Turns out there’s this group called The Stone Poneys and that the girl in the group, Linda Ronstadt, heard the Greenbriar Boys take on, ‘Different Drum’ and thought here, finally, was a song that would suit her.
I got to say that anyone who has ever seen The Stone Poneys knows that while Kenny Edwards and Bobby Kimmel love their music they are very low watt bulbs in comparison to the brilliance that surrounds Linda.
She’s hotter than Mojave and she has a true voice that pierces the heart.
So, one day, I turn on the radio and Hallelujah!
Different Drum blasting out and no doubt about it a sure fire hit.
Got to say Linda has given the song a sweetness and sensuality that even surprises me.
Amazing how good a song can sound when its sung by a singer like Linda supported by musicians who can really play directed by a Producer who can make a song fly off those vinyl grooves.
I did some research and it seems Linda was the only Stone Poney on the record.
Nick Venet, the Producer, twigged that the song shouldn’t be one more of the thousands of pretty acoustic ballads out there.
Give it a stylish arrangement, add in the chops of first rate musicians to match Linda’s shining vocals and you’ve got a record that will have people turning up their radio’s and saying, ‘Who is that?’ and hot footing it to their nearest record store.
So, Jimmy Bond plays the hell out of the Bass – he’s got all that Jazz training and he knows the studio – how else did he get to be part of the Wrecking Crew!
Al Viola and Bernie Leadon played those sweet guitar parts.
Jim Gordon, the Jim Gordon, made the song swing from the Drum stool.
Add in a little magic from Sid Sharp’s strings and Don Randi’s Harpsichord and I defy anyone not to sing along with gusto!
This time the royalties really did flow in!
Now, some of you might know, that for a few years in the late 60s, I became something of a celebrity, heard someone call the group I was in, ‘The Monkees’ a Pop phenomenon indeed!
Of course, all the while the TV Show and the recording and tours were in full spate I never lost track of the fact that at heart I was a singer songwriter and that when all this frenzy finished (as it always must sooner or later) I would pick up the 12 String and find a new audience.
You know, ‘Different Drum’ has been pretty good to me so I figured let’s see how it sounds with Red Rhodes on the pedal steel and me taking a mellow meander through the song.
Now songwriters love all their songs and I ain’t no different but Different Drum is close to my heart and it seems to keep finding new singers who want to put their own stamp on it.
Listen here to Susanna Hoffs (wasn’t she in a group that was something of a modest pop phenomenon in the 80s?).
Don’t she and Matthew Sweet charm us all!
That’s my kind of Hootennany right there.
One of the greatest gifts a songwriter can ever get is to hear one of their songs completely reimagined so that it comes up anew shining bright and dazzling a new audience.
That happened to me when I heard P P Arnold take on Different Drum with a bunch of English musicians.
Most everybody knows her as a backing singer or for cutting the original of Cat Stevens’ ‘First Cut is the Deepest’ but the more you investigate her career you realise she’s a magnificent soul singer and that any writer ought to be real proud to have her cover one of their songs.
Once heard you won’t forget this.
She can flat out sing!
Compared to Linda and Susanna and P P Arnold I can’t sing at all.
But, Over the years I have learned how to tell a story and make co-conspirators of an audience.
Different Drum is an old friend now and I like to make sure I don’t rush through it pretending I was still in my 20s.
A story needs to be properly framed and told for maximum impact.
So now it goes something like this :
Long as I can make it up on stage I’m going to be singing that song.
Time to close out with a tribute to the person who sent this song soaring into so many hearts.
Linda’s health doesn’t let her sing anymore but a voice like she had will always be lifting spirits and touching souls.
Coaches and Gurus and Snake Oil salesmen will portentously promise to reveal the secret to you.
Better save your money and your time and learn the things that can be taught – vocal exercises, relaxation, the whole assembly of skills that adds up to Technique.
You’ve either got it or you haven’t.
The gods or muses dispose as they will.
Hard to define but easy to recognise.
Cultural, emotional and spiritual impact.
You’ll recognise it when you confront it.
Mark Knopfler is a gifted songwriter and as a guitar player has undoubted Presence.
He is also canny enough to know that some songs require an extra ingredient that he does not possess.
A voice with Presence.
So, for his Song, ‘The Last Laugh’ he called up Van Morrison.
There must have been a moment in the studio as they listened back when Mark exhaled and smiled deeply as the sound of Van’s voice at the beginning of the second verse lifted the work to a wholly new level.
Emotional and Spiritual impact.
Sing it Van!
Games you thought you’d learned
You neither lost nor won
Dreams have crashed and burned
But you’re still going on
Out on the highway with the road gang working
Up on the mountain with the cold wind blowing
Out on the highway with the road gang working
But the last laugh, baby is yours
And don’t you love the sound
Of the last laugh going down
Very few singers merit the Bold and the Italics.
Van Morrison always has and always will.
Don’t you love the Sound!
Cultural, Emotional and Spiritual Impact.
Demonstrated time after time in studios and on stages from Belfast to Buffalo.
Hey Girl! Baby Blue. Brown Eyed Girl. Sweet Thing. Moondance..
Listen to The Lion.
The Healing has begun.
No Guru. No Method. No Teacher.
Just Van and that Voice.
It ain’t why, why, why, it just IS.
A voice capable of transcendence as only the rarest voices are.
A voice that reaches up to the Moon.
Don’t you love the Sound!
Van is 74 this week.
So, Happy Birthday Van!
A heartfelt thanks for all the Songs and all the Singing.
May your Song always be Sung.
if this is your visit to The Immortal Jukebox you are very welcome!
