Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Berry’

In Memoriam – April 2012

May 2nd, 2012 4 comments

The name Andrew Love will probably mean little to most music fans; but as a leader of the Memphis Horns (with Wayne Jackson), everybody will know at least some tunes the tenor saxophonist played on. The Memphis Horns were part of Stax’s session crew, and they also recorded on Hi Records. You’ll know them from tracks such as Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds, Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together and Dusty Springfield’s Son Of A Preacher Man. They are believed to have played on something like fifty #1 singles! This year they received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, sadly an award that is now mentioned only as an aside.

The marquee death of the month probably was that of US TV icon Dick Clark, a man who in the music industry seems to have engendered respect more than affection. No doubt his American Bandstand show helped make rock & roll mainstream, and probably a bit more square. Clark acknowledged that, but defended it in 1985: “But I knew at the time that if we didn’t make the presentation to the older generation palatable, it could kill it.”

Finally, the collector of Bruce Springsteen curiosities might enjoy The Dictator’s Faster & Louder: he provides the count-in.

Jimmy Little, 75, Australian singer, on April 1

Barney McKenna, 72,  member of Irish folk group The Dubliners, on April 5
The Dubliners  & The Pogues – Rare Old Mountain Dew (1987)

Jim Marshall, 88, founder of Marshall amplifiers, on April 5

Cynthia Dall, 41, singer songwriter, on April 5
Cynthia Dall – Aaron Matthew (1996)

Jim Niven, keyboard player of Australian groups The Sports and The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, on April 9
The Sports – Who Listens To The Radio (1979)

José Guardiola, 81, Spanish crooner, on April 9

Richie Teeter, 61, drummer of The Dictators, on April 10
The Dictators – Faster & Louder (1978)

Hal McKusick, 87, American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist and flautist, on April 11
Dinah Washington – Someone’s Rocking My Dreamboat (1958, on alto saxophone)

Andrew Love, 70, half of the Memphis Horns, on April 12
Otis Redding – Try A Little Tenderness (1966)
Dusty Springfield – Son Of A Preacher Man (1969)
The Memphis Horns – What The Funk (1977)

Rodgers Grant, 76. jazz pianist, on April 12
Mongo Santamaria – Yeh-Yeh (1963, as co-writer and pianist)

Teddy Charles, 84, jazz vibraphonist, keyboardist and drummer, on April 16

Chris Gambles (aka Slip), 49, singer of English band Audio Rush, on April 16
Audio Rush – She’s Got Them Looks (2004)

Dick Clark, 82, legendary TV producer, on April 18
Chuck Berry – Sweet Little Sixteen (1958, American Bandstand reference)

Levon Helm, 71, singer, drummer and composer, member of The Band, on April 19
The Band – The Weight (1978)
Levon Helm – No Depression In Heaven (2011, recorded 2008, vocals by Sheryl Crow)

Greg Ham, 58, flautist and saxophonist of Men at Work, body found on April 19
Men At Work – Who Can It Be Now? (1981)

Bert Weedon, 91, English guitar pioneer and composer, on April 20
Bert Weedon – Guitar Boogie Shuffle (1959)

Duke Dawson, 83, blues drummer, on April 20

Joe Muranyi, 84, jazz clarinettist and producer, on April 20
The Village Stompers – Washington Square (1963)

Iküzöne, 46, bassist of Japanese rap group Dragon Ash, on April 21

Tom ‘Pops’ Carter, 92, blues musician, on April 22

Chris Ethridge, 65, bassist of The Flying Burrito Brothers, on April 23
The Flying Burrito Brothers – Lazy Day (1970)

Tommy Marth, 33, backing saxophonist with The Killers, suicide on April 23

Billy Bryans, 62, Canadian producer and drummer of the Parachute Club, on April 23
Parachute Club – Rise Up (1983)

Éric Charden, 69, French singer and songwriter, on April 29
Éric Charden –
Le monde est gris le monde est bleu (1967)

Kenny Roberts, 84, country singer, on April 29
Kenny Roberts – She Taught Me To Yodel (1965)

 

 

DOWNLOAD

 

* * *

Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

 

 

 

“But I knew at the time that if we didn’t make the presentation to the older generation palatable, it could kill it.”

