Thursday, April 28, 2011

'Baby It's You' - the musical

I picked this up from
The Shirelles/Scepter Records story, "Baby It's You," opened officially on Broadway Wednesday (April 27). But the day before, the producers were already hit with a lawsuit filed by surviving Shirelle Beverly Lee (who owns the name), the estates of two other Shirelles and Dionne Warwick (whose character appears in the musical). The suit charges the musical with "cashing in on plaintiffs' stories and successes, while using plaintiffs' names, likenesses and biographical information without their consent and in violation of the law."
The musical itself opened to poor reviews. The New York Daily News gave it 2 out of 5 stars saying, "the songs are so blandly performed they don't make an impression" and calling it the "Lawrence Welk of jukebox musicals." ABC News called it a "muddled story with great songs," though more than one reviewer noted that the Carole King composition, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" is not in the show. The New York Times said, "Mama said there'll be shows like this. But she didn't tell me there would be quite so many, or that any one of them could be this dismal." And the Chicago Tribune carped that it "must surely be one of the worst jukebox shows every to grace the Great White Way." Amazingly, the book is by the same men responsible for the Broadway smash, "Million Dollar Quartet."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Crazy Cajun RIP

Huey P Meaux - the Crazy Cajun - has died aged 82. The Louisiana record producer had the magic touch and produced a string of wonderful records from the late 1950s to the 1970s, before falling from grace in the 90s and going to jail for child pornography and drug possession.

A barber by trade, Huey got his Crazy Cajun nickname from a radio show in Port Arthur that he DJ'd. Others on the local scene at the time included George Jones, Moon Mullican and J P Richardson, the Big Bopper. He couldn't read music but knew what made a hit record and how to promote it. Just about everyone involved in swamp pop and Gulf Coast music was associated with him at some time. His early hits, recorded in Winnie, Texas, included Jivin' Gene's Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Joe Barry's I’m a Fool to Care, Rod Bernard's This Should Go on Forever and Barbara Lynn's You'll Lose a Good Thing and her subsequent classic records released on Jamie. Following these successes he moved to Houston where he latched on to the British invasion success with She's About a Mover by Doug Sahm's Sir Douglas Quintet and had another huge hit with Roy Head's Treat Her Right. Other hits included Clarence Frogman Henry's Cajun Honey and Talk To Me by Sunny and the Sunliners.

By the late 60s he had set up a variety of labels including Som, Tribe, Eric, Parrot, Crazy Cajun, Tear Drop and Jet Stream. Swamp pop artists who Huey recorded included Johnnie Allan, Jimmy Donley and Warren Storm, and he also cut records by Clifton Chenier, T-Bone Walker and several Cajun acts. He often recorded at Cosimo's studio in New Orleans but later bought the Gold Star studio in Houston and renamed it Sugar Hill. In the 70s he resurrected Freddy Fender's career with Before The Next Teardrop Falls and Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.

Here's a report of Huey's death, plus some of his great hits from YouTube.

Photo shows Barbara Lynn at the Ponderosa Stomp in 2008.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The last soul company

Sad to hear that a storm has destroyed the Malaco Records buildings in Jackson, Mississippi. Malaco brought us great records by the likes of Bobby Bland, Johnnie Taylor. Denise LaSalle, Little Milton, Z Z Hill and Latimore. In an age when genuine soul is in such short supply it is nothing short of a tragedy if Malaco has passed into history. Here are a few great Malaco records:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Catching up

Time to catch up on a few notable music deaths.

Randy Wood, whose Randy's Record Shop in Gallatin, near Nashville, pioneered the sale of R&B records by mail order and who later founded Dot Records, has died aged 94. In the early years Dot released records by R and B artists such as Ivory Joe Hunter and Brownie McGhee, but it had its greatest success with covers of R and B hits by white artists such as Pat Boone, Gale Storm and the Fontane Sisters, and albums by MOR acts such as Lawrence Welk and Billy Vaughan. Randy sold Dot to Paramount in 1957 but stayed on as president and was successful in picking up records from smaller labels, including Sanford Clark's 'The fool' and 'Come go with me' by the Del-Vikings. Later hits incuded surf classics such as 'Pipeline' by the Chantays and 'Wipeout' by the Surfaris and the great early soul sides of Arthur Alexander (pictured) recorded in Muscle Shoals.

The story of Sir Lattimore Brown, who died aged 80 in an accident on March 25, has been well documented in the excellent Red Kelly blog and it was Red who was responsible for reviving his career and taking him to New Orleans last year where he performed at the Ponderosa Stomp. The full fascinating story of his life and career can be explored in detail at

Other recent deaths include recording engineer Roger Nichols, who produced records by the likes of Steely Dan, The Beach Boys and Roy Orbison; Willie Davis, tenor with the Cadets/Jacks and the Flares; and Carl Bunch , drummer on Buddy Holly's ill fated Winter Dance Party tour in 1959.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jools is back with 'Later'

Jools Holland is back with 'Later', once again featuring some artists who appeal to me and others of my ilk. Last night there was music from Robbie Robertson, Cee Lo Green and Seun Kuti, Fela Kuti's youngest son, and a brief interview with Bootsy Collins, who will appear on Friday's show. There was also a song from a Texan called Josh T pearson, who seemed of interest.

Jools' show has been running since 1992 and is virtually the only regular UK music show that features roots music alongside more contemporary pop acts.Guests over the years have included Solomon Burke, William Bell, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Cliff, Dion, Bo Diddley, John Fogerty, Al Green, Buddy Guy, Gregory Isaacs, Dr John, Betty Lavette, Sam Moore, Otis Rush, Howard Tate and Toots and the Maytals, to name but a few. Sadly these performances are not available on the BBC website so we just have to keep an eye on guests in the current series and see who appears.

As well as being a good musician, Jools' heart is clearly in the right place, as series such as Walking to New Orleans in 1985, when he met and played with the likes of Fats Domino and Lee Dorsey, clearly show. His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra may not be authentic, but it's pretty good as mainstream bands go these days. Here's a Youtube clip of Jools with Fats

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Vinyl Word reaches 500

This is my 500th entry since first starting The Vinyl Word in January 2006. I hope it's been of interest to a few people over the years. I know that I am not alone in loving the music of the late 1950s and 1960s - particularly rock and roll, soul, blues, American pop and ska - and I know there are many vinyl collectors - like me - with rooms stuffed with old LPs, EPs and singles. As readers may know, I kept a personal top ten for nearly six years from spring 1960 to December 1965. This era marked the transition from the rock and roll boom of the late Fifties, through the rather tamer post rock and roll phase to the sounds of the Sixties and the emergence of soul, British beat bands and blues. To mark the 500th entry I've chosen my favourite records that made it into my top ten. It's an impossible choice, as there are so many great records that I have missed out, but I've whittled down the original 918 to just 80, so here goes (in chronological order): 1. Jimmy Jones - Handy man; 2. Marv Johnson - I love the way you love; 3. Sam Cooke - Wonderful world; 4. Ron Holden - Love you so; 5. Roy Orbison - Only the lonely; 6. Fats Domino - Walking to New Orleans; 7. Jackie Wilson - A woman, a lover, a friend; 8. Shirley and Lee - Let the good times roll; 9. Rosie and the Originals - Angel baby; 10. Miracles - Shop around; 11. Chimes - Once in a while; 12. Carla Thomas - Gee whiz; 13. Maxine Brown - All in my mind; 14. Ernie K-Doe - Mother in law; 15. Jerry Lee Lewis - What'd I say; 16. Eddie Cochran - Weekend; 17. Roy Orbison - Cryin'; 18. Chris Kenner - I like it like that; 19. Dion - Runaround Sue; 20. Elvis Presley - His latest flame; 21. Marvelettes - Please Mr Postman; 22. Showmen - It will stand; 23. Shirelles - Baby it's you; 24. Lee Dorsey - Do re mi; 25. Bruce Channel - Hey baby; 26. Barbara George - I know; 27. Don and Juan - What's your name; 28. Ben E King - Don't play that song; 29. Clyde McPhatter - Lover please; 30. Freddy Cannon - Palisades Park; 31. Benny Spellman - Lipstick traces; 32. Solomon Burke - Down in the valley; 33. Booker T and the MGs - Green onions; 34. Sam Cooke - Nothing can change this love; 35. Crystals - He's a rebel; 36. Exciters - Tell him; 37. Miracles - You really got a hold on me; 38. Chiffons - He's so fine; 39. Beach Boys - Surfin' USA; 40. Rivingtons - Bird's the word; 41. Jan and Dean - Surf City; 42. Doris Troy - Just one look; 43. Major Lance - Monkey time; 44. Bo Diddley - Pretty thing; 45. Chuck Berry - Let it rock; 46. Rufus Thomas - Walking the dog; 47. Impressions - It's all right; 48. Ronettes - Baby I love you; 49. Marvin Gaye - Can I get a witness; 50. Kingsmen - Louie Louie; 51. Tams - What kind of fool; 52. Rivieras - California sun; 53. Betty Everett - Shoop shoop song; 54. Mary Wells - My guy; 55. Irma Thomas - Wish someone would care; 56. Arthur Alexander - Black night; 57. Beach Boys - I get around; 58. Brenda Holloway - Every little bit hurts; 59. Bobby Bland - Ain't nothing you can do; 60. Gene Chandler - Just be true; 61. James Brown - Out of sight; 62. Shangri-Las - Remember (Walking in the sand); 63. Don Covay - Mercy mercy; 64. Martha and the Vandellas - Dancing in the street; 65. Chuck Jackson - Any day now; 66. Velvelettes - Needle in a haystack; 67. Little Antony & the Imperials - Going out of my head; 68. Righteous Brothers - You've lost that loving feeling; 69. Sam Cooke - Shake; 70. Joe Tex - Hold what you've got; 71. Temptations - My girl; 72. Radiants - Voice your choice; 73. Otis Redding - Mr Pitiful; 74. Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs - Woolly Bully; 75. Otis Redding - I've been loving you too long; 76. Gene Chandler - Nothing can stop me; 77. Ovations - It's wonderful to be in love: 78. Wilson Pickett - In the midnight hour; 79. Roy Head - Treat her right; 80. O V Wright - You're gonna make me cry. Several of the artists who had many entries in my top ten didn't make the list. They include the Everly Brothers, Del Shannon, Bobby Vee, Neil Sedaka, Johnny Burnette, Bobby Darin, Johnny and the Hurricanes, Buddy Holly and Ricky Nelson. I love them all, but I can't include everyone.