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If you start with the Blues you have to end with the Blues, Right? Here’s some Little Walter for your New Years Eve…
I started my blog one year ago today. My first blog was about “The Queen of Soul”, Aretha Franklin. At first my site only got about 10 hits per month. A year later my site is getting 1,000+ hits per month. Still chump change in the world of blogosphere, but a great improvement too! One of my goals was to blog every week. I almost made that goal. Sometimes life just gets too busy and these blogs take a lot of time to produce. I am satisfied with my progress and I’d like to say a big thank you to all who read my blog and to all who continue to encourage my hobby.
Santa Claus was very good to me and I want to share the wealth. This LP was a gift from my good friend Jim (a.k.a. “Chip”). What a fantastic blues record this is too.
If you aren’t familiar with the name and music of Walter Marion Jacobs, “Little Walter” allow me to give you some background. Little Walter is considered to be one of the greatest blues harmonica players ever. He taught Mick Jagger how to play the harmonica. Can you imagine “Midnight Rambler” without Mick’s great harmonica playing? Keith Richards says that it’s a shame that Mick won’t “sing like he plays the harmonica”. Walter was born May 1, 1930 in Marksville , Louisiana and died in Chicago, Illinois on February 15, 1968. Little Walter brought the harmonica into the modern age. He was the first person to play the harmonica through a small hand help microphone. This created a “booming new sound for the harp – fat, wide, ineffably haunting.” He also brought a new virtuosity to the harp that had never been done before. He is also famous because he was the harp player in Muddy Waters band until he went his own way in 1952. In 1952 he released his first single called “Juke”. It went straight to number 1 on the Billboard R&B chart where it stayed for 8 weeks. Not even Muddy Waters did that in his prime. Between 1952 and 1958 Little Walter had 14 top ten hits on the R&B charts. But with the advent of Rock and Roll his fame faded in the 60’s. This LP is the 1968 reissue of the original Chess Record of 1958. Many of these songs never made the charts but they will be instantly recognizable to many music lovers. Where volume one emphasized his harmonica playing, Volume two features his vocal abilities. Not to say there isn’t a lot of fantastic harmonica playing on this disc, because there is! So here we go with side 1.
Mellow Down Easy
This song was recorded in 1954 and it was written by Willie Dixon. It features Robert Jr. Lockwood and David Meyers on Guitar, Willie Dixon on Bass, Fred Below on Drums and Little Walter on Vocal and Harmonica. It was originally released as Checker single 805. This song is now a standard of blues bands everywhere. There is a very well know cover of this song by “The Paul Butterfield Blues Band”.
I Don’t Play
This song was recorded in 1960. It was originally released as Checker single 968. It features Otis Spann on Piano, Freddie Robinson and Luther Tucker on Guitar, Wilie Dixon on Bass, Fred Below on Drums. This cut was not on the original Chess record. It was added to this 1968 reissue. Until this LP had been released, this song had never been issued on a U.S. record. It is not only a rarity, it is a great example of Little Walters amazing talent as a harmonica player.
This song was also written by Willie Dixon. It was recorded in 1953 and released as Checker single 780. It features Louis and David Meyers on Guitar, and Fred Below on drums.
Key To The Highway
This song was written by McKinley Morganfield and recorded in 1958. It features Otis Spann on piano, Muddy Waters and Luther Tucker on Guitar, Willie Dixon on bass and George Hunter on drums. Can yo believe you have Muddy, Willie and Walter all on one song? It would be like if you had a recording of Beethoven, Bach and Brahms playing together. All I can say is WOW!! This song has been covered by everyone that is anyone in blues and in rock.
This song was written and performed by Little Walter. It was recorded in 1952. It features Louis and David Meyers on guitar and Fred Below on Drums. This song was previously unreleased in the U.S. prior to this LP. This boogie has fierce driving style to it.
Crazy Mixed Up World
This song was written by Willie Dixon and recorded in 1959. It features Robert Jr. Lockwood and Luther Tucker on guitar, Willie Dixon on bass, and Fred Below on Drums. This has become a staple of blues music and has been widely covered by many musicians. It was originally released as Checker single 919.
This song was written and performed by Little Walter. It features Louis and David Meyers on guitar, and Fred Below on drums. It was recorded in 1953 and originally released on Checker single number 786. This is a stunning instrumental that is every bit as good as anything else the man ever did.
This song was written by Willie Dixon and recorded in 1954. It features Willie Dixon on Bass, Louis Myers and Robert Jr. Lockwood on guitar, with Fred Below on drums. It was originally released as Checker single 793.
Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights)
I just love this song. It has been covered by many many musicians but I really like this early version. This song was recorded in 1955 and released as Checker single 867. It features Robert Jr. Lockwood and Luther Tucker on guitar, Willie Dixon on Bass, and Fred Below on drums.
It Ain’t Right
The LP ends with another Little Walter original. This song features the same line up that recorded Boom Boom. it was recorded in 1955 and released as Checker single 833.
I quote from Chris Morris of Billboard Magazine fame, “Often covered, much imitated, Little Walter has never been surpassed. He played, to quote the title of one of his biggest hits, blues with a feeling, and the feeling is the special province of the true greats.”
So what happened to Little Walter? Well, like a blues man is supposed to do, his life came to a tragic end. Walter was known to have a violent temper. He had been in many fights over the years. On Valentines day in 1968 Little Walter got into a fight during a break at a performance at a night club on the south side of Chicago. He didn’t appear to be seriously injured. He went back on stage and finished his performance. He went to his girlfriends apartment to spend the night. The next morning she woke up and found him dead. An autopsy later revealed that he had died of a blood clot coming loose and stopping his heart. His music lives on…
I hope you have enjoyed this great Chicago blues music. Every song was recorded at Chess records in Chicago,Illinois. A little blues can warm up a cold winter night and makes for great listening on New Years Eve. Happy New Year and I look forward to writing many more blogs in 2012.
This record came to me through one of my friends who asked me to record it for him. The story of how he came to own this record is worth telling because those times are long, long, gone…
So his story is this: My friend grew up in Wichita, Kansas in the 1950’s. Not much went on in Wichita in the ’50s and ’60’s. Not much goes on there today, come to think about it. But when my friend was a junior in College, Jerry Lee Lewis was going to come through town and play a concert. My friend didn’t even really know who Jerry Lee Lewis was. One afternoon, a flat bed truck came through the campus grounds with a bull horn announcing a rock and roll show and where to get tickets. As a crowd began to gather, the promoters just started throwing copies of Jerry Lee Lewis albums out into the crowd. My friend is a tall gentleman now, and he was tall back then too. He easily caught one of the records. So here it is “The Golden Cream of Country” by Jerry Lee Lewis. This record was released in 1969.
This record is on Sun Records. The famous studio of the producer, Sam Phillips. Sun records is hallowed ground. It is one of the birthplaces of Rock and Roll. Take a look at this photo:
At sun records in the 1950’s Rock, Country, Blues, and Folk music collided all at the same time. The results changed music forever. Sam Phillips was the baby Doctor that assisted in it birth. This record is a great example of what was going on at the time. The tittle states it’s a “Country” record, but I would guess that when you listen to some of the songs you may think differently.
Invitation To Your Party
A country song but with a honky tonk Rockabilly piano sound going on too. Hmmm….
This is such a famous song and it has been recorded by “everyone and their dog!” I bet there are a lot of people that would be stunned to know that it was written by Hank Williams. Here we have a Louisiana man singing about the bayou. This is a great version and “The Killer” nails it!
When I saw this song title I thought it was going to be the “Ramblin’ Rose” of Nat King Cole. This is a different song. By the way, this song doesn’t sound anything like country and western music to me. This is very Rhythm and Blues with it’s boogie beat and the style of singing it is really a very cool song. This could have just as easily been Ray Charles.
Cold, Cold, Heart
Another song by Hank Williams. When you call an album “The Golden Cream of Country” , you have to include some Hank Williams, Right? There is a great new CD out that is a collection of unfinished songs of Hank Williams. The CD was put together by Bob Dylan and a who’s who of great singer/song writers. I haven’t heard it yet, but initial reviews have been very positive. Jerry Lee definitely gives this song the country effect. I especially like the gospel roll he uses in this arrangement. The piano solo in the break is classic Jerry Lee Lewis.
As Long As I Live
This song is much more Rock n Roll than country. The lead guitar sound is definitely more Rock sounding than country. Once again The Killer tears up the piano with a great solo.
Seasons Of My Heart
I don’t know who the woman singer is. She is not credited on the album anywhere. It’s interesting how they purposefully sing slightly out of sync with each other. It gives an edge of emotion to this song it wouldn’t otherwise have.
One Minute Past Eternity
This song is the most country song on the LP. This is in the style of old country like Patsey Cline.
I Can’t Trust You In My Arms Anymore
This sounds more like Fats Domino than Willy Nelson.
Frankie and Johnny
This is the only song on the LP that Jerry Lee Lewis wrote. This is straight ahead rock and roll. Not any country going on here. This is a great little rock and roll ditty.
A twangy guitar and a singing style like Roger Miller. A very country sounding song, with a slight blues edge to it.
How’s My Ex Treating You?
Once again the walking blues bass appears. I like the fuzzy sound of the bass in this song. It’s a great tittle for a country song. It just sounds like rock and roll more than country. The Hammond Organ is not a typical C & W instrument ether.
And with that, “The Golden Cream of Country” comes to an end. It’s Not the greatest album I ever heard. It is interesting that a record like this was released with a tittle like this in 1969. Consider what other albums were released in 1969. The Beatles released Abbey Road, the Rolling Stones released Let it Bleed, Led Zeppelin released Led Zeppelin I and II, The Who released “Tommy”. There were also classic albums released that year by bands like The Velvet Underground, King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, and Nick Drake. That is a very diverse group of musicians. Music was going in a million directions in 1969. Maybe the competition for Jerry Lee was so intense he felt he had to call it a country album to sell any copies.
So the point to me is that it is dumb to label music. Country? Rock? Jazz? Classical? Then you get really silly with labels like: Fusion, Alternative, Dubb step, Heavy Metal, Punk, Indie, etc… On and on it goes, till nobody know what it really means anymore. I don’t know. I could be wrong. What do you think?
I was going to get back to recording and posting about vinyl but this CD would not leave me alone. It has ingrained itself into my psyche. Quite frankly, it has been a very long time since I’ve heard a CD that I could not quit listening to. I listen to this CD constantly. I have to share it with cyberspace. I saw this band at Austin City Limits Music Festival. They were one of the highlights of the 3 day event. Although The Head and the Heart was formed in Seattle Washington in 2009, most of the members are transplants from California and Virginia. The band has three main singers: Josiah Johnson, Jonathan Russel, and Charity Rose Thielen. Jonathan and Josiah play guitar, sing, and play percussion. Charity sings, plays percussion, and violin. The other members are Chris Zache (Bass), Kenny Hensley (Piano) and Tyler Williams (Drums and Percussion). As you will hear, the band is piano driven and three part harmony driven. The blending of Josiah, Jonathan, and Charity is pure magic. This band is pulling off what other bands all over the country are aspiring to. That being the marrying of folk, rock, and country into a true Americana sound. Other bands like Bright Eyes, and Monsters of Folk may be getting more press but no one is accomplishing anything remotely as good as The Head and the Heart. The CD is on Sub Pop Records. The label made famous for it’s role in creating the “Seattle Grunge Sound” with bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney. As great as this CD is, this band is even better in concert. (See my review of their appearance at Austin City Limits Music Festival 2011.) ACL has released 3 YouTube videos of their performance at the festival, so I am going to include them in this blog. I think you will really enjoy getting a flavor for what The Head and the Heart are like in concert. So “Pump up the volume” and get ready to dance, sing along, and drum on your table your your knees or what ever else you can find to bang on; because this music is irresistible!
1. Cats and Dogs: This first song is very short and acts as a prelude to everything you are going to hear. I love the part where Josiah sings ““Fallin’ from the sky, there are raindrops in my eyes, and my thoughts are digging in the back yard. My roots have grown but I don’t know where they are…” All the elements of folk are here. A simple topic, cats and dogs, a mouse in the house. As the song nears it’s close it surprisingly and effectively switches from 4/4 time to triple time then ends suddenly. If you’re not paying attention you will think that the next song is still part of the first song.
