Amoeblog

Digging Through the Record Stacks - 2

Posted by Whitmore, April 15, 2008 09:41pm | Post a Comment

Music historians often site The Diablos as the originators and early archetypes to the Motown sound. Formed in Detroit in about 1950 by high school students Nolan Strong and Bob "Chico" Edwards, the Diablos derive their name from, El Nino Diablo, a book Strong was reading for a school report. From the start the group's sound centered on Nolans’s eerily ethereal, lead tenor voice. (Musical talent ran deep in his family: Nolan’s cousin, Barrett Strong, wrote "Money'' and many other R&B standards.) Other original Diablos members included Juan Guiterriez as the second tenor, Willie Hunter singing baritone, Quentin Eubanks as bass with Edwards on guitar, and later on Nolan’s brother, Jimmy, would join the group as the second tenor.

In 1954, the Diablos went into Fortune Records to cut some demos. The owners of Fortune, Jack & Devora Brown, who founded the label in 1947, immediately signed them. Their first single, "Adios My Desert Love" (Fortune 509, 1954), was written by Devora Brown. However, their second single and masterpiece, "The Wind" (Fortune 511, 1954), was written by the group. This ballad has a curiously ghostly quality and takes full advantage of the groups strongest points; a simple guitar line plays with a light vibrato, filling in behind the perfectly sculpted background harmonies singing "blow wind," as Strong's incredibly delicate, smooth as silk lead carries over the top. The atmosphere takes on a rather strange quality during the bridge when, backed by a quirky plate-reverb effect, Strong quietly recites his lines about his missing lover.  All and all, and truthfully, this cut is slightly bizarre but so evocatively captivating.  And, of course, it went nowhere, until some eight years later when "The Wind" was re-released in 1962-- this time it found a national audience, hitting the lower rungs of the Billboard Charts. “The Wind" is now regarded as a doo wop classic and is much sought after by collectors. The Diablos would continue to record for Fortune Records until the mid sixties, though with various lineups, perhaps the reason the last few releases were credited to only Nolan Strong.

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Digging Through the Record Stacks

Posted by Whitmore, April 5, 2008 06:55am | Post a Comment

For the second time in about 18 months, I’ve found a copy of the single by Gloria Walker and the Chevelles "Talking About My Baby" on Flaming Arrow Records. Now you might know her from "You Hit the Spot Baby", a classic, much desired funk track collectors crap their knickers for, with its heavy drum and bass groove, scratchy and dirty guitar lead that cuts in under Walker's vocals. Scratchy guitar? I mean nasty! Nasty as the sound of hell on a sinner’s holiday!

Anyway back to where I started, "Talking About My Baby" hung around the R&B Charts for 9 weeks in late 1968 and into ‘69, eventually climbing to #7. Unfortunately, as was often the case with way too many great R&B records, it barely made a dent on the Pop Charts, peaking at #60. Now, this is a truly peculiar slab o’ vinyl.  For example, on the flip side, the instrumental "The Gallop," (and yes it sounds like a lot like Cliff Nobles"The Horse"!), the Chevelles -- who I suspect were the label's house band -- play mostly tight, funky, perhaps a little over the top, but in tune. This is not necessarily true on Gloria Walker’s side!

In “Talking About My Baby,” Miss Walker is lamenting the behavior of her man in a monologue that ends with the lyrics from Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind. At the top there’s an understated soulful bass line, some minimal guitar work with just a touch of vibrato. Mood … cool and laid back. So the saga begins with Gloria, a little sad, talking, reminiscing, about her boyfriend and what she used to think was true about her love. The story slides away for a second, then WHAM! Two second later she’s going off about what you really need to worry about is your close girl friends, because when they tell you about your man’s cheating ways, they’re just “trying to get some for themselves!" Set into motion is a deeply paranoid rant, and Gloria Walker’s monologue ends with her shouting “Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!” to her girl friends, to her ex, and to anyone else within earshot! Simply said, she becomes completely unhinged, (then again I may be over-reading this whole thing and just re-living some of my own personal shit …). The song ends with her super souled-up, desperate vocals digging into the Etta James melody, the Chevelles horns come in underneath, WHAM! In what can only be describe as an absolutely ragged and bloody mess … the band is completely out of whack and totally out of tune. But ultimately does it matter? Not really-- Gloria Walker’s performance is still unbelievable! I guess it’s just the sound you’d expect from a one-take-in-and-out-of-the-studio situation, second tier bands had to put up with because you’ve got your Ike’s or Lee’s or Slim’s waiting (and possibly packin’) in the hallway. I’m not sure what ever happened to Gloria Walker, but she is my kind of woman: an out of her freaking mind crazy, surreal, hot chick that can stop time with a song.

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Best Of 2007, Part 6 - 13 Suggestions For Christmas Gifts

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, December 20, 2007 12:40pm | Post a Comment
Best Of The Latin American Compilations
                                                           
THE ROOTS OF CHICHA: Psychedelic Cumbias from Peruroots of chicha
Colombia!: The Golden Years of Disco Fuentes -
The Powerhouse of Colombian Music 1960-1976
Si, Para Usted: The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba, Vol. 1
Bachata Roja: Acoustic Bachata From The Cabaret Era


Latin Influenced Electronica
Up, Bustle and Out- Mexican Sessions
Nickodemus -Endangered Species Remixed (2007)
Geko Turner- Chandalismo Ilustradomexican sessions
Mexican Institute of Sound -Pinata


Fresh Blood in Old Genres
Jose Conde y Ola Fresca -(R)evolucion
The Budos Band-The Budos Band 2
B-Side Players Fire In The Youth
Antibalas-Security
Sharon Jones And The Dap Kings 100 Days and 100 Nights

search for the holy grail, episode three

Posted by Whitmore, September 18, 2007 09:28am | Post a Comment


In 1965 when rest of the world was doing the Frug, the Swim or the Monkey ... the Pony, the Watusi, the Jerk or even the Clam to James Brown’s Papas Got a Brand New Bag, discothèques in Scotland and Northern England were dancing till the wee hours of the morn to a great single on Hi Records from Tommy Jay called Tender Love b/w Tomorrow.

Now Tender Love isn’t exactly your endearingly romantic piece that such a title might suggest. The song is a bit dark, but with a hypnotically grooving riff. Tender Love is the name of a girl the singer has fallen for, and she has “eyes that seem to shine like gold.” Needless to say, romance isn’t going to work out here, and if you’ve been around the block at least once, you know at least one character by songs end is going to be dead. Now that’s a track I can sink my teeth into, or at least, after a few pints, dance to till the sun comes up … and I`ll be on top, you`ll be right down there, looking up … Anyway, is this the Holy Grail of Northern Soul? It has my vote!

woke up in an odd state of mind

Posted by Whitmore, September 12, 2007 08:50am | Post a Comment


I woke up in an odd mood and while I was grinding   coffee this morning, for some unknown reason, I  started thinking about the legendary folk musician
Woody Guthrie and that sign he often painted on his
guitar.

“This Machine Kills Fascists”

And no, I don’t mean my  Italian espresso maker …

In this frame of mind, I don’t even dare open the paper … not today.

Woody once wrote, "I took a bath this morning in six war speeches, and a sprinkle of peace.”  

Yeah, I know that mood.

I’m thinking, what could throw me even deeper into this funk?  Maybe the right song and I can revel in this shithole state of mind for a while; I do have the morning  to myself!

So I went digging though a few boxes of 45’s  for this minor keyed, slow funky version of  “This Land Is  Your Land” by Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings originally released in 2006 as a 7-inch single with a red, white, and blue label (and a flip side of  What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?). It’s a masterpiece, if not the modern definitive version of Woody Guthrie’s classic paean to the America he saw in his travels in the 1930’s. Guthrie originally wrote this song in 1940 in response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," which Guthrie considered unrealistic, self-satisfied and smug.


Sharon Jones’ version of This Land should be the one sung in grammar schools, especially since she includes the seldom sung verses about private property and government relief. She’s brought back the anger, the defiance and rebelliousness that had been lost; trashing the soft-pedaled, whitewashed, yankee-doodle dandy edition we’ve heard for decades.

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