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There are more Posts about Van than any other artist here on The Jukebox so, in case you missed one or would like to be reminded of an old favourite here’s the Van Compendium for your delectation and delight!
Brown Eyed Girl’.
An introduction telling the tale of my headlong plunge into obsession following my first hearing of Van’s best known song.
In the mid 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll smashed apart the ice bound cultural climate of America and Britain.
A new generation born in the 1940s had epiphanies in the 50s listening to the icebreakers in chief : Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.
In Minnesota, Bob Dylan.
In Liverpool, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
And, their ecstatic immersion into a new world was repeated in hamlets and villages and towns and cities all over the world.
Later, when those Baby Boomers became artists and legends in their own right they always carried within treasured memories of the sparks that had lit their own flames.
That’s why, time after time, when it comes to encores you’ll find the titans of the 60s and 70s returning to the original source to pay homage and rock out for all they are worth!
Now, if you want a mentor, an exemplar, for barn burning, earth shattering, Rock ‘n’ Roll you can’t possibly beat The Killer – Ferriday Louisiana’s very own Jerry Lee Lewis!
If there was ever a man/myth you might chance upon a-peeping from a crawdad hole or grinnin’ down on you from the top of a telephone pole it would have to be Jerry Lee!
In February 1957 Jerry was in Sam Phillips’ Sun Studios for his second session as a recording artist with Cowboy Jack Clement at the desk.
Everyone with a pulse from Mercury to Pluto knows the second track they recorded that day, ‘Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On’ as it became one of the defining records of the Rock ‘n’ Roll era (which is of course still extant).
But, today The Jukebox is celebrating the B Side of that epochal 45, ‘It’ll Be Me’ a masterpiece in its own right and, as we shall see, an inspiration for decades to come.
Well, you can climb to the top of Everest or descend in a diving bell to the deepest darkest depths of the oceans but you still wouldn’t be able to find a truer Rock ‘n’ Roller than Jerry Lee.
I love the leer that’s always in his voice tempered by a sly wink to the audience :
‘Come on you’ve got to admit it you just can’t get enough of Jerry Lee can you’.
And, there’s always that slippin’ and a slidin’ perpetually pumpin’ Piano to keep your heart rate up and out a broad smile on your face.
‘It’ll Be Me’ was written by a popular music renaissance man – Cowboy Jack Clement.
Among the roles Jack assumed were : songwriter, singer, producer, studio owner, talent spotter and world class raconteur!
Of course, as The Jukebox never tires of saying you only have to make one great record to be sure of immortality and with, ‘It’ll Be Me’ Jack most assuredly did that.
Janis Martin was a contemporary of Jerry Lee’s and a rip roaring rocker.
She took a long spell away from the music business yet when lured back by the estimable Rosie Flores for the album, ‘The Blanco Sessions’ in 1995 she showed that she could still set those sparks flying upward.
The Move were one of the least classifiable outfits in the firmament of British Beat Groups of the 1960s.
They were Rock ‘n’ Roll, they were Pop, they were Psychedelic, they were progressive and Retro all at the same time.
In Roy Wood they had a songwriter/performer who overflowed with talent turbo charging the efforts of Bev Bevan (Drums), Carl Wayne (Vocals & Guitar), Trevor Burton (Guitar & Vocals) and Ace Kefford (Bass & Vocals).
Live, they brewed up quite a storm.
Here they are giving, ‘It’ll Be Me’ a no holds barred, eyeballs out, performance for the good old BBC.
Now we turn to a regular on The Jukebox, Richard Thompson, here performing live with his then wife Linda.
Richard Thompson, in contrast to almost all the stellar guitarists of his time, was not a devotee of B. B King, Elmore James or Chuck Berry.
Rather he had a unique set of influences which included traditional Pipers and Fiddle Players alongside Guitarists like Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian and Les Paul.
Which is why he sounds only ever like himself.
And, he can play in almost any emotional register.
He can play with the still tenderness of a mother singing a lullaby to her sick child in the dead of night.
He can play with the ferocity of William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops as they slashed and burned their was from Atlanta to Savannah.
You want someone who can make the line :
‘If you see a rocket ship on its way to Mars’ come alive well look no further than Richard Thompson when he’s in the mood!
Better fasten your seat belt real tight! – you’ll be pulling some serious Gs!
Remember what I said about Encores?
Well, here’s a short, sharp and satisfying one from a Group, Lindisfarne, whom I often saw in their 70s heyday.
Lindisfarne, as their name suggests, were from England’s North East.
Their take on ‘It’ll Be Me’ suggests they may have been tuned in to Chuck Berry rather more closely than they were to Bede!
Pretty sure Bede never played the Harmonica like that!
Look who’s knocking on our door now!
None other than Tom Jones, happily never recovered from his first ecstatic exposure to Jerry Lee.
Sometimes you want music to be pure Fun and that’s exactly what Tom serves up here aided and ably abetted by Jools Holland.
What’s that line about funny faces and comic books?
Let’s conclude with Cowboy Jack himself bringing it all back home.
Well, if you see a new face on your totem pole or if you find a new lump in your sugar bowl, Baby, I have to tell you It’ll Be Me …….
Preston Epps, Manu Chao, Mongo Santamaria, Jack Constanzo & Bongo Joe with a bonus of a Disney bear who’s not Ballou and 2 Nobel Prize Winners (and a tip of the hat to a third for my really savvy readers).
Sometimes you just feel unsettled.
Windows shakin’ all night in your dreams.
You can feel like you are a prisoner in a world of mystery.
