Archive for the ‘Saturday Single’ Category

Saturday Single No. 732

Saturday, April 10th, 2021

The other week, writing about B.B. King’s “Ask Me No Questions,” I said:

It’s an interesting record, in that it’s got more piano in it than I tend to expect of a King record, but a quick look at the credits at both AllMusic and discogs tells me that Carole King was around for the album sessions. I wish I had track-by-track information, but I don’t.

Well, I do now. Shortly after I wrote about the track, I was noodling around Amazon in search of Rhiannon Giddens’ forthcoming album (it arrived yesterday, and so far, I’m pleased), and I noticed we had some bonus points or something from the site. So I added to my order King’s 1970 album Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

As I suspected, the session notes I found at the two websites mentioned above were incomplete. And I’m a bit chagrined, because with a little more effort on that Saturday a few weeks ago, I might have recognized that the piano part on that particular track was supplied by Leon Russell. I was listening for Carole King, however, and the idea slipped past me.

Carole King does play on four of the album’s nine tracks, while Russell plays on three, including on his own composition “Hummingbird.” On that one, the background vocals are provided by four women whose names have popped up many times on this blog: Sherlie Matthews, Clydie King, Venetta Fields, and Mary Clayton.

Eight of the nine tracks on the album were recorded at the Record Plant in Los Angeles, and on those, Russ Kunkel handles the drums and Bryan Garofalo provides bass. Guitarist Joe Walsh shows up for a couple of tracks.

(The ninth track was laid down at the Hit Factory in New York. Players there were Hugh McCrackin on rhythm guitar, Paul Harris on piano, Gerald Jemmott on bass and Herb Lovelle on drums.)

The CD fills nicely a gap on the shelves, as the only other B.B. King CDs I have are an a career-spanning anthology and three other CDs with King performing with others: Blues Summit and Deuces Wild feature King with a wide range of other performers (from Ruth Brown to Robert Cray on the first and from Van Morrison to Marty Stuart on the second), and Riding With The King is an album recorded with Eric Clapton.

(If I want more B.B. King, I can turn to the LP shelves, where there are eleven of his albums, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s.)

And here’s another track from Indianola Mississippi Seeds, this one with Carole King playing piano and electric piano: “Ain’t Gonna Worry My Life Anymore.” The track starts with an informal jam over strings and horns, then moves into the song itself. And in the latter portions of the track, Carole King gets a chance to show off her chops on the electric piano. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 731

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

Shining stars. Falling stars. Shooting stars. Silver stars. It’s too big a list.

I was going to select a few favorite tracks that have “star” in their titles and blather on about each of them this morning before choosing one for today’s featured single. But a search for “star” in the RealPlayer has discouraged me, coming back with 1,239 tracks.

Many of those, of course, would not qualify. A wonderful album by various artists from 2003 titled All Night All Stars (including tracks by Gregg Allman, Amy Helm, and the duo of Bobby Whitlock and Kim Carmel) goes by the wayside, as does an odd album titled Gulag Orkestar by a group called Beirut. Gone are two albums by the group Big Star. And so on, and I do not have the intestinal fortitude to sort through all 11,239 tracks this morning.

So I’ll just go back to the record that brought me the idea earlier this week without my even hearing it. Something, somewhere, sparked the 1970 memory of hearing Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everybody Is A Star.” And that got me to thinking about records with “star” in their titles. So here we are.

Here’s Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everybody Is A Star.” As the B-side of a two-sided single – “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” was the A-side – it spent two weeks at No. 1 in February 1970, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 730

Saturday, March 27th, 2021

As I wander through the vast universe of popular music from the middle of the Twentieth Century, I more and more find myself stumbling into lyrics that would no longer be acceptable in polite company.

Last evening, I was playing tabletop baseball with the RealPlayer offering full albums, and I was quite enjoying the Rolling Stones’ 1970 live album, ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’ And then Mick and the boys launched into “Stray Cat Blues” and got to the second verse:

I can see that you’re just thirteen years old
I don’t want your I.D.
You look so lonesome and you so far from home
It’s no hanging matter
It’s no capital crime

I stared at the computer for a few seconds, wondering what Mick Jagger sings these days if “Stray Cat Blues” ends upon the setlist and wondering, too, how that lyric was ever acceptable even in the 1960s and early 1970s. (In the original version of the song on the Beggars Banquet album, the young lady in question is fifteen years old, which was not much better.)

