or another of the folders at the bottom of the Temp folder and wonder, “When the heck did I get that?” Windows 10 helpfully sorts the stuff in the Temp folder into categories that range from “Today” to “A Long Time Ago.” And there’s lots of stuff in that last category.

Well, there’s less now than there used to be. I checked titles and tags in a lot of folders yesterday including a U.K. collection of soul hits (about thirty of which I did not already have); the first volume of The Complete Goldwax Singles; and albums by Ferrante & Teicher, Redwing, Andrea Marr, Slim Harpo, the Motels, and the Sutherland Brothers, with and without Quiver.

I also spent some time mining some out-of-print easy listening albums from the nifty blog In-Flight Entertainment, including stuff by Sounds Orchestral, Bert Kaempfert, Hugo Montenegro, Henry Mancini, Billy Strange, and the Button Down Brass.

But the best find of the past two days was likely the two CDs I grabbed for $1 each at the local library’s bookstore Thursday: Daniel Lanois’ 1993 release, For the Beauty of Wynona, and John Marytn’ 1998 album, The Church With One Bell.

I’ve liked Lanois’ production work with U2 (The Joshua Tree) and Bob Dylan (Oh Mercy and Time Out of Mind), and I love his own albums, Acadie, Belladonna and Shine. I heard Wynona long ago but – amid the many, many albums I said I’d get to later – I’ve never heard it since.

As for the later British singer/songwriter Martyn, I don’t know as much about him. I have one album on the digital shelves, Stormbringer, a 1970 release that he recorded with his wife, Beverly, and I’m looking forward to digging into The Church With One Bell.

I’d already heard one track, however. The Bobby Charles tune “Small Town Talk” is one of those songs I love enough to gather into my digital shelves any version of it I can find. A while back, I came upon Martyn’s version from The Church With One Bell and liked it a lot. And when I found the CD at the library Wednesday and was reminded of Martyn’s version of the song, well, there you go!