No one can push that ticking clock back.
You start from here.
Maybe time to take a walk and clear the cobwebs from your head.
Far from the Towns in the rolling South Downs.
The hounds are out for their morning exercise.
The air’s so fresh you feel your heart expand.
Twang of the arrow and the snap of the bow.
What’s the thing that will snap you out of lethargy?
Maybe a trip to Tibet?
Maybe a full-length leather coat?
Or, Or, maybe those tunes rattlin’ the windows these last few nights weren’t dark forces tryin’ to get in but drums, Bongos indeed!
Bongos telling you to get up and dance.
Dance, dance, dance!
Bongo! Bongo! Bongo!
Now you think of it there’s a particular tune that always starts the windows shakin’.
What was the guy’s name?
Sharp dressed dude with a hat.
Preston Epps – how could I forget a name like that!
And, how could I ever forget, ‘Bongo Rock’!
Take it away Preston.
Bongo! Bongo! Bongo!
That’ll flat get it!
Preston, who died in May this year, appeared on many fine records as a side man but his immortality as a musician was guaranteed once he recorded Bongo Rock in 1959.
Some things you can get tired of but Bongo Rock – Never!
OK, as Ballou the Bear from The Jungle Book would say :
‘I’m gone man, solid gone!’
So, we are going to keep those Bongos going.
Bongo! Bongo! Bongo!
Now your mama might not have been queen of the mambo and your papa may not have been monarch of the Congo but as soon as Manu Chao hits his stride here you and your monkey will most assuredly know that you are the King of Bongo, baby!
Ry Cooder, Jerry Garcia, The Drifters, Clyde McPhatter, Wanda Jackson, Aaron Neville & a Mystery Guest.
I spend a lot of time in Book Shops.
And it’s clear from the groaning shelves that Recipe Books are very popular indeed.
So, here’s my pitch for a new title :
‘The Record Company Recipe Book : 4 Ingredients for guaranteed success!’
1. Perspective :
Most people can’t see and hear the significance and potential of what’s right in front of them.
That’s because they’ve accepted, usually unconsciously, the assumptions and prejudices of the culture they grew up in.
So it’s a great boon if you encounter a native culture through the perspective of a stranger.
Someone who can see the veins of gold where others see only bare stones.
2. Intellectual and Emotional Intelligence :
It’s one thing to see potential it’s another to imagine how that potential could be realised in the form of artistic achievement and monetary reward.
So, you’re going to need a sharp and innovative mind and honed emotional antennae because you’re in a business where you have to consistently please and win the loyalty of both loose cannon creatives and the great record buying public.
3. Build a Team of All the Talents :
OK. You’ve found some artists who have real talent but that represents only the above the water part of the Iceberg whole.
You won’t get Hits regularly and generate tons of greenbacks unless you have a talented and committed team driving every aspect of the process that results in the bonanza of a big fat Hit.
So – find songwriters who know music, who know artists and who can write songs that play to the strengths of those artists and the tastes of the men and women gathered around the Jukebox and the Record Shop counter.
So – find a group of flexible musicians who will definitely turn up for the session and who can play brilliantly in a wide variety of styles so that whoever’s in front of them sounds like the leader of a superb band.
Add in a Whiz Kid Engineer/Producer who makes the resulting record sound fantastic on tne radio, in the bars and juke joints and on the home Hi-Fi (even it’s actually very Low-Fi).
So – find business managers and marketing staff who are hard headed professionals completely wedded to the cause.
4. Keep the Recipe to yourself and add a magic ingredient :
So, Keep the team motivated and loyal.
You’re a band of brothers not a corporate clique!
And, you know that when it comes to Singers in particular there’s a deep mystery as to why some voices turn on all the coloured lights and have people begging for more.
So, if you find one of those Singers – move heaven and earth to sign them up and get that whole team on the case so that those coloured lights burn bright all over the nation.
I know this Recipe works because it’s exactly the one followed by Ahmet Ertegun the founder and presiding power behind the enormous success story that was and is Atlantic Records.
He had the Perspective as the teenage son of the first Turkish Ambassador to the US who fell instantly head over heels in love with Black Music – Rhythm and Blues and Jazz on first encountering them.
With brother Nesuhi he found deep veins of gold in Milt Gabler’s Commodore Music Shop to the extent that they amassed a collection of over 15,000 78s and became acquainted with musicians such as Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton.
They promoted concerts and traveled to the sacred music sites in New Orleans and Harlem to listen first hand to the music and so develop a keen awareness of contemporary musical tastes.
There’s no doubt he had the intellectual and emotional intelligence.
When his father was recalled Ahmet knew his future lay in the US and that he could found a record company that would prospect for and discover black singers and musicians who could reach way beyond the, ‘Race Records Market’ if their work was professionally recorded and marketed.
Surely, that cat Ray Charles should stop trying to imitate Charles Brown and cut loose in the studio like he does at his shows?
The man’s a genius and I’m going to tell him so and together we’re going to revolutionise the music world!
People are going to know a Rhythm and Blues (so glad I brought Jerry Wexler who coined that term into the fold) record on Atlantic is guaranteed to get your heart thumping and your hips loosening and once they do they’ll be queueing up for each new release.
Team of Talents?
Well how about songwriters like Jesse Stone and Leiber & Stoller.
Musicians like ace Guitarist MIckey Baker and Sax Sensation Sam The Man Taylor.
How about that Kid Tom Dowd who Is an absolute wizard in the Studio! He keeps asking for new equipment and I keep saying yes because he makes our discs just sound better and better.
How about Miriam Abramson and Francine Wakschal in publishing and accounts. They know how every dime is spent and nobody gets to rip them or us off!
Magic Ingredient you say?
Well how about the time I want to see Billy Ward & The Dominos at Birdlland (mainly to hear Clyde McPhatter) and found Billy had just fired Clyde!
Now, though Clyde was the reason those Dominos’ records sold so well he didn’t get the credit as most people assumed Billy himself was the lead vocalist.
Clyde has captured true Gospel fervour and combined it with down and dirty R&B so that you gotta say, ‘OOOH – WEEE’ right along with him.
Lets sign him up and get him in the studio as fast as possible with some great singers behind him.
Jesse says he’s got a sure fire hit with a song called, ‘Money Honey’ (great title Jesse).
Sex and Money – top of pretty near everybody in the world’s wish list!
Can’t wait to hear Clyde light that one up.
Going to call the group, ‘The Drifters’.
Clyde knows the singers whose talents will perfectly frame his own.
Bill Pinkney has a smooth baritone, Gerhart and Andrew Thrasher have such sweet tenor voices while Willie Ferbie holds down the bottom end.
Got a feeling this ain’t gonna be no one off Hit.
Landlord ain’t gonna be ringing our Bell.
Lord, but this is going to sound great.
I’ll bet we sell a million and that years from now people will still be recording Money Honey – one thing I can tell you nobody will ever out sing Clyde!
No one ever topped Clyde for roller coaster, thrill a minute, I may just have to scream I’m so excited vocal drama!
There’s a wonderful confidence and certainty oozing from every second of the song as if everyone knows they’ve sure hit pay dirt this time.
Money Honey was recorded on 8 August 1953 as The Drifters debut 45.
Straight to the top of the R&B charts and taking up residence on the list for almost 6 Months.
And, straight into the affections of generations of singers and musicians.
Here’s Jukebox Hero Ry Cooder really getting into a groove before a live audience.
Ain’t no doubt about it Ry can really make that Guitar talk!
It’s the mark of a great musician to put their own stamp on a well known song and make you listen to it with a new sense of its depths and joys.
Ry is always welcome here and soon he will feature in an extended Post solely dedicated to his storied career.
Remember I talked about Clyde McPhatter’s roller coaster, thrill a minute, I may just have to scream I’m so excited vocal brilliance?
Well here’s the stupendous fireball Wanda Jackson proving that she can set your heart ablaze just as thrillingly with her own vocal pyrotechnics!
How can you not fall deeply in Love with Wanda!
And, Now, The Jukebox introduces the promised Mystery Guest.
Duffy Power is something of a secret hero of the 1960s British Blues and Rock’n’Roll scene.
He had plenty of talent but somehow the alignment of the fates and his own troubles meant he became a marginal cult figure whose sales never matched his achievements.
Listen to his take here and see if you agree.
Jerry Garcia was a true music afficianado.
With The Dead and with his various side projects he payed loving homage to the music that had inspired him in his youth.
He obviously got a great buzz out of playing Money Honey – returning to it decade after decade.
Well wasn’t that a Kick!
Now to conclude, sadly in the week that brother Art Neville died, a glorious version from the one and only Aaron Neville.
I think Clyde will be singing along with this one on the celestial choir.
Old school relaxed brilliance.
Owing more than a little to the presence of Keith Richards on Guitar.
Got to admit that one had me resurrecting my cartwheeling skills!
The sun may shine and the wind may blow.
Lovers come and Lovers will surely Go.
But today’s lesson is that a song like Money Honey is here to stay.
Featuring memories of the Summer of 1975 & an all you can eat ‘Hey Baby’ Buffet with :
Bruce Channel, Delbert McClinton, Arthur Alexander, NRBQ, Buckwheat Zydeco, The Holmes Brothers, Juice Newton and Jimmy Vaughan.
(As always if corporate czars block any of the clips appearing here you will be able to find them by a trawl of YouTube).
Last week I had to visit our local civic centre to fill out some official forms.
This involved, as encounters with officialdom almost always do, a lot of waiting about in uncomfortable chairs while my details were checked and double checked before eventually my application was approved.
Normally, I would plug in my earphones and pass the time listening to a fine selection of expertly curated Immortal Jukebox tunes.
However, it turned out that I had left home without either my phone or iPad so I became a captive of the building’s playlist.
But, wouldn’t you just know it – the very first song played was, ‘Hey Baby!’ by Bruce Channel, a favourite of mine for many a decade.
Indeed, as soon as the distinctive harmonica riff (played by Delbert McClinton) announced itself I was transported back to a summer job in 1975.
My Dad was a long term employee of a civil engineering firm so he was able to secure me a job on a site not too far from home.
Through his good offices I also got a lift each morning at 6.30 from Dave, a trainee Quantity Surveyor, in his ‘Deux Chevaux’ Citroën 2CV, a car which made up for in charm what it lacked in speed and power.
Its been more than 4 decades since I travelled with Dave so I must confess that i have forgotten his surname.
But, I remember the important things.
To whit – he had ginger hair and proudly sported a, ‘Zapata’ moustache.
He was witty when commenting on world events and kind when commenting on people he knew directly.
And, most importantly for our friendship he was a self proclaimed music fanatic with particular interests in Motown and American Pop Hits of the early 1960s before the British Invasion.
Dave had made a series of cassettes showcasing his enthusiasms and we enthusiastically sang along to these on our half hour journey to work.
To establish my bona tides as a true lover of music rather than a passive listener Dave casually asked what was the common thread linking the last three songs we had harmonised to : ‘Jimmy Mack’, ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’ and, ‘My Guy’ ?
He was quick to say I would get no points for saying they all featured the same crew of musicians; the legendary Funk Brothers.
Fair enough I said and won his approval by saying the other link was the backing vocalists: those barely known and critically unsung heroines of Hitsville USA, ‘The Andantes’ (Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps).
Next as he cued up the tape labelled, ‘Hits 1962’ he asked as the once heard never forgotten harmonica intro to, ‘Hey Baby’ blasted out into the West London fume filled streets – Who’s playing that harmonica?
Not only did I know that it was Delbert McClinton I said I had just bought his new Album, ‘Victim of Life’s Circumstances’ and would lend it to him to tape.
From that day on as I got into the 2CV it was always, ‘Hey Baby’ at maximum volume that greeted me.
Thus was our friendship cemented.
At the end of that Summer he moved to Scotland and I never saw him again.
But I will never forget those 2CV/Motown/Hey Baby days so wherever you are Dave this one’s for you.
I hope you still thrill to the sound of Young America and sing with all your might whenever you hear Bruce Channel’s vocal and Delbert’s harmonica light up the airwaves :
I want to know if you’ll be my girl
I want to know if you’ll be my girl
Now, as Major Bill Smith, who recorded, ‘Hey Baby’ was heard to remark :
’Cotton Picker, that’s sure one Cotton Pickin’ Hit!’
And he was perfectly cotton pickin’ right.
Sales of more than a million with 3 weeks atop the Billboard Chart and Number 2 in the UK.
And, permanently lodged in the memories of several generations of musicians across many genres.
Hey Baby is endlessly adaptable (as we shall see and hear) whether you are approaching it as Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues, Country, Cajun/Zydeco or pure Pop!
The original benefits from Bruce’s relaxed vocal set to an addictive shuffle beat provided by Jim Rogers and Ray Torres on Drums and Bass.
Bob Jones and Billy Sanders Guitars fill out the sound.
But, the undoubted signature sound of the song is provided by Delbert McClinton’s Harmonica.
One of those was none other than John Lennon who met Delbert in person when The Beatles supported Bruce Channel at The Tower Ballroom New Brighton on the 21st of June 1962.
John certainly remembered that lick when The Fab Four got into Abbey Road to record, ‘Love Me Do’.
And, he never forgot, ‘Hey Baby!’ as is clear from its presence on his own Jukebox.
That Jukebox also contained work by our next artist – Arthur Alexander.
John recognised that Arthur was a great singer who could add a shadowy blue tone to any song.
Sing it Arthur!
Next up an utterly charming version by the NRBQ from their dazzlingly diverse 1969 debut LP.
The NRBQ, then Terry Adams (keyboards), Steve Ferguson (guitar), Joey Spampinato (bass), Frank Gadler (vocals) and Tom Staley (drums), obviously had a riotously good time recording, ‘Hey Baby’ and that shows in every groove.
Set yourself down on your porch swing and uncork something smooth and sweet!
OK, time to paddle our pirogue down to Louisiana.
So, we will replace the harmonica with the accordion and make sure our boots are on properly because we are about to really fly around the floor dancing to this version from Buckwheat Zydeco!
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Listing the genres Hey Baby! could be adapted to I unforgivably omitted Gospel.
It is clear that The Holmes Brothers bring something of the backwoods Country Church to our party here.
Sherman and Wendell sure get an Amen from me!
Now we turn to a much overlooked talent – Judy ‘Juice’ Newton who always brings the warmth of a summer breeze to her performances.
When you are bringing out that home made lemonade for your Summer BBQ I strongly recommend you look out some of her records.
Youll find you’ll float across the lawn (even if you haven’t laced the lemonade with something a little stronger!).
Back to Texas for our concluding take.
I feel like putting my shades on as I groove to this slinky version by Jimmy Vaughan.
Let’s not pretend we went anywhere near Lemonade as that one prowled around our minds!
No, got to be something with a powerful kick and an after burn.
I don’t know what Jimmy, Mike Flanigin and Frosty Smith go for but I’m going for the Kentucky Straight!
Having done so I’m ready to dig out my harmonica and lead you all in:
I want to know if you’ll be my girl
Hey, hey baby
I want to know if you’ll be my girl
When I saw you walking down the street
I said that’s a kind of girl I’d like to meet
She’s so pretty, Lord, she’s fine
I’m gonna make her mine, all mine
All around it seems like anything can happen including so many things we thought could never happen.
Ice caps melting.
Tornadoes and typhoons out of nowhere.
Forest fire raging, raging, raging.
High water everywhere.
Is there nothing you can absolutely rely on?
Well, a glance at today’s calendar reminded me that the great Charlie Watts was born on June 2nd 1941 and is thus now 78 years old.
And, while, who knows, the Pyramids may tumble tomorrow there can be no doubt that when The Rolling Stones Hit the stage in Chicago in June they and everyone in the audience can be sure of one thing – the majesty of The Stones Sound will be founded on the utter reliability of Charlie Watt’s glorious drumming.
So, I am reblogging my tribute from the very earliest days of The Jukebox (with a birthday bonus track).
Happy Birthday Charlie!
Charlie Watts, gentleman, scholar and drummer at large was 73 this year. Here’s a short tribute.
Famously, at the live show captured on Get Your Ya Yas Out Mick Jagger informs the patrons that,’Charlie’s good tonight ain’t he!’. Well yes Mick he certainly was and then some.
Charlie Watts has been the heartbeat of the Rolling Stones for half a century and more providing calm craft in the midst of all the hoopla and madness.
While he has surely seen about everything a man can see he has remained steadfastly and stoically himself.
A wry, unimpressable observer who loves to listen to his beloved jazz and play the drums with the scratchy rhythm and blues band who somewhat to his amazement transformed themselves into the greatest rock and roll band the planet has ever produced.
Charlie’s role in the band is crucial to the DNA of the band’s unique sound.
Keith is released to sway and swagger to his heart’s content because Charlie is always there behind him urging him on and on while being ready to catch him if like an over ambitious trapeze flyer it looks like he might fall.
Whatever else has changed that partnership has endured and thrived through the years ensuring the distinctive leery vitality of the band remains in rude good health
One of the many glories of the Stones is the majestic way in which they build and hold tension in their rockers – say Tumbling Dice or Brown Sugar.
You’ll notice how groups covering the Stones almost always rush and ruin the songs because they can’t match the rhythmic control marshalled by Charlie.
While he is the engineer driving the awesome power of the Stones streamliner in full flight he is also the brakeman making sure they make it round the sharp turns safely and arrive on time at their destination.
The listening audience are taken up, held and thrilled as the band, anchored by Charlie, progress through their set taking care to pace themselves – allowing ballad breaks before the celebrated avalanche ending sends everybody home exhausted and elated.
Charlie Watts is the zen master of rock drumming.
His inherent restraint, informed by the jazz heritage he so treasures, allows him to play what needs to be played and nothing more.
He is at the service of the music, the sound and the dynamic shape of the individual song. No band has been better served by its drummer than the Rolling Stones.
So, as the Rolling Stones embark on one more last hurrah Charlie will endure the travelling, the media and the endless waiting for the wonderful pleasures of those few hours on stage when he can just play the music along with his faithful companions of so many years.
Charlie was fabulous in the 1960s, fantastic in the 1970s, fervour filled in the 1980s and 1990s and unflashily fluent in the new milenium.
Things will be no different in 2019.
So, if you’re in the audience make sure that you really put your hands together for the drummer!
‘It’s gonna take time, a whole lot of precious time ….’ (Rudy Clark/James Ray)
‘A true message always gets through – sometimes it just takes a while’ (Immortal Jukebox)
On 7 February 1964 Pan Am Flight 101 took off from London’s Heathrow Airport bound for New York City.
Thousands of young women, barely controlled by massed ranks of British Bobbies in blue, screamed and sobbed as the plane took off.
For this was no ordinary flight.
No, for Pan Am 101 was carrying a very special group of passengers whose arrival in America that day would change the course of History.
Those passengers were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – The Beatles!
When they touched down at JFK they were greeted by scenes of pandemonium as fans and the media pushed and shoved to get their first glimpse of the Fab Four.
The ‘British Invasion’ had begun and from that day on for the rest of the decade there was no question about who the most popular and successful group in the world was and who were the most famous and instantly recognisable faces on the entire planet.
But, before an invasion there is usually a reconnaissance.
You send a scout ahead.
And, for The Beatles, the scout was George Harrison.
For though The Beatles didn’t land on the soil of the Promised Land until February 1964 George had spent two weeks there in September 1963.
Well, George was the youngest of the three Harrison siblings.
Brother Peter was three years older than George but Sister Louise was 12 years older and long before The Beatles were even a madcap dream in the minds of John and Paul she had left the grim austerity of post War Liverpool to travel the world with her mining engineer husband.
And, in September 1963, she was living at 113 McCann Street, Benton, Illinois a coal town with a population of under 10, 000 souls.
After the release of ‘She Loves You’ in Britain in August 1963 Brain Epstein decided that in view of the immense workload they had already completed and the even more taxing plans he had for their future it was time The Beatles took a break.
John went to Paris while Paul and Ringo jetted off to Greece.
George, with brother Peter, went to Benton to visit Louise, arriving there on September 16th.
His time in Benton would be for George, as Paris and Greece would be for his fellow Beatles, the last time they could ever walk the streets of any town or city without being instantly recognised and/or mobbed.
George would always remember his first, incognito, exposure to American culture and wonder at the freedom of being able to wander at will wherever he pleased.
On that trip he bought a Rickenbacker at the Fenton Music Store at 601 South 10th Street, Mt Vernon, IL for $400.
He would play this on the pioneering UK TV Show, Ready, Steady, Go’ on 4 October.
Along with Louise he hitchhiked to Radio Station WFRX and presented them with a mint copy of, ‘She Loves You’.
He also hooked up with a guy called Gabe McCarty a member of a local group called the Four Vests and on 28 September George took the stage with them at The Veterans Hall in Eldorado.
The patrons that night were the first Americans to hear George rip into, ‘Johnny B Goode’, ‘Matchbox’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’.
George flew back to England on October 3rd.
In his luggage, along with the precious Rickenbacker, was more treasure in the form of vinyl.
George, a true fan of music as well as a musician, had haunted the record stores in Illinois and NYC looking for gems that were hard to find at home.
No one in the stores had ever heard of The Beatles but the shelves groaned with records that George had only ever read about in magazines or heard about from American musicians he had met in Hamburg.
He bought a lot of premium Blues and R&B sides by the likes of Booker T and the MGs and Bobby Bland.
His eye was particularly caught by an LP bearing the name of James Ray on the Caprice Label.
He knew the name because The Beatles had been regularly featuring Ray’s hauntingly other-worldly, ‘If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody’ since Paul had found a copy at Brian Epstein’s NEMS Record Shop.