2. Coeur D’ Alene: Coeur is the french word for Heart. This piano driven song has a “Martha my Dear…” feel to it. It has a Beatle feel to it. I love the “La da da” chorus. The luxury of having three singers is exploited very well in this song. As one singer finishes a line another singer will start a line over the last word of the other singer. This creates a dramatic effect at the end of the La da da chorus when the vocal “Messes that I haven’t tried to clean up in a while …” overlaps the last …da
3. Ghosts: This is another song about leaving home and blazing your own trail. “When Mary moved all her shit to Chicago, her Mother made sure she took her Bible. But you won’t see her face on Sundays…” Again this song has a very catchy “du,du, du, du, du, du, du…” chorus. I love the refrain “One day we’ll all be ghosts, tripping around someone else’s house. Once day we’ll all be ghosts, ghosts, ghosts…” Then the du,du, du’s change to “Ba Dap, ba dap, ba, ba, da, da…” This is also kind of Beatle sounding somehow. There was a time in rock history that they believed if you had a da, da type chorus it was a guaranteed hit. This song should be all over the radio. It is infectious and catchy…
4. Down in the Valley: Starting with this song the CD really begins to soar. This is a great song. It starts out simply with Josiah singing with just a guitar “I wish I was a slave to an age old trade. Like ridin’ around on rail cars and workin’ long days. Lord have mercy on my rough and rowdy ways.” This song is full of yearning, regret and the desire to start over. He sings in falsetto and then Charity joins him at the octave. Their voices blend perfectly. The song builds and builds until it becomes a tidal wave of emotion. Then the song ends quietly just as it begun. But the song is now in your memory bank and is unforgettable. It will stay with you for a long, long time. This is also a staple of their live shows. Listen to the song and then watch the video from ACL 2011.
5. Rivers and Roads: This is the song that The Head and the Heart always end their live shows with. Here they are a brand new band and they already have a traditional end er. It took the Rolling Stones years to get to the point where they had a song that they traditionally ended their shows with! (Jumpin’ Jack Flash) After you hear this song you will understand why they end their shows with it. This song underscores the need for more featured vocals from the only woman in the band Charity Thielen. Listen to what she does in the live performance at ACL. She sings like a woman possessed. She is frenetic. It blew me and the crowd away. This is a show stopper!
6. Honey Come Home: This song starts out with beautiful 3 part harmony. A song about a broken home. A beautiful song with beautiful lyrics.
7. Lost in my Mind: This is their hit. This song just makes you want to sing along and dance your ass off. Which is exactly what happens in the video at ACL. A group of people got on stage and danced with the band during the song. If you watch carefully in the video you can tell the band is totally surprised but they go right along with it and have a blast with their fans. After the song was over Charity asked Jonathan: “Who were they? ” Jonathan says: “I have no idea” Charity asks “Where did they come from” Jonathan says: “I don’t know, but that was a lot of fun!”
8. Winter Song: This is a folk song that any folk singer would have loved to have written. This song also highlights the point made earlier that the band needs to give Charity more opportunity to feature her unique vocals.
9. Sounds Like Hallelujah: This is a beautiful song that almost becomes a prayer. From the count off that starts the song to the beautiful finale this song has heart. I love how the song changes meter in the middle with the “mama don’t put that gun in my hand..” refrain then it switches to the Hallelujah chorus…
10. Heaven Go Easy On Me: Just when you think that a CD could not possibly have anymore great moments this CD stuns you with an unbelievable final song. The singer talks about the wind blowing through your window and your front yard and the music gives you that feeling of the breeze blowing through your window. The leads singers tells the listener “Don’t follow your head, follow your heart…” Then the singers begs “Heaven go easy on me…” The song would be fairly normal but just as the CD starts with a Prelude (Cats and Dogs) it ends with a truly incredible Coda. The piano begins a repetitive motif and the guitar begins to strum and the magic happens. “It’s damn good to have met you. I hope that you’ll stay. We’re well on our way, we’re well on our way…” The band takes full advantage of having three great singers as they layer three lines over each other, each singing different lyrics at the same time. The effect is magic. “All these things go rushing by…” While another sings “We’re well on our way…” and then the last singer sings “All things must end daring…” the singers fade away one at a time until all we hear is Charity’s violin and a cello in a beautiful string quartet for the end of time. The CD ends and I just start it over again.
