Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Top Ten Of The Week-Black History Month

This month is black history month and I was debating about who to do it about but in end didn't come up with much so this top ten, I celebrate Black History Month by making a all black top ten.  Hard to believe that back in the early era of rock and roll and jazz for that matter the pace setters were actually black artists.  Take a gander of this week's picks.

1.  Confessing The Blues-Walter Brown & Jay McShann 1941  72 years ago, Jay penned this modern blues classic with Walter Brown singing although later Chuck Berry and Little Walter would cover this number.  McShann is one of the premier jazz blues artists to emerge from Kansas City but in the 40s recorded for Decca. I enjoy his music better in a piano trio and not the full orchestra but to each their own.

2.  Ain't Gonna Be Your Tattoo-Shemekia Copeland & Buddy Guy 2012  Present day Chicago blues hasn't varied all that much from those who like their blues traditional rather than the modern style of beat boxes and autotuner. Copeland although later in the scene has grew up on the traditional and on her latest she cooks up with legendary Buddy Guy, the last link to the original Chess blues artists of long ago and far away and he is a national treasure, continuing to pack Buddy Guy's Legends when he's up on stage.  Copeland's latest made my best of 2012 to which people continue to read the 2009 best of for reasons unknown.

3.  Rockin Is Our Bizness-The Treniers 1953  Rock and roll before the golden edge of Rock, The Treniers were one tough rocking twins. Cliff and Claude Trenier may have pioneered the jam on this in your face jump blues to which the sax player Don Hill  blows so hard you're about ready to see his teeth pop out.  Ain't no joke when you rock this hard, only closest song that came this close to blowing your speakers off was Joe Brown's Leroy Sent Me which came out in the forties.

4.  Duppy Conqueror-Bob Marley & The Wailers 1970  Ah Bob Marley and The Wailers to which nobody knew much about in the early 70s before Chris Blackwell signed them to Island and history took over but for the most part The Wailers toiled in obscurity.  Originally on the Upsetter Label and produced by Lee Perry this version is much rougher then the one that would be re recorded for the Burnin album later on.  Ironic fact: Shelter Records issued this as Doppy Conquer 45 to which I never seen till I came across it by accident on night. (Shelter 7309) B side was The Upsetters' Justice.  I'm guessing this may have been Shelter's attempt to cash in on the reggae craze when the movie The Harder They Come came out.

5.  St. Louis Blues-Louis Armstrong 1929  Marti Gra  has started both in New Orleans and closer by to St Louis.  Seems like we hear more about the St Louis going ons than we do in New Orleans but I've never been to either martigra, too old and don't drink anyway, I wouldn't be much fun.  Back in the 20's Louis was the top jazz player and this was a big hit for him way back then.  Time and age would render him more into easy listening than outrageous jazz but I admit it, we did have Hello Dolly as a 45 years ago, or at least I think we did, and probably used it as a frisbee too.

6.  Samson And Delilah-Reverend Gary Davis  1971  His final recordings showed he lost some of his vocal powerness but this is the version that the Grateful Dead would use on their Dead Set album of 1982.

7.  Cult Of Personality-Living Colour 1988  For most of the past three decades black artists are more interested in rap or R and B rather than cranking their amps up to 10 and rocking out, there are very few black rock bands out there although Chuck Berry or Bo Diddley or Jimi Hendrix and Arthur Lee for that matter lead rock bands (okay Sly Stone and I'm sure there more out there I forgot about) but for a small time in 1988 Living Colour turned the black music on its ear with the classic Vivid album which still holds up very well 25 years on.  Still gets plenty of airplay on modern rock radio to this day.  They're still around although their last two albums I really didn't care much for.

8.  Stick Shift-The Duals 1961 thereabouts.  The big rarity:  surf music done by two black guys that made a decent album for Sue Records but of course that label couldn't figure out how to market it to the black audience out there. Excellent record for those who like The Ventures.

