musicology #378

Modernist #6

(The Impressions – Say It’s Alright)

I was going to end this theme tomorrow but on reflection there’s too much music yet to be featured and such is the quality of the dialogue from the commentators I’m letting it run for another week.

A large part of the debate has been the use of the word ‘Modernist’ and whether it was in fact used by anyone at the time? with that in mind hold this quote from the book ‘Soul Stylists’ compiled by Paolo Hewitt which is full of anectodes from Cats who claim, (and I see no reason to believe they are lying), to have participated in the ‘nameless thing’ of the early 1960’s.

“The bands from our youth club in Hastings were dressed like The Shadows on the cover of their first album; very neat red jackets, dark ties and white shirts. Then I spotted these strangely dressed guys from another school. They had short Italian haircuts and they wore bum freezer jackets with cut away collars and half belts on the back, narrow ties, tapered trousers with slits up the sides and side laced winklepickers. I went up to one of them and asked;
“Why are you dressed like that?” and he spoke the immortal words;
“Because I’m a Modernist”

The cat’s name is Lloyd Johnson and no date is mentioned but from the sounds of the ‘clobber’ it’s likely to have been before 1964

From themusicologist’s perspective what is beyond doubt are the release dates of the music contained on the theme which is obviously, (in almost all cases), not subjective and delivers insight into the most important aspect of any ‘scene’..the music and today’s cut is, in my mind, one of the greatest pieces of mod/ernist musicology of the period from quite possibly the driving force behind the winds of change none other than Curtis Mayfield who has featured heavily on themusiciologist over the last few years but also in my life since babe in arms.

hold this next quote on today’s cut from a book on the legend by author Peter Burns.

“Recorded in August 1963 the horn arrangement, a suggestion of Mayfield’s, took it’s inspiration from a Bobby Bland single but the idea for the song itself had come from a conversation between Curtis and Fred, (Cash, member of ‘the holy trinity’), one night when the Impressions were on tour in Nashville. Mayfield was effusively expounding some ideas and future plans and Cash was interjecting from time to time and concurred with “Right” and “Well that’s allright”, suddenly Curtis had a hook line ‘Say It’s Alright’. They cut this historic track at Universal studios in Chicago just two months after Curtis’s hit production of Major Lance’s ‘The Monkey Time’ which was still riding high on the charts. All the vital elements came together and this modern classic brought The Impressions back even stronger than before”.

Released on ABC-Paramount and arranged by Johnny Pate

“Say It’s alright, (it’s alright), say it’s alright, (it’s alright),
It’s alright have a good time cause it’s alright wooohh it’s alright,
We’re gonna move it slow, when lights are low,
When you move it slow it sounds like a moan and it’s alright wooohh it’s alright
Now listen to the beat, trying to catch your feet,
You got Soul and everybody know that it’s alright wooohhh it’s alright,

When you wake up early in the morning feeling sad like so many of us do,
Hum a little Soul make life your goal and surely something’s gotta come to you,
And say it’s alright, say it’s alright…it’s alright have a good time cause it’s alright woohhh it’s alright,
Now everybody clap your hands give yourself a chance,
You got Soul and everybody know that it’s alright wooohh it’s alright,

Some day I’ll find me a woman who will love and treat me real nice,
Then my roams? gotta go and my love she will know from morning noon and night,
And she’s gotta say it’s alright..say it’s alright,
It’s alright have a good time cause it’s alright woohhh it’s alright,
Now everybody clap your hands, now give yourself a chance…you got Soul now baby..”


8 thoughts on “musicology #378

  1. “they wore bum freezer jackets with cut away collars and half belts on the back, narrow ties, tapered trousers with slits up the sides and side laced winklepickers.”

    Now I’m beginning to understand who these Cats were….. more later (Spurs are I up at the Lane – not Manchester as I said in another post – with 30 minutes to go).

    Top piece of music!!!


  2. its an interesting description cos it comes from someone observing the ‘new look’..and the people wearing it thinking of themselves as a group..I find it more difficult to remember blokes clobber , not that I wouldn’t have recognised instantly all the signs of a modernist, however subtle, at the time..
    including how they conducted themselves..for me being still at school so having only pocket money which had to get me into the dancehalls and clubs, and get me there (fortunately I lived close enough to be able to get a bus or train)
    me and my mates wore the most simple clothes but with those details that set you apart from the crowd (girls at the time wore lots of dresses, flowers and stripes and such with full skirts and petticoats, twin sets with the buttons of the cardigan undone) so we wore straight, mainly black, sometimes herringbone or check skirts at various lengths, never above the knee, the twin set was worn seperately, either the short sleeved round necked part on its own or the cardigan part on its own with the buttons all done up, we also turned the cardigan back to front so the buttons were at the back…..allways in plain colours. ..
    This Impressions song has been so much a part of my musical listening for so long now that it has a timeless quality to me, it never fails to make me smile!


  3. “The cat’s name is Lloyd Johnson”….

    This name rings some BIG bells… some “bother” bells. I don’t know if it was “bother” with or against but I’m pretty sure we met (and he wasn’t clobbered up like P.H. describes. Though, it would have been later than ’62 of course).


    1. Paolo Hewitt has nothing at all to do with it..LLoyd Johnson is the name of the person Describing the ‘modernist’. The person being described is nameless.


  4. Hello

    The quote you use to kick this post off is from my book The Look: Adventures In Rock & Pop Fashion.
    I believe the year would have been 1959.
    They did call themselves modernists – clique of several hundred sharp dressers. In Absolute Beginners (set in 1958, published 1959) Colin MacInnes details the modernist’s dress code, as opposed to the trad jazz fan’s etc.
    Thought you should know the original source; I didn’t know it had been used in the Soul Stylists, nor did I give permission for it to be used there.




    1. excellent..thank you very much for putting me straight. glad to hear it. for me themusicologist is all about authenticity.
      comments like yours are highly valued and respected.
      hope to read more from you


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