for Freaks of All Ages.
Pixel Grip • The Chemical Brothers • Feist • Divino Niño • Los Gold Fires • Making Movies • Our Native Daughters • Angel Olsen • Hurray For The Riff Raff • Vampire Weekend • Big Joanie • The Cell Phones • Bleached • Sacred Paws • British Sea Power • Ian Rubbish and the Bizzaros
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers • Vampire Weekend • Surfbort • Bhi Bhiman • Billie Eilish • Blanco Suave • IDLES •Kumbia Queers • Dead Kennedys • Tart • Pinky Doodle Poodle • The Cell Phones • Against Me! • NOFX • Ezra Furman • Girls • Tacocat • Bleached • Bikini Kill
Shake For Me
I discovered the Southern Friedalbum in 1970, sometime after it was released. Most of it hit me right off. I was also drawn to it because Duane Allman is on four of the disc's tracks. I was already familiar with Hammond's Vanguard label albums, since the public library had them. I liked them, but really felt this album was in a different class: it had horns and a much different drum sound. Probably because it was recorded in Alabama. The lead track on side one was also put out on a 45 at the end of 1969, before the album was issued, and though it didn't light up the charts, it is easy to tell why it was chosen: Allman adds a lot when his slide enters during the second verse.
In April of 1953, Miles Davis recorded with sax player Jimmy Heath, and that session also produced a recording of Heath's composition, C.T.A. Sometime after this session, Heath's drug problems escalated and he did two prison stints, not getting out until 1959. During that time in jail he worked hard on his writing and composed several things that ended up on an album by several prominent, west coast players. It was originally called Playboys (in 1957) and later was issued as Picture of Heath, as all the tunes were written by him. Among the musicians on that disc are Chet Baker, Art Pepper, and the very prominent bassist, Curtis Counce. C.T.A. was also recorded, and this helped propel it toward becoming a classic, and quite significant jazz standard. actually WRITTEN by a jazz musician!
Pianist Pete Rodriguez had been leading his combo/conjunto for a few years before he made his explicitly boogaloo records 1966-67. The track his band members Tony Pabon (trumpet-vocals) and Manny Rodriguez (percussion), wrote, I Like It Like That, became somewhat anthemic to the rise of latin boogaloo, and though it must have received air play around NYC, it did not chart nationally. Some of the ingredients to the boogaloo Rodriguez help popularize were evident on his earlier records for the Remo label, such as this excellent guajira, also written by Pabon and Rodriguez. The piano solo Rodriguez turns in sparkles with dissonance and then really pronounces the vamp. To me, it is a latin grind, great dance music and still drawing on traditional Afro-Cuban song forms.
DJ π a.k.a. Paul Yamada
The Hives • Amyl and The Sniffers • Ezra Furman • Tropa Magica • Tony Gallardo II • Kumbia Queers • Making Movies • Xenia Rubinos • Tijuana No • Woody Guthrie • Cat Power • Bob Dylan • Jeff Tweedy • Margo Price • Johnathan Rice • Bhi Bhiman
The Clique are best known for their bright, sunny pop hits, especially their cover of Tommy James and the Shondells' Sugar On Sunday. The band was from Texas and their first 45 was also a cover, but a cover of a song on the initial 13th Floor Elevators album. Though neither recording is of the more energetic and visceral music the Elevators made, The Clique manage a wonderful balance between the edgy and forlorn folk rock style of the Elevators and their own passion for layered, pop vocal arrangements. After a local release on Cinema, the national label Scepter picked it up, and it reached #113 on the Bubbling Under Billboard listing in October of 1967.
Con Carbon No Se Juega
It is not always easy to discover information about latin music from the 1940s and earlier. This is a good example. I have not been able to discover much about Balanza y Su Ritmo. This group had releases for the Ideal (based in California) label in the late 1940s. There may have been as many as seven 78s. There were also two releases on Ansonia; they may date from the same time. It is a jaunty big band and the pianist is quite good. There is a brief solo at the beginning of the record and more at the end. While this isn't quite mambo, it is a spirited guaracha and it is as good as that of the leading bands of the time in Cuba.
