Posts Tagged ‘Richard “Groove” Holmes’

‘Do It’

Friday, September 25th, 2015

I took a look yesterday at the Billboard Hot 100 that was released this week in 1975, and since yesterday’s date – 9/24 – added up to thirty-three, I took a close look at No. 33. It turned out to be “Do It Any Way You Wanna” by the People’s Choice, a Philadelphia-based R&B dance group.

The funky boogie chant went to No. 11, the best performance of the three Hot 100 hits for People’s Choice. (“I Likes To Do It” went to No. 38 in 1971, and “Nursery Rhymes [Part I]” went to No. 93 in 1976.) And I thought I should see how many titles on the digital shelves start with the words “do it.”

There are twenty-four of them. The simple “Do It” shows up three times at the top of the alphabetical list: Once in 1971 from Aphrodite’s Child, the Greek progressive rock band of the late 1960s and early 1970s, once in 1969 from the Doors, and once in 1972 from Jesse Winchester. At the other end of the alphabetical listing we find “Do It, Fluid,” a 1974 offering by the Blackbyrds. None of those four grip me very hard.

Sorting the tracks by year, we follow a path from Richard “Groove” Holmes’ “Do It My Way” from 1962 to Keb Mo’s “Do It Right” from 2014. Both of those are pretty good, but if we have to choose one, we’ll listen to Holmes’ track:

The most frequent title is “Do It Again,” which shows up five times. I have two copies of the Beach Boys’ “Do It Again,” one tagged as a single and the other tagged as coming from the album 20/20. I’m not sure there’s any difference. I also have Steely Dan’s 1972 track “Do It Again,” Richie Havens’ 1976 cover of the Steely Dan tune, and a passable 1996 country tune with that title by singer Lari White.

Beyond those, here’s the “do it” harvest:

“Do It (’Til You’re Satisfied)” by B.T. Express, 1976.
“Do It All Over Again” by J. Vincent Edwards, 1970
“Do It For Mother” by Whistler, 1971
“Do It Good” by Bill Withers, 1971
“Do It In The Name Of Love” by Candi Staton, 1972
“Do It In The Rain” by Buster Benton, 1977
“Do It Just For Me” by Genya Ravan, 1978
“Do It Now” by Bessie Banks, 1963
“Do It Now” by Ingrid Michaelson, 2012
“Do It Right” by Bobby Womack & Peace, 1972
“Do It To ’Em” by the Big Town Boys, 1968
“Do It To Me” by the South Side Movement, 1975

There are some good ones among the twelve tracks in that last list. (There are also some that leave me cold.) Here’s one of the good ones, chosen for no reason other than that I like it: “Do It In The Name Of Love” by Candi Staton from her self-titled 1972 album.

Saturday Single No. 438

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

A couple of strands of things I like a lot came together in the past few days, as sometimes happens. Those strands are: the pop rock of the years 1969-75, cover versions of pop songs, and instrumental music of the 1960s and 1970s.

Those strands occasionally coalesce into something that doesn’t work well at all. I recall the dreadful 1974 cover by Ray Conniff of Ringo Starr’s “Photograph,” which, if I recall correctly, sparked the idea for the long-ignored Train Wreck Jukebox. Clueless covers of the Beatles’ “Michelle” and “Yellow Submarine” by Hank Levine and his crew come to mind as well.

But sometimes things work out well. As I’ve moved gingerly these past few days, I’ve often done so with the Beatles’ “Come Together” running through my head: “One and one and one is three . . . got to be good-looking ’cause he’s so hard to see!” That’s no doubt a product of recalling in Wednesday’s post the first time I heard the record late at night. So with John Lennon’s classic still running through my brain this morning, and with said brain idling along in search of an idea for a post here, I thought I’d look at covers of the tune.

Six covers of the song from 1970 reside in the EITW files (as do two others from later years, but we made those two sit in the corner this morning). We long ago listened to the deliciously crazed version released as an album track by Diana Ross, and we’re not much interested in the single version by Ike & Tina Turner from the same year, even though it went to No. 57. Herbie Mann’s ten-minute workout on the album Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty seemed excessive, and the version cut by the Chairmen of the Board was kind of limp.

The other 1970 covers of the song perked up our ears though. A slinky take on the song from Count Basie & His Orchestra showed up on the album Basie On The Beatles. And then, sax player Ernie Watts joined organist Richard “Groove” Holmes for some studio work that year, and “Come Together” was the title track of the resulting album. Since I love me some saxophone and I love me some organ, well, what else can I do but make the track today’s Saturday Single?


Thursday, April 10th, 2014

I wrote very briefly in December about the life-altering surgery undergone by an old friend. I didn’t name him, as I did not have permission to do so at the time. That friend, as some might have guessed, was my pal Rob, who had a cancerous portion of his jaw replaced with a piece of titanium in December and went through a long bout of radiation therapy in the early portion of this year.

