Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry w/ Earl Hooker- I Can’t Believe My Eyes

Could Friday come any faster?  This was $3 and purchased to get more blues on this blog.  On a personal note, my phone was dying a slow death so I got a new I-Phone 7s.  Look at this phone.  This thing is huge.  Seriously, why so big, Apple?

Sonny Terry (1911-1986, bn Greensboro, Georgia) and Brownie McGhee (1915-1996, Knoxville, Tenn) were two prominent blues artists who frequently performed together.  Both men had to overcome obstacles in their lives.   Terry, who played harmonica, was blinded in two separate childhood incidents, where as the guitarist McGhee, lost a leg to polio at age 4.  Both men had become musicians when they met in 1939.

The duo came together in New York City in 1942.  Terry had been playing with Blind Boy Fuller whereas McGhee was greatly influenced by Fuller’s guitar. Anyway, the duo was a success both on the folk circuit (which included such luminaries as Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger) as well as blues circles.  Both artists also performed as a jump blues combo on the side.  Perhaps most casual listeners will connect the duo to their work on Steve Martin’s The Jerk.

Anyway, this album, released on the Bluesway subsidiary of ABC Records in 1973, features the duo along with guitarist Earl Hooker.  Recorded from sessions back in 1969, Hooker had passed by the time of this release.  Hooker was an early proponent of the electric guitar in blues.  Johnny Lee was also his cousin.

Anyway, 10 songs on this album, all written by either McGhee or Terry.  All pretty good.  Overall, this is a good album.  The album also features keyboard work from Ray Johnson, Jimmy Bond on bass, and Panama Francis on drums.

For sample, I could have gone in multiple directions, I think I picked about 6 songs for potential samples.  Well, after some whittling, I went with “Poor Man’s Blues” and “When I Was Drinkin”.

Good little record.  Satisfactory.

The Byrds- Mr Tambourine Man

Here comes Saturday which means quick post.  This was $5.  I got it at the first Hilton record show I went to.  Due to too huge a backlog, I do not go to record shows anymore.  So sad.  Anyway, I was on a Byrds kick when I got this. What I week it has been for spell check.

This was the seminal California band, the Byrds’ first album, based on the strength of the single, their rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Mr Tambourine Man”.  Featuring original members Mike and Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hilman, and Jim McGuinn, It was released in 1965 and was the first real US challenge to the British Invasion at the time.

Good little album.  It features other Dylan songs “Spanish Harlem Incident”, “Chimes of Freedom”,  and “All I Really Want To Do”.  It also features folk classic “Bells of Rhymney” which incidentally, McGuinn performed earlier on Judy Collins album (featured on this blog).

Anyway, I went with Gene Clark’s “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”, which was covered on Tom Petty’s first solo album.  Petty was greatly influenced by the Byrds and I believe that is the reason he played a Rickenbacker,  McGuinn, himself was influenced by seeing George Harrison play on in A Hard Day’s Night.

Anyway, great little album.  Top Rated.

The Kingston Trio-Goin’ Places

This was a dollar.  I am not sure why I bought this since it does not have a whole lot of songs I knew, except the two Woody Guthrie ones.  That might be the reason I bought it.

This was the Kingston Trio’s tenth record and last one with Dave Guard. After recording this album, the trio went on their first foreign tour.  Upon their return, Guard, upset about royalties as well as wanting to expand as an artist, left the group.  He would be replaced by John Stewart.

 

Anyway, this album, released in 1961,  went to #3 on the Billboard charts.  It is a pretty good collection of lesser known folk tunes that run the gambit of styles, from spanish, to pop to bluegrass to americana.  Truth be told, I selected about 6 songs from this record for a sample.  Anyway, really good album.  It should be noted that the trio put their long time bassist on the cover Buck “David” Wheat.

For a sample, I thought about it quite a bit and went with two, the gospel flavored “You Don’t Knock” and the folk “Razors In The Air”, mainly because Wikipedia made a deal about Dave Guard’s banjo on it.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks- Where’s The Money?

This was all of $1.00.  I thought this was the second Dan Hicks record I owned. I was wrong. I have three.  I also thought this was the second one I posted.  Wrong again.  This is the first.

Dan Hicks passed on in February of last year.  His music is both easy and complex to describe.  On some levels, it is an exact extension of the hot jazz/ gypsy music of Django Reinhardt and the country swing of Bob Wills, plus many other genres of music, all while looking like hippies. His band the Hotlicks was formed in 1967, split in 1972, reformed sometime before 1973 and split sometime thereafter with an occasional reunion, most notably in 1991. The band was sprung from the San Francisco area where Hicks moved as a youth.  He was born in Little Rock Ark, in 1941.  See what I did there?  I did it backwards.

Dan’s Webpage

Anyway, this was his second record and it was done live. Recorded at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the album features what his webpage calls the best known lineup of the band featuring Maryann Price and Naomi Ruth Eisenberg on vocals and percussion, Sid Page on first violin and mandolin, and Jamie Leopold on Double Bass.

