Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Phil Walden and Southern Soul

Phil Walden, founder of Capricorn Records, who has died, is best remembered for launching the career of Duane Allman and a host of southern rock artists in the 1970s. But his most important contribution to the music that I love was his role in managing and promoting Otis Redding and other great southern soul singers including Percy Sledge, Sam and Dave, Arthur Conley, Al Green, Clarence Carter and Johnny Jenkins. From his base in Macon, Georgia, he wielded enormous influence over the development of soul music and, along with Atlantic's Jerry Wexler and his fellow white contemporaries at Stax and Muscle Shoals, played a huge role in the development of black music in the segregated south. He may have ripped off his artists but he certainly put them on the map. He will not be forgotten. For more read this:

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gigs in May

Usually at around this time of year I'm preparing to leave for New Orleans and Memphis to experience the musical extravaganza that makes up Jazzfest, the Beale Street Festival and the Ponderosa Stomp. There are some great acts on this year, especially in Memphis where Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, James Brown and B B King are all scheduled to appear at Beale Street, but sadly I can't make the trip this time.
Fortunately there's some excellent music in London during May and I hope to make up for missing the US trip with a few good gigs closer to home. Among the gigs worth seeing are:
May 5th - Janet Kay and Carroll Thompson - Jazz Cafe
May 9th - Charlie Musselwhite - Jazz Cafe
May 10th - North Mississippi Allstars - The Garage
May 15th - Betty Lavette - Jazz Cafe
May 19th - Rambling Jack Elliot - The Borderline
May 20th/21st - Robert Cray - Jazz Cafe
May 24th - Chris Farlowe - The Borderline
May 25th - Jackie deShannon - Dingwalls
May 25th - John Hammond - Jazz Cafe
May 27th - The Ethiopians, Heptones, Silvertones, Melodians, Big Youth and Angela Stewart - The Forum
June 1st - Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham - St James's Church, Piccadilly.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A comeback for Archie?

I see that the original Archie Andrews doll plus three spare heads has been sold for £34,000 to a collector who is considering launching a comeback for Peter Brough's former sidekick. It's hard to believe that back in the 50s no Sunday lunchtime was complete without Educating Archie on the wireless. Even harder to believe that the great British public would tune in in their millions to listen to a ventriloquist and his dummy ON RADIO. When the show eventually transferred to TV we discovered that Peter Brough was the world's worst vent - his lips didn't just move in time to Archie's they positively danced. Still, the show made the careers of many well known acts of later years, including Max Bygraves, Beryl Reid, Harry Secombe, Tony Hancock, Alfred Marks, Bernard Miles and a 13 year old called Julie Andrews (no relation so far as I know). I was amused to read that the Queen would have private performances from Archie and Brough (as Archie called him) at the Palace back in the 50s - presumably for the benefit of Charles and Anne. I'm sure it proved very instructive as the whole family have evolved into dummies over the years. Happy 80th your majesty.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ska update

The hunt for the earliest mention of the word Ska took a new turn on last night's Balderdash and Piffle update (BBC2 last night). A record by Tommy McCook called Ska-Ba was issued on the Island label in the UK in 1963 - a year before the previous earliest recorded date for the word. Sax man McCook was a mainstay of early Jamaican music. He was a member of the Skatalites and his name appeared on many great instrumental records of the period. But we're still no nearer to identifying where the word Ska came from. There are a number of theories, including the resemblance to the sound of a guitar riff and Ska-voovie, a DJ catchphrase at the time, but nothing definitive. The search continues.

Friday, April 14, 2006

More top tens

Here are my personal top tens from around this date 1960 to 1965:
April 15, 1960: 1. Stuck on you, Elvis Presley; 2. Country boy, Fats Domino; 3. Stairway to heaven, Neil Sedaka; 4. Someone else's baby, Adam Faith; 5. Sweet Nuthin's, Brenda Lee; 6. What in the world's come over you, Jack Scott; 7. He'll have to go, Jim Reeves; 8. Who could be bluer, Jerry Lordan; 9. Handy man, Jimmy Jones; 10= Summer set, Acker Bilk and Cathy's clown, Everly Brothers.
April 14, 1961: 1. On the rebound, Floyd Cramer; 2. Theme from Dixie, Duane Eddy; 3. Little boy sad, Johnny Burnett; 4. That's it I quit I'm movin' on, Sam Cooke; 5. More than I can say, Bobby Vee; 6. You're driving me crazy, Temperance Seven; 7. Blue Moon, The Marcels; 8. I told you so, Jimmy Jones; 9. Once in a while, The Chimes; 10= Happy days, Marv Johnson, and Ain't that just like a woman, Fats Domino.
April 18, 1962: 1. Salvation, Johnny & the Hurricanes; 2. King of clowns, Neil Sedaka; 3= Come back silly girl, The Lettermen, and A night at Daddy Gee's, Curtis Lee; 5= What'd I say, Jerry Lee Lewis, and What's your name, Don & Juan; 7. Love letters, Ketty Lester; 8. Hey little girl, Del Shannon; 9. Clown shoes, Johnny Burnett; 10. What's so good about goodbye, The Miracles.
April 18, 1963: 1. He's so fine, The Chiffons; 2. Two kinds of teardrops, Del Shannon; 3= Don't say nothing bad, The Cookies, Baby workout, Jackie Wilson, and Do the bird, Dee Dee Sharp; 6. Why do lovers break each other's hearts, Bob B Soxx & the Blue Jeans; 7. Sandy, Dion; 8. How can I forget, Ben E King; 9. My way, Eddie Cochran; 10= You really got a hold on me, The Miracles, and Let's stomp, Bobby Comstock.
April 14, 1964: 1. Walk on by, Dionne Warwick; 2. Lewis boogie, Jerry Lee Lewis; 3. High heel sneakers, Tommy Tucker; 4. Shoop shoop song, Betty Everett; 5. Ain't that loving you baby, Everly Brothers; 6= Fun fun fun, The Beach Boys, and Suspicion, Terry Stafford; 8. I'm a lover not a fighter, Lazy Lester; 9. Dawn (Go away). Four Seasons; 10. I'm on fire, Jerry Lee Lewis.
April 19, 1965: 1. People get ready, The Impressions; 2. I'll be doggone, Marvin Gaye; 3. It's got the whole world shaking, Sam Cooke; 4. Got to get you off my mind, Solomon Burke; 5. The clapping song, Shirley Ellis; 6. Don't mess up a good thing, Bobby McClure & Fontella Bass; 7. It's growing, The Temptations; 8. It's gonna be all right, Maxine Brown; 9. Voice your choice, The Radiants; 10. Stop in the name of love, The Supremes.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

