Sunday, July 30, 2006

Top of the Pops fades into the sunset

I watched the final TOTP this evening. Although well past its sell by date, it had its uses, if only as an easy way of keeping a casual eye on the charts on terrestrial TV. I don't fancy sitting in front of MTV and the like very often, but I could manage TOTP now and then. Even if 90 per cent of the stuff on it is rubbish these days the occasional bit of class (eg Gnarls Barklay's Crazy) made it worthwhile now and again.
Still I won't miss it much if at all. The amusing if ludicrous dance troupes are already a thing of distant memory. It was interesting to see a parade of DJs from over the years, including naturally the venerable Jimmy Saville, who introduced the very first programme. Who else was a member of his Teen and Twenty Disc Club on Radio Luxembourg back in 1960? I think I still have my membership card somewhere. Maybe they should include it on Friends Reunited, although I don't think I actually knew any other members.
And so TOTP has gone, killed by the new online nature of the music industry, and with it pop music as we knew it. No more singles, LPs or EPs on familiar labels. In their place downloads from who knows where. Give me vinyl every time.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mr Magnificent Floyd Dixon

Bluesman Floyd Dixon, who first made his name over 50 years ago, has died. Here's a link giving some information about his life:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Classic top tens

Some classic 45s were in my personal top tens from around this date 1960-65:
July 22, 1960: 1. Only the lonely - Roy Orbison; 2= When will I be loved - Everly Brothers, and Rockin' Good Way - Brook Benton & Dinah Washington; 4. Alley Oop - Hollywood Argylls; 5= Wonderful world - Sam Cooke, and Please help me I'm falling - Hank Lochlin; 7. Ain't gonna be that way - Marv Johnson; 8. Mess of blues - Elvis Presley; 9. He'll have to go - Jim Reeves; 10= I love the way you love - Marv Johnson, and Walkin' to New Orleans - Fats Domino.
July 24, 1961: 1. Girls - Johnny Burnett; 2. Baby face - Bobby Vee; 3. Cupid - Sam Cooke; 4. Quarter to three - U S Bonds; 5. How many tears - Bobby Vee; 6. Dum dum - Brenda Lee; 7. Nature boy - Bobby Darin; 8. I'm coming on back to you - Jackie Wilson; 9. Old Smokey - Johnny & the Hurricanes; 10. Te ta te ta ta - Ernie K-Doe.
July 24, 1962: 1. Lipstick traces - Benny Spellman; 2. Palisades Park - Freddy Cannon; 3. Things - Bobby Darin; 4. Little bitty pretty one - Clyde McPhatter; 5. I'll never dance again - Bobby Rydell; 6. The stripper - David Rose; 7. Dancin' party - Chubby Checker; 8. Chills - Tony Orlando; 9. Gravy - Dee Dee Sharpe; 10. Ya ya - Lee Dorsey.
July 25, 1963: 1. Easier said than done - The Essex; 2. Come go with me - Dion; 3. Go go go - Chuck Berry; 4. Shame shame shame - Jimmy Reed; 5. Patti baby - Freddy Cannon; 6. Boom boom - John Lee Hooker; 7. Not too young to get married - Bob B Soxx & the Blue Jeans; 8= Shake a tailfeather - Five Du-Tones, Wipe out - The Surfaris, One fine day - The Chiffons, and Rock me in the cradle of love - Dee Dee Sharpe.
July 26, 1964: 1. I get around - The Beach Boys; 2. Good times - Sam Cooke; 3. Mockingbird - Charlie & Inex Foxx; 4. I want to love him so bad - The Jelly Beans; 5. Every little bit hurts - Brenda Holloway; 6. Keep on pushing - The Impressions; 7. All grown up - The Crystals; 8. You'll never get to heaven - Dionne Warwick; 9. Evenin' - Jimmy Witherspoon; 10= What's the matter with you baby - Marvin Gaye & Mary Wells, Ain't love good-ain't love proud - Tony Clarke, and Hurt by love - Inez Foxx.
July 18, 1965: 1. It's wonderful to be in love - The Ovations; 2. Woman's got soul - The Impressions; 3. Woolly Bully - Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs; 4. Respect - Otis Redding; 5. I can't help myself - The Four Tops; 6. Incense - The Anglos; 7. I do - The Marvelows; 8. Boomerang - Junior Walker; 9. Pride and joy - Marvin Gaye; 10. Nothing can stop me - Gene Chandler.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New Orleans stars shine in Porretta