Wynonie Harris was a great and important singer for jazz, jump blues, r&b, and rock'n'roll. He had many huge hits from the mid 1940s into the early 1950s. Oh Babe! was one of his last, from 1950. It also reunited him with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra, the band that had backed him on his first successful releases. Oh Babe! did not come to him from blues or r&b writers and artists, as it was written by Louis Prima, a jazzy trumpeter and band leader from New Orleans. Prima had been performing since the late 1920s and began recording in 1934. During the mid 1940s his big band records had the energy and verve of nascent r&b and he made many fine records in this vein. Oh Babe! was released on his own Robin Hood label, and cut with Keely Smith, whom he would marry in 1953. Prima's record was popular but not as much as the Harris disc. But it is just as good, featuring tart, flag waving trumpet (and two trumpets toward the rousing end) a very solid beat and fine vocals from Prima and Smith. This is the original 78 version; there are several others out there, some shorter and all slightly different. I do not know what their sources are. But please, enjoy this great original!
I'll Be In
The early success by The Turtles might have prompted their label to do more in the folk rock vein. This is perhaps the most interesting and hard rocking 45 that emerged from that label, White Whale. The Answer were apparently from Berkeley, and within a year they split up and two members became The Drongos; they also had a 45 on the same label, White Whale. This side rocks harder than most Bay Area folk rock, though the vocals are distinctive of that sound and done very, very well. From November of 1965. A great and not well known 45!
Look What You've Done
For a time, the band Smokestack Lightnin' was popular at the Whiskey A Go Go in L.A. Taking the group name from a Howlin' Wolf song, they did feature blues, blues rock and some gnarly psyche. Their earlierst 45s were done in 1967 before they got signed to Bell. From the end of 1968 to the start of 1970 the band cut four 45s and an album. Much of their material is very good, in part because of producer Bones Howe and also because singer Ronnie Darling's raspy voice handles the material very well. This track is from their second 45 and once the organ enters, it gives off an early scent of The Doors. The guitar solo is also quite sharp and edgy. Perhaps their most commercial release was their last, a version of the Delaney Bramlett gem, Hello, L.A., Bye-Bye Birmingham, but it came out at the same time as the one by Blue Cheer.
Ready For Action
Frank Culley, who became known as Floorshow, was a hard blowing sax player who was at one time the leader of a house band used by Atlantic Records. He had two hits for the label, Cole Slaw and After Hours Session, both in 1949. He also added his sax to many Atlantic r&b records. Prior to blowing for Atlantic, he cut two discs for the Lenox label. I've only heard the first of the two, which is probably from the end of 1947 or the start of 1948. One side, The Pig Is Diggin', is quite interesting because it has many boppish aspects, as well as some wild honking. But it is nowhere to be found. So I offer up the B-side of Lenox 513, which pretty much limits its bop moments to the very end, but which has some wild, trick-bag playing and whistles from Culley. In a few years this kind of jazzy r&b would be called rock'n'roll.
Maybe trumpeter Don Sleet is better known than I think, but I tend to doubt that. While Sleet was fairly active in the late 1950s and into the time he recorded his only album (1961), after it was released, his drug problems increased and they plagued him for many years. He died at age 48. Sleet is on records by Lenny McBrowne, singer Gloria Smyth (who may be less known than Sleet!) and he also apparently recorded with Howard Rumsey and is on a Shelley Manne big band record. His lone album, which was on Riverside, features Jimmy Heath and Wynton Kelly. It is a great record, and here is one of its several great tracks. Thanks to Louis Ludwig for hipping me to this fairly overlooked player and recording!
During one of my visits in 1972 to the CBS office in St. Louis county, I received a promo of an album by Space Opera. Parts of this record clicked with me right off. Very few people I played it for liked it. I could not find anything about the group or the album. Somewhat recently I discovered that two members of the group had been involved with a project that Uni Records released in 1968 as by Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit and Greenhill, that all of Space Opera were from Texas and had known T-Bone Burnett. Unable to gain traction at home, by the beginning of the 1970s, Space Opera was in Canada, and that is where they recorded the self titled album which was initially released there on Columbia. The U.S. release was on Epic. The album contains great country rock, jazzy folk and stupendous prog psyche (listen to Over And Over). The 45 release is as good as 70s country rock ever got and to me, it beats the hell out of The Eagles and many other similar bands!
I'm On Fire
Phil Seymour and Dwight Twilley knew each other in Tulsa, but decided they wanted to make music and be discovered in Memphis. They eventually contacted Ray Harris, a former Sun artist, and Harris introduced the them to rockabilly. Back in Tulsa they met and recorded with U.K. producer Denny Cordell; he had started Shelter Records with Leon Russell. Their initial 45 was recorded in 1974 and released in 1975. Hitting #16, it would prove to be the biggest hit for the Dwight Twilley Band. A second 45 and an album followed in 1976 and still with Shetler, they also had an album through Arista in 1977. Seymour would depart in 1978, and quite sadly, pass away in 1993. The Twilley Band made great rockabilly (in part because of guitarist Bill Pitcock IV) and fantastic pop. Their vocals might suggest the Everlys and Lou Christie, but their arrangements and delivery is indeed unique and special. I was lucky to have seen this band three times and they were killer!