Bottom line? Go out and buy this CD now! The new Seattle sound is Folk Rock. Check out Fleet Foxes as well. Don’t miss them when the play David Letterman on October 28th. You won’t be disappointed. Personally I love this Americana sounding music and of all the bands that pursue this style of music, The Head and the Heart affect my Head and my Heart!
Live albums are usually considered to be only for the “hard core” fan of that particular artist. I’m not not sure that I agree with that. Sometimes the live album raises to the level of high art. So what follows is my list of the top live rock albums. I’d love to hear what your list would be. Review the list and make your own.
This album captures the Stones at the height of their powers. The 1969 American tour is considered to be one of the greatest rock-n-roll tours of all time. It was the first time a band toured with monitors on stage so they could hear themselves above the crowd noise. The Stones came back to England and told the Beatles “You need to go tour the U.S. again. Now you can actually hear yourself on stage.” The result was that they could do things musically on stage that could not be done before. A great example it the magnificent version of “Midnight Rambler” . The new deluxe version of this record contains The original LP on CD and vinyl as well as bonus cuts and the complete opening acts that toured with the Stones that year: Ike and Tina Turner and B.B. King.
2. Little Feat “Waiting for Columbus”
I get excited the second I hear the band warming up their voices back stage. This band is so good live that you wonder if it’s really a studio recording with a crowd overdub. Consummate musicianship and artistry!
3. The Who – “Live At Leeds”
This is another live album that caught a band at the height of their power. Tommy was still a new LP. Roger Daltry was young and had that powerful voice. Keith Moon was still alive and kickin’, and Pete Townsend wasn’t deaf. I love the 18 minute version of “My Generation” that becomes a highly complex medley of several of their best songs.
4. Jimi Hendrix – “Band of Gypsy’s”
What an album this is! It is spooky how good Hendrix was. Here he is only months before he died, with a new band, pushing his music in an entirely new direction. This album was recorded at Filmore East at the height of the Vietnam war and the civil rights movement. Jimi sings “Machine Gun” and dedicates it “to all the cats fighting in Chicago, and New York and, oh yea; all the soldiers fighting in Vietnam”. In many ways this is my favorite Hendrix LP.
5. Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Live Rust“
This was one of the all time greatest tours of rock history. Neil toured in support of his masterpiece “Rust Never Sleeps”. All the hits are here. You gotta love “Cortez the Killer”, “Like A Hurricane”, and “Hey, Hey, My, my, Rock-n-roll will never die…” Crazy Horse at their sonic, dissonant best!
6. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “Four Way Street”
I remember the first time I heard this record. It was in Art class in junior high school. This girl I had a crush on brought it in to listen to while the class painted. I loved it the moment I heard it. I loved how it was divided into a “wooden” disc and an “electric” disc. CSN&Y used to start their shows acoustic, take an intermission, then come back and do an electric set to close the show. There are so many great moments on this record. I love all the banter the band members have with the audience. It creates a very intimate atmosphere that is unique in live recordings.
7. The Allman Brothers “Live at Filmore East.”
This is without a doubt one of the most amazing live albums ever. The musicianship on display here is mind blowing. These guys were great! What a lose to rock-n-roll that Duane Allman died so young. “Whipping Post”, “Statesborro Blues”, and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” are wired into the Psyche of roll-n-roll. This is a “must have” in any collection.
8. Talking Heads – “Stop Making Sense”
If you have never seen this concert film you should. This is a stunning performance by one of America’s best bands of all time. Talking Heads are a force of nature. The concert starts with just David Bryne on stage by himself. With each song another band member comes out to join him until finally the entire band is on stage. What is amazing is that each song retains it’s identity no matter who is on stage performing it. “Once in a Lifetime” is just unbelievable. Every song is great. The drama and musicianship is beyond belief.
9. U2 -“Live at Red Rocks”
I think this is one of the best live albums U2 ever did. I like it much more than “Rattle and Hum”. They are still young and full of piss and vinegar. I love “11 O’Clock tick-tock”. All these songs were still new and the power and outrage the band feels at the violence in Ireland is palpable.
10. Johnny Cash “Live at Folsom Prison”
You can hear prison guards in the background. You can even hear Prison doors clink and slam shut. A passionate performance from a man who really tried to make a difference in the lives of prisoners. By the way, although Johnny Cash is a country singer, he is one of only two country singers in the Rock-n-Roll Hall Of Fame; so, he belongs on the list. This is a powerful, and moving recording. If you ever get a chance to see the documentary about this concert don’t miss it. It will make you think. God Bless Johnny Cash.
I just completed reading “Life”, the auto biography of Keith Richards. This was not the book I expected. I thought it would be a sensational tale of sex, drugs and rock and roll. And it is all of that, but there is so much more to this book than S,D, and R&R.
From the very first chapter this book will grab you. The book opens with Keith getting arrested in Arkansas during the 1975 U.S. tour. I almost died laughing when I read this! The number of times that Keith has cheated death or life in prison is unbelievable. He tells tales of groupies, and drug dealers, and musicians. He shares his version of the birth of the Rolling Stones and how Mick Jagger picked there name off a Muddy Waters record on the spur of the moment while he was talking to a booking agent on the telephone. He writes “Satisfaction” in his sleep. He steals Anita Pallenberg from Brian Jones. Brian drowns in his swimming pool. He shares his story of heroin addiction and cleaning up. Keith is always very open and honest. He never pulls and punches, even when it comes to his relationship with Mick Jagger. If you are interested in all the sorted details of Keith’s life the book will not disappoint. But, if you are interested in the music, that is really the reward of reading the book.
I came away with a much deeper respect for Keith Richards, the Musician. He spends a lot of time talking about writing songs, recording music, arranging music, producing music, etc… He tells the amazing story of learning about “open tuning” the guitar from Don Everly of The Everly Brothers. His insights into how to record music is very interesting. He talks about recording the sound of a group in a room. Not overdubbing everything and using 30 different microphones to create a very sterile homogenized sound. He wants it to sound real, to be pure, to have a live edge to the sound. He talked about 3 microphones in a room and the entire band in there together. Capture the sound of the band in a specific place. A place like the basement of the house he rented in the south of France when The Rolling Stones recorded “Exlie on Main Street”; one of the greatest rock and roll albums ever recorded.
So read this book. Read it especially if you want to know more about how great rock music is created, recorded, and performed. Read this book because it is a rare opportunity to look into the mind of a true musical genius who is still around to explain why and how they get things done. Then listen to the music of the Stones and hear Keith paint his masterpieces on to the canvas of silence. Hear him create drama with the silence between the notes. The rest of the book is just a nice bonus.
What do you think? Let me hear from you.
Great post on Hey Bo Diddley/ What’d I Say. The BTW comment is great! I had no idea there was a Rolling Stone instrumental called 2120 South Michigan Ave. Now, this is my favorite band of all time; but you did see them at Altamont Speedway in 1969. I did a little research and apparently this cut appeared on 12 X 5 as an often sought after bootleg. In the Keith Richards Biography “Life” there is a long chapter on the bands visit to Chess on their first American tour. He talks about recording at Chess. Their first #1 hit was recorded at Chess: Bobby Womack’s “It’s All Over Now”. What a great song that was! So without further ado, I present to you the only instrumental that I know of recorded by the Rolling Stones at Chess Records in 1965. 2120 South Michigan Ave.30 – 2120 South Michigan Avenue
Thank you Jimmy Joe!
This could be a long blog today. For one thing, I’m snowed in and there’s not much else to do but listen to and record LP’s. So I’m in heaven. I should share how all of this LP recording got started. I have been an avid purchaser of Vinyl since I was 9 years old. I built up a large personal collection during my teen years and college. I worked at a record and stereo shop during the summer when I was in college and could buy LP’s at cost. It was like hiring a drug addict to run a pharmacy! I feel in love with this girl in college and she lived in Kansas. I sold my Rock albums to buy a plane ticket to see her during the summer. This was one of the worst decisions I ever made! It has taken me years to rebuild that piece of my collection. It still is not what it was. Some things can’t be replaced. As Kurt Vonnegut says…”So it goes…” I did hang on to the Jazz and Classical albums and I do love them. Of course CD’s came along and I put up my LP’s for digital sound. My turntable broke down and I never replaced. Years pass… The CD collection gets quite out of hand. I meet a woman, fall and love and get married for the second time. She is a saint. She encourages me to pursue my musical interests. About seven years ago I buy a new stereo system and I include a Rega P-2 turntable. I dust off the LP’s. The first one I put on was Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”. I’m hooked all over again. I’m back collecting vinyl. Shortly after I begin to try to figure out how to turn these treasures into CD so they are portable and I can listen to them in my car, at other peoples houses, etc… My friend Raymond ( who is a techie Genius) helps me research the Digital Audio Converter. I begin to transfer vinyl. There was a lot to learn. Some mistakes were made. I had to do some over again. But now it’s an organized, systematic, process. I know exactly what I’m doing now. The next thing that happened was that I told people I had this capability. I’m at a friends house and He gets very excited that I can work this magic. He goes into a spare bedroom and brings out 2 boxes of LP’s. He says “take ’em with you and bring them back when you’re done” . There were 100 LP’s. I’m about 2/3rds of the way through his collection. The “Aretha’s Greatest Hits” was one of his LP’s. I refer to this set of LP’s as the Jackley collection. There have been some real gems that have come out of this set of LP’s. Then my neighbor came over one day to ask a favor and I happened to be in the middle of a listening/recording session. He asked what I was doing and when I told him, he got very excited. He says,”I’ll be right back!” He returns with about 50 LP’s and says, (you can guess it) “keep ’em till you’re done.” I refer tho this collection as the RB collection, I’m about half way through his collection. Meanwhile the progress on my collect has slowed down. The next major incident is hard to write about because it involves tragedy. A year ago I lost my brother-in-law to cancer. He was a true Renaissance Man. He was a software engineer, a cook, an artist (painting and pottery), a collector of art, a music lover, and an avid traveler and outdoors-man. This really doesn’t scratch the surface of this amazing person. My sister-in-law gave me his LP collection. There are about 170 LP’s of all types. He had Jazz, Rock, Classical, electronic, international, and on and on it goes… It is a great treasure to me because it was his and it reminds me of him; and because the content is so good! I refer to it as Bob’s garage. When I blog about an LP I will try to remember to let you know about which collection it comes from. For some reason I am a magnet that causes people to give me music. It has come to me in every format you can imagine. And just like any good hoarder I cannot refuse it. So I am in the middle of a giant project that is a labor of love. Some of the LP’s I have already transfered are so interesting they will be worth re-visiting later on. Right now I am trying to blog about what I am currently working on. I have a backlog of LP’s to write about because of the weather and the extra time I’ve had to work on things. Part 1: Hey Bo Diddley… So that brings us to today’s listening session. Three Ray Charles LP’s and the very first Bo Diddley LP. All four of these LP’s came from my neighbor’s collection. I nearly flipped out when I saw these LP’s. Bo Diddley on Chess Records LP 1431. This was one the great influences on the Rolling Stones. How cool is this album cover! There’s Bo blasting out the blues in the middle of the cover. Off on the far left is the maraca player Jerome Green. He played four maraca’s in each hand! Very cool stuff. Jerome was almost like a brother to Bo Diddley but his drinking drove him out of the band. I’m