Friday, April 29, 2011

In the midnight hour....

Jazz Fest is in full swing and I'm soooo excited that Robert Plant will be making a special appearance at the House of the Blues tonight.

Sorry ya'll, but that's my idea of a joke even when the actual event is meant as a tribute to Bobby Charles [R.I.P.]. Our concerns at the moment are with friends and relatives in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Not to mention that the Mississippi River will be sitting at an estimated three feet below the tops of the levees for more than a week come mid-May....which is likely to exert as much pressure on that system as ever been applied.

A rather obvious point, but there's a huge difference when it comes blogging about New Orleans from a tourist's point of view and that of someone actually living here. It's the difference between posting a pic of that fabulous po-boy you had for lunch and trying to explain what it feels like to pack your bags before evacuating to Texas. And believe me, if you've never evacuated to Texas, you're in for a very big thrill.

So, I've definitely got my "Fuck You, I'm From New Orleans" t-shirt on today, but I get irritated by blogs touting their "amazing" once-a-year adventures in the city. Those of us in New Orleans have a completely different perspective. One that often it makes it very hard to find common ground with the standard pre-occupations of the tourist.

Thus I have some advice: save us all considerable embarrassment and mark that Jazz Fest shit as "how I spent my fabulous vacation" rather than "I've got my finger on the pulse of something interesting and exotic". I mean, isn't it all rather obvious, or does simply everyone who visits New Orleans have to presume a "special relationship" with the city and it's music?

Even if that means Robert Plant is somehow included?
Here's another of my little treasures.

Hope ya'll enjoy...

I don't mind.....

I'd be surprised if there's a single DJ interested in 70s funk who hasn't spun this record at least once. Bobby Franklin has written out his own biography, here.

Bring it on down, indeed.

Hope ya'll enjoy......

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Don't have to be no fancy dancer.....

I'm a little disgusted with myself. My recent posts concerning the Eight Ball label are totally wrong and I need to re-write them both. No sense in promoting misinformation on a subject so few know anything about. The only consolation being essentially the flip-side of that's not like anyone else knows shit about the label either. I'm doing the best I can.

Surprise! Here's one I really don't know anything about.

This tune shows up on a comp called "Funky Funky New Orleans" but it's actually on what I presume is a private press label out of Baker, Louisiana....which is just slightly north of Baton Rouge.

Part 1 of the record is nothing much, Part 2 is quite a bit better....that's why you get to hear it.

Hope ya'll enjoy....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ya'll, she's doin' it...

Anla was a Goldband subsidiary which I believe operated between 1971 and 1974. There are some folks who say it started earlier, but I don't know that anyone has any proof either way.

I'm tempted to say the label is the pot smoking, runaway little sister of the older, more traditional, Goldband, but the analogy doesn't really hold up. Still, there is a strong strain of weirdness running through the Anla discography that's hard to explain without using the words "swamp" and "drugs" in the same sentence.

I put some of that weirdness down to Bill Parker [William Parker Guidry] and Chester Randle, who appear to have been deeply involved in the label. Besides the five singles the pair collectively get credit for on Anla, I'm of the opinion they're playing on several others as well....something of which I've no proof beyond what my ears tell me is true.

Freddie Love? All I know about the man is that he had one other 45 issued on Anla. That's it. If anyone knows more, I'd love to hear about it.

Is it just me, or is the organ player on this tune actually trying to mimic the croaking of frogs?

Hope ya'll enjoy.....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Come and take me by the hand...

Tomorrow there's a gathering of my husband's family out by Bayou Lafouche. Even though this year's harvest is by most accounts the worst in recent memory, we've been assured by there'll be a crawfish boil come hell or high water. Should be fun, I think around 30-40 people are expected. Unfortunately, we can't stay over more than one night.

Anyway, that's my lead-in to this 45. The Rustone label was operated out of Houma which is about 20/30 miles from where we'll be tomorrow. Of course Houma's only about 90 miles from the house, so take it for what it's worth.

The Rustone 45s I've found so far are pretty beat up. This one's a little better than the last I posted, but it's still rough. Not that I'm apologizing, truth is I really don't mind a certain amount of surface noise on a record. I've actually been disappointed with a few upgraded copies for that reason. I get used to the wear and miss it when it's gone. Rather like a well-used old wooden floor that loses it's charm after being sanded down and refinished. As far as I'm concerned this is the way Rustone 45s are supposed to sound.

Anyway, that's my justification for not shelling out $40 for the M- copy currently being offered on Ebay [not a totally outrageous price if anyone is interested, I'd def consider it myself if I didn't already own this $4 bargain special].

