John Lee Hooker – I’m John Lee Hooker (Vee-Jay LP 1007) (1959) and You’re Leavin’ Me, Baby (673005) (1961)

SAM_0736As it happens, this weekend was a good one for me to have the blues. That is to say, it was a good weekend for me to have all the VG condish, quality 1960s blues records I could find in Folkestone for a pound a piece!

SAM_0735His raggedy style was pretty well established by this point, but, as with Monk’s post-Blue Note Riverside and Prestige sides, John Lee Hooker’s post-Modern Records approach was still idiosyncratic enough, even in early maturity, to effectively be a sub-genre unto itself. His trademark fluid regard to measure counting certainly baffled his sidemen, who had great difficulty following the great man’s changes.

You’re Leavin’ Me, Baby, also available as That’s My Story – John Lee Hooker Sings the Blues, is particularly interesting as it features our hero in ‘authentic’ acoustic mode. At least, that’s how producer, and Riverside boss, Orrin Keepnews reckoned The Hook should be heard.

In fact, JLH sounds like JLH no matter the setting: you could char-broil that shizzle and it would still sound like JLH.

Published in: on July 6, 2015 at 8:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Various Artists – The Blues – Volumes 1-5 (Pye International R&B Series) (1963-65)

SAM_0733Mercifully, my sense of order (so offended by the missing fourth volume and the change in art direction for the latter in the series [including the absent number four]) did not overwhelm my sense of pleasure at the purchase this weekend, for one pound each, of these excellent compendia of top-drawer 1950s blues. Culled from the mighty Chess Records archives, these early 60s releases were no doubt both product of and inspiration for that decade’s ‘blues boom’, particularly in the UK, where these editions were issued.SAM_0734The physical quality of all four are VG/VG+, after a good wash. Beautiful.

Published in: on July 6, 2015 at 6:42 am  Leave a Comment  

The Hour Glass (UA-LA013-G2) (1973)/ Duane Allman – An Anthology (2CP 0108) (1972)

SAM_0576The liner notes accompanying this compilation of the Hour Glass’s two Lps could hardly be more baldly dismissive, beginning with the opening paragraph (“The music on these two records is not very good”) and carrying on in like fashion from there (“Far from being the story of why the Hour Glass was such a fine band, it tells us more about why they were not“). In fact, writer Ben Edmonds’ attitude towards this charming pop-soul double album has more to do with place and timing than artistry.

A little background. The Hour Glass represents the first commercial output of Allman brothers Duane and Gregg. Despite having been in the business for a few years, the boys were manipulated in classic “I’m-gonna-make-you-a-star”-style into moving to LA dressed up in the hippy gladrags, having songs picked out for them and being allowed to perform only for a few high-profile gigs. As a result, the band was broke and culturally overwhelmed with a sorely misrepresentative repertoire, all of which left them more than a little frustrated and bitter. I think Edmonds’ liner notes reflect the band’s still fresh resentment rather than the music, which is actually quite good, certainly as good or better, thanks to the band’s considerable chops, than most Blue-Eyed Soul of the time. I got this three weeks ago in Hythe for a pound.

SAM_0577Not two weeks later, I picked a companion piece at the Ashford bootfair. Alluded to in glowing terms in Edmonds’ brush off, Duane Allman – An Anthology contains a couple previously unreleased Hour Glass tracks, notably a blues medley highly rated by the band, that indicate where the brothers were headed. SAM_0594In addition to a side’s worth of AB highlights, An Anthology also includes songs which feature Duane as sideman, such as Wilson Picket’s “Hey Jude” and Boz Scaggs’ “Lend Me a Dime”.SAM_0595

Published in: on October 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1976 (ICD 9)

SAM_0470High-calibre party music showcasing the Crescent City’s ‘R&B Spectrum’, masterminded by Allan Toussaint and abetted by a crack house band.
SAM_0469Featuring live performances by Toussaint himself along with local legends Irma Thomas, Earl King, Lee Dorsey, Ernie K-Doe, Robert Parker, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Professor Longhair, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1976 has the feel of a revue.
SAM_0471Interestingly, the performances by King, Dorsey and Parker had to be re-recorded in a N.O. studio due to some technical glitches with the live recordings on the day. It’s possible that sponsors Schlitz (whose flagship beer [‘the beer that made Milwaukee famous’] had, by this point, lost a lot of its lustre as a result of some fairly brazen manufacturing costcutting) had ponied up for a 2-album set and so post-production was thus required. Ex++ condish double Lp, only a pound!
SAM_0472

 Notice how I didn’t resort to writing N’Awlins at any point. 🙂

Published in: on July 26, 2014 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rolling Stones – “C***ksucker Blues” b/w “Brown Sugar (alt. version)” (SPE 4504)

SAM_0465AREA HIPSTER UNSURE WHETHER OR NOT TO LIKE ROLLING STONES

(Columbus, Ohio) — Faced with the band’s varied and contradictory cultural signifiers, Clintonville hipster Cyril Hogben is not sure whether or not he should like the Rolling Stones.

