Bo Diddley- In The Spotlight

So I get home after a challenging yet rewarding week of work, looking forward to relaxing the rest of this evening, when I was reminded by a conversation with my dear mother, that I have a post to write tonight.  So this should be quick. Oh yeah, I got this from Big Al.

I have been using this month to write about last month’s trip to Amsterdam.  This is the last such post.  I enjoyed doing it but they were long to write and the pictures were long to load.  But anyway, I am ending this series with one of my favorite spots in Amsterdam, Vondelpark .  Voldelpark’s greatest feature is that it is free.

Vondelpark is a 120 acre of public green in Amsterdam-Zuid, close to Museumplein. It opened in 1865 under the name Nieuwe Park .  However, a statue was put up shortly thereafter for Dutch playwright Joost van den Vondel and people started referring to the park by its current name. It currently is home to a few bar/restaurants, an open air theater, a rose garden, and bike paths.

Lot of dogs in the park and a lot of dogs off their leashes.  And for the most part, the dogs seem to behave and follow.  There were a number of old men walking the park with their small dog walking off the leash.  This blew my mind.  All my dogs were runners.

I did not know this, but apparently, in 2008, they were going to let adults be legally allowed to have sex in Vondelpark as long as they limit themselves to evening and night, don’t do it near a playground, and pick their trash when they were done.  However, Amsterdam police stated that they were not going to tolerate this and so the people who believe in common sense and the folks who believe in public fornication are at an impasse.  Either way, it is a win for those proud Dutch citizens who believe in fighting litter.

I wondered if this duck would be the same one I would be eating in three days. I thought about it hard for awhile but still ate it anyway.

So back to my trip, I found myself many mornings, starting off in Vondelpark, trying to plan out my day on a park bench.  I also brought an I-Pod with me with the songs from this month.  I recorded about 3-4 songs per album and then proceeded to listen to them until I picked out the one I would post.  They were particularly cold mornings, made even more so by the wind whipping the lake water by my favorite park bench.

It was during this when I was particularly struck by the tracks off this album.  The Bo Diddley rhythm, for one reason or another seemed to really complement the park on an overcast chilly morning.  “Travelling West”, in particular. Now that I think about it a bit, I recall during this song, the sun came up for a brief 5 minutes so this song was like a burst of joy.

This was Diddley’s fourth album and his second released in 1960.  It seems to be pretty blues heavy.  The album features “Road Runner” which was somewhat of a hit for Diddley. I believe that is Peggy Jones/ Lady Bo on rhythm guitar.

Maybe not so much as his other hits, but it got some play. There are a lot of other great songs n the album, “Live My Life”, “Craw-dad”, and “Deed and Deed I Do”  all come to mind.

I am amazed to be reminded that Diddley opened for the Clash in 1979.  If you are keeping score at home, that is to things I am amazed by in this post.  I came across this clip where Diddley kind of talks smack about them.  This is actually pretty cool. Joe’s not deaf, Bo.  He’s dead like you.

Anyway, for samples, I went with “Story of Bo Diddley”.  That is one of the things I liked about the guy; he put his own name in songs. Shameless self promoting.  There is “Hey Bo Diddley”, “Bo Diddley is a Gun Slinger”, and 1978’s little known “Bo Diddley files a Form 4868 Tax Extension”.  All joking aside, I also included “Travellin’ West”, since I mentioned it in my story earlier in the post.

Top Rated Record.  Wow, it seems that this turned out longer than I thought.  That’s the third thing that amazed me with this post.

The Norman Paris Trio- The Cocktail Hour

This album comes from the Big Al Collection (that means it was free). Nice cover among other things.  It looks a lot like a compilation album but it is not.

One of the reasons I really wanted to go to Amsterdam was the Lights Festival.  Last time I was there, in 2014, it coincided with my visit.  This year, I missed it as it started on Dec 1.  It runs until Jan 22. During this period, various light installations are set up around the canals.  It starts at the central train station and goes down Prins Hendrikkade with a detour around the NEMO Center.  It then goes down Herengracht and loops back up to the beginning. If you get a chance to check it out, it looks super cool at night.  Alas, these pictures are from 2014.

Link to Website for Festival

Back to this album, it was from the Norman Paris Trio, featuring Ed Arndt on bass, Frank Cerchia on guitar, and the namesake on piano.  I could not find a whole lot of info on the Trio, nor did I really want to. Work has been long this week.