Willie West is of course still performing. Still has a marvelous voice. There are several newer albums available. You should def go see him if you get a chance. Not that anyone else should remember except me, but I love the man's voice so much that his tune "Keep You Mine" was the "first dance" at my wedding. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

If you'd like a better copy of this tune, and don't want to pay $40 for the single, it can be found on a comp called "The Best Of Rustone". Downloads are available through the usual sources, but I'd pick and choose rather than download the whole collection. Listen to the samples and you'll see what I mean.

Hope ya'll enjoy....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

No, no....ain't gonna cry...

[Since Divshare has decided to shaft it's many free users with no warning or explanation, yet another 70 of my old links are no longer available. Thus I'd like to offer this tune once again. The first time around it got very little attention. Perhaps at this point it will get more?]

One of my little treasures....about which I know virtually nothing.

[Update: this is the first 45 issued on this label. Eight Ball was owned by a man named Lionel Worthy whose main business was auto repair. Other than that, this record still qualifies as a mystery. First and foremost, who was 'Bobby Brown'?]

Hope ya'll enjoy...

Monday, April 18, 2011

I see I'm gonna have to get rough....

I consider this tune to be an antidote to the many local "bon ton roulet" anthems. Probably just a matter of personal association, but to me it resonates in a way that makes it the perfect theme song for a bad night out.

Ya see, beyond all the smiles and the "darlin's", New Orleans is a very rough city. Don't let anyone tell you it's not. While we're at pains to keep our many visitors nice and safe in the French Quarter, the truth is our local young men make a game of killing each other, 24/7. In any given year, there will be 8 to 10 times as many murders in New Orleans on a per capita basis as the national average.

There's a lot more I could say along those lines, but I'm sure you get the point. Certainly anyone who's ever lived in the city knows exactly what I'm talking about.

I'm pretty sure this is the second release on the Eight Ball label. It was run by Lionel Worthy when he wasn't seeing to the cars in his auto repair shop. Seems he had a small studio out back.

James Rivers recorded a number of sax-based instrumentals over the years. As far as I know, this is the only record he sings on. It's not the best, or by any means the worst, singing in the world, but that's not really the point. Just wait till the man starts blowing blood through the flute [mostly on the second side]. Holy shit.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hurting last night...

The Hearts were the brainchild of Zell Sanders who in '53/'54 saw Joyce West, Forestine Barnes, and Hazel Crutchfield singing at the Apollo and scooped 'em up. The girls were between 12 and 15 years old. So, the usual story right? They go into the studio, make some records, have a hit, and that's basically it, right?

Well, no. The story of the Hearts is about as complicated as it gets. Within a relatively short period of time, Zell Sanders turned the Hearts into a franchise with two separate groups recording under that same name and several others as well. Group members came and went, altogether something like two dozen singers were involved at one time or another. Both Baby Washington and Betty Harris are notable alumni. As you might imagine, the recordings vary from girl group sweetness to a much tougher RnB sound.

Sanders recorded the Hearts for her own labels but also leased them out to other record companies. In fact, once you look into the breath of her dealing with other labels it becomes clear that she engineered Baby Washington's early solo career and may have done the same with Betty Harris.

While it's fairly easy to find a Hearts discography, it's my experience is that they are often wrong, or at the very least contradict other discographies in obvious ways. Truth is, no matter how hard anyone tries to lay it all out, it's still very confusing.

For instance, one source says this record was issued in 1956 on J&S, but another says 1960, and yet another says 1963. I also happen to know there was a release on the Zell label [not the common red label issue from 1970] which nobody mentions.

So, what is this record? I'm not really sure, it's the only copy I've run into that looks like this. However, it's clear to me this 45 was issued no earlier than 1963. Check the distributor. Cos Matassa didn't start Dover until 1963. That's why I paid attention to the record in the first place. A Hearts record that was distributed out of New Orleans? How very odd. I end up thinking it's the equivalent of a local issue.

So, who's the lead singer? The folks at Ace Records, who've put out a couple of nice comps of Hearts related material, say that it's Ruth Artis, a name I think I recognize from gospel music but am unable to confirm. Actually, I can't find anything on her at all.

I hope ya'll's a great one.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

No love times two...

Just in case ya'll needed more proof that I'm a sick woman....

Two copies of the same record with different versions of the same song. Both are tough to find for a reasonable price, however the version without strings usually sells for a premium.

Hope ya'll enjoy.....

Sweet sixteen that is her age...

I've been meaning to post these two together for a long time. "We Like Mambo" is actually the first recording by Huey Smith and The Clowns. It was meant to be a split single with Eddie Bo's "I'm So Tired" on the flip but the label was misprinted with Bo's name on both sides.

