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Thursday 28 February 2013

Solid Bonds

For the second post in a row we pick up where we left off on the previous post. Much more of this and you might start thinking I know what I'm doing. Which would be wrong.

Anyway, at the end of the last post I vaguely threatened to inflict on you Gary U.S. Bonds' doo-wop remake of "I Walk The Line". Weirdly, I have had some requests to do so straight away. It may be an attempt to call my bluff, in which case they have sadly miscalculated.

You won't find this on vinyl. Although recorded some time in the early 1960s, it remained unreleased until it popped up on a compilation of some of Gary's more obscure moments, "Take Me Back To New Orleans", which is still available on Amazon.

As a bonus, we also have two tracks from Gary's 1962 album "Twist Up Calypso" on which, as the name suggests, he twists up some calypsoes. In theory it should be terrible; in practice it turns out to be great fun, especially these two tracks.

"I Walk The Line" - Gary U.S. Bonds

"Where Did The Naughty Little Girl Go" - Gary U.S. Bonds

"Mama Look A Boo Boo" - Gary U.S. Bonds

"Mama Look A Boo Boo" was written by the great Lord Melody, who we have featured here a number of times before. Popularised by (some in Trinidad would say ripped off by) Harry Belafonte, who had a top twenty US hit with it in 1957, I also have a version by Robert Mitchum.

Don't even think of it!

Monday 25 February 2013

More Swamp!

Last time out we treated you to a selection sung by Swamp Dogg. I mentioned then that he was an equally phenomenal writer and producer. Today's tracks are just a small part of the evidence that will back up that statement.

But before we get to them, I have a new favourite blog for you to check out. As a result of Saturday's post, I was contacted by Marie over at "It's All In The Grooves".  What a cracking site it is. You get an oldie a day, mostly from the 1940s to 1960s, with an emphasis on blues, country, R 'n B - all the good stuff. Once you've finished here, head over there and have a look.

"Rockin' Your Baby Now" - Eleanor Grant

"Please Open Up The Door" - Little Charles & The Sidewinders

"She Didn't Know (She Kept On Talking)" - Sandra Phillips

"She's All I Got" - Freddie North

"I Don't Care Anymore" - Doris Duke

"Call Me Nigger" - Raw Spitt

"She's All I Got" was co-written by Swamp Dogg and Gary U.S. Bonds. After a string of hits from 1960 to 1962, Gary didn't trouble the charts for nearly twenty years until Bruce Springsteen penned this comeback single especially for him in 1981. You must remind me to post his doo-wop version of "I Walk The Line" some time.

Saturday 23 February 2013

Swamp On Saturday

A little later than promised, here is a small selection from Swamp Dogg, or Jerry Williams Jr as his mother knew him. Swamp has been making music for nigh on 60 years, having released his first single in 1954 (as Little Jerry), and for me he is one of the greatest performers and producers there has ever been.

"Shipwrecked" - Jerry Willians (1968)

"Total Destruction Of Your Mind" - Swamp Dogg (1970)

"Dust Your Head Color Red" - Swamp Dogg (1972)

"Surfin' In Harlem" - Swamp Dogg (1991)

"Shipwrecked #2" - Cold Blue featuring Swamp Dogg (2004)

"They Crowned An Idiot King" - Swamp Dogg (2007)

I'm pleased to report that Mr Dogg is still going strong. Someone who sadly isn't is Kevin Ayers, who left us earlier in the week. Here is a little memento for you.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

The Summer Of '62

I must start by apologising to Chic (of Charity Chic fame). I had sort of promised him some Swamp Dogg this time out. It hasn't worked out like that, but it will do soon (honest).

The thing is, I got distracted by a wonderful new compilation called simply "The 1962 British Hit Parade". It comes in two parts, one for each half of the year, and it contains every song to debut in the Record Retailer Top 50 that year - which means over 300 songs in total. You can download the whole lot on Amazon for £15, which works out about 5p a song.

