Friday, February 27, 2009

5 45's (from the sixties section)....

This week's five pack are all from the sixties which isn't my usual area of interest. I started collecting garage records around the time of the original Nuggets ('72) and the Sonics' Explosive (Buck Shot) re-issue, but over the years as I listened to the garage stuff less and less, and the fifties rockabilly and R&B 45's got harder and harder to find, I traded away quite a few great garage originals. A few I truly regret trading away (Ritual by the Mods comes to mind first and foremost). In the post-Pebbles world however the music is all readily available, if not the original discs, in fact these days some of the coolest early comps-- Off The Wall, Hipsville B.C., Scum Of The Earth, et al are rarities themselves. Here's some of the records I've never considered trading and still play all the time. Baby Ray & the Ferns is of course Frank Zappa and the Mothers circa 1964. I think this is his/their best record, you can really here the Johnny Guitar Watson influence on the guitar solos. This is what they must've sounded like playing greaser bars in Cucamonga. The A-side-- World's Greatest Sinner is of course the theme song for the incredible Tim Carey movie, the flip-- How's Your Bird comes from a line that Frank Sinatra and his pals used as a sort of an in joke. Both sides are classic greaseball rock'n'roll, the kind they don't make no more. The Devils' Devil Dance on the Devlet label seems to come from Western Pennsylvania judging by the towns mentioned in the shout outs during the spoken part. It's a frat garage rocker that many know from the A-Bones version. My favorite thing about the label is that is says "7 " disc" , as if somebody was going to measure it to check up, but there's no address or label info. I bet these guys played a lot of frat parties. Speaking of Frat party bands, how the Trashmen ended up on Chess subsidiary Argo is anybody's guess but they were not kidding when the put the words "Audio Odessey" on the label. A-side is the third version of their '63 monster hit Surfin' Bird-- this time titled Bird' 65 while the flip is a pretty straight forward run through of the Warren Smith Sun classic Ubangi Stomp. The Trashmen never made a bad record, but I'd put this one as their third best (second best: New Generation which gets extra points for the sound of a a-bomb exploding). Mark Markam & the Jesters' were from Florida and this frat rocker takes the Louie Louie riff and adds some truly bizarre lyrics. Goin' Back To Marlboro Country was a bit of a local hit in the Miami area around '66, I remember hearing it on the radio at least once. Markam was a cousin of South Florida rocker Charlie Pickett who would cut a version of this in the 80's. I'm not sure if he cut any other discs but this will do as a claim to immortality. Last up is the original Fleetwood Mac line-up-- Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood and writer/singer and star of this b-side Jermey Spencer. This teddy boy send up-- Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight was issued as the b-side of Mac's Man Of The World under the nome'du disc Earl Vince & the Valiants. Within a year, Spencer, who had previously been obsessed with Elmore James and fifties rock'n'roll would disappear into the Children Of God cult, one of the creepiest 'Jesus meets kiddie porn' cults around, only emerging recently. He did a whole LP in this style for Immediate (U.K. only), his second LP-- Jeremy Spencer and the Children (Warner Bros) wasn't even him but fellow cult members using his name to spread their ugly message. Doesn't it seem that everyone who ever played guitar in Fleetwood Mac would go crazy at some point in their career (ever see the video of Linsay Buckingham kicking Stevie Nicks in the ass onstage)? I used to have a great tape of Spencer doing a BBC radio show (backed mostly by F.M. members) doing all rockabilly type stuff including a great version of Cliff Richards' Move It (but I can't find it), and there's plenty of fifties style rockers on the Fleetwood Mac BBC double CD, if he'd of stuck with the Teddy Boys and Elmore James he'd be in better shape today no doubt. There's great book in the Jeremy Spencer story, I'm sure will see one some day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Antoinette K-Doe Empress Of The World 1943-2009

The top photo is Ernie and Antoinette K-Doe's wedding photo. It hangs over the fireplace mantel in our bedroom. It was a wedding present from the late Kelly Keller. It was through Kelly I met the K-Does, fellow New Orleans bar owners. They owned the Mother In Law Lounge at 1500 Clairborne, one of the coolest joints I've ever been in. Ernie of course was a great New Orleans R&B singer responsible for such classics as Mother In Law, Tain't It The Truth, et al. Ernie passed away in 2001. They were true New Orleans royalty (and the best dressed people I've ever encountered) and I'm honored to have known them. Antoinette died today of a heart attack. As Mardis Gras gathers steam until it's final blow out on Fat Tuesday bar owners get less and less sleep and are usually awake from Sat. night until Tues afternoon, it could wear out anyone, and Miss Antoinette, who rebuilt the Mother In Law Lounge after Katrina seems to have just worn her self out. She was one of the best and funniest people I ever met. I remember when Kelly was still alive, once a week she and Antoinette would hit the thrifts stores on the outskirts of New Orleans and I tagged along on several of these junkets. They were some of the most fun times I've ever had. Antoinette was not only funny, warm, and down to earth, she made the best beans and rice I've ever eaten. New Orleans will never be the same without her. R.I.P.
Funeral Info-
Friday: Viewing Of the Body @ Mother In Law Lounge 2- 7 PM
Saturday: St.  James Methodist Church (1925 Ursuline Ave) 9-11 AM Viewing Of Body
11 AM Funeral Service followed by 2nd Line to St. Louis #2 Cemetery.
2:30 PM-6:30 PM- re-pass at Rock n' Bowl
  The family needs help with the funeral expenses, their attorney has opened an account for the Antoinette K-Doe Fund at the Metairie Bank.  You can send donations to:
Antoinette K-Doe Fund, 3341 Metairie, LA, 70001.
She'd do it for you...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Gillian's Found Photo #1

     My wife Gillian McCain collects photos, she especially likes found photos. One of her favorite genres is pix of kids, especially kids who are somewhat, errrr, let's say peculiar.
Notice the stain on this little tyke's shorts.  The Mickey Mouse guitar is a nice touch.
Do you suppose that he grew up and joined an Emo group? Maybe he's in Slipnot...
(above photo is Copyright Gillian McCain Collection meaning you can't reproduce it without permission or you'll bring a curse upon your house lasting seven generations).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Goodbye Snooks