I forget where I read it, but there's an interview with Bo where he says how sorry he felt for Smith after the misprint, but that he sure got a lot of work out of the record because folks thought "We Like Mambo" was his. I assume that's why Bo and Edgar Blanchard worked up the mambo-esque instrumental "Hey Bo" for his next release. Blanchard in turn released a jazzy version of that tune re-titled "Bopsody In Blue" on an album a couple years later.

While "Free Single and Disengaged" is basically the same song as "We Like Mambo" it's by far the more realized of the two and undoubtedly the more influential. While I've never found an exact duplication, the horn part makes me of early ska tunes every time I hear it.

Hope ya'll enjoy....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wild Magnolias going to Melpomene....

I really meant to post this on Fat Tuesday but chances were about 50/50 that someone else would do the same and finding my copy of the 45 turned out to be harder than I expected, so ya'll got "Funky Soul" by David Batiste and The Gladiators instead.

Anyway, there's absolutely no reason not to post this song out of Carnival season. It's one of the funkiest records ever cut. In fact ya'll should go just ahead and get up out of your seats right now. The controls are set for the ground zero of funk.

And that's not just BS. I'm one of those who think the roots of funk as we know it today lie in the coming together of two very different African musical traditions in New Orleans. On the one hand the sound of Central Africa as distilled in Cuba, poly-vocal and poly-rhythmic. And on the other, the Islamic influenced melismatic uni-vocal tradition of the Sub-Saharan peoples who represented a large proportion of those brought to the continental U.S. as slaves.

In essence, the blues met the rumba in Congo Square.

And although not often mentioned, I think there was a third influence at work. That of Haitian/Voodoun drumming, which originates from a singular African culture and is in it's way different than that of Cuban Santeria or Palo Monte [the religious sources of the secular rumba].

Ya see, I think it's possible that the local Voudoun drum influence is what gives a distinct flavor to recordings made in New Orleans even when the musicians were consciously trying to copy elements of Afro-Cuban music. The "pseudo-mambo" recordings made in New Orleans, Southern Louisiana, Mississippi, and by extension Chicago during the 1950s are of far greater importance than many realize. I'm always shocked when I see them dismissed as "primitive" or "novelties" when to my mind they are the keynotes of a very important musical fusion in it's infancy.

I hadn't really thought about it before, but yeah, this tune is "pseudo-mambo" to the core.

Hope ya'll enjoy....I'm including Part 2, not only is it close to a minute longer than Part 1, but towards the end there's this telling moment when Willie Tee and the band drop out and all that's left is the pure essence of the thing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

You've got me so torn up....

I hate to make such a broad generalization, but I'm not a huge fan of many of the soul/funk sides to come out of San Antonio during the 60's and 70's. I just don't hear many great singers in the bunch, which to my ears makes much of the city's output sound like "frat" soul/RnB. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just not a sub-genre that cranks me all that much. For that matter it's unlikely you'll see me post anything by New Orleans' own Jokers.

Still, it's impossible to deny that Sunny and the Sunliners [and before that the Sunglows] were a great band with some killer tunes to their name. And to give credit where credit is due, Sunny Ozuna is arguably one of the best singers to have come out of San Antonio. Certainly I'd rather listen to him than a whole mess of others. Ozuna is of course still at it and much revered throughout South Texas. There are several nice collections of his work around.

While it's impossible to overlook the farfisa organ on this tune, it wouldn't swing nearly so hard without the superbly timed horn "punches" or the totally cool sound of that drum beat.

Hope ya'll enjoy....

The video below is neither Sunny Ozuna related, nor even an example of the area's traditional Conjunto polka [it's straight up cumbia]. I was just looking for an excuse to post the clip 'cause I used to hear this song all the time when I lived around the corner from a Tejano bar in Austin. They really used to crank up the jukebox on this one.

I know only a little about the Garcia Brothers. They used to go by Los Quatro Vatos Locos and are originally from Eagle Pass, Texas. Jimmy Garcia [who's playing the sax in the clip] was a excellent accordion player and is now unfortunately dead.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My mama done told me....

Took a nice stroll down to catch some of the brass band action at the French Quarter Festival earlier today. In case ya'll don't know, Quarter Fest is totally free and fairly easy to navigate, especially if you're staying close by. If I were planning to spend a long weekend in New Orleans I'd def schedule around it rather than Jazz Fest. Much better representation of local artists, none of that BS about putting a man like Allen Toussaint on stage before the totally barf inducing Bon Jovi, and the money you save will literally pay your hotel bill.

Just sayin'.
I'm a fool for Earl King, especially when he plays a guitar solo so sharp it makes me worry about getting cut. The whistling at the end is pure icing.

Hope ya'll's from 1959.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It ain't right....

As I'm sure I made abundantly clear in a previous post, Chuck Johnson is a mystery to me. At this point I only know of something around 7 singles by the man, all of which were no doubt recorded in New Orleans. While I think I've read something about the C&E label in the past, I can't seem to find that info at the moment. So, please forgive me if I'm wrong but I think the initials stand for Chuck and Earl [possibly Earl Johnson, aka Earl King?].

