Some Random Texas Blues

Never been to Texas. Dead honestly, i could probably die happy without ever going there. Nothing against it, i just don’t get on with hot weather and flat landscapes. But they sure can do some blues. Must be something in the water.

Stumbled on the Janis Joplin track on the tube of you. No idea where this version is from. But she sure doesn’t like her hometown (Port Arthur). There’s a version of Ego Rock on the In Concert Album, this one isn’t it. There’s a bootleg out with Johnny Winter (Beaumont) on guitar from a concert in Boston, this isn’t it. There’s another version with Johnny Winter on a compiliation called Blow All My Blues Away. This might be it. Johnny also joined her onstage at a concert at MSG a week after the Boston concert. Maybe this is it, and maybe the one on that compiliation album. That’s all the info i can find. But anyhoo, the tune is awesome.

Continue reading

JOE TURNER ‘THE BOSS OF THE BLUES’.

In 1956 I was living in Suffolk; I had subscriptions to both the MM and the NME and one of them reviewed an LP by Joe Turner, it was titled ‘The Boss of the Blues’ on the Atlantic label. It was such a rave review that I immediately bought a copy and it was indeed as good/great as the reviewer said it was. If I had to choose a top 10 from my entire collection of records this one would definitely be in there.

 A little background: When the ban on American musicians performing in England was lifted in the early 50′s the Count Basie band was a regular visitor, they probably came at least once a year, sometimes twice. I loved the Basie band and went to see them whenever possible, consequently I was familiar with all of the musicians. It turned out that the backing band on the Joe Turner album were almost all Basie-ites so for me that was a double treat, the king of Kansas City blues plus all those guys I’d come to love. 

 Just a word re. Kansas City; when the US Navy shut down the brothels in Storyville in New Orleans in 1917 they eliminated the places where all the jazz musicians worked, hence they all hit the road, highway 61 heading north for NY, Chicago, LA and Kansas City. Each city absorbed them and there they evolved different styles of jazz in each, Kansas City being perhaps the most unique. Kansas City jazz is more blues based and more swing oriented than any of the others and it has the longest list of superstar musicians who started life there; they include, Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Count Basie, Jimmy Lunceford, Pete Johnson, Ben Webster and dozens more, it was the most fertile jazz source in the country and in 1936 Columbia record producer John H. Hammond launched his career by discovering Kansas City talent starting with Count Basie who he heard on a radio broadcast from a KC club.

 Another side note, Robert Altman was a fierce Kansas City jazz fan, in 1996 he produced and directed a great film which is totally based on the KC jazz scene of the 30′s, well worth seeing, it’s title, ‘Kansas City’. It was nominated for a Palme d’Or. Plus In 1979 there was  a documentary film starring Basie and  Big Joe Turner, and featuring many performers from the original era. It’s titled ‘The Last of the Blue Devils’. If you haven’t guessed by now, Kansas City jazz is the style I’m most addicted to and what much of my vinyl jazz is comprised of.

 So when I departed England for Los Angeles in 1958 I packed just a few personal belongings, my LP’s and about a dozen books on the subject of jazz plus whatever clothes I had. Boss of the Blues was absolutely included and it’s still played fairly regularly and the books are still on my bookshelf.  Many years later, possibly in the early 80′s, I met Joe Turner and I asked him to autograph my album, he did so with a black felt tip, right across the cover BIG JOE TURNER FROM KC. He died in LA in 1985 and I went to his funeral as did several thousand others.

 It came as a huge surprise to recently find several cuts from the album on youtube, though as the poster commented it is very rare and almost impossible to find so rather than my usual post of one cut I’ll post three.

 Here’s Joe Turner, The Boss of the Blues and here he sings Kansas City Jazz.

The personnel are:

 

 

 

 

 

IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH, IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY. – DYLAN.

Here’s another from my 1960′s vinyl collection, I assume that everyone has  heard this perhaps dozens of time as I have but I wanted a cut that was representative of that period Dylan. Like a Rolling Stone and Desolation Row were both first choices but there are dozens/hundreds more, all wonderful so I poked around with ‘Freewheelin’, ‘ a Changin’, ‘Bringing it all Back Home’ and ultimately I settled on ‘Highway 61 Revisited’. If you were not there you can’t imagine the effect that the release of this album had, it was unlike anything that you see today, the times were indeed a changin’.  It contains so many great songs, all recorded right after the fiasco at the Newport Folk Festival where he ‘went electric’, it contains both of my initial choices, it starts with ‘Stone’ and finishes with ‘Desolation’ but I decided to choose another favorite, “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”, a real slow country blues that relates directly to the album’s title, Highway 61. That’s the highway that runs from Minnesota to New Orleans running parallel to the Mississippi much of the way; there’s a lot of blues connections on Highway 61, it’s also the route that many black Americans took to escape the poverty of the Delta and how jazz migrated from New Orleans to Chicago. 