In Memoriam – November 2011

December 5th, 2011 4 comments

Everybody knows that Ringo Starr left Rory Storm and The Hurricanes to replace Pete Best in The Beatles. This month, Ringo’s replacement in the Hurricanes passed on at the age of 67. As a bandleader, Keef Hartley later played at Woodstock. He died on November 27.

It is not very well known that boxing legend Joe Frazier, my favourite fighter of all time, was also a bit of a soul singer. Some of his stuff cashed in on his boxing background; the song featured here is a straight soul number, and it’s pretty good.

In July we lost song-writer Jerry Ragovoy; this month his sometime writing partner Jimmy Norman died. They wrote Time Is On My Side together.

A bit of spookiness happened on Wednesday: On my way to work, The Soul Children’s All Day Preaching (featured HERE ) came on the iPod, and later at work I played the quite amazing  I’ll Be The Other Woman (feature HERE). A couple of days later I learned that the leader of The Soul Children, J Blackfoot had died on the same day.

It is a pity that most readers of this blog won’t understand the lyrics of Franz-Josef Degenhardt‘s Spiel nicht mit den Schmuddelkindern, an indictment of what Germans call the Spiessergesellschaft – the squares. As a child, the protagonist from a “better home” likes to play with the working class children (the “Schmuddelkinder” of the title), but is then forced to abandon them. The kids tease him for that, and “for revenge he got rich”, and disciplines his own son for playing with the lower classes. But I’m doing the song injustice: in one passage Degenhardt uses words that actually sound as harsh and bitter as the protagonist feels. The leftist singer, incidentally, was a cousin of a conservative cardinal in the Catholic Church.

Finally, Andrea True‘s fascinating journey from porn-star to disco queen came to an end.


Reese Palmer, 73, member of doo wop group The Marquees (with Marvin Gaye), backing singer for Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Billy Stewart, on October 27
The Marquees – Wyatt Earp (1957)
Chuck Berry – Back In The USA (1959, as backing singer)

Beryl Davis, 87, British big band singer and actress, on October 28
Arthur Young And Hatchett’s Swingtette – How Am I To Know (1940, as vocalist)
Jane Russell, Connie Haines, Beryl Davis, and Della Russell – Do Lord (1954)

Liz Anderson, 81, country singer-songwriter and mother of Lynn Anderson, on October 31
Merle Haggard – (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers (1964, as songwriter)

Christiane Legrand, 81, French jazz singer, on November 1
Les Double Six – Ruby (1964)
Christiane Legrand – Maldonne (1968)

Cory Smoot, 34, guitarist of heavy metal  group Gwar, on November 3
Gordon Beck, 75, British jazz pianist and composer, on November 6
The Gordon Beck Quartet – Monday, Monday (1968)

Joe Frazier, 67, World Heavyweight Champion and part-time soul singer, on November 7
Joe Frazier – If You Go, Stay Gone (1971)

Andrea True, 68, porn actress-cum-disco star, on November 7
Andrea True Connection – More More More (1976)

Heavy D (Dwight Arrington Myers), 44, Jamaican-born American rapper and actor, on November 8
Heavy D – Is It Good To You (1991)

Jimmy Norman, 74, soul and jazz musician and songwriter, on November 8
Irma Thomas – Time Is On My Side (1964, as lyricist)
Bill Wells, 84, bluegrass musician, on November 8

Andy Tielman, 75, Dutch Indo-rock pioneer, on November 10
Andy Tielman – If I Only Had Time (2006)

Doyle Bramhall, 62, blues drummer and singer-songwriter, on November 12
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Dirty Pool (1983, as drummer)