Released on Columbia in 1956, I believe this is the second of their three albums.  They also backed Dorothy Loudon for one and Portia Nelson for two.  At least this is what a 3 minute search on the internet is telling me.  Again, refer to prior statement about work. I believe they were from New York.  Apparently they worked some TV and radio.

This is a pretty decent album.  I liked it.  It is jazz but it sounds a lot like Tal Fallow’s bands; a lot of good piano/ guitar interplay.  Song list is good. A lot of songs that I like; “I’ll Remember April”, “Lover”, “Oh What A Beautiful Mornin'”, and “This Was Nearly Mine”.

For samples, I went with “Fascinatin’ Rhythm”, “Right as Rain”, and “Lullaby of Leaves”.  The last song in particular is one i like because I was very familiar with the Ventures’ version.  In fact, I thought they wrote it ( they did not).  Anyway, this was my first time to listen to an alternate version of this tune.

Satisfactory record.


Felix Slatkin- Fantastic Percussion!

This was $3.  It had a lot of good songs on it, most notably “Caravan” which has been on my mind after seeing the movie, Whiplash. Percussion albums can be hit or miss, but I decided to roll the dice with this one.

I went to a new bar this trip around in Amsterdam.  I believe it is pretty new.  It was the Drink and Sink over on the edge of the Red Light District on Warmoesstraat.  I went there on the last night of my vacation.  What I really liked was it was the only place that was not playing Euro-Pop over the speakers.  Kind of got sick of hearing that after 8 days.  Anyway, I really liked the place at first.  I left for about 15 mins but when I came back, they had this weird karaoke thing going on.  At first it was cool but it got old very quickly.  They started with House of Pain’s “Jump Around”.  They also kept it very white boy hip hop with “Ice Ice Baby”.  After that, it just got old. So overall, I am mixed on the place. Other than the karaoke going on too long, it was a nice establishment.


I knew nothing of Felix Slatkin when I bought this album.  Like I said, the song list was impressive, ” I Love Paris”, “Blues in the Night”. “April in Paris”, “On A Slow Boat To China”, “Night Train’, etc. etc..  All pretty much standards.  Slatkin, born in St Louis in 1909, was a violinist and conductor who worked in Hollywood.

He did some work with Frank Sinatra in the 50’s as well as work with Twentieth Century Fox and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.  He died on a heart attack in 1963.  He was 47.

I have been burned by percussion albums before, but this one is quite good.  Released in 1960, it features eleven percussionists and a wide range of instrumentation.  Lot of cymbals, conga’s, toms, xylophones and exotic instruments.  The arrangements are pretty interesting.  Really good album all together.

Again, narrowing this down to a sample or two is hard but I will give it a shot.  Here is “I Love Paris”, “Night Train” and the reason I bought the album, “Caravan”.

Excellent Record.  Top Rated for sure.

Joe Loss and His Orchestra- Go Latin With Loss

This gem was all of 80 cents.  A lot of notes on the back.  I like that.  It makes my job of reviewing the record easier.

One of the underlying reasons I went to Amsterdam last month was to have duck for Thanksgiving at the same Chinese restaurant I have gone to in the past.  The Resturant Golden Chopsticks. The place I go is on Damstraat.  I chose duck because it is the closet thing to turkey that I can find.  I started going to Amsterdam around Thanksgiving because I get two extra days of holidays .  That week also played well with Champions League so originally, I could go overseas and catch the two games live.  I did that twice.  Anyway, I had my duck on Thanksgiving.  It was pretty good.  

Joe Loss (1909-1999) was a popular British band leader from Spitafields, London. His band, the Joe Loss Orchestra was one of the most popular big bands of the 1940’s.  

This album is a tribute to the Latin styles of music.  It features various forms including tangos, rumbas, sambas, and cha cha’s among others.  Most of the songs are instrumental but there are a few with vocals, performed by Ross McManus.  McManus would later have a son who would become Elvis Costello.  Back to this record, there are a lot of really good moments.  Overall, it is a great album.

According to the previous owner’s notes, the album opens up with “Guitar Tango”, which is noted as being too fast.  The owner also did not like several songs on the back.  These are noted with X’s.  The previous owner really liked “Kissin” as well as “Sucu Sucu” which was noted with “this one”.  Aside from the notes, I really liked the songs above as well as “Parakeet”, “Nicola”, and “La Bamba”. 