And this morning, as I searched for tracks recorded over the years on March 27, I came across “Your Funeral And My Trial” by Sonny Boy Williamson II, recorded in Chicago on this date in 1958 and released as Checker 894. Here’s the first verse:

Please come home to your daddy, and explain yourself to me
Because I and you are man and wife, tryin’ to start a family
I’m beggin’ you baby, cut out that off the wall jive
If you can’t treat me no better, it gotta be your funeral and my trial

That tagline shows up on all three verses. Now, that was 1958, and the Stones’ record was 1969-70. Attitudes have changed, at least in mainstream culture. What do we do with the art from earlier times that expresses attitudes we no longer hold?

I dunno. But while we think about it, here’s “Keep Your Hands Out Of My Pocket” by Sonny Boy Williamson II, also recorded in Chicago on March 27, 1958. It ended up on his Bummer Road album. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 729

Saturday, March 20th, 2021

One of the most-represented artists on the shelves here came to me twenty-eight years ago today. Like today, March 20, 1993, was a Saturday, and I was scouting out a new-to-me used record store on Minneapolis’ Nicollet Avenue.

The store was, if I recall rightly, about five blocks north of Lake Street, in an area unfamiliar to me. There was nothing shady about the neighborhood; it was home to, among many other things, a German restaurant I’d visited occasionally. But beyond several instances of schnitzel and beer over the years, I knew little about the area.

A record store is always going to draw me in, though, and as I wandered through the stacks and racks of this one – its name long-forgotten – my eye was caught by a record jacket tucked into the folk and country section:

Last Of The True Believers, The

I don’t recall the price, but I’m sure it didn’t cost more than a couple of bucks, and I added Nanci Griffith’s The Last of the True Believers, a 1986 album, to the other two records I’d grabbed that morning – Don McLean’s self-titled album from 1972 and Glenn Yarbrough’s Honey & Wine from 1967 – and headed to the cash register and then home. And, I assume, sometime that afternoon or evening, I listened to the eleven tracks on The Last of the True Believers and encountered Nanci Griffith’s unique voice and diction for the first time.

I added two more albums over the next few years, and when I began to buy CDs, added yet more of Griffith’s music. And by the time we get to today, twenty-eight years since I first heard her voice, there are 261 of her tracks on the digital shelves.

Simply by that total, I’d have to acknowledge that she’s my favorite of the artists found at that intersection of folk and country. (Darden Smith, whose music I’ve mentioned here many times, comes in second with a total of 180 tracks.) And there are only six artists of any genre whose music is better represented on the digital stacks here. (Fodder for a post in the next week, likely.)

So today, March 20, is Nanci Griffith Day around here. And to celebrate, here’s “Love At The Five & Dime,” the best track from The Last of the True Believers. I offered the song once before in a version from a later album, but here’s the original version, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 728

Saturday, March 13th, 2021

It’s been a while since we played “Symmetry” here, so we’re going to pull up the Billboard Hot 100 from March 13, 1971, and check out what record was at No. 50 exactly fifty years ago.

We’ll start, as we customarily do, with the Top Ten:

“One Bad Apple” by the Osmonds
“Me & Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin
“For All We Know” by the Carpenters
“Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” by the Temptations
“She’s A Lady” by Tom Jones
“Mama’s Pearl” by the Jackson 5
“Proud Mary” by Ike & Tina Turner
“Have You Ever Seen The Rain/Hey Tonight” by CCR
“Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted” by the Partridge Family
“If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot

At the time, I was heading into my last few months of high school, and I got my radio fixes mostly from WJON down across the railroad tracks in the hours before bedtime and from WLS when I went to bed. The radio was pulled right up to the edge of my nightstand, and I’d keep the volume down low enough that the music coming from the Chicago giant would lull me to sleep. The Twin cities KDWB supplied daytime tunes, but that happened infrequently.

Nine of those eleven were familiar back then. I think I may have heard the Partridge Family record at the time, as it was vaguely familiar when I came across it on an anthology in the mid-1990s. If I ever heard “Mama’s Pearl” in 1971, it was either not frequently enough to register or loud enough to wake me up as I slid toward sleep. The only times I recall hearing it have come in the fourteen years I’ve been writing this blog.