“Well, for a start, they’re really popular,” explained the part-time OSU journalism master’s student. “Normally, this would mean the kiss of death for the hipster, but we’re a contrary breed and so, I could actually like the Rolling Stones precisely because they’re popular.”

“There are also some desperately mediocre lowlights in the band’s canon,” he continued. “I’m thinking of things like, “Where The Boys Go”, “She Was Hot”, Dirty Work, that sort of thing; which I could easily like because they’re so bad. Unfortunately, there are also many, many assuredly great songs and albums, which I could only appreciate with fulsome genuineness, an emotion anathema to the moral relativist.”

Further complications arise from the Stones changing sartorial style: “They dressed so fantastically trendily during their first flush of success in the mid-1960s that it’s impossible not to love (or dismiss as calculated) their look,” Hogben stated. “Likewise, they looked so ridiculously tragic during most of the 80s that it’s similarly hard not to love (or dismiss as calculated) that look.”

When it comes to the band’s behavior, hipster judgement is also vexed, alternating between revulsion, admiration and moral detachment. The average hipster just doesn’t know what to think regarding the Rolling Stones’ drug use, authority flouting, establishment embracing, misogyny, professionalism, lack of professionalism, blues championing, money grubbing and staying power.

“If only the Stones were really unpopular and bad, like, say, Mick Jagger’s solo albums,” smiled Hogben. “Ironically, those are some records I can get behind ironically.”

_________________________________

Editor’s note: I was given this charming contractual obligation piece about life in the big city a couple years. It is, of course, nonsense. I thought the b-side featured Eric ” ‘God’ ” Clapton on lead gi-tar, but other sources say it’s Ry Cooder.

Published in: on July 21, 2014 at 6:33 pm  Comments (2)  

Bobby Powell – A Fool For You (CRB 1185) (1988)

SAM_0454On the back cover it sez, “File Under Soul”. And that billowy, burnt umber leisure suit suggests quite the wah-wah fest, doesn’t it. But no, this enticing Charly R&B comp of Bobby Powell’s mid-70s Hep’Me recordings is mostly a straightforward blues record.

Now I happen to like the Blues (listening, not having, obs), but for my money, the kind of blues & rhythm Powell’s trading in here peaked around 1959 with the release of T-Bone Walker’s T-Bone Blues. That’s a long time to have the élan vital sucked out of a subgenre. Not that A Fool For You is lifeless exactly, Powell is a great singer and a really good band leader, but it’s just hard to see the point of an argument that merely restates a case without taking it forward somehow. Fidelity to artistic roots is not an end in itself.

Picked up this morning at the Etchinghill Bootfair, maybe it’s a grower.

Published in: on July 12, 2014 at 11:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Young Jessie – Don’t Happen No More (JMANLP 068) (2014)

SAM_0442ALL BACK TO MY PLACE                                                                  In Which The Stars Reveal the Sonic Delights Guaranteed To Get Them Going…

PRINCE ASBOEx-pat American writer, raconteur

What music are you currently grooving to?

I listen to all kinds of music constantly, so that’s almost impossible to answer. Not counting thrifted Lps, my favourite recent purchases include Young Jessie Don’t Happen No More, an absolutely belting Jukebox R&B comp and the Complete Impulse! Studio Recordings box set of John Coltrane’s Classic Quartet, apart from discs six and seven, which are unlistenable.

What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album?

Sorry, but it has to be Revolver. Wildly experimental, yet concise, accessible pop. It is the template.

What was the first record you ever bought? And where did you buy it?

The American soundtrack to A Hard Day’s Night at the Goodwill Store in Mount Vernon, Ohio. My first retail purchase was Some Girls by the Rolling Stones at Woolworths.

Which musician have you ever wanted to be?

[original Beatles bassist] Stuart Sutcliffe. Only I’d practice bass like mad and stay in the band. And get the brain tumor sorted out, obviously.

What do you sing in the shower?

“Beyond Belief” by Elvis Costello. Lots of range in tone and style on that one, plus amusing lyrics.

What is your favourite Saturday night record?

Depends on the mood, but something “up”. Could be Hip Hop, punk or maybe some disco; Mrs Asbo always chooses the La’s album.

