musicology #563

Tales From The Underground #5

Googie Rene Combo – Smokey Joe’s La La

Superb 1966 Rhythm & Blues instrumental and well known mod stomper from West Coast cats The Googie Rene Combo. Son of songwriter Leon Rene, Rafael Leon ‘Googie’ Rene was a suberb instrumentalist who led a combo full of legendary musicians that at various times included Plas Johnson, Rene Hall, Johnny Guitar Watson and Earl Palmer…

Special request to ‘Jumbo’…Hold tight.

musicology #425

noExcuses #2

(You Got My Mind Messed Up – James Carr)

too many cuts to choose from and my butterfly mind certainly needs direction while my heart weeps.
today’s slice is courtesy of the majestic James Carr a cat who had the misfortune of suffering from a condition known medically as Bi-Polar Dis-order. What that means, (like many mental conditions), is debatable but it is especially poignant for themusicologist as a much loved and cherished companion is also going through a period of transition that is in danger of being labelled. Recorded and released in 1966 on the Goldwax label.

musicology #399

Sound&Fury #3

(Ray Sharpe & The King Curtis Orchestra – Help Me Get The Feeling Pts 1&2)

Fuck…not sure how you cats are feeling but for themusicologist it sure is a hard road fe travel at the moment. not complaining, moaning or, (worst of all), looking for sympathy just an observation and comment on this part of the journey.

I’m always up for the challenge but the constant pressure is taking it’s toll. So with that in mind I’m going to lay down this wicked piece of 60’s Soul. Keeping in mind that although it’s the ‘Sound&Fury’ signifying nothing music speaks and themusicologist can’t help but listen. Quality double sider of urban musicology that I had no choice but to edit the two seperate parts together.

1966 ‘Atlantic’ release originally released on the Atco Label courtesy of Ray Sharpe featuring one of the top bands of the period none other than The, (King), Curtis Orchestra.

musicology #323

DownbeatTheRuler #3

(Alton & Hortense Ellis – Easy Squeeze)

Out all day yesterday working the tees so apologies for not dropping a next ‘Downbeat bomb’ through your speakers. Hopefully today’s slice of the Coxsone pie will make up for it.

A classic piece of Brentford Road Rock Steady that has trembled my marrow for many years. Could have thrown it down a few times on previous themes but for reason unbeknown to ‘mesang’ didn’t until today.

One of the most emotive, hard hitting, Rough & Tough cuts of the Rock Steady period in my humble opinion…lyrics, vocals, music all combining in soul searching harmony to communicate a message concerning  the quest for that most elusive of feelings, True Love.

Recorded and first released in 1966? for Dodd by the Godfather Of Rocksteady Alton Ellis alongside his younger Sister Hortense, both of whom are sadly no longer with us. What is however (and will be for as long as music like this is being loved and played), are their ‘works’ many of which sit comfortably at the very top of the musicology tree.

Hortense was Jamaica’s ‘first female vocalist’ cutting her teeth as early as 1959 on such legendary talent shows as Vere John’s Opportunity hour, (where many a ‘Jam Down’ legend begun their careers), but it wasn’t until a few years later in 1961 under the tutelage of Downbeat that she begun a recording career. For sure having Alton as a brother helped but anyone who has heard her sing would agree that merit was the foundation stone apoun which she built a career that stretched right up to her untimely death in 2000 AD. Recording for many of the greatest Jamaican producers such as Duke Reid, Bunny Lee, Harry Mudie and Gussie Clarke, (to name a few)

As regulars may be aware Alton has featured more than any other Jamaican artist on themusicologist over the preceeding two years so I won’t wax lyrical on the man and his music today other than to reiterate that it was he and the previous Artist, (Bob Andy), who first opened my ears and heart to Downbeat The Ruler’s output and for that I am eternally grateful..

So in Tribute to the memories of Alton, Hortense and Clement Seymour ‘Sir Coxsone / Downbeat The Ruler’ Dodd hold this…..

musicology #322

DownbeatTheRuler #2

(Bob Andy – I’m Going Home)

Sir Coxson was a music lover and man on the street but also a businessman and a successful one at that which, in my experience is often not appreciated by those who have been left behind to hustle and scratch for survival on the tough streets of places like Kingston, London, New York etc. The truth is that many would rather see you stumble and fall than lift yourself out of the mean streets especially when, as far as they are concerned, (and maybe rightly so), you have made it off the sweat of their brow. This seems to have been the case with Coxsone as the years rolled on but it’s not easy to keep such an enterprise going, (as many record label owners would attest to), when everyone wants a slice of the pie. Coxsone not only put Studio 1 together but also kept it going right up until his death.

