Archive for the ‘John Lee Hooker’ Category

The Crystals

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Listen: Little Boy / The Crystals CrystalsLittleBoy.mp3

How is it possible that ‘Little Boy’ was not a hit. It will always be one of the unexplained wonders of the world. No surprise Phil Spector flipped his lid. This (#92), ‘River Deep – Mountain High’ (#88), The Ramones ‘Baby I Love You (never charted at all). How appalling. What an embarrassment.

I do recall hearing the record a lot in my hometown though. All the Phillies singles seemed to get played upstate. And when ‘Little Boy’ was current, I neglected to get me a copy. It wasn’t until summer ’73 when I finally bought one for 35p at Graham Stapleton’s stall outside Cheapo Cheapo Records on Rupert Street in London’s Soho. What a bargain. As always, the label copy name checks included Larry Levine and Jack Nitzsche.

Fast forward to the late 80′s. I’m working at Island, A&Ring Marianne Faithfull. The company was searching for something a bit more current on the upcoming album. She’d done STRANGE WEATHER prior, and it’s old Europe Prague winebar angle was getting tired. I’d suggested New Order produce. Chris wasn’t feeling that. It was apparently too young a look. Somewhere in the mix, Jack Nitzsche became the possible candidate, so off to LA went Marianne to try writing with him, see if some result could develop.

He had just produced the soundtrack to THE HOT SPOT, a truly terrific album with John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis and Taj Mahal. There was even a single released, and that’s posted elsewhere on this blog.

Jack actually called me one day with an update, basically saying nothing much was getting done. Not the best news, but getting a call from Jack Nitzsche with any news at all was huge in my book.

No sooner did he ring than Marianne was on the phone.

“I need to get out of here. All he wants to do is fuck me”

“So do it”


She was back in NY days later. So much for that collaboration.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by LaLa Brooks

John Lee Hooker / Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

I really do appreciate Van Morrison for many reasons. He toured about 10 years back, maybe more, with Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames as his band, and John Lee Hooker supporting. I figured the Georgie Fame bit would mean more cohesive song structure as opposed to some of the free form shows he’d done. True, it did. But not before giving Georgie and his band a 4 song spotlight set, whereby they played his biggest US successes (‘Get Away’, ‘Yeh Yeh’, The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde’ and remarkably ‘Daylight’). In addition Van did ‘Gloria’ much to everyone’s surprise, especially as he and Georgie kept it pretty close to the original.

JohnLeeHookerBoom, John Lee Hooker, Vee Jay, Columbia UK

Listen: Boom Boom / John Lee Hooker JLHookerBoomUKA.mp3

Up first was John Lee Hooker, during possibly his last tour. What an unexpected treat. There was none of that new material stuff to endure, instead the classics, played raw and fluidly, all the while seated. No surprise for him to play ‘Boom Boom’, ‘I Love You Honey’ and ‘Dimples’.

JLHookerBigLegs, John Lee Hooker, Vee Jay, Columbia UK

Listen: Big Legs, Tight Skirt / John Lee Hooker JLHookerBigLegs.mp3

Most surprising was when pulling out a more obscure favorite ‘Big Legs, Tight Skirt’. Not only was hearing the song a thrill, but the set up story was hysterical beyond belief. You can just imagine.

GeorgieFameYehUKA, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Imperial, Columbia UK

GeorgieFameYehUSA, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Imperial, Columbia UK

GeorgieFameYehUS, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Imperial, Columbia UK

Listen: Yeh Yeh / Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames GeorgieFameYehYeh.mp3

To be honest, I hadn’t realized Georgie Fame was even involved until a few days prior. Nor did I expect a solo set. To say it was a treat is vastly understating the moment. Voice still perfectly intact, players easily replicating the groove.

But the most unexpected bonus of the night: a jukebox tab.

It was originally set up for Van Morrison to do the honors via management. Rumored to be difficult, I was pretty shocked when a confirmation call came through with instructions to meet stage door right post show, and get escorted in to see Van, which I promptly adhered to. In a small dressing room, Van was standing waiting. This seemed rather bizarre. Why was I so lucky? He’d been briefed on my request, so when he inquired about song choice, I asked would he do one for Them as well. “Sure, just show me what to write and where”. ‘Richard Cory’ was my choice, I indicated clearly where to write what, Van took the penned signed his name (see tab below) and huffed from the room. Although disappointed at being so close to a signed jukebox tab for Them, I thought it was pretty interesting that this signature, and the accompanying story, was how he wanted to be remembered:

VanMorrisonJukeboxTab, Van Morrison

Georgie Fame, on the other hand, was just the opposite, even recalling the B side, which I hadn’t had the chance of researching prior to the show:

GeorgieFameJukeboxTab, Georgie Fame

John Lee Hooker / Miles Davis / Taj Mahal

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Bank Robbery / John Lee Hooker / Miles Davis /Taj Mahal

Listen: Bank Robbery / John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis & Taj Mahal HotSpot.mp3

This couldn’t have a more politically correct cast of characters. In addition to the players, there’s Jack Nitzsche and Dennis Hopper. One could confuse this as a tasty, well hip selection to post. But let me tell you, not only is this a great single regardless who’s on it – it’s amazing that it’s a single at all. Not many labels in the 90′s would’ve pressed this onto a 7″. I cherish my copy, and with a picture sleeve to boot.

From the soundtrack to THE HOT SPOT, Chris Blackwell picked it up for release when the cult film was doing the Sundance circuit. I remember him asking me if I thought he’d overpaid for it. Not one person in the office could stop listening to it for weeks. Overpaid? No way.