 Musically, “It Takes a Lot to Laugh” has a lazy tempo driven by session drummer Bobby Gregg, a barrelhouse piano part played by Paul Griffin, a raunchy bass part played by Harvey Brooks, an electric guitar part played by Mike Bloomfield and a harmonica part by Dylan.

By 1965 Dylan was into his sixth album, a huge archive of great music but here I wanted to select just one cut to epitomize that era, an impossible task: which cut would you have chosen?

 

THE PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND, EAST – WEST.

A few years ago I did occasional posts of some of my favorite albums from my vinyl collection, generally they were from the 1960′s/70′s. The advent of so much great music on YouTube prompts me to try again, this time with a single YouTube selection which will hopefully point you towards more offerings at YouTube or to Spottify if you want more. I have several on my desktop so if this works I’ll keep it going with a rather diverse set of selections, all favorites from long ago. 

The first is a showcase for one of my all-time favorite guitarists who sadly didn’t stay very long, another victim of the needle at an early age, his name, Michael Bloomfield, he’s joined by Elvin Bishop and the the album is East West by the Paul Butterfield Blues band. 

The title cut East-West is a remarkable oddity. On the one hand, it was a ’60s pop-music hybrid, combining the disparate musical styles of blues, jazz, modal and Eastern musics in a way that appealed to rock listeners. On the other, it was a virtuoso display that challenged the very notion of “popular” and pushed the limits of how pop music was heard. In some ways it bears comparison to the Miles Davis album, Kinda Blue and Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, both of which challenged standard musical ideas. 

The piece was recorded in the summer of 1966 in Chicago at Chess Studios, the personnel were: 

Paul Butterfield — vocals, harmonicaMike Bloomfield — electric guitarElvin Bishop — electric guitar, Mark Naftalin — piano, organJerome Arnold — bass and Billy Davenport — drums

 Here’s East West, enjoy.

New Vintage Stones

Prompted by Zala’s call for extra special earworms, i figured it might be time to check out the new tunes on the Some Girls re-release. Had no expectations, as i was generally underwhelmed by the bonus tunes on the Exile re-release. Well blow me down, some of the tunes are fucking great. (And seem to lack the tinny sound of the Exile remasters too). Now i can maybe see why they didn’t include these on Some Girls – they didn’t fit with the disco / punk aesthetic the Stones seemed to be shooting for, and maybe they wanted to look forward musically instead of back. But guys, if it ain’t broke, no need to fix it. Lotta baby got tossed out with the bathwater there.

Keep Up Blues, Petrol Blues, and the (Ron Wood penned) When You’re Gone are wonderfully sleazy little blues numbers. Tallahassie Lassie is a Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon cover which trumps the original, imho. And a pair of country covers to round off this little sampler – Hank Williams’ You Win Again, and Waylon Jennings’ We Had It All (sounds like Keith on vocals). Enjoy.

1. Keep Up Blues
2. Tallahassie Lassie
3. Petrol Blues
4. You Win Again
5. When You’re Gone
6. We Had It All

Best Cover Band Ever? (Pt. 2)

Ok, just to get the answer out of the way first – no. Gov’t Mule is not a contender for the best cover band ever. I’d put them in roughly the same category as the Dead (and they do tend to play together, amusingly covering a Metallica tune together, and Sugaree) as cover artists – jam band, excellent covers. But unlike the Ramones, Nirvana, etc – not really definitive or radical re-interpretations that give pause to the originals. (Chris – feel free to disagree and make your case.) Continue reading

THE EVOLUTION OF THE BLUES SONG by JON HENDRIX.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic reaction to my recent blues post here, during which there was some discussion of a follow up with female blues singers. This weekend I started scanning my female blues vinyl for suitable cuts and I came across this album, I haven’t played it years, I’d forgotten that I had it but you can tell from the surface noise that it once got lots of play, I’ve had it for over 50 years. At the 1960 Monterey Jazz Festival Jon Hendrix put on a Sunday afternoon performance that was a history of blues music and it was directed towards a young audience, it was performed onstage as shown in the album cover, with Jon addressing a group of children who sat around him. So before we proceed with the female blues I thought this might be of interest, I’m sure it’s no longer in print so possibly most of you have never heard of it. On the album cover Jon wrote about how the piece came about, here’s what he wrote:

“It was Jimmy Lyon’s idea that we do something extended for a Sunday afternoon at Monterey and that it be about the blues. Ever since composer George Russell had kindly invited me to write some words and speak them on his “New York, New York” album I have been waiting for the opportunity to do something within that format just talking and letting the music speak for itself, following the advice of my mentor, Professor Milton Marx, of the English department, of the University of Toledo, Ohio: “Write about what you know.”