Dixie Fasnacht, 101, New Orleans jazz singer, clarinetist and Bourbon Stret club owner, on September 13
Lee Pockriss, 87, songwriter (Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, Tracy), on September 14
Perry Como – Catch A Falling Star (1957)

Jackie Leven, 61, Scottish folk singer-songwriter, on November 14
Jackie Leven – Hotel Mini Bar (2010)

Franz-Josef Degenhardt, 79, German protest singer-songwriter, satirist and writer, on November 14
Franz-Josef Degenhardt – Spiel nicht mit den Schmuddelkindern (1965)

Laura Kennedy, bassist of punk-funk band Bush Tetras, on November 14
Bush Tetras – Too Many Creeps (1980)
Moogy Klingman, 61, keyboardist with prog-rock band Utopia, on November 15
Utopia – Set Me Free (1980, live)

Gary Garcia, 63, member of novelty duo Buckner & Garcia, on November 17
Buckner & Garcia – Pac-Man Fever (1982)

Paul Yandell, 76, country guitarist, on November 21

Paul Motian, 80, influential jazz drummer, on November 22
Bill Evans Trio – Autumn Leaves (1959)
Barry Llewellyn, 63, founding member of Jamaican ska/reggae group The Heptones, on November 23
The Heptones – Fattie Fattie (1966)

Ludwig Hirsch, 65, Austrian singer-songwriter, of suicide on November 24

Coco Robicheaux, 64, New Orleans blues musician, on November 25
Coco Robicheaux – Shake Down Here

Ross MacManus, 84, English musician and father of Elvis Costello, on November 25

Don DeVito, 72, producer of Bob Dylan in the mid- and late 1970s and record company exec, on November 25
Bob Dylan – Sara (1976, as producer)

Keef Hartley, 67, English blues drummer (with Toots Mayall a.o.) and bandleader, on November 27
Keef Hartley Band – Too Much Thinking (1969)

Thomas Roady, 62, drummer for Ricky Scaggs, James Brown, Art Garfunkel, Dixie Chicks, Lynyrd Synyrd a.o., on November 28
Vince Gill – What The Cowgirls Do (1994, as drummer)

Nelly Byl, 92, prolific Belgian songwriter, on November 30
The Gibson Brothers – Que Sera Mi Vida (1980, as songwriter)

J. Blackfoot, 65, soul singer, on November 30
The Soul Children –  I Want To Be Loved (1972)
J. Blackfoot – Taxi (1983)

DOWNLOAD
(Mirror 1    Mirror 2)

* * *

Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Copy Borrow Steal Vol. 4

May 18th, 2010 7 comments

In the fourth instalment of this series we’ll look at Chuck Berry’s hit that deliberately borrowed from a country tune, a song that made a four-stage transition from crooner standard to soul classic, and Bob Marley’s possibly unintended homage to a kids’ TV show. I should stress that I’m not suggesting plagiarism or other unethical actions by anybody (let’s save that for the inevitable mammoth Led Zep post).

*     *     *

Dykes Magic City Trio – Ida Red (1927).mp3
Bob Wills
& his Texas Playboys – Ida Red (1938).mp3
Bob Wills & his Texas Playboys – Ida Red Likes The Boogie (1949).mp3
Chuck Berry – Maybellene (1955).mp3

Chuck Berry himself said that he based Maybellene, his debut record, on country musician Bob Wills’ vocal version of the traditional fiddle number Ida Red, recorded in 1938. Released on Chess in July 1955, Maybellene was a breakthrough song for the nascent rock & roll genre. Berry’s debut single was the first rock & roll record performed by a black musician to break the Billboard top 10 (those were pioneer days; bear in mind that Elvis was still a regional star and yet to sign with RCA).

