Saturday Single No. 326

While I was wandering around the Intertubes listening to versions of “Spanish Harlem” earlier this week, I was keeping an eye out for Leon Russell’s 1974 cover of the Jerry Leiber/Phil Spector tune. I wasn’t sure that Leon’s Oklahoma drawl would work well with the song’s intricate and (I’m pretty sure) syncopated melody, but I was interested in seeing how the track came out.

Leon’s cover of “Spanish Harlem” was, I knew, on his Stop All That Jazz album, and I was pretty sure that the LP was on the stacks just six feet away. But I was also pretty sure that the album was one of those I bought during my six-year frenzy in the 1990s, and I thought the vinyl might not be in the best shape. So I wandered the ’Net for a while. There was no video of the track at YouTube, and there were no versions of the track offered at either iTunes or Amazon.

I did notice that Stop All That Jazz has been released twice on CD, in 1990 and in 1995. No new copies of the 1990 edition are available at Amazon, but seven used copies are available, with prices starting at $35.86 and going up to $66.95. Seven copies of the cassette version of the 1990 release are listed for sale, with three of them new copies priced at less than fifteen bucks and the others – new and used – ranging from $62.30 to $74.98, which tells me that, as of this morning, there are three bargains out there for those who collect cassettes (and the cluster of high prices tells me that there certainly must be such people still today).

The second CD release of Stop All That Jazz is also pricy. Two new copies of the 1995 CD start at $154.39, and seven used copies start at $27.99. Just to be complete, used copies of the 1974 LP start at $4.98 and go up to $58.41.

With no mp3 of the track yet in hand, I hit some of the back streets of the Internet with no result. Finally, I thought that I should take a look at my own LP. It did in fact land on my shelves during my years of vinyl madness; I bought it on June 11, 1999, for $3.75, and the price tag on the front tells me that I likely bought it at a shop on Nicollet Avenue about a mile away from my Pleasant Avenue digs. That encouraged me as I pulled the vinyl from the jacket, as the used records I got there were generally in very good shape.

The record looked pretty good. I gave it a quick cleaning and laid it on the turntable, then opened up the Audacity audio program and cued up the track. And that’s when I learned that Leon Russell’s cover of “Spanish Harlem” is an instrumental, and a pretty nice one, at that.

And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

(My video was blocked by YouTube, evidently after the posting of the song on the official Leon Russell channel. The official video is below. Note added August 14, 2020.)


2 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 326”

  1. Datbigcheeze says:

    True story, about 20 or more years ago, went to Tulsa, OK to visit a friend, that evening got hungry so suggested we hit one of those cheap bars with large sammiches. One around the corner, you know the place, saw dust on the floor, cheap pitchers of beer, huge sandwiches, usually some local guy playing around on a stage, we always called them puke bars.

    Well, for some reason while eating and drinking kept thinking to myself, that guy strumming around, occassionally breaking into a song, sure looks familiar, but couldn’t place him.

    After a couple of hours this kinda tallish person with long hair, cowboy hat, walks in with a guitar case, goes up on the stage and sits playing with the guy, again, thinking, that guy looks familiar, too. So turned to my buddy and said, “Those guys look familiar to me, any idea who they are?” His response was a cocked eyebrow, “You’re an idiot” look on his face as he said, “That’s J.J. Cale and Leon Russell.”

    Needless to say, we, and there weren’t many of us in the place, drank cheap beer and didn’t leave until they stopped playing, hours later.

    Can you image? Cheap beer, huge sammiches, two supers playing and I think I spent like 20 bucks for that evening of entertainment.

    True story.

  2. Paco Malo says:

    “during my years of vinyl madness”: vinyl genius I say!

    Great deep album cut / cover of a classic. Leave it to Leon to put this great arrangement together.

    All Hail Leon and whiteray! Great job, man.

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