Archive for the ‘Nina Simone’ Category

Nina Simone

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Listen: Save Me / Nina Simone
Save Me / Nina Simone

Coincidental but true. Just about every song named ‘Save Me’ ends up a favorite. Despite the fact that most of them share only the title in common.

Not the case with this version. Originally written and recorded by Aretha Franklin and included on her Atlantic album debut, it was Nina Simone’s 7″ version that seemed to fall out of the sky and into my possession within weeks of release. No recollection how or from where, but absolutely sure of the timing. Maybe WMCR included it in one of my weekly allocations, having been serviced a stock copy instead of the almost 100% promo copy only mailings they would usually receive. Regardless, ‘Save Me’ was by far the most swinging Nina Simone single I had yet to hear from her, and I’d heard several by then.

What a surprise when it came up on a Sirius channel during a recent JetBlue flight. If I lived in a car culture city, I’d absolutely be a subscriber.

Gloria Lynne

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Watermelon Man / Gloria Lynne

Listen: Watermelon Man / Gloria Lynne
Watermelon Man / Gloria Lynne

Michael Alago and I worked together at Elektra for ages. We’d first met when he booked The Ritz a few years prior. The great times and mischief we got up to at that label, it’s an HBO series waiting to happen. Michael’s one of the great A&R people out there as well, having signed Metallica, Alan Vega, White Zombie, Nina Simone. It’s pretty hard to top his track record.

There was a moment when we were sent on a mission to find some classic artists for a series of Nonesuch jazz releases, those that might still be active, but hadn’t recorded in a while. This was a perfect reason to have an extended champagne lunch at Bicé on the company card and brainstorm a list. Gloria Lynne came to mind. After a few phone calls, we found she managed herself and got her home number from the fellow who booked The Blue Note at the time, name escapes me. Turns out her’s was the exact same as Michael’s, bar the last digit.

In those days, we used to get back to one of our places, four or five in the morning, fresh from another night at Danceteria or The Ritz, still ready to go; seriously. Sad but true. We’d often dial her number up to that very last digit, deciding it was time to make the call, then chickening out. Thankfully.

Check out her rap at the end of ‘Watermelon Man’. This is so blatant, so nasty. Lil’ Kim has nothing on her.


Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Listen:  Four Women / Nina Simone

Listen: Four Women / Nina Simone Nina4Women.mp3

Michael Alago signed Nina Simone to Elektra in ’92, and I’m pretty sure she made her last studio album as a result. Michael, at that point, was very friendly with her, having been an ardent fan for several years. Nina was living in LA at the time, and during October of that year, she and Michael were together doing pre-production in some studio off Hollywood Blvd.

I was in town for The Cramps as they were preparing FLAMEJOB for my label, Medicine, and had timed the trip around a three day run The Ramones were doing at The Palladium (10/14 – 16, to be exact). It was a fun one.

Both Micheal and I, as well as Johnny Ramone, Arturo Vega (The Ramones’ career long light & design guy) and Monte Melnick (their tour manager), all shared birthdays within days of each other in that exact time frame, so Alago decided to have a pre show dinner party at The Hollywood Athletic Club to celebrate all five, as well as his Nina/Elektra signing.

By then he was having a slightly difficult time getting her to record the songs he wanted. On that particular night, it didn’t help that I was enamored with her Philips period stuff. She and I sat across from each other at this long table. With Nina right next to Joey, she just got into deep details about her time with that label as soon as we asked. It was fascinating info, I was even interested in what she could recall about the actual Philips offices, which surprisingly was a lot. Plus the details of the studios, her engineers and the small, small recording budgets of the day.

‘Four Women’ was a much played single then as now, and after a LOT of champagne on her part, I suggested she re-record it for the new album. Michael at that moment was sort of standing behind her in his constant buzzing around, good host style, and just whipped his head toward me, eyes bugging and frantically hand motioned behind her head to STOP. Panicked and pissed all at once, he kept up this silent communication, but too late, she was now on a ‘Four Women’ roll. Her assistant, like Nina with back to Michael, opinioned that it was timely, and might be a good idea.

So fuck it, I threw in, “and you should make a video”.

Nina announces loudly “Michael, I want to make a video for ‘Four Women’ “.

Listen:  Four Women / Nina Simone Juke Box Tab

This was about to go very wrong when he seamlessly circles round behind me and says, “Before you forget, you should get Nina to do your jukebox tab now, and you know Nina, if we redo ‘Four Women’, Philips will just try to reposition their version and not pay you like they still don’t”.

Good move Alago, as that’s all she needed to be reminded of. End of idea, end of dinner and onward to The Ramones show (with signed jukebox tab in wallet), sans Nina.

Bo Diddley

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Crawdad / Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley jukebox tab

Listen: Crawdad / Bo Diddley 01 Crawdad.mp3

I starting collecting artist-signed jukebox tabs when I got my 1st Seeburg. It was an aqua/lavender/chrome 1956 model that held 100 singles, with the records housed in a circular carousel that spun around until the desired choice was located, then an arm would reach for the single and put it onto the spinning platter. The tonearm would proceed to lift & set on to the vinyl, and away we’d go. There’s a youtube video of my actual box playing The Rolling Stones ‘Heart Of Stone’ posted by 25 Million, a good friend of mine. Seek it out to see what I mean. So I got this idea back then, around 1986, to carry blank jukebox tabs with me at all times (which I still do) and get artists to fill them out for a record of my choice that they were on, if and when I’d run into them. It was the start of me collecting autographs I guess. So now I have hundreds. So many amazing ones too: Nina Simone, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, The Creation, Ike Turner, The Move, The Cramps, Love, Ellie Greenwich, Sparks, The Ronettes even Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours. Honestly, loads. A few summers ago I went to see Bo Diddley and was lucky enough to have a word with him. He was just a sweetheart, happily answering questions that would turn into amazing stories. It was at a festival so he was just sitting around. Frail in ways even then, I wasn’t confident I should ask him to do the tab, but finally felt comfortable and did. He was so great about it, saying he wanted to do it, but would it be ok to just fill in his name, as he had a tremble when he wrote. Well sure – no problem. Thankfully, I have this to treasure forever.