Check out my new show tonight for a snapshot of mid 1960s L.A. I feature one great, great band you may not have heard of, The Preachers. Wow are their records a revelation! Other bands included are The Arrows featuring Davie Allan/Davie Allan and the Arrows, Love and the Chocolate Watch Band. Did you know that as the Hogs, an early version of the Watch Band covered Allan's Blues Theme? Well, you can hear them both tonight. It's a rad show!
Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Jazz musicians have been attracted to pop tunes since there has been jazz. I would like to think that it is partly because the musicians have big ears and open minds, though the overwhelming number of jazz versions of Beatles songs in the 1960s probably had more to do with dreams of $$$$ than anything else. Still, when the piano trio The Bad Plus made their debut, tongues and fingers wagged at the band playing music by ABBA and Nirvana. The trio has clearly gotten past that, and the pianist, Ethan Iverson has become a star. He left and was replaced by Orris Evans last year. I think the most engaging of their pop and rock covers is the Tears For Fears cover. The arrangement and approach reminds me of how Hampton Hawes deconstructed Bacharach with perhaps his most adventurous trio, consisting of Henry Franklin and Michael Carvin. Iverson isn't as amazing as Hawes, but still, this is damned fine. From Prog, the trio's fifth album (2007).
Get It On Up (Get Up The Courage)
East L.A. was a hot bed of hybrid rock, soul and boogaloo in the 1960s. Mexican American bands like Sunny and the Sunliners and Thee Midnighters were wildly popular and had hits, too. Thee Midniters caught on with a cover of Chris Kenner's Land of 1000 Dances at the end of 1964 and Cannibal and the Headhunters followed in a month. The Frankie Garcia (he was Cannibal) version did a little better and has certainly been remembered much more so than the one by Thee Midniters. Kind of a shame as Thee Midniters were an incredible band and they outlasted Cannibal and his group, too. Garcia and company were done by the beginning of 1969 when they had their farewell, a hot dance number that owes a lot to older dance grooves by the Isley Brothers and the Righteous Brothers.
Because of Santana, the Willie Bobo tune, Evil Ways, has become well known. It was written by Bobo's guitarist, Clarence Henry and appeared on album in 1967. A rock group from East L.A., The Village Callers, recorded their version in the late spring of 1969 for the L.A. label Rampart, and it did well enough in California markets that it was picked up by the Bell label in September. It's popularity was noticed by employees of CBS in San Francisco, and they started a campaign to have it released as a 45, since Santana's Jingo had died. They were successful and at the very end of December, Evil Ways became the second Santana 45, and hence a big hit. It isn't just that the Village Callers deserve some note; their record is also really great and deserves to be heard. If it is really true that the accomplished pianist Hector Rivera had something to do with their management, that would also give the Callers a direct tie to the N.Y.C. latin soul and boogaloo scene. But I have no idea if that is actually true.
I just love the music Esther Phillips made. Though she had a tumultuous life and battled drug use, she made her singing mark on blues, r&b, jazz and soul, just to cite the most obvious. She was an accomplished singer at age 15, and had big hits on her own or with Mel Walker. Most of her early records were overseen by the great Johnny Otis, and she benefited from his big band. Better Beware opens with staccato lead guitar from Pete Lewis leading to and a stirring arrangement. After Phillips has her pointed say, Ben Webster enters on sax, relaxed at first and then he gets going. Lewis follows him. It is truly amazing how much music and emotion fit into less that two minutes and forty seconds!
Going Back Home
Harmonica Slim (Travis Blaylock) has spent most of his musical life as a sideman, playing on records that are not by him. He has made one well respected album and at least four 45s. This is on the earliest, and it is a beautiful example of harmonica blues. He has the right, almost natural tone and though it was most likely recorded in Los Angeles, it could pass for something done in Chicago during the mid 1950s, which is when it was recorded. Once upon a time, blues records like this were not uncommon. That is not at all the case now.
Are You Lonely For Me Baby?
Chuck Jackson has one great voice. It has been many years since I last saw him, but in the late 1990s he STILL had that marvelous baritone voice. His career began in the 1950s as a member of the Del Vikings. His own records began to chart by 1960 and he was consistently there for the decade. He is perhaps best known for I Don't Want To Cry and Any Day Now. My early favorite is I Wake Up Crying. As the decade passed, some of his releases became harder soul and less pop, including his final Wand 45 done with Papa John Schroeder, before he signed with Motown. His strongest hit there was a cover of the 1966 Freddie Scott smash, Are You Lonely For Me Baby; produced by Clay McMurray before his greater success with Gladys Knight, it id dynamite. I do truly dig the Scott record, but this is very great as well, and hit #27 on the national r&b chart in 1969.
This Time Tomorrow
Before Motown and success on her own and with Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell had recorded as Tammy Montgomery, which was her born last name. Her final 45 as Montgomery was done with Bert Berns and leased to Checker. While I like the A-side, I find the B-side more interesting, with its sly fuzz guitar and the twang break in the middle! It might not be her very best solo outing (that is quite possibly her hit remake of This Old Heart Of Mine) but this is a very solid effort from her and producer Berns.
I am not sure why I started to collect the records of the Royal Guardsmen since I don't really like their Snoopy hits. But it did allow me to discover that they were a pretty talented band. They could rock AND sing, as a few of their sides are almost as well sung as records by the Association. Their first 45, before any of the Snoopy records, was a version of Baby Let's Wait, which had already been out on the debut Young Rascals album. It was mildly popular in Florida, which is where the band was from. But the B-side is a solid rocker, with a rousing fuzz guitar line. It is NOT a Snoopy recording, that is for sure!
Please Mr. Foreman
"I don't mind working, but I do mind dying!" In the late 1960s that became a slogan and a line of protest in Detroit, and in many ways it was adopted from a great blues by Joe L. Carter. Carter recorded as Joe-L (or Joe L.) and he had several 45s on small Detroit labels in the late 1960s. Please Mr. Foreman (on the Classic label run by Rudy Robinson) was one of them and if not the best, certainly the one which attracted the most local attention. In 1971 he worked with Willie Mitchell and had two more releases; one of those four sides was even a re-recording of Please Mr Foreman.
Teardrops From My Eyes
Billy Jack Wills was the youngest brother of the famous fiddler and western swing band leader Bob Wills. He did not get a chance to lead his own band until brother Bob left California for a residence on Oklahoma. The much younger (20 years) Wills was quite current in his musical interests, which included jump blues, r&b and even bebop. He was able to to center his own band around two great and unique musicians: Tiny Moore on electric mandolin and Vance Terry on pedal steel guitar. While Billy Jack made a few fine records for MGM from 1954 to 1957, perhaps his best recordings were done for radio transcription services, like this killer version of Teardrops From My Eyes.
Washboard Sam (Robert Clifford Brown) went from being one of the most popular blues artists in Chicago during the 1930s to a police officer who, when he passed in 1966, ended up in an unmarked grave. He came to Chicago in the early 1930s from Memphis and shortly there after began recording for the famous/infamous Lester Melrose. While I like some of his 30s sides, the records he made that I like the most all were done after WWII and they have a slight jazz tinge to them. This one in particular has a nice sax solo, followed by pianist Bob Call, someone who has been largely overlooked. But after that, there is a profoundly great electric guitar solo by Willie Lacey. Lacey had become known for playing with John Lee Williamson (THE Sonny Boy Williamson) before his tragic death. His fluid lines and dazzling technique are unlike any other guitarist I can think of in Chicago during the late 1940s, and his work on this record is quite great!
Pistol Packin’ Mama
OK, two days ahead of Mother's Day here is a great and important song. Al Dexter began recording in 1937 and his approach draws on western swing, among other things, and his music from 1938 into the early 1940s is considered one part of the foundation of honky tonk music. It is also, in some ways, western swing, though with some limitations much of that music does not have. Whatever. This is classic and about a special kind of "mama"!
Though he played and recorded with many different bands, trumpeter Jonah Jones is probably best known for his work in the 1930s with the superb violinist Stuff Smith and his time during the 1940s with Cab Calloway. This track comes from one really hot session and it features (in order) Dave Rivera on piano, Rudy Powell on clarinet, Milt Hinton on bass, Tyree Glenn on trombone, Ike Quebec on tenor sax and finally Jones, whose hot touch is enlivened by the drum bombs of Kansas Fields. While all the solos are quite fine, note the hard blown squall from Quebec and the bristling, wicked tone Jones has! In many ways, this is swinging jazz during the 1940s at its best, embracing elements that were around in the 1920s, and some that just emerged at the end of the 1930s. It moves, its is hot and it shows a little anger! From September of 1946