Sep 30, 2012
Here's the youngest Neville brother with The Meters backing him, a band he would join a few years later which already included his legendary older brother Art at the time of this recording. This is classic late New Orleans funk with some of the influences of the time seeping into it. This has become a funk standard nowadays but is still criminally unlistened to. So here it is...
Sep 29, 2012
Strange, random song dropped by Westerberg after a few years of silence. And it's a killer. No surprise. Hopefully we get a few more songs like this on piano in the future ... maybe alongside a few more Grandpaboy Mono-style guitar numbers. We'll take 'em if he can't use 'em.
Sep 28, 2012
Sep 25, 2012
Sep 18, 2012
3 singles. 6 songs. That's the officially released Herbie Duncan catalogue. But if he had only released Hot Lips Baby, it would have been enough to be talked about for the next 50 years.
The whole thing comes on so heavy when Duncan starts hyperventalating into the microphone like a deranged Buddy Holly crossed with Jerry Lee Lewis. The band just sort of rides in the pocket behind him, the backbeat hitting on almost every one of his deep breaths. It's a crazy, sweaty, vulgar piece of rock and roll that has ended up on hundreds upon hundreds of comps and no one seems to know much about Herbie Duncan anyways.
Listen to the way he ends the song. He just tears it off, leering like a wild drunk. It's unbelievable. I love this f***ing record.
The Stovall Sisters are definitely best known for this track, which has some of the most spirited female soul singing you can find outside of Tina Turner. Too bad they never seemed to break out on their own like the Staple Singers, although the Stovall's were well known for studio work backing up other singers like Ray Charles, Bobby Bland and Al Green. They only released one self-titled LP, which Hang On In There kicks off. I can't listen to this one enough.
The "British Wildman" carved quite a reputation for himself in the early days of rock and roll and not because he sold a bunch of records. In fact, he hardly sold any, but his drug intake, crazy behaviour and all-black leather outfits made him a hero to some. David Bowie based his "Ziggy Stardust" persona after Taylor, but I'm not sure where Bowie got the high-heels from. Anyways, you can read all about Taylor, the LSD, the Messiah complex, the endless blown chances at stardom, but when you hear his early rock and roll sides, he can hang with almost anybody. This track has been a favourite of mine since I first heard it.
Here's another Taylor from the same year. He wrote this one himself:
Vince Taylor - Brand New Cadillac (1958)
When you think of Ricky Nelson, you think of girls screaming. I also think of this song, which was actually a B-side but ended up being a classic. That's James Burton on guitar who stuck with Nelson for close to a decade.
Sep 15, 2012
I'll take this one to the island, if you know what I mean. The handclaps, the boogie piano, the smoothness of Fats ... one of the most underrated rock and roll songs of the era.
The Band - I'm Ready (1973)
This is from their covers LP that has a lot of great stuff on it, including versions of Clarence "Frogman" Henry's "Ain't Got No Home" and Presley's Sun Studios cut "Mystery Train". Good Saturday afternoon record when you have supper planned and a bottle of champagne... that never happens to me on a Saturday.
Keith Richards - I'm Ready (2004)
Here's a clearly stewed Keith Richards on stage with a slew of New Orleans legends in 2004, trying to remember the words but having too much fun to really bother. He aces the guitar parts of course but seems a little nervous. Keith loves these kinds of songs. You can see him deliberately letting those Chuck Berry chords breathe, waiting to the last moment before pulling them in.
Sep 14, 2012
Eddie Dean – I Wonder Why You Said Goodbye (1941?)
Dean was another singing cowboy from the 30’s and 40’s who wasn’t as big a household name as slick guys like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, but he’s regarded by some to be their equal as a singer (and a better songwriter). I’m more of an Autry man myself because his voice has a little wilt in it, a little hidden grief, but I have a great Dean record that has titles like “I’ve Sold My Saddle For An Old Guitar”, “Promise To Be True While I’m Away” and “Someday You’ll Know You Did Wrong”. This song was written by the great Ernest Tubb. Come to think of it, all these old singing cowboys ever did was wonder and worry about something or other. Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be ...
Frank Hutchison – Worried Blues (1927)
Hutchison, known as the first white bluesman to be recorded, had a lot to worry about over the years. His recording career was short, 3 years, just over 30 songs and he went on to a lot of strange jobs. All the accounts say he ended up a postman, a shop owner and for a time a riverboat singer, who eventually died by the bottle at only 54 years old. Hutchison was also known as a great slide player, and that's pretty clear on “Worried Blues”.
