The Mafia, The Music Mogul, Island Records and Millie – My Boy Lollipop!

To everything there is a season. Turn, turn, turn.

Here in the woods Summer has now definitively turned into Autumn.
U
The last blaze of heat but an ember in the memory.

Now, as the birds perform miraculous harmonies in song I wake at break of dawn to walk among mist wreathed trees.

Chill winds urge me onward.

As I broke into my running stride yesterday the Jukebox in my head selected an irresistible childhood favourite from 1964 which, for two minutes or so, persuaded me that perhaps it was a time to laugh and a time to dance.

Further, as I settled into the pace of the song I realised that, for one day only, the great David Rudisha, twice Olympic 800 metres champion, would not be so far ahead of me as he crossed the finishing line!

What song could produce such a miraculous effect? Well, a song that is guaranteed, guaranteed, to make your heart go GiddyUp!

I refer, of course, to the deliriously wonderful multi million selling, ‘My Boy Lollipop’ by Millie Small.

An innocent pop confection behind which lies, improbably; a Mafia Don, a forgotten original, an aristocratic music mogul and and the record label which would host Bob Marley and U2.

Oh, and an urban myth that the urgent harmonica on the record is played by none other than Rod Stewart! For the record all the evidence strongly suggests that it was actually played by Pete Hogman.

GiddyUp! GiddyUp!

Lollipop is the sound of careless youth. Of bottled Caribbean sunshine. Of gravity defying jumping Joy.

You want to feel the purity of emotion you had before you worried about grades, guys, girls, guns and geopolitics?

Drop the needle on My Boy Lollipop!

No wonder it was a top 5 hit in Britain and the USA and a smash all around the world. One of the chief functions of pop music is to put a smile on your face – to make you remember what a sheer blessing it is to be alive.

Millie’s artless gleeful vocal and guitarist Ernest Ranglin’s perfectly judged arrangement which morphed the original’s shuffle into a lovely lurching Ska/Bluebeat rhythm fulfils the life affirming and smile inducing functions effortlessly.

And, it could make your Uncle, who Never dances (we all have one) turn into a veritable Dervish.

Millie, or in full – Millicent Dolly May Small is now 70! She was born in Clarendon Jamaica in 1946 and first attracted attention as a 12 year old when she won the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour contest.

Moving to big city Kingston in 1962 she made her initial, thoroughly charming, recordings in duet format with Owen Gray (‘Sugar Plum’) and Roy Panton (‘We’ll Meet’).

These, substantial hits in Jamaica, brought her to the attention of the urbane, uber canny, music buff and would be music mogul, Chris Blackwell.

Blackwell, then in his mid 20s, sensed the commercial potential in Millie. Few in the music business have ever had a better nose for commercial potential.

He judged that her elfin looks and effervescent personality coupled with a proper pop song (one that appeals to six year olds, sixteen year olds and 66 year olds) might just provide him with the fabled, ‘breakthrough record’.

One that would turn his fledgling Island Records from a niche, ‘out of the boot of a car’ operation into a label that could quickly amass cash and be able to compete with the established major outfits like EMI and Decca in battles to sign and promote the hottest new acts.

So, he brought Millie over to London in 1963 and became her manager, chaperone and indeed Legal Guardian. Millie was then, in Motown grooming style, put through an intensive programme of stage education to prepare her for the UK and American markets.

Thus when Lollipop lit up radios and Jukeboxes in 1964 she was ready. So ready that she won the hearts of what seemed the entire nation through her appearances on key TV shows like, ‘Juke Box Jury’ and,’Ready, Steady, Go’.

She even managed to share screen time with The Beatles and matched them for charm and likability if not musical sophistication.

Similar triumphs followed in America where she was taken up by Murray The K. On her return home was greeted as virtual Royalty by everyone from the Prime Minister to her own family!

In Jamaica, one of Chris Blackwell’s many roles (which also included acting as ADC to the Governor General and local fixer for the James Bond film Dr No) was managing a Jukebox empire.

