Ray Charles- Ray’s Moods

Well this is the end of Black History Month here at the old Show that is known as the Donkey.  Been a fun month for me although time has always been a constant factor this month.  This was $3.00.  I got it at a record show.  If the fact that it was from Ray Charles wasn’t enough to buy this, the inclusion of one of my favorite songs which I will use as a sample drove the purchase home for me.

This record came out on Charles’ own label Tangerine.  It was released in 1966, which would have come right after his stint in rehab after his third arrest for heroin possession.  As dark as this time was for Charles (no pun intended), he was able to finally overcome the drug habit.  

This is a pretty good album of songs which vary in style.  There are a few RnB numbers as well as a few Country and Western ones as well.  Charles is backed up by his orchestra which provides a lush sound to back up his piano.  He is also accompanied by his Raelets on backup vocals.  There are a lot of good songs on this album.

For a sample, I was drawn (as always) to one of my favorite songs, “By The Light of the Silvery Moon”.  This song was a popular Tin Pan Alley tune, first published in 1909. Charles version is pretty good, although my favorite version is still Gene Vincent’s.  Also for good measure, I included “Granny Wasn’t Grinning That Day”.

Good album.  Satisfactory,

Roberta Flack- Chapter Two

This was $5 putting it on the high end of the record buying scale for me.  But I enjoyed the last album I posted of Roberta Flack’s (which was her first) and felt this was a logical progression.

In that earlier post, I profiled Flack as best as I could, depending on how busy I was that week.  Flack is a prolific R&B singer and pianist who scored a massive hit with “Killing Me Softly” as well as “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “The First Time I Saw Your Face”.  As the title would suggest, this was Flack’s second album.  Produced by Joe Dorn and King Curtis, and arranged by Donnie Hathaway, the album features a collection of songs from various song writers including Bob Dylan, Jim Webb, and Saskatchewan’s own Buffy St Marie.  Decent album and a great continuation of what she started on the first as well as framework for where she was heading in the future.

There were a couple of tunes I really liked, but at the end of the day, I went with one of my favorite songs, “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

VA- The Great Blues Men

I got this for $3.00 at a record show in an attempt to diversify my site.  A lot of bang for the buck with this double record set.  Hopefully, this weekend, I should be getting caught up on writing posts.  I know February is a short month, but damn, did it go by quick.  Anyway, for Black History Month, as well as music history all together, I present this.

Jessie Fuller

This was a double record set released by Vanguard Records, one of the first independent record companies, founded in the 1950 by the Solomon Brothers, who released some pivotal recordings of jazz, folk, and the blues.  The kind of stuff that will no doubt be affected when funding for the arts gets cut, which could present a serious blow to a form of music that is distinctly American.

Anyway, the title of this album does not lie.  The Great Men of the Blues (and one woman) are aptly represented here as well as the many styles that define the overall genre.  Such luminaries include Muddy Waters, Lighting Hopkins, Fred McDowell, Big Bill Broozy, Otis Spann, Brownie McGee and Sonny Terry, Johnny Lee Hooker, Rev Gary Davis, Junior Wells, Mississippi John Hurt, and Son House. Really a who’s who of the blues.

Skip James

For a sample, I had various choices and could have really chosen any of the tracks from the album.  However, I decided to limit it to three.  First, one man band and inventor of the fotdella (pictured at the very top of the page), West Coast Jesse Fuller is here with his best known piece of work “San Francisco Blues” featuring what I think is the best use of a  kazoo in music.  Next is the Delta bluesman, Skip James with “Cypress Groove Blues”.  Finally, from what I think is the only artist from this album that is still alive, West Side Chicago representative, Otis Rush with “It’s A Mean Old World.

Otis Rush

Great Album- Top Rated.

Little Anthony and the Imperials-

This was $1.60 with discount.  I think I got this the same day I bought the Coaster’s album and was quite surprised to find either at Half Price. This month is nearly over.  Where did time go?

Little Anthony and the Imperials were a doo-wop vocal group from New York City who burst on the scene in 1958.  The group was founded by “Little Anthony” Gourdine, Clarence Collins, Ernie Wright, Nate Rogers, and Tracey Lord.  Lord got married and Rogers got drafted and were replaced by Sammy Strain, thus forming the classic lineup. The group would have several hit singles including “Going Out Of My Head”, “Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop”, “Tears on My Pillow”, and “Hurts So Bad”.  A version of the group with Gourdine and Wright still tours today.

