Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Goldsboro’

‘Voodoo’

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Casting about for an idea, as I often do, I took a look this morning at the Billboard Hot 100 from July 3, 1965, fifty years ago today. And sitting at No. 31 was a title and an artist’s name that caused more than an instant of cognitive dissonance: “Voodoo Woman” by Bobby Goldsboro:

It doesn’t give me a sense of the jungles of Haiti or the bayous of Louisiana, but it’s not a truly awful record. The drums kind of work and the shrill harmonica gives the record an alien sound. As to the drums, I wondered if the famed Wrecking Crew provided the backing and the drums were Hal Blaine’s, but my copy of the book The Wrecking Crew is at Rick’s house (though the book might not have answered my question anyway), and I didn’t want to spend time googling this morning.

“Voodoo Woman” was Goldsboro’s seventh record in or near the Hot 100, and by the time early July rolled around in 1965, it was coming down from its peak at No. 27. I don’t think I’d ever heard it until this morning, which isn’t surprising, as I wasn’t a listener at the time. And finding it made me wonder how many tracks on the digital shelves also have “voodoo” in their titles (if not in their marrow).

A search for the word brings up 109 mp3s, but a number of the results have to be discarded: All of D’Angelo’s 2000 album Voodoo and all of the Rolling Stones’ 1994 album Voodoo Lounge have to be set aside, and all but the title tracks from Alex Taylor’s 1989 album Voodoo In Me and the 1959 exotica album Voodoo by Robert Drasnin have to be left behind as well. We also lose Rhythm Disease, a 2001 album by the Hillbilly Voodoo Dolls, and several tracks each by the Voodoo Dogs and the Mumbo Jumbo Voodoo Combo.

That still leaves plenty of tracks, with perhaps the best-known being “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” from the 1968 album Electric Ladyland by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Beyond the version that ended up on the album, I’ve somehow managed to get hold of sixteen alternate versions of the Hendrix tune, which is likely overkill even for me, and it’s not what I have in mind this morning anyway.

Of the maybe forty tracks remaining, do any call to mind midnight in the jungles and along the bayous? Taylor’s “Voodoo In You” is decent, but it’s a cover of Johnny Jenkins’ version from the 1970 album, Ton-Ton Macoute! The backing tracks for Jenkins’ album began as tracks for a Duane Allman solo album before he formed the Allman Brothers Band and thus includes work from Allman, some of the future members of the ABB and a few other Muscle Shoals standouts, so Jenkins’ “Voodoo In You” is good. On the other side of the gender divide, I have covers of Koko Taylor’s “Voodoo Woman” from Susan Tedeschi (2004) and Ana Popovic (2011) but oddly, not Taylor’s 1975 original (an omission that will be rectified soon). But none of those quite fill my empty space today, either.

Passing over those tracks seems to leave it up to the Neville Brothers, which feels right. Here’s “Voo Doo” from their 1989 album Yellow Moon. The album went to No. 66 on the Billboard 200.

Chart Digging, March 1973

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Yesterday came and went, bringing with it a storm that left three inches or so of wet, heavy snow. My day included a drive to my mother’s place through said storm with essential supplies, two stints of shoveling the walk and not a single word readied for this blog.

But I did spend some time digging around in the Billboard Hot 100 and its attendant Bubbling Under records from March 3, 1973. (I had to resurrect the Bubbling Under portion of the chart from information online; whoever transcribed the charts I once found in a crevice somewhere on the ’Net occasionally neglected to include that often fascinating portion of many charts.) And most of the records in that Bubbling Under section from that long-ago March 3 were utterly unknown to me.

There are probably two reasons for that lack of familiarity: They generally didn’t rise very high in the chart, and I wasn’t really listening to Top 40 in that season anyway, except for the brief times I was in the car. But from a distance of forty-two years, the reasons why I didn’t hear them back then don’t matter. What matters is that through the amazing numbers of old and rather obscure records posted on YouTube by music geeks like me, I’ve heard them now.

Bobby Goldsboro has popped up in these precincts on occasion. I recall my surprise at how much I liked “Summer (The First Time),” which went to No. 21 in the summer of 1973, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere during the past eight years how much I detest the bathetic “Honey,” which was No. 1 for five weeks on the pop chart and for two weeks on the Easy Listening chart in 1968. And I was pleasantly surprised as I listened to “Brand New Kind Of Love” yesterday. I can’t quite figure out what it reminds me of, but there’s something similar poking its way through the dust on my memory’s shelves. Or maybe it just sounds like 1973, which is always a welcome sound around here. Anyway, in the first week of March 1973, “Brand New Kind Of Love” was sitting at No. 125 in its first week of bubbling. It hung around for six weeks, peaking at No. 116.

Any record that starts out “Hello, Mrs. Johnson, you self-righteous woman,” is worth a listen or two around here, and Cal Smith’s country hit “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking” is one I’ve played more than that in the last day or so. Smith’s record was sitting at No. 115 during the first days of March in 1973, and would eventually get up to No. 64 (and to No. 1 on the country chart). The tale of the less-than-righteous calling out the self-righteous is a classic country music device, of course. The one that comes most quickly to mind is Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” in which the narrator’s momma takes on, as she calls them, the “Harper Valley hypocrites.” Smith’s irritation, however, lands solely on Mrs. Johnson even as he acknowledges that his moral shortcomings need some attention: “Me and the good Lord will have us a good talk later tonight.”

“Just get back! That’s where it’s at” is the chant that closes “Back Up” by the Manhattans, which was perched at No. 107 during the first days of that long-ago March. Slinky, funky and cool, “Back Up” was the twelfth single the New Jersey group had gotten in or near the Hot 100 since 1965, with none of them going higher than No. 68. They’d been a presence on the R&B chart, but with only one Top Ten hit: “One Life To Live” in 1972. In a few years, of course, the Manhattans would top the pop chart (and the R&B chart) with “Kiss And Say Goodbye,” and in 1980, they’d make the Top 5 on both charts with “Shining Star.” That was yet to come, however, and “Back Up” bubbled no higher and peaked at No. 19 on the R&B chart.

Mickey Newbury’s name showed up in this space a number of times during this blog’s first few years, but it’s been absent since 2010. I’m not sure why that’s the case, for Newbury – who passed on in 2002 – is pretty high on my list of performers who have been hugely overlooked. His “American Trilogy” – a medley of “Dixie,” “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic” and “All My Trials” – went to No. 26 in early 1972, and a year later, Elektra released the title track of his Heaven Help The Child album as a single. It was bubbling under at No. 106 in that chart of March 3, 1973, and in another three weeks, it went up only to No. 103 before going away. It’s a gorgeous piece. Here’s how it sounded on the album: