Saturday, October 30, 2010

Keith Richards

                Keith gets his ya ya out...
 Brian, engineer Ron Malo, Loog and Keith, Chess Studio, 1964.

Sweden, 1965

Panic In Norway, hosing down the fans.

Little Red Rooster, 1965. "Brenda" Jagger takes a beating in Keith's autobiography Life.

"Shooting up the charts..." Little Red Rooster again, this time on Ready Steady Go.

Seven years later

 At the risk of boring the readership of this blog to tears with yet another posting on the Rolling Stones, I can't help but throw my 2 pence in on Keith Richards' autobiography- Life (Little, Brown 2010, co-written with James Fox who only gets an editor's credit, which is I imagine why Nick Tosches and Stanley Booth both passed on the job) a subject you may already be sick of since Keith's been hitting the promotional highway rather hard, and many of you must already be suffering from Stones overload in the wake of the Exile On Main Street re-issue hype.
Me, I never seem to get sick of the Stones, and have been playing the Genuine Black Box bootleg constantly since it fell through my mail slot last summer. So what's the word on Life?
Had I never read a book on the Rolling Stones, Life would probably be one my favorite  rock'n'roll books of all time. The problem then, is not so much the book, but the fact that I've probably read every book on the Rolling Stones ever published, and there's been some good ones (Tony Sanchez- Up and Down With The Stones, Stanley Booth's The True Adventures of The Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman's Stone Alone, Marianne Faithful and David Dalton's Faithful stand out off the top of my head as favorites). But like I said, I have a couple of shelves worth of these things, and that's not including photo books.  What's left to say?  Well, there's only a few untold stories here (an early romance with Ronnie Spector, which is not as much fun as Josh Alan Friedman's take on the same subject a decade later, see Tell The Truth Until They Bleed), a lot of wild and woolly party tales, and of course, just seeing it all from Keith's point of view. Oh, and the music itself, which normally I'd say is the most boring part of any rock'n'roll read, but in Keith's case,  it's my favorite part of the book. He explains why his open G guitar tuning style only sounds right with five strings, and just how it works. He also explains Jimmy Reed's unique way of making his  resolving d7 chord (which he learned from Bobby "Honey" Goldsboro)-- he simply played one note on the D string and left the A string ringing, instead of making the whole chord! A lazy man's road to genius.  At this point I'd like to say, I disagree with Keith's deciphering of Reed's lyrics to Caress Me Baby. According to Keith, the line "Don't pull no subway/I'd rather see you pull a train" means "Don't go on dope, dont' go underground, I'd rather see you drunk or on cocaine", the way I read the line, it means -- don't leave ("don't pull no subway"), I'd rather see you get gangbanged ("I'd rather see you pull a train"). The term "pull a train" slang for a gangbang was still in use when I was in high school in Florida in the early 70's, and I think my translation is correct. Gangbang of course still meant group sex back then, not drive by shootings. For more on Keith and Jimmy Reed, (he has mastered the Jimmy Reed sound), I refer you back to my posting of his 1981 Jimmy Reed session.
 The Stones' career is given Keith's once over in the sort of blurry way he saw it from the inside, the earliest years go by at 100 miles per hour, drug busts and screaming teenagers await everytime Keith attempts leave the recording studio or concert hall.  The dope years are fun to read about, but don't sound like much fun. To be honest, there are better junkie memoirs out there (Art Pepper, Dr. John). The dope stories make up on a small part of the book, and he writes more about the tribulations of trying to score drugs more than he does about taking them.
 Life covers nearly all of the most famous Stones stories which are of course the foundation of their legend -- living in squalor in Edith Grove, the riot in Blackpool kicked off by Keith kicking a punter who was spitting at him in the head, the Redlands bust ( finally putting the Mars bar rumour to rest), Swinging London and its fabulous characters-- Robert Fraser, Michael Cooper, et al,  the fateful trip to Morocco that sealed Brian Jones' fate and won Anita Pallenberg's love, the making of Exile On Main Street, Charlie Watts changing into his best Saville Row suit to punch out Mick Jagger for referring to him as "my drummer",  all great stories, and Keith's versions add a bit of inside detail, but seem to stick to the already written script. It's funny what Keith decides to add to the oft told stories, and also what new stories he adds to the legend-- bringing in Kate Moss to testify to his attempting to dismember with a sword a guest at his daughter's wedding who stole the onions for his Bangers and Mash (Keith includes his recipe for the same dish), his own holding up a show in Toronto until the culprits who ate his Shepard's Pie are brought to justice (admitting he never eats before a show anyway, just wants to have it there in case he gets hungry), breaking down the door to Truman Capote ("Truby")'s hotel room, and the like. These stories are all pretty funny, many new to print.  