The other nine, though, are lodged in my memory, and two of them – the Janis Joplin and Gordon Lightfoot records – are among my favorites and have burrowed deep inside. (Just yesterday, I was down in my corner of the family room working on baseball statistics while the Texas Gal was working on a jigsaw puzzle upstairs with one of the music channels keeping her company. I was only vaguely aware of the sounds of “Bobby McGee” coming down the stairs as I bent over a stat sheet, but my hands knew, as I suddenly realized I was playing air piano and air organ during the long instrumental break at the end of the record.)

I used to love the Turners’ “Proud Mary,” but now I’m a little tired of it, and the same goes for “One Bad Apple,” which has been in my iPod for years now but may be retired soon.

Which of the others are in my iPod and thus part of my day-to-day listening? The Joplin and the Lightfoot, certainly, along with the Temptations and both sides of the Creedence single. Adding in the Osmonds, that makes six. The Carpenters and Tom Jones may be added. The Turners and the Jacksons won’t be. The Partridge Family? Maybe.

And now, let’s drop to No. 50 from fifty years ago. And we find B.B. King’s “Ask Me No Questions,” a track pulled from the album Indianola Mississippi Seeds. The record was climbing the Hot 100, heading for a peak at No. 40, while over on the magazine’s R&B chart, it was at its peak of No. 18.

It’s an interesting record, in that it’s got more piano in it than I tend to expect of a King record, but a quick look at the credits at both AllMusic and discogs tells me that Carole King was around for the album sessions. I wish I had track-by-track information, but I don’t. Even without knowing for sure who’s on the piano, it’s a good listen, which means that B.B. King’s “Ask Me No Questions” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 727

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

This will be brief because I still am not feeling the greatest. Backlash from the vaccine? I dunno. But the less time I spend thinking today, the better off I – and the world – will be.

So, I looked at the number above and thought about airplanes and asked the RealPlayer to sort for “planes.” Maybe not a good idea. Anything with “planet” in its title came up, as well, like Bob Dylan’s Planet Waves, the soundtracks to the television series The Lonely Planet and a few more. And then, even when I found the right word, I had to winnow out everything by the Jefferson Airplane.

But there were still lots of tracks about planes and airplanes, including six versions of John Denver’s “Leaving On A Jet Plane” and thirteen versions of Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues,” but since that last is about a car, it doesn’t really count.

I looked on.

There are a couple of tracks titled just “Airplane,” one by the Indigo Girls from their 1992 album Rites Of Passage and a single by a group called Peter’s Pipers on the Philips label from 1968. Other titles jump out: “Trains & Boats & Planes” by Dionne Warwick. “Waiting For The Last Plane” by Joy Of Cooking. “The Great Airplane Strike” by Paul Revere & The Raiders. “Springfield Plane” by Kenny O’Dell on the Vegas label.

(I recognize O’Dell’s name. He was a prolific country songwriter and producer with a handful of country hits and a similar handful of hits in the Billboard Hot 100, including “Springfield Plane,” which went to No. 94.)

There are versions of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” from the Byrds, Richard Shindell and Nanci Griffith.

There are “Paper Planes” by Scala & Kolacny Brothers as well as by M.I.A., and “Plane Crash” by Basil Poledouris from the soundtrack to The Hunt For Red October and then “On A ’plane To Nowhere” by Barracade (with that odd punctuation) and “Outbound Plane” from, again, Nanci Griffith.

And then I see “Next Plane To London” by Rose Garden, a 1967 single I wrote about briefly some years ago, and adjacent to it is another version of the tune, and there’s Kenny O’Dell again, who wrote the song and recorded it for his 1968 album Beautiful People.

Who am I to argue? It’s a Kenny O’Dell day, and his cover of “Next Plane To London” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 726

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

There are a very few tracks in the digital collection here that have been recorded on February 27, maybe ten. (Of the 82,000 mp3s pulled into the RealPlayer, I have that depth of information on maybe ten percent.)

And a quick look at the February 27 tracks offers one that came to me via the series called When The Sun Goes Down, a set of eleven CDs issued between 2002 and 2004 featuring vintage music from the Victor and Bluebird labels.