Another week, another guy whose musical talent was so unique and singular that he could never be replaced bites the dust. Ford "Snooks" Eaglin, age 72, died last Wed. He fell down and had a heart attack, he was already suffering from prostate cancer. He's one of the very last of the true New Orleans R&B greats. Snooks made tons of great records but my favorites were recorded in two very different settings. The first are the sides he cut for Imperial in 1960-61 produced by Dave Bartholomew (I don't have to explain who he is, do I?). On these recordings Snooks' guitar rides over a groove provided by Smokey Johnson on drums, Frank Field on bass, James Booker at the piano and the sax sections of Mayer Kennedy on alto, Clarance Hall on tenor and Clarence Ford on baritone. This is one of the truly great New Orleans session bands (the original Bartholomew session band with Lee Allen, Earl Palmer, et al had already moved on to L.A. and better paying jobs) and would have made anyone sound great, but with Snooks unique guitar style and laconic voice, these sides are just about as good as it gets. Some highlights are: That Certain Door, I'm Slippin In, If I Could and Don't Slam That Door. Harry Oster and Richard Allen recorded Snooks, who they'd seen playing on the street in New Orleans in the late 50's solo, playing 12 string acoustic (occasionally a washboard was added, the only other instrument) and these sides were issued by Arhoolie and Folk Lyric and capture a very different Snooks. This is the way he sounded when he started out, playing on the streets of the French Quarter for tips. Here's a few favorites-Locomotive Train, Veal Chop and Pork Chop, and because it's carnival time-- Mardis Gras Mambo. In Oct. of 1999 me and a bunch of friends opened a bar in New Orleans-- the Circle Bar (1032 St. Charles Ave @ Lee Circle, it was still there last time I looked), and one of my partners-- the late, much missed Kelly Keller who was basically in charge of running and booking the joint wanted Snooks to play the opening night. We actually had two opening night parties, one with Hank Williams III (Treycephus) and the second with Snooks Eaglin. Kelly knew Snooks from when she worked at Black Top Records and they were crazy about each other. He agreed to play for a fraction of his usual fee. The photo above is from that night (that's Nauman Scott, one of Black Top's owners patting Snooks on the head like he was a puppy). That night me and Kelly went out to Metarie to drive Snooks and his wife in for the gig. Snooks wanted to sit near the radio so he could punch the buttons, which he did the whole ride in. He had very big ears and although we yapped the whole trip he was obviously absorbing everything he heard on the car radio because that night in his set he worked in versions of Mott The Hoople's Ready For Love and Allen Sherman's Hello Mudda, both of which we had heard in the car on the way in. And he made them both sound like songs he'd written himself. At one point in his set Ernie and Antoinette K-Doe arrived. Since Ernie was "The Emperor of the Whole Wide World", the K-Does made an entrance befitting his title. Snooks, who was blind, went into a medley of K-Doe's hits, even got Ernie up to sing Mother In Law. As a bar owner it was one of my proudest moments, right up there with Phil May of the Pretty Things trying to french kiss me (I've got photos to prove it), ? & the Mysterians playing the Lakeside Christmas party and Andre Williams calling me "his nigga". Snooks was truly one of a kind. He played guitar in a finger picking style that I could never quite figure out, he made it look so simple, it wasn't, but he could make his guitar sound like a whole band. Snooks also recorded as a guitarist with Sugar Boy Crawford & the Cane Cutters on several 1954 sessions for Chess. These are some of the greatest records ever made. While only three singles were issued on the Checker subsidiary there was enough material for a two LP set, in fact one came out in the 1970's although it's long out of print. You can find the whole mess here. Note that PW means password which you'll need to unstuff the file.
Whether he was weilding an electric six string guitar (as on the Imperial sides) or an acoustic 12 string (as heard on the Arhoolie/Folk Lyric LP's), Snooks was a stylist unsurpassed.  Goodbye Snooks.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quine II

Back in October I posted about Bob Quine, I posted four excerpts from some film soundtrack music he did in the months before he died (I think the recordings were done in Jan-March, 2004). I promised I'd eventually post the rest of these home recordings so here they are: Film Music: Two Film Music: Three Film Music: Four Film Music: Five Film Music: Six Film Music: Eight for parts One, Seven and Nine see the October posting under Quine.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

