Monday, December 29, 2008

Delaney Bramlett/Freddie Hubbard

Checking through the records in a charity shop the other day I came across Home by Delaney and Bonnie, released on the Stax label in 1971. I bought it and was pleasantly surprised when I got home and played it. And now I read that Delaney Bramlett has joined the 2008 death list. Spooky eh?
The first 45 I have by Bramlett is Liverpool Lou, released on the Vocalion label in 1965. His is yet another death of note in 2008. Here's his Wikipedia entry:
Bramlett was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi[2] and after a stint in the United States Navy, moved to Los Angeles, California. There he established himself as a singer-songwriter, writing with fellow musicians Joey Cooper, Mac Davis and Jackie DeShannon. Bramlett also became a regular on the U.S. television show Shindig! as member of the show's house band, the Shindogs. During this time, he also worked with J.J. Cale, who was his first guitar player, and Leon Russell and released some unsuccessful solo singles.
Bramlett's musical history spans four decades. Known as a songwriter, singer and musician, he has also mentored other musicians, including Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Leon Russell, George Harrison, and J.J. Cale.
Over the years, some of his songs have reached "standard" status, such as "Superstar" originally titled, "Groupie Superstar" which was co-written with Leon Russell and has been covered by scores of artists, (recorded most recently in 2006 by Usher and in the past by Luther Vandross, The Carpenters and many others).
Bramlett's other hits included "Let It Rain," which was co-written with and recorded most notably by Eric Clapton; and "Never Ending Song Of Love" which has appeared on the soundtracks of the films, RV and A Good Year. "Never Ending Song of Love" has been recorded by more than 100 artists, including Ray Charles, and Patty Loveless and Dwight Yoakum.
Eric Clapton joined Delaney, Bonnie & Friends on tour[3], Bramlett produced and co-wrote songs for Clapton's first solo album, "Eric Clapton". Clapton still credits Delaney for pushing him to sing and teaching him the art.[4] Bramlett produced King Curtis' last LP[5], which had two hit singles: "Teasin'" and "Lonesome Long Way from Home". He produced an assortment of artists, such as Etta James, Elvin Bishop, John Hammond, Dorothy Morrison (of "Oh Happy Day" fame), and The Staple Singers.
George Harrison had his first slide bottle placed in his hand by Bramlett, who taught Harrison how to play slide guitar, which led into a gospel jam that resulted in Harrison's hit "My Sweet Lord"[6]. Bramlett wrote, recorded, or appeared on stage with many notable performers, including Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix[7], Janis Joplin, Dave Mason, Billy Preston, John Lennon, The Everly Brothers, Spooner Oldham, Steve Cropper, Billy Burnette, Mac Davis, Dennis Morgan, and his own daughter, Bekka Bramlett[8]. In 2006 Bramlett was one of the duet artists on the Jerry Lee Lewis album Last Man Standing[9], singing and playing guitar on "Lost Highway".
Producer Jerry Wexler, the founder of Atlantic Records, says some of the best music he ever heard was played by Duane Allman and Bramlett on deck of his home in Long Island[5],New York. The two musicians remained friends until Allman's death in 1971.
In 2008 Bramlett released his first CD in six years, A New Kind of Blues.[10]
On [11]December 27 at 4:55 a.m.,Delaney passed away due to complications of gall bladder surgery. He is survived by his widow, Susan Lanier-Bramlett (Susan Lanier), three daughters, Suzanne, Michele, and Bekka Bramlett and a son, Dylan Thomas.

The Vinyl Word also pays tribute to jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard - yet another music great to join this year's death list. To all of those many musicians who have passed on - thanks for everything.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Robert Ward RIP

Thanks to Dave to alerting me to yet another death on Christmas Day - Robert Ward. It was Robert who was responsible for the haunting guitar behind the Falcons' I Found a Love in 1962. And it was Robert, 30 years later, who stole the show at the Black Top Blues-a-rama show in New Orleans where I first saw him perform. Indeed he was THE musical find of that particular trip to Jazzfest and I saw him a number of times after that before he faded from the scene - again. I say again, because after backing up The Falcons and founding the Ohio Untouchables (later the Ohio Players) he retired home to Dry Branch, Georgia, to be rediscovered by Hammond Scott of Black Top. Ward created his unique guitar sound using an old Magnatone amp, but his voice was equally effective on tracks like Your Love is Amazing on his 1991 album Fear No Evil, and on the follow up album Rhythm of the People.

Here's a photograph (actually a photograph of a photograph) that I took of Ward in New Orleans in the early 90s.

Friday, December 26, 2008

That bad Eartha

Another great has joined the chorus in the sky - this time Eartha Kitt, who has died aged 81. During the fifties, Eartha was probably the most exciting, sexy black woman alive. Her unique voice and feline, predatory persona made her both alluring and slightly scary. She was perfect for the part of Cat Woman in the Batman series in the sixties. Even many years later she still had a sensual appeal, and the recent success of her 1953 hit Santa Baby brought her well deserved fame even in her late seventies. Her voice never quite fitted into the soul or blues categories, although it would have been interesting to hear her try, but it was unlike any other. When she sang I Want to be Evil, you knew that she really meant it, and who could doubt that she would find her millionaire when she sang Just an Old Fashioned Girl. Truly one of the greats.

A toast too to playwright Harold Pinter, who also joins the 2008 death list. And to folk guitarist Davey Graham, who died ten days ago.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Vinyl finds

2008 hasn't been a vintage year for collecting vinyl - it gets harder and harder (although not impossible) to find really good stuff at knock down prices. But it's had its moments. I still pick up most of my vinyl at car boots and charity shops, although increasingly I'm looking to record shops and eBay for the rarer records. I haven't featured any vinyl for a while, so here are three LPs that I found at a car boot sale at the weekend.
Fontella Bass is of course best known for Rescue Me and this is the only one of her singles featured on The New Look, her only UK issued Chess LP from 1965, which included a number of songs made famous by other female soul singers, including Oh No Not My Baby (Maxine Brown), Gee Whiz (Carla Thomas) and I Know (Barbara George).
Brixton Cat, released on Trojan in 1970, is a Prince Buster style late ska album featuring Joe Mansano's All Stars, with two tracks, including the title track, by Dice the Boss. The real star is Reco Rodriguez, whose superb trombone really stands out.
Wilmer and Dukes were a very popular soul band in New York State in the late 60s and this, their only album on the Aphrodisiac label is pretty good stuff. Singer Wilmer was black whilst the rest of the band was white and their biggest hit, Give me One More Chance, was their only UK release - on Action.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jazzfest line up announced

The line up for the 2009 New Orleans Jazzfest has been announed - a good two months earlier than usual. As ever there are literally hundreds of acts scheduled to appear, but the highlights (to me anyway) would appear to be as follows;

1st weekend (April 24 to 26): Irma Thomas, Third World, Robert Cray, Etta James & the Roots Band, Mavis Staples, Drive-By Truckers feat. Booker T. Jones, Johnny Winter, Pete Seeger, Hugh Masekela, Roy Rogers, Buckwheat Zydeco’s 30th Anniversary feat. The Hitchhikers, Tab Benoit, Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience, Tribute to Mahalia Jackson featuring Irma Thomas, Mavis Staples, and Pamela Landrum, Chris Smither, Henry Butler, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters, Sonny Landreth, Mem Shannon & the Membership, Warren Storm, Willie Tee and Cypress feat. Tommy McLain and T K Hulin, The Dixie Cups, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, John Mooney & Bluesiana, Tabby Thomas, Savoy Music Center of Eunice Saturday Cajun Jam, Dew Drop Inn Revisited hosted by Deacon John feat. Wanda Rouzan, Eddie Bo, Allen Toussaint, Robert Parker, and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Wayne Toups & Zydecajun, Bruce Daigrepont, Henry Gray & the Cats, Walter “Wolfman” Washington & Russell Batiste, Jr., Lil’ Buck Sinegal Blues Band, Johnny Brown & the Quality Blues Band, Rockie Charles & the Stax of Love, Guitar Slim, Jr.,Willis Prudhomme & Zydeco Express.
2nd weelend (April 30 to May 3): Aretha Franklin, The Neville Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, The O’Jays, Toots & the Maytals, Allen Toussaint, John Mayall, Solomon Burke, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, The Whispers, Chuck Brown, Meter Men: Zig, George, and Leo, Rance Allen, Guy Clark, Radiators,Aaron Neville, Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials, Tab Benoit & the Wetland Allstars, Marcia Ball, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Frankie Ford, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Walter “Wolfman” Washington & the Roadmasters, the subdudes, Deacon John, Chris Thomas King, Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Luther Kent & Trickbag, Marva Wright & the BMWs, Kenny Bill Stinson & the Ark-LA-Mystics, Eric Lindell, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Eddie Bo, Sherman Robertson, D.L. Menard & the Louisiana Aces, Kenny Neal, Little Freddie King Blues Band, Reggie Hall & the Twilighters feat. Lady Bee.
Of course, whether I get to see them is open to debate, given the weakness of the pound etc. It's rather a predictable list and there's no one I haven't seen before who I'm desperate to see, and no Fats Domino, Lloyd Price or Little Richard, but it's not a bad line up in the circumstances.
Here's the link (click on Music Schedule):

Monday, December 15, 2008

Death List 2008

It's the time of year when the Vinyl Word raises a glass to those musicians and others who have passed away in the last 12 months. 2008's death list (so far) includes the following:
Fernest Arceneaux, Eddy Arnold, Neil Aspinall, Nappy Brown, Sunny von Bulow, Chuck Carbo, Cyd Charisse, Bill Coday. Hazel Court (pictured), Bo Diddley, Alton Ellis, Joe Gibbs, Phil Guy, Russ Hamilton, Isaac Hayes, Jeff Healey, Charlton Heston, Sir Edmund Hilary, Pervis Jackson, Van Johnson, Senator Jones, Miles Kington, Heath Ledger, Byron Lee, Larry Levine, Humphrey Lyttelton, Miriam Makeba. Nathaniel Mayer, Jimmy McGriff, Buddy Miles, Mitch Mitchell, Johnny Moore, Rudy Ray Moore, Barry Morse, Earl Nelson. Paul Newman, Odetta, Bettie Page, Earl Palmer, Jerry Reed, Lula Reed (pictured), Jody Reynolds, Lita Roza, Paul Schofield, Roy Schneider, Roy Shirley, Norman 'Hurricane' Smith. Mike Smith, Jo Stafford, Levi Stubbs, Bobby Lee Trammell, Vampira, Reg Varney, Dee Dee Warwick, Jerry Wexler, Richard Widmark, Al Wilson and Richard 'Popcorn' Wylie.

Apologies to those I've missed and any significant additions to the list would be welcomed.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The great Roy Orbison + Bettie Page

To watch BBC4's tribute to Roy Orbison tonight you might think that he only really made it in the UK when he topped the bill over an up and coming band called The Beatles in 1963. I remember seeing the show in Croydon and scarcely noticed the Beatles, despite their screaming fans. It was the Big O I wanted to see and hear - that fabulous soaring, majestic voice that made - and still makes - my hair stand on end.

He didn't just hit it big with It's Over and Pretty Woman, the songs you hear most often these days. I wasn't aware of his Sun sessions at the time, but the moment I heard Only the Lonely in July 1960 I was hooked. Having heard it on Radio Luxembourg I remember pestering my local record shop for weeks for a copy, but they didn't have in stock. But clearly there was a clamour for this great record, as eventually they got it in and it went to number one. After that there was Blue Angel, I'm Hurtin', the wonderful Running Scared, the even more wonderful Cryin', Dream Baby, The Crowd, the two sided Working For the Man and Leah, In Dreams, Falling, the two sided Blue Bayou and Mean Woman Blues and Borne on the Wind.

Although his fortunes faded in the late sixties, particularly after the tragic death of wife Claudette and later his two sons, everything Roy recorded had a magical quality, even his less well known LPs such as Regeneration, Laminar Flow and I'm Still in Love with You. When his real regeneration began, in the the film Blue Velvet, it was belated recognition of his genius, and by the mid 80s the Orbison revival was in full swing. The album Mystery Girl showed that he had lost nothing of his vocal talent. And the Travelling Wilburys put him deservedly back in the limelight.

And then, just as he was at the top again he died - 20 years ago, on December 6th, 1988. I miss Roy even now. He had the greatest white voice in pop music without exception.

*** As news has just come in that Bettie Page has died aged 85, I really can't ignore the death of one of my all time heroines. One of the most influential icons of the 20th century, Bettie was truly a legend. Here are a couple of clips of her from the 50s

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ponderosa Stomp 2009

The line up for the 2009 Stomp has been announced and once again it's a mouth watering selection. Those of us worried about the falling pound, struggling travel companies, job insecurity and general credit crunch issues are going to have to take a long cold look and work out if maybe, just maybe, we can make the trip again next year.

Here's the list, as published on the Ponderosa Stomp website

Wanda Jackson, Roddy Jackson, Alton Lott, Carl Mann, Johnny Powers, Jack Earls, Dale Hawkins, James Burton, Dan Penn And Bobby Emmons, Howard Tate, Otis Clay, The Hi Rhythm Section, The Remains, Question Mark And The Mysterians, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Bobby Patterson, Wiley And The Checkmates, The Bo-Keys, Lil Buck Senegal And The Top Cats Featuring Stanley "Buckwheat Zydeco" Dural, Dennis Coffey, Robert Parker, Jivin Gene, Ray Sharpe, Long John Hunter, Texas Johnny Brown, Little Joe Washington, James Blood Ulmer Trio, L.C. Ulmer, Little Willie Littlefield, Lil Greenwood, Jerry McCain, Kenny And The Kasuals, Classie Ballou, Deke Dickerson And The Eccofonics, Roy Loney And Cyril Jordan Of The Flamin Groovies Backed By The A-Bones, and Lazy Lester.

One point to note is that tickets are now 50 dollars a night - that's about £35 at today's rates.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Senator Jones

Thanks to Dave C for letting me know about the death of Senator Jones, whose contribution to southern soul can hardly be over emphasised. Dave recalls a time when we met the Senator in a record shop in New Orleans in 1994 at a WWOZ event when we were hoping to meet George Jackson, but his memory is better than mine so I can't comment on that. I do have quite few of his Johnny Adams and Barbara George Hep Me recordings though. among others. I can do no better than reprint in full the tribute in the excellent

SENATOR JONES1934-2008 One of the most colorful voices in Southern Soul (a term which he re-invented in his own image and likeness) has left us, passing peacefully in his sleep at his 'ranch' outside of Jackson, Mississippi. Born in Jackson, Jones had moved to New Orleans in the early fifties and eventually carved out a niche for himself as an independent 'record man' and producer, one who seemed to thrive after most of the other small companies had gone out of business. His first label, Black Patch, was home to Rockie Charles' debut single, the very cool Riccasha in 1968. A succession of labels would follow (like Shagg, Superdome and Jenmark) on which he cut local artists like The Barons and Guitar Ray. As he told Jeff Hannusch in The Soul of New Orleans; "As I got more artists, I didn't want to go to the radio station with seven records on the same label... the dee-jays would say 'I can't play all of those records...' So I started new labels and I switched colors on the record labels to make them look different."Another of them was called J.B.'s, on which his re-recorded version of Mardi Gras standard Second Line (the original White Cliffs master by Bill Sinigal having been lost in the Cosimo Matassa bankruptcy) would appear in 1974, and get played to death every Carnival season since. J.B.'s was also home to great records by James Rivers and Charles Brimmer. We've already talked about how it was Brimmer's version of God Bless Our Love that charted in 1975, after Chelsea picked up the J.B.'s original for national distribution.The most enduring of all of the Senator's imprints, however, was Hep' Me, which he operated right up until the day he died. This greasy chunk of funk that we have here today was the very first release on the label in 1973. Recorded at Deep South Studios in Baton Rouge, Ray J. was the stage name of one Raymond Jones, who was the keyboard man in Brimmer's band, in addition to holding down a day job as the music teacher at Xavier Prep back in the Crescent City. He would work with the Senator for years as an arranger, alongside folks like Sam Henry Jr. and Wardell Quezergue. Once Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn opened their Sea-Saint Studio in New Orleans, Jones became one of their best customers, working out some kind of percentage deal with Sehorn in exchange for studio time.He would produce some of his best records at the studio on folks like Barbara George, Tommy Ridgley, Bobby Powell, Walter 'Wolfman' Washington and, of course, Johnny Adams. Johnny had signed with Jones after his run with Shelby Singleton had taken its course, and recorded a slew of singles that kept him out there in the public eye. His Hep' Me version of Conway Twitty's After All The Good Is Gone was leased to Ariola Records, who would cut an album on him as well. When Adams left Hep' Me to sign with Rounder in 1983, the Senator read the handwriting on the wall. His radio connections had dried up, as stations got bought up by the corporations, and the role of independent label owner just wasn't happening any more... at least not in New Orleans.By the end of the decade, Senator Jones had returned home to Jackson, working briefly with local legends Johnny Vincent and George Jackson while getting the lay of the land. His partnership with Warren Hildebrand in Mardi Gras Records in the nineties helped define what was happening in southern 'grown folks' music as records by folks like Sweet Miss Coffy, Peggy Scott-Adams, and The Love Doctor became hits in the down home radio market in a genre that would become known as 'Southern Soul'.It was the Senator who believed in a young kid who would go on to be considered the 'King' of the music, Sir Charles Jones, with songs like Love Machine and Is There Anybody Lonely hitting big on the charts in the new millennium. Hep' Me artists like Mr. X and Lil' Kim Stewart soon joined him, and the label became a force in the deep south market, which is what the Senator had been shooting for all along...Quite the character, he was also the host of his own late night radio show on WMPR in Jackson. Known as 'Uncle Bobo', he regaled listeners with stories of his life out on the ranch, chasing around his farm animals in between cutting the latest hits at his home studio.He was something else.