Playing the piano at that session was Johnny Johnson, who had given Berry something of a break in 1952 when he let him join his Sir John Trio, and to whose prodigious drinking Berry’s later hit Johnny B. Goode was dedicated. One of the trio’s staple songs was a take on Ida Red, based on Wills’ 1938 recording. Berry, already brimming with charisma and showmanship, had taken that song to Chess in Chicago, and signed for the label as a solo artist. Pragmatically, Johnson and the third member of the trio, drummer Ebby Hardy, became members of Berry’s backing band. Now Leo Chess suggested that Ida Red be remodelled as a 12-bar blues, with different lyrics. Johnson reworked the arrangements, and Berry came up with the lyrics about the car and a girl, those rock & roll staples.

Bob Wills claimed that he played rock & roll decades before the genre was invented. He can’t have meant the sound itself, but the fusion of musical influences from across the racial divide, and the innovative use of instrumentation in the western swing sub-genre of country which Wills helped pioneer. On Ida Red, which preceded Wills breakthrough hit New San Antonio Rose by two years, Wills used drums, which were very unusual in country music (a term which wasn’t even known yet). The song, one of several riffing on the Ida Red character, had first been recorded  in 1924 by Fiddlin’ Powers & Family, and to greater public attention by the Dykes Magic City Trio in 1927. Wills put the tune to a 2/4 beat and gave the it new lyrics, which borrowed from a 1878 song called Sunday Night, written by Frederick W Root. In 1949, Wills revisited Ida Red with a sequel titled Ida Red Likes The Boogie.  Berry and Johnson may well have known that version, and one can imagine how it might have served to inspire Maybellene (just listen to the guitar), but it is the 1938 recording only which they have credited as the template for the song.

.

Ruth Etting – Try A Little Tenderness (1933).mp3
Bing Crosby – Try A Little Tenderness (1933).mp3
Little Miss Cornshucks – Try A Little Tenderness (1952).mp3
Aretha Franklin – Try A Little Tenderness (1962).mp3
Sam Cooke – Medley-Try A Little Tenderness/(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons/ You Send Me (1964).mp3
Otis Redding – Try A Little Tenderness (1966).mp3

Before it became a soul standard, Try A Little Tenderness was a standard, first recorded by Ray Noble and his Orchestra in 1932, and a year later by Ruth Etting, then by Bing Crosby, and subsequently by vocalists ranging from Frank Sinatra to Jimmy Durante.  Otis Redding is being credited with reinventing the song as a soul tune, but his take was only the fourth (and final) stage of the tune’s evolution as a soul classic.

Before Otis, Sam Cooke recorded a fragment of the song as part of a rather lovely medley on his 1964 Sam Cooke At The Copa album. It was in fact that fragment which gave Stax executives the idea that Redding should cover it in 1966. Otis did so with great reluctance, not because he hated the song, but because he felt he could not measure up to his by now deceased hero Cooke. Produced by Isaac Hayes and backed by Booker T & the MGs, Redding did all he could to mess up the song so that it could not be released. He failed, and the song is now irrevocably his.

Redding apparently knew only Coke’s version (hence the abridged lyrics). Cooke in turn had decided to include Tenderness in his medley having heard the song on Aretha Franklin’s 1962 album The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging Aretha Franklin. As fine as an interpreter of songs as Franklin would become (and already was at the age of 20), her version — soul-inflected vocals backed with an easy listening string arrangement — seems to have drawn from that by the forgotten Little Miss Cornshucks, whose 1951 recording was the first to Try A Little Tenderness the R&B treatment.

Born Mildred Cummings in Dayton, Ohio, in 1923, Little Miss Cornshucks came to the notice of future Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun while performing in a Washington club during her 1943 US tour, where her stage appearance was based on the rural shtick her name suggests, wearing the shabby dress she would later sing about. She was the first artist he recorded, and thereby the impetus for what would eventually become Atlantic Records (on which Aretha Franklin would record, though in 1962 she was on Columbia). Little Miss Cornshucks broke through as a recording artist in the latter years of the 1940s, particularly with her signature song So Long. Soon her star faded. In 1952 she recorded on three different labels, including Columbia. Her version of Try A Little Tenderness, however, was released in late May on Coral, a subsidiary of Decca, for whom she had recorded So Long.  Little Miss Cornshucks soon drifted away, just as her imitator Miss Sharecropper started to find success on Atlantic as LaVerne Baker. She died in 1999. (Read the full story of Little Miss Cornshucks at the excellent No Depression archives)

.