So I wrote about my people, about my great-grandmother who came from Guinea, Gold Coast, West Africa, about my father, Alexander Brooks Hendricks who ran away from the master who sold his father, mother and sister separately, came into West Virginia, married my mother, Willie “Sweet Will” Carrington, and moved to Ohio by covered wagon, where he became a minister, known as a circuit rider.

“Write about what you know.” So I wrote about the music they sang all through their lives, the spirituals, which they gave freely to America and the world. I didn’t stop there, because the spirituals didn’t stop there, but went outside the church to become the blues, and through horns to become jazz.

“Write about what you know.” So I wrote about the sun, the source of all light, heat and life in this universe, about all men on earth being the same man, all light the same light, all life the same life.

“Write about what you know.” So, buried deep in this story, yet never given word, is the heartfelt lament that some who play jazz have forgotten the spirituals that gave them their music, as they have forgotten the Lord who gave our ancestors the spirituals, have become corrupted by the surroundings to which jazz has been relegated, have become arch,, worldly, spiritualless, intellectual, demoralized, material, wealthy – and lost.

“Write about what you know.” I know that children are born into this earthly life with all knowledge, that the devil is an adult, that children are corrupted by adults too adult to realize that childhood is the kingdom of heaven, so I wrote my history for children, because they will understand. Above all, thank you children everywhere, and blessings on you all”

The album comprises both sides of a disc and runs about 44 mins. so I’ve added it in two parts.

Pt.1.

Pt.2.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS.

A couple of weeks ago I asked in another post ‘Who in music had made the most important contributions to pop culture’, I was looking for personalities but Amylee suggested that it might not be a person but rather a musical form; the blues. I hadn’t considered that but when I thought about it I realized that it was a significant thought.

The blues, an American twentieth century contribution has played such a significant role in much of the world’s pop music especially since the introduction of international music distribution and radio/TV post WW2. So I started creating a playlist of blues artists from my vinyl collection but it wasn’t working, what I was creating was a list of only classic delta blues, basically fairly primitive voice/guitar songs. I know that’s how it all started and that those are the roots but my interest in the blues extends a long way beyond there and so I started re-shuffling the list and adding some examples of other styles. Suddenly it was getting out of hand and I saw that following Maki’s flamenco lead might be the answer, a multi part series that dealt with all aspects of the blues but I wasn’t sure if there was enough interest for that so I condensed it back to a reasonable size and included a selection of my favorites to create a fairly comprehensive list. One form that I didn’t include but that might be the subject for a separate post was female blues artists, another was instrumental blues, jazz is in large part based in the blues and there’s thousands of wonderful examples so that might be another, and a third is the commercial ‘pop’ style, Bing Crosby sings the blues etc, what I chose are all pretty close to the roots. Here’s just a bit of background on some of the artists and the tunes.