P.J. Proby- How To Split Your Trousers and Influence People

 P.J. Proby's story is one of those crazed, it should be a movie but no one would believe it tales that I love so much. This is a mere thumbnail sketch of a man who's voice can raise a fan's enthusiasm to seismic proportions. A quick Google search will keep you busy reading and watching videos all week. The great Nik Cohn, perhaps the most insightful chronicler of pop music the U.K has ever produced (I even love his book on New Orleans hip hop, Triksta (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005) and I don't even like the music) dedicated an entire chapter to him in his classic work Pop: From The Beginning (Rock: From The Beginning in the U.S., Stein & Day, 1969).    P.J. Proby, born James Marcus Smith in Houston, Texas, 1938, into an upper class banking family headed to L.A. in the late 50's to make it as either a singer or pop star. His first managers renamed him Jett Powers (after James Dean's character in Giant) and it was as Jett Powers he cut two incredible rock'n'roll 45's that would have insured his infamy even if he'd headed back to Houston and taken his father's job running the Second National Bank. The first 45, released in '58 was on the Design label, a subsidiary of the budget Pickwick Records (where Lou Reed started out)-- Go Girl Go b/w Teenage Quarrel on which he was backed by a rockin' little combo called Vince Paris & the Raunch Hands (where the Crypt Records group would steal their name from) is, I think, the pinnacle of his entire recorded catalog. 1959 saw his second release-- Loud Perfume b/w My Troubles on Beta, an L.A. label, features Marcus/Powers/Proby fronting the Bumps Blackwell Orchestra, the same session players heard on all of Little Richard and Sam Cooke's early L.A. recordings. Both singles sank without a trace but have been re-issued dozens if not hundreds of times over the ensuing decades. To make ends meet he began recording demos for Elvis and Johnny Cash (amongst others), his voice had an amazing range and he was a spot on mimic who could reproduce nearly any style from Hank Williams to Mario Lanza.
Marcus tried his hand as a songwriter, selling the rather peculiar "Clown Shoes" to Johnny Burnette, then he struck up a songwriting partnership with Sharon Sheeley. Sharon Sheeley was one of those characters who would have been inducted into the rock'n'roll hall of fame years ago  if that idiotic institution had anything to do with rock'n'roll.  She wrote hits for Ricky Nelson (including "Poor Little Fool"), Eddie Cochran ("Something Else"), Brenda Lee, Irma Thomas ("Break-A-Way", her best) and others. She was Eddie Cochran's last girlfriend, and was in the cab when it crashed and killed him.  It was Sheeley who brought James Marcus Smith to the attention of British producer Jack Good, then working in L.A. on the U.S. TV show Shindig (best R&R TV show ever) where Sheeley herself was working as a writer.  Good spotted Marcus' potential and signed him up. Good's dream was to produce a rock'n'roll version of Othello and at various times names like Jerry Lee Lewis and  then newly renamed P.J. Proby were put forth as his Iago (it was eventually produced on film as Catch My Soul with Lance LeGault in the Iago role, Ritchie Havens played Othello, Tony Joe White was Cassio, it's unwatchable). Good brought Proby to London in '64 and launched him on a career with more ups and downs than Elvis' pill box.  Proby was an immediate sensation scoring a string of U.K. chart topping hits--Hold Me, Together, Somewhere, Maria (from West Side Story), et al, that were well made, even moving, histrionic pop, sort of Johnny Ray meets Elvis meets Tom Jones only better. It was the voice, his voice could overcome the schmaltziest material. These records may sound goofy to you hard core rockers, but with the studio guitar team of Big Jim Sullivan and his young side kick Jimmy Page, the pair that livened up so many U.K. pop discs from Dave Berry's The Crying Game to Donovan's Sunshine Superman, and Proby's over the top, operatic delivery they retain a certain appeal that is not camp but genuinely soul stirring.  Last time I looked his hits could be found here  (but you never know with these things, if the link no longer works try the Chewbone blog on the right). 
After his first hits Proby set out on his first headlining tour of the U.K., super stardom seemed assured.  He cut a striking figure, his hair cut into Beatles like bangs with a long pony tail trailing down his back, blue crushed velvet tunic and tight pants, buckle shoes.  The first night of the tour his tight velvet pants split, exposing his stuff to the audience.  The effete Brits were appalled but forgiving, the first time. When the same thing happened the second and third night of the tour it caused a sensation.  The third night the curtains were dropped on him mid song and the following day the press went wild.  Proby responded by issuing the single I Apologize, it went top ten.
    Proby lived hard.  He drank bourbon like it was water.  When Cohn interviewed him in 1966 he found him barricaded in a luxury hotel surrounded by acolytes, court jesters, groupies, body guards and the usual assortment of trash any rock star attracts.
You really owe it to yourself to track down a copy of Ugly Things magazine #19 (the last of the great fanzines in the tradition of Who Put The Bomp and Kicks). In it you'll find an interview with Kim Fowely (someone should do a book of Kim Fowley's greatest interviews) who recounts wild and wooly tales of time spent in London with Proby complete with  X-rated cameos by Diana Dors and Haley Mills
 Proby became Fleet Street's favorite whipping boy. And he gave them plenty of ammo. While he would have hit records until 1967 (his last hit Nikki Hoeky, an early delve into swamp rock that Tony  Joe White and Creedence would take to the bank, it was his only U.S. hit), he was constantly in trouble, getting drunk, throwing tantrums (often onstage),  getting banned, making headlines. He retired for a year to raise horses (1966-7) only to end up having to declare bankruptcy after finding himself
L200,00  in debt.  In the early 70's he would star in a West End musical portraying Elvis, record with Dutch prog rock group Focus (of Hocus Pocus fame), in the 80's he went new wave, recording Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart and other post-punk tunes.   
   But at heart Proby was always a rocker, his LP's, especially the early Liberty ones like I Am P.J. Proby always have some great rock'n'roll tunes thrown in, I prefer this stuff to his hits. Take a listen to his version of Ray Sharpe's classic Linda Lu, or this over the top work out on Stagger Lee (I think this is my favorite version ever). Another great LP track is the rockin' Caldonia. His choice of cover tunes was all over the place, for example this whacked out take on the Jayhawks' Stranded In The Jungle
is quite impressive or how about this rendition of Huey Smith & the Clowns'  Rockin' Pneumonia (and the Boogie Woogie Flu), or the killer version of the Five Keys' Ling Ting Tong on the top clip (above).
All his early albums are well worth searching out more for the filler material than the hits. An excellent selection of his rockers was here as recently as yesterday (be sure to note the password).
   Every now and then Proby hits the road and plays some supper clubs to pay the bills. His fans still love him.  So somewhere out there he sits-- P.J. Proby, he should be as big as Tom Jones, or at least Englebert Humperdink. Proby and his bottle of bourbon, in front of the tv set, cursing under his breath. That's the way I imagine it. Who knows, maybe he's playing golf or looking at porn on the internet.  I wonder what he's doing right now.  I wonder what he's thinking....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This Week's Five Pack....

So what's in this week's five pack of scratchy 45's? From the top we find somebody with the catchy nome-du-disque of The Creep on the Oakridge label, both unknown entities to me, The tune is a snappy little rocker called Betty Lou's Got A New Tattoo. It's basically a take off on Bobby Freeman's Betty Lou Got A New Pair Of Shoes, but better, and dumber. In her time Betty Lou might've seemed like quite a gal but nowadays it'd be harder to find a Betty Lou without a tattoo. The tune might be familiar as it's been in the A-Bones set for several decades. Maybe they should find something to rhyme with "Betty Lou got her labia pierced...." as a way of making it more timely. Another unknown group are Pat & the Satellites who cut this wild rocker, Jupiter C, for Atco in the early sixties. This was on the very first cassette Bob Quine ever made for me, and since that fateful day it has been one of my favorites. Like I said last week, I just love rockin' instrumentals and this sits near the very top of what Phil Schaap would call "the pantheon of sides". I think that means it's a good 'un. Mr. Wiggles was a pimp from Norfolk, Virginia. A good place to be a pimp since it's basically one big Navy port and full of horny sailors (it was also something of a hotbed of rockabilly, Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps, Janis Martin and the Rock-A-Teens all hail from the area). Herr Wiggles issued this homage to his bad self on his own Golden Triangle label-- Homeboy. What a classic-- I love his anti-materialistic stance stated over the fade-- "I don't want no Cadillac, all I need is a mule....".Mr. Wiggles also issued a strange LP about the Clifford Irving/Howard Hughes scandal in the early 70's, I almost sold my copy on Ebay, luckily the buyer never sent the cash and while I was holding on to it for him an article on Mr. Wiggles appeared in Living Blues magazine with the Howard Hughes disc pictured prominently. Some day I'll play the damn thing. I got to find it first, it's in a stack of unfiled LP's in the basement somewhere. Bob "Froggy" Landers' Cherokee Dance first entered my life on the old Specialty Doo-Wop LP that Dr. Demento compiled in the early 70's. Long out of print, every tune on it is a classic, although some titles like Roddy Jackson's "Moose On The Loose" (see the "Call Of The Wild" posting back in Oct.) are pretty far from doo wop. Anyway, I eventually tracked down the 45 and it has improved my quality of life considerably. That's Willie Joe Duncan playing his Unitar (a one string guitar) that gives the record its distinctive, almost fuzz tone sound. Willie Joe played on Chicago's Maxwell Street with Jimmy Reed before heading for the coast and briefly ending up in Landers' band the Cough Drops. He's featured on the b-side- Unitar Rock, a tune that was re-recorded by the under rated guitarist Rene Hall who brought Willie Joe back into the studio and issued the title (also on Specialty) as Twitchy. See if you can tell the difference in the two versions. Landers cut another disc-- River Rock Part One b/w River Rock Part Two for Ensign, an early Herb Albert/Jerry Moss (of A&M fame) label, but something's missing--- the Unitar! Had they kept Willie Joe in the group the second single would have also ended up in the aforementioned P.O.S. (pantheon of sides), but instead it resides in the 'for Froggy Landers completists only' category. Winding up this week is a platter from the Santa Clara, California label Blue Moon, one of the coolest labels of all time. They released such uber-classics as Johnny Amelio's Jugue (what be a Jugue? my guess is he's saying Juke and the person in charge of typing the record label messed up), and Linda & the Epics' Gonna Be Loved and our current topic: Cecil Collins & the Fretts' Rock'n Baby (as another aside they also were the first label to release Jimmy Bowen's I'm Sticking With You which became a hit when leased to Roulette, it was the label's only real hit). The Fretts' disc made today's list because I just got it yesterday. I like everything about this record from the primitive guitar chords that open the disc to the honking sax solo. I even love the way off key girl's harmony voice comes in right at the last verse as if she had gotten to the session a verse late. Oddly enough, this one was picked up by the jazz label Verve for distribution. Perhaps they were preparing the promo department for their future signing-- Velvet Underground?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Zulu Rock- South Africa part one 1950- 1962

It must've been the early 1990's, when I was doing my radio show at WFMU. There was a guy, a mailman out in Queens named Pat Conte. Pat had been collecting 78's since before I was born. He had tons of amazing stuff, country blues from the 20's and 30's, all kinds of strange ethnic records from all over the world. I believe he was the genius behind Yazoo's six CD series The Secret Museum Of Mankind which compiled strange and wonderful 78's from all over the world, mostly from the 20's and 30's. Anyways, so this mailman named Pat Conte who briefly had his own show at WFMU called The Secret Museum of the Airwaves sends me a cassette with a brief note that said something like-- "this is rock'n'roll from South African 78's, 1950-62". He tried to put out a re-issue cassette of the stuff (Global Village actually printed up a handful of cassettes) but it was sued out of existence by some big company, but now since this stuff is all in the public domain it can be heard. In part one of my investigation of African rock'n'roll 78's (and they pressed 78's in the Mother Land until around 1970) I present the stuff from Pat's tape. Some day soon, I'll do part two which covers 1962-70 and will include stuff I tracked down on my own as well as some incredible rock'n'roll influenced hi-life music from Nigeria and Ghana. But for now, dig these sounds:
First up is the Bogard Brothers, from Alexander Township in KawZulu. With only a guitar and stand up bass they kick up quite a racket, trading off vocals in English and Sotho. Their insane version of That'll Be The Day would be un-recognizable to Buddy Holly, while Flying Rock is a medley of the Drifters' Money Honey, Elvis' Good Rockin' Tonight, Gene Vincent's Be Bop A Lula and whatever else they could throw in. The third tune from these geniuses-- I'm In Love is their take on All Shook Up. Wildest of all-- She Keeps On Knockin' features singer Lawrence Motau, not present on the other three sides. He rocks himself into a near frenzy, and pre-dates gangster rap by a good thirty years with lyrics about shooting a man with a gun. What's the story with these guys? How many records did they make? Will somebody out there give them all to me? I'll pay you a dollar. A similar sound comes from the King Brothers on their classic Zulu Rock from the TJ Quality label, except they had an alto saxophone player wailing away. Evidently they made a whole stack of 78's in the late 50's and early 60's, and if this is representative I'd say they could give the Bogard Brothers a run for their money as kings of Zulu scene. Benoni Rocket, a Zulu whose real name was Joseph Nkhoda (probably still is) cut a handful of Elvis influenced sides, his accent gives way to the theory that he learned the tunes phonetically. Here we have I'm Gonna Shake, Rattle, Roll (not the Joe Turner tune covered by Elvis, I don't think...) Last Night and I'm Gonna Rock,they are amongst the wildest discs I've ever heard. Gabriel Sibusi waxed  Call Me Mister for the Troubadour label, I've seen another disc by him mentioned-- She Works In Bedrooms, but I've never heard it. Also on Troubadour were the Pretty Dolls, a jive style group with a pronounced Caribbean influence as heard here on I PromiseJimmy Masuluke's Happy Happy Make It Snappy appeared on the equally obscure FM label and features some rockin' sax and hot electric guitar riffs. And that's all I know about it. The Tip Top Rhythm Boys (possibly a white group gone native) show off their percussion/sax heavy sound on Sparkling Se Dinge, again, I know nothing about them. Allen Kwela and his guitar are featured on the 500 Guitar Rock, another ultra-obscurity from another unknown artist. This is the most traditionally African sounding disc here. The Black Mambazo (no relation to Ladysmith Black Mambazo) show the influence of Latin music in After Muchacha , the group was led by Finish Mohamed, Simon Nkbinde and vocalist Zeph Nakbinde.
Joyce Mogatusi was the lead singer of the Dark City Sisters, a rather prolific "jive" group produced by Aaron LeRole who also produced the Black Mambazo disc. Here they jive their way into the twist craze with Shala-Shala Twist. Willard Cele appeared in the 1950 film The Magic Garden aka Pennywhistle Blues which makes sense since he rocked the Penny Whistle long before the Pogues, you can study his unique approach to the instrument on Penny Whistle Boogie. This style of music was called Kwela and was big all over South Africa in the 50's. Well, talk about obscure genres, I think this is the tip of the iceberg.  Too bad Paul Simon didn't run into the Bogard Brothers when he was making Graceland, they'd have sent him back to his books and poetry fast enough! Or as Jerry Lee Lewis once said--"I'd like to slap a hamburger patty on his ass and run him through Ethiopia"!  I'll get to work on volume two with some of the sides mentioned above (you just gotta hear the Junkers, Nigeria's answer to the Rolling Stones and Ghanian Charlotte Doda's incredible Beatles' cover) and should have it posted before summer or the next war breaks out, which ever comes first.
Addendum: In the original post I had written that the collector Pat Conte died, he didn't, I had mixed up his name in my  mind with another old time 78 collector from Queens who did die. Mr. Conte is still alive.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hasil Adkins- The Great Lost Album