K-Doe for Mayor

You may have missed it, but the great Ernie K-Doe is running for Mayor of New Orleans despite having died five years ago. His widow Antoinette launched his campaign the other day and is hoping to raise money to rebuild the Mother in Law Lounge, which was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Ernie brings back many happy memories of New Orleans for me, despite many of his performances being rather shambolic due to an excess of alcohol. I particularly remember a visit that John Howard and I made to his lounge a few years ago. He sat on his throne on a trance-like state as we paid homage to the great man and when the time came for him to sing he seemed to think he was Jerry Butler, performing a lengthy version of I stand accused in a strange warbling baritone. Nevertheless the man was a genius - the epitome of New Orleans R &B. His big hit Mother in Law was just one of many great tracks he recorded in the 60s and he continued to entertain until his death in 2001. I last saw him a couple of months before he died, looking remarkably smart and sober. He was with his wife and was on his way to record a radio interview with WWOZ and Antionette took a photo of me and him together in front of his brightly painted minibus. His death was a great loss to New Orleans - and I really hope that he wins the election and becomes Mayor. It would be quite a story. Vote K-Doe Vote. He's cocky but he's good. For details of Ernie's campaign look here:

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Gene Pitney dies aged 65

Sad news this morning that Gene Pitney was found dead in his hotel room in Cardiff during his UK tour. Gene has been making records and writing sings for 45 years and although many thought him dated and rather middle of the road he possessed a great voice, possibly second only to Roy Orbison among white ballad singers of the 60s. I liked many of his early records including his first releases Love my life away and Every breath I take, and later hits including, of course, 24 hours from Tulsa, If I didn't have a dime, That girl belongs to yesterday, Town without pity, Only love can break a heart and Mecca (you couldn't get away with the last one these days!) Gene managed to resurrect his career in the 80s and retained a faithful, mostly female, following right up to his death. It's sad to see yet another great 60s artist pass away and at the relatively young age of 65.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Fame at the Flamingo

One of the few British R & B artists of the 60s that I had any time for was Georgie Fame and he was in good form on BBC2 last night celebrating his early days with the Blue Flames as resident band at the Flamingo in Soho. During the course of this live performance he paid tribute to New Orleans with Lawdy Miss Clawdy and to Eddie Cochran, who he toured with in the weeks leading up to his death in 1960 and who he credited with popularising Ray Charles' music in the UK. His version of On the right track baby sounded uncannily like the version he recorded on his 1964 LP Fame at Last - a tribute to Georgie's longevity. After singing a West African number he brought on vintage ska trombonist Rico Rodriguez and trumpeter Eddie Tan Tan Thornton as backing for Humpty Dumpty, originally performed by Eric Morris. He followed that with his biggest hit Yeah Yeah and then introduced fellow 60s legend Zoot Money who sang May the circle be unbroken, which called the names of some of the stars of the 60s who have departed, including Alexis Korner and Nina Simone. I always thought that Gene McDaniels did the best version of Point of no return, but Georgie reminded us how good his version was as well. Madeline Bell - a great soul name from the 60s - then guested to sing It's after hours, before Georgie launched into Getaway, which apparently was originally written as a promotional giveaway for National Benzole petrol (remember them?) Finally Zoot, Madeline and Georgie came together to pay tribute to some of the characters who frequented the Flamingo in the early 60s - American GIs, West Indian pimps, and celebrities of the day from Cassius Clay, to Christine Keeler and Percy Mayfield. Altogether a great show, and followed by a Fame and Price show from the late 60s featuring a very innocent looking Fame and a couple of numbers by Themla Houston, sporting what looked like a genuine beehive on her head.