Archive for the ‘10000 Maniacs’ Category

Sugar Pie DeSanto

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

sugar-pie

Listen: Slip-In Mules / Sugar Pie De Santo SugarPieSlipIn.mp3

I was so taken by her name from the very first time I saw it: Sugar Pie De Santo. You see I’m a pushover when it comes to cakes, pies, basically anything from bakeries. And there are none quite like the ones in mainland Europe. I first travelled there in ’87 with X and 10,000 Maniacs and had just become an unbearable militant vegetarian, basically making all my friends uneasy whenever they ate any meat. At least I had Natalie and Exene, both vegetarians, on my side for the trip, but still, not very nice I realize now. Those bakeries were safe neutral ground for us all. The places were so good, especially the ones in Holland and Switzerland. Oh and Denmark too. I still think about them.

There was a great record store just down from The Paradiso in Amsterdam, where both bands were playing. The window was jammed with Checker/Chess records and we were just staring at all the great sleeves. It was late and the place was closed. There were at least two from Sugar Pie De Santo. And next door was a Bakery & Sweet Shoppe. It must have been there for decades. Ever since, I’ve associated her with bakeries, good ones too.

I attended the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Awards show in Philadelphia September ’08, Vivian Green was singing with Chaka Kahn. It was heaven on earth for rubbing shoulders with legends: Bill Withers, The Dixie Cups, Mable John, Aretha Franklin, The Marvelettes, Earl Van Dyke, The Soul Brothers, Martha & The Vandellas, so many, they were all there.

I had no idea until arriving that Sugar Pie De Santo was being inducted. Plus she even performed and no one was ready. She owned the place, wow, what a fireball and a voice to stop most others in their tracks. I’m inclined to say she stole the show, but Bill Withers doing ‘Grandma’s Hands’ was pretty fierce too. ‘Slip-In Mules’ has always been my favorite single by her, although I have many. Her phrasing of toes into toesies is classic.

Worth getting immediately: SUGAR PIE DE SANTO / GO GO POWER: THE COMPLETE CHESS SINGLES 1961 – 1966 (Ace CD 317). It’s all her Chess A & B sides, including this one. Pretty much a must-have.

Tir Na Nog

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

tirnanogstronguk, Tir Na Nog, Chrysalis, Matthew Fisher, John Martyn, Nick Drake

Listen: Strong In The Sun / Tir Na Nog TirNaNog.mp3

I was desperate to see Tir Na Nog when they toured the US in ’72. It never happened.

Although being the college concert chairman, having pushed through Rory Gallagher, Chicken Shack, Colosseum, Atomic Rooster, The Electric Light Orchestra, The Pretty Things and The Incredible String Band against everyone’s “who the fuck are these people” stances (in one school year, mind you) didn’t really allow me any more ‘puts’. By then, the budget was spent anyways. Otherwise, they’d have been there.

Tir Na Nog’s second and third albums were released in the States, and I particularly loved that third one, STRONG IN THE SUN. It was, well still is, a seminal folk era recording, right up there with the best from Tyrannosaurus Rex, John Martyn and Nick Drake (indeed the album includes a cover of his ‘Free Ride’, itself worthy of 7″ status). Tracks like ‘Cinema’ rivaled some of Pink Floyd’s tracks from MEDDLE for being…cinamatic, funny enough. If you’d told me Norman Smith, Denny Cordell or Peter Asher had produced some of this stuff, I’d have believed you. The album is that good.

Indeed, Matthew Fisher from Procol Harum was in charge of production, and, as with similar duties on Robin Trower’s BRIDGE OF SIGHS, did an A+ job.

When I up and headed for London during summer ’73, I took a night off from The Marquee to see them play a small, sit-down-cross-legged room, God knows the name of it now. But the show remains a vivid memory.

There was a time, around ’85, and Howard Thompson was looking at cover songs for 10000 Maniacs – I guess as a potential single, possibly a one-off film submission or something. I recommended ‘Strong In The Sun’. I thought Natalie Merchant would have really done it some beautiful justice and Tir Na Nog could have gotten some well deserved recognition. Didn’t happen. They chose ‘Peace Train’ instead.

There has to be someone out there in need of a great song to revive their sagging career: Nelly Furtado, Jewel, Anna Nalick, Five For Fighting, Vanessa Carlton, Paula Cole, or wait, Natalie Merchant.