Banana Splits – The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana) (1968).mp3
Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldier (1980).mp3
This series was inspired by Timothy English’s books Sounds Like Teen Spirit (website and buy), a collection of “stolen melodies, ripped-off riffs”. The book includes a number of surprising instances of soundalikes. One of the least expected is the connection between the theme song of a late 1960s US television kids’ show and a Bob Marley hit.

Buffalo Soldiers, a song about a regiment of black soldiers who fought in wars against Native Americans on the side of their oppressor, was recorded during the 1980 sessions for  Marley’s Uprising album (it was a posthumous hit in 1983 after inclusion on the Legend album). English writes that “in the middle, and again at the end of Buffalo Soldier, Marley breaks into a wordless note-for-note rendition of – of all things – the Banana Splits Theme.” He is referring to the woy-yoy-yoy ad lib, which does indeed sound exactly like the beginning and chorus of the theme song, written by Mark Barkan, who also wrote Manfred Mann’s Pretty Flamingo, and Richie Adams, both of whom also contributed to The Monkees and The Archies (other writers for the Banana Splits show included Gene Pitney, Al Kooper and Barry White).

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was a late ’60s kids’ TV show modelled loosely on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and The Monkees, with stuffed animals taking the parts of the musicians (yeah, I know). English alleges no plagiarism on Marley’s part, but speculates that a little known passage in the life of Robert Nesta Marley  might have implanted the relatively obscure TV theme — it just scraped into the Billboard top 100, peaking at #96 in February 1969 — in the great man’s head. Periodically, the pre-fame Marley would live with his mother Cedella in Wilmington, Delaware, working at the Chrysler assembly line. One such spell, with his kids in tow, was half a year from April to October 1969, just as the Banana Splits show was running on Saturday morning TV and its theme possibly received some residual radio airplay…

*     *     *

More Copy Borrow Steal

Answer Records Vol. 6

April 27th, 2010 3 comments

I made a generous new friend recently thanks to my post of different versions of By The Time I Get To Phoenix. He claimed that I had left off the best cover, by country singer Roy Drusky, and sent me that version. You’ll decide where it ranks in the hierarchy of Phoenix covers. Shortly after, I posted Volume 5 of the Answer Records, and my new friend Rick had a related song: Wanda Jackson’s answer to By The Time I Get To Phoenix. Besides that, we’ll have Muddy Waters’ mojo set straight, and Miss Chuckle Cherry’s response to Chuck Berry’s disturbing anthem to wanking.

* * *

By the time he’ll get to Tulsa she’ll be banging

Act 1: Roy Drusky – By The Time I Get To Phoenix (1968).mp3
You know the set-up: dude decides to leave town and counts down what he imagines his freshly abandoned woman will be up to when he reaches geographical milestones (the trip is chronologically impossible, but let’s not get waylaid by that). So by the time he crosses the city limits of Phoenix, she’ll be getting up; when he gets to Albuquerque, she’ll be taking her lunch break and try to phone him (the phone will keep ringing, because cellphones are yet to be invented), and when he gets to Oklahoma she’ll be sleeping. With astonishing conceit, our friends imagines his ex-girl crying “just to think I’d really leave her”. Does she?