Carter Family – Worried Man Blues (1930)
Recorded about 3 years after they first went on tape, the “First Family Of Country” basically set the standard for this old folk song and most people have stuck close to this version, at least lyrically, since then. Chains, trains and a lonesome goodbye – this song hits on all the old time worries that were typically solved by someone either dying, going to prison or waving goodbye from a train.
Maylon Humphries – Worried ‘Bout You Baby (1957)
This was a “lost” rock and roll classic for a while, but it might be better described as “cursed”. Humphries recorded this a few times in 1957, lastly for an expected release on Chess records but it never saw the light of day until years later when this Humphries version was accidentally released on a Dale Hawkins compilation. For years people assumed it was Hawkins singing this one while Humphries worked outside the music business. This track has James Burton playing some great guitar lines and he would go on to play with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris and Roy Orbison among others. Keith Richards inducted Burton into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001.
Tampa Red – Worried Devil Blues (1934)
This Chicago-area bluesman was known as the “The Man With The Gold Guitar” because of the gold National steel guitar he used in the early days before he moved onto electric. He was an influential slide-guitar player but could also blow a kazoo better than anyone in the record business. There’s not much slide on this track (nor kazoo) but a healthy dose of Jimmie Rodgers style yodelling.
Big Maceo Merriweather – Worried Life Blues (1941)
It took me a few versions of the song to trace back to Big Maceo. As a blues standard (often re-titled “Someday Baby”), I heard it through Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, The New Barbarians (Keith Richards and Ron Wood), John Lee Hooker, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and countless others before I heard this one. Just when you think the search is over, you find out Maceo re-arranged Sleepy John Estes’ 1935 song “Someday Baby Blues”. It never ends...
Rolling Stones – Worried About You (1981)
The Mick falsetto is a love it or leave it proposition but you have to admit it fits in nicely with their sound at a time when they were settling into a smoother style while living in New York. Things wouldn’t stay this pretty for long. Keith and Mick were on the road to a cataclysmic split that almost buried the band. They’ve never really been the same in the studio since, although Voodoo Lounge in 1994 was a strong record. The live shows never seemed to suffer. If anything, the Stones just got better live as they got older.
Neil Young - Wonderin' (1983)
The strange doo-wop and 50's rock and roll record from Neil Young in the early 80's provided this great track. I already posted this a few months ago but it's worth putting in this list. Of course, this record, Everybody's Rockin' was Young's big middle finger to his record label after they rejected his country record and asked for a rock album. So he went back to Elvis, and inadvertently created one of his best records... well, it is if you ask me. Not many agree.
The Shaggs – Things I Wonder (1969)
If you’re not familiar with the strange, almost unbelievable Shaggs story, you can read more about them here. I don’t have the patience to explain the Shaggs. After first hearing about them more than fifteen years ago, I still can’t find the words. But I’ve been listening in awe ever since.
Sep 12, 2012
Bartholomew is as big a name in the New Orleans sound as Allen Toussaint, The Meters or Fats Domino, probably covering more ground musically than anyone but Toussaint. He co-wrote a lot of Domino's big hits like "I'm Walking" and "Ain't That A Shame" and produced a lot of classic sides for Fats, Lloyd Price and Shirley & Lee.
"The Monkey" has a mean guitar just slashing behind Bartholomew with his near-talking blues delivery, taking the piss out of the evoluton argument, Darwin and the religious by letting "the monkey speak his mind".
'And three monkeys sat in a coconut tree
Discussing things as they are said to be
Said one to other now listen, you two
"There’s a certain rumour that just can’t be true
That man descended from our noble race
Why, the very idea is a big disgrace, yea”
No monkey ever deserted his wife
Starved her baby and ruined her life'
I won't bore you with the analysis of those lyrics. It's a nastly little joke and almost plainly political, wrapped up in a sound that the Stones and Chuck Berry would drool over. It's that good.
Most of the stuff from Bartholomew I had heard before this was big-band or jump blues type numbers, so you can imagine the hairs standing on end as that tube amp sound kicked in.
"Here’s another thing a monkey won’t do
Go out on a night and get all in a stew
Or use a gun or a club or a knife
And take another monkey’s life
Yes, man descended, the worthless bum
But, brothers, from us he did not come
Yea, the monkey speaks his mind"
Sep 8, 2012
Right at the height of Paul's basement tape resurgence, this whole LP is essential (Come Feel Me Tremble). I've tried not to do too much Westerberg stuff on this blog because the old one was about 90 percent Replacements/Westerberg content and that shit got out of hand. But I still play this stuff as soon as I've had more than three beers and wish I had written every one of these songs.
I've never understood the people who love the Replacements but don't like Westerberg's solo stuff. It's such a natural step, you have to be blind drunk to miss it.
