Posts Tagged ‘Ruth Brown’

Saturday Single No. 714

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

A few months ago, when the counter on this (generally) weekly feature hit 700, I referred to it as a “Ruthian number.” Today’s number is, of course, even more so. (I likely don’t have to explain it, but just in case: During his career, Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs.)

In tribute, I could post something by the 1970s group Babe Ruth, but I’ve never found the group’s music very compelling (even though a very dear friend loved Babe Ruth’s work back in our college days).

A better thought, though, is to post something from the best Ruth I know of in music. After all, the Babe was the best Ruth in baseball. Actually, the Babe was the best player in baseball history and remains so, even eighty-five years after his last game. (The rest of the top five? Willie Mays, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner and Oscar Charleston.)

So, the best Ruth in music? Actually, that’s pretty easy: Ruth Brown.

We could go back to her seminal work for Atlantic in the 1940s and ’50s, but I think we’re going to land on something from one of her last albums, the 1997 release R+B=Ruth Brown. Here, with Bonnie Raitt, Brown takes on “Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town,” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 702

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020

Yesterday, as I looked at the popularity of Brook Benton’s “Rainy Night In Georgia” at the various radio stations that made up my listening in 1970, I asked long-time reader and Top 40 expert Yah Shure if St. Cloud’s WJON had released surveys during that era.

He replied:

I have no idea whether or not WJON published a weekly survey in 1970. Only a stray earlier chart or two from the mid ’70s turned up after I started working there in 1977.

Then he commented on the source WJON used for Benton’s hit during his days at the station:

By that time, the Cotillion 45 had been retired from the WJON library, so we played Brooks’ “Rainy Night In Georgia” off of a 1973 Atlantic Records 25th anniversary double-LP, The Soul Years.

He went on to note an interesting thing about that album, one that made me stop and think:

Although it was, in all likelihood, a result of pulling the wrong tape during the production process, this various artists compilation is notable for a rocked-up re-recording Ruth Brown did of her 1953 hit, “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean.” The recording date of the remake wasn’t listed – probably mid-to-late ’50s – but boy, does it smoke!

I headed to my LP database, and yes, I found a listing for The Soul Years. But did it survive the Great Vinyl Sell-Off a few years back? I thought that it did but wasn’t entirely sure, so I grabbed a flashlight and headed for the stacks. And yes, there it was.

And this morning, I fired up Audacity and after lots of difficulties getting the program to work – it was the first time I’ve used it on my new desktop – I got the track ripped. I made – with again, some difficulty – a video and put it on my YouTube page.

So here’s Ruth Brown’s remake, likely from the mid- to late 1950s, of her 1953 hit “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean.” Yah Shure is right, it smokes! And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

What’s At No. 27?

Friday, February 27th, 2015

So, with today being February 27 and Odd, Pop and I being short of ideas this morning, we’re going to look at a few Billboard charts released on this date over the years and check out what’s hiding at No. 27. Along the way, we’ll check out the No. 1 records of the times, too. There are four such charts during the span of years that tends to interest us here. We’ll start in 1957.

One of the odd things about the earlier charts in the files I have is that records are often tied for a spot. In the Top 100 for February 27, 1957, two records are tied at No. 26, which means there really was no record at No. 27. So we’ll look at both records at No. 26. The first listed is “Lucky Lips” by Ruth Brown. The record, which went no further on the Top 100 but went to No. 25 on two of the other main charts Billboard issued at the time, is the first listed under Brown’s name in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, where the listings start in 1955. Brown was a force long before that, of course; her listings on the magazine’s R&B chart start in 1949. “Lucky Lips” went to No. 6 on that chart.

The other record at No. 26 on this date in 1957 was a pairing of artist and song that seems incongruous from a distance of nearly sixty years: “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody” by Jerry Lewis, whose image in my mind starts at goofy comedian and ends at smarmy telethon host and doesn’t come close to hit singer at all. (The combination evidently seemed so bizarre to the anonymous person who transcribed my collection of Billboard charts that he or she credited the record to Jerry Lee Lewis, which caused me a bit of confusion.) Lewis offers the song over a Vegas-style big band arrangement that serves it well although the whole thing sounds odd to me. Listeners liked it, though; the record peaked at No. 10 on the store sales list. Lewis had one other hit: “It All Depends On You” went to No. 68 on the Top 100 later in 1957.

Sitting at No. 1 on this date in 1957 was “Young Love” by Tab Hunter, by far the most successful single the actor ever had to his credit. (I recall Hunter’s smiling visage on the front of a comic book that told the tale of one of Hunter’s movies. I forget which movie, and a look at Hunter’s credits this morning doesn’t help.)

The next time Billboard released a pop chart on February 27, it was 1961, and the chart was called – as it would be past the turn of the century – the Hot 100. Parked at No. 27 was “What A Price” by Fats Domino. The slow, sad record, which was the forty-fourth of an eventual seventy-seven Domino placed in or near the Hot 100, was on its way down the chart after peaking at No. 22 (No. 7, R&B). Should it have done better? Well, yes, because Fats Domino should always be in the Top Ten.

The No. 1 record as February approached its end in 1961 was Chubby Checker’s “Pony Time.”

It took only another four years before a Billboard Hot 100 touched down on a February 27, and the No. 27 record on this date in 1965 was the first track on one of the first pop LPs I ever owned. My sister gave me Herman’s Hermits On Tour (which was made up of studio recordings, not the live recordings that the album’s title might have implied), and “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” led off the album. As a single, “Heartbeat” went to No. 2, the first of nine straight Top Ten hits for Peter Noone and his group. (The Billboard Book of No. 2 Singles tells me that the Hermits’ single was blocked from the top spot by the Supremes’ “Stop! In The Name Of Love.”)

The No. 1 record fifty years ago today was “This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys.

And the last of the February 27 Billboard charts that we’re concerned with today came out in 1971. (There were charts on February 27 in 1982, 1988 and beyond, but that gets us into years we are not all that enthusiastic about.) The No. 27 record at the end of the last February of my high school days was “Help Me Make It Through The Night” by Sammi Smith, written by Kris Kristofferson. Smith’s plaintive performance was on its way to No. 8; it would go to No. 1 on the country chart and to No. 3 on the easy listening chart. I’m not sure I had much regard for “Help Me Make It Through The Night” when I was a high school senior, but now I think it’s pretty great stuff.

And to finish this off, the No. 1 single during on this date in 1971 was the Osmonds’ “One Bad Apple.”

Here’s Smith’s single:

Saturday Single No. 344

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

My eyes are watering and my head hurts. There is a type of pollen or two (or more) in the air during this late spring week that does not care at all for my well-being. Combine that with a long-time tendency toward sinus infections as spring turns to summer, and, well, you can guess the rest.

(My allergies have been harder to deal with year-by-year, and I’ve simply assumed for the last decade or so that aging was the reason; that could certainly play a part, but I saw a piece in the St. Cloud Times yesterday that offered what might be an additional reason.)

I had planned to use this space this morning to offer an appreciation of Andrew Greeley, the Catholic priest, sociologist and novelist who passed on earlier this week, but that will have to wait until I can think more clearly. So I went looking for some piece of music that could illustrate the way I feel today while still holding some entertainment value.

Searching the RealPlayer for “head,” I came across “Cabbage Head” by Dr. John, from his 1992 album, Goin’ Back to New Orleans. I listened to the tale of the suspicious husband, a song whose origins are – based on a little bit of bleary-eyed digging this morning – deeply buried in the traditions of New Orleans and the Appalachians. I liked very much both the song and Dr. John’s version of it, and I liked even more the fact that the title echoed how my head feels this morning. Then I went off to YouTube to look for the song on a video, and I found a treasure.

The legendary Ruth Brown recorded a gender-flipped version of “Cabbage Head” for her 1999 album, A Good Day For The Blues. The result was saucy, salty, and utterly delightful. I’m going to have to look for the album, and I most likely will dig into the history of “Cabbage Head” sometime soon, but all that will have to wait until my head feels less like a vegetable. For now, here’s Ruth Brown’s take on “Cabbage Head,” today’s Saturday Single.