I had a hard time picking samples as most of this album is good. Off the bat, I am including “Quando Caliente El Sol” as it has McManus’ vocals on it.  I really liked “Nicola” and ‘Parakeet” despite having X’s written next to them.  Finally, I am posting “Sucu Sucu’ because the previous owner loved it.  I think it is ok.  Not great or nothing.

Whew, four samples.  Looks like I need to do a better job of editing myself.  Oh well.  As far as this record goes, I think it is great.  Satisfactory.

Jackie Lomax- Is This What You Want?

This was either $1 or $3.  Can not remember.  I got it for the connection with the Beatles being on their record label and all.

Winding down this month’s show as well as describing last month’s trip to Amsterdam, I passed by the Heineken Brewery but did not stop by.  In years prior, the tour used to be 10 Euro.  Last trip, in 2014, they bumped the price to twenty Euro.  Too rich for my blood.  With the tour, you get two or three beers and a free gift.  In the past, the gift has been glasses or a bottle opener.  Nice stuff.  Way worth the 10 Euro.  Not so Sure about the twenty.  They used to give engraved glasses to people on their birthday but they quit doing that some time ago.  When I went on my birthday, they gave me a few extra beers.

Jackie Lomax, born in Wallasey, Chesire, England in 1944, was a singer-songwriter, who after working in Hamburg and the US with the Liverpool group, The Undertakers, found the attention of Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein.

Upon Epstein’s death, Lomax’s career was handled by Apple Records, the Beatles’ label.  Their first effort was this album.  Backed by three of the Beatles, and in various spots Eric Clapton and Nicky Hopkins, Lomax released the George Harrison penned single, “Sour Milk Sea” to little acclaim.  Lomax, with Harrison producing, recorded the rest of this album with help from Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew.

With the breakup of the Beatles, the artists on Apple found their careers in limbo.  Lomax left the label and joined a handful of bands with mixed results until his death in 2013.  He as 69.

The first time I listetened to this album I really liked it.  The second time, however, I felt I was missing something.  The songs are ok.  Lomax has a distinctive voice.  Sometimes it works but sometimes it does not.   It has been stated that perhaps Lomax would have done better without the Beatles involvement.  Who knows.  Anyway, there are some good songs on this album including “The Eagle Laughs At You”, “New Day” and the George Harrison’s “Sour Milk Sea”, a White Album era track.

For a sample, I went with “Sunset”, which I felt as the best song on the album. Note that the sample has a skip but I am too busy to re-record right now.

I went back and forth on this record but right now, the pendulum has swung to meh.  Whatever I really liked the first time around was not there during the second listen.

The Alexandrov Ensemble AKA The Red Army Choir

Yesterday, on Christmas, a Russian military aircraft crashed into the Black Sea, killing all 92 people on board.  Among the passengers were 68 members of the famed Alexandrov Ensemble, formerly known as the Red Army Choir.  Authorities are still working out the details of the crash but this is very bad for Russia and its arts.

Story from CNN

Story from USA Today

Story from The New York TImes

The Ensemble has been a favorite of mine.  I have posted two of their albums in the past.  Below are links to those posts

First Red Army post

Second Red Army post

The Ensemble will no doubt rebuild and continue but it is a sad day indeed for the storied group and music in general.  Our thoughts and prayers go to their loved ones at this time.

Barbara Mandrell- Midnight Angel

Happy Boxing Day.  This was 80 cents.  I really like Barbara Mandrell.  I watched her show as a kid. A pal of mine came into to town Christmas Eve.  we had a couple of drinks and what not .  When I woke, my apartment was trashed.  Records and power cords everywhere.  So I got to clean for Christmas.

One of the things I keep trying to do while in Amsterdam but for some reason keep missing is the Brouwerij Brewery.  I believe it the largest craft brewer in the area.  Located kind of out of the way down on the Eastern Docklands, the Brewery has been growing in popularity as craft beer has also become more popular.  I went their twice.  The first time, I was too early so I had a drink at the nice cafe next door.  The second time, I was too late.  Way too crowded.

This was Mandrell’s sixth album.  It was released in 1976.  At the time, Mandrell as have modest success in country music.  Bigger success was on her horizon.  Decent album.  I liked it enough.  The title track was the lead single.  I also liked “Partners” and “I Never Said I Love You”.

For a sample, I went with a song off the album that would be a single for her next album, “Married…But Not To Each Other”.


