Archive for the ‘Bo Diddley’ Category

The Sir Douglas Quintet

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

The Tracker / Sir Douglas Quintet - US

Listen: The Tracker / The Sir Douglas Quintet
The Tracker / The Sir Douglas Quintet

Like so many bands popping up around the country circa ’64 – ’65, all imitating Britain’s Invasion, The Sir Douglas Quintet appeared. Unlike those others, they had a recognizable sound (perfectly part Bo Diddley, part Pretty Things) and could both write and find great songs, and had the production advantage of Huey P. Meaux guiding them. The band never released a bad single on London Records’ imprint Tribe. They eventually moved to Smash/Philips where their greatness, and the occasional hit single, continued.

‘The Tracker’, followup to their debut smash ‘She’s About A Mover’, was a real favorite despite it’s national stall at #105 in July ’65 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart.

I recall seeing them on SHINDIG, Doug Sahm (Sir Douglas) doing a mean Phil May imitation vocal on ‘The Tracker’ while holding an oversized magnifying glass, kind of roaming around the stage as though following footsteps visible when enlarged, Sherlock Holmes style. Not only did they have the sound down, but the look as well.

Blue Norther / Sir Douglas Quintet - US

Listen: Blue Norther / The Sir Douglas Quintet
Blue Norther / The Sir Douglas Quintet

‘Blue Norther’, the B side, with it’s rather haunting patent Sir Douglas Quintet formula (not to be taken as a bad thing), I like to think is about the train line and totally conjured up nighttime images of a freight winding it’s way through some dark mountain woods or the Texas desert, assuming there is one there.

Listen: In Time / The Sir Douglas Quintet
In Time / The Sir Douglas Quintet

Quickly released that September, no doubt in hopes of refuelling interest after their huge debut, ‘In Time’ stiffed completely. Shame, just listen to it’s perfection. No other US band quite captured their flawless mixture of Texas and England, a recipe that should’ve easily worked. To my knowledge, only KNAC in Salt Lake City charted it for a week in October at #63. Otherwise, klunk

Listen: The Story Of John Hardy / The Sir Douglas Quintet
The Story Of John Hardy / The Sir Douglas Quintet

For the flipside of ‘In Time’, as with Manfred Mann’s rendition of the Lomax/Lomax written ‘John Hardy’ (it too a B side of ‘Sha La La’), the ever present influence of The Pretty Things, marraccas particularly, prevailed. The band’s more folk blues ‘version’, retitled ‘The Story Of John Hardy’, songwriting mischievously credited to Doug Sahm, succeeded in establishing yet again that sound so unique to this band.

Many years later, Doug Sahm formed The Texas Tornadoes and signed to Warner Brothers. I saw him in the office one day (my company, The Medicine Label, was a WB label) and he graciously filled out a jukebox tab for me. It was a chance meeting, so I wasn’t prepared with B side info. I couldn’t remember it, neither could he.

Sir Douglas Quintet - Juke Box Tab

Above: Jukebox Tab filled out by Doug Sahm.

The Hullaballoos

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

DID YOU EVER / The Hullaballoos:

Side 1:

Listen: Did You Ever / The Hullaballoos

Listen: Wouldn’t You Like To Know / The Hullaballoos

Side 2:

Listen: Beware / The Hullaballoos

Listen: Who Do You Think You’re Fooling / The Hullaballoos

Lord knows I was crazy about The Hullaballoos from that very first appearance on HULLABALOO. And no, they were not the house band, nor were they named after the show.

They were English and that was enough to grab every American kid’s attention during the British beat group boom. But with shoulder length hair, bleached blond, well The Hullaballoos out did The Pretty Things in some ways. They were Buddy Holly instead of Bo Diddley influenced admittedly, still I didn’t even know that bit. The hiccup vocal was pure Hullaballoos to we youngsters. Basically, none of us were even aware of Buddy Holly’s records then. Music as we knew it went back maybe two years, everyone still in their single digits age-wise.

My eyes were peeled to the TV GUIDE as soon as it arrived in the post weekly, pawing through the listings, checking if a small handful of bands, The Hullaballoos amongst them, were scheduled on the various pop music programs we got over three, yes three, TV channels. Remember, this was 1965. Color TV was barely around, forget about cable.

‘Did You Ever’ was their second single and BILLBOARD entry (#74). The band performed it and the B side ‘Beware’ on their third HULLABALLOO appearance.

Years later, I was put in touch with Harry Dunn through the band’s website. We exchange emails on occasion. If I’d have ever thought as a kid, while pulled up close to the TV, pulse racing with anticipation, that one day I’d be in contact with any member of this band, I’d have left our house in a hearse.


Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Ah! Shucks Baby / Tiny

Listen: Aw! Shucks Baby / Tiny
Aw! Shucks Baby / Tiny

Not unlike Big Maybelle, Tiny could belt it out. With only a few minor hits to claim, she came and went in relative obscurity. Despite being signed to King/Federal, and touring with, amongst others, Joe Turner, Bo Diddley, Little Willie John, Etta James and Ray Charles, it seems her star never properly shined. From the sound of this single, she was a powerhouse. Originally released in ’57 (she was signed from ’57 – ’60), King decided on reissuing this, her most successful record in ’63 which is pressing above.