not sure what happened to him. The Rolling Stones first major tour was with Bo Diddley, Little Richard, The Everly Brothers, and someone named Mickey Most. He had a hit single that year (1963) Called “Mister Poster”. The funny part is that Keith Richards had to keep up with Jerome Green because he would disappear right before he had to go on stage so he could get a drink in a bar! Can you imagine Keith was the sober one! Anyway on to the music and what awesome music it is! Side 1 1.Bo Diddley The genius of repetitive music as it builds and cast it’s spell. Don’t you love the bluesy almost rockabilly beat? 2.I’m A Man Bo was a giant of a man and I bet when he sang this live you believed him. 3.Bring It To Jerome This song is about the maraca player. 4.Before You Accuse Me Forever associated with Bo Diddley! I also love the Eric Clapton version. 5.Hey Bo Diddley I love the back up singer “Hey Bo Diddley!” Even his name was rhythmic and musical. 6.Dearest Darling Jerome’s maraca’s make the song. Side 2 1.Hush Your Mouth I love the piano and the maraca’s. The sound is almost primitive. Call and response stuff. I can see why the Rolling Stones worshiped Bo. 2.Say Boss Man A song about the curse of the workin’ man. You can hear the sound of the machines as the laborer toils away for the benefit of his family. 3.Diddley Daddy Listen closely as Bo plays the acoustic guitar. You can hear the soul of Robert Johnson. 4.Diddey Wah Diddey This song is so great I don’t know what to say about it. I love the bending string break and the walkin’ bass. It has drama and subtleties that infect you and make you move. 5.Who Do You Love This is the first song I ever heard Bo Diddley sing. It’s been covered by everybody, but the original is still the best! Don’t you love the voodoo lyrics? 6.Pretty Thing A conversation between Bo and the harmonica. A great example of the importance of the harmonica in blues. Very cool harp playing! Elias McDanials wrote every song on the record. This name is not known to many but it is the real name of Bo Diddley! I love all the Diddley songs on the record. (Bo Diddley, Hey’ Bo Diddley, Diddley Daddy, Diddey Wah Diddy) He ran out of Diddy names so he used Jerome once. These songs sound ancient, like they always existed yet he wrote them all in the late 1950’s and early 60’s. What a treat to hear this on an original Chess Record label.
If you want to see a great movie about the history of Chess Records. Check out ‘Cadillac Records”. Very Cool story about Marshall Chess, who recorded the likes of Etta James, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bobby Womack, Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon, and of course, Bo Diddley. Marshall recorded Etta James song: “At Last”. Think of the impact this man had on Rock and Roll. When a ‘Chess” artist had a gold record Marshall would buy them a Cadillac. He supported Black artists when almost no one else would and his goal was to have cross-over hits so they could be heard by white audiences. Some of the greatest blues records of all time were recorded at 2120 South Michigan Ave.
Part 2: What’d I Say…
My neighbor also had three really cool Ray Charles LP’s. “What’d I Say…”, “Hallelujah I Love Her So”, and “The Ray Charles Story – Volume 1”. Well, really he has 2 LP’s. “The Ray Charles Story” has almost every song from “Hallelujah” on it too. First there is “What’d I Say…” Side one opens with this famous song. The minute the needle hits the vinyl I’m hooked. A great thing about vinyl are the liner notes and art work. The back side of the album has notes written by Ren Grevatt of Billboard magazine. It starts with this great quote from Ray, “If I don’t feel what I’m doing on a record, then I’d rather forget it.” Feel is what Ray is all about. What feeling! So feel this:
The music is so great, I have nothing to add. You can’t see it, you’ve got to feel it. That’s enough.
2.Drown In My Own Tears: This song blows me away. You should hear the live version Joe Cocker does of it on “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.”
1.Halleluhan I Love Her So One of his best. The merging of R&B, Gospel, and Soul. Wow!
As the notes on the back say “The blues are old, but they are not tired.”
Last but not least “The Ray Charles Story”. I have only linked the songs that are not on the other two albums.
2. Losing Hand
3. Mess Around
5. Don’t You Know
6. Come Back Baby
7. I Got A Woman
8. A Fool For You
1. This Little Girl Of Mine
2. Mary Ann
3. Hallelujah I Love Her So
7. Ain’t That Love
Ray Charles has no peer. He stands alone at the crossroads of country, jazz, R&B, gospel, and on and on it goes. So on a cold winter day I’ll “put some coffee in my favorite cup” and let Ray melt the snow away. That’s What’d I Say…