Archive for the ‘Sonny & Cher’ Category

Sonny & Cher

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Listen: Baby Don’t Go / Sonny & Cher

There aren’t many things as lasting as Sonny & Cher. I stumble on their records via radio or in any public place less and less and less. With the exception of ‘I Got You Babe’, and Sirius XM, their older singles are played literally never.

Wasn’t always the case. ‘I Got You Babe’ hit so big and wide that for a year or more, they were everywhere. Appearances on all the TV shows plus each had solo hits right next to their rapid output as a duo. At the peak, past labels were reissuing worthy songs that had flopped only nine to twelve months prior. Such was the case with ‘Baby Don’t Go’.

Damn if I don’t remember this one like yesterday. It was late winter/early spring and I think for a period, this was played more than the current Atco stuff. The two distinctive pieces that make ‘Baby Don’t Go’ so memorable to me are the rather unlikely but perfect harmonica and mandolin combination plus Sonny & Cher’s signature harmonizing, whereby Cher always sang the low parts against Sonny doing the highs.

And there you had it, timeless magic.

Jessie Hill

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Listen: Ooh Poo Pah Doo (Part 1) / Jessie Hill

As legend has it, by his teens, drummer Jesse Hill formed his first group, The House Rockers in ’51′ followed by periods drumming with both Professor Longhair and Huey Piano Smith. Well oiled, he formed a new version of The House Rockers in ’58, this time with a focus on singing.

The origins of ‘Ooh Poo Pah Doo’ reportedly lie with local pianist known only as Big Four from who Jesse Hill reportedly modeled his lyrics and melody, later fleshing the song out with an intro from Dave Bartholomew. Honed to a sharp edge on stage, he demo’d then shopped it to some local record labels. Ultimately recording the song at Cosimo Matassa’s studio with Allen Toussaint producing. Released by Minit in early ’60, the single became an instant favourite at Mardi Gras, eventually going on to sell 800,000 copies and cracking both the BILLBOARD R&B Top 5 and the pop Hot 100 (#28).

Eventually moving to Los Angeles, Jesse Hill found plenty of work both writing for and playing with fellow New Orleans musicians including Harold Battiste and Mac Rebennack as they passed through town to record. During the period, he placed songs with loads of local RnB labels, even Sonny & Cher, and as well, Ike & Tina Turner, who took ‘Ooh Poo Pah Doo’ to #60 in ’71.

Prince & Princess Buster

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

PrincessBuster, Prince & Princess Buster, RCA, Prince Buster

Listen: Ten Commandments From Woman To Man / Prince & Princess Buster

The Sonny & Cher of Ska, or is it the other way around. Novelty call and response records were in grand abundance back in 60′s Jamaica. And the mere thought of a street tough wise ass boyfriend cowering when his lady, the true boss in the house, starts whomping on him was too great to resist, on record and most definitely in real life.

Peaches & Herb

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Listen: Two Little Kids / Peaches & Herb Peaches2Little.mp3

When I pulled out a handful of their singles to play over the weekend, my kids asked who was singing.

“Peaches & Herb.”

“Sounds like a new tea choice from Celestial Seasonings.” Man, they can so be quick sometimes.

But most of us know otherwise. Me, I considered them my RnB Sonny & Cher.

Through the years, there was one Herb and several Peaches. Six to be exact. Initially signed to Date Records from ’66 – ’70, it’s former vocalist with The Sweet Things, Francine Day, who took the lead on all the recordings and is admittedly my favorite. Even after her retirement from touring two years in (Marlene Mack from The Jaynetts replaced her live), she remained Peaches in the studio. Every last Peaches & Herb single on the label is a must for any proper collection.

Listen: Shake Your Groove Thing / Peaches & Herb PeachesGroove.mp3

Despite my penchant for Northern Soul, and for Date Records, it’s this later single that is the riot worth posting. Everyone knows it. And once I got the riff into my head this morning, it was unshakeable, for the entire day.

Linda Greene, the third Peaches, indeed does a great vocal on this one.

‘Shake Your Groove Thing’ – think about it. In some ways, the mainstream was much looser twenty or so years ago (Culture Club for example) than now. No matter. The record was massive (#5 US). Did every programmer just turn an blind eye to the lyrics? I guess so.

So what exactly is a groove thing?

Sonny & Cher

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

It's The Little Things / Sonny & Cher

Listen: It's The Little Things / Sonny & Cher SonnyCherLittle.mp3

You Better Sit Down Kids / Cher

Listen: You Better Sit Down Kids / Cher CherKids.mp3

Laugh At Me / Sonny

Listen: Laugh At Me / Sonny SonnyLaugh.mp3

Sonny jukebox tab

It’s hard to top ‘I Got You Babe’? Fuck that, ‘It’s The Little Things’ kills it. Splat. I’ve been listening over and over tonight, can’t think of a thing to say – I just keep repeating it. When Cher’s voice cracks at exactly 2:06 on “you’re STILL my guy”, I lose it. They were so in love then – it couldn’t be hidden. Incredible.

Running down a parallel track starting around ’65 was the train known as Cher’s solo career. ‘You Better Sit Down Kids’ was pretty heavy stuff, she even takes on the male role lyrically which always seemed a little off. Despite the song’s message, I still think they were in love though.

One night I was walking past The Bottom Line, the legendary NY club now gone. Out came Sonny with Chastity. Damn if I can remember who was playing that evening. I make a habit of carrying blank jukebox tabs and these are just the moments when I’m happy I do. Sonny was so gracious, and like everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, I have ever asked to fill one out he said “Nobody has ever asked me to do this before”. Neither of us could remember the B side. Chastity and Corinne were of no help.

The real genius behind Sonny & Cher, his tenure on the LA record making circuit with Phil Spector, Leon Russell, Al Kooper etc is now very obvious. He wore it humbly on his sleeve. A real unsung talent.