He also dedicates two sections of the book to the story of the Wingless Angels-- a rasta-gospel vocal group whose Keith produced 1997 LP was one of his greatest musical triumphs (and his best album since Exile) and was criminally ignored. In fact today it's out of print, although soon to be re-issued in a package with Vol. 2, but since it's out of print,  here's a few tracks-- Morning Train, Rivers Of Babylon, and Keyman A Capella to wet your appetite for the re-issue.
In Life, Keith's friends, band and family can be treated harshly or with incredible tenderness--  Stash Klossowski de Rola is "basically full of shit", while legendary bearer of sealed bottles of pharmaceutical Merc cocaine, the late Freddie Sessler is-- "Totally horrible, revolting. Absolutely over the top, stupid at times" but "totally solid" and someone Keith obviously still holds in high regard. Even Tony Sanchez, whose Up and Down With The Rolling Stones ended every paragraph with "you bastard, I thought", comes off looking okay. No hard feelings there. But forgiving doesn't pay back seven million dollar advances, and Keith knows what his audience wants. More than dope and celebrity stories, they (we, want to read about what a jerk Mick Jagger is.  Jagger, who is referred to variously as "Brenda", "Disco boy, "Her majesty" or sometimes just "the bitch" takes a major beating in Life, one he probably deserves. For those keeping score, Brian Jones, Donald Cammell, Ron Wood and Anita Pallenberg also get spattered with various degrees of shrapnel. After Jagger, Cammell (director of Performance) gets it the worst--"the most destructive turd I've ever met...utterly predatory... ". Much of this I guess is just giving the audience what they paid for. We go see the Stones to hear our favorite songs, and to hear loud guitars playing Chuck Berry licks rather sloppily, and we buy books like this to read about what kind of assholes people can be. Rock'n'roll brings out the worst in some (most) people-- on one hand it keeps performers infantile, while on the other inflating their egos beyond comprehension. Keith sees this all with fairly clear, if sometimes pinned eyes, and in recalling what he's seen, and lived, he delivers the goods.  I mean, not many writers get a seven million dollar advance (and Little, Brown and Co. obviously have high hopes for this book, the initial first printing is said to be three million copies). I used to think it was a put on, a way to get press in the years they weren't touring and that Keith and Mick were having drinks somewhere laughing at the whole thing ("Yeah mate, then I call you a "Prince imitator"). After reading Life, I don't think that's the case. I think Keith really does hate Jagger in a way you can only hate someone you once loved. This all may end up backfiring on Keith. Is it my imagination or were the audience booing Keith during his two numbers on the Stones HBO live broadcast a few years back? The show, coming hot on the heels of Keith's press attacks on Mick for accepting a knighthood (hey, Graham Greene turned one down just for the record, and so should any artist), I'm pretty sure the crowd were booing Keith for attacking Mick. Us old time Stones fans like to think the reason the Stones can't make good records anyore is that Jagger wants them to sound current and  up to date, something the Stones never used to care about. The best new music the Stones have made since 1981 are a few good Keith tracks like 40 Licks Am I Losing My Touch. Live, they started sounding like a Vegas act around the early 90's, as Bob Dylan astutely noted, when Bill Wyman left they really stopped sounding like the Stones.
There are few surprises in life and in Life, one being that Keith likes Jackson Browne, another is Keith crediting Ian Stewart putting the Stones together, not Brian Jones, but like I said, had I never read a word about the Stones, I'm sure every word here would have held some sort of enlightenment.
Keith ends the book wondering-- "How come I could get a great drum sound in Denmark Street with one microphone, and now with fifteen microphones I get a drum sound like someone shitting on a tin roof?" I've been wondering that out loud for twenty five years now. While on the subject, the above images come from the newly published The Lost Rolling Stones Photographs: The Bob Bonis Archive 1964-1966 (!t/Haper Collins, 2010), a collection of amazing pix from their first American tours taken by their American road manager Bob Bonis. It makes a nice perfect companion piece to Keith's book.
Addendum- Bill Wyman imagines Mick's response to Keith's book here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gillian's Found Photo #56