Possibly inspired by Cats like Sam Cooke whose SAR label was, (along with Berry Gordy’s Tamla Motown), a pioneer in the record business, Dodd couldn’t afford to ‘take any prisoners’ so paid the Artist, Arranger, Producer and Musician per side, (or as employee), rather than cut them in on the Action. After all it was he who was taking all the risk so why share the rewards? Any business person would agree with his appraisal of the situation but the Artist wouldn’t. To further highlight the point the singer of today’s cut is quoted to say;

“Clement Dodd is a good mentor and he really provided the facilities for a group of youngsters who would never have had anywhere to go in those days, but he could have done more for them. I would say Jamaican music suffers from a Coxsone syndrome.”

I can see why. It was they who created the ‘product’ for Dodd to capitalise on so why should they not be ‘cut in’? Dodd may say that “if you want a piece of the pie you also have to take some of the risk” which hardly any of the Artists were in a position to do. Cats like Prince Buster, (a businessman and Artist), saw the light and parted company with Dodd as soon as possible to make a name, (and hopefully some ‘corn’), for himself but of the many hundreds in Jamaican music history VERY few have much to show, financially, for their achievements.

What they do have though is a place in musical history that will last long after they have been laid to rest and an army of fans that continue to spread their name. Personally I would rather be the Artist than the businessman.

Anyway enough chat and on with the Downbeat show….

This 1966 !! cut, (his first solo piece), is courtesy of former Paragons founding member and songwriter supreme Keith Anderson, (Bob Andy), apparently backed up by The Wailers but to my ears it sounds more like The Heptones? anyway whoever is harmonising it’s Bob Andy’s wailing lead that cuts through and is one of my personal favourites…featured on one of the greatest Studio 1 LP’s Bob Andy’s Songbook.

Bob Andy….Live on…

musicology #308

Live&Direct #5

(Lou Rawls – Goin’ To Chicago Blues)

Today’s cut features yet another of the great vocalists…Louis Allen Rawls. Life long friend of ‘Mr Soul’ Who was equally at home singing Gospel, Soul or Jazz whose impassioned response to Sam Cooke on the immortal 1962 cut ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ deserves special mention. A singer of the highest order about whom Frank Sinatra was quoted to have said “he has the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game”…

This cut, first performed, (and written), by Jimmy Rushing and the Count Basie band was recorded for Capitol in 1966 featuring musicians James Bond, Earl Palmer, Tommy Strode, Herb Ellis..produced by David Axelrod.

musicology #295

JamaicanVocalGroupAction #6

(Dion Cameron & The Three Tops – Get Ready)

Today’s 1966 cut is one from themusicologist’s Ska box courtesy of the almost unknown Dion Cameron & The Three Tops who are perhaps better known for the few slices released on Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label, This one is An ‘Olive Branch’? production released in the UK on the Rio label. Can’t tell you much more about it other than it was one of my earliest purchases back in the early 80’s.. Ranking Saxaphone break on this one.

musicology #231

communication #9

(Jimmy Ruffin – What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted)

A song that we, (should), all know delivered with pathos by one of the great Soul singers about a subject that is plainly close to my heart. Older brother of the Temptation’s member David, Jimmy hasn’t received the acclaim he deserves. This version, (the original), has the spoken intro which was removed for the final mix that made it onto the 45, (can’t understand why?)

Lyrics by James Dean, music composed by William Weatherspoon and Paul Riser, music played by the Funk Brothers, background vocals by The Originals, (Freddie Gorman, Walter Gaines, Hank Dixon, Joe Stubbs), and the Adantes, (Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, Louvain Demps), song produced by Weatherspoon and William Stevenson.

musicology #126

socialcommentaryweek #6

(Phil Ochs – The Ringing Of Revolution)

penultimate cut on the ‘social’ and themusicologist is rolling with one from an artist who was brought to my attention by the man that kicked off this current theme Stephen William, (billy), Bragg who not only cites Ochs as an inspiration but also recorded a tribute to the man ‘I dreamt I Saw Phil Ochs Last Night’ on his 1990 LP ‘the Internationale’

being an admirer of Billy Bragg, (“I just couldn’t help myself guess I was born with a curious mind”), themusicologist headed off on a journey and tracked down some of the man in question’s work. there are many great online sources of Phil Ochs Info so i’ll leave it to them to fill you in on the full and very colourful picture of his bitter sweet life and, in musicology style, let the music do the talking.

this piece of revolutionary prose is taken from the Phil Ochs In Concert LP (1966) and is, for me, as good as the song as message gets.