9.  Jet Airliner-Paul Pena  1973  issued 2000  Steve Miller had a big hit with this but Pena wrote in 1973 for Bearsville Records and then had the record not released for 27 years after Albert Grossman had a falling out with Pena's manager and later came out in Hybrid as an afterthought.  It has more lyrics and a bit more soulful than Miller's version and too bad.  This could have been a underground hit for Pena who passed in 2005.

10.  Temptation-Joan Armatrading 1985   There are lady black artists that are hard to pigeonhole and Joan is a lot like Nina Simone, Simone always gets lumped into the jazz side of things whereas she added soul and rock to her songs, Joan is the same way although she has more of a pop leanings.  This is my favorite song from her which got some airplay on MTV's 120 minutes, back when the M stands for Music and not Mindless which MTV is nowadays (don't get me started).

Soul Much More And So Little Time Five

Magic Carpet Ride-Mothers' Finest 1979
Ride-Dee Dee Sharp 1962
Put Our Love Together-Arthur Conley 1967
Cisco Kid-War 1973
People Are Meddling In Our Affairs-J B Lenoir 1951

CD's that I have found and reviewed.

Eric Burdon-Till Your River Runs Dry (Abkco 2013) B+
John Hiatt-Mystic Pinball (New West 2012) A-
John Coltrane-Giant Steps (MFSL Gold Disc 1959) A-
Buck Owens-Roll Out The Red Carpet (Capitol 1966) B+
The Christians (Island 1988) B+
The Derailers-Full Western Dress (Sire 1999) B+

Eric Burdon is back with his first decent album in decades.  At age 72 his voice tends to go all over the place for the most part a lotta songs deal with the destruction of the world, plus a love of Bo Diddley.  Can't complain about that.....John Hiatt Mystic Pinball is also his best in years with a world weary view of love gone wrong and getting older.  He wrote the soundtrack of my life of this year....If you can find a gold disc of anything John Coltrane I suggest to get it.  The bass on this CD is so strong that my brother commented that it drowned out the movie he was watching upstairs.  Considered the best of the Atlantic years I tend to favor My Favorite Things or John Coltrane Plays the Blues but it is worthy of its A rating, after all 1959 seemed to be the high water mark of jazz...Buck Owens made many many albums for Capitol in the 60s three or four at a time per year in the early and mid 60s and Roll Out The Carpet remains high quality Buck Owens with plenty of Don Rich harmonies and even Doyle Holly takes the lead on one cut.  Plus a couple of Don Rich instrumentals to boot....The Christians had a top 80 hit with Forgotten Town and Hooterville both tracks reached higher in the UK, but they're a lot like the soul vibe of Paul Young or Fine Young Cannibals but with a Isley Brothers influence too.....The Derailers may have been the best Buck Owens wannabe band of the 90s and made a couple decent albums for Watermelon and two on Sire produced by Dave Alvin.  I think I liked this record a little bit better back in 1999 and they were ahead of their time, they would have given The Mavericks a run for their money.  For some reason Sire never promoted them very well, and the Derailers would lose their way, making two bland albums for Lucky Dog/Sony Nashville before Tony Villeneava would leave and Brian Holfeld would continue on, returning to a more Bakersfield via Austin sound but without Tony losing some their soul. Contains a odd remake of Then She Kissed Me.

P.T.'s Pick:  Pat Travers picks a hit. Smokestack Lightning by Howlin Wolf!

Hey there! Got some awesome Chicago Blues for you today. The King of the Blues as far as I'm concerned. His vibrato on the harp is off the chart! And the voice and bearing, man now that's a man! For today's "Musical Rx" a little salve for your's Howlin' Wolf..."Smokestack Lighting"! Cheers, PT

1 comment:

TAD said...

Crabby: Interesting choices -- & nice to see Joan Armatrading. "Temptation"'s pretty great & shoulda been a hit -- but my pick from that album (SECRET SECRETS) is the dramatic, booming opener "Persona Grata" -- I LIKE all those heavy drums & booming atmosphere -- it's so '80s!
Nice work -- keep crankin em out!