Elvis Presley- Elvis’ Golden Records

Just in time for the holiday’s it’s Elvis, straight from the set of records I got from the estate of Big Al.  Other than the Christmas 45 I posted last year, this is the first Elvis album I believe on this blog. Don’t know who Elvis is?  I am not sure whether I envy or pity you.

Getting back to the arduous task of writing about a recent vacation which now feels like it was ages ago, since I was there and had time to kill, I took a stroll thru the world famous tulip market off Singel .  Always a fun little stroll.  I also found myself taking a tour west down Rozengracht .  There are not too many place in Amsterdam that I have not been but there are some places I go less than others.  This would be such a place.

I was pleasantly surprised by the area, however, as there were some nice bars and restaurants and overall, it as less touristy than areas closer to city center.  So next time I go, I am defiantly headed back to Rozengracht. Also, some nice views and pictures along the way.

As far as this record, it was released in 1958 and consists of hit singles from 1956 and 1957.  According to Wikipedia, it is widely regarded as the first Greatest Hits album, so you’re welcome, Aerosmith.  By 1999, it had gone 6 X Platinum.  Anyway, all the big hits from the 50’s are here.  Not much else to say about it than this.

For a sample, I went with “Love Me”  mainly because of Nick Cage’s rendition in Wild At Heart.

Satisfactory record. Hopefully, I will get caught up on writing posts this weekend so future entries won’t read like they have been just thrown together.

Living Strings and Living Voices- We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Here is a Christmas record for the holiday season straight from the Big Al collection of records.  Last year, I filled December up with Christmas tunes.  This year, not so much.  I think this is mainly due to the fact that I have too many records right now and I believe I only made 12 trips to look for new ones.  If you are in a jam and need some Christmas tunes, feel free to use this webpages’ handy search function.

Hey, I went to the Zoo during my trip to Amsterdam last month.  After 11 years of walking by the place and taking pictures of flamingos thru the gates, I decided to break down and spent the 21 Euro or so to take a proper visit.  I went on a Saturday.  The weather was pretty cold.  I had walked there from Vondelpark.  I should have known better since I see my friends with kids posts on Facebook, but it was filled with Dutch children.


Overall, the zoo was pretty fun.  It had a lot of indoor exhibits so you could look at some out the outside animals for awhile until you froze.  Then you could go to an indoor exhibit to warm up.  Indoor highlights included the bird house, insect house, reptile house, and aquarium.  The aquarium, in particular was my favorite.

I also found it funny that they had a raccoon exhibit.  The same animals that are pests here in the US are exotic animals abroad.  Either way, a fun time had at the zoo by all.

Not much to say about this.  Re-released in 1976, it is a generic Christmas album.Maybe there is more to say but I am tired.  I think I posted Christmas tunes from Living Strings/ Living Voices last Christmas. Here is a nifty collection of two Christmas medley’s.

Merry Christmas to all.

King Richard’s Fluegel Knights- Knights On Broadway

This was $3.  It had a lot of the Broadway tunes that I normally post.  I posted one of Dick Behrke’s albums before.  Actually, it was one of the first posts I put on this blog back when I could not get pictures straight, links pretty, or sound in a decent manner. I believe he is still alive today.  Been very busy at work so as always during these periods, the blog content suffers.

Link to said Post

While on vacation, I happened to spend some time on the North Side by Prins Hendikkade.  Among other things, there is the Dutch Nautical Museum, the Science Museum Nemo, the Public Library, and a display of boats from times of old (or the last two centuries). Except for the wind whipping off the water, it makes for a lovely stroll.

You can get a good view of the town from on top of the Nemo.  Likewise, there are tons of old boats with plaques with a bit of history .  A good place to kill some time during the day.

I really liked the last Fluegel Knight’s album I bought.  This one, too, does not disappoint.  Released in 1968? on MTA Records, this collection has show tunes as the title would suggest from Camelot, Fiddler on the Roof, Funny Girl, West Side Story, and Roar of the Greasepaint which I am unfamiliar with.  To the naked ear. it may sound like elevator music, but I think it has a pretty groovy sound with the uniqueness of the fluegel horn.  King Richard or Dick Behrke, who arranged for Bobby Darin, serves as the musical director of the album. What ever I wrote about him on the linked post above, still holds true and more importantly, that is all I have time to say.  Do you deserve more?  Probably.  Are you going to get it this week? No, unfortunately.

For a sample, I went with one of my favorites, West Side Story’s “Gee, Officer Krupke” as well as Fiddler’s “To Life” which I thought was a fine version.

Satisfactory record.