Thursday, November 29, 2007

Top 20s - 1964/65

Continuing the theme of the last blog, here are my top 20 scoring 45s of 1964 and 1965, as recorded at the time:
1. I get around - The Beach Boys
2. Baby I need your loving - Four Tops
3. My guy - Mary Wells
4= Shoop shoop song - Betty Everett (pictured left)
4= When I grow up - The Beach Boys
6. Nadine - Chuck Berry
7. Where did our love go - Supremes
8= Hi heel sneakers - Tommy Tucker
8= No particular place to go - Chuck Berry
10= When you walk in the room - Jackie DeShannon
10= Needle in a haystack - Velvelettes
12= Evenin' - Jimmy Witherspoon
12= Dancing in the street - Martha & the Vandellas
12= Oh no not my baby - Maxine Brown
15. Dance dance dance - The Beach Boys
16= Good news - Sam Cooke
16= Good times - Sam Cooke
18. Louie Louie - The Kingsmen
19. Walk on by - Dionne Warwick
20= I wonder - The Crystals
20=Bama lama bama lu - Little Richard
1. Hold what you've got - Joe Tex
2. In the midnight hour - Wilson Pickett
3. People get ready - Impressions
4. Shake - Sam Cooke
5. Mr Pitiful - Otis Redding
6. Treat her right - Roy Head
7. Respect - Otis Redding
8. Voice your choice - The Radiants
9. You've lost that loving feeling - Righteous Brothers
10. I can't help myself - Four Tops
11= Yield not to temptation - Bobby Bland
11= It's too late baby - Arthur Prysock
13. King of the road - Roger Miller
14. 1-2-3 - Len Barry
15. My girl - Temptations
16= Don't mess up a good thing - Boby McClure & Fontella Bass
16= Woolly Bully - Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
18= It's wonderful to be in love - The Ovations
18= Sugar dumplings - Sam Cooke
20. It's got the whole world shaking - Sam Cooke

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Top 45s from the early 60s

The Woodies favourite 45s list got me thinking about my favourite singles of all time. Hindsight being what it is, there are many records that I love now but either didn't notice or didn't like sufficiently at the time. But fortunately I have my personal top ten from 1960 to 1965 as a guide to what I liked as a teenager. Some of my favourites then look a little weak today, but most of my top 20 over that period still sound pretty good. So here goes - the top scoring 45s in my top ten of the early sixties:
1. Wonderful World - Sam Cooke
2. Nothing Can Change This Love - Sam Cooke
3. Once In a While - The Chimes
4= Palisades Park - Freddy Cannon
4= I Just Go For You - Jimmy Jones
6. Sandy - Dion
7. Hey Baby - Bruce Channel
8= Running Scared - Roy Orbison
8= Crying - Roy Orbison
10. Da Doo Ron Ron - The Crystals
11. Girls - Johnny Burnette
12. Only The Lonely - Roy Orbison
13. Sad Mood - Sam Cooke
14= Sp Long Baby - Del Shannon
14= He's Sure the Boy I Love - The Crystals
16= Lipstick Traces - Benny Spellman
16= He's So Fine - The Chiffons
18. Hey Little Girl - Del Shannon
19. He's A Rebel - The Crystals
20. You've Gotta Move Two Mountains - Marv Johnson

