Posts Tagged ‘Delaney & Bonnie’

Saturday Single No. 688

Saturday, May 9th, 2020

I woke this morning to the sad news that Little Richard has died. The cause was cancer, said his son, Danny Jones Penniman, in the Rolling Stone report.

That report covers Richard Penniman’s career and influence better than I can, so I’ll leave that alone. I’ll note that in a long ago (and long abandoned) book and website project with a friend, we tabbed Little Richard as one of the five biggest trees from which the rock ’n’ roll forest descended.

(The other four, for what it matters, were Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Fats Domino. I think we likely nailed it, with the possible exception of Bo Diddley, unless one wants to go further back into late 1940s and early 1950s jump blues and R&B.)

Anyway, I’ve never said much about Little Richard here, and I’m not sure why. I’ve written some about his 1970s comeback albums on Reprise and his stuff has popped up occasionally in random draws. But as much as I respect his influence, for some reason, he’s never seemed central to my musical universe.

And the LP and CD shelves over the years have reflected that: A few hits packages and a two-CD re-release of those Reprise albums from the 1970s. That’s a pretty sparse – if stellar – collection of one of the founding fathers of the music I love. All I can say is that when pop-rock music grabbed me in 1969 and I began to explore its different roads, none of those early explorations brought me to Little Richard.

The closest I came was through Delaney & Bonnie and their 1970 album To Bonnie From Delaney, which came to me in late 1972. I recall reading through the notes as the record played and noticing that Little Richard supplied the piano on the second track on the second side, a cover (I now know) of his own 1956 record “Miss Ann.” At that point, being nineteen and still catching up, I knew his name but had heard little, if any, of his work.

So I sat there on our green couch in the rec room and listened as Little Richard proceeded to rip it up. That memory means that “Miss Ann” by Delaney & Bonnie – with Little Richard on piano – is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 497

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

We’re taking kind of a day off here today, as I’m heading out fairly early to play Strat-O-Matic baseball at Rob’s in St. Francis.* We’ve moved the annual event to his place this year (and probably for the future as well).

But May 21 is a date that sticks in my mind, as it was on that date in 1974 that I came home from my school year in Denmark. Here’s a photo my dad took that day; he caught me just as I saw him and my family (and Rick) for the first time in almost nine months.

First look, 5-21-74

As to music, well, one tune rang true to go with that picture. That’s why Delaney & Bonnie’s “Coming Home” – from their 1972 album D&B Together – is today’s Saturday Single.

*For those who are interested, I’m bringing the 2001 Diamondbacks and the 2004 Red Sox into the tournament. Rob’s selected the 1936 Yankees and the 1998 Astros; Dan has the 1924 Senators and the 1998 Braves; and Rick has chosen the 1968 Tigers and 2014 Dodgers.

Delaney & Bonnie’s Last Call

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

One of the quirkier books on the shelves here is The Last Time When, a 1981 volume by George Gipe. From the last play by Aeschylus (The Oresteai, performed in Athens in 458 B.C.E.) to the last words of Carl Jung (“Quick, help me get out of bed. I want to look at the sunset” in 1961), Gipe’s book chronicles endings both significant and trivial.

Opening the book at random, we learn the last day in the 834-year history of the Les Halles Market in Paris was March 2, 1969; the last empress of Russia was Catherine the Great, who passed on in 1796; the last survivor of the first World Series, which took place in 1903, was Fred Parent of the Boston Americans (later Red Sox) who passed on in 1972 at the age of ninety-six; the last of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s twenty-six “Fireside Chats” took place on June 23, 1944; the last L’il Abner comic strip appeared in U.S. newspapers on November 13, 1977; and on and on.

Many more endings have taken place, of course, than Gipe could list in his book, and I ran across one of them today. In the Billboard Hot 100 for May 6, 1972 – forty-three years ago today – Delaney & Bonnie’s “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way” sat at No. 99. It was the second week for the record in the Hot 100, and it was the last. And it was the last time that Delaney & Bonnie would be listed in the Hot 100.

