Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Blue Bland’

The Graham Bond Organization

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Listen: St. James Infirmary / The Graham Bond Organization
St. James Infirmary / The Graham Bond Organization

Around ’65/’66, The Graham Bond Organization were a most evil sounding jazz/blues mixture, not only as a band, but compared to any other group during the period. Their two albums, including the Jack Bruce / Ginger Baker / Dick Heckstall-Smith lineup, were released by Columbia UK but remained unissued in the US. In fact the only American release ever from this line-up and The Graham Bond Organization in general was this lone 7″ on Ascot, both sides from that Columbia UK period. The much covered ‘St. James Infirmary’, a single only A side in the UK from early ’66, likewise took on the A side position in the US.

This American folk song of anonymous origin dates back to early 1900 and has taken on many interpretations, one of which claims the song to be written about St. James Hospital in London, which was used to treat leprosy.

Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Big Mama Thornton, Billie Holiday, Bobby Hackett, Stan Kenton, Lou Rawls, Bobby Blue Bland, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Doc Watson, Janis Joplin and The White Stripes are amongst those who have recorded the track. Yet it’s this one that competes neck in neck with the Cops ‘N Robbers version as my personal favorite.

The soon-to-be direction John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Dick Heckstall-Smith would assume on BAREWIRES can be heard here.

Listen: Wade In The Water / The Graham Bond Organization
Wade In The Water / The Graham Bond Organization

‘Wade In The Water’, the band’s first A side single for Columbia UK was also included on their debut album, THE SOUND OF ’65. Here in the US, it was coupled, to complete this lone US single, as B side. I’m guessing Ascot Records had released it, with an option for an album, should they get any traction.

At the time, the label was having great success via Manfred Mann, during their initial RnB influenced period with Paul Jones as lead vocalist. They were also a Columbia UK act, and Ascot was releasing other singles from that label’s catalog, including those by Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, The Force Five and Madeline Bell.

The smooth mod rendition of ‘Wade In The Water’ from The Ramsey Lewis Trio stole all the airplay that same year, but this jazz leaning, late night version clearly counter balanced a then ubiquitous song that seemed insatiable to just about everyone in some form or another.

Bobby Blue Bland / Ike Turner & His Orchestra

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Listen: Love You Baby – Bobby Blue Bland / Ike Turner & His Orchestra

It might be a bit of a generic juke joint rumble, but this particular rumble was done with Bobby Blue Bland, Ike Turner and God only knows who else in one room.

Let’s envision it for a moment. No multi-day, starting at noon, air conditioned, catered, I’ve had a blog hit so I know what I’m doing recording session here. These were guys who slaved the chitlin circuit, with it’s separate drinking fountains, cordoned off restaurant seating, trudging from small town to small town, grinding out a paycheck. Just imagine the rock gut liquor hangover that morning after. Enduring long rides in crowded smoke filled cars, getting to that next engagement. And this was every day. Back when you truly had to master your craft, in fact, rouse crowds into frenzies nightly, simply to earn a working musician’s living. And if you were black, second class everything was a way of life.

Although credited on the label, Ike Turner is seldom name checked when ‘Love You Baby’ gets mentioned, if ever it does.

For me, the 2:25 playing length is a welcome daydream to another time, not unlike my fantasy with DRIVING MISS DAISY and her son’s aqua kitchen, but obviously on the other side of the tracks. I even let the phone ring off the hook last night while listening to ‘Love You Baby’ on repeat, despite it being my sister, worried about the hurricane.

Bobby Blue Bland and Ike Turner in the same room. God I wish I could have been there.

Ann Peebles

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Listen: I Pity The Fool / Ann Peebles
I Pity The Fool / Ann Peebles

Even for ’71 with blues-rock in powerful fashion, a pure blues song charting mainstream and crossing over was very unlikely, especially for a black female. Despite the tide, Hi Records released ‘I Pity The Fool’ that year. Against all odds, the single became one of her three to register on BILLBOARD’s Top 100, eclipsing Ann Pebbles’ more well known releases like ‘I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down’ and ‘Breaking Up Somebody’s Home’, by reaching a meager #85, but charting nonetheless.

Any version of ‘I Pity The Fool’ is a welcome addition to the collection. Easily, Bobby Blue Bland’s rendition from ’61, being the most successful chart wise, gets thought of straight away. Or for the hardcores, The Mannish Boys’ expensive Parlophone pressing from early ’65. A beat group DOA, the band broke up fast, with David Bowie moving upward and onward, while band member John Edward went on to a very brief Pirate Radio career, prior to starting Hollywood Records in the late 70′s.

Bobby Bland / Little Joe Cook / Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Listen: Stormy Monday Blues / Bobby Bland BobbyBlandStormyMondayBlues.mp3

Turns out Bobby Bland was the initial culprit, or at least the most well known one. His version of ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ is actually another song, simply titled ‘Stormy Monday’ or ‘Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad)’ written by T-Bone Walker. The real ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ was an Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine composition. Yet every time an artist covered the former and mislabeled it as ‘Stormy Monday Blues’, the wrong songwriters would get the royalties. What a mess.

Poor T-Bone Walker, he was apparently forever trying to get paid. The Allman Brothers Band, who without doubt earned him the most, correctly registered their release to ensure all would fall into place properly. Problem being the song itself was so good, it became a signature staple. The mislabeling, a domino after-effect.

Bobby Bland had the first hit at RnB and Pop in ’62. I was too young to hear this one on the wireless when current, but it must have sounded pretty sweet, especially at night. It’s a real night time record. I bet it was played a lot in the South.

Listen: Stormy Monday Blues (Part 1) / Little Joe Cook LittleJoeStormy1.mp3

Listen: Stormy Monday Blues (Part 2) / Little Joe Cook LittleJoeStormy2.mp3

Apparently, more than mislabeling happened with Little Joe Cook’s version, released by Guy Stevens on Sue Records in the UK. First of all, he and Chris Blackwell started this Island UK imprint to release American Sue releases in Britain. Somewhere along the line, they just began putting out any blues or RnB master they acquired from the States under the Sue moniker, unbeknownst to Juggy Murray, owner of Sue in New York. That fueled the first set of fireworks.

Fireworks display number two came when EMI’s Chis Farlowe & The Thunderbirds, now suddenly known as Little Joe Cook, found their studio rehearsal of ‘Stormy Monday’ had been taped, and subsequently released, without their knowledge or permission, on the Sue label by Guy Stevens. Story goes he and Chris Farlowe were quite close, and according to Albert Lee (guitartist in The Thunderbirds), it was meant to hide from EMI that their band was moonlighting on another label.

On top of all that, this release credited Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine correctly – if you go by the song title on the label. Problem was the music on the vinyl was again the T-Bone Walker composition of ‘Stormy Monday’, not ‘Stormy Monday Blues’. More headaches for T-Bone.

Some say Little Joe Cook’s version is the greatest UK blues record ever recorded. I’ve read this on a bunch of occasions. Who can say. Tell you one thing, it’s a shimmering take on an already late night, after hours classic. It may be one of my all time favorite blues numbers. It and ‘St. James Infirmary’.