“in a building of gold with riches untold,
live the families on which the country was founded,
and the merchants of style with their vain velvet smiles,
were there for they also were hounded,
and the soft middle class crowded in to the last,
for the building was fully surrounded,
and the noise outside was the ringing of revolution

sadly they stared and sank in their chairs,
and searched for a comforting notion,
and the rich silver walls looked ready to fall,
as they shook in doubtful devotion,
the ice cubes would clink as they freshened their drinks,
wet their minds in bitter emotion,
and they talked about the ringing of revolution

we were hardly aware of the hardships they beared,
for our times taken with treasure,
oh life was a game and work was a shame,
and pain was prevented by pleasure,
the world cold and grey was so far away,
in distance only money could measure,
but their thoughts were broken by the ringing of revolution

and the clouds filled the room in darkening doom,
as the crooked smoke rings were rising,
how long will it take how can we escape,
someone asked but no-ones advising,
and the quivering floor responds to the roar,
in a shake no longer surprising,
as closer and closer comes the ringing of revolution

so softly they moan please leave us alone,
as back and forth they are pacing,
and they cover their ears and try not to hear,
with pillows of silk they’re embracing,
the crackling crowd is laughing out loud,
peeking in at the target they’re chasing,
now trembling inside the ringing of revolution

with compromise sway we gave it half away,
when we saw that rebellion was growing,
now everything’s lost as they kneel by the cross,
where the blood of christ is still flowing,
too late for their sorrow they’ve reached their tommorow,
and reaped the seed they were sowing,
now harvested by the ringing of revolution

in tattered tuxedos they faced the new heroes,
and crawled about in confusion,
and they sheepishly grinned for their memories were dim,
of the decades of dark execution,
hollow hands raised they stood there amazed,
in their shattering of their illusions,
as the windows were smashed by the ringing of revolution

down on our knees were begging you please,
were sorry for the way you were driven,
theres no need to taunt just take what you want,
and we’ll make ammends if were living,
but away from the grounds the flames told the town,
that only the dead are forgiven,
as they vanished inside the ringing of revolution”

musicology #112

sixartist, sixtune, sixweekspecial #35

(Wailers – Rude Boy)

penultimate slice of musicology on the six/six/six and one from Jamaica’s most famous vocal group, The Wailers.

Not sure whether this had a UK release at the time? the one we are hearing is taken from the Coxsone Import 45. But with a title like ‘Rude Boy’ it wouldn’t have got much promotion on these English shores. As we all know the Wailers went on, (certainley Marley anyway), to become a household name. Jackie Mittoo on the other hand didn’t receive anywhere near the recognition that he deserved for all the musicology he brought to each and every Studio1 session from 1963 up to his emigration to Canada in 1969? which is, unfortunately, an all too common story when it comes to the cats who  played the instruments.

Arranger, Piano player session leader and all round musicologist it would have been Jackie, (as much as any single artist), that drove the music towards the Spaghetti Western influenced, Gun Man Style that was to become more popular as the times got tougher and the rudies got ruder in Kingston, Jamaica.

for themusicologist Jamaican music is still the ‘voice of the people’….how long will it last? only time will tell but from 1962 to today it has always reflected and communicated the thoughts and feelings of the ‘man on the street’ .. and this one is no exception.

musicology #87

sixartist, sixtune, sixweekspecial #10

(Small Faces – All Or Nothing)

couldnt throw down a Steve Marriott tribute without laying down the piece that kick started my appreciation of the brothers vocal and soulful qualities.

while not prolific in their collaborative output there’s no denying the Small Faces impact on contempory music and this one gets into the tribute for two reasons

1:Mod anthem

2: brings back memories of being 11/12 and 13 years old as a second generation Mod .. ahhhhhh .. music brings back so many memories..

so without further words hold this piece from the Mod band with the Mod classic, pinpointing the evolution and metamorphosis in the autumn of 1966 from American Rhythm & Blues to English Rock & Blues…

strangely, (or probobly not), one that my kids enjoy and sing along to just as another Mod revival begins to take shape in 2008

musicology #34

mansweek day 7

(Aaron Neville – Tell It Like It Is)

BIG MAN tune. (almost left it out, too much choice), sure everybody out there knows it but themusicologist is NOT about rare, obscure tunes that nobody has heard .. appropriate tunes is what the I deal with and for mansweek there is no tune more so. one of them tunes that always leaves me wanting more than the 2mins:40.

“if you want something to play with, go and find yourself a toy, baby my time is too expensive..and I’m not a little boy”

chaps, hope you’re singing this one loud and clear. ladies..hope you’re listening.