As the sign in this weeks' found photo says, here is the famous guitar player from Argentina, Alberto Lesama. What he's doing with that (rubber?) crustacean? Other than attempting to water his friend, it is beyond me. I'm at a complete loss for a comment.  So I thought I'd make a contest out of this week's found photo posting. The best caption wins a copy of New York Review Books Classics new edition (restored from the original manuscript) of William Lindsay Gresham's classic 1947 novel Nightmare Alley (with an introduction by Nick Toshes), one of the greatest forgotten novels of the 20th Century. I ended up with an extra copy, so I will go to the post office and mail it off to the winner. Send your captions into the comments section, me and Fang will pick the winner, after we announce the winner you can mail your address to us care of this sight to claim your prize.
Addendum: A winner will be announced Sunday, Oct. 24, so you have a whole 24 hours to get those entries in.
Addendum #2: And the weiner, errr...winner is: Viva with her answer:
"Ed Ward is right:"
Please e-mail me c/o this site to have your prize (W.L. Gresham's Nightmare Alley) sent to where ever it is you want it sent.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

General Johnson/The Showmen

                                           The Showman

General Norman Johnson (born in Norfolk,Virginia, 1943) died last Wednesday at his home outside of Atlanta. He was 67. An obit can be found here. He is best remembered for being the lead singer on the Chairman Of The Board's chart topper Give Me Just A Little More Time, and writing Patches for Clarence Carter, Want Ads for the Honey Come and Bring The Boys Home for Freda Payne, but to me he'll always be remembered as the lead voice on one of my all time favorite records-- It Will Stand  b/w Country Fool by the Showman (Minit, 1961), produced by Allen Tousaint.  The Showmen an R&B vocal quintet, originally from Norfolk, Virginia, relocated to New Orleans after signing to Minit.  Although It Will Stand only reached #80 on the charts, it sold for years and the song was extremely popular around the beaches of North Carolina where it was considered a "shag" classic.  The Showmen's sound was at the crossroads of the older 50's group harmony style and the coming Soul music. General Johnson's voice had a beautiful gravely quality to it, with a natural vibrato that made him an extremely distinctive singer. I know nothing about his background, but I'll bet my socks he started singing in church.   The Showmen were, in addition to lead singer General Johnson-- Milton "Smokes" Wells- bass, Dorsey "Chops" Knight- second tenor, Gene "Cheater" Knight- first tenor, and Leslie "Fat Boy" Felton- baritone. They recorded for Minit and its subsidiary label Instant from 1961-6. After parting with Minit, where they made their best discs, they recorded for BB, Swan, Imperial and Lawn. Some of their other great discs  include This Misery, The Wrong Girl, Swish Fish, I'm Coming Home, Strange Girl, True Fine Mama and an alternate take of It Will Stand. Jonathan Richman covered It Will Stand in 1976 on the Beserkley label.
After leaving the Showman, Johnson headed to Detroit where the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland put together the Chairmen of the Board around him, scoring a huge hit with Gimme Just A Little More Time.  It Will Stand remains the ultimate rock'n'roll anthem, and it will be remembered as long as someone out there loves real rock'n'roll.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Elmore James

Elmore James (center) with Homesick James (right) and Robert Plunkin (behind drums).

Elmore's death certificate

Elmore James, J.T. Brown on sax, on the bandstand, Chicago, '59.
Elmore with an admirer.
Just realized I got an extra one of these if anyone wants to trade.....
Elmore in color, late 50's.
Flair Records' promo shot, early 50's.
Near the end, early 60's.

 Elmore's grave, with the wrong dates for both birth and death. 

Barry Soltz' scan of an Elmore James 45, signed by Elmore to Hound Dog Taylor. 

