musicology #558

Shake It Up & Go #5

(The Valentinos – Lookin’ For A Love)

Penultimate cut of the Shake selection featuring the superb Womack Brothers, (Bobby, Cecil, Harry, Friendly and Curtis), with a 1962 cut on Sam Cooke’s groundbreaking Sar label.  Bobby Womack was a major influence on themