for Freaks of All Ages.
I Can’t Stand the Rain
Still raining, and so wet I'm not dreaming. Some main roads are flooded and still the rain comes. Since I've posted this great Ann Peebles hit before, let me note that many other people have covered it, including Lowell George (a good version) Seal (also good) and Tina Turner (not so good). The biggest hit version was by Eruption, in 1977, as it was a top ten hit everywhere in Europe and even made the top 20 here in the US. It is pretty good, and the lead singer at that time, Precious Wilson, can sing! So may the rain dissipate.
Today at the Soul Station, I present the Isley Brothers' Brother, Brother, Brother and 3+3 albums. I think these are two of their very best albums. Brother was the final studio release in their T-Neck deal with Buddah Records, though they had to give the label a double live set, too, which came out in March of 1973, almost one year after Brother. The Brother album isn't the first on which Ernie Isley plays rock influenced lead guitar, but in my estimation, it is the first one in which he is really successful and find his own way, even with many touches obviously borrowed from Hendrix. Overall the album balances the soul, funk and mighty dance grooves, with some searing guitar and perhaps the best vocal version of It's Too Late. Having moved to CBS, they reconfigured That Lady from a 1964, moody, latin inflected, brass driven track, to one featuring Ernie's searing and soaring lead guitar. Big difference, big hit. And while they continued to cover rock and pop tunes well associated with other artists and groups, the versions here of Summer Breeze and Listen To The Music really stand out! So be prepared to groove and connect with the Brothers Isley of 1972-73.
Arsenio Rodriguez was one of the most important figures in the rise and development of Afro Cuban music for several decades beginning in the late 1930s. His contributions are immense. The Orquesta Casino de la Playa, with Miguelito Valdes on vocals, was one of the first bands to record a song by Rodriguez, even before he began making his own recordings. This song, Bruca Manigua, with lyrics in Bozal, has been recorded many times since, by Nilo Menendez, Xavier Cugat, Orquesta Afro-Cubana Batamu, and more recently Buena Vista Social Club. This version is by a group that is basically a mystery. It may, or may not, have been recorded in Cuba, though the Coast label was apparently based in the US. The band also had a 78 on the Mexican Peerless label. There is no vocal and the arrangement clearly has some jazz influence, in addition to the way it ends, with a repeating montuno part that almost gets at the mambo. It is, even without the lyrics, quite beautiful and powerful!
Into the mid 1970s Barry White used a group named White Heat as his touring band. White and singer-producer Bob Relf oversaw the group's RCA album in 1975, but sometime after that there were disputes, and all but one member of the group left White. Then that band became Hot Ice, with an album in 1977. Later this record was released as by Smash. Smash then became Switch and finally DeBarge. The White Heat album is really great and covers several aspects of funk and soul, even getting a little trippy, as in this track which works on a slow funky groove, has nice fuzzy lead guitar and strong horns before its downtime ending.
You don't hear much about tenor player Vido Musso. He emerged from the big band era of the 1930s, and by the time he was a main soloist for Stan Kenton it was the mid 1940s and Musso, along with Kai Winding, Pete Rugolo, and others in Kenton's band he began to be attracted to be-bop. Musso flirted with it in early 1946 for Savoy, and with a few of the same cats, cut this boppish track in 1947. It really is more the tune and the arrangement here that is boppish, as for the most part, the fine solos are still mostly in the swing thing. It shows how many aspects of what Gillespie and Parker introduced became made and remade after their most influential recordings of 1945 and 1946. Musso has his own sound and mildly gruff approach and at his best seems reminiscent of Lockjaw Davis, Lucky Thompson and Illinois Jacquet, who were all his contemporaries.