I was in Washington DC in the early 90′s, returning to New York on a Sunday. Duane and I were there to see a band for Medicine, my label. Next morning, I scoured the yellow pages for a vinyl shop. One small listing was close by and sounded interesting, claiming doo-wop, gospel and blues amongst it’s specialties, so we gave it a go.

It was in a pretty run down section of town and to be honest, we were the only two white folks in sight. The elderly man who ran the place, as he had for 30+ years, was behind the counter making small talk with a few women his age, all in their Sunday best, fresh from church. The shop was filled with cds and only a small section of 7″ vinyl in a back corner, not at all like he described his stock when I’d called earlier. Even more frustrating, the very vast majority of them were recent reissues. Really dreadful.

But I did notice a few Chess, Checker and King originals amongst them, all of which I selected and eventually made my way up to the counter with them in hand. Duane too had picked out a bunch. When I asked the price, he looked through them and said “They’re usually $4 but I think we should have a half price sale today, seeing as you boys have chosen some really nice stuff here”.

We immediately launched into all kinds of questions – from both sides. “How did we know about these records?” from him, and “Did you ever get to see Inez & Charlie Foxx or Slim Harpo?” from us. That kind of banter. We were having a great old time. Then he says “It’s about time to close but if you’d like, I’ll let you into the basement. I have a lot more records down there and you might find a few good ones”. We were taking the shuttle home, they flew hourly and therefore in no hurry. Seemed a little odd to close your shop midday (it was at that point around 2pm) and invite the only two customers, behind the counter then down to the basement. We took the chance.

Oh my God, the place was heaving with boxlots of 45′s. Loads and loads, mostly Chess and King. He came down and started spinning Sonny Boy Williamson and Hank Marr records, so many others too. We were there for hours, high as kites on the buzz. I still ask Duane, what were we thinking? We should have bought them all. I came home with at least 200, all in company sleeves. Tiny’s ‘Aw! Shucks Baby’ was just one of the endless jems.

After all that, this truly kind, gentle and generous man drove us to the airport in his big old, polished, oversized 70′s car, going way below the speed limit, in true fashion. It was like a little kid’s first ride in a stretch, and the stories about the past, like seeing shows at The Howard Theatre, kept flowing. Duane recalls his name being Christian, but in the high of the moment, we didn’t exchange contact info, a real regret. Still, a priceless memory for life.

King Records Warehouse

Above: A shot of the King Records shipping room. I wonder if any of Tiny’s were being picked and packed?

Ty Hunter

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Listen: Bad Loser / Ty Hunter TyHunterBadLoser.mp3

With Berry Gordy’s sister Gwen, Billy Davis started Anna Records in ’59, and later the Checkmate label in ’61. Both were distributed by Chess and one of their first Anna signings were The Voice Masters, whose various members took the lead vocal, depending on the track. Ty Hunter was one, as were David Ruffin and Lamont Dozier.

That web and family tree is all tangled but in a good way. Simultameously, Ty Hunter released singles for each imprint, and had moderate RnB success.

When Gordy/Davis eventually sold the masters of both imprints to Chess, Ty Hunter continued as a solo artist for that label, and released a handful of 7′s. None were hits, but years later became in demand. He’s seldom name checked in the history of RnB/Soul but the purists among us had been well aware for years.

The one Chess release of his that eluded me until now, ‘Bad Loser’, became a jaw dropping Sunday morning rummage sale find. ’tis that season again.

Listen: Something Like A Storm / Ty Hunter TyHunterSomethingLike.mp3

Like Hi, Motown, Stax etc, each company’s entire roster seems to have played, recorded, written and produced each other. Noticing Bo Diddley co-wrote this B side, I can’t help wondering, is that him on the bv’s, did he play on it, was he there?

After Ty Hunter’s run with Chess ended, he joined The Originals in ’71. Signed to Motown, and with Marvin Gaye producing some of their intital hits, they continued to have a decent run of US RnB chart entries. Ty Hunter finally got some deserved recognition – it only took fifteen years or so.

New York Dolls

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

NYDollsMystery, New York Dolls, Mercury, Shadow Morton

Listen: Who Are The Mystery Girls? / New York Dolls NYDollsMystery.mp3

It shouldn’t have been possible – that being when The Dolls reformed a few years back, they’d be any good. Let’s face it, only two of them were left by the time the reunion gained any momentum, and the whole point in ’74 was being young and outrageous. But surprise surprise, I saw them at Randells’ Island with a slew of bands (Iggy & The Stooges, The Strokes, The Pretty Things, The Electric Prunes, Bo Diddley, The Creation) all presented in a one day festival setting by Little Steven, and they tore it up.

Seriously, David Johansen, so thin he made an Olympic runner look heavy, but with absolutely no muscle tone, a skirt type pant combination, pearls, red nails and long hair not unlike Harry Dunn out of The Hullaballoos. What more could you ask for? Now, just as in ’74, when they were sandwiched between Mott The Hoople and 3rd on the bill, Aerosmith, opening the show with ‘Who Are The Mystery Girls?’ nearly caused a riot – it was so powerful. On that day, August 14, 2004, The New York Dolls unquestionably put on one of the best live shows I’d ever seen.

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.