Apr 27, 2012

Jimmy Lloyd - I Got A Rocket In My Pocket (1958)

NRBQ did a version of this song (which is how I first heard it) but even those guys couldn't properly catch the swing of Lloyd's original. That rhythm section is so locked in to the line that Jerry Lee Lewis would be cut if he came close. There's nothing better than that stutter with the drum fill and then the piano popping bap bap bap bap and Lloyd hiccuping all over the thing. It's only when you hear the guitar come in for a quick solo that you realize how much empty space there is in the song. You could never find a rhythm section like that in 2012. You can barely find a band who plays major chords anymore. This one's perfect. No contest.

Big Maceo Merriweather - Worried Life Blues (1941)

If you've heard just ten blues numbers, you've probably heard this one three times already. It's become the ultimate blues standard and everyone has hawked it, from pub bands to the heavy hitters. Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, B.B. King, Chuck Berry. But when you go back to the original by Big Maceo, you get suprised by just how laid back it all is. He's barely grazing the keys at moments and rolls a voice over it that would have been in high demand had he been siging decades later for some label like Stax or Motown. Big Maceo was a big drinker and it led to an early grave in 1953.

Tammy Wynette - Apartment No. 9 (1967)

I first heard this song done by Keith Richards, who recorded it just days after being arrested for heroin possession in Toronto in February 1977. The rest of the Stones fled to New York while Richards contemplated a long stint in prison. He decided to record some country covers with Ian Stewart, the only Stone to stick around. Keith's version was just a voice cracking with despair and a piano. The original version by Wynette is full Nashville but just as lonesome. This was her first ever single, written by Johnny Paycheck and Bob Austin.

Here's the Richards version in all it's lo-fi glory.

Ramblin' Jack Elliott - Death Don't Have No Mercy (2009)

Elliott released "A Stranger Here" in 2009, full of old Delta blues covers and even won a Grammy for it. Not sure how much Elliott cared about that. This is a Reverend Gary Davis song but Elliott seems to own it now after just one listen. The rolling piano at the start deceives you right away. You think it's going to be a breeze, maybe even cute. Then Death starts picking off family members one by one. He's not in a rush, but he's coming. Elliott barely even sings it. He just leans over the song a little, blocking out what little light there was to start with. When I hear this record, I like to stare at that album cover and try to remember some kind of movie that was probably never made.

Neil Young & The Shocking Pinks - Wonderin' (1983)

I guess the story goes that Young tried to deliver a country record to his label Geffen but they rejected it outright, saying they wanted a rock and roll album. Young took them literally and recorded Everybody's Rockin', a throwback rockabilly long player with doo wop choruses and sugary harmonies. Geffen freaked out and dumped the record on the market without promotion where it died a quick, painless death. But Young had proved a point and life went on.

Everybody laughs at Everybody's Rockin', but I love the thing. He resurrected Wonderin' from his old Crazy Horse days and gave it the Shocking Pinks treatment. Then for the video he walked around like an unemployed Vegas lounge singer amongst the ugliest urban backdrops he could find. Go ahead and have a laugh. But then imagine Roy Orbison singing this song at the end of the fifties. Would have been a classic.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Wonderin' (1970 Live)

An early, countrified version of Wonderin' which never appeared on a proper studio record until 1983's Everybody's Rockin', where it was part of an elaborate joke on his record label and had a completely different vibe running it. But we'll get into that story in the next post. Liked this song immediately even though it's no great masterpiece. Simple lyrics, lines. Like walking into a stoned honky tonk...

Apr 26, 2012

The Rolling Stones - Do You Think I Really Care (1978/2011)

Released as an "outtake" on the bonus disc of the Some Girls re-release. Some of it features new vocals, overdubs etc. Who knows what's from 78 or not? Who cares. Country flected rocker is right up there with Plundered My Soul from the Exile re-issue as the best unheard Stones song in years, whatever that means. Dig it. I do.

Memphis Jug Band - Stealin' Stealin' (1928)

A lot of people took a shot at this song - The Grateful Dead, Dylan, Janis Joplin, David Bromberg, Jesse Fuller. I've heard most of these (except the Bromberg version) and this is still the one that makes you want to drink...