It may well have been this that alerted him to ‘My Boy Lollypop’ a 1956 regional hit in the New York area by Barbie Gaye.

The Gaye original has a lolloping shuffle rhythm, a doowop style vocal and a very 1950s burlesque sax solo instead of harmonica. Though it features first class musicians like Leroy Kirkland, Al Sears and Panama Francis it has very low pop wattage in comparison to the dazzling brilliance of Millie’s version.

The song was written by Robert Spencer a member of one of the incarnations of The Cadillacs (of, ‘Speedo’ fame). However, poor Robert didn’t get to bank much of the royalties as notorious record boss Morris Levy managed to get himself and another dubious connection on the songwriting credits.

Talking of, ‘Connections’ Barbie Gaye was managed by Gaetano ‘Corky’ Vastola who was later to share a cell with famed Mafia capo John Gotti.

Barbie was paid the princely sum of 200 dollars for Lollypop. Corky’s income from the record remains unknown (not least to the IRS!).

Millie had a few minor hits after Lollipop but was unfortunately classed as a novelty act rather than the pop princess she was.

Still, she made one of the most memorable records of the entire 1960s which will never fade from true pop pickers affections. She is now, quite rightly, garlanded with Jamaica’s Order of Distinction.

It is estimated that My Boy Lollipop has now sold over 7 million copies. It’s playing somewhere on the radio right now.

A proper pop record for all time.

P.S. Many, many thanks to all the Jukebox aficionados who have taken the time to nominate The Immortal Jukebox for the UK Blog Awards. And, for the very kind words used to describe the virtues of The Jukebox.

Nominations remain open so … If you haven’t already please do follow the link below!

The URL is http://www.theimmortaljukebox.com

My email is thomhickey55@yahoo.co.uk

http://ow.ly/9hHJ304McG4

UK Blog Awards : Nominate The Immortal Jukebox!

I am delighted to have so many dedicated followers of The Immortal Jukebox and derive enormous encouragement from your kind words in the comments section. I believe there is now a genuine Jukebox community!

Obviously I would like to expand this community.

To that end I would be very grateful if you would take a few moments through the link below to nominate The Immortal Jukebox in the Arts and Culture category.

The URL is theimmortaljukebox.com

My email is thomhickey55@yahoo.co.uk

http://ow.ly/9hHJ304McG4

Thanks very much. Thom Hickey

 

Nominations are now closed.

Do You, Do You, Do You, Do You Want to Dance? John Lennon, The Beach Boys, The Ramones & Bobby Freeman do!

The Sages tell us that when you really get down to it there are only seven stories in the world.

And, that these are endlessly retold and recast so that the human race can come to terms with the otherwise incomprehensible complexity of our lives.

So everyone from Homer to Tex Avery (not excluding Dante, Shakespeare and Emily Bronte) has expounded with greater or lesser wisdom on the eternal themes.

My own midnight reflections have led me to identify that what holds good for Story also holds good for Questions. After deep contemplation I have discovered that there are only five Questions underpinning all human enquiry.

For four of them you’ll have to wait for the publication of:

‘The Five Questions every life must answer’ (pre-orders accepted now).

But, exclusively, for readers of The Immortal Jukebox, I can reveal that one of the Questions is:

‘Do You Want To Dance?’

It’s a profound question.

Especially if you regard it not solely as a question you ask another but as a question you should address to your innermost self every day if you want to live a fully engaged life.

So, ‘Do you want to dance?’

Bobby Freeman a 17 year old from San Francisco, thought it was such an important question that he had no hesitation in asking it 19 times during the 164 second course of his classic recording from 1958.

Yowsa! Yowsa! Yowsa!

Now Bobby’s demo with him on piano and vocals and a friend on echoing bongos/congas seems to have been taped in a deep, dark hollow before New York musos like Billy Mure with a glittering guitar break added some semblance of professionalism so that the record could be commercially released

Of course, the circumstances of a record’s genesis don’t matter a hoot if, instantly, as it blooms from your radio or neighbourhood Jukebox you just know that it has uttered a profound truth as you obey its command to shake a tail feather.