I need to explain who Elmore James is to anyone who reads this blog? I should hope not, but since I've been playing his records constantly for the last forty years I thought I should do a bit of a round up, critical review of his recorded catalog, since, although he never really made a bad record, and about 70% of what he recorded were variations on the same song and the same riff (Dust My Broom), I think a run down of what he left us is in order. Truth is, I have no other ideas today, and I love the photos (above) and the music (below), my comments hardly matter.
Elmore James was born Elmore Brooks on January 27, 1916 on a farm outside of Richland, Mississippi in Holmes County. His mother was a fifteen year old unwed farm hand named Leola. She eventually hooked up with a man named Joe Willie "Frost" James who may have been Elmore's father.  Little Elmore was given Joe Willie's last name and grew up on a series of farms in and around Lexington and Durant,  Mississippi, also in Holmes Country. He managed to graduate from the fourth grade before quitting school. Starting out on a self built three string guitar, and influenced by the recordings of master slide guitarists Tampa Red and Kokomo Arnold, he taught himself to play the blues and by the late 1930's was remembered playing around Holmes county under the name of Cleanhead James. He may or may not have played with Robert Johnson, and may or may not have picked up his signature tune Dust My Broom from Johnson  (although Leroy Carr had recorded a very similar tune in 1933 called I Believe I'll Make A Change, the riff was adapted from a Kokomo Arnold tune). In his well researched biography of Elmore James-- The Amazing Secret History Of Elmore James (BlueSource Publications, 2003) Steve Franz makes a case that Johnson may have learned the tune from the younger musician.
By his late teens Elmore had fallen in with Sonny Boy Williamson #2 (Rice Miller) and can be heard playing guitar behind Sonny Boy on his early Trumpet sides (the master tapes of which have been lost on some of these, substituted by re-recorded versions without James).  Trumpet's owner Lillian McMurray signed Elmore to a record contract in 1951 but for some reason he refused to record anything for her, she was only able to get one side out of him, and this was done by secretly taping a rehearsal.  The original recording of Dust My Broom  (with Sonny Boy on harmonica) was issued under the name Elmo James in November of '51 and became a sizable blues hit.  Since she couldn't get a b-side out of Elmore, the flip, credited to Elmer James was a version of Catfish Blues done by one Bobo Thomas. These sides were later leased to Ace. Since the master tapes are long gone, and the price of a good condition Trumpet 78 has risen into the three figures in recent years, I'd recommend keeping an eye out for the Ace pressing which sounds better and will probably cost a lot less.  The idea of an exclusive recording contract seemed to figure lightly in Elmore's mind, since while still under contract to Trumpet, to whom he refused to record (a funny taped phone conversation between McMurry and Elmore was published in some blues mag years ago, unfortunately I can't remember which one), Elmore signed a second contract with the Bihari Brothers' LA based Modern/R.P.M/Flair/Kent family of labels, instituting a lawsuit from McMurry who eventually took a cash settlement from the Biharis.  Meanwhile, the Bihari Brothers gave Elmore's contract to their likable but hapless elder brother Lester who was attempting to launch the Meteor label in Memphis.  His first release was a re-recording of Dust My Broom, retitled I Believe (My Time Ain't Long), and it would be the best selling record the legendary, but short lived, Meteor label produced. Elmore put together the first version of the Broomdusters with J.T. Brown on sax, Little Johnny Jones on piano, and later his cousin Homesick James Williamson on bass and/or second guitar and hit the chitlin' circuit where he was always a popular draw. He traveled around the south, and often north into Chicago steadily for the next ten years. At one point Elmore was so hard to pin down, the Biharis sent Ike Turner out with a portable recording rig to find him. Turner finally tracked Elmore down in Canton, Mississippi and cut a session one afternoon at the Club Bizarre, with Ike himself on piano, it produced some of his finest recorded moments including 1839 Blues, Sho' Nuff I Do,  and Canton, Mississippi Breakdown.  Elmore's discs were issued not only on Meteor, but Flair, Modern, and Kent in a rather bewildering discography which can be found in Les Fancourt and Bob McGrath's Blues Discography: 1943-1970 (Eyeball Productions, 2006) or the aforementioned bio by Steve Franz.  While under contract to the Bihari's he cut sessions for the Chess Brothers in Chicago in '53 (issued on Checker), and Chief also in Chicago in '57 (these sides were later leased to Vee Jay and include the amazing 12 Year Old Boy). The Biharis cut Elmore where ever they could find him, sessions were held in Chicago, New Orleans and possibly L.A., sometimes they recorded Elmore solo and dubbed the rhythm section onto the masters later in L.A. Some of the highlights of his years with the Biharis include Dark and Dreary, Hand In Hand, Hawaiian Boogie, One More Drink, Long Tall Woman,  and Can't Stop Lovin'. He really never cut a bad side, but I think the Modern/Flair/Meteor sides might be his best, every thing he ever recorded for the Biharis can be found on the Ace three CD box set-- The Classic Early Recordings 1951-56 (Ace ABOXCD-4).
Having fallen out with the  musicians union at some point in the late 50's he was banned from playing Chicago for three years (1956-59) and returned to Mississippi where he played clubs and might have made moonshine to supplement his income. He can also be heard on Junior Wells' early States singles, Big Joe Turner's TV Mama on Atlantic, and discs by Little Johnny Jones (Atlantic and Flair), J.T. Brown (Meteor) and Willie Love (Trumpet).
 Sometime in1959, Harlem record hustler and label and record store owner Bobby Robinson tracked Elmore down in Chicago and would record over fifty sides with him in the next three years, recording him in Chicago and New York. These final sides, originally released on Fire (and later re-issued on Enjoy, Sphere Sound, Fury, Bell, Trip, Sue, and other labels) are uniformly excellent and include Bobby's Rock, a version of Rollin' and Tumblin' with Wild Jimmy Spruill on second guitar, Tampa Red's It Hurts Me Too (a sizable hit), Eddie Kirkland's Done Somebody Wrong,  Look On Yonder Wall, Pickin' The Blues,  and Elmore Jumps One as well as re-recordings of virtually his entire repertoire, most of it in stereo. Robinson also had the wherewithal to record Elmore talking about his early life (here). A double CD box of the complete Bobby Robinson recordings was issued in the 90's by Capricorn as King Of The Slide Guitar.  Elmore James also cut one  last session for Chess in 1960 which produced the classics I Can't Hold Out, The Sun Is Shining, and Madison Blues, these along with the 1953 Checker discs would be packaged with some John Brim sides on the essential Chess LP Elmore James/John Brim-Whose Muddy Shoes (Chess 9114).
  Virtually every bluesman interviewed on the subject had good memories of Elmore James. He was well liked and highly regarded by his peers. Howlin' Wolf kept Dust  My Broom in his set until the end of his life because-- "That was Elmore's song". He was remembered as a nice guy, albeit one who loved to drink and had a preference for home made moonshine, which is rather hard on the body. In his forties he had a series of heart attacks which slowed him down considerably. My late pal Jimmy Spruill who recorded with Elmore in 1960 remembered him as having to stop and rest between takes, but when he got up to play he'd get so excited he'd nearly give himself another heart attack. That excitement translated into his guitar sound which has never really been matched although over the years other musicians including Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Littlejohn, J.B. Hutto, and Lil' Ed Williams have managed to made a living attempting to imitate it.
On May 23, 1963 Elmore James suffered his final, fatal heart attack in Chicago at the home of his cousin Homesick James. He was only 47 years old. He died before anyone bothered to interview him or even film him. Had he lived, he would have been one of the biggest stars of the 60's blues revival.  The year of his death, a young Keith Richard spotted a little blond guy sitting in with Alex Korner's band at a club in London's Soho. He was billed as Elmo Lewis and he was playing Dust My Broom. It was Brian Jones, and soon they'd join forces to form the Rolling Stones. In the years since Elmore James' death white musicians like Eric Clapton, the Yardbirds, Fleetwood Mac, George Thorogood, the Allman Brothers, and too many others to mention have taken Elmore's sound to the bank. While just about anyone with a guitar and a slide could learn the Dust My Broom riff in a half hour, nobody made it sound as good as Elmore James. That holds true to this day. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

George Orwell: Politics and the English Language (1946)

When in doubt run a photo of Bebe...
I've been traveling and haven't had any time to finish any posts, but if you're looking for something to read, try this, written by George Orwell back in 1946, and think of the coming elections-- JM

 Gratuitus Jane Birkin photo which has nothing to do with today's post.