The single – as noted on its label – came from the 1970 album On Tour With Eric Clapton. Since that tour, the couple had released three albums: To Bonnie From Delaney in 1970, Motel Shot in 1971, and Country Life in 1972. But that last album was withdrawn by Atco shortly after its release in early 1972, and the Bramletts’ contract was sold to CBS; the same material was released on Columbia with a different running order as D&B Together.

So the Bramletts were at Columbia by the time Atco released the single version of “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way,” two years after the release of the live album. And the track was likely reconfigured some (perhaps severely): On the live album, “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way” has a running time of 5:20; the single lists a running time of 2:28 on its label (but as I’ve noted many times, running times on singles can’t always be trusted). I’ve never heard the single, and I would guess by its two-week chart run and its peak at No. 99 that not a lot of folks did.

Here’s what the track sounded like on the 1970 album:

‘Hard Luck & Troubles . . .’

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

The Texas Gal came down with a cold late last week: Sneezing, congestion, body aches, the whole bit. She soldiered through it, and as she did, I figured it was only a matter of time before the cold went viral, so to speak, and wandered my way.

It did so sometime between bedtime Saturday and the alarm going off Sunday morning. So I sat at the computer early Sunday, wondering if I felt crappy enough to postpone a meeting after church that had already been rescheduled twice in the past month. I had a musical performance scheduled during the church service that could not be missed, but the idea of ending the church day there and postponing the meeting again was attractive.

I had just decided to gut it out and stay for the meeting when I heard a series of “thump-thump” sounds coming from the stairway. The Texas Gal had slipped on a step coming down from the loft and, it appeared, had sprained her ankle. I got her into the living room and settled in her recliner. She shooed me off to church, where I did my part in the musical performance. Then I begged off, postponing my meeting once more in order to get home and see to the Texas Gal’s needs.

At bedtime, she limped upstairs, and we decided that Monday morning would bring a visit with Dr. Julie. And on Monday, Dr. Julie scanned the x-rays and told us that the Texas Gal had a spiral fracture of her left fibula just next to the ankle. “Well,” said Dr. Julie, “if you’re going to have a broken leg bone, that’s the one you want to break, and that’s the way you want to break it.”

So the Texas Gal is in a boot for four to six weeks. It’s taking some getting used to, but she’s moving around far better this morning than she was yesterday, and she thinks she’ll be able to return to work tomorrow without major complications.

As for me, I’m congested and sneezing and not sleeping well, but that’s really small stuff when looking at the larger panorama. Things could be much, much worse.

And, as always, I hear music in the background of our lives. Here’s an appropriate tune from Delaney & Bonnie: “Hard Luck and Troubles” from their 1970 album To Bonnie From Delaney.

‘Dancin’ With You, Baby. . .’

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

It was one of those “Huh! I never knew that!” moments. I was sorting and tagging mp3s the other day as the CD player over my left shoulder ran through the two-disc set Night Train to Nashville, subtitled “Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970.” Deep into the second disc of the set borrowed from the local library, I’d already heard a lot of stuff I wish I’d heard long ago, much of it on the Excello label.

A new track began: a thrumming bass with two measures of eighth notes solo, then percussion on the backbeat for two more measures. And then: “Doooo, do-do doo. Do-do-do! Do-do-do! Do-do-do.” I jerked my head around, stared at the CD player as the verse began: “Dancin’ with you, baby, really turns the soulshake on. Yeah, groovin’ with you, baby, really turns the soulshake on.”

Knowing the song as “Soul Shake” but never having heard this version, I reached for the booklet. The track was by Peggy Scott and Jo Jo Benson, recorded in Nashville in 1969 and released early that year on SSS International.