The Hall Brothers recorded the song “Constant Sorrow” in Charlotte, North Carolina, on this date in 1938. The song, of course, is better known these days as “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” after being featured in the 2000 movie O, Brother, Where Art Thou?, but there had been somewhere around forty versions of the song recorded and released before that. And since the movie came out, according to Second Hand Songs, at least another thirty-five versions of the song have been recorded and released.

The Hall Brothers’ version – Roy Hall took the vocal and played guitar while his brother Jay Hugh added guitar and Steve Ledford added fiddle – was among the earliest recorded. The first version, again according to Second Hand Songs, came from Emry Arthur, whose take on the song was released on the Vocalion label in May 1928. The next version listed was recorded by the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys in 1951.

As to the Hall Brothers’ version. for whatever reason, neither the Victor nor Bluebird label released the 1938 track, leaving it dormant for sixty-six years. And since I’m dabbling in vintage music these days, the Hall Brothers’ 1938 take on “Constant Sorrow” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 725

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

During a conversation about concerts over the Texas Gal’s birthday dinner yesterday, I came to realize that I’d made an error in yesterday’s post about the concert meme running around Facebook.

She mentioned that sometime in the early 1970s, she’d seen both the Partridge Family and the Cowsills , and that triggered my memory. It turns out that the first pop/rock concert I ever attended that was not at St. Cloud State was a performance in 1970 by the Cowsills at the Minnesota State Fair. All of us – Dad, Mom, my sister and I – were there.

I vaguely remember the family band coming onto the stage in spangly costumes, and I imagine they performed their hits: “Hair,” “Indian Lake,” and “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things,” but I don’t recall that part of the evening. Nor do I recall the opening act, which was Bobby Vinton. So, if I don’t remember it, does it count? I dunno.

(I could rely on the same scoring system I encourage the Texas Gal to use: Her older sister brought her along when she was very young – maybe seven or eight – to see the Beatles. She doesn’t remember anything of the show, just that there were a lot of people screaming. Does she get to say her first concert was the Beatles? I say yes. But should I count the Cowsills? I guess so.)

Another candidate for first pop/rock concert not at St. Cloud State also took place at the State Fair, a year after the (evidently) forgettable performance by the Cowsills. This one I remember: Neil Diamond. We’d been at the fair most of the day, and when showtime – likely 6 p.m. – rolled around, my folks wandered around the fairgrounds while Rick and I took in the first of two shows that Diamond did that night.

It was the day before my eighteenth birthday, and I recall bits and pieces of the concert: “Sweet Caroline,” “Done Too Soon,” and my favorite of the time, “Holly Holy” all come to mind.

And since the conversation over our meal yesterday, I’ve been wondering how many concerts I’ve been to that I’ve utterly forgotten about, as I did the Cowsills’ performance as I was writing yesterday. Not many, I don’t imagine. I didn’t go to that many to begin with, probably between twenty and thirty pop/rock (and related) shows. There are a few others that are dim in memory, though. As I’ve noted here before, I sometimes have to remind myself that I saw It’s A Beautiful Day when I was in college and that I saw the Rascals a year before that when I was a senior in high school.

Ah, well. No big deal. Here’s Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rosie,” which I’m sure we heard that evening in September 1971, as it was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 724

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

Sometimes I think my pal Yah Shure knows more about this blog than I do.

Earlier this week, I wrote about finding a February 1976 survey at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. Yah Shure read the post, dug a little bit at ARSA, and then he left a note here:

Well, this is either an amazing coincidence, or the “Lee Tucker” who contributed this survey to ARSA copied it directly from your blog, whiteray. It’s the very same WJON survey I scanned in 2017 and sent you, which you then subsequently posted and wrote about.

I’d also sent those scans to my fellow WJON alum, J.J., who was working at the station in 1976. Your “meh” assessment matched what we’d both thought about that lineup of songs.

So I went and dug into my Documents folder, and yep, the survey scans were in a folder in the blog files.

And this isn’t the only time in recent months that Yah Shure has reminded me of essentially a duplicate post that ran here connected to something he provided me. I wrote in October about not recalling at all the 1971 record “New Jersey” by the duo of England Dan & John Ford Coley. At that time, Yah Shure reminded me that I’d written pretty much the same post back in 2016, about a year after he’d provided me with a collection of ED & JFC’s early work, including “New Jersey.”

Well, all I can say is that it’s hard to keep track of the content of 2,500-some posts and 1,500-some CDs. And even though the unplanned repetitions are kind of “oops” moments., I’m glad to know about them.