Part of the appeal for me is that I am very rapidly approaching what is euphemistically called a "big birthday". Listening to all of this gives me a good idea of what my Mum and Dad would have heard while partaking of whatever passed for nightlife in Bromley in 1962, the last time they were able to enjoy themselves unencumbered by children for many, many years. So this one's for them.

Bringing together every song that made the charts in the order they appeared is a simple and really rather brilliant idea. You go from sublime to ridiculous stopping at every point in between. Of course there is a lot of dross on there but, in between that and the big hits we all know, there are some long-forgotten gems.

All of these tracks apart from the Vernons Girls fall into that category. I particularly like the Brooks Brothers, billed as the English Everly Brothers but sounding more like two Adam Faiths. And I was very pleased to discover "Steel Men", an implausibly chirpy song about the real-life collapse of the Second Narrows Bridge near Vancouver which cost 18 men their lives. I have inherited a fondness for Roger Whittaker from my Dad, and had no idea that in his early days he - Roger, not my Dad - was being promoted as the new Lonnie Donegan (with a bit of Frankie Vaughan chucked in for good measure).

"Your Ma Said You Cried in Your Sleep Last Night" - Doug Sheldon

"He's Old Enough To Know Better" - The Brook Brothers

"He Got What He Wanted (But He Lost What He Had)" - Litle Richard

"Steel Men" - Roger Whittaker

"Break It To Me Gently" - Brenda Lee

"You Know What I Mean" - The Vernons Girls

The Beatles turned up towards the end of 1962, but Elvis was still undisputably the "King of the Whole Wide World" (to quote one of his hits from that year). While it perhaps wasn't a vintage year for him, he still had his moments. Here's one of them.

Sunday 17 February 2013

ReviewShine Round-Up

I have been rather rubbish recently at highlighting some of the new releases that have come my way via ReviewShine. This post is about a month overdue. I have no excuse other than being generally useless. So, with apologies all round, let's crack on. I will try to keep this brisk and business-like but, suffice to say, all these records are worth checking out.

1. "Time Served" by The BOB Band (available now). Musically this is raucous country-rock; lyrically you might call it AOR because of the adult content. There is lots of swearin' and screwin' and gettin' stoned. Younger readers should be warned that songs about such things are neither big nor clever. They are, however, enormous fun.

"Mary Anne" - The BOB Band

 2. "Eden" by Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck (out on 15 March). We have featured Bow on here before, and I really like his soulful take on Americana. This time round he has teamed up with an outfit called Perfect Trainwreck. There are maybe one or two tracks that go on a little longer than I felt was strictly necessary, but that is a very minor point. Overall it is another excellent effort.

"Bad Day At The Zoo" - Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck

3. "Sleepless" by Post Trauma (available now). As far as I can work out, Post Trauma is pretty much one Billy Ulrich - or at least he wrote all the songs and built the studio they were recorded in. Other reviews call this country-rock, which is right, but there is some good old-fashioned pop in the mix as well. That is what made it stand out for me.

"Typewriter" - Post Trauma

4. "Phantom Train" by The Marshall Pass (available now). The Marshall Pass are Duncan Arsenault - who appears to be a one-man music sceme in Worcester, MA - and Craig Rawding, who got together to write these songs after the death of their friend, the singer/ songwriter Scott Ricciuti. Sad beginnings, but they led to a fine album. I particularly like the slightly bluesy feel on this track.

"Redemption Hill" - The Marshall Pass

5. "Americana Motel" by E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier (available now). According to the stuff that I got sent, Christina (or E as she possibly prefers to be known*) has been compared to Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Joni Mitchell and Chrissie Hynde. Now I don't really hear Joni or Emmylou in her voice, but I can see what they are getting at with the other two. Most tracks on the album are country-tinged to some degree, and all in all it is a very good listen.

"Little Blue House" - E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier

[* UPDATE 18 February: The Artist Herself has been in touch to say that the E is silent, so Christina it is. She was also gracious enough to overlook the woefully inadequate nature of my review.]