Haze signed this photo for me on our first meeting, 1983.
The cassette Hasil gave me to play on the my radio show, all un-issued stuff.
Don't bother dialing Haze's phone #, it's disconnected.
Hasil's funeral notice. 2005
Me and the Haze, from 3-D original, 1984. It was around 1994 or 5 that Hasil Adkins gave this 90 minute cassette to Norton Records' honcho Billy Miller to give to me to play on my radio show. I'd had Haze on the show on several occasions for a series of "Hunchin' Luncheon" broadcasts. Me and the Haze hit off well, we both like Mopar cars, guns and coffee, so we had lots to talk about off mike. Unfortunately, Haze was a bit mike shy about being interviewed and he was one of the hardest on-air interviews I've ever done. Soon as the mike would go on, he'd shut up and give one word answers When the e mike was off and he was quite cordial and talkative. We eventually figured out if we brought his guitar and kit, he could just shut up and play live. These broadcasts can be heard on the Hound Archive Air Check page highlighted above. So Billy gives me this cassette of Hasil's home recordings, no info, no song titles, nuthin', but every song is great. Some of his best work. Much better than anything on the Fat Possum LP (which captures Hasil on a very uninspired day). As far as I can tell none of this stuff has ever been released, so now it will escape, I being the one to unlock the cage and let it loose on you--the rest of the world. If you're a Hasil fan, fidelity isn't one of your great concerns, this stuff was recorded at Haze's house in the holler somewhere in the country side outside of Madison, West Virginia and transferred to cassette by Hasil himself. I dubbed it to digital using a program called Amadeus Pro (thanks to Brian Redman, for turning me on to this and teaching me how to use it, without Brian there'd be no Hound). Some of the song titles I made up since, as I said, there were no titles on the tape box (pictured above). These fifteen tunes were chosen from a total of twenty three, so there'll be a volume two someday (all sad ballads). The great lost Hasil Adkins album, I think I'll call it Commodity Meat and other delights, or maybe How To Do The Hunch And Influence People. Here's are the tunes (keep in mind on the original tape the tunes all run together, and some tunes cut off when the tape ran out of Hasil's machine): Waitin' For The Graveyard, Go Go Go Down The Line (Lookin' Down That Highway), Let Me Talk To You (Moo Moo Moo), Me & Jesus (Got It All Worked Out), Lee-Anne (I Wanna See You Boogie Woogie), Kill 'Em Rock, Keep On Hunchin', Way Before My Time (I Should Have Been Born A Long Time Ago), Somebody I Used To Know (and Chased Away With A Baseball Bat), Madison Boone County Blues, Old Joe, Commodity Meat & Peanut Butter, Ugly Chelsea Clinton Hunch (Feed Her Commodity Meat, Bill), Catch Me A Train, You're Too Young For Me, Reelin' & Rockin'. Enjoy, and if I catch anyone tryin' to sell this thing I'm gonna put my steel toed boot up your ass. BTW, a funny Hasil antidote: Around 1997 the late, great, Bill Pietsch brings the late, great,Hasil Adkins into the Lakeside Lounge to say hi. I'd just bought some guitars that walked in the door with a crackhead, so I gave Haze a little Fender Squire in exchange for doing a short set. To get warmed up to play, Haze asks if I have any salt. I go get him the salt shaker, he takes it, opens the top, pours the entire thing into his hand and downs it in one gulp. Then asks for the box of salt. I give him the box and he eats the entire box of salt. Swear to God.
ADDENDUM: These links are down for the moment, you can find THE GREAT LOST HASIL ADKINS album at WFMU's Beware The Blog: The Great Lost Hasil Adkins Album (their links were taken off of mine, might as well let them host it, they've got a faster connection).