Apr 25, 2012

Muddy Waters - My Dog Can't Bark (1965)

You always notice an up-tempo, hand-clapping number by Muddy Waters because they're pretty rare, especially in the early part of his Chess career. Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin' Wolf would play this fast fairly often, but when Muddy does it, it feels faster because he always sounds cleaner, more authorative.

Some of the band on this one is James Cotton on harp and Otis Spann on piano. No Willie Dixon. Recorded in Chicago on Tuesday, May 18 1965.

Luke Jordan - Cocaine Blues (1927)

There are endless variations on "Cocaine Blues" - different lyrics, different melodies - just plain different songs. Johnny Cash did a famous one that has nothing to do with the Luke Jordan version.

Jordan was from Virginia and only recorded 12 tracks in his lifetime (two of them are considered lost and unavailable). Jordan can carry a melody like Blind Willie McTell but with more of a tenor style. Wish we had more songs around...

Apr 23, 2012

Daddy Cool - Eagle Rock (1971)

Huge 70's band in Australia, they always reminded me of NRBQ, able to play all those old rock and roll styles that weren't popular anymore, even back then. I heard this song in a movie called Wolf Creek and I quickly forgot about the movie but this song stuck with me. The Stones would have been proud of this groove if they had thought of it.

Sanford Clark - The Fool (1956)

I wonder if the heat in Phoenix had anything to do with the slow burn of this one. In no hurry, but slightly menacing, almost like a Warren Smith kind of thing at Sun Records. Elvis later covered this song and made it much more bluesy and loose. Written by Lee Hazlewood.

Curtis Mayfield - Make Me Believe In You (1974)

You could listen to Curtis sing all night long. Instantly familiar if you've heard even just 5 soul songs.

The Louvin Brothers - Red Hen Hop (1959)

The Louvins, more known for pious preaching and those golden throats opt for a mid-tempo rockabilly number with some great boogie woogie piano runs. Hope they didn't burn for this one.

Tommy Collins - Wait A Little Longer (1956)

Tommy Collins was the guy who hired Buck Owens. Eventually the student succeeded the master when the master turned his life over to God, but this track is just as fun as anything Owens would later do.

John Roberts - Sophisticated Funk (1967)

Back when funk was just beginning to be called funk...

Freddy Cannon - Tallahasse Lassie (1959)

The Flamin' Groovies would later do a good job covering this one. Whenever you hear those early Cannon singles, it's all about that big back beat.

Apr 20, 2012

Aaron Neville - Hercules (1973)

Muddy Waters - Why Are People Like That (1975)

Levon Helm on drums.

The Band - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (1978 Live)

From The Last Waltz. Must be Levon's greatest performance.

O.V. Wright - Let's Straighten It Out (1978)

Rolling Stones - Route 66 (Live at El Mocambo, Toronto 1977)

Recorded in the midst of Keith Richard's big drug arrest drama in Toronto and Prime Minister's wife running off with Ronnie Wood. This cover is based on the 1961 Chuck Berry version. Originally written by Bobby Troup.

Al Green - It Ain't No Fun To Me (1972)

The Staple Singers - Hammer And Nails (1962)

Jimmie Rodgers - Those Gambler's Blues (1930)

Lee Dorsey - Riverboat (1970)

Junior Wells - Messin' With The Kid (Live 1978)

Lee Dorsey - Yes We Can (1970)

The Band - When I Paint My Masterpiece (1971)

Wr. by Bob Dylan

The Band - Rockin' Chair (1969)

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - This Train (1947)

Ronnie Hawkins (Classic CBC Interview 200?)

The Hawk spills on the old days with the Hawks in Canada.

The Canadian Squires - Leave Me Alone (1965)

Early incarnation of The Band (post Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks) with Levon Helm on vocals.

Lucinda Williams - Lafayette (1980)

Muddy Waters - Stuff You Gotta Watch (1951)

Johnny Cash - Katy Too (1958)

Bob Dylan - I Threw It All Away (1969), Live on the Johnny Cash Show

Elvis Presley - One Sided Love Affair (1956)