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.
Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.
These five passages have not been picked out because they are especially bad -- I could have quoted far worse if I had chosen -- but because they illustrate various of the mental vices from which we now suffer. They are a little below the average, but are fairly representative examples. I number them so that i can refer back to them when necessary:
    1. I am not, indeed, sure whether it is not true to say that the Milton who once seemed not unlike a seventeenth-century Shelley had not become, out of an experience ever more bitter in each year, more alien [sic] to the founder of that Jesuit sect which nothing could induce him to tolerate.
      Professor Harold Laski (Essay in Freedom of Expression)
    2. Above all, we cannot play ducks and drakes with a native battery of idioms which prescribes egregious collocations of vocables as the Basic put up with for tolerate, or put at a loss for bewilder .
      Professor Lancelot Hogben (Interglossa)
    3. On the one side we have the free personality: by definition it is not neurotic, for it has neither conflict nor dream. Its desires, such as they are, are transparent, for they are just what institutional approval keeps in the forefront of consciousness; another institutional pattern would alter their number and intensity; there is little in them that is natural, irreducible, or culturally dangerous. But on the other side, the social bond itself is nothing but the mutual reflection of these self-secure integrities. Recall the definition of love. Is not this the very picture of a small academic? Where is there a place in this hall of mirrors for either personality or fraternity?
      Essay on psychology in Politics (New York)
    4. All the "best people" from the gentlemen's clubs, and all the frantic fascist captains, united in common hatred of Socialism and bestial horror at the rising tide of the mass revolutionary movement, have turned to acts of provocation, to foul incendiarism, to medieval legends of poisoned wells, to legalize their own destruction of proletarian organizations, and rouse the agitated petty-bourgeoise to chauvinistic fervor on behalf of the fight against the revolutionary way out of the crisis.
      Communist pamphlet
    5. If a new spirit is to be infused into this old country, there is one thorny and contentious reform which must be tackled, and that is the humanization and galvanization of the B.B.C. Timidity here will bespeak canker and atrophy of the soul. The heart of Britain may be sound and of strong beat, for instance, but the British lion's roar at present is like that of Bottom in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream -- as gentle as any sucking dove. A virile new Britain cannot continue indefinitely to be traduced in the eyes or rather ears, of the world by the effete languors of Langham Place, brazenly masquerading as "standard English." When the Voice of Britain is heard at nine o'clock, better far and infinitely less ludicrous to hear aitches honestly dropped than the present priggish, inflated, inhibited, school-ma'amish arch braying of blameless bashful mewing maidens!
      Letter in Tribune
Each of these passages has faults of its own, but, quite apart from avoidable ugliness, two qualities are common to all of them. The first is staleness of imagery; the other is lack of precision. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse. I list below, with notes and examples, various of the tricks by means of which the work of prose construction is habitually dodged:
Dying metaphors. A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically "dead" (e.g. iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgel for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters, on the order of the day, Achilles' heel, swan song, hotbed. Many of these are used without knowledge of their meaning (what is a "rift," for instance?), and incompatible metaphors are frequently mixed, a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is saying. Some metaphors now current have been twisted out of their original meaning withouth those who use them even being aware of the fact. For example, toe the line is sometimes written as tow the line. Another example is the hammer and the anvil, now always used with the implication that the anvil gets the worst of it. In real life it is always the anvil that breaks the hammer, never the other way about: a writer who stopped to think what he was saying would avoid perverting the original phrase.
Operators or verbal false limbs. These save the trouble of picking out appropriate verbs and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables which give it an appearance of symmetry. Characteristic phrases are render inoperative, militate against, make contact with, be subjected to, give rise to, give grounds for, have the effect of, play a leading part (role) in, make itself felt, take effect, exhibit a tendency to, serve the purpose of, etc., etc. The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs. Instead of being a single word, such asbreak, stop, spoil, mend, kill, a verb becomes a phrase, made up of a noun or adjective tacked on to some general-purpose verb such as prove, serve, form, play, render. In addition, the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the active, and noun constructions are used instead of gerunds (by examination of instead of by examining). The range of verbs is further cut down by means of the -ize and de- formations, and the banal statements are given an appearance of profundity by means of the not un- formation. Simple conjunctions and prepositions are replaced by such phrases as with respect to, having regard to, the fact that, by dint of, in view of, in the interests of, on the hypothesis that; and the ends of sentences are saved by anticlimax by such resounding commonplaces as greatly to be desired, cannot be left out of account, a development to be expected in the near future, deserving of serious consideration, brought to a satisfactory conclusion, and so on and so forth.
Pretentious diction. Words like phenomenon, element, individual (as noun), objective, categorical, effective, virtual, basic, primary, promote, constitute, exhibit, exploit, utilize, eliminate, liquidate, are used to dress up a simple statement and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgements. Adjectives like epoch-making, epic, historic, unforgettable, triumphant, age-old, inevitable, inexorable, veritable, are used to dignify the sordid process of international politics, while writing that aims at glorifying war usually takes on an archaic color, its characteristic words being: realm, throne, chariot, mailed fist, trident, sword, shield, buckler, banner, jackboot, clarion. Foreign words and expressions such as cul de sac, ancien regime, deus ex machina, mutatis mutandis, status quo, gleichschaltung, weltanschauung, are used to give an air of culture and elegance. Except for the useful abbreviations i.e., e.g., and etc., there is no real need for any of the hundreds of foreign phrases now current in the English language. Bad writers, and especially scientific, political, and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones, and unnecessary words like expedite, ameliorate, predict, extraneous, deracinated, clandestine, subaqueous, and hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their Anglo-Saxon numbers.* The jargon peculiar to