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Woodies best gigs

So here they are: the 33 best gigs as selected by the 11 Woodies at Friday's meet-up. Not sure about dates in some cases and apologies for any errors - my excuse is that I'd had a few drinks by this time. Comments, corrections and additions to this list, and to the earlier track listing, are very welcome.
Jerry Lee Lewis, Majestic Mitcham - 1962
Ike Turner, Ronnie Scott's, London - 2002
Otis Clay, Blues Estafette, Utrecht - 1998 (?)
Sam Cooke/Little Richard - Granada Tooting - 1962
Bobby Womack, Apollo Harlem - ?
James Brown, Granada Walthamstow - 1967
Larry Williams/ Johnny Guitar Watson, Leyton Baths - 1965 (?)
Jerry Lee Lewis, Wimbledon Theatre - ?
Tom Waits, Dominion Theatre, London - 1985
Jerry Lee Lewis, Birmingham - 1966
Earl Thomas, Burnley Blues Festival - 2004
Larry Williams, Flamingo, London - 1966 (?)
Van Morrison, Rainbow Theatre, London - 1973
Sun Ra, North Sea Jazz festival - 1990 (?)
Sam and Dave/Otis Redding, Fairfield Hall, Croydon - 1967
Little Richard, Saville Theatre, London - 1967
Ray Charles, Royal Albert Hall, London - ?
Barrence Whitfield/Plas Johnson, Ponderosa Stomp, New Orleans - 2005
Fats Domino, Hammersmith Odeon - 1973
Elvis Costello, Royalty Theatre, London - 1987
James Carr, Blackheath Concert Hall - 1996
Dion, Metro Oxford Street, London - 2007
Hank Ballard, Hammersmith Palais - 1986
Aaron Neville, New Orleans Jazzfest - 1991
Chuck Berry/Bo Diddley/Jerry Lee Lewis/Bil Haley, Wembley - 1972
The Blasters, Dingwalls - 2003
Hadda Brooks, Los Angeles - 2000
Lazy Lester, Metro, London - 2006
Ian Dury, Gants Hill Odeon - 1978 (?)
Sam Moore, Sherherds Bush Odeon - 2006 (?)
Sam Dees, Dingwalls - ?
Little Richard, Nelson Imperial Ballroom - 1966
Jerry Lee Lewis, Rainbow Theatre - 1980

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Woodies choose their favourite tracks

Tales from the Woods regulars, or Woodies as we are known, met for one of our occasional meet-ups last night - a few pints in a pub (in Soho) followed by a Chinese nearby. After the usual toasts to music greats who have died since the last time we met, someone suggested that we should all pick our favourite track of all time. This eventually became our three favourite tracks as we went round the table racking our beer soaked brains to recall the really great records that have remained with us throughout the decades. Most of us could easily have picked 20 each, but here they are - the 33 chosen records - in no particular order, and what great records they are:
High School Confidential - Jerry Lee Lewis
Lipstick Traces - Benny Spellman
Lucille - Little Richard
Kansas City - Wilbert Harrison
Blue Monk - Thelonius Monk
Wonderful World - Sam Cooke
Nothing Can Stop Me - Gene Chandler
Nadine - Chuck Berry
Eyesight for the Blind - Sonny Boy Williamson
Dark End of the Street - James Carr (pictured)
Skinny Jim - Eddie Cochran
Lonely Teardrops - Jackie Wilson
Smokestack Lightning - Howling Wolf
Walking to New Orleans - Fats Domino
Two Steps from the Blues - Bobby Bland
Sandy - Dion
Walking the Back Streets and Crying - Little Milton
Shop Around - The Miracles
Slow Down - Larry Williams
It Will Stand - The Showmen
Heard it Throught the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye
I put a spell on you - Screaming Jay Hawkins (pictured)
Mean Woman Blues - Jerry Lee Lewis
Will You Love Me Tomorrow - Shirelles
Endless Sleep - Jody Reynolds
I Found a Lover - Gift of Dreams
Money - Barratt Strong
Thin Line Between love and hate - David Hudson
Stick and Stones - Ray Charles
Bony Moronie - Larry Williams
Over the Rainbow - Gene Vincent
Milkshake Madamoiselle - Jerry Lee Lewis
Afterwards we all chose our top three live gigs. Watch out for the next blog entry!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thinking ahead...

Ronnie Spector is lined up to appear at the 2008 Ponderosa Stomp at the House of Blues in New Orleans. Other acts named so far are Roky Erickson, Syl Johnson, The Hi Rhythm Section, The Collins Kids, Sonny Burgess, Joe Clay, Hayden Thompson, Barbara Lynn, Lazy Lester, Jay Chevalier, Bobby Parker, The Green Fuz, Ralph "Soul" Jackson, Roscoe Robinson and Eddie Bo.