It was thus no surprise that, ‘Do You Want To Dance’ was a top 5 hit on the Billboard Chart. There’s a hypnotic charm about the latin beat, ascending melody, false ending and the artless vocal’s increasingly insistent expression of the central question.

Resistance is useless – surrender!

Do You, Do You, Do You, Do you Want to Dance?
Do You, Do You, Do You, Do You Want to Dance?

The song, easy to learn and easy to extend vocally and instrumentally if the audience fell under its spell, became a fixture of many a group repertoire.

In Britain it was a notable success for Cliff Richard (1962) and in the US it attracted the attention of Del Shannon and The Four Seasons (1964) before the startling genius of Brian Wilson took into into realms undreamed of by Bobby Freeman.

The relationship between original and The Beach Boys version might be compared to that of a Lascaux cave painting and a high Renaissance masterpiece by Raphael.

Brian Wilson with his multi dimensional musical intelligence added structure and sophistication to Bobby Freeman’s sketch.

So we have three part harmony, vocal chanting, an instrumental ensemble of saxophones, timpani, massed guitars and organ seamlessly integrated into a sweeping wide screen orchestration which also features subtle key changes. On the top Dennis Wilson, with his first lead vocal for the group, provided glowing warmth and drive.

A singular aspect of Brian Wilson’s talent in his mid 60s pomp was his ability to to create complex arrangements which though capable of endless analysis by musicians and critics flowed with what seemed complete naturalness into the hearts of his listeners.

Under Brian’s baton Pop Music had a cathedral like architectural glory it has rarely ever attained. Success and sophistication went hand in hand as Brian and The Beach Boys had hit after hit.

John Lennon was another who knew a thing or two about marrying art and popularity in song. He would have heard Bobby Freeman’s version in Liverpool as a teenager. The Rocker in John, a defining aspect of his character, must have been taken by its sensual sway and swoon.

For it was this aspect of the song he chose to emphasise when he recorded it for his, ‘homage to leather jacketed youth’ album from 1975, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

It should never be forgotten that John Lennon was a great Rock ‘n’ Roll singer. I’d hazard the view that the true primal therapy for John was singing and that through singing he found balm for his own troubled soul as well as providing it for millions of others all over the globe.

The final version featuring on The Jukebox is a 1977 blitzkrieg New York City take by The Ramones. We will have to call this the spray paint on the subway wall graffiti version!

I must admit that in my college days I did some very enthusiastic ‘pogoing’ to this one propelled by my love of high octane, eyeballs out Rock ‘n’ Roll and large quantities of cheap alcohol.

There’s no messing with The Ramones.

They set out in a cloud of dust like a drag racer and don’t let up – wholly careless as to whether the parachute will deploy!

So, whichever version you prefer the eternal Question remains which we will all have to answer in our own way – ‘Do You Want to Dance?’

For my part the answer is a resounding Yes!

Notes:

Bobby Freeman could never match, ‘Do You Want to Dance’ though he did have several other hits. He was a winning singer and I’m always pleased when one of his songs comes up under random play on my music player. A comprehensive collection of his 56-61 work can be found on Jasmine Records.

Other versions you might care to investigate:

The Mamas & Papas

Jan & Dean

T Rex

Dave Edmunds

David Lindley

Bob Dylan : The Nobel Prize, One Too Many Mornings, The Albert Hall & Me!

In honour of Bob Dylan being selected as the 2016 Nobel Laureate for Literature I am Reblogging one of the very first Immortal Jukebox posts which combines a tribute to Bob with a review of his 2013 Albert Hall concert in London.

Some may argue that as a songwriter/performer Bob does not qualify for the Literature Award.

Frankly, I regard such views as unforgivably petty and deeply wrong headed.

I can think of no figure in post World War 2 global culture more worthy of a Nobel Prize!

To add to the review below which had no soundtrack here’s my all time favourite Bob Dylan song in a bravura performance from the 1966 tour soon to be immortalised in a 36 CD set!