*An interesting illustration of this is the way in which English flower names were in use till very recently are being ousted by Greek ones, Snapdragon becoming antirrhinumforget-me-not becoming myosotis, etc. It is hard to see any practical reason for this change of fashion: it is probably due to an instinctive turning away from the more homely word and a vague feeling that the Greek word is scientific.

Marxist writing (hyena, hangman, cannibal, petty bourgeois, these gentry, lackey, flunkey, mad dog, White Guard, etc.) consists largely of words translated from Russian, German, or French; but the normal way of coining a new word is to use Latin or Greek root with the appropriate affix and, where necessary, the size formation. It is often easier to make up words of this kind (deregionalize, impermissible, extramarital, non-fragmentary and so forth) than to think up the English words that will cover one's meaning. The result, in general, is an increase in slovenliness and vagueness.
Meaningless words. In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.† Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural, vitality, as used in art criticism, are strictly meaningless, in

† Example: Comfort's catholicity of perception and image, strangely Whitmanesque in range, almost the exact opposite in aesthetic compulsion, continues to evoke that trembling atmospheric accumulative hinting at a cruel, an inexorably serene timelessness . . .Wrey Gardiner scores by aiming at simple bull's-eyes with precision. Only they are not so simple, and through this contented sadness runs more than the surface bittersweet of resignation." (Poetry Quarterly)

the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly ever expected to do so by the reader. When one critic writes, "The outstanding feature of Mr. X's work is its living quality," while another writes, "The immediately striking thing about Mr. X's work is its peculiar deadness," the reader accepts this as a simple difference opinion. If words like black and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living, he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable." The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal P├ętain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.
Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.
This is a parody, but not a very gross one. Exhibit (3) above, for instance, contains several patches of the same kind of English. It will be seen that I have not made a full translation. The beginning and ending of the sentence follow the original meaning fairly closely, but in the middle the concrete illustrations -- race, battle, bread -- dissolve into the vague phrases "success or failure in competitive activities." This had to be so, because no modern writer of the kind I am discussing -- no one capable of using phrases like "objective considerations of contemporary phenomena" -- would ever tabulate his thoughts in that precise and detailed way. The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness. Now analyze these two sentences a little more closely. The first contains forty-nine words but only sixty syllables, and all its words are those of everyday life. The second contains thirty-eight words of ninety syllables: eighteen of those words are from Latin roots, and one from Greek. The first sentence contains six vivid images, and only one phrase ("time and chance") that could be called vague. The second contains not a single fresh, arresting phrase, and in spite of its ninety syllables it gives only a shortened version of the meaning contained in the first. Yet without a doubt it is the second kind of sentence that is gaining ground in modern English. I do not want to exaggerate. This kind of writing is not yet universal, and outcrops of simplicity will occur here and there in the worst-written page. Still, if you or I were told to write a few lines on the uncertainty of human fortunes, we should probably come much nearer to my imaginary sentence than to the one from Ecclesiastes.
As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier -- even quicker, once you have the habit -- to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for the words; you also don't have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry -- when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech -- it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump. By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself. This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash -- as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot -- it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking. Look again at the examples I gave at the beginning of this essay. Professor Laski (1) uses five negatives in fifty three words. One of these is superfluous, making nonsense of the whole passage, and in addition there is the slip -- alien for akin -- making further nonsense, and several avoidable pieces of clumsiness which increase the general vagueness. Professor Hogben (2) plays ducks and drakes with a battery which is able to write prescriptions, and, while disapproving of the everyday phrase put up with, is unwilling to look egregious up in the dictionary and see what it means; (3), if one takes an uncharitable attitude towards it, is simply meaningless: probably one could work out its intended meaning by reading the whole of the article in which it occurs. In (4), the writer knows more or less what he wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink. In (5), words and meaning have almost parted company. People who write in this manner usually have a general emotional meaning -- they dislike one thing and want to express solidarity with another -- but they are not interested in the detail of what they are saying. A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: 1. Could I put it more shortly? 2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you -- even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent -- and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.
In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Where it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinions and not a "party line." Orthodoxy, of whatever color, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style. The political dialects to be found in pamphlets, leading articles, manifestoes, White papers and the speeches of undersecretaries do, of course, vary from party to party, but they are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid, homemade turn of speech. When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases -- bestial atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder -- one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker's spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as one is when one utters the responses in church. And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favorable to political conformity.
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism., question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, "I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so." Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:
"While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement."
The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find -- this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify -- that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better. The debased language that I have been discussing is in some ways very convenient. Phrases like a not unjustifiable assumption, leaves much to be desired, would serve no good purpose, a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind, are a continuous temptation, a packet of aspirins always at one's elbow. Look back through this essay, and for certain you will find that I have again and again committed the very faults I am protesting against. By this morning's post I have received a pamphlet dealing with conditions in Germany. The author tells me that he "felt impelled" to write it. I open it at random, and here is almost the first sentence I see: "[The Allies] have an opportunity not only of achieving a radical transformation of Germany's social and political structure in such a way as to avoid a nationalistic reaction in Germany itself, but at the same time of laying the foundations of a co-operative and unified Europe." You see, he "feels impelled" to write -- feels, presumably, that he has something new to say -- and yet his words, like cavalry horses answering the bugle, group themselves automatically into the familiar dreary pattern. This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases (lay the foundations, achieve a radical transformation) can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one's brain.
I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words and constructions. So far as the general tone or spirit of a language goes, this may be true, but it is not true in detail. Silly words and expressions have often disappeared, not through any evolutionary process but owing to the conscious action of a minority. Two recent examples were explore every avenue and leave no stone unturned, which were killed by the jeers of a few journalists. There is a long list of flyblown metaphors which could similarly be got rid of if enough people would interest themselves in the job; and it should also be possible to laugh the not un- formation out of existence*, to reduce the amount of Latin and Greek in the average sentence, to drive out foreign phrases