It's a bit early to be thinking about making the trip just yet, but it's tempting. So too is next year's Porretta Soul Festival, which apparently will include Joe Simon - now a bishop - in the line-up. No harm in thinking ahead I guess...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dion is still the toppermost

Dion DiMucci has long been one of my favourite singers. His body of work stretches from the early doowop with the Belmonts, through his brilliant solo recordings for Laurie and Columbia, to his work with Phil Spector, his gospel recordings and on to his more recent albums such as Deja Nu, Bronx in Blue and now Son of Skip James. But regardless of whether it's rock and roll,, blues or gospel Dion is singing, he has always retained a hint of that early New York street punk demeanour.

So it was last night at the tiny Metro club in Oxford Street where Dion played an acoustic set, wearing his trademark back to front cap and dark glasses. At 68 he looks and sounds great and this was definitely THE gig of 2007 so far as I was concerned. This was billed as the launch of his new blues album Son of Skip James but we got a lot more than that. He kicked off with You're The One from his 2005 Bronx in Blue album and followed up with Statesboro Blues from the same album. He moved on to Chuck Berry's Nadine and Hoodoo Man - both from the new album - before returning to Bronx in Blue for Crossroads. In between we got amusing anecdotes about his English wife of 45 years Susan, his first tour of England with Del Shannon in 1962 (I remember seeing that at the ABC Croydon). He said he knew he's getting old because whenever he sees a cute young chick these days he thinks about what a sexy grandmother she must have. A comment about the brave boys in Iraq fighting for our freedom didn't go down quite so well, but that was forgotten as he linked into his classic Abraham, Martin and John, and then on to If you wanna rock and roll.

Dion reminisced quite a bit about some of the artists he shared a piano stool with when he was young, including Fats Domino, whom he said he couldn't understand because he was Cajun (a quick rendition of My Blue Heaven) and Neil Sedaka (a slightly shaky version of Calendar Girl). By now he was well into oldies territory and called up UK doowop group The Room Mates to back him on excellent versions of Ruby Baby, Runaround Sue and The Wanderer. It was back to the blues for Built for Comfort, and then the only real low point of the show: he asked for a backing track for Hoochie Coochie Man (from Son of Skip James) and got My Babe instead, which he struggled manfully through. His final blues song was his own Son of Skip James, before recalling The Room Mates for a rousing version of his very first hit from 1958 I Wonder Why.

And then Dion was gone. It's 45 years since I first saw him perform and 17 years since his two appearances at the Town and Country Club. There's a rumour that he will come to the UK next year with a band, and he gave the impression that he would have preferred that this time, rather than doing an acoustic set. Personally I can't wait, as Dion remains a toppermost act. Thanks to Alan Lloyd for the photo.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thai me up, Thai me down

Just back from a holiday in Thailand - my first time in the country. It's a fascinating place and I feel that I've only scratched the surface. We started off in Bangkok, which is overcrowded, polluted and frantic, but with a great mixture of the traditional and the modern. We checked out some of the culture, including the Reclining Buddha (pictured right), but like many other tourists we also headed for the Pat Pong area on a couple of evenings. If you're looking for a sexy young Thai girl - or ladyboy - you can't go wrong, as there are literally thousands of them in the beer bars offering sex for not much more than the price of a few drinks. Since I was with my girlfriend I didn't partake, but there were plenty of middle aged potbellied Europeans who were.
From Bangkok we went on to Phuket which had come highly recommended. Unfortunately it rained most of the time - the monsoon season is running late this year - so we didn't see or do very much. Finally we went to Pattaya, which has a reputation as one of the great fleshpots of the world. It's a reputation that's well deserved. The main entertainment area - Walking Street - makes Bourbon Street look very very tame, with hundreds of of clubs, sex shows and beer bars and again thousands of girls on offer. There are a lot of expats living there doing little more than drinking and shagging and they seem quite happy with life. As for music, we found a place called the Blues Factory - a decent enough club with a Thai band playing rock, rather than blues. The singer was crap, but the guitarist was pretty good, so not a complete disaster. Will we go again? Yes, probably, but next time we have to see the real Thailand - not just the tourist bits.