Act 2: Wanda Jackson – By The Time You Get To Phoenix (1967).mp3
Our friend was quite right: by the time he got to Phoenix, she was rising. She found the note and wasn’t really that surprised because he’d been babbling on about leaving for quite some time (and, yes, she did notice). Wanda fails to fall to pieces and proceeds to go to her 9 to 5 job. Will she call our hero, as he thinks she would? Not exactly: “And at lunch I gave your best friend a call. He told me that he’d love me for so long now, he’s been waiting for you to leave, that’s all.” We are not given time to reflect on a man’s life so bereft of meaningful relationships that his best friend is just waiting, fingers tapping impatiently, for him to disappear so as to move in on his girl. Wanda will get laid tonight, at about the time our hero reaches Oklahoma, where in Wanda’s prediction he’ll realise what a mistake he made: “You’ll cry and you’ll whisper I’m sorry, but it’s too late ’cause I’d found a love that’s true.”

.

Blame it on the mojo

Act 1: Muddy Waters – I Got My Mojo Working (1957).mp3
Muddy is a man of remarkable confidence as a laydees man, thanks to the titular mojo which seems to be working for him in general. Except, inexplicably, on the woman whom he is addressing with this song. “Got my mojo working, but it just won’t work on you,” he announces right at the song’s start. It seems to stump our friend: “I wanna love you so bad till I don’t know what to do.” He believes he might acquire some higher octane mojo in Louisiana, whence he shall decamp forthwith to obtain the necessary means to meet his single obsession: “I’m gonna have all you women right here at my command”, including her on whom his standard mojo cannot be fruitfully applied. I believe one Eldrick T Woods might empathise with poor Muddy.

Act 2: Ann Cole – I’ve Got Nothing Working (1958).mp3
Ann Cole, whom we previously encountered in the inaugural Answer Records (she didn’t want to stop the wedding), is having none of that New Orleans voodoo crap. Not that she hasn’t tried it; in fact, she sang about it in the very same terms as Waters on her 1957 record (and therefore is actually responding to herself, but let’s not have the facts spoil our fun). The black cat bones obviously didn’t work, and she was “crazy to think that they would”. So now to Plan B: “I’ve got nothing working now but my real old-fashioned love.” Yup, Muddy, you need no black magic aphrodisiac Rohypnol mojo shit, but nothing more than some human emotion and sincerity (or at least the requisite charm to compensate for these qualities should they be absent). So Ann is waiting to lay her big love on you, because “it’s just you that I’m thinking of”.

.

Let’s keep it clean, kids

Act 1: Chuck Berry – My Ding-A-Ling (1972).mp3
One day I’ll feature this awful song in the Originals series, because it does have an interesting story going back to 1952. For our purposes here, we have creepy Chuck — he of candid cameras and watersports fetishes — punning about his no doubt impressive penis which nevertheless did not excite British morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse in any other way but self-righteous outrage. “My Ding-A-Ling, my Ding-A-Ling, I want you to play with my Ding-A-Ling” et cetera, and then the final admonition that those who won’t sing along to this idiotic song must be as big wankers as he is. I can’t see much cause for embarking on a frenzied wank at the sight of grizzled old Chuck singing about his dick, but I grant that I may be unique in that.

Act2: Miss Chuckle Cherry – My Pussycat (1972).mp3
Surveying the answer song’s title and the artist’s name (which possibly is not even be her real name), one may have reasonable doubt as to the requisite serious manner in which Mr Berry’s hymn to onanism will be responded to. It will furthermore serve to surprise that this record is of negligible musical eminence. Moreover, Ms Cherry’s vocal qualities would not suggest that her candidacy for a residency at La Scala (the opera house, not the pizza joint down the road) will be seriously entertained. And the lyrics, astonishingly, are not entirely of an edifying nature. “Now it’s time for our classroom song, and I want all your girls to sing along. No fellas now, only girls.” And the subject matter the female contingent of the classroom is asked to intone about concerns…oh, you know what extravaganza of punnery we shall enjoy, with the uncomfortable tinge of paedophilia when the grandfather describes the texture of Miss Chuckle’s pussycat (which we presume to be feline, not genital), and a startling reference to a pain in the butt. Spoiler alert: it seems that Chuck was not allowed to play with Miss Chuckle’s kitty.

.

More answer records