 

Webpage

This is a greatest hits album and features some of these hit singles.  Pretty good stuff.  Gourdine’s high pitched vocals are very noteworthy.  What more else to say or more accurately, what more do I have time to say?

I really liked all the songs I listed two paragraphs ago. However, for a sample, I went with “Get Out Of My Life”.

I liked this album quite a bit. Satisfactory.

Oscar Peterson- Golden Archive Series

This was $1.00.  Not sure why I buy albums anymore.  I think the price drove me towards this purchase.   Time has not been my friend this month.  So I am still keeping these posts as brief as possible.

Oscar Peterson was Canadian.  I did not know that.  Probably would have greatly influenced my decision to buy this had I known.  Anyway, he was born in Montreal in 1925 and became one of the world’s greatest jazz pianists.  Influenced greatly by the playing of Art Tatum, Peterson released over 200 recordings and performed continually throughout his career.  A stroke slowed him down in 1993, but he was still able to perform up until his death in 2007 from kidney failure.  A statue in Ottawa was erected in 2010 in his honor.

This was from MGM’s Golden Archive Series, a series of greatest hits records that were released in 1970.  Apparently there were 49 records in this series from various artists although some were not released. This album culminates some very fine performances from Peterson although I do not have any details.  But it is a good album.  It showcases Peterson’s skills on the ivory.

For a sample, I went with “Lollobridgida”which I assume was named after the Italian actress, Gina.

Good album. Satisfactory

Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte- Porgy and Bess

I think this was $4.  I also think I got this specifically for Black History Month.  Tried getting caught up this weekend but failed miserably and now have to gun thru this post.

Porgy and Bess is a mixed bag of sorts.  George Gershwin’s’ great jazz opera premiered in 1935 but received mixed reviews due to its racial charged theme.  Basically, it appealed to no one.  Several of the songs, however, including ” Summertime” and “I Got Plenty O’ Nothing” became popular standards.  Oddly enough, the musical/opera got a second life when it was done in 1976 at the Houston Grand Opera.  I meant to write more about all these subjects but time has gotten the better of me.  Use Google to answer any questions you may have.

The director for the HGO’s production had trouble finding black actors who wanted to play the roles.  This would be a common theme for stagings of the musical.  In particular, Harry Belafonte refused the screen role of Porgy in the 1950’s film.  Which makes his participation of this record strange on one hand and a testament to the quality of the song writing on the other.   It might also explain his lackluster effort on this album.

This was released in 1959.  Both Lena Horne and Belafonte recorded their solo pieces with their own orchestras.  They came together for a few duo’s.  Horne’s performance, is in stark comparison to Belafonte’s, whereas she hits the songs out of the park.  

Well, for a sample, I went with “There’s  A Boat That’s Leaving Soon For New York”, as it showcases the two together and I really did not have time to write about any of the other songs.

Good Album. Satisfactory. Spelling, grammar, and facts be damned.

 

Nat King Cole- Sings His Songs From Cat Ballou and Other Motion Pictures

This was $1.00.  I probably bought it for the Lee Marvin connection.  For Marvin, the Purple Heart recipient and inventor or Palimony, he would win an Oscar for his work on this film, Cat Ballou.

I initially thought this was a collection of songs from the movie.  However, it is as the title states, a collection of songs from the many movies Nat King Cole has provided work for.  I was a bit disappointed as I wanted to hear the .”Silver and Gold” song from the  brothel scene.

But given this, it is still a pretty good album.  Released in 1965 from Capital Records, it  features songs from several of his soundtracks, including “St Louis Blues”.  Pretty good album.  The songs feature that silky Cole voice which made him famous.  

Sadly enough, Cole never got to see his role in Cat Ballou on -screen as he would die in 1965 during post production.  Complications from lung cancer would  take his life at age 45.

I went back and forth on what to use as a samples but decided to go with the reason I bought the record, “The Ballad Of Cat Ballou” with Stubby Kaye.  I also deiced to throw in “Hajji Baba” from the movie of the same name.