The record did pretty well, reaching No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100 and going to No. 13 on the R&B chart. The oddly twangy instrument is an electric sitar, played – the booklet notes – by Jerry Kennedy. Others at the session included Pete Drake, Charlie McCoy, Wayne Moss and Kenny Buttrey. (Four of those names – all except Drake’s – I recognized as having played on, among other things, Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde; Drake’s I recognized from Dylan’s John Wesley Harding as well as other projects. A look at the credits of any of those gentlemen at All-Music Guide is instructive.)

But the names of Peggy Scott and Jo Jo Benson were not nearly as familiar. The duo, it turns out, met while recording in the mid-1960s at the Grits ’n’ Gravy studio owned by Huey Meaux in Jackson, Mississippi. (Meaux, a seemingly unavoidable figure in the history of R&B, popped up in this blog a few months back; a bit of his unsavory legacy was recounted in the comments at that time. If you need more, Google for it, but beware: Meaux was a nasty piece of work.) Scott and Benson signed with the SSS International label in 1968 and, into 1969, got four records into the Hot 100 and the R&B Top 40: “Lover’s Holiday” (No. 37 pop and No. 8 R&B), “Pickin’ Wild Mountain Blueberries” (No. 27 & No. 8), “Soulshake” (No. 37 and No. 13) and “I Want To Love You Baby” (No. 81 and No. 24).

(In addition, Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles lists two hits for Scott alone: “Every Little Bit Hurts” bubbled under at No. 126 in the spring of 1969, and “Bill,” credited to Peggy Scott-Adams, went to No. 87 in 1997.)

All that was interesting, and I may dig into the music of Scott and Benson, but what grabbed me – as regular readers might guess – was the song recorded by Scott and Benson as “Soulshake.” The first version I’d ever heard of the song was the 1970 cover by Delaney & Bonnie, who listed the tune as “Soul Shake” on their album To Bonnie From Delaney (an album I wrote about in early 2007; that post is here).

I’ve mentioned D&B’s version of “Soul Shake” three times here: I shared it once in a Baker’s Dozen in 2008, and later that year, I included it in a post remembering Delaney Bramlett. I also praised it when it popped up during a random search for a Saturday Single in early 2010, so my regard for the track is pretty well cataloged.

(It might be good to note the personnel on Delaney & Bonnie’s version of the tune: Listed as being involved with the album’s sessions at Miami’s Criterion were Charlie Freeman on lead guitar, Duane Allman on slide guitar, Jim Dickinson on piano, Bobby Whitlock on organ and vocals, Tom McClure and Jerry Scheff on bass, Ron Tutt and Sammy Creason on drums, Sam Clayton on congas, Alan Estes on percussion, and Andrew Love, Ed Logan, Floyd Newman, Wayne Jackson and Jack Hale of the Memphis Horns on horns.)

Having come across the original version of the song and having connected it with the D&B cover, I then went hunting for other covers. I found a few. The Angela Strehli Blues Band made the song the title track of a 1987 album; Bruce Willis included “Soul Shake” on his 1989 Motown album, If It Don’t Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger; and blues singer Kate Meehan included it on her 2002 album, Soulshaker. I also saw a listing for a live version by the Guild. I suppose there might be a few more out there, but that’s what I saw this morning.

I know nothing about Meehan or the Guild, and listening to the samples, I’m not inclined to dig further. Willis’ version is disposable, despite the generally good review that AMG gave the album, which was the actor’s second. As for Strehli’s cover, although I like several things I’ve heard from her, her cover of “Soul Shake” isn’t one of them. Despite its tempo, the track had an almost mechanical quality about it.

Which leaves the Delaney & Bonnie version as my favorite version of the tune. And I did some checking: Despite my regard for the Bramletts and the famous and talented friends they gathered around themselves, I failed to include even one track by D&B in my 2010 Ultimate Jukebox project. I should have included at least one track and perhaps more.

I wrote a while back about my solitary dancing in the kitchen, and I’ve noticed since then that no song that I currently have on my mp3 player makes me want to move more than does Delaney & Bonnie’s “Soul Shake,” so – without going back through the D&B catalog – I’m going to put “Soul Shake” into the category of Jukebox Regrets. It should have been there.