And your Sunday morning record?

I listen to BBC Radio 3 on Sunday mornings to help me recover.

__________________________

 

Published in: on June 25, 2014 at 8:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Linn County – Fever Shot (134 223 MCY) (1969)

From the Thrifty Vinyl 60s Archives

SAM_0388POLICE FALSELY ARREST SIXTH CALI ROCK BAND    Yet Another Group Of Long-Hairs Mistaken For Manson Family
          (San Fransisco, California) –  Little-known San Francisco blues-rock band, Linn County, were released without charge yesterday after their arrest on suspicion of being the notorious Manson Family. According to Police Chief Brian McGuffey, one member was “a dead ringer for Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, but it turned out to be the band’s drummer, Jerome McAndrew.”
          “All these goddam long-hairs look the same to me,” McGuffey continued. “Hirsute, unwashed and reeking of marihuana.”
          “Lord only knows how their fans tell them apart,” he added.
          The arrest follows similar incarcerations of the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, the Steve Miller Band, Big Brother and the Holding Company and Kak. SAM_0389Editor’s Note: Above average blues-rock from transplanted Midwest band. I bought this yesterday on a thrifting trip with Grampa Asbo. He’s something of a bibliophile–the apple don’t fall too far from the tree.
Published in: on May 23, 2014 at 10:46 am  Leave a Comment  

The Grateful Dead – Live/Dead (WS.1830) (1969)

SAM_0377GARCIA ‘NOT GRATEFUL TO BE DEAD’ CLAIM

(Heaven) — You would have thought, that having named his band The Grateful Dead, deceased guitarist Jerry Garcia would have been pleased as punch shuffling off this mortal coil.

But nothing could be further from the truth, and nearly two decades on from his demise the dead head Deadhead proclaimed himself, “bored to tears of the Afterlife” in a celestial interview yesterday.

“Frankly, I miss playing music with my friends,” he sighed. “And it’s just not the same in Heaven since all of the other dead Grateful Deads here only play keyboards.”

The self-styled Captain Trips added that he’s “very much” looking forward to the deaths of ex-bandmates Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann to “jazz things up a bit up here.”

“At least I don’t have to see Pigpen since he’s in Hell,” Garcia smiled.

SAM_0379Editor’s Note: Having been force fed Dead in my youth, I’ve been relatively slow coming round. I still think their singing is mediocre at best, but I’ve picked up a few GD pieces over the years, all of which I enjoy. I got Live/Dead a few weeks ago in trade at a second record store in Canterbury. Unfortunately, the second disc turned out to be warped beyond playability. When I returned the album, the shopkeeper just said, ‘Keep it’ and gave me store credit.SAM_0380I’m keeping it for the first record, which has a lovely version of ‘Dark Star’, and the cover.SAM_0381

American Festival Folk Blues (ALB 125)


SAM_0333LOCAL MAN ATTRIBUTES MYSTERIOUS MALADY TO “BLUES”                                                                                                Claims It’s The “Mos’ Powerful Bad Feeling I Done Ever Had”

(Columbus, Ohio) — His voice quavery and raw, local man Lightfoot McGee blamed his world of hurt on the nebulous psychological condition known as the Blues, which he claims were “fallin’ down like hail”. The itinerate musician says he noticed the symptoms when he woke up this mornin’ at which point, having rolled and tumbled the whole night long, he began a-weepin’ an’ a-moaning but still couldn’t get no relief.

The Blues, which area psychologist Becky Crane likened to “having a Hellhound on your tail”, presented itself with several physical manifestations, including McGee’s biscuit roller being gone, compulsive broom dusting and stones in his passway. Having tried hot foot powder all around his door and squeezing his lemon till the juice ran down his leg, McGee claims he still has “mean things all on my mind.”

Crane says she believes that McGee is going to have to beat his woman till he gets satisfied.

SAM_0334Editor’s Notes: This French 2 x Lp anthology more than lives up to its subtitle “A collection of authentic Blues By America’s Greatest Blues Artists”. Actually, one could argue that “authentic” is a somewhat problematic word in this context. While there’s no doubting the skill and sincerity of these performances, most are on electric instruments; not sure whether Messers Patton and Johnson would recognise them as “authentic”. I won’t split hairs though, this is stirring stuff.

Despite being an ex-library copy American Festival Folk Blues is in great shape–contrary to whatever you teenage boys might say, “FML” stands for “Fulham Metropolitan Library.” The chap who bought this record paid 40p less for it than I did some three decades later when I picked up last week.

 

Published in: on April 13, 2014 at 9:01 am  Comments (6)