Archive for the ‘Hard-to-find’ Category

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No, No, No. (Yes, Yes, Yes)

April 11, 2014

December 1970 Sheet 772 frame 5 San Francisco, CA

Bo Diddley. Doesn’t/didn’t get the credit he deserved when it comes to the foundations of rock and roll. Yer Chuck Berrys and Little Richards are undeniable founding fathers of the thing that brings us all here, but so too was Bo. It’s amazing how many bands/records have been influenced by his flat scrubbed approach to the blues. (Off the top of my head) without Bo no Not Fade Away. No Willie & the Hand Jive. No I Want Candy. No Magic Bus. No How Soon Is Now? The list is endless, and some proof at least that Bo was a giant among mortals.

bo diddley

Bo’s 2nd single Diddley Daddy had a track called She’s Fine She’s Mine on the b-side;


She’s Fine She’s Mine is all reverb, shimmer and twang, a three chord blues carried along by rudimentary maraca percussion and a wailing harp. Borrowing heavily from it, Willie Cobbs‘ cut his own hollerin’ dustbowl blues version, re-titling it You Don’t Love Me. The young Brian Jones was certainly listening closely by this point, as was Buddy Guy who re-wrote it as You Don’t Love Me Baby in 1965.

By the late 60s, with The Kinks, Beatles and Who reaching a creative peak, the sticky-fingered garage bands were listening closely enough to appropriate the best bits, with not one but two bands taking You Don’t Love Me and creating terrific slices of angst-wridden melodramatic teen pop, allowing their efforts to escape the confines of the dusty garage long enough in order to be commited to the confines of 7″s of dusty vinyl. Vinyl that would ultimately be unloved and for the main part vastly unheard by almost everyone.

Kim And Grim‘s swingin’ alley cat version of You Don’t Love Me adds Hannah Barbera-style backing vocals and replaces all brass riffs with the same melody played on scratchy twangin’ guitar. Richard Hawley must surely be a fan of this record. Great music to sweep floors to as well;


The Starlets‘ version is wee a bit rougher around the edges, and a whole lot more thrilling for it. A pre Glitter Band caveman stomp of handclaps and brainless tub thumping it adds some terrific ear-splitting guitar that would appear almost note-for-note one year later on The Other Half’s Mr Pharmacist (later done in almost note-for-note fashion by The Fall. But you knew that already).


barbara and browns

Fast forward into the next decade and the song had grabbed the attention of the Stax recording studio. In 1971, Barbara & the Browns cut a fine southern soul version, incorporating both twanging guitar riffs and brass underpinned by electric keys and a backing section (The Browns) that shoo-be-doo and ad-lib like a low-rent end of the pier Supremes tribute act. Which is a compliment, obviously.


dawn_penn

20 or so years later and the song hit the charts once again, this time as a dubby, skanking Jamaican reggae track. Dawn Penn took her version to the Top 10 of umpteen countries around the world, doing the decent thing by ensuring Willie Cobb received an equal writing credit (though not Diddley). As he should. Although, while the skeleton of Penn’s version is undoubtedly based on Bo’s original and Cobb’s arrangement, musically it is on another plain.


 

I wonder if, back in the 50s, Bo Diddley knew just how far his wee song would travel. I doubt it. That’s the power of music folks. And it just goes to show that nothing’s original, no matter how much you might believe it is.

 

 

 

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Bob’s Boots

March 11, 2014

bob and suze

Boots Of Spanish Leather is Bob Dylan‘s first truly great love song. They would’ve quaintly called it ‘a ballad’ in 1964, when it first appeared on his The Times They Are A-Changin‘ LP, although it dates back to at least 1962 when the then 21 year-old Dylan recorded it along with a whole host of originals that were to be potentially offered to the more established acts of the day in the hope that this would help cement the burgeoning Bob’s up and coming talent as a writing force to be reckoned with.