No one in the field of popular music has ever written as well as Bob Dylan and no one has performed and sung with such inimitable power.

Congratulations Bob!

Sometimes, you just know.  There is literally something in the air. 

A sense of gathering fevered anticipation as the crowd assembles and the air becomes charged with faith and hope that this will be one of those nights.

The ones that you will relive in memory and recount proudly a thousand times to those who didn’t have the foresight, the cash, the sheer luck to be in that town on that night when everything clicked, when the energy built and built arcing from person to person, from stalls to gallery and flashing from the stage until we were all swept up and away into an ecstatic realm for those few hours on that one night that you will never forget and never be quite able to recapture.

All you can do is call for another drink, smile that distant smile and say with a regretful tone  ‘You really should,have been there.’

SW7 Revisited

‘Let us not talk falsely now – the hour is getting late’.   Bob Dylan

‘The thing about Bob is that he is and always will be Bob’. Jeff Lynne

I discovered and fell headlong into obsessive allegiance to the music and persona of Bob Dylan as a callow fourteen year old in 1969.  Up to that night, when I incredulously listened to the epiphany of Desolation Row on a French language radio station I had been largely dismissive of contemporary pop/rock music. 

Much as I liked the vitality of the Beatles and especially the Kinks I was not thrilled and transported by their records in the way that I was when reading the works of D H Lawrence or Chekhov which seemed to open up whole new worlds of sensation and understanding.

The Dylan I discovered that night was like the elder brother I never had – someone cleverer, more assured and knowing than me who yet leaned over to tell me all the secrets he had learned with a nod, a wink and a rueful grin. 

He would continue to fulfill that role throughout the following decades.dylan3

So, when I saw him in concert in November 2013 at London’s Albert Hall I was moved to reflect on all the years and miles we had travelled since he had last been there.

At the Albert Hall In 1966 when the last notes of an  epochal, ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ that sounded like nothing less than an electric typhoon faded into the night air Bob Dylan walked off stage a fully realised genius.  In the previous four years he had created a body of work that would have, even if he had never recorded again, made him the single most important artist of the second half of the century.

However, he was also swaying on the precipice of a physical and emotional collapse. This was brought on by an impossible workload of recording and touring only tolerable through the fuel of a teeming headful of ideas and an increasingly dangerous reliance on ever more powerful drug cocktails.

He had once said that, ‘I accept chaos – I’m not sure if chaos accepts me’.  Now he was learning to his cost that chaos was indifferent to his acceptance – chaos swallows and destroys.

He was saved from permanent burn out and death by the happenstance of a motorbike accident that gave him the opportunity to clean up, rest, recuperate and find a new way of working allowing for some form of future and family life in the haven of Woodstock.

Over the next 47 years he would never again attain the heights of inspiration achieved through to 1966 (neither would anyone else!) but he would continue, in an unmatched way, through craft, cunning and sheer bloody mindedness to write, create and perform works that honoured the traditions of American song while being thoroughly modern, post modern and finally timeless expansions of and additions to that tradition.

bobdylan1So, when he returned to the Albert Hall as Thanksgiving approached in November 2013, as he looked around at the grand old venue he might have been excused the quizzical smile that had become his trademark expression. 

Much like Ishmael returning after an age to the Nantucket waterfront he carried with him the knowledge of how hard survival could be and how that knowledge was every bit as much a curse as a blessing.

In 2013 Bob Dylan could be more reasonably compared to an old testament prophet (Jeremiah? Isiah? Micah ?) than to any of his ‘peers’ within the entertainment industry albeit a prophet who doubled as a song and dance man.

A song and dance man, walking and gliding through a blasted landscape, who while not dismissive or disrespectful of his classic creations, primarily chose to mine the new seam of the songs collected as Tempest.

In this he was aided by a road tested band, alert to his hair tigger mercurial nature, who artfully melded blues, rockabilly and sly swing to embody and illuminate the songs.