Joe Turner, Boss of the Kansas City blues, a distinct style unique to that city, heard here on Piney Brown with an all star backing group from 1956, I brought this album with me from England when I came to California and I got Joe to autograph it for me. Joe Turner’s the guy who introduced ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ in the 50′s, a forerunner of rock ‘n roll.
Big Bill, one of the all time greats, a pioneer of delta blues who also in the early 50′s spread the influence of the blues to Europe, I saw him several times in England and he was one of the most imposing men I’ve ever seen, a musical giant.
Taj, a farmer as a young man with a talent for music, he quit farming and moved to southern California where he formed a group with a young friend, Ry Cooder, another great bluesman. Taj, perhaps more than anyone has kept the blues in the public eye since the 60′s.
Basie; of all the popular big bands Basie’s was always the one most strongly blues based, he always had one or more blues singers in the band, Helen Humes, Jimmy Rushing, Joe Williams, Joe Turner et al. Google Wiki for the interesting story on Harvard Blues and check the delicate Lester Young solo on the into.
John Lee, the Hook, One of the most recognizable sounds in the blues, the Hook is unique. The Hook abides!
Lambert, Hendrix and Ross – [Dave, Jon and Annie] An imaginative vocal trio that in this case took the arrangement and the instrumental solos from a Basie classic, Going to Chicago and wrote and sang lyrics to it; the entire album ‘Sing along with Basie’ is in this format.
As an afterthought I thought it would be fun to include the Basie original of Goin’ to Chicago with Jimmy Rushing doing the vocal for comparison purposes, it’s the classic Basie band from April 1941.
Duke Ellington often strongly blues influenced but rarely full on vocal blues, here it’s with Al Hibbler from 1949.
T Bone, A Texas blues pioneer who influenced BB King’s and Chuck Berry’s guitar styles.
Mose Allison, Mose started playing blues piano and singing the blues while he was still in school in Tippo Mississippi in the ’30′s, this is from his debut album ‘Back Country Suite’ from 1957.
Jimmy Witherspoon: AKA ‘Spoon’, A guy who always performed with a jazz backing, often with the big names of jazz, here he’s accompanied by Gerry Mulligan and Ben Webster from 1959 and it doesn’t get much better than that.
Muddy Waters, this one’s from very early in his career, 1948, he already had that strong guitar style.
Keb Mo, another contemporary artist, he started out playing with Papa John Creach in the Jefferson Airplane days but went on to a solo career, a strong Robert Johnson style player.
Memphis Slim, A blues pianist who early in his career, 1940, wrote a song that went on to be recorded by all the great blues singers, ‘Everyday I have the Blues’, it’s on this playlist by Joe Turner.
John Hammond, his father was John Hammond Snr. the well known producer at Columbia who signed Billie Holiday, Basie, Aretha, Springsteen and Dylan to that label. He was raised by his mother and began playing blues guitar in the 60′s as a part of the folk revival in NY, he’s still going strong.
And we finish with another Taj song from the same album, Sweet home Chicago, this time with backup singers the Pointer Sisters.
Jimi‘s a bonus track, what’s there to say about Jimi except this is the track that drew me to him way back then.

In the edit there were many names deleted who should still be here: Buddy Guy, BB King, Jimmy Reed, Albert King, Albert Collins, Little Walter, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, Lowell Fulson, Robert Johnson, Josh White, John Mayall and more, they were in the initial list but I felt it was too Delta/Urban and needed to be broadened.
Please feel free to add to the comments via the magic of youtube any favorites that you have. Enjoy.

From the top the photos are: BB King, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Albert King, John Hammond and Taj Mahal, Willy Dixon and BB King.

The cuts in order are:

1. Taj Mahal – Corina
2. Joe Turner – Piney Brown Blues
3. Muddy Waters – I’m Ready .
4. Allman Bros – Statesboro Blues.
5. Big Bill Broonzy – In the Evening
6. Basie/Rushing – Harvard Blues
7. Elmore James – Dust my Broom
8. John Lee Hooker – I’m in the mood
9. Lambert, Hendrix and Ross- Goin’ to Chicago
9a. Jimmy Rushing – Goin’ to Chicago.

10. Sonny Boy Williamson – Frogs for Snakes
11. Basie/Turner – Everyday I have the blues
12. Duke Ellington – Good Woman Blues
13. Bo Diddley – I’m a man
14. Jimmy Rushing – Good Morning Blues
15. T Bone Walker – So Low Down
16. Basie/Williams – Key to the Hwy.
17. Mose Allison – Blues
18. Jimmy Witherspoon – Every Day

19. Muddy Waters -Rolling and Tumbling
20. Keb Mo -Perpetual Blues Machine .
21. Little Walter – Key to the Highway
22. Memphis Slim – Havin’ Fun
23. Joe Turner – Stormy Monday
24. John Hammond – Two trains running
25. Taj Mahal – Sweet home Chicago
26. Jimi Hendrix – Red House.

TAJ PICS

Here’s some photos requested by Maki & WilliamB on the earworm post this week, no idea why they disappeared from my blog, I tried to post them into the Earworm post comments but I seem to have forgotten how to do it, they’re all related to a Taj concert from some years back. The story’s at: http://goneforeign.blogspot.com 





My current Must Listen album

John Mayall – Blues From Laurel Canyon

This is my current album that I can’t stop playing. I have never owned it before, although I was familiar with the it from around 1971 or 2. I bought it last week from Play.com.

John Mayall visited the USA on holiday and stayed in Los Angeles in 1968 after The Bluesbreakers split up following the Bare Wires album.

The album features the talents of the young Mick Taylor on lead guitar, Colin Allen on drums and Stephen Thompson on bass, with Mayall himself on guitar, harmonica, keyboards and vocals.

The album is one where all the tracks flow into one another, creating a feel that is almost like a concept album. John Mayall wrote each song about people he met and things that happened while he was staying in Laurel Canyon.

The album was recorded in London when he returned home. The entire thing was recorded in three days in August 1968.