*One can cure oneself of the not un- formation by memorizing this sentence: A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field.

and strayed scientific words, and, in general, to make pretentiousness unfashionable. But all these are minor points. The defense of the English language implies more than this, and perhaps it is best to start by saying what it does not imply.
To begin with it has nothing to do with archaism, with the salvaging of obsolete words and turns of speech, or with the setting up of a "standard English" which must never be departed from. On the contrary, it is especially concerned with the scrapping of every word or idiom which has outworn its usefulness. It has nothing to do with correct grammar and syntax, which are of no importance so long as one makes one's meaning clear, or with the avoidance of Americanisms, or with having what is called a "good prose style." On the other hand, it is not concerned with fake simplicity and the attempt to make written English colloquial. Nor does it even imply in every case preferring the Saxon word to the Latin one, though it does imply using the fewest and shortest words that will cover one's meaning. What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualizing you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one's meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterward one can choose -- not simply accept -- the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one's words are likely to make on another person. This last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed images, all prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness generally. But one can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:
(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
These rules sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change of attitude in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style now fashionable. One could keep all of them and still write bad English, but one could not write the kind of stuff that I quoted in those five specimens at the beginning of this article.
I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. Stuart Chase and others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase -- some jackboot, Achilles' heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse -- into the dustbin, where it belongs.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Birds

The Birds, 1964. Guess which one is still famous.

From the film The Deadly Bees.

Leaving Here, their best original.

Forty six years ago, the 100 Club, Oxford Street, London. Which night would you go if you could only go one night?