Initially, Johnson recorded for the obscure Booker/Invicta label and in fact there's a 45 by him on Booker which includes both songs on this 45. I've only seen that Booker 45 once, and never got to hear it, so I'm unsure whether this is a second pressing or a re-working of both sides. However I do suspect it's a re-working because Johnson re-recorded his "Elephant Fair", previously issued on Invicta, for C&E.

But there's a problem with that thought. Ya see, this record as a whole really doesn't sound like it was recorded in 1975 [the date on the label]. So, maybe it is a reissue? But if it is, then why does this 45 usually sell for as much as it does [$40 to $60 for a nice copy]?

My confusion is compounded by the enormous lack of info about Booker/Invicta. While the release numbers for the records appear to be consecutive, I think they probably aren't in terms of release date. Which leaves open the possibility that both the Booker and C&E 45s were released at the same time, that is if they're actually the same recordings. It's also worth mentioning that I've never seen a discography for C&E. Has anyone ever even tried to put one together?

Sorry about all of this dithering, but ya gotta understand that there really isn't much known about some of these records/artists. Sometimes there are only questions.

In fact, here's another: has this song ever been comped?

Hope ya'll enjoy....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Acting like I'm gonna run away......

Lazy lazy day. Baby Girl is letting me sleep a bit more at night, but it's not really helping. Kinda like the more I sleep the more tired I feel. Did I ever actually wake up today? Your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, it is getting easier around here. Baby Girl now knows her mommy's voice, reacts to movement/light/sound, holds her head up, makes cute noises.....ya know, all the normal things babies do, including flashing a smile which leaves no heart unmolested.

I've had this record ready to go for a long while but for some reason never got around to it. Funny thing is, I haven't bought a Lula Reed record in a couple of years. They just seemed to be around when I first started collecting 45s. And cheap too. Lately, some of them aren't so cheap. I've been offered the equivalent of $80 in trade for my copy of "What Makes You So Cold". I know I didn't pay more than $5 for it. Probably more like $3.

This one ain't worth all that much, but it's good and perfectly suits a day like today.

Hope ya'll enjoy...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hope you feel the same way too.....

I haven't seen anyone pop this 45 up in a good long while. Which surprises me. The record may be cheap and easily found, but jeeze, if there was ever a tune worthy of multiple postings it's this one. Probably in my top 20 all time faves. Absolutely in my top 50.

I feel kinda bad about skipping over Clarence Carter's excellent original version, but Ted Taylor totally owns this song by the time the 45 is over. Even more accurately, he tears the original to shreds and then stomps what's left to dust. Just amazing.

Ya know, if this cut had originally been released as the flip-side to his "Ramblin' Rose" the world would have been blessed with one of the ten most perfect two-sided singles ever. Truth is, Taylor just doesn't get the respect he deserves.

I'm thinking this cut was recorded in Chicago [or Memphis?] but can't say for sure. Stan Lewis, who owned Ronn, leased a lot of records out of the midwest, but Taylor was on the Shreveport based label for almost 10 years and then later on recorded a number of sides with Wardell Quezergue for Alarm in Baton Rouge. Throw in the fact that Taylor also died in Louisiana and ya gotta figure he must have spent a good deal of time in the state.

Hope ya'll enjoy...

[Oddly enough, if you try to google producers R. Hawkins and J. Johnson, the first hits are for the song writing credits to "Iko Iko"....two thirds of the Dixie Cups, Rosa Hawkins and Joan Johnson. Not that they produced the 45, I just thought it an interesting coincidence.]

[As was pointed out in the comments, my thinking on where this 45 was recorded is wrong. Muscle Shoals is more like it. I totally missed the BMI publishing credit for Fame on the label. Roger Hawkins and Jimmy Johnson are the producers.]

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ball of lightning....

A record that's getting to be very tough to find and usually costs a good bit when it does turn up. Certainly I paid for this copy.

In my opinion the goofy-ass lyrics could only be a by-product of whiskey consumption. Luckily, those lyrics still sounded pretty good the next morning, in fact turned out to be so catchy that Mr. Toussaint seemingly found it impossible to come up with anything else. Anyway, that's my explanation for this 45. Take it or leave it.

And yeah, it's catchy. I don't even have to play this record for the song to get stuck in my head. My Boy thinks it's so funny that I sing along to this 45 that he shot a little video clip of me at seven months pregnant, bouncing around, mouthing the words [NO, I'm not going to post it].

Hope ya'll enjoy the tune as much as I do.

[oops, I forgot to mention that the Rubaiyats are Allen Toussaint and Willie Harper]