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday's 5 45's -- Guitar Slingers (and big dick swingers...)

Okay, I'll take you commenter's suggestion and try and make this a weekly feature. Five 45's. Here's this week's stack. Since I'm a lazy shit, this week I just leaned over, from the reproduction of the couch that Sigmund Freud had in his own office, if I lay backwards on the one in my own office I find myself at eye level directly in front of the instrumental section of the 45 shelves. Easy enough. I love rock'n'roll instrumentals, especially guitar instrumentals. For seventeen years I opened my radio show with five instrumentals (take a listen here). I didn't exactly grab these randomly, I wanted to give you some discs that hadn't been re-issued, at least not on CD as far as I  know, and by guys who you might've heard of, if it not heard of, at least heard (and maybe didn't know it). And I wanted 'em to be great records. I think these past the test. Roy Buchanan was amazing in his early days, he contributes some truly ominous guitar sounds to Dale Hawkins sides like Cross-Ties, early fuzz wackiness on Cody Brennan's version of Ruby Baby and even made a handful of great 45's under his own name. By the time his ship came in via a PBS documentary which portrayed him as the great, lonesome blues  man, he'd turned into a bore, but this platter, a rendition of Erkstine Hawkins' After Hours for the Philadelphia based Bomarc label illustrates just how cool he once was. Buchanan himself had long credited the Jimmy Nolen (guitarist with the Johnny Otis Show and James Brown, see the Dec. Johnny Otis I for more on him) waxing of After Hours (Federal, you can hear it on the Johnny Otis I posting) as his all time favorite and most influential disc. Here, Buchanan adds a few of his own tricks, including using the volume knob on his Telecaster as a primitive Wah Wah pedal (or as Hasil Adkins called it-- the Bow Wow pedal), and some almost tasteful use of feedback. Quine used to say Buchanan was the only guitarist whom he couldn't tell if he was black or white, on this disc he sounds grey with red pinstripes. J.J. Cale is somebody I used to file in the same part of my brain as Jimmy Buffet, but the aforementioned Quine re-introduced me to Cale's stuff and damned, if you really listen he's almost the white Jimmy Reed. Ask Eric Clapton, who stole Cale's sound, songs and band and durn near modled himself after the lazier than hell Okie trash genius (when told he had a hit record and should go out and tour to promote it Cale asked his manager "if I got a hit, why do I have to promote it"? Turns out Cale has a long history and appeared on quite a few  great rockabilly and hillbilly discs back in Oklahoma before setting out for L.A. where he recorded as the Leather Coated Minds for Sidewalk in 1968 before returning to Tulsa and laid back near stardom. This instrumental, Shock Hop he's billed as Johnny Cale, it is from '63 and could sit proudly next to such classics as the Frantics' Werewolf (see Halloween I posting) as instro-spook rock'n'roll at it's best.
Lafayette "The Thing" Thomas wielded the Stratocaster on many great Jimmy McCracklin records including The Walk. McCracklin found him playing in Jimmy Wilson's band where he can be heard on such monsters as Big Wheel Rollin' (Goldband) as well as a few great records under his own name for Peacock (Jumpin' In The Heart Of Town being the best). This VG- R&B instrumental with the snappy title of Cockroach Run saw life as the only issue on the Jumping label out of God knows where (the flip was a dumb break in record called The Trial credited to nobody). Thomas ended life working as a hose fitter. There's a lesson in all this but I don't know what it is. Great record, pops, clicks and all. Jody Williams- Lucky Lou (Argo). Jody Williams started out in Bo Diddley's band when they were called the Langley Ave. Jive Cats or something like that. He can be heard soloing on Bo's Who Do You Love. As a session man he's on dozens of incredible Chess/Checker/Argo discs including many by Howlin' Wolf. He only got his due recently, and as of a few years ago was still playing at top of his game. I have fond memories of the first Ponderosa Stomp (when it was still called the Mau-Mau Ball) at the Circle Bar in New Orleans when Jody played a killer set with blues steel player Freddy Roulette. On this Argo disc, his only solo record for the Chess brothers, he displays all his best tendencies. Great record, no bout a doubt it. Jimmy Dobro (James Burton)- Swamp Surfer (Phillips). This is of course James Burton, hero of countless fine rockabilly records by Dale Hawkins (Suzi Q), Bob Luman, Ricky Nelson, as well as sides by Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gram Parson and even John Denver. He's probably one of the most deservedly praised guitar players in history but his solo work (an LP for A&M in '72 and a duet LP with Ralph Mooney for Capitol in '66) are good but never quite click into high gear. This, my favorite of all his solo sides, was cut under the name Jimmy Dobro because the a-side is a corny dobro-novelty called Everybody Listen To The Dobro that really isn't worth posting. I love the vibe of this one, especially the way the rhythm section modulates south without breaking tempo. Swamp Surfer isn't so much a monster as a real sleeper, in the best sense of the term.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Cramps Lux Interior Dead

Lux Interior (Eric Lee Purkiser) died today (Feb. 4th, 2009) at 4:30 AM in a hospital in Glendale, California of a heart ailment. Lux was one of the first people I met when I moved to New York City in 1977 and although I never knew him well I feel as though I learned a lot from just watching and listening to him. There is no facet of popular culture that hasn't been influenced by the Cramps and although they never got their due in terms of record sales, they changed thousands, maybe millions of lives. He was truly the last of a breed. R.I.P. The above photo was taken by Stephanie Chernokowski in the fall of 1977. I wouldn't get too bummed out just yet, there's a good chance he will rise from the dead sometime soon.