So many of life's simple pleasures are gone. I really miss the thrill of going to the local record shop and checking out the new releases. My heart would pound at the sight of a new Stones, Yardbirds or Kinks LP. Sorry, flipping through jewel cases just isn't the same. Not that there's any good record stores left where I live.  Or going the magazine stand and seeing a new issue of Creem or Rock Scene. Or  even those rare occasions when Rolling Stone had somebody cool on the cover (yes, such things happened once a year or so: Little Richard, Mel Lyman, the MC5). There's so few readable music mags around nowadays, my expectations are so scaled back that I'll buy anything that looks even vaguely interesting (although I'm boycotting Mojo since they decided to make their freelance writers and photographers sign over the rights to their materials in perpetuity, see Mick Farren on the subject).  So, yesterday, out of boredom,  I buy the latest issue of a Brit 60's garage/psych oriented mag called Shindig  mainly because the The Birds are gracing the cover. For those who never heard them, the Birds (not to be confused with the American group the Byrds) were a British R&B/beat group,  best remembered for launching the careers of Ron Wood and the late Kim Gardner (The Creation). Collectors of such garage and "freakbeat" (I hate that term, I don't know why, I just do), know of them for three great and quite rare 45's issued in 1964-5, which we shall discuss in a moment.
 According to Shindig, the Birds "made The Kinks and The Pretty Things look tame",  I don't agree with that, the Birds never made a record as wild as the Kinks' I Need You or the Pretty Things' Midnight To Six Man, and writing a tune as timeless and perfect as Waterloo Sunset or Days, was way beyond their capabilities. That's not to say the Birds didn't have their moments-- three of them (or six if each side of the disc counts as a seperate "moment").
  Of course,  after reading the piece in Shindig, I decided to check YouTube and surprise, there it is, the only known footage of the Birds in their prime to surface (so far), taken from a low budget horror flick--  The Deadly Bees (1967), which I've never seen. Yes, I miss the simple pleasures of record stores and newsstands, but being able to call up obscure film footage at your fingertips is, I guess, at least some sort of compensation.
  The Birds were-- Ali McKenzie- lead vocals, Ron Wood- guitar/harmonica/vocals, Tony Munroe- guitar/vocals, Kim Gardner- bass, Pete Hocking- drums. Getting getting beaten to a name by other bands was something of a leitmotif throughout their career.  They grew out of a group first called the Renegades, which they had to change when another group with the same name waxed a great version of Vince Taylor's Cadillac, so they then became the Thunderbirds, which was shortened to The Birds when Chris Farlowe's backing band took on the name the Thunderbirds. They would end life as The Birds Birds, possibly because of a mistake at the label printers.
 In 1964 The Birds got their first break,  a residency at the 100 Club in Oxford Street, London where the Pretty Things had Tuesday nights for much of that year,  and were soon signed to Decca who issued their debut 45-- You're On My Mind (written by Ron Wood) b/w You Don't Love Me, a Bo Diddley tune on which Wood plays harmonica. Here's the demos to You're On My Mind and You Don't Love Me (not as good as the final versions but worth hearing). Their second single issued in '65 was a version of an obscure Motown tune-- Eddie Holland's Leaving Here b/w Next In Line, another Ron Wood original.
After a much publicized legal fight with the Byrds, which they lost,  the issued No Good Without You Baby, a Mickey Stevenson tune they found on a Marvin Gaye LP b/w their third Ron Wood tune-- How Can It Be, which Wood sings lead on.  A change in management (their new managers would be Charlie and Eddie Richardson, South End gangsters soon to go on trial for torturing their enemies by chopping off their toes, nailing them to the floor, etc.) and record companies saw them now on Robert Stigwood's Reaction label. Their third and final single was a mixed affair, the a-side being a rather dreary reading of the McCoys tune Say Those Magic Words, but the flip side of their final disc,-- Daddy Daddy is a classic mod rave-up, one of the best discs of the era. The label read: the Birds Birds, which may have been a typo or else have something to do with their lawsuit against the Byrds. Not that it mattered, like the previous two discs,  it flopped and soon the group broke up. Of their unissued tunes left in the vault, in addition the above demos, is a cover of the Who's Run Run Run, which is pretty cool. Their entire recorded output, demos, outtakes and all can be found on the UK Deram CD- The Collector's Guide To Rare British Birds, issued in 1999.  Ron Wood did just fine for himself, although he never played guitar in the style he used with the Birds again,  Kim Gardner went on to join the Creation, the others to other bands and eventually day jobs. Today, 45 years later lead singer Ali MacKenzie  once again leads a group called the Birds. And they still play the 100 Club.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Love TeeVee #2 : Garage Greats, Goods, and Unknowns...

The Wanted

The Syndicate Of Sound

The Barbarians

The Wayds (Baby, that's rock'n'roll!)

Russel Morris (Who?)

Running Jumping Standing Still doing their best Captain Beefheart impersonation.

The Offbeats.

The Remains.


Them Again.

und jetzt aus Deutschland! Das Lords!
More fun perusing Youbtube, this one looking at garage bands, some of them aren't even lip syncing!
Anyone know anything about the Wayds? That may be the best rock'n'roll clip of all time.
Addendum: The Wayds have reformed, I shit you not. Check out their website:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gillian's Found Photo #55

Recent posting have covered murderers, drag queens, pimps, dope dealers, and guitar players who hung from the rafters by their feet. I don't think this guy was/did any of the above. The photo, was taken at a Teenage Hop, in Miami, Florida, 1963, and the gals seem to dig this Tom Hanks lookin' little greaseball. I wonder who he is? I know who he isn't. He is not Buck Trail, Tommy Spurlin, Ray Pate or Allen Page,  all known rockers who worked South Florida in the late 50's and left great 45's behind to prove it.
Perhaps it's a local DJ who is presenting the Record Hop, that's how many dj's supplemented their  meager salaries back then (along with payola which had been outlawed by a congressional addition to the Federal Communications Act back in 1960).
 The photo is dated September, '63, so if he's not a dj, I think because of his rather straight appearance perhaps this guy (if he's a singer plugging his new disc, he is lip syncing, since there's no microphone to be seen), might have been more of a balladeer than a rocker. I bet he had a few "wop" songs in his repetoire. Maybe some Jimmy Roselli tunes? Can anyone out their identify this guy?

Let's Hear It For The Orchestra

Let's Hear It For The Orchestra
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