Spinning the platter back at 113 McCann he became especially fond of one track in particular – ‘I’ve Got My Mind Set On You’ and his love and admiration for the song would survive the madness of Beatlemania and the glory days of his solo career.
George could instantly recognise that there was a keening, spiritual, quality in James’ voice that gave a profound allure to everything he sang.
Sing it James!
The song was written by Rudy Clark who had written, ‘If You Gotta ..’ and would go on to write, ‘Good Lovin’, ‘Its in His Kiss’, and, ‘Everybody plays The Fool’ among other Hits.
The, ‘Let’s try everything we can think of’ arrangement was by Hutch Davie who had played the piano on, ‘Green Door’ and arranged Santo & Johnny’s wonderful guitar instrumental, ‘Sleepwalk’.
What lifts the track beyond a novelty of its time is James Rays’ stunning vocal.
James can really sing.
There is a yearning, as long as I’m singing this song I can make it through, quality to James’ voice which makes me hit the repeat button repeatedly every time I play any side he ever cut (and tragically there are probably less than 30).
You get the sense that there are ghosts hovering round James whispering secrets from beyond the veil and that James can’t help but hear even though he knows those voices are calling him to follow to the lands across the Styx.
We know so little about this wonderful artist.
It seems he was born James Ray Raymond in Washington D.C in 1941 and that he served some time in the Military.
He first appears on record in 1959 as, ‘Little Jimmy Ray’ (he was all of 5ft tall on tip toe) but it is not until he hooked up with Rudy Clark and Gerry Granahan at Caprice Records that he made anything that stirred the airwaves or set the nickels flowing on The Jukeboxes.
‘If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody’ has been recorded by Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, Ben E King, Lou Rawls and Bobby Gentry – superb artists all – yet not one of them has approached the spectral grace of James’ version (I plan to write a dedicated Post on the song later this year).
It seems that James had a drug problem and that when he was, ‘discovered’ by Rudy Clark he was homeless and finding such shelter as he could on apartment block rooftops.
He only recorded one LP and even the date and place of his death and where he is buried are unknown.
It seems likely that he was already dead when The Beatles landed at JFK.
In a business filled with tragic tales James’ tale is among the most tragic.
Yet, thanks to George Harrison and the other luminaries his name lives on at least for those who read sleeve notes and song writing credits.
George recorded his take on ‘I’ve Got My Mind Set On You’ some 24 years after he first encountered it back in Benton.
His version is considerably more upbeat in tone than James’.
The song was recorded in George’s home studio within Friary Park his 120 room neo-gothic mansion.
Stellar musicians like Jim Keltner on Drums and Jim Horn on Saxophone feature on a characteristically multi layered production by Jeff Lynne who also provides creamy backing vocals.
This record is very much a 1980s record with a big sound that along with the winning video demolished all hesitation in the record buying public.
A Number One Hit!
It is not inconceivable that many seeing the song on MTV did not know this George Harrison fellow’s History!
Certainly not one in 10,000 who bought the record knew anything about James Ray.
But George did and I can’t help but think he had a thought for James as he recorded it and when he played it live.
Talking of live action here’s George giving the song the full lash in Japan backed by Eric Clapton’s ensemble.
Now, I love George’s version but it’s not the one I sometimes wake up singing.
No, it’s James Ray’s version which lingers like morning mist in my imagination.
James Ray’s voice was stilled some sad day in the mid 1960s but the eerie sound of his voice will always echo on and on.
Sing it James.
Notes and Call for Information!
There’s an excellent website toppermost,co.uk (Twitter @AgeingRaver) which publishes highly informative and entertaining top 10s on many artists beloved by The Jukebox.
The entry on James Ray written by the learned Dave Stephens (Twitter @DangerousDaveXX) is excellent.
The only CD I can find for James Ray is, ‘If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody – Golden Classics’ on the Gotham Label. Only 12 tracks and poorly presented but every track demands your attention.
If anyone knows anything more about James Ray’s life and death please let me know.
Also there’s surely a great documentary to be made about George’s time in Benton and about the fellow passengers on Pan Am 101 – again anyone who has any stories let me know!
I woke up this holiday weekend to the sound of magnificent birds hosannaing the dawn.
As the coffee brewed I switched on my radio and learned that 52 years ago to the day The Kinks released what will always be my favourite 45rpm single of all time.
The cultural historians of a thousand years hence will without question point to this Ray Davies masterpiece when they want to demonstrate the beauty those 1960s troubadours were capable of achieving.
So, today, 52 years on, The Jukebox punches once again the button and the unfading glory that is Waterloo Sunset floods the heart, mind and spirit with light and hope.
Ray Davies said :
It’s about how innocence will prevail over adversity. It starts out delicate, but by the end has become awesome in its power. Those triumphant chords come in, and the angels tell you everything is going to be OK”.
Everything is going to be OK.
And, that’s a message that will always be welcome.
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.
Thank you Ray and God Bless The Kinks!
‘The most beautiful song in the English language’ (Robert Christgau)
‘Divine … a masterpiece’ (Pete Townsend)
‘As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset I am in paradise’ (Ray Davies)
A song about : London, The River, A Lonely Man and Two Lovers by A Great Songwriter leading a great Group.
The Voice of London:
It is, of course, a song about London.
Londinium. The Capital. The Big Smoke.
Now, there are other fine cities on other great rivers in this nation.
But, but, there is only one London.
And, if you want to find out who you are, not who you’ve been told you are, and how far you can go – well then, London, London, is the place to be.
Nowhere else. Nowhere else.