Dynamic Duos II: God's Army - Johnny & Luther Htoo

It was January 25, 2000 that the above photo appeared on the front page of the New York Times. It's a chilling photograph. Child soldiers (there are an estimated 1,000,000 children under the age of fifteen serving as soldiers around the world at any given moment), age 12, they looked closer to eight or nine. Twins, Johnny and Luther Htoo, one angelic (Johnny on the left), the other impish with the sides of his head shaved and smoking a cheroot (Luther on the right). They were from what used to be Burma, now Myanmar, members of an ethnic, tribal minority-- the Karen (pronounced Kur-IN) who have been at war with the ultra-oppressive Burmese army since 1949. Their home was the isolated mountain region in the mid-east of the country near the Thai border. Their names in Karen are Ehkalumu (Johnny) and Ehkalutaw (Luther) which mean The Patriot Who Will Never Die and the Honest Patriot. Their parents obviously knew their spawn where born to a purpose. They were born in a tiny, farming village called Pe Cha in November, 1987. Since natural gas had been struck in the area and a pipeline was being built to ship the gas through Thailand with the help of U.S. and British corporate money, the Burmese leaders in Rangoon had decided the easiest and most profitable solution was to ethnically cleanse the area of the Karen, slaughtering entire villages, and racking up the usual depressing list of human rights abuses as documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and even the U.S. State Department: rape, torture, forced relocation, slavery-- as in using Karen as forced labor to work on the pipeline or as porters for the army. The Karen have always fought back, their fight led by the Karen National Union (KSU) whose leaders are mostly in exile in Thailand, and had been losing (there are at least 100,00 Karen refugees on the Thai border) until the Htoo twins took over as guerrilla leaders, rising quickly to the rank of generals in their rag tag band known as The Soldiers Of God's Holy Mountain AKA God's Army. The Karen are fundamentalist Christians having been converted by American missionaries from Salem, Massachusetts in the early 19th Century. Their beliefs include a vegan diet, no swearing or pre-martial sex, and much quoting of scripture. Many Karen believe that the KSU leaders have been corrupted by living the high life in exile while they fought it out in the jungle against the better armed and more numerous Burmese military. After a raid on their village in which the Burmese killed and raped with impudence, Johnny and Luther, at the time aged nine, approached their local KSU commander and asked for seven guns. That night they led a counter attack on the village and defeated an entire battalion of soldiers. Along with their cousin, a black tongued dwarf named Thoo Pleh they began leading raids from their mountain encampments. There are dozens of eye witness accounts of what is said to be their supernatural powers (including the eye witness testimony of an American born Nun, one sister Mary who has worked among the Karen for decades). They are said to be the reincarnation of 15th Century Karen warriors and as such are bullet proof. They are crack shots who never miss their target. They are able to appear and disappear at will. When not at war they acted like normal children, albeit chain smoking children. They played hide and seek, tag and of course War. The Htoo twins showed up on the radar of the Western media through a very bad tactical error. Hooking up with a radical, pro-democracy student group several members of God's Army joined the students in the October, 1999, seizure of the Burmese embassy in Bangkok. The siege ended without a shot fired, the Thai army provided a helicopter for the radicals escape and the hostages were freed. Their next action did not end so well. In January of 2000, the same group seized a hospital in Ratchaburi, Thailand in an attempt to draw attention to the cause. This time the Thai army, fed up and disgusted that the Karen would seize a hospital full of innocent bystanders (hospitals are considered sacrosanct even in guerrilla warfare) they attacked, leaving a score of students and their God's Army attachment dead. This hardened the Thai hearts against the Karen cause considerably, but it did make worldwide headlines, where the above photo of the pre-pubescent generals appeared on the cover of newspapers all over the U.S. , Europe and Asia. And the fighting continued, with the now weakened Karen more often than not at the losing end. In 2001 Johnny and Luther, after years on the run and hiding out in the mountains, out of ammo and close to starvation crossed the border into Thailand and gave themselves up to the Thai army. Then Prime Minister-- Chuan Leekpai was on hand to receive their surrender, shaking Johnny's hand in a photo op reminiscent of the end of Clockwork Orange. The twins were kept in a refugee camp where they eventually both married and fathered children (Luther married his English teacher). But life in a refugee camp is oppressive and dull, they were not permitted to work, keep arms, train as soldiers, or even farm. In 2006 Johnny left the camp, recrossing the border into Myanmar and gave himself up to the Burmese Army. His current whereabouts are unknown. Luther remains in the Thai refugee camp and has taken up the guitar to pass the time. I keep a photo of Johnny and Luther over my desk where it continues to haunt me. Video footage can be found here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Dynamic Duos I: Don & Dewey

