Shame on themusicologist…almost a month has passed without an entry..such is 21st Century life.
Anyway time done passed and today is the 1st December which, (in themusicologist’s dwelling), means one thing…The Christmas music begins. For the next 25 days it’s nothing but the festive sounds that get flung down and bearing in mind that access to the preceding years musicology has been, (temporarily), interrupted this year I have the whole 500+ Christmas cuts from the vaults at my disposal without fear of repeating myself..so listen the ride as I grab my reindeer, hook em up to themusicology sleigh and ride out into the snow spreading the sounds of Christmas in my wake.
First up is a cut highlighted from the 1964 Verve album Christmas Cookin’ by Jimmy Smith
Apologies for not uploading the Jackie Wilson cut until this morning…butterfly mind got the better of me. Not that I’m complaining or making excuses as the butterfly has led me down many interesting and fruitful paths along the way.
Last night it was football with the chaps..weekly game down the New Den on the indoor pitch. Being a striker my job is to hold the ball up and score goals. Bagged 5 last night and held the ball up so all told…job done. My cousin was on our team last night which is always a pleasure as we have the synchronicity that flows.
Today’s slice of the yuletide pie is courtesy of the swinging Count Basie Orchestra featuring of course the Count himself tinkling the ivories.
Just got back to the ‘Big Smoke’ after a few days spent in natural paradise with two angels. The landscape up there, (North West England), never fails to inspire me and I always come back with a bit more of a ‘Tigger Bounce’ in my step. Knocking on the Christmas door now as we come down the home straight. Tree’s up, presents beneath it, kids excited. Just have a few more things to do and then it’s kick back time from tomorrow.
A question for you all out there..has the quality of song writing, (and singing come to that), gone downhill over the last few years or am I just not being exposed to the ‘right’ material? don’t know if you noticed but I listen to a LOT of music from as far back as the early 20′s all the way through to today and if the term ‘popular’ has any meaning/value as far as making judgement is concerned then the quality of pop today is, (generally), to my ears..poor. By NO means am I suggesting that quality music isn’t still being made as I don’t need to listen any further than Master Terry Callier, (for instance), to know that marrow trembling cuts are still being made but as I listen to the ‘charts’, (not out of choice but due to having two children over the age of ten), I can’t help but be disappointed. Where are the Dinahs, Arethas, Maxine Browns, Etta James’s? the Sam Cookes, Otis Reddings, Jackie Wilsons, Clyde McPhatters, Ben E Kings, Smokey Robinsons, Marvin Gayes, Curtis Mayfields, Bobby Womacks. The Gregory Issacs, Pat Kellys, Slim Smiths, Ken Boothes, John Holts, (the list could go on and on), who are the singers and songwriters kicking arse and trembling marrows in the 21st Century??
Today’s cut is courtesy of one of the afore mentioned legends, Jackie Wilson. A man who needs no introduction with his version of the hymn ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’
Have to throw down early today, (didn’t happen !!) as we, (kids and I), are off on a little excursion up to the beautiful Lake District, (Ambleside to be precise), for a few days to kick back before Christmas and I don’t think the internet has reached there yet !! so themusicologist won’t be able to throw down until returning to the big smoke.
STOP PRESS……in fact I’m throwing this down from Ambleside in a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi..i’ll keep it as brief as possible..our daughter is on me like a rash to get on facebook but it’s, (proper), snowing up here and the junior musicologist and I have climbed a mountain today, (look out for the pics…soon come)
Today’s fine cut is courtesy of, (in my subjective opinion of course), one of the greatest singers to have ever graced the mic. A voice overflowing with expression and emotion, drawn from the deep well of existence, (and essence), when Dinah Washington opens her heart and sings even the birds stop to listen and nod in appreciation. Born Ruth Jones, she first came to the attention of Lionel Hampton in 1943 and for the next 19 years waxed some of the most heart wrenching slices of musicology known to wo/man. Personally speaking…it’s her Mercury output that brings me to my knees, trembles my marrow and brings tears to my ‘minces’ but I could never turn Dinah off no matter what the period. (This one is from the Mercury 78)
Moving out of the 50′s Doo Wop into a majestic slice of mid 80′s Christmas dancehall Reggae from Santa’s ‘JamDown’ bag courtesy of Glen Augustus Holness a.k.a ‘Nitty Gritty’ one of my favourite DJ’s. Born in Kingston in 1957 His life was cut short at the tender age of 34 outside Super Power record shop in New York. Much speculation as to the who and why and as I wasn’t there I’m not going to add to it. Suffice it to say that yet another talented artist was cut down in his prime by gunshot.
One of themusicologist’s personal Christmas favourites. Been with me for as long as I can remember. Recorded and released on an Atlantic 78/45 in 1954. Over half a century old and still as fresh as spring daisies..(the cracks and hisses aside !!), Of course it’s Clyde McPhatter on lead just after he had left Billy Ward’s Dominoes to form the first incarnation of the Drifters.
What is it with 1964?? 3 out of 4 so far from that year…hmmm. Anyway on with the Christmas showdown with a cut from Organist supreme Jimmy ‘The Cat’ Smith with a piece that just gets better and better as the tune unfolds. We all know his qualities so no need to wax lyrical about them….Recorded for and released on Verve. Step up Jimbo and let the people know what time, (of year), it is.
Top ranking slice of the Christmas pie courtesy of three swingin’ Cats, Butterbeans & Susie, (Jodie Edwards and Susie Hawthorne), a long standing and much loved Vaudeville duo who teamed up in 1916 !! and Jazz pianist Eddie Heywood….who went on to play with such luminaries as Billie Holiday, Benny ‘King’ Carter and Coleman Hawkins as wel as performing in his own right. Recorded in New York City, (ahhh…New York…what memories), on Wednesday August 13th 1930 and released on an OKeh 78.
The time has come to roll out this years Christmas selection..what a difference a year makes !! could never have imagined that my/our whole world would have turned on it’s head but in the words of Lord Creator…Such Is Life or even master Terry Callier, C’est La Vie..(yet to feature but soon come), if I thought 2008 was a hill and gully ride then F**k knows what to call 2009 !! still..we made it through and I’m feeling very positive about the prospects for 2010, (couldn’t get any worse?…hahahahahahahahaha…I gots to laugh), one thing about adversity…you either get through it and emerge stronger or it gets the best of you and f**ks you good and proper. For all the Cats on both sides of this fence…I feel for you..know that musically themusicologist has ‘got your back’ and if you want me to lay one down especially for you then check me and I’ll see what I can do.
First cut is a top ranking slice of the Christmas musicology pie from None other than the Wailin’ Wailers (Peter, Bob and Bunny), with a majestic piece of rip roaring Ska out of the bowels of Sir Coxsone Dodds legendary Studio 1. Originally released in December 1964 as a 45 in JA on Dodd’s Muzik City label as ‘Christmas Is Here’ backed, (of course), by The Skatalites
Last of the Christmas Cuts and who better than the King to see us through…
“Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house,
not a creature was stirring not even a mouse, (other than themusicologist of course)…..
the stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there,
the children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads….”
Was just about to lay down a doo wop slice of the christmas pie until this one floated out of the speakers…
Instinctively I would say it’s a Duke Reid piece of Rocksteady, I have it by someone else.., (I think it’s a cut of ‘People Get Ready’ by Alton Ellis ), but as it’s Owen Gray it could also be a Coxsone production. Whoever produced it…well done and thank you.
Another Blues slice of the Christmas pie, this time from a cat I know nothing about other than the date and place recorded, (Chicago 1947), and the piano player…Eddie Boyd. What I do know is that not only am I a sucker for Christmas music I’m also a big fan of the piano. For themusicologist it’s the instrument of choice when it comes to communicating the message. Favourite players include Little Brother Montgomery, Fats Waller, Pete Johnson, Albert Ammonds, Meade Lux Lewis, Count Basie, The Duke, Ray Charles, Mempis and Sunnyland Slim and last but definately not least…Amos Milburn.
Sliding straight into this one from ‘The World’s greatest Gospel Singer’, Mahalia Jackson….Much Covered, never surpassed. Possibly the toughest choice to make on the Christmas selection such is the quality of the song and the singers who have thrown their ‘Stille Nacht Hats’ in the ring. Dinah Washington, (on a 78), Jackie Wilson and Jerry Butler all deliver but as I can only throw one……..
Day late but definately not a dollar short for a special musicologist tribute in memory of Mr Otis Redding who died on December the 10th 41 years ago, (1967), at the tender age of 26. I won’t lie and say it’s a date that’s in my diary which for me makes it all the more special and even transcendental that he has risen in the unconscious to let us know ‘what time it is’…one of them performances that could wake the dead. As good as ‘White Christmas’ gets.
One from the king..Thomas Wright Waller. Without doubt one of the most influential musicologists of the 20th Century. The word legend was invented to try and describe in one word cats like ‘Fats’. Virtuoso pianist and supreme songwriter who swung every time he played. Rumour has it that the man played piano for 3 days straight after being kidnapped to play at Al Capone’s birthday party. Leaving the gaff lagging drunk, no doubt as high as a kite and thousands of dollars richer….
If aliens came down from space and wanted to get an idea of what Christmas, (or Jazz), is all about they could do no worse than listen to this cut.
Day one of the Christmas selection. I’m just going to lay them down without much ‘commentary’. First up is a slice from Jamaica..proof, if needed, that it doesn’t require snow, reindeer or Jack Frost nipping at yer nose to generate the Christmas spirit. Early sixties cut from the Legendary Maytals.