Kings and Conquerors. Poets and Peasants. Saints, Sinners and Scholars.
Those looking for the limelight and others looking to hide out – they’re all drawn to London.
Thinkers and Tinkers. Songwriters and Singers.
Look around! They’re all here.
All here telling stories. Making dramas.
Tired of London, tired of life.
Come for joy, jasper of jocunditie.
Come for a mighty mass of brick and smoke and shipping.
Treasures in its depths.
Confront your counterparts – hero or villain, mountebank or mystic.
Find yourself. Get lost.
Work, work, work or lounge and idle away your days.
All around you beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics and the one, the one, just waiting for you.
Ray Davies. A watchful London boy who became a watchful London man and artist.
Alive to all the sights and sounds and atmospheres on the breeze, in the fog, in the streets and alleyways of his home town.
Watching the people. Watching the taxi lights shine so bright.
Aware of the lovers meeting on Friday night and the lonely friendless souls in the chilly, chilly, evening time.
Aware of the dirty old river flowing, flowing into the night.
Aware that the same world can be frightening and a paradise at the same time – it all depends where you are standing and what you see.
Lovers finding each other and finding themselves.
Making plans to stay. Making plans to leave.
Somewhere they’ll be safe and sound. Together.
Millions swarming round Waterloo Underground.
Every one with a story.
Every one dizzy with the possibilities of London Town.
Every one looking to be found and to be safe and sound as the chilly, chilly, evening descends.
Every one feeling London, London, all around them.
Day flows into night. Spring flows into Summer. Summer flows into Autumn and on and on, always, into Winter.
Chilly, chilly, is evening time.
But, but, look up, look around!
Gaze out on the Sunset.
The Waterloo Sunset.
Bathing London in balm.
Flooding the heart and soul with feeling.
A Feeling more powerful than all your fears.
As long as Londoners can gaze out on Waterloo Sunset they are in paradise.
I’m a Londoner all my life. I’ve lived by The River all my life.
Seventy five years.
I was born in the 1800’s!
London and The River. Always the same. Always different.
London, The River and me. We’ve been through a lot.
We’ve seen two World Wars. I fought in the First one.
They call that The Great War. I lost a lot of pals, London pals.
Men who worked on the River with me.
It can make you lonely thinking of them.
Sometimes, as the chilly evening descends and I look into the dark waters of the River I think I can see them still, as they were, young men with bright smiles, bright smiles, making plans for after the War.
War teaches you that God laughs at your plans.
War teaches you fear and teaches you friends can lose their heartbeat in one of yours.
London was a hard old place in the 1930s.
Depression. They called it the Great Depression.
No work. For year after year after year.
Amazing we didn’t have a Revolution.
Still, somehow we got through.
I met Daisy, my wife, walking across Waterloo Bridge.
We were both looking down into the dark waters.
Watching the River flow on into the night.
Watching the taxi lights shining as the chilly evening descended.
I suppose we were both lost until we found each other.
Then, suddenly, we were safe and sound.
When we were courting (no one uses that word anymore!) we used to meet every Friday night at Waterloo Station.
There must be millions, millions, passing through there every day.
Funny though, as soon as I saw Daisy it always seemed as if they was just the two of us.
Safe and sound together.
Together, we didn’t need no friends and no matter how dark the times or chilly the evening we didn’t feel afraid.
We had each other.
Until the Second War.
A bomb can fall out of the sky and in a heartbeat your heart is broken and never the same again.
Never the same.
I did my best with the Nipper. But a girl, especially, needs a Mother.
She went out to Australia on one of those Assisted Passages.
A Tenner taking you tens of thousands of miles!
I get a card at Christmas and she says she’ll visit in a year or so.
Maybe, she’ll get married and I’ll be a Grandfather. I’d like that.
They say I’m lucky to have a flat in this block.
I preferred it when you had a garden and streets on the ground not in the sky.
Especially when the lifts break down.
One thing I will say. You get fantastic views out the window from the tenth floor.
I like listening to the radio and watching the football on the TV.
But mainly I like to look at the world from my window. From my window.
There’s a lot going on if you take the time to look.
The River keeps on flowing.
Always the same always different.
Something to do with the way it reflects to the light.
It’s a dirty old River. Oil and tar. But, it’s my River.
They say this Clean Air Act will have it sparkling again – alive with Fish.
Not sure I will be around for that day.
People are so busy these days.
They must make themselves dizzy rushing about.
Never time to stop and stare or to say hello to an old man looking into the dark waters of the River.
I like it when the chilly evening descends.
The taxi lights shine bright and somehow people look well in the dark.
I’ve noticed a couple meeting every Friday night just like me and Daisy did.
I call them Terry and Julie after that song on the radio about the Sunset.
I don’t know much about this beat music but the chap who wrote that song knows a lot about London and The River and Love and Loneliness.
It’s a song that has happiness and sadness running right through it like a river.
You can tell they love each other and that they feel safe and sound when they’re together.
I stay home at night. But I don’t feel feel afraid.
I don’t need no friends anymore.
I got my memories.
And, no matter how chilly the evening there’s warmth in the Sunset.
So I am safe and sound.
And, I know that today will flow on into tomorrow and that Spring will flow into Summer and on into Autumn and always, always into Winter.
Of course the evening is chilly.
But, looking out my window I can gaze on the Sunset.
Friends or no friends.
I gaze on the Sunset.
The Waterloo Sunset.
And, somehow, that Sunset is more powerful than any fear.
As long as I can gaze out on Waterloo Sunset I am in paradise.
That song. Well, of course, it’s about a Lonely Man.