Satisfactory record.

Dionne Warrick- Very Dionne

Trying to get a bit more caught up on blogging this week.  Keeping Black History Month going with this selection from Dionne Warick.  This was $4.00.  As a side note, I saw Verdi’s Requiem last Friday at the HGO.  Pretty good production.  It was one of those instances where I did not realize I was familiar with the music until I heard it.  Also, since there is no story, I could focus on the orchestra and the singers.  I had to wait for it, but once Soprano Angela Meade finished the opera quite well.

Well, there is this.  This would have been Warick’s 14th album if my math is right.  I can’t remember how many Warick albums I have posted so far but I have put more than a couple on this blog. Got to love starting the week with a subject I have exhausted.  Anyway, this came out in 1970.  It would be her last album with Specter Records before jumping ship to Warner Brothers.  

Five of the ten songs are by Bacharach and David.  Highlights include “The Green Grass Starts to Grow” as well as her cover of the Beatles’ “Yesterday”.  However, for a sample, I went with “Going Out of My Head”.

Satisfactory.

Sam Cooke- Shake

This was $1.60.  I remember coming across a couple soul albums the day I bought this.  Normally, I don’t find a lot of soul at Half Price books.  I was very tempted to limit today’s post to 3 sentences.  Well, I decided against that but still trying to keep it brief.  Hopefully, I can get caught up on things this weekend.

Ah, the brilliance that was Sam Cooke and the strange and questionable circumstances that led to his death.  Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1931, the King of Soul had 30 Top Ten hits between 1957 and 1964.  A brilliant singer and song writer, he has been labeled as the inventor of soul and his success paved the way for many an artist in the same genre.

Then, one night in Los Angeles at the Hacienda Hotel, it all ended.  Cooke was shot to death in an act that was ruled a justifiable homicide.  The events leading up to his death were lurid and have been in question to this day.  He was shot by a hotel manager in self defense although some suspect foul play was involved. The details regarding the case can be summarized in the link below.  Regardless of what really happened, the world was denied of what could have been from perhaps the greatest soul artists of all time.

Link to Shooting story

According to the back sleeve, this was Cooke’s first release after his death . It came out in January of 1965. A lot of the great songs are here including “A Change Is Going To Come”, “Shake”, and “Ease My Worried Mind”.  The first two songs were hit singles for Cooke.” Change” in part became one of the iconic songs of the Civil Rights movement.

For a sample, I went with “Yeah Man” as it served as the basis for Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music” co-written by Conley and Otis Redding.  Incidentally, Cooke’s business partner J.W. Alexander sued the duo to get a aptly deserved song writing credit for Cooke.

Great album.  Top Rated.

Sarah Vaughn- In The Land of Hi-Fi

This was $2 at Vinyl Edge.  Probably got it for the high number of jazz standards, most notably “Cherokee”.  Still not making any extra time this week.  Seems that going to the Maple Leaf Pub’s 11th anniversary on Wednesday exacerbated this trend a bit as well.  

Sarah Vaughn, “The Divine One”, was one of the great American jazz singers of the last century.  Born in Newark, NJ in 1924, she burst on to the scene in 1942 after winning the Amateur Night contest at the famous Apollo Theater.  This led to an spot opening for Ella Fitzgerald. She worked with big bands before striking it solo.  Her best known hit, perhaps, is her rendition of “Tenderly”.  Vaughn worked steady until her death in 1990 of complications from lung cancer.

This album, from 1955, was from her stint at Mercury Records in the 50’s. Her time with the label was highly successful.  She also toured constantly in the later half of the decade.  Anyway, under her arrangement with the record label, she would record commercial material for Mercury and more jazz oriented stuff for EmArcy.  This was made for EmArcy, which should be obvious by looking at the titles.  The record features the saxophone work of the great Cannonball Adderley.  It also features Jimmy Jones on piano, Joe Benjamin on bass, Turk Van Lake on guitar, and Roy Haynes on drums.  Ernie Wilkins served as arranger and conductor.

A lot of great jazz standards on here.  I liked “Cherokee” and “Oh My” but decided to go with “How High The Moon”.

Good record. Satisfactory.