Posts Tagged ‘Elvis Presley’

Jackie Wilson

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Listen: Baby Workout / Jackie Wilson

It’s strange how time has diminished the apparent power and originality once associated with Jackie Wilson.

Read Doug Carter’s THE BLACK ELVIS: JACKIE WILSON. You won’t be able to put it down, nor will you understand why he didn’t reach legendary status like those who credited him with their inspiration: Michael Jackson, James Brown and Elvis Presley for starters.

On stage, his knee drops, splits, spins, one footed across-the-floor slides became the blueprint from which they, and many others, lifted, crowning him Mr. Excitement. As a result of the book, I found myself trolling through a surprisingly large section of about thirty Jackie Wilson singles, involuntarily amassed through the years, sure that one day, I’d need them. Well that day arrived even before the book’s halfway mark. Didn’t take much to pull out and spin the pristine pressing, on original orange labelled Brunswick, of ‘Baby Workout’, a huge record in ’63 (#5 Pop). Workout being the giveaway word, this title held great potential. No let down there.

House producer Dick Jacobs, ann under appreciated band leader and executive, took responsibility for A&Ring many of Jackie Wilson’s records during the period. His clean, safe backing vocals and big orchestral arrangements, often dismissed and unfairly overlooked, actually helped to bring out the grit in both Jackie Wilson’s voice and songwriting. According to many, the combination of these two talents led to some of the earliest soul recordings, many becoming mainstream hits, like ‘Baby Workout’.

Listen: Soul Galore / Jackie Wilson

The post Dick Jacobs era resulted in Carl Davis being tasked the Jackie Wilson production responsibilities. One of their first works together, ‘Soul Galore’, got no traction upon release, somehow failing to pick up much airplay, even on the RnB stations. But by the early 70′s, it qualified as one of Jackie Wilson’s biggest Northern Soul successes, thereby being reissued, via the pressing pictured above.

Luckily, a very typical trait of Carl Davis’ was to consistently incorporate pumped up, brass arrangements into swinging soul songs, thereby helping give Jackie Wilson one of his biggest and ultimately final mainstream hits with ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher’ a year or so later in ’67.

James Burton & Ralph Mooney

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Listen: Corn Pickin’ / James Burton & Ralph Mooney
Corn Pickin / James Burton & Ralph Mooney

I wonder if ‘Corn Pickin” ever got played on Country radio back when released in ’68. According to THE AIRHEADS RADIO SURVEY ARCHIVE, it got no Pop play whatsoever. By far not a complete overview of airplay, it’s a pretty good source, and really fun to troll about on if you have a few hours to kill. But be forewarned, you will need a few hours.

Recorded, most likely cheap and on the fast, his collaborative album with pedal steel player Ralph Mooney yielded this one single, which was dreadfully out of tune with the times. Being, I’m guessing, an LA music scene player/celebrity, and fresh from resident guitarist on SHINDIG (and member of house band The Shindogs), turns out ‘Corn Pickin” foresaw the whole country/rockabilly west coast fad by about fifteen years, when The Long Ryders and others would find it musically fashionable.

Much appreciated by guitar players universally, putting in his time with Ricky Nelson during the late 50′s, when you really had to be able to play if you wanted to make records, meant his tones and clarity were unmistakable.

Did you know James Burton’s an inductee of the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame? Did you even know there was a Rockabilly Hall Of Fame? I didn’t until tonight.

It’s a fun website. But until The Cramps are in (The Stray Cats and not The Cramps – huh?), it’s a little hard to take it seriously.

Elvis Presley

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Listen: Suspicious Minds / Elvis Presley ElvisSuspiciousMinds.mp3

I have friends who live in total disbelief that Elvis didn’t affect my entire musical life the way he did theirs, that I’m completely mad and missing so much for having not appreciated him as the originator. Okay. Well I never really got it.

I once saw quite a good documentary that covered his pre-Army or ‘whatever service he was drafted into’ life – and for an evening kinda caught the bug. But to be honest, it didn’t spill into pulling some singles out of the shelf the next day. And I do see now that I have quite a chunk. Any late 50′s – early 60′s picture sleeves, and he had many, were hard to pass up at lawn sales through the years.

Like the next guy, I do find here and there, the occasional Elvis track actually became a favorite, but only in hindsight. ‘Suspicious Minds’ is one.

A few times this very calender year I found the music piped into our local Duane Reade had me leaving the store remembering some great record that even oldies radio doesn’t play much these days, well I don’t think they do that is – I hardly listen. Happened when I heard Sly & The Family Stone’s ‘If You Want Me To Stay’ and now this one.

