At the Woodchoppers Ball

In 1939 Woody Herman had a huge hit record with ‘At the Woodchoppers Ball, it was the perfect jitterbug tune, it was popular throughout WW2. Two nights ago I was lying in bed listening to the radio and out of the blue with no announcement the DJ played a different version, one by Alvin Lee. I just discovered that youtube has both versions, check ‘em out, it’s very interesting.

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7 thoughts on “At the Woodchoppers Ball

  1. I prefer Alvin Lee – great, underrated and unzedded British bluesman. Someone (Pairubu, maybe) put up Woody’s version for the Manual Labor topic, and i put up TYA’s.

  2. Amy: If you go to Spotty there’s a 71/2 min version that’s even wilder, it’s the one I heard in bed. Definitely underrated and seemingly forgotten, I hadn’t seen his name since woodstock.

  3. Something i seem to give a lot of thought to when i listen to a lot of great blues guitarists / musicians is that some of them have a) at best, only servicable vocal ability, and b) they’re not really much in the way of songwiting. So they’re left doing covers, and sometimes they have to find another vocalist too, no easy thing. Alvin had both of those problems i think, he was a great guitarist, but only an ok vocalist, and there isn’t a whole lot to his songs.

  4. Either way, it’s pretty standard 12-bar blues, but I’ll have Woody’s version, please, gf. Whilst undeniably a virtuoso performance, Alvin – to my ears – just plays lots of notes very fast, to show that he can (I’ve always felt that way about TYA). I prefer music with tunes in. And spaces.

  5. Chris: Agreed, he’s a one trick pony, very fast fingering, not sure that his mind functions at the same speed but to non musicians it sounds very impressive. I haden’t heard of him since his woodstock piece, ‘Going home’ which stylistically was similar to ‘choppers’.

  6. I’m not bothered by speed in itself. You can play fast (or slow) but the notes don’t really say anything. This is my problem with a lot of metal bands, for one instance. I don’t have that problem with Alvin. He’s perfectly capable of playing slow very well, (usually as a lead in to the speed breaks, granted.)

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