Jul 21, 2012

John Prine - The Great Compromise (1972)

"The idea I had in mind was that America was this girl you used to take to the drive-in movies. But when you went to get some popcorn, she turned around and screwed some guy in a foreign sports car. I truly love America. I just don't know how to get there anymore."

Here's a short interview I did with John back in 2005. I have about half an hour on tape of great stories but could only get in a few paragraphs for this article. A hell of a sweet man.

Jimmie Rodgers - Train Whistle Blues (1929)

Like Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, Rodgers worked for a spell as a brakeman on the railroad. There's a lot of train songs. This is one of them...

Here's Merle Haggard's swing on it from 1969. Haggard himself wrote more about trains than any other country singer in history I think, and even made a record in '75 called "My Love Affair With Trains". I guess when you think about it, an ex-con would have an easy love of trains because he knows what it's like to sit still for too damn long.

Kitty Wells - There's Poison In Your Heart (1957 Live)

1919-2012. Almost a hundred... R.I.P. Kitty. This is one of my favourites of hers.

Jul 18, 2012

The Contours – First I Look At The Purse (1965)

Not the most well-known group on Motown, but they did have a few hits in the early to mid-60’s with “Do You Love Me” (which everyone now associates with the movie “Dirty Dancing”) and “Can You Jerk Like Me”. I’ve always been partial to this one, which was co-written by old velvet throat Smokey Robinson.

You don’t hear many songs from a guy’s point of view where money is what they’re looking for in a woman. Usually it’s the other way around. Which reminds me of an old B.B. King cut from 1968 called “I’m Gonna Do What They Do To Me” which has the man turning the tables, so to speak. It’s time for B.B. to put up his feet for awhile. “The next woman I get, she gotta have a job, I’m not trying to be no pimp, I just don’t intend to work too hard.”

B.B. King - I'm Gonna Do What They Do To Me (1968)

Link Wray – Ain’t That Loving You Baby (1960)

Pure sleaze.

For a guy who was most famous for his instrumentals, he’s not a bad rock and roll singer as this Jimmy Reed cover can attest. Listen for the exaggerated Buddy Holly hiccups right before the choruses which would later be borrowed by Lux Interior of The Cramps.

Wray keeps the Jimmy Reed style intact here musically, a half-step out of tune, with the song threatening to stall at any moment, exactly how Reed played everything to the day he died. Wray was usually much sharper than this on his own stuff, so you know he was going for the Reed feel here on purpose. And he nailed it.

Here's the Reed version from 1956:

AC/DC - Badlands (1983)

This is a late Side 2 track from the Flick Of The Switch LP, which for the Aussie boys was an attempt to record a back-to-basics rock and roll record after the huge but slick sounds of Back In Black and For Those About To Rock albums. This thing didn’t sell and sort of disappeared (as much as an AC/DC record can “disappear”). Not surprisingly, it’s one of my favourite LP’s from the band. This track just has a nice boogie to it and a lazy pace which harkens back to their early Bon Scott days.

Here's the title track from the record - another fine riff.

Jul 15, 2012

Thin Lizzy - Don't Believe A Word (1978)

Thin Lizzy were so incredible at this time. Tough pick but this is my favourite thing they did. Phil Lynott was a rare kind of singer in that late 70's scene when metal was starting to take over. He and Ronnie James Dio could actually get across something other than anger and testosterone. R.I.P. to both.

Dio - Caught In The Middle (1983)

Jul 14, 2012

Dr. John - Life (1973)

The great Mac Rebennack. His '73 record, which this is from, hasn't left my rotation for the last two weeks.

Here's "Such A Night" from the same LP, as performed with The Band at The Last Waltz in 1976.

Hip Linkchain - Cold Chills (1981)

A new discovery for me. Chicago. Reminds me a little of Magic Sam on this one.

Jul 7, 2012

Keith Richards & The X-pensive Winos - Hate It When You Leave (1992)

Here's solo-era Keith showing his love of Otis Redding, Al Green and Motown Records and he nailed it with this cut from the '92 LP Main Offender.

He mines the same territory here on "Make No Mistake" which is from a live show in '88 at the Hollywood Palladium with the incredible Sarah Dash on guest vocals.

Keith has always said his favourite Stones cover was Otis Redding doing Satisfaction, and the main riff was originally intended to be horns. Of course, the famous story is that Keith woke up from a dream in the middle of the night with the Satisfaction riff in his head, sat up in bed, grabbed his guitar and pressed record on his little tape machine, played the main notes and the rest of the tape is the sound of the guitar hitting the floor and Keith snoring.

Alberta Hunter - Ezequiel Saw The Wheel (1981)

Alberta Hunter was some kind of wild woman. She was born in 1895, started singing in Chicago joints when she was a teenager, was a lesbian, sang on hundreds of records, hung up the mic to become a nurse in the late 1950's, retired her job when she was in her 80's and then went back to touring and making records like she hadn't missed twenty years in the middle of her career.

The album which this song leads off, "The Glory Of Alberta Hunter" was recorded just three years before her death. I've been listening to this record quite a bit lately and when it ends I just want to play it again. It's a long road to track down her whole catalogue but it doesn't mean I won't try.

Joe Barry - I'm A Fool To Care (1961)

Joe Barry, born in the lonesome sounding Cut Off, Louisiana, had a good run with this number in '61 but didn't make much of a dent afterwards. He sounds just like Fats Domino but he also shares a certain laconic swagger with Bobby Charles, and that's pretty swell with me.