I was really blown away how good this album was and how eclectic it sounded on one hand while making perfect sense on the other.  The songs are all really good.  Great musicianship and great vocals.  Also , featured on the album is some of the best stage banter I have heard in a long time.

For a sample, I went with what I felt was the Best song on the record, “Caught in the Rain”.  I also went with the first track, “I Feel Like Singing” because when I first listened to it, I thought the record was skipping.  And if you really think about it, to accomplish that feat on a live record is really saying something.

Anyway, great album. Top Rated.

Easy Pickin’- The Winning Combination- Xerox

This was $4 but looked interesting enough as I like to buy and review product or promo records.

The Easy Pickin’s group, I believe were from Stamford,which oddly enough was Xerox’s headquarters until 2007.  The group consisted of Barbara Allen on vocals, her husband Bill on guitar, mother of three Linda Shackleford on bass, Joe Knowlton on banjo, and Dave Raucsher on the mandolin, violin, and just about every other instrument.  According to the one piece of information I bothered looking at, the band had been around some twenty years or so, recording a live album at the Country Tavern Restaurant, where they gigged regularly.  It is said that they had a interesting repertoire between bluegrass standards as well as contemporary country hits.  The record does reflect this.

This record is a promotional record but for whom, I am unsure.  The records welcomes the holder as a proud member of the ISG team.  It also mentions FSM members which I assume is the Full Service Maintenance group.  The record encourages members to ” share points for service achievements focusing on machine reliability and response time”.  These points, in turn, can be translated “into merchandise gifts for you… and your family”.  So I am deducting that theses were given to Xerox service people who achieved departmental goals.  And this was back in the day when people were decently paid.

I am guessing this came out sometime in the seventies.  Pretty good mix of tunes. including “Luckenback Texas”, “Heaven is Just a Sin Away”, “Tennessee Stud”, and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”.  Decent album.  Nothing that will make you radically re-look the way for see bluegrass, but not bad either.For a sample, I went with the theme song/jingle of the record, “The Winning Combination”. Decent record, overall, although I am sure I would have liked a monetary bonus more if I worked at Xerox.  Anyway, Satisfactory record.

Traffic- John Barleycorn Must Die

Here’s a really good one dollar record for a Saturday.  

This was the fourth album from the UK group Traffic but the first without guitarist Dave Mason.  In his departure, and after some side projects, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, and Jim Capaldi put together this album which was released in 1970.  Critics were a bit hard on this album noting Mason’s absence, but it sold well both in the US and the UK , eventually going gold.  Most of the record is very jazz/blues oriented with the exception of the title track, which was a nod to the rising influence of bands like Fairport Convention on the UK scene. 

“John Barleycorn” (Round 164) is an English folk song dating back to the Age of James I.  The earliest copy is from the 1400’s.  There is also around 140 versions of the tune according to the back cover.  On the surface, it seems like a pretty nasty song.  Three men have decided that John Barleycorn must die.  He is mowed down and left in the sun to dry.  He is then cut down at his knees, rolled into a cart, smashed between stones ground up.  The songs concludes that many men can’t function without the death of John Barleycorn and that his blood is consumed by many from all walks of life.

Pretty gruesome until you realize that John Barleycorn is not actually a person and is instead barley and malt, the main ingredients in beer and whiskey.  The song in fact is a description of the harvest of these cereal crops and the production of alcohol.  It remains popular today and versions as shown above exist in both minor and major tones.

Anyway, I found Traffic’s version to be quite interesting.  Thus, here it is as the sample.  It should be noted that the rest of the record does not sound like this.

Good record. Satisfactory.

Tom Paxton- Ain’t That News!

This was most likely $1 but it could have been $3.  I really lost track of purchases these days.  No matter the price, I would have bought it at either for the inclusion of one of my favorite songs “Bottle Of Wine”.

Tom Paxton, (born in Chicago in 1937 but reared in Arizona and Oklahoma) wrote some really good songs including the one mentioned above and the favorite of this site, “Last Thing On My Mind”.  He also wrote a good number of protest tunes (which make up half of this album).  While this one really stuck it to LBJ, Mississppi, and the usual suspects of the 60’s, his protest music has been updated as well as revised for the times and a variety of subjects including such numbers as “Without DeLay”, ” Bobbitt” “The Bravest” (written about the firemen of 911), “I’m Changing my Name to Chrysler”, (later modified to “I’m Changing My Name to Fannie Mae”), and so on.

Paxton was a fixture in the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, having his work covered by Pete Seeger and the like.  And at a time when Dylan was singing 2 or 3 original numbers, Paxton’s material was 50% his own. According to the only source I really have time to look into, Paxton really started the movement of folk singers performing new material during this period.  The appeal of his non-political songs also spread into other genres as well including light folk and country.

This was Paxton’s third record a believe, released on Electra in 1965, which had already built a stable of folk artists among its ranks.  It is a pretty good album.  About half the songs are topical/political and the other half are just standard non-agenda songs, such as “Bottle of Wine”.