Yesterday, he and I met at the little burg of Big Lake southeast of here, rode the Northstar light rail down to Target Field in Minneapolis and watched the Minnesota Twins play the Oakland Athletics. Never, in the fifty-seven years I’ve known Rob, have I been as glad to see him as I was yesterday. As we sat in the sun in the outfield seats and sipped a couple of pale ales, yesterday afternoon was a time to be grateful for friendship, for years, for modern medical technology and for the simple joys of baseball, sunshine and beer.

He has hurdles ahead of him yet. Eating solid food remains on the horizon, as does dental work and frequent examinations to check for the return of the disease. But he’s come through so far with his sense of humor and joy in living intact. If things can be arranged, he and his brother Rick and our pal Schultz will show up here on a Saturday next month to play some Strat-O-Matic baseball, probably with a heightened awareness that our time here is temporary and a renewed appreciation of the sweet things in life.

A while back, in reference to my aching elbow (it’s much better now), I shared Jimmy McGriff’s version of “Healin’ Feeling” from 1972. Today, for Rob and all of his family and friends, I offer Richard “Groove” Holmes’ single version of the same tune, this time titled “That Healin’ Feeling.” It was released on the Pacific Jazz label in 1961.

‘And A Thousand Violins Begin To Play . . .’

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

The other afternoon, the Seventies music channel provided the background as I dozed for a while on the couch. I kept the volume low, but every once in a while, I’d wake up and listen for a moment, just to see how deeply into the decade the channel digs. (Not very deeply, generally.)

At one point, when I raised my awareness, I heard Roberta Flack: “The first time . . . ever I saw your face . . .” I went back to sleep, and as I did, a connection flickered between a movie and Flack’s record, which spent six weeks during the spring of 1972 at No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary chart (and went to No. 4 on the R&B chart). And as the song ended and the music shifted to something from 1979, I went back to sleep, remembering the connection.

The movie was Play Misty For Me, the tale of a late-night jazz disc jockey and a fan who regularly requests the classic Erroll Garner record “Misty.” Over the course of the movie, the fan goes from devoted listener to lover to demented slasher. The film, directed by Clint Eastwood – who plays the disc jockey – was the destination in late 1971 for the first date I had with my first college girlfriend. And it was the first time I’d ever heard of the classic tune “Misty.”

The tune was written by Garner (with lyrics added later by Johnny Burke) and was first recorded by the Erroll Garner Trio and released as a single in 1955:

Shortly after learning about the tune, I came across it in a guitar book I was using as a fake book for piano, and I began to put together my own arrangement. I tried several approaches, ranging from slow minimalism to a bouncy trip, sometimes decorating the tune with some added sixth and major seventh chords, but I never felt at home with the song, and quit playing it. It might have helped, I suppose, if I had ever sought out and listened to the numerous versions of the song that were available on record, but I never thought of that. And the next time I heard the song was a few years later when I heard what Doc Severinsen and Henry Mancini had done with “Misty” on their 1972 album Brass on Ivory.

That cover remains one of my favorites in a list that stretches back to a 1955 cover version by jazz pianist Johnny Costa. The list of covers offered at Second Hand Songs (not necessarily a complete list, but likely pretty good) starts there and goes on to the 2010 cover by the Sachal Studios Orchestra that includes traditional Indian instruments and a 2011 version by singer Michael Ball. Some of the more interesting names among the earlier instrumentals on that list are Toots Thielemans, King Curtis, Buddy Rich, Cal Tjader, Earl “Fatha” Hines and Stephane Grapelli.

When it comes to vocal covers, the list includes the performance that a lot of people might think is the essential version of “Misty,” the 1959 cover by Johnny Mathis that went to No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 10 on the R&B chart. Other noted names who’ve done vocal covers include Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London, Keely Smith, Frank Sinatra, Marty Robbins, Lesley Gore, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, Timi Yuro and more. Not being very conversant with current jazz, either instrumental of vocal, I don’t recognize a lot of the names post-1980.

As to charting versions on or near the Hot 100, they came from Mathis, Sarah Vaughan, Lloyd Price, the Vibrations, Richard “Groove” Holmes and Ray Stevens. Of those versions, neither Vaughan’s standard 1959 vocal (No. 106 on the pop chart) nor Price’s 1963 big band version (No. 21 pop and No. 11 R&B) grab me much.

I didn’t care much for the twangy countrified version that came from Ray Stevens in 1975; I like it better now, but it’s never going to be my favorite version of the song. Other folks liked it well enough, though, as it went to No. 14 on the pop chart, No. 3 on the country chart and No. 8 on the AC chart.

The least familiar name among those that hit the charts with “Misty” is likely that of the Vibrations, a Los Angeles R&B group. I do like the classic R&B sound they brought to “Misty” in 1965 when their version went to No. 63 on the Hot 100 and to No. 26 on the R&B chart.

Next to Stevens’ version, jazz organist Holmes’ 1966 take on the classic tune did the best on the charts, going to No. 44 in the Hot 100, to No. 12 on the R&B chart and to No. 7 on the AC chart. Not long ago, I lucked into a collection of Holmes’ work, and I’ve been digging through that. While I won’t say that his take on “Misty” is my favorite – I tend to lean to Mathis’ classic performance – it’s awfully good.