Although the line-up was much smaller than the last version of The Bluesbreakers, the music is pretty complex and features interesting rhythms and tabla drums.

Like so much of Mayall’s post Beano work, this album uses the blues as a start point and heads off for other places.

The original vinyl release was;

1. Vacation (2:47)
2. Walking On Sunset (2:50)
3. Laurel Canyon Home (4:33)
4. 2401 (3:42)
5. Ready To Ride (3:32)
6. Medicine Man (2:43)
7. Somebody’s Acting Like A Child (3:27)
8. The Bear (4:40)
9. Miss James (2:30)
10. First Time Alone (4:49)
11. Long Gone Midnight (3:27)
12. Fly Tomorrow (8:59)

Inevitably, the CD release has two bonus tracks;

13. 2401 (3:56) [Single version]
14. Wish You Were Mine (8:36) [Live '68, previously on Primal Solos]

It’s in the Dropbox

https://www.getdropbox.com/share/RR%20dropbox#/RR%20dropbox/Blues%20From%20Laurel%20Canyon/

THE HOUSE OF BLUES CAR.

I just spent a week in LA visiting old friends, the first ones we stayed with were John and Marti in Topanga Canyon, John’s a carpenter/artist and Marti’s a botanist and works for the National Parks, she needed a new car and they saw this sitting on a car lot, they bought it instantly. It’s a new Honda and the paint job was commissioned by the House of Blues in Hollywood as a fund raiser, it was then sold to the car dealer who was having a hard time selling it. Marti’s well past middle age and this is the car she drives to the office every day, it draws lots of attention. I’ve put a folder in the dropbox with some more pictures.

treefrogdemon got the blues

They’ve closed comments over on RR, which is why treefrogdemon is singin’ the blues.

In the Pines – Leadbelly
Kosmic Blues – Janis Joplin
Weary Blues From Waiting – Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott
Rollin’ Blues – John Lee Hooker
Young Man Blues – the Who
Piss and Moan Blues – the Gourds
Old Rub Alcohol Blues – Dock Boggs
Pass You By – Gillian Welch
Freight Train Blues – Bob Dylan
Zimmerman Blues – the GPs

Hi-Fi Snock Got a Dime for the Jookbox

As a first attempt to post rather than comment, this might go all Titanic-iceberg, a bit Sarah Palin, or simply Rossbrand (incidentally, if 27000 Grauniad readers were to find something offensive in the coiffeured one’s Saturday column, might he – hooray – resign or something).

Anyhow, it’s Snocko’s Nice Eclectic Jookbox (if I’ve done the link right), featuring amongst others Down By the Zoo (Paul Gayten); Hillbilly Willy’s Blues (Blind Willy McTell); Grandfather’s Clock (The Court & Spark Band); Sweet Lucy (Cliff Starbuck of Ekoostik Hookah); You’ll Lose a Good Thing (Julianne Frank of the Kieth Frank and the Swallow Family Band); Sweet Georgia Brown (Mr. Bones); and I’m Wild (Elwood Smock aka Michael Hurley).

THE BOSS OF THE BLUES

THE BOSS OF THE BLUES
JOE TURNER sings Kansas City Jazz.
Atlantic Records # 1234- High Fidelity
produced by Nesuhi Ertegun and Jerry Wexler
Arrangements by Ernie Wilkins.
Liner notes by Whitney Balliet
Recorded in NYC in 1956
Personnel.
BIG JOE TURNER – vocals
JOE NEWMAN – tpt.
LAWRENCE BROWN – tb.
PETE BROWN – alto.
FRANK WESS – TENOR.
PETE JOHNSON – pft.
FREDDIE GREENE – gtr.
WALTER PAGE – bass.
CLIFF LEEMAN – dms.

I left the UK for California in 1958, I brought this album with me, I’ve owned it for over 50 years and it’s still in pristine condition even though it’s been played hundreds of times: it’s autographed on the cover “BIG JOE TURNER – KC.”
I’ve seen Joe Turner in performance several times and I even attended his funeral in LA along with several hundred others, I love his music but this album stands out above all the others, probably because of the tight accompaniment by a group of predominantly Basie musicians, these guys played Kansas City jazz their entire lives. There’s ten cuts on the album, I’ve selected five, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have over the years, if you do check out the Robert Altman film ‘Kansas City’ and the two music CD’s that accompanied i, it’s in this style. THE BOSS OF THE BLUES is available as a CD.

1. PINEY BROWN BLUES
2. HOW LONG BLUES.
3. CHERRY RED.
4. I WANT A LITTLE GIRL.
5. ST. LOUIS BLUES.