Don & Dewey (Don "Sugarcane" Harris and Dewey Terry) were, and still are, the greatest duo in the whole history of rock'n'roll. They never had a chart hit but they originated at least half dozen standards, many of which charted for acts as diverse as the Premiers, Dale & Grace, Donnie & Marie Osmond, the Olympics, the Searchers, the Righteous Brothers and Neil Young. Of course, that's not what makes them great. What makes 'em great, is that they were great-- Mormon incest fantasies be damned. The story begins in Pasadena, California which is where they came from. At John Muir High School they sang with a doo wop group called the Squires. The Squires cut a couple of singles for Kicks and Vita records and called it quits. That was in 1955. Our subjects could not be satisfied with mere harmony. Both were multi-instrumentalists, Dewey played guitar, piano and bass while Don mastered guitar, bass and violin. They both sang and together their sound took off like a rocket ship. In 1956 Don & Dewey hooked up with a guy named John Criner (later to become the manager of the Olympics) who recorded two singles with them, both issued in January 1957. Nobody seems to know which disc was issued first but one, released on Spot was a Little Richard styled rocker-- Miss Sue b/w My Heart Is Aching which would hint at glories to come. The other 45 Fiddlin' The Blues b/w Slummin' was on the Shade label and both tunes are instrumentals, showcasing Don Harris' bluesy electric violin, a talent that wouldn't be fully exploited until after Don & Dewey's break-up, but one that kept him in work for decades. By the time these records hit the streets Don & Dewey who had been gigging around the L.A. area, were spotted by Specialty Records' Art Rupe and he cut their first session on January, 29, 1957. Rupe's thinking was sound, if one Little Richard sold a million records, two Little Richards should sell two million--at least. Their first Specialty single was perhaps the most auspicious debut in the history of, hell--just listen to it-- Jungle Hop b/w A Little Love. A stripped down affair, Dewey played piano, Don guitar, they were accompanied by the monstrous Earl Palmer on drums and a bass player nobody remembers. They both screamed their lungs out. Despite a growing following around L.A. the disc was just too raw for the radio and while it sold well locally it never charted. Seven more sessions followed in the next two years. Rupe would fill out their sound bringing in ace session men Plas Johnson on sax, the severely under rated Rene Hall on guitar, Ted Brinson on bass, and eventually (in March of '58) turning over production duties to future Scientologist, Congressman and spazz skier Sonny Bono. Their next single was probably their best seller-- I"m Leavin' It Up To You b/w Jelly Bean got airplay in L.A. but the rest of the country wouldn't hear the tune until it became a hit for Dale & Grace in 1963 and then again for Donnie & Marie in 1973. Still, Rupe believed in them as belied by the fact that he kept recording and issuing records, some of the highlights-- Farmer John (later a hit for Chicano garage rockers the Premiers), the frantic Justine (and it's equally wild flipside Bim Bam), Big Boy Pete (a hit for the Olympics), the stop time instrumental Jump Awhile (issued on the Specialty subsidiary Fidelity), the you gotta hear it to believe it Kill Me (also released on Fidelity) on which Dewey Terry's guitar solo comes close to matching his idol, Specialty label mate Guitar Slim. Some of the material that Rupe didn't release was better than some of what was, like their sublime rendition of Joe Liggins' Pink Champagne, the only time Rupe let Don Harris take his fiddle out of its case, and the rockin' Mammer-Jammer, the most un-folk like disc to ever mention a hootenanny. The later two saw light of day when Specialty finally got around to putting out a Don & Dewey LP-- Rockin' Til Midnight, Rollin' Til Dawn in 1970. It's one of the greatest LP's of all time. What Rupe did issue was often trite, like the Sonny Bono tune Koko Joe, although their delivery overcomes the material. By 1959 Don & Dewey had packed it in with Specialty. They recorded a few singles for Rush and then joined Little Richard's band when he returned from touring the U.K. where he had played with both the Beatles and the Stones. In 1964, Richard led them right back to Rupe's doorstep where they backed Little Richard on his final, glorious Specialty single-- Bama Lama Loo b/w Annie's Back, Rupe's attempt to re-introduce Little Richard to America by replacing his saxophone heavy sound with wild electric guitars. It failed to sell but remains one of Little Richard's greatest discs. At the same session Don & Dewey waxed their fairwell to Specialty, a killer rocker called Get Your Hat which turned out to be their prophetic swansong. Soundwise, it could have been recorded eight years earlier, but it was out of step with the Beatlemania that ruled radio that year. Nothing good lasts for very long and by 1965 Don & Dewey split up. Don "Sugarcane" Harris cut a few solo singles for Johnny Otis' Dig label and would eventually join the Mothers Of Invention (where he can be heard soloing on Willie The Pimp), play in a hippie group called Pure Food and Drug Act and finally land a deal with Epic where he cut a couple of LP's. He also appears on sides by Harvey Mandel, John Mayall, Johnny Otis, and a punk band led by Mayall's son called Tupelo Chain Sex. Dewey Terry cut a blues album called Chief for the Tumbleweed label in 1972. They reformed a few times in the 1990's, appearing mostly at Festivals in Europe, and when Don Harris (real name Bowman) passed away in 1999, Dewey did a few shows with a replacement Don. Dewey Terry himself bought the farm in 2003. The complete Don & Dewey on Specialty/Fidelity is available in the U.S. on Specialty (now owned by Saul Zaentz's Fantasy Records) and in the U.K. on Ace (available here). It has nine un-issued tracks (but not the Spot and Shade singles). A complete discography can be found here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

James Williamson 1966 and 1972

Found these lovely photos the Stooges' guitarist James "the Skull" Williamson. The top photo is the Chosen Few, that's James, bottom right with the Fender Jaguar, Scott Richardson is on the top left holding his nose. He would marry Robert Mitchum's daughter. Ronnie Asheton told me he got to go to Mitchum's ranch and hang out on several occasions. Mitchum cooked up a big pot of chili and shared his home grown herb with him. Ron Asheton played bass briefly in the Chosen Few (that's where he met Williamson). Scott Richardson went on to form the Scott Richardson Case aka SRC which eventually became Blue Sceptor. Richardson later worked as a screenwriter on Hearts Of Fire a film that starred Bob Dylan with a cameo by Ian Dury.
 The bottom pic is circa 1972, taken in a cemetery in London somewhere during the recording of Raw Power. I've never been one to argue Ron Asheton vs. James Williamson or Funhouse vs. Raw Power. I love them both, they're very different records. Just because you love champagne doesn't mean you have to stop drinking red wine. I agree with Lenny Kaye, the best possible scenario would have been if they recorded Raw Power a year earlier with both Ron Asheton and James Williamson playing guitars, too bad Elektra dropped them. Woulda, shoulda, Jim Dickinson says, the best performances don't get recorded, the best recordings don't get released, and the best releases don't sell. Or something like that. As I've previously voiced, the best mix of Search & Destroy (and Penetration) is the 45, available from Sundazed. For a look at James Williamson today go here and scroll down. There's an excellent interview with his eminence in the new issue of The Fretboard Journal (#12, Winter 2008....yes, they misprinted the date on the cover, it just came out). Not new, but probably the best interview Williamson's ever given can be found here . And when you're done with that click around, the I-94 site has tons of incredible interviews with Bob Quine, Greg Shaw, Ron Asheton, and dozens of others. A small label in London is releasing a live Stooges disc recorded in '71 with the Williamson/Asheton double guitar line up this spring. More info as it appears. BTW, a reminder, if you missed the Funhouse Sessions box set you can get it here (scroll down).

Let's Hear It For The Orchestra

Let's Hear It For The Orchestra
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