From the same LP:
Paul Westerberg - Crackle And Drag (Original Take) (2003)
Atlanta, Georgia born Ric Cartey's big claim to fame was co-writing "Young Love" in 1956 when he was 19 years old, but a guy named Sonny James went on to have a big hit with it after Cartey's original version didn't make the charts. Tab Hunter, Lesley Gore and The Crew-Cuts also made some coin off of it.
But when Cartey first released Young Love in '56, it was the B-Side to Oooh Eee. And I'll take Oooh Eee every time. It's a nasty piece of rock and roll that clearly influenced The Cramps some 20 years later. Listen to him howling off mic during the guitar runs like Elvis at the Sun Sessions.
Sep 7, 2012
You know Ben E. King for "Stand By Me", which is almost on the same cultural level as Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World" by now. Somehow this song got left behind in the wake but when you hear King's voice crack singing "Each night is like a thousand years", it hits just as hard. It's a little movie in two minutes, like the down parts in American Graffiti or Dazed and Confused, the pain of growing up, the prequel or the sequel to Stand By Me.
I'd put this on any top ten list of songs from that era. King is still playing shows to this day.
Most people know Joe Tex from the 1971 song "I Gotcha" which Quentin Tarantino used in Reservoir Dogs... and it's probably his best song, but there's some real good Tex stuff if you dig a little bit.
This one's a bit of a curiousity as you rarely see other stars namechecked in a song title they didn't write. Tex is also known for being a personal enemy of James Brown, as they fought over a girl, "stolen" dance routines and other delusional rock star problems. Brown allegedly even fired a gun at Tex one night in Macon, Georgia. Tex lived to fight another day. Here's a great clip of Tex on Soul Train lip syncing his big hit. Soul Train was completely out of control.
Joe Tex - I Gotcha (Live on Soul Train 1971)
This is a song Tex wrote directly at James Brown concerning the girl they were fighting over. Apparently she left Tex for Brown, but eventually that went sour and Brown wrote a letter to Tex saying he could have her back. Tex responded with this track directly calling out James:
Joe Tex - You Keep Her (1962)
And one more for the road.... Tarantino used another Tex song in Death Proof and it's one of Joe's best:
Joe Tex - The Love You Save (May Be Your Own) (1966)
Here's some rare footage of Hopkins playing just when he was being rediscovered thanks to the folk boom in America and the UK when all the kids actually wanted to see this stuff live. This is a different "Lonesome Road" than the one Buzz Busby sings in the previous post. Hopkins would keep playing and travelling the circuit outside his beloved Texas until he passed away in 1982.
Buzz Busby was born in Louisiana in a town named Eros after the Greek god of love, but Busby went down a weird path. He moved to Washington D.C. and joined J.Edgar Hoover’s FBI for a while (according to his home page) before breaking into the bluegrass scene with groups like the Bayou Boys and a comic act called “Ham and Scram”. He even spent half of 1962 in prison. He kept playing the mandolin until 2003 when his heart gave out on him. This performance speaks for itself. Busby was a great talent and became known as the "Father of D.C. Bluegrass."
There's a great article on Buzz from Washington City Paper which you can read here.
This is one of those Rodgers songs that almost everyone has taken a swing at and you can see why. You hear it once and realize you’ve heard it hundreds of times disguised in other people’s songs. It’s a sort of template that anyone playing country, blues, folk or rock and roll can lock into with ease or re-state in different words and melodies. Yet when they do the specific Rodgers version, almost everyone plays it the way he did. The feeling behind it escapes the time in which it was written. Johnny Cash, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Jerry Lee Lewis, Furry Lewis, Dickey Betts, Jim Reeves, Merle Haggard, The Flatlanders, Mississippi John Hurt, Dr. John and Boz Scaggs, among many, sang this song after Rodgers.
Johnny Cash - Waiting For A Train (1993)
Merle Haggard - Waiting For A Train (1969)
Sep 2, 2012
Can't keep the smile off my face watching this one. Keith rehearsing with blues legend Cotton (Muddy Waters band) for the Hubert Sumlin memorial gig. Sumlin was the main guitarist for Howlin' Wolf and passed away in December of 2011. Keith was kind of rusty going into this gig, with the Stones off the road for a while and hanging around Connecticut writing a book. Yet it only takes a few verses for Keith to start turning around to Cotton and grinning like he caught something. You can imagine Keith doing this type of thing long after the Stones have hung up the scarves.
Here's the original Wolf track with Sumlin playing. Willie Dixon wrote this one (no surprise).
Howlin' Wolf - The Red Rooster (1961)
The Rolling Stones - Little Red Rooster (1965)
Big Mama Thornton - Little Red Rooster (1968)
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Little Red Rooster (Xmas version) (2000)