Even more fun were the out of place handful of charcters singing along. Several in fact, and they didn’t look like locals. Seriously, these were definitely not New Yorkers, but being summer I’m guessing they migrated in for a vacation. A flock of older guys in string ties, pilled black rather worn looking western shirts and noticably pointed cowboy boots buying six packs of canned Miller beers are not common in my neighborhood. These are honestly not meant to be dismissive, cheeky comments. Maybe it was a band, I like to think not as I do love anyone to whom Elvis was King. Their loyalty is to be awed – and courage to not change their look even more brave. It was a most exotic five minutes.

‘Suspicious Minds’ sounded so good tonight that I couldn’t get home fast enough hoping I had a copy. I’m pleased to say I do, and that it’s in glorious mono.

Wanda Jackson

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Listen: Let’s Have A Party / Wanda Jackson WandaParty.mp3

Who doesn’t love Wanda Jackson?

I’ll tell you who – only people that don’t know about her. Dragging along a big old impressive history that included Elvis, her real unheard of at the time talent was being a rockin’ ass guitar player. My guess is way more rockin’ than the recordings give evidence to.

‘Let’s Have A Party’ was her first Billboard hit after signing to Capitol, when rockabilly safely walked hand in hand with country.

Listen: Cool Love / Wanda Jackson WandaCool.mp3

It’s B side, ‘Cool Love’ features touring band members pianist Big Al Downing and guitarist Roy Clark. Other than The Duchess and Cordell Jackson (no relation), she had no competition for years and years. Neither did they.

And then there was Ivy.

Candi Staton

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

CandiStatonGhettoUSA, Candi Staton, Rick Hall, Fame, Mac Davis

Listen: In The Ghetto / Candi Staton CandiStatonGhetto.mp3

Country Soul, as Candi Staton’s sound has been tagged, well I guess somebody had to do it. Thankfully, her great voice lent itself to loads of covers while with Rick Hall’s Fame Records, including ‘Stand By Your Man’ and ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’. Just after Fame secured distribution through United Artists in ’71, he and Candi cut this Mac Davis song at the company’s studios on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. A history with some of the greatest voices both Fame and Rick Hall certainly had: Etta James, Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin.

Mac Davis, now who would have thought he wrote ‘In The Ghetto’. Not me. This version is a nice end piece to Elvis’, a hit some 4 years earlier.

I had a few Candi Staton singles in the collection, but honestly, didn’t realize the power of her voice until hearing the compilation cd, titled simply CANDI STATON that Mat sent me. We’d been sitting in the Spreadeagle Pub in Camden – and I think ‘In The Ghetto’ came on the jukebox or something. Anyways we both basically lit up at the mention of her name, and he offered up his extra copy. Without it, I think I’d still be a little in the dark about her greatness.

Terry Stafford

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

terrystafforduka, Terry Stafford, Twinkle, The Shangi-las, London American

Listen: Suspicion / Terry StaffordTerryStafford.mp3

Despite obvious Elvis Presley overtones, the song’s Roy Orbison chorus won me. Not that I was a fan of either during those British Invasion days, given their DA’s and older looks. Perhaps it was my attraction to the record’s Joe Meek production similarities. It’s found a permanent creepy place in my psyche. Perfectly dated, I wouldn’t suggest anyone try remaking it. Impossible.

Ray Charles & His Orchestra

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

raycharlesmovinusa, ray charles, atlantic

Listen: I’m Movin’ On / Ray Charles & His Orchestra RayCharlesMovin.mp3

raycharlesbelieveusa1, ray charles, atlantic,

Listen: I Believe To My Soul / Ray Charles & His Orchestra RayCharlesBelieve.mp3

1959, the year this double sider mid-charted, also marked the end of his time with Atlantic. A few raw R&B singles spilled into his later ABC Records output, like ‘Busted’, but as it turned out, this was the end of a real deal era, not unlike Elvis pre-draft or The Rolling Stones with Brian Jones. Unfortunately there are many examples.

Love Sculpture covered ‘I Believe To My Soul’ on BLUES HELPING. It’s where I first heard it. I played the record a few years back, this after a long, long patch of collecting all the originals, and God did it sound white. Ouch. Still the recording is nicely time period, meaning plenty of crystal clear separation with lots of space exposing all the good and bad. Despite the sugary rockabilly of Dave Edmunds’ later stuff, he was obviously a pretty flash guitarist at the start. Ray Charles’ version is everything I could have wished for – brings me right to some fantasy juke joint backwoods honky tonk, whatever those places were described as. I like to think this is what it sounded like.

In similar fashion, The Rolling Stones OUT OF OUR HEADS included Hank Snow’s ‘I’m Movin’ On’. I was nuts about the track and convinced some friends to come see him at The State Fair. He was playing straight C&W by then though (’69), and did not rock out in the slightest. I bet it was probably way better than I could appreciate at the time.