I've just got back from the Porretta Soul Festival where it was New Orleans artists who took centre stage, rather than the usual Memphis based acts. Laid back and enjoyable as ever, despite a less than usually star-studded line up, the festival proper kicked off with a stunning show by Irma Thomas on Friday. She was on great form, as was her band, as she performed many of her old favourites plus three tracks from her new CD. She showed that she still has a great voice and a personality to match, and that it's possible to read unfamiliar lyrics from a songsheet whilst still getting the delivery absolutely right. There was much debate among us music anoraks about the origins of Time is on my side, her classic song that she feels was stolen by the Rolling Stones, but Wikipedia says that the song was written by Norman Meade, a pseudonym for Jerry Ragavoy, and first recorded by jazz artist Kai Winding with backing by the Enchanters (Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick and Cissy Houston). Irma's version, with added lyrics, was recorded a few months later.
Sunday provided the other high point with a classic show by the Neville Brothers, who were on superb form. How refreshing being able to get within a few feet of the band in comfort, rather than being one of 50,000 fans at Jazzfest and viewing from half a mile away. As ever, Aaron's voice was spellbinding and Charles's saxophone playing was stunning. Davell Crawford was the main support act and he was a revelation, with some excellent NO piano playing and and good mixture of New Orleans and blues tracks.
The weakest night was Saturday where the headliner was Howard Tate. Fine on his early hits like Get it while you can and Ain't nobody home, he struggled with material from his latest CD as he read from a song sheet and, unlike Irma, failed to sing into the mic or, at times, keep in tune. He would have been fine as a support, but as the main act on the busiest night he didn't quite cut it. Similarly Bobby Purify, who did half a set on two of the nights, was good, with a still soulful voice, but insufficiently rehearsed to do more than five numbers, only two of which were Purify originals.
Porretta continues to be a festival unlike any other - intimate, relaxed and low key. I have to admit, though, that going for the first time with my glamorous girlfriend Lex, whose long legs and Naomi Campbell-style looks turned heads wherever she went, was quite a thrill too.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sam Myers

Sorry to hear that Sam Myers has died of cancer. I saw Sam with Anson Funderburgh's band on a number of occasions, including New Orleans Jazzfest and the Beale Street Festival in Memphis and always enjoyed his slightly eccentric performances. Although only 70 when he died, he always seemed older, as he ambled unsteadily onto the stage dressed in his trademark smart dark suit and dark glasses. He would stand almost motionless, looking straight ahead, as he sang and played harmonica. Always a joy to listen to, and to watch. Another of the original bluesmen has passed away.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Corrie's got soul

It's not often that the worlds of Coronation Street and soul music meet, but they did in this evening's episode for a brief moment. Drummer Vernon - Liz's boyfriend - had his van nicked, and with it his record collection. These included Dobie Gray's Out on the floor, a Jackie Edwards 45 and - his favourite - a Stateside demo of Gene Chandler's Nothing can stop me. He even sang a couple of bars from the record - no doubt leaving 99.9 per cent viewers perplexed to say the least.
On the subject of obscure 45s, my boot sale haul this weekend included some pretty obscure 60s UK beat singles, including the first UK cover of Do you love me (by Farons Flamingos), and records by the Bo Street Runners, the Cryin' Shames, Cleo (an Andrew Oldham creation), Glenda Collins, Graham Bonney and the Big Three. All of these will shortly be on eBay, but one or two others won't, including Roland Alphonso's wonderful Phoenix City on the Doctor Bird label.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rock legends not dead yet

'Rock Legend Dead' screamed the Evening Standard billboard today. I wondered which of the five truly legendary rock and roll survivors had passed away - Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, Little Richard or Fats Domino. Thankfully it was none of these. Apologies to Pink Floyd fans, but the passing of Syd Barrett hardly comes into the category of 'rock legend dead'. Not only was he a founder member of one of the most boring groups of all time, but he hasn't even recorded or performed since 1972. So I think I'll save my tears for the true legends.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Top ten titbits

Here, for a change, is some background on some of the records that made it into my personal top ten 1960-1965 (see next item in the blog).
#2 1960: Wonderful World - Sam Cooke. This was my top scoring record through the whole six years that I kept a top ten yet amazingly it only got to number 30 in the UK chart at the time. It's since become a classic of course, having been a huge hit when used on a Levi's ad in 1986. Still sounds brilliant today.
#3 1960: Love You So - Ron Holden. Amazingly atmospheric 45 that failed to dent the UK charts. I didn't realise until some time later that it also had a fantastic rocking B-side - My Babe.
#4 1960: Only the Lonely - Roy Orbison. This great record entered my top ten on this date in 1960 but it proved impossible to actually buy a copy until nearly two months later, despite weekly visits to my local record shop. Of course it went on to make number one and the rest is history.
#9 1961: Those Oldies But Goodies - Nino and the Ebbtides. This nostalgic piece of doowop was also recorded by Little Ceasar and the Romans, but it was the Ebbtides version that crept into my top ten.
#1 1962: Lipstick Traces - Benny Spellman. An Allen Toussaint composed and produced piece of New Orleans brilliance which failed to chart and didn't even make it big in the US, despite having the almost equally strong Fortune Teller on the flip. Benny was the bass voice on Ernie K-Doe's Mother in Law and Ernie reciprocated on Lipstick Traces.
#6. 1962: Ya ya - Lee Dorsey. Another classic piece of New Orleans R&B (although recorded for Fury in New York), Ya Ya wasn't released in the UK at the time. It was later recorded by Joey Dee and countless others.
#2 1964: When you walk in the room - Jackie DeShannon. Those who saw her at Dingwalls recently will know how good a singer she is and how strong this record was - probably her best record of all.
#1. 1965: It's Wonderful to be in love - The Ovations. When I heard this for the first time I thought it was a new Sam Cooke 45. In fact it was the wonderful Louis Williams, lead singer of The Ovations, who recorded for Goldwax in Memphis. Another 45 that was not issued in the UK.
#6 1965: Incense - The Anglos. This is a great American sounding soulful record, but a curiosity. It was released on Chris Blackwell's short-lived Brit label and rumour had it that the singer was Steve Winwood, but he has apparently denied this. So who was it?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Yet more top tens

Here they are: my personal top tens from around this date 1960-65:
July 6, 1960: 1. Alley oop - Hollywood Argylls; 2. Wonderful world - Sam Cooke; 3. Love you so - Ron Holden; 4. Only the lonely - Roy Orbison; 5. Jellied eels - Joe Brown; 6. What a mouth - Tommy Steele; 7. Please don't tease - Cliff Richard; 8= Pistol packin' mama - Gene Vincent, and Another sleepless night - Jimmy Clanton; 10= I love the way you love - Marv Johnson, and He'll have to go - Jim Reeves.
July 6, 1961: 1. Baby I don't care - Buddy Holly; 2= Cupid - Sam Cooke, Nature boy - Bobby Darin, and Old smokey - Johnny & the Hurricanes; 5. High voltage - Johnny & the Hurricanes; 6. It keeps rainin' - Fats Domino; 7. I say love - Jimmy Jones; 8. Weekend - Eddie Cochran; 9. Those oldies but goodies - Nino & the Ebbtides; 10. I feel so bad - Elvis Presley.
July 6, 1962: 1. Lipstick traces - Benny Spellman; 2. Havin' a party - Sam Cooke; 3= The crowd - Roy Orbison, Breaking up is hard to do - Neil Sedaka, and Palisades Park - Freddy Cannon; 6. Ya ya - Lee Dorsey; 7. Little bitty pretty one - Clyde McPhatter; 8. Speedy Gonzales - Pat Boone; 9. Down in the valley - Solomon Burke; 10. Oh you beautiful doll -Donnie Brooks.
July 9, 1963: 1. Go go go - Chuck Berry; 2. Patti baby - Freddy Cannon; 3. One fine day - The Chiffons; 4. Da doo ron ron - The Crystals; 5. Easier said than done - The Essex; 6. Shake a hand - Jackie Wilson & Linda Hopkins; 7. Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley; 8. The bird's the word - The Rivingtons; 9. Get him - The Exciters; 10. Surfin' USA -The Beach Boys.
July 8, 1964: 1. I get around - The Beach Boys; 2. When you walk in the room - Jackie DeShannon; 3. Evenin' - Jimmy Witherspoon; 4. Every little bit hurts - Brenda Holloway; 5= Good times - Sam Cooke, and What's the matter with you baby - Mary Wells & Marvin Gaye; 7. Black night - Arthur Alexander; 8. Lonely heart - Carl Perkins; 9. It hurts me - Elvis Presley; 10. Tennessee Waltz - Sam Cooke.
July 8, 1965: 1. It's wonderful to be in love - The Ovations; 2. Woolly bully - Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs; 3. Woman's got soul - The Impressions; 4. I can't help myself - The Four Tops; 5. Nothing can stop me - Gene Chandler; 6. Incense - The Anglos; 7. Help me Rhonda- The Beach Boys; 8. Pride and joy - Marvin Gaye; 9. I do - The Marvelows; 10= Tonight's the night - Solomon Burke, Voodoo woman - Bobby Goldsboro, and Mr Pitiful - Otis Redding.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Johnny Jenkins RIP

The Final Word today says farewell to yet another influential southern soul musician - this time Johnny Jenkins, the left handed guitarist who introduced Otis Redding to Stax Records and was a major influence on Jimi Hendrix. Johnny died in Macon, Georgia, only two months after the death of Capricorn Records founder Phil Warden, with whose label Johnny was closely associated. He recorded the soulful but spooky Ton-ton Macoute album in 1970, with backing by Duane Allman and Eddie Hinton among others, for Capricorn. More recently Phil Walden also produced a comeback album called Blessed Blues. Johnny never achieved universal acclaim, but he was an influential figure at Capricorn Records and will forever be associated with the early success of Otis Redding. Another great soul artist has left the building.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

It's all over now

So England have maintained tradition by losing on penalties. I predicted this result before the game and the boys didn't let me down. Wish I'd put a bet on it. Probably would have been odds on though. In retrospect I have to agree with the critics that the team didn't play well, despite me having had a glass full approach while they were winning. They were uninspiring and at times downright poor. Interesting that the wonder boy Rooney failed to deliver and then got himself sent off. Interesting also that the despised Crouch looked twice as good as young Wayne when he came on. A few reputations have been badly damaged by the World Cup, including Lampard, Rooney and Gerrard, while there have been a few surprising heroes, such as Hargreaves and the aforesaid Crouch. Watching France beat Brazil made me realise that England never really had a chance of lifting the cup. If they had scraped through against Portugal they would doubtless have been beaten by Zidane and co. Oh well, it's back to the Premiership and unrealistic hopes for Euro 2008 - assuming we qualify. With Steve McClaren, Sven's accomplice in chief, in charge that's by no mean guaranteed.