I really do not like putting political stuff on this blog as I like to keep it neutral.  This becomes more and more important to me as the social discourse in the US continues to disintegrate.  But to get off my soapbox, here is the title track, which I still feel is relevant today .  I wanted to go with “Bottle of Wine” when I bought this but I felt that Paxton’s original version really paled in comparison to the Kingston Trio’s version, shown above.  Also, more importantly, it skipped and I was too tired to clean it. There was a lot of skipping records this month for some reason.

Excellent record. Satisfactory.

Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Band- Play the Zydeco

Friday could not come fast enough this week.  And what a way to kick of the weekend with some zydeco.  Well, as the Stanley Cup Finals are winding down, so is crawfish season.  Did not eat a whole lot of it this year.  In fact, I ended up eating it once at Ragin’ Cajun this season.  It is hard to judge how well this season was.  I know last season was pretty massive.  Anyway, this was $3.00.

My first memory of Queen Ida is seeing her on Saturday Night Live in 1985(Pee Wee Herman was the host).  This was in the middle of SNL’s decline of sorts, the season that critics called awful but what I quite enjoyed. (For the record, the critics also hated the late 80’s/early 90’s which were probably SNL’s best years).  Anyway, during this time, top musical acts were avoiding the show somewhat in the 1980’s, forcing SNL to take chances on bands that were not necessarily mainstream. Not today.  SNL does not take chances anymore like they used to, music wise.  The music on the show today has become quite boring in comparison (although the fact that I am 40-something and these bands are for 20-somethings and teens may have something to do with it.) Anyway, I rambled enough with this subject.

I believe this is Queen Ida’s first album.  Released in 1976 on GNP Cresendo, this album features Queen Ida’s brother Al, on guitar and vocals as well as .her older brother Wilbert on rub board. Pretty good album as was the last one of hers I posted.  As for Ida, according to wikipedia, she retired in 2010 but still cooks for her family (see last post of hers for more detail about her cooking or Google it).

I had a bunch of choices for samples.  Favorite songs of mine included “Lucille Kanai”, “The Cherry Tree Song” and “Tayo Zydeco”.  I did decide to go with the opener”Rosa Majeur” or Rosa of Legal Age.  I also went with “Creole De Lake Charles” which was Ida and her family hailed from before moving out to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Great little record.  Satisfactory.

Jerry Reed- Sings Jim Croce

Last post of technically the month although we are 3 days deep into June.  I got this as I like Jerry Reed and who doesn’t like Jim Croce.  I thought the two would go well together. It was high end at $5.

Jim Croce (1943-1973)was an ultra-talented singer song writer from Philadelphia who died too young in a plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana at age 40.  A funny story about Croce, his parents gave him $500 as a wedding gift with the stipulation that he use it to record an album.  His folks thought this would get music out of his system after it failed and he would pursue college (at least that is what wikipedia states).  Well, it did not fail.  And from that start, Croce’s career grew.  At the time of his untimely death, he was disillusioned with the music industry and was looking to get out (which again, if you trust wikipedia, which on Saturday, you will have to do).

Jerry Reed has always had a story telling quality to his good songs although it is slightly different from Croce’s.  However, Reed is able to take Croce’s catalog and really do it justice. The record, released in 1980 had the blessing of Croce’s wife, Ingrid, who really carried Croce’s torch after his death to keep his memory alive.

Pretty standard collection of Croce songs and all of the real big hits are here.  Besides masterfully running thru the catalog, Reed is also able to add some country twang to these tracks.  Real good album.  Could say more but it is Saturday. For a sample, I went with what I felt was my favorite song on the album, “One Less Set of Footprints”.

Top Rated Record.

The Charleston Trio- On Tour

Welcome to another week of the Show. This one was a pricey selection at $5.00.  It did have a lot of songs on it that a knew and liked.  

I know nothing about the Charleston Trio other than they were probably a marketing tool rather than a proper band.  They may or may not have provided backup vocals to the likes of Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, George Jones, Roy Orbison, and Patsy Cline.  I believe the group consisted of the Glaser Brothers from Nebraska (Tompall, Chuck, and Jim) who moved to Nashville in 1958.  They really shook the town getting involved in publishing, recording, and singing. Sometime in the mid 60’s the group worked under the moniker, Tompall Glaser and his Brothers.  I believe they disbanded as a vocal group in the early 70’s to focus on solo endeavors. Of the brothers, Tompall was probably the most successful in the genre of Outlaw Country.  This of course is really speculation but I think it is accurate.

This may have been the group’s third record, released some time in the mid-sixties, I am guessing.  On the International Award Series, this album does not sound even remotely live.  Yet it has the On Tour moniker.  Really good selection of songs although it has more of a folksy vibe as compared to the country style the half baked biographies seem to claim..  A lot of good songs including “Drill Ye Tarriers Drill”, “Casey Jones”, “The Wayfaring Stranger”, and “Greensleeves”.

For a sample, I went with “Billy Boy” for certain reasons that will not be disclosed here.  I also went with “Casey Jones” as well.  

Eh decent enough record but highly overpriced for me.  And the cover versions of the songs that I really like tend to lean a bit on the bland side. But the vocals are quite good. I imagine their country recordings are much better. I went back and forth on this and finally decided to go Satisfactory.