Me and My Woman
Little Joe Blue (Joe Valery, Jr) had his greatest and only national chart success with a disc he cut in LA. It was written by songwriter Fats Washington, and cut for the Movin' label. After it was picked up by Chess, it made #40 on the Billboard r&b chart in 1966. As good as that record is, I think the one he actually did for Chess, his third release for the label, and the only one that wasn't originally on Movin', is the best. Here in Chicago Joe worked with musician/producer Gene Barge and cut a song he wrote. Charles Stepney made the arrangement, and Joe managed perhaps his greatest vocal on record. Of course such wonderful effort was NOT rewarded, and he did not record again for Chess, His further records were done in LA, on Kris, Jewel and a few other labels. Though he recorded into the 1980s, there were no more hits. I first heard Me An My Woman by the Keef Hartley band, and a few years later, I discovered the amazing version by Shuggie Otis. It took me quite some time to find Joe's 45, and I am very happy I did.
I'm No Stranger
Have you heard of the 60s LA band, The Seven Souls? Probably not. But they have quite a story. Formed by at least 1964, the band had a strong horn section and were known for originals and strong soul and funk covers, though these were only released in France! When the original guitarist left, the replacement was Bob Welch. Welch, of course, would go on to Fleetwood Mac and a solo career. With singer and sax player Henry Moore they would write I'm No Stranger, the A side on the first 45 they cut--they would do only one more in the US while in France there was an ep and another 45 that was not issued here. This first 45 was released in the summer of 1967 and apparently it received no national notice. But it was noticed in the NYC latin soul scene, as Joe Bataan covered it on his masterpiece album, Singin' Some Soul in 1969. In 1970 Sunny and the Sunliners (singer Sunny Ozuna's band) from San Antonio covered it. This was not the first time that a Mexican American band in Texas recorded latin soul from New York! By 1969 Seven Souls disbanded. Welch went to Paris and then the Mac, while latter day members Bobby Watson (bass) and Henry Maiden (guitar, who seems to have replaced Welch) eventually joined Rufus. Though the band briefly was popular in France and Northern Soul clubs have popularized the B side of I'm No Stranger (I Still Love You) there still isn't much notice here, nor am I aware of any of their music having been re-issued. Sad. By the way, in the pic below, Welch is on the left with the guitar and glasses.
Deep South Suite, Pt. 4 Happy Go Lucky Local
There is no one else like Duke Ellington in jazz history, a musician, band leader and brilliant composer who was and remains,many different things to many different audiences. At least in my view. And in that view, I have always heard an uncompromising, sometimes daring musical approach. This track certainly shows that he was a mighty pianist, capable of playing something like a very hard blues, and doing so with a dissonance that is usually just associated with Monk or Sun Ra. After Duke's piano, the band really roars, for afterall, this is about a train! Eventually this music would be transformed into Night Train. This version comes from a V-Disc and was originally recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1946!
My everlasting appreciation of Ronnie Self stems largely from knowing a great band from Springfield, MO, variously known as The Symptoms, Morells and Skeletons. They have promoted his works since the mid 1970s. Self was from Tin Town, MO, not too far from Springfield. His early 45s are the kind of rockabilly that legends are made of: tough rocking guitars, slick, inventive language, and sometimes wild, edgy singing. His Bop-A-Lena on Columbia charted in 1958, but no higher that #68. Fortune and fame, though, came as a song writer, as his works were successfully covered by Brenda Lee. He moved from Columbia to Decca but after his first release, the material became less rock and rockabilly and more pop and straight country, though his singing remained very strong even on weak discs. One side I've always liked is Instant Man, as it has great lyrics, wonderful singing, cool r&b horns and an almost cute electric keyboard that reminds me of early Del Shannon. Even the female chorus doesn't lessen the appeal. Self continued to write and occasionally made records after leaving Decca We must be thankful for many great songs he wrote that he did not release commercially, like Home In My Hand and Waiting For My Gin To Hit Me, which in some ways describes his severe drinking problems and early death at age 43.
Wilco • The Flaming Lips • Sleater-Kinney • Vampire Weekend • Ra Ra Riot • Sacred Paws • Kate Nash • Colleen Green • Lisa Prank • The Good Life • FIDLAR • Tart • Chiquita y Chatarra • Bleached• Juiceboxxx • David Bowie
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.