Thursday, July 28, 2011

England's Newest Hitmakers

In April 1964, the Stones released their debut record in the UK, it would appear in a slightly different form in the US six weeks later. Recorded at the tiny Regent Sound studio in London, these would be their last recordings (aside from a few stray tracks) made in England until 1966's Between The Buttons. It's an amazing debut, and again is comprised almost entirely of covers. On the day of it's release in the UK, it sold 100,000 copies, and by early May had knocked With The Beatles off the top spot of the charts.

It opens with Bobby Troup's "Route 66," originally a hit for Nat King Cole, which they undoubtedly learned from Chuck Berry. Keith transposes Johnny Johnson's piano riff to the guitar, and it is one of their most searing live numbers of the early years. The song selection includes blues numbers they had been playing around London in the clubs, as well as their take on current US Soul and R&B hits. There's a version of Gene Allison's "You Can Make if you Try, which they probably learned from the Solomon Burke version, the b-side to "If You Need Me" which they would lay to wax months later at Chess Studios in Chicago. The single from the LP in the US, "Tell Me" was the first recorded Jagger-Richards composition, and went to #24 on the US Billboard charts. Keith plays a 12 string acoustic and sings harmony into the same microphone. It's also their first great pop record.

(to be continued)


"Route 66" mp3
by Chuck Berry, 1961.
available on New Juke Box Hits

"I Just Want To Make Love To You" mp3
by Muddy Waters, 1954.
available on His Best 1947-55

The boys get "roasted" by Dino:

"Honest I Do" mp3
by Jimmy Reed, 1957.
available on Best of the Vee-Jay Years

"Mona" mp3
by Bo Diddley, 1957.
available on I'm A Man: The Singles As & Bs 1955-59

"Now I've Got A Witness" mp3
by The Rolling Stones, 1964.
available on England's Newest Hitmakers

"I'm A King Bee" mp3
by Slim Harpo, 1957.
available on The Excello Singles Anthology

The Rolling Stones on the Mike Douglas Show:
Soundman out to lunch, but stay tuned for interview at the end.

"Carol" mp3
by Chuck Berry, 1958.
available on The Great 28

"Tell Me" mp3
by The Rolling Stones, 1964.
available on England's Newest Hitmakers

"Can I Get A Witness" mp3
by Marvin Gaye, 1963.
available on Gold

"You Can Make It If You Try" mp3
by Gene Allison, 1958.
available on You Can Make It If You Try

"You Can Make It If You Try" mp3
by Solomon Burke, 1963.
available on If You Need Me

"Walking The Dog" mp3
by Rufus Thomas, 1963.
available on Walking the Dog

part 1 : here


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gather No Moss

Between June of 1963 and February of 1964 The Rolling Stones released three singles, one EP, and a couple other tracks on a compilation. All in the UK, and all before the release of their first LP. All but two those songs were covers. The trajectory of their career couldn't yet have been imagined. Firstly, they wanted to be the the best blues band in London (they were), and by the time they started recording, they wanted to share their love of American Blues, Soul, and R&B with a larger audience (which they did). The Stones weren't the only band in London doing this, but they were the best. They eventually wrote songs of their own (as urged by their manager Andrew Loog Oldham) but for the most part, their early records, up until 1966's Aftermath are heavily comprised of covers of black American music.

So, as the story goes, nearly fifty years ago, in late 1961 on the outskirts of London in Dartford, Mick and Keith, old boyhood friends reunite at a train station. Mick is carrying a copy of Chuck Berry's Rockin' at the Hops and The Best of Muddy Waters. BINGO! The alliance is born. in the coming months they start playing, and find Brian Jones, who is masquerading around town as a slide-guitar playing Elmo Lewis. Later they add Stu, Bill and his Amp, and Charlie.

It's no accident that their first single would be a Chuck Berry song on one side and Muddy Waters on the flip, two artists they would re-visit frequently, and soon enough meet at Chess Studios in Chicago. Their second single "I Wanna Be Your Man" is a song they got from Lennon and McCartney, when Oldham invited them to the studio. It was a something that McCartney considered a throwaway, and the Stones took it gladly. I've never been one to choose between the Beatles and the Stones, but if you were comparing the their versions of this particular song, which the Beatles eventually recorded in their next sessions, the Rolling Stones win this one hands down. The b-side, "Stoned" was their first original 'composition,' - basically a blues jam - and was banned in the U.S. for it's suggestive lyrics. Their third single, "Fortune Teller," was shelved and eventually appeared on a UK compilation. Next, an EP of more great American R&B, and a single of a Bo Diddelyized version of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," backed by "Little by Little," a Stones original based on a Jimmy Reed riff - both recorded for the first LP which was soon coming. At that session, were Phil Spector and Gene Pitney, who contributed some maracas and piano respectively, and Spector copped a partial songwriting credit for "Little by Little."

(to be continued)


"Come On" mp3
by Chuck Berry, 1961.
available on The Great 28

"I Want To Be Loved" mp3
by Muddy Waters, 1955.
available on Anthology: 1947-1972


"I Wanna Be Your Man" mp3
by The Beatles, 1963.
available on With the Beatles (Mono)

"Stoned" mp3
by The Rolling Stones, 1963.
available on Singles Collection: The London Years


"You Better Move On" mp3
by Arthur Alexander, 1961.
available on The Greatest

"Poison Ivy" mp3
by The Coasters, 1959.
available on Baby That Is Rock 'n' Roll

"Bye Bye Johnny" mp3
by Chuck Berry, 1960.
available on The Great 28

"Money (That's What I Want)" mp3
by Barrett Stong, 1959.
available on Collection


"Fortune Teller" mp3
by Benny Spellman, 1962.
available on Fortune Teller

"Poison Ivy" mp3
by The Rolling Stones, 1963.
available on More Hot Rocks: Big Hits & Fazed Cookies


"Not Fade Away" mp3
by The Crickets, 1957.
available on Buddy Holly Gold

"Little by Little" mp3
by The Rolling Stones, 1964.
available on Singles Collection: The London Years



"Andrew's Blues" mp3
by the Rolling Stones (and others), 1964.

"Mr. Spector and Mr. Pitney Came Too" mp3
by the Rolling Stones, 1964.

Monday, July 4, 2011

An All American Trilogy... Boy

"Uncle Sam needs you, Boy

I'm a gonna cut your hair off

Take this rifle, Kid

Gimme that gui-tar


Today, on the 4th of July, when we Americans do what we do to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence (eat meat, drink beer, and blow shit up), let us pause and reflect on the glory that is "The All American Boy."

In 1958, when Bobby Bare was about be inducted into the Army and his pal Bill Parsons was returning from his own call to duty, they teamed up with a forty year old drifter of Irish and Cherokee descent named Orville Lunsford and recorded a one-off demo talking blues called "The All American Boy" at Syd Nathan's King Studios in Cincinnati along with a Parsons original, "Rubber Dolly."

There are many versions of this story, and it's hard to tell what's what. But what we do know is that these two recordings were released as a single on the Fraternity label, and Bare, who had allegedly said that he didn't want his name on the record, got his wish. When the single came out it was credited to Bill Parsons on both sides. The songwriting credit for "The All American Boy went to Parsons and Lunsford, and unbeknownst to Bare who was then overseas, it raced up the charts to #2 a few months later.

Many thought the track to be about Elvis who had also been inducted into the Army, but it was more than likely an autobiographical joke that Bare improvised before he shipped off. Parsons, with a hit on his hands, was touring for Bare's record, including a spot in early 1959 on Buddy Holly's final tour, The Winter Dance Party, where Cricket Waylon Jennings heard Parsons rehearsing one day and asked if that was him on the record. "No, he's in the Army now." When, Bare was discharged, we went on to record a sequel "I'm Hanging Up My Rifle," and later, a third variation, "Brooklyn Bridge," making it a trilogy of sorts.

Mickey Newbury's "An American Trilogy" is an arrangement of two Civil War songs and a folk ballad. Elvis used it as a grand finale to finish his shows in his later years, and it is the staple of every fat Elvis Impersonator's repertoire. What's more American than that?

Happy Independence Day, Folks...


"All American Boy" mp3
by Bobby Bare, 1958.
available on Singles (1959-1969)

"I'm Hangin' Up My Rifle" mp3
by Bobby Bare, 1960.
available on All American Rock 'n' Roll: The Fraternity Story Vol 2

"Brooklyn Bridge" mp3
by Bobby Bare, 1963.
available on Detroit City


"All American Boy" mp3
by Grandpa Jones, 1959.
available on Country Music Hall of Fame

"All American Boy" mp3
by Bob Dylan and The Band, 1967.
available on The Genuine Basement Tapes


"An American Trilogy" mp3
by Mickey Newbury, 1971.
available on Frisco Mabel Joy


"Dixie" mp3
by Bob Dylan, 2003.
available on Masked & Anonymous

"Glory Hallelujah" mp3
by Furry Lewis with Lee Baker Jr, 1969.
available on Take Your Time

"All My Trials" mp3
by Dave Van Ronk, 1957.
available on The Mayor of MacDougal Street: Rarities 1957-69