Upfront, the man himself settled either into a seafarers stance when centre stage or bobbed like a sparring boxer when stationed behind the piano.  His voice, a bare ruined choir of its former glory, though still uniquely distinctive, adapted its tone to the demands of each song – variously knowing, bewildered, threatening, regretful, cajoling and doleful. 

Somehow his totemic harmonica playing still manages to encompass all these qualities and more and audibly thrills the warmly affectionate audience.

Bob Dylan has, not without cost, become what he set out to be all those years ago – a hard travellin’ troubadour, with a lifetimes worth of songs, something for every occasion, in his gunny sack, always on the way to another joint.  Always looking at the road ahead not the road behind. 

I can’t help but feel that up ahead the shades of Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Whitman and Rabbie Burns are waiting to welcome another to their company.

Well they can wait a little longer – this troubadour has more miles to go before he’s ready for the final roadhouse.  May god bless him and keep him always.

Thanks to Karl-Erik at Expecting Rain for posting this article on his wonderful site.

 

Irma Thomas : Deep Soul – Through trial and tribulation Wishing someone would care

Mama said:-

‘Child, when you’re born a woman you gonna have to get used to the taste of the salt in your tears.’

‘Now I ain’t telling you every man’s a devil but believe me everyone of them has some of the devil in him and you better be ready for that’

‘Of course, some sweet men got a touch of the angel about them – if you find one of those girl you better hang on tight!’

‘But, beware! Some of them are full of love and smiles one day (specially when you young) but the next they can curl their lip and leave you all alone (specially when you older)’

‘Why your own Daddy didn’t stay around long enough to see you crawl before he was chasing some other dream somewhere down the road. And, he never looked back’.

‘Lookin’ the way you do girl you never gonna be short of suitors. Likely, you gonna meet some good and some bad. Get your share of sunshine.

And, Lord knows, you gonna get your share of rain. Sometimes, it’s really gonna come down, really gonna come down.’

‘Sometimes all you can do is wait it out til the sun comes rolling round heaven again.’

‘And, I guarantee it wont be too long before you be prayin’ for someone new to make it right again.’

‘Because, darlin’ girl, aint no woman alive, no matter how bad the last man treated her don’t wish, really wish, that out there in the night, somewhere along the road – there’s someone who will really care.’

‘Don’t ever give up on that’

‘Now girl, sometimes a man you want gonna need some persuading – you think you can do that?’

‘Mama – I know I can, I know I can!’

‘And, I gotta tell you mama any man who leaves me behind gonna rue the day.

He wont be very far down the road before he realises he never gonna find one like me gain.

Oh, then, he’ll be thinkin’ of running all the way back to beg me on his knees to take him back.

He gonna find I need a lot of persuading. A lot.

He gonna find time is on my side. My side.’

Need I say more?

Notes:

The above dialogue is of course, fiction.

Yet, it can’t hope to come close to the drama of Irma Thomas’ own life.

Born 1941 in rural Ponchatoula, La she was raised in New Orleans and by the age of 19 was twice married and the mother of four children.

Working as a 16 year old cocktail waitress she shared a stage with Tommy Ridgley at the Pimlico Club.

Tommy and anyone with half an ear could tell that this girl could really sing! Joe Ruffino at Ron Records was persuaded too leading to the release in May 1960 of the deliriously fiesty, ‘(You can have my husband, But please) Don’t mess with my man’.

She soon moved to the larger Minit label where she was fortunate to work with the great Alan Toussaint. Her records also benefited from the superb arranging and production skills of H B Barnum.

Together this team produced a series of heart shredding classics which will always burn deep before the dark altar of deep soul.

The four sides featured above showcase a singer who emerges, bruised, from the shadows to share the secrets of a heart that has known joy and pain.

Yet, that battered heart beats on, beats on, beats on – encouraging ours to do the same whatever trials beset us.

Her vocal performance in her own, ‘Wish Someone would Care’ must set some kind of benchmark in soul balladry.

Indeed, before she has sung a word her opening tear choked moans crack the heart wide open.