Boots Of Spanish Leather (demo)


Like any other Dylan song you care to mention, Boots Of Spanish Leather is open to any number of interpretations; It’s a straightforward long-distance plea to an absent lover. It’s a metaphorical paen to Dylan’s past, the towns he grew up in and grew out of as he morphed from Minnesota Little Richard wannabee to Greenwich Village hipster. It’s sung from Dylan to his muse. It’s sung from the muse to Dylan. You could tangle yourself up in blues just thinking about it, but if you put all the messages and metaphors aside for a moment and just listen, one thing becomes clear – Boots Of Spanish Leather is timeless, ageless and peerless. And written by someone barely out of his teens. The talented bastard.

 bob and suze 2

It’s very possible that it was written about Suze Rotolo, the girlfriend who’s wrapped around Bob as they walk the snow-filled Village streets on the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Couldn’t live with her and couldn’t live without her, Bob and Suze had an up and down relationship. In 1962 she took off for Italy to study art. Of course. Only bohemian New Yorkers who barely had a dime to their name went to Europe to study art.

I’m sailin’ away my own true love, I’m sailin’ away in the morning…” and off we go. Verses ping-pong back and forth between the two protagonists, Dylan’s youthful voice that strangely wonderful blend of sand and glue. “Is there something I can send you from across the sea, from the place that I’ll be landing?”

No,” replies Bob. “I just want you back.”

I might be gone a long time,” she says. (Or, to paraphrase, I doubt I’ll be back anytime this side of Christmas, and if I am, I won’t be rushing round.)

I just want you back, that’s all.”

Phhhh. Listen. I don’t know if I’ll be back, it depends how I feel.”

Sca-roo you then. Send me a souvenir of Spain. A pair of boots or something impractical to post.”

Bob’s words are far more poetic than my ham-fisted praphrasing, but that’s about the jist of it. If he can’t have the girl, he’ll have the boots instead and metaphorically walk out of her life/away from this town/and on to pastures new. Have a listen to the LP version;

Boots Of Spanish Leather


I’ve shamefully given up on Bob a wee bit recently, what with his joint tours with Mark Knopfler and 4 nights in the Armadillo at £60 a pop, but a decade or so ago I was a card-carrying Bob Cat who went to all the gigs; the good, the bad and the ugly. It was tragic watching a once terrific backing band led by a a true maverick degenerate into Chris Rea’s backing band with a Thunderbirds puppet, back to the audience, farting about on rudimentary organ.

Much has been written of the fact that you can go and see Bob and not recognise a single song until you read the setlist the next day. That’s rubbish. It’s usually said by those who truly expect to hear a hopped-up Bob rattling off Subterranean Homesick Blues like it’s 1965 all over again before segueing into a carbon copy of Hurricane. Bob’s sets are peppered with a liberal sprinkling of mid 60s majesty. Sometimes the arrangements have been altered. Sometimes the phrasing is all over the place. But the song is always recognisable.

bob secc 04

In June 2004, Bob played 2 nights in Glasgow. On the first night, at the SECC, he played a version of Boots Of Spanish Leather that was truly spine tingling. A small ripple of applause from those in the know greeted it like a long lost brother as Bob and the band eased into it. A guy in front of us, at the gig alone, could barely restrain himself. His right leg juddered up and down and despite the dark, you could see his knuckles were pure white as he gripped the edge of his £35 plastic seat with one hand and his long-range binoculars with the other. Lost in his own wee world, he was oblivious to the dimwits all around who used this opportunity to go to the toilet or the hot dog stand while Bob played ‘a new one’.

Boots Of Spanish Leather (SECC June 23rd, 2004)


So, there you go. The moment I first heard Bob sing Boots Of Spanish Leather in the same room as myself was somewhat spoiled, but for that guy his night was made. The next night, Bob played the Barrowlands and, well, that was outrageously brilliant. Watching the sweat drip off his cowboy hat and onto his keyboard as he cautiously felt his way into Ballad Of A Thin Man. Being swept away, feeling his joy at ours,  as he conducted the audience during Just Like A Woman (which he’s played in Glasgow every time since, I think). A wee Bob speech at the end. And Bob never speaks. That’s how good he was that night. No Boots Of Spanish Leather though.

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‘Head Music

February 18, 2014

Radiohead play both types of music – arty and farty, and they’re still the band by which all others must be measured. In comparison, everyone else just doesn’t sound like they’re really trying, do they?

Radiohead haven’t stood still. The left-field rock double whammy of The Bends and its more adventurous follow-up, OK Computer would’ve been the pinnacle of many a band’s career – lesser bands would maybe even have stopped after such an explosive one-two. Other bands (hello Coldplay, we’re looking at you) took lowest common denominator Radiohead and churned out the Asda price version, to much ringing of cash registers around the world. How could you improve on two great albums? Not many could. For some people, Radiohead couldn’t either. But you know better…..

radiohead2

I like the experimental, itchy, claustrophobic Radiohead. The static bursts. The skittering drums. The are-they-guitars-or-are-they-keyboards? The cut ‘n paste approach to the vocals. The way everything is wrapped, womb-like in its own wee Radiohead bubble. Recent Radiohead has been all about the sonic textures. The ebbing and flowing. The peaks and troughs. The grooves rather than the grunge.

These Are My Twisted Words was put up for free download a few years back on the band’s website. I’m sure you’ve heard it;


From the warped intro via the chiming, falling-down-a-hole guitar riff that surfs across the top, the whole thing jerks and twitches away like Thom Yorke’s gammy eye whilst maintaining an actual tune – the perfect amalgamation of all that makes Radiohead great. Lots of people moan that the ‘Heid have lost their way with a tune. Sit them down and play them this. The only way it could be better was if it was three times the length.

yorke

Where I End And You Begin is all swirling ambience and one chord groove. Hip hop drums and phat bass. But still slightly wonky and weird. It’s on Hail To The Thief, a quiet contender for title of Best Radiohead Album. I’m sure you’ve heard it too;


simple minds early

Post-rock Radiohead remind me an awful lot of pre-rock Simple Minds, back when they were releasing arty, Eastern European influenced glacial soundscapes. Equal parts post-punk snottiness and Bowie metallic art punk with a Kraftwerk man machine-like muscle, this was not music to punch fists in the air to. It was cerebral yet danceable. It aimed for basslines rather than headlines.  Perfect headphone music. Mandela Day and Belfast Child were somewhere in Western Europe, a million light years away.

Here’s a couple of early Simple Minds tracks. Note the influence on mid-period Radiohead. They won’t deny it.

Theme For Great Cities


This Earth That You Walk Upon


 

Have you got Polyfauna, the Radiohead app yet? What d’you think?

radiohead app

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Massive Attack

January 31, 2014

Baby Huey is one of the forgotten stars of 70′s soul, mainly because he died in October 1970 and it wasn’t until much later on, when his music was discovered by the hip-hop community that he gained any sort of acknowledgment.

baby huey lp

Named after a 1950s cartoon duck, the ironically-monikered Huey was massive in every way – he was massively overweight (between 25 and 28 stones (or 350-400 lbs if you’re that way inclined), he wore his hair in a massive afro,  he had a massive voice and used it to create massive tunes. He was a massive drinker. He even had a massive heroin addiction to go with it all.

baby huey

He came to the attention of Curtis Mayfield and signed to his Curtom label. Mayfield became something of a mentor to him and gave him the songs that would make up the A and B sides of his first single. Mayfield also suggested he get rid of his band The Babysitters, forever stuck in a mid 60s Motown rut. Curtis wanted Huey to expand (no pun intended) his sound towards the more politicised, psychedelicised sound of the times, which, sacked band or otherwise, he achieved. Huey’s tunes are packed full of riffs, refrains and drum breaks galore. Huey liked his music to ebb and flow, bringing the band down so he could throw in a social commentary or two, before letting the band soar in a riot of bass and brass. His songs regularly stretch out beyond the 6 minute mark and (I’d wager) are a sampler’s delight.

baby huey 7

First single Mighty Mighty Children is a one-chord groover, held together by stabbing Blaxploitation brass, wah-wah ripples and pseudo live vocals. Mighty indeed.

Mighty Mighty Children (Part 1)


Here’s Listen To Me, Baby Huey’s 2nd (and final) single release. A stone cold lost classic, it‘s terrific! Beginning with a taught guitar riff and Huey’s big voice careering between balls-out soul belter and Is It Real Or Is It Memorex glass-shattering falsetto, it fairly gets carried along on a tidal wave of trumpets and electric keys, clattering cowbell and ‘Have Mercy Brother!’ soulful paraphrasing. I think you’ll like it;

Listen To Me


On the other hand, Huey’s version of Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come is downbeat, treacle-thick and just shy of 10 long minutes. By the end you’ll be praying that a change is indeed gonna come. His wee spoken word part reminds me of James Brown or Isaac Hayes – all social conscience dressed up in occasionally trippy echoed sound effects. Settle in for the ride…

A Change Is Gonna Come


Most of these recording didn’t come out until after Huey was dead. An album, The Baby Huey Story was released to general indifference in 1971 and quickly forgotten about. My tracks come from the 1999 CD reissue that’s probably since been quickly forgotten about. You could do worse than track it down.

baby huey 2

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Vive le phonq

January 17, 2014

Imagine the pop landscape in 1967. It wasn’t just the trousers that were starting to get expansive. Everything’s got that slightly psychedelicised and trippy, frazzled edge to it. Itchycoo Park. Heroes and Villains. Penny Lane. Purple Haze. See Emily Play. Even The Temptations and other wide-lapel wearers on the Motown roster were abandoning their sure-fire recipes for success. Psychedelic Shack anyone? A future post for sure. Records became longer, more free-form and stretched out. Less structured, with not so much emphasis on the tried ‘n tested verse/chorus formula. But still pop. That bit’s important. The time was ripe for Sly and the Family Stone.

In 1967, Sly Stone didn’t like his record company. In fact, he didn’t trust them one iota. Sly had a bit of leeway though. He’d just had a top ten smash hit both sides of the Atlantic with Dance To the Music, a tune that did exactly what it says on the tin. So when Clive Davis at CBS asked Sly to follow it up with more of the same, the ever-willful and awkward Sly did just that.

sly keyboard

Sly decided to follow up Dance To The Music with a garage punk/funk version of the exact same track, stripped of all vocals save a tiny spoken word part and the chorus…..which this time was to be be sung entirely in French.

Naturally, he chose to call it Danse à La Musique. Released under the nom de plume of French Fries, it was terrific. The same du-du-du-dumb four-to-the-floor caveman stomping beat and growling fuzz bass drives it along. Street corner jazz scat vocals ping-pong back and forth, trying to be heard above the din of a joyfully fuzzed up, wasp-stuck-inside-your-car guitar track, clearly being played by a guitarist who’s just wired up a fuzzbox for the very first time. There’s precious little brass, replaced instead by a primitive keyboard that plays random Eastern-tinged phrases like a snake charmer on acid. The champion of a tambourine player never once stops throughout. His/her arm must’ve ached like a teenage boy’s with a Meaty, Beaty, Big ‘n Bouncy bargain Box Set for company. The whole thing is over and done with in three freaked-out flare-flapping minutes. I think you’ll like it.


 

sly kathyBONUS TRACK!

Here‘s a demo of Sly and co turning The KinksYou Really Got Me into a piece of proto Acid Jazz. Not sure if I like this or not, but it’s a curio right up Plain Or Pan’s street. And yours…


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Slithery People

January 5, 2014

 northern soul dancer

In 1963, civil rights activist and singing jazzman Oscar Brown Jr wrote and recorded The Snake, a finger clickin’, stand-up bass poppin’ bossa nova, free from unnecessary jazz frill but full of electric piano stabs and fluid electric guitar riffs. It‘s a cracker.


oscar brown jr

Borrowing heavily from one of Aesops’ fables, Brown’s track was a metaphorical parable about trust – a woman is conned by a seemingly in need of help half-frozen snake who by the end of the song has bitten her with poisoned tongue.

“Oh shut up silly woman!” said the reptile with a grin. “You knew darn well I was a snake before you took me in!”

You might know The Snake better as a northern soul belter. Half a decade after the original, Al Wilson took the tune by the scruff of the neck and turned it into something that, by 1975 (No. 41 on the UK charts), would be a talcum-dusted Mecca floor-filling monster.

Propelled by a properly frugging four-to-the-floor soul bassline, brass stabs build and build with each increasingly frenetic key-changing verse, Hal Blaine’s drum fills tumble like acrobats atop oil cans and the kitschest of hissing female vocals (Yesssssss! Come on in!) carry the chorus.

Without a doubt it‘s guaranteed to get me dancing like the rhythmically-challenged Ayrshireman I am.


al wilson

You might be surprised to learn that neither Al Wilson’s version nor the more unknown original were the first versions of The Snake I heard. Nope, it was second division indie also-rans Dodgy who first brought The Snake to my attention in 1994, including it on the b-side of their “double E-sidedMelod-EP.


Sticking with Al Wilson’s as their blueprint, the Dodgy version is a rush. It’s faster, fatter and has added mariachi trumpets in the tripping-over-itself finale. I love it. They’re still going, you know….

dodgy 2013

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Lucky Seven

January 2, 2014

Plain Or Pan began back in January 2007. December 2013 saw the 7th full year of the blog. The end of the year makes me come across all misty eyed and giddy at the thought of this blog being not only still in existence but in rather rude health. At some point recently, the one-and-a-half millionth visitor crossed the threshold to read all about James Brown or Lou Reed or some forgotten Teenage Fanclub b-side. Facebook followers are in abundance, Twitter sends its fair share of readers in this direction and if you read that wee panel on the right, you’ll notice visitors from as far afield as Buenos Aires, Berlin and Ayr. Thank you one and all!

What better way to celebrate 7 years of typos, titbits and factual inaccuracies than with the annual Plain Or Pan Best of the Year CD*.

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*I’ll provide the tunes. You make the CD.

Our team of stat monkeys works double shifts over the festive period before presenting me with documented proof of the most listened to and downloaded tracks from Plain Or Pan throughout the year and I compile them into a handy CD-length album, complete with artwork, that can be added straight to your iTunes or wherever and onto your iPod to listen to during that new-fangled jogging craze you’ll ditch by February. Alternatively, it could be burnt off to listen to, old-skool style, on a couple of shiny discs in the car.

Tracks included:

PixiesRiver Euphrates (Gigantic ep version)

Victoria Wood14 Again

The SmithsRusholme Ruffians (demo)

James Brown(Hot) I Need To Be Loved

SupergrassCaught By The Fuzz (acoustic)

The CrampsI Wanna Get In Your Pants

The House of LoveDestroy The Heart (demo)

Neil YoungBirds (Mono single version)

Elizabeth Archer & the Equators - Feel Like Makin’ Dub

Beak>Mono

Dave EdmundsBorn To Be With You

The CliqueSuperman

Ike TurnerBold Soul Sister

CanI’m So Green

WilcoImpossible Germany

The Mamas and PapasSomebody Groovy

Santo & Johnny -Sleepwalk

Dee ClarkBaby What You Want Me To Do

The SpecialsToo Much Too Young (LP version)

Barry AdamsonSet The Controls For The Heart Of The Pelvis

NeuHallogallo

MogwaiThe Sun Smells Too Loud

Trash Can SinatrasLittle Things That Keep Us Together

Roxy MusicVirginia Plain (Peel Session)

*** a cracker! ***

Get it here.

pop 7 cover art

Normal service resumed next week. Lookin’ forward to it!

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Ghosts Of Christmas Past (1)

December 14, 2013

(Originally posted this time last year)

It’s the annual, token Plain Or Pan Christmas posting. And this year it’s a cracker. Boom, boom!

The-Jacksons-I-Saw-Mommy-Kissi-567946

At the televised Michael Jackson funeral/tribute on the telly after his death there was a piece of slo-mo footage that was absolutely dynamite, and it’s stuck with me ever since. I can’t seem to find it on the You Tube (copyright, Rob Bryden) so you’ll need to make do with my 3 4 and a half year old memories.

In it, a barely into double figures Michael, wearing an eye-poppingly bright tank top and very pointy collared shirt, body pops up and down, left and right, back to front, with all the carefree abandon of someone so young and foolish and happy. Watching it was almost tear-inducing, to see what he once was like when faced with the grim reality of what he had become. His wee tailored checked flares flap around the top of his cuban heeled boots in time to his and his elder brothers choreographed moves, their afros bobbing up an down in funky unison. Yeah, the brothers played the music and laid down the groove, but all eyes were on Michael. Without him, they were nothing. Ten years old and he owned the stage, looking right down the lens of the camera and into the homes of millions when he was singing, desperate for the musical interlude to arrive when he could break out the shackles and into his total, uninhibited dance as though his life depended on it. That his bastard of a father was probably standing just out of shot with brows furrowed and fists clenched makes the piece of film all the more amazing.

jackson 5 ebony

We all know how he turned out, but for a few moments at least, remember Michael Jackson as the wee boy who lit up the stage.

It’s worth listening to the voice too. I mean, really listening to the voice. You know he can dance. And you know he can sing. But strip the music away, isolate the vocals and what do you have? Perfection, that’s what. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is not a track I’ll freely run to when I need to hear the Jackson 5. Who does? But listen to this – the vocal-only track.


The control in his voice. The sheer joy he sings it with. The range of notes he can reach. That last note he hits, and holds, right at the end, is sensational. Anyone who tells you they can sing should be made to listen to this then asked to reassess their position on the matter forthwith.

And here‘s wee Michael giving Santa Claus is Coming To Town the same sort of high-octane, helium-voiced treatment. A pocketful o’ dynamite!


jackson 5 xmas colour

*Bonus Track!

Here‘s that vocal-only track of Michael singing the Jackson 5′s I Want You Back – One of Plain Or Pan’s most popular downloads ever. If you’ve never heard it before it’ll blow your mind…


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33 rpm

December 8, 2013

 lennon

33 years ago today, John Lennon was shot dead outside his New York home.

When he died he was younger than I am now.

By the time I’d decided at the ripe old age of 32 that teaching might be the vocation for providing for my family, John Lennon had already lived a colourful life in Hamburg, formed the Beatles, split the Beatles, was one of the most recognisable faces on the planet and half-way through a solo career. Not bad going when you stop to think about it.

On the day he died, I came home from school to find my mum cleaning out the kitchen cupboards and crying. I shuffled about awkwardly, trying to be invisible while looking for the chocolate biscuits that weren’t in their usual place. Imagine seemed to soundtrack that whole era, Lennon’s unofficial national anthem for the world playing on every radio station across the globe.

Here’s the first take of Imagine, that other gun-wielding maniac Phil Spector at the controls and recorded at John’s house in Ascot. See when the honey-thick warm strings come in at the start with the piano……..s’beautiful, man!


And here’s a live version from 1971. Just John and his acoustic guitar in front of a politely reserved audience. Imagine wouldn’t be the song it was until Lennon’s death. Who knew?


Here’s the demo of Real Love. Lennon gives birth to Elliott Smith whilst sketching out a minor keyed spidery piano part that would never see the light of day during his lifetime.


And here’s the Jeff Lynne-produced shiny, polished-up Threetles version, released to promote the mid 90s Anthology series. Packed full of George’s slide guitar and some warm Beatles harmonies, it is (to paraphrase Alan Partridge) the band ELO could’ve been.


A few years ago, we visited New York. Just across the road from the Dakota Building in Central Park we came across Strawberry Fields. Once we’d managed to squeeze ourselves in between the hordes of quietly determined Japanese tourists hell-bent on not letting us through (Give Peace A Chance, my arse), much like that December day in my kitchen in 1980, we looked in slightly self-conscious silence at the wee tiled memorial.

I could post a picture of it, but it looks exactly the same as any one you choose to Google, although my picture has a random scattering of Autumn Central Park leaves on top of the black and white tiles, rather than the candles of eternity that were somewhat ironically missing that day.

 

*Bonus Schmonus!

Tis the season to be jolly ‘n all that. Here’s the rough version of Happy Xmas (War Is Over). Written and recorded in the space of a day, as was Lennon’s wont at the time, the record company failed to act quickly enough, and it missed out on being that year’s Christmas single. As with Imagine, it’s only since his death that Happy Xmas became truly popular.


lennon chapman

Lennon autographs a copy of his Double Fantasy LP for the man who would return to kill him six hours later. 

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Quiff Richard

November 26, 2013

little richard 57

Elvis may have been the King, but Little Richard was certainly the Queen. He’s terrific, isn’t he? The high priest of camp; his pompadoured hair like a Texan oil slick, sticky and stationary above those mad, popping eyes and perfectly plucked brows, the occasional dog-bothering ‘whoooo!’ while his hands pound away on the pianer with all the frenzied dexterity of a teenage boy with unlimited broadband and a lock on his bedroom door. Tee-riffic.

little richard gif

Slippin’ And Slidin’. Tutti Frutti. Lucille. Good Golly Miss Molly. Rip It Up. Long Tall Sally. Every one a throat-ripping, stone cold classic……..the building blocks of rock and roll and all that was to follow. But you knew that already.

Before Elvis, there was nothing‘, said John Lennon, but The Beatles owed Richard Penniman a huge debt or two. McCartney for one modelled his whole voice on Richard’s every single time his group broke free from the shackles of balladry and ruffled their rugs to the delight of the watching world – from the backing vocals on The Beatles’ own version of I Wanna Be Your Man right through to the White Album’s Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, the spirit of Little Richard was never far away.

DICK CLARK, LITTLE RICHARD

Here’s one you might not’ve heard before:


The Most I Can Offer (Just My Heart) is superb. Released on his 3rd album The Fabulous Little Richard by a slightly twitchy record company after he’d indicated a preference  for thumping the bible rather than the thumping boogie woogie of yore, The Most I Can Offer is a mid-paced soul-shaking break-up ballad (of course!), all rasping tenor sax and ding-ding-ding minor 7ths on the keys. It throws me every time. Why? Because it sounds like a duet between a high, quavering falsetto’d voice and a southern souler. Imagine if William Bell had sung with the black cleaner lady who appears from the waist down in every Tom And Jerry cartoon. Except The Most I Can Offer seems to be Richard and Richard alone, his voice alternating between broken-hearted blues mama and a down-on-his-knees tear-soaked gospel bawler. The version I’ve given you is Take 4. Which sounds exactly like takes 1, 2 and 3 and no doubt the master version too. If you have but an ounce of soul you’ll want to play this again and again and again.

??????????????

And here’s another:


Hey Hey Hey Hey, as reprised on the Beatles For Sale LP by those self-same Little Richard fans mentioned earlier. An out-and-out rocker, this features Richard at his most extreme, extravagant and extraordinary, pompadour bouncing while the piano pumps out primal jive ‘n wail. You can almost see the whites of his eyes on this recording.

And if you think the original’s good, you should have a listen to the Jim Jones Revue‘s outstanding needles-in-the-red version;


Proof, if any were needed, that Little Richard is as relevant today for any musician seeking the mother lode of rock ‘n roll.

little richard passport

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