Saturday Single No. 316

We’re feeling a bit random here this morning, so that’s the approach we’re going to take in finding a Saturday Single: As we occasionally do, we’ll wander six times through the mp3s in the RealPlayer and almost certainly use our sixth stop as our tune for the day. (The exceptions would be: Nothing weird for the audience, like Bulgarian folk music; nothing we’ve featured here recently; and nothing that cannot either be found or posted at YouTube.)

A few years ago, I ran across a vocal group called Mediæval Bæbes, which Robert Cummins of All-Music Guide describes as “a crossover vocal ensemble whose unique style features a deft mixture of medieval music, multi-language texts, modern arrangements, and both ancient and modern instrumentation. . . . Consisting of about six to twelve singers, Mediæval Bæbes are typically attired in long, sometimes provocative gowns or gothic-inspired costumes, and may wear, depending on the concert’s theme, vampiric teeth, flowered headwear, or other exotic accoutrements.” I was intrigued enough to find copies of Salva Nos (Save Us) and Worldes Blysse, the group’s first two CDs, and although a steady diet of the Bæbes would be a little wearisome, I’ve enjoyed having the tracks pop up now and then. This morning’s track, and our first stop today, is “Gaudete” from 1998’s Salva Nos (Save Us).

More than once (but not for a while, I believe), I’ve mentioned the music that the late Kate Wolf left behind when she passed on in 1986. With her band Wildwood Flower and then on her own, Wolf released five albums of melodic and lyrically wise and gentle folk music. Those who want a good cross-section of her work should check out Gold from California, a two-CD anthology, or perhaps the live Give Yourself to Love. The latter set is where I found the version of “Medicine Ball” that shows up this morning. And we move on.

About four months after this blog went online, I shared an album by the little-known artist Jerry Riopelle. Take A Chance was raw (and sometimes derivative) mid-Seventies country rock, but finding the vinyl in the stacks spurred me to dig a bit more into Riopelle’s catalog. A couple more unfocused (and not very good) albums later, I shrugged and moved on, but the mp3s lived on in the hard drive. This morning, we land on the title tune from 1975’s Take A Chance. Like a lot of the albums and CDs gathered in the cyberstacks – including the Mediæval Bæbes, as I noted above – one track at a time is fine, but that’s about all I need from Jerry Riopelle.

And we fly back to 1960, with a swirl of string and a flutter of persistent percussion introducing Brook Benton’s version of “Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread).” The record went to No. 24 (No. 5 on the R&B chart), and was the sixteenth of fifty-eight records in or near the Billboard Hot 100 for Benton. His biggest hits were “The Boll Weevil Song,” which went to No. 2 (No. 2 R&B as well) in 1961 and “It’s Just A Matter of Time,” which was a No. 3 hit (No. 1 for nine weeks on the R&B chart) in 1959. In these parts, the South Carolina native is fondly recalled for “A Rainy Night in Georgia,” which reached No. 4 on the pop chart and No. 1 on the R&B chart in 1970.

Bob Brozman is a guitar player and singer who handles with seeming ease not only current and classic blues and folk but also the genres and styles of other eras, perhaps most notably the 1920s and 1930s. His studies in ethnomusicology have also spurred him to explore a wide range of other musical environments. One example of that exploration was his work with local string bands in Papua New Guinea in 2003 and 2004; the results were released on the CD/DVD Songs of the Volcano in 2005. I’ve heard only a little of his work, but his name is on my very long list of performers whose work I want to explore further. This morning, our next-to-last stop brings us Brozman’s “New Vine Street Blues,” a 1930-ish piece from his 1997 album Golden Slide.

Earlier this year, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Amnesty International was celebrated with the release of Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan. The four-CD collection of Dylan’s songs includes performances from a number of obvious choices – Johnny Cash, Billy Bragg and Joan Baez – and from a number of not-so-obvious choices, including a take from Miley Cyrus on “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.” (Cyrus actually does a pretty good job. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AMG notes that Cyrus “may not know who Verlaine and Rimbaud are, but she focuses on the melody and winds up selling the song in the process.”) The track from the massive set that shows up here this morning is “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” as covered by Cage the Elephant, a fairly obscure band from Bowling Green, Kentucky. It’s an effectively atmospheric take on the tragic tale of the kitchen maid and her death at the hands of a socially connected rogue, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

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2 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 316”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    “Livin’ The Life” – the lead-off single from Jerry Riopelle’s 1974 LP, ‘Saving Grace’ (and co-written with his fellow ex-Parade chum Stuart Margolin) – was his only solo work that really caught my ear. The single arrived the same week Margolin debuted as Jim Rockford’s buddy, Angel.

    I do like the fun of the Parade’s “Sunshine Girl” and “The Radio Song” and also enjoyed Jerry’s collaboration with Nino Tempo on Nino & April’s “All Strung Out.”

  2. Paco Malo says:

    Fascinating coincidence, synchronicity if you will: this intriguing cover of the Dylan classic is “right in time” with me, today, taking a break while watching Todd Haynes’ film “I’m Not There”. “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” appears in the soundtrack of the film, there covered by Mason Jennings.

    Keep on keepin’ on Whiteray. I’m diggin’ it.

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