Today's video clip is John Prine, who I had the pleasure of seeing at the Barbican last night (which is when I took the photo below). He treated us to a very enjoyable two-hour set and of course he did this one. If there has ever been a sadder or better line written than "There's a hole in Daddy's arm where all the money goes" I don't think I've heard it yet.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Little Willie Time

Next week Jasmine Records release an excellent new Little Willie John compilation album. Litle Willie was one of the great R 'n B singers of the second half of the 1950s, recording the original hit versions of standards like "Fever" and "Need Your Love So Bad" while still in his teens. Sadly, after that things went a bit wonky and he ended up dead in jail at the age of 31.

The compilation is called "Sleep - The Singles As & Bs 1955-1961", which gives you a pretty good idea of what is on there. Willie was pretty prolific during that period, with the result that you get 60 top notch tunes for your money. At £10 for the CD and £7.50 to download it is a real bargain. You should buy it now.

To whet your appetite, as if it needs further whetting, here are three of the B-sides.

"Let Nobody Love You" - Little Willie John

"Right There" - Little Willie John

"Until You Do" - Little Willie John

And here is another Little Willy.

Sunday 10 February 2013

Samba On Sunday

I'm going to try to coax the sun out with a bit of samba, courtesy of Trio Mocoto.

"Adelita" - Trio Mocoto

"Voltei Amor" - Trio Mocoto

Not working yet, let's bung in a bonus track and see if that does the trick.

"Aruande" - Alcione

Thursday 7 February 2013

Allez Les Etalons!

Anyone who follows African football will be aware that this weekend's final of the African Nations Cup is a real David and Goliath affair, with the hot favourites from Nigeria taking on the plucky underdogs from Burkina Faso.

By getting to the final Les Etalons (The Stallions) must have already exceeded the expectations of even their most optimistic supporters. Their achievement gives me all the excuse I need to feature our old friend, Georges Ouédraogo, the Godfather of Burkinabe pop.

To avoid accusations of favouritism from our Nigerian readers, I have added a couple of tracks from the mighty Sir Victor Uwaifo.

"Toog Woodo" - Georges Ouédraogo

"Bembao" - Georges Ouédraogo

"Tear The Bag" - Sir Victor Uwaifo

"Ewere Noyoyo" - Sir Victor Uwaifo

Here is some top football related music for you.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Murry's The Man Today

Excellent show by John Murry (with help from Michael Mullen) in the Birkbeck Tavern last night. It was a real privilege to see someone of that calibre in a local pub. It was something a bit special, but then you come to expect that from Steve and Ali. Sadly it was one of the last gigs they will be hosting in the Birkbeck as their tenancy finishes at the end of the month. Those of us who have been with them since the Sheep Walk days wish them well - fingers crossed they will pop up somewhere else before too long.

My extensive research - i.e. reading the bio page on his website - has revealed that Mr Murry is the grandson of William Faulkner, which gives me the perfect excuse to dig out an old favourite from Tom Russell. Also that Mr M was born and raised in Tupelo, Mississippi. Having done a fair bit of hell-raising in his time, it is not beyond the realms of possibility he spent a night or two in the county jail there. Tupelo's best-known son is, of course, Elvis.

Speaking of Presley's, we round things off with a tribute to one of Wiltshire's finest - Reg Presley, who sadly left us yesterday.

"Southern Sky" - John Murry

"William Faulkner In Hollywood" - Tom Russell

"Tupelo County Jail" - Don Gibson

"Got A Lot Of Livin' To Do" - Elvis Presley

"With A Girl Like You" - The Troggs

Saturday 2 February 2013

G,T & T

Here's a quick birthday tribute to Cher. Her birthday isn't actually until May, but I will probably have forgotten by then that I intended to do one.

Plus with the first track there is a bit of a treat for all the Elkie fans who I know read this column regularly, ready to leap into print at the slightest excuse. That's your girl, that is.

"Rock 'n Roll Gypsies" - Vinegar Joe

"Do Not Play With Gypsies" - Old Calf

"Tramps And Hawkers" - Dave Alvin

"Band Of Thieves" - Elyse

"Thieves In The Funkhouse" - Band Of Thieves