musicology #386

Modernist #14

(The Valentinos – Darling Come Back Home)

Today it’s the turn of youth cult ‘observer’ and prolific writer on the subject Paolo Hewitt with what I think is a worthy insight into Mod/ernist that resonates throughout the whole spectrum from conception right up to today and beyond.

“Modernism has remained Britain’s most enduring youth cult because it’s originators created a blueprint that has proved timeproof. By doing so, they put up a safeguard against the transient nature of fashion. Mod has never withered against the ravages of time because it is so particular. About everything, Detail is all. Mod created, for the very first time, a twenty four hour lifestyle that totally revolved around clothes, music, drugs and attitude. They did not oppose society, they simply ignored it. They created their own simple sign language, devised fashion codes and style statements to develop their very own culture of cool. That they were initially hidden from view did not stop them contributing heavily towards the society that ignored. Their demands for clothes and music laid the foundations for the emergence of these industries in Britain and their style demanded a complete shift in attitude towards menswear. The true Modernist transformed London and made it the centre of ‘Hip’. Their clubs were the best in town, The Dj’s played the best and most exciting records and they danced the best dances.

All this because they had no problem mixing other cultures into their own. They were many things, arrogant, contemptuos, sometimes cruel and peacockis to a ‘man’ but they were also open minded and ambitious. One of their credos was simple; if it’s good, absorb it, wherever it’s from. Consequently Mod musical taste was immaculate an it’s development is entwined with the history of Soul music’s triumphant entry into Britain and when it was time to move on they did so. Which is so perfectly right, so perfectly Modernist”.

Today’s cut is one from themusicologist’s vaults recorded and released in 1962 for Sam Cooke and J.W Alexander’s trailblazing SAR label. Hold this quote from the book ‘Dream Boogie’ about the year in question..

“There was a new kind of pride in the air and a new kind of proclamation. Sam’s ‘natural’ hairstyle, (what became known as the Afro), was finally beginning to catch on and a few months later the Philadelphia Tribune defined ‘Soul’, a term confined for the most part at this point to the downhome instrumental sounds of Jazz musicians such as Bobby Timmons, Horace Silver and Cannonball Adderley as “the word of the hour…a spiritual return  to the sources, an emotional intensity and rhythmis crive that comes from childhood saturation in Negro Gopspel music”. “Oh we all heard it said onetime ‘Wonder Boy’ preacher Soloman Burke, a lifelong Soul Stirrers devotee who had positioned himself somewhere between Sam and Brother Joe May in his own persuasive style, of Sam’s new Soul sound. “Pop audiences heard that yodel…like it was some shiny new thing. But if you knew Sam from Gospel, it was him saying, ‘Hey, it’s me’.

This was in the early months of 1962 at the same time that young working class kids in London were beginning to galvanise a new movement of their own and were instinctively drawn to this fresh sound coming out of America’s big cities. The group in question had a name and sound change from The Womack Brothers to the Valentino’s and it was their preceeding cut ‘Looking For A Love’ that provided them with their first breakthrough but for me this one takes some beating.


musicology #82

sixartist,sixtune,sixweekspecial #5

(Sam Cooke – Bring It On Home To Me)

if anyone needed reminding or convincing why the Lion is called Mr Soul hold this one from 1963 taken from what is possibly the best live album of all time. bold shout I know and I’m sure many could offer alternatives but whatever your subjective feelings about it…if you don’t own it..and you want one piece of Sam Cooke musicology ‘wrapped round yer vaults’…buy it…and even though the recording couldn’t possibly do the performance real justice for those of us that weren’t there its the best there is.

a quote from the Sam Cooke book by Peter Guralnick about the show

“Upstairs there was a balcony with tables for the patrons and a small office in which the recording engineers, Bob Simpson and Tony Salvatore, set up their equipment. They monitored the sound at a fairly desultory teenage matinee, then adjusted the microphone placement for the first evening show, starting at 10pm.

Sam gave them a cheery greeting before going on, and then the place erupted in a manner that Salvatore, like his partner a neophyte in the world of Rhythm & Blues, was simply not prepared for.

‘There weren’t any brawls or anything like that, but I’ll tell you, it was like a scene out of a movie, the whole building was rocking, and I remarked to Bob, I said, ‘Oh Jesus, I hope this place don’t fall down’ ”

King Curtis and full crew, (The Kingpins), playing the instruments….