So I went looking this morning for tunes that have the word “again” in their titles. The RealPlayer offered 733 tracks, but some of them find the word in their album titles or have words like “against” in their titles, which trims the usable number of tracks down to something like 650. No matter.

I let the player roll on random while I wrote and researched, and it eventually fell onto a track that I recall from my vinyl madness days on Minneapolis’ Pleasant Avenue: “Come Back Into My Life Again” from Cold Blood’s 1974 album Lydia, titled for the group’s lead singer, Lydia Pense.

My search function tells me that I’ve offered the track once before, in 2009, but since this post is essentially about doing things again, that’s okay. The song was written by Billy Ray Charles, and the website discogs lists Lydia as the only record – album or single – on which it’s appeared. I find that hard to believe, but AllMusic seems to say the same, and the record is not listed at Second Hand Songs.

Anyway, here’s “Come Back Into My Life Again” from Cold Blood’s 1974 album Lydia. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 722

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

I’ve been seeing a number of similar posts of Facebook lately that deal with No. 1 records. They say things like “The story of your life is determined by the record that was No. 1 on” either your seventh or tenth or fourteenth birthday.

(The posts don’t instruct readers which chart to use – Cashbox, Billboard, or another – but I assume that most folks use Billboard. I will.)

My birthday falls in early September, so let’s take a look at the three that have been mentioned on Facebook:

The No. 1 record on my seventh birthday, in 1960 – seems awful early to have one’s life’s story determined – was “It’s Now Or Never” by Elvis Presley. I know it was a love song, but in the context of determining the life story of a second-grader as he struggled with getting his assignments done on time, it’s sounds pretty fatalistic. There was evidently no point in looking ahead toward third grade and Miss Kelly and the cute girl who would move to town from Redwood Falls.

The No. 1 record when I turned ten, the month in 1963 when I began fifth grade with Mr. Lydeen, one of the four or so most important teachers of my life, was “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Angels. Well, “He went away, and you hung around, and bothered me every night” sounds like it could have been a romantic modus operandi for a fifth-grader (if you change “night” to “afternoon”). But I think the gods of the 45s got this one wrong (I hope, or somewhere down the road yet, I’m gonna be in trouble.).

When I turned fourteen and started ninth grade at South Junior High, the No. 1 record was Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe.” Rather than assume this meant I was destined to do a suicidal bridge-jump somewhere along the line, I’d rather interpret this pairing of birthday and record to mean that my life is going to unfold like a Gothic Southern mystery. I don’t think it has; I’m far too Midwestern for that, so that’s another miss.

But let’s take a look at three other birthdays that might have carried portents, as they marked important moments in my life:

I began my senior year of high school in September 1970, and the No. 1 record on my birthday as we headed back to the classrooms was “War” by Edwin Starr. That fits short-term, yes, as that school year brought me into conflict with a sophomore boy whose girlfriend I desperately wanted to date. But as a portent for my life, I think it misses.

On my twentieth birthday, I landed in Copenhagen to start my third year of college and eight-plus months of being away from home for the first time. I thought perhaps I should find out which record had been No. 1 in Denmark at the time, but in messing with the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, the closest I could get was to learn that the top Danish single of the year was “Rør Ved Mig” by Lecia & Lucienne, which translates, or so says an online tool, to “Touch Me.” So we’ll skip that, even though I love the record. So, what was No. 1 on the Hot 100 as I flew east? “Brother Louie” by Stories, which – if it’s a marker for my life – seems to mean I’m gonna cry.

The last important birthday during my younger years, I’d guess, was my thirtieth, which fell right about the time I began graduate school at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. I was making a life change, so the No. 1 single of the time might have brought some insight as to how that change was going to go. After all, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by the Eurythmics sounds like it might portend pleasant times. But to my ears, there’s always been a subtext of unease in the record, a hint that those dreams might not be so sweet after all.

So what does all that mean? Nothing, of course, except as a time-waster. And which of those do we want to hear on a Saturday morning? None of the first three, I’d say, and I’ve offered “Rør Ved Mig” here several times over the years. We’ll pass on “War” and, I guess, on Stories.

So “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” from 1983 is today’s Saturday Single. Maybe you can catch the undercurrent I always hear.