Then, we can only surrender to the swooning majesty of her superbly paced vocal which is immeasurably assisted by the downriver flow of the organ and the dread and doom insistence of the drums.

Here, by an act of creative faith, Irma Thomas has encapsulated a lifetime of feeling in less than 150 seconds.

This record can never die. There will always be trial and tribulation in this vale of tears.

And, as the night ends and the dawn is about to break all you can say as you ready yourself to face another day is:

Mmmmm, Mmmmmm, Mmmmmm, Mmmmm.

The best compilation of Irma’s magnificent early 60s recordings is, ‘Time is on my side’ on the Kent label.

From her later work I recommend investigation of the excellent series she made for Rounder Records – especially, ‘The New Rules’

Louis Jordan : Jukebox King! Choo, Choo, Ch’boogie!

‘High brow, low brow, they all agree, we’re the best in harmony
We’re the greatest band around, make the cats jump up and down,
We’re the talk of rhythm town’ (Louis Jordan, Five Guys Named Moe’)

‘Louis Jordan was one of my main inspirations … He was a super musician who taught me so much about phrasing’ (B.B. King)

‘He could sing, he could dance, he could play, he could act. He could do it all.’
(James Brown)

‘He really was as close to perfection as it was possible to be. He was the best presenter of a song by movement and action I have ever seen. (Playing with him) was like being dragged along by a wild horse!’ (Chris Barber)

According to the Panjandrums at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Louis Jordan was the Father of Rhythm & Blues, the Grandfather of Rock ‘n’ Roll and probably a pioneer of Rap!

And, I have to say, I am happy to add the immense authority of The Immortal Jukebox to the encomium of those august authorities in Cleveland.

Louis Jordan did indeed have it all.

He was the complete entertainer; astoundingly assured in the roles of Bandleader, saxophonist, songwriter, vocalist and, comedian.

He was an inescapable presence in 1940s America. Every Jukebox in every roadhouse, tavern or Honky-tonk with a black clientele from sea to shining sea would have been stuffed with Louis Jordan records.

He was omnipotent in the Black music charts. In the 1940s he had 18 (!) Number 1 singles on the R&B charts along with 54 top 10 entries.

Being on Decca’s, ‘Sepia’ label, along with his dazzling appearances in person, on the radio and on film, gave him exposure to the wider white audience and this led to hits lodged on the country, folk and pop charts too.

OK, enough pontificating!

Here’s Louis with an all time classic he cut in 1945, ‘Caldonia’.

The song was credited to Louis’ then wife, Fleecie Moore (who ended up stabbing Louis in a marital spat!) though that was surely a matter of hiding income for Louis from publishers rather a true statement of authorship.

If this don’t move ya I have to say, ‘Jack, you’re dead!’

Louis was backed by The Tympany Five which, at all times, included agile musicians who brought big band power and swing to the bandstand. Amazing how so few could produce so full and powerful a sound.

Great players like Carl Hogan on guitar (a clear influence on Chuck Berry), Will Bill Davis and Bill Doggett on piano and organ, Shadow Wilson on drums and Dallas Bartley on bass provided Louis with the launch pad for the effervescent vocals, saxophone smarts and sheer showmanship which slayed audiences everywhere.

Once the band kicked in Louis’ personality and charisma did the rest. I don’t care whether you call it Jump Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Boogie-Woogie, Cabaret Jazz or Rock and Roll!

What counts is that Louis will, most assuredly, make you jump, jive and wail ’til the cows come home!

Louis was born in July 1908 in Brinkley, Arkansas. Drawing on the influence of his musical father he soon became proficient on clarinet and piano before settling on his premier instrument – the Alto Sax.

It is clear that Louis was a hardworking musician able to absorb a wide range of influences and musical styles in search of an amalgam which would become known as the Louis Jordan sound.

The experience he gained in the 1930s working with Jazz giants like Clarence Williams and especially with Chick Webb at New York’s Savoy Ballroom stood him in very good stead when he felt ready to launch his own band.

He learned about commanding the stage, about arrangements and how to pace a show. Above all, he learned that his greatest asset was himself. Louis was one of those rare artists that audiences immediately take to – probably because, whatever kind of day, week or year you were having, listening to Louis just made you glad to be alive!

Now, let’s turn to a moody masterpiece from 1944 that sold by the million to every kind of audience, the wonderfully titled, ‘Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby’.

Ain’t that a question most of us have had to hazard a time or two!

The relaxed intimacy of Louis’ vocal and the superb individual and ensemble playing of the band make this this one of the great, ‘after hours’ songs for me. Pour yourself a superior malt whiskey and lose yourself!

One of the many great pleasures when listening to Louis Jordan is his brilliant delivery of a lyric. He can be louche, sly, comic or confiding. He can inhabit the role of the outraged husband, the yearning lover, the regular guy or the guy who has the inside dope.

He’s the guy with all the latest gossip expressed in the latest jive talk. When he talks you lean in and listen!

In a previous post, (‘Elegy for Vincent http://wp.me/p4pE0N-7J) I wrote about our habit of greeting each other with quotations from our favourite Irish traditional songs.

I had a similar experience when I used to meet my friend, ‘Slim’ (who was, of course, a man of mighty size) at a blues bar in deepest Soho.

We would invariably try to outdo each other with our recall of tasty Louis Jordan lines:

‘What makes your big head so hard?’

‘You take your morning paper from the top of the stack
and read the situations from the front to the back
The only job that’s open needs a man with a knack – so put it right back in the rack, Jack!’

‘Lot took his wife down to the cornerstore for a malted – she wouldn’t mind her business, boy did she get salted!’

‘Why, I’ll go back in that joint and take a short stick
and bust it down to the ground!
Open the door Richard!’

‘Those other chicks leave me cold
You can’t compare brass to 14 carat gold,
After they made her they broke the mold,
Cause she’s reet, petite and gone!’

‘Tomorrow is a busy day,
We got things to do, we got eggs to lay,
We got ground to dig and worms to scratch,
It takes alot of settin’ gettin’ chicks to hatch’

‘Sure had a wonderful time last night,
Come here, feel this lump on my head!’

I have to confess I’ve had my fair share of, ‘Lump on the head’ nights.

I found when I got home, in the wee small hours, as I searched for the ice pack and contemplated a kill or cure, ‘hair of the dog’ solution that Ol’ Uncle Louis had the perfect song that could soothe the addled head and even have me slippin’ and a slidin’ across the parquet floor playing imaginary Cuban percussion!

The original version of, ‘Early in the Mornin’ is from 1947. Look out as well for the, you have to see it to believe it, version featured in a 1949 film, ‘Look Out Sister’ where Louis appears as a cowboy!

I am going to conclude this brief introduction to the majesty of Louis Jordan’s catalogue with one of my all time favourite records, ‘Choo, Choo, Ch’Boogie’, a monster hit from 1946, which sounds wonderful 70 years on and is sure to sound just wonderful in 600 years time.

This is a pure product of America. America at its best.

Generous, democratic, thrillingly alive.

When I hear America singing it is very often Louis Jordan I hear.

And, I rejoice.

Notes:

The breadth and depth of Louis Jordan’s recorded output is best captured by the 131 track compilation on JSP Records, ‘Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five’.

Believe me, you will find yourself enjoying every last one of the 131 sides!

After his great years in the 1940s Louis continued to perform with brio and when the circumstances were right he could still produce superb recordings.

I love, ‘Somebody Up There Digs Me!’ from 1956 which benefited from Quincy Jones involvement and, ‘Man we’re Wailing’ from 1957.

Louis was extensively featured in, ‘Soundies’ and these have been collected on DVD.

The English eminence grise of Jazz scholarship, John Chilton, has written a typically well researched and sympathetic biography, ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ published by The University of Michigan.

The influence of Louis on succeeding generations of musicians is undoubtedly immense.

Look out for a follow up post featuring artists of the stature of B B King, Van Morrison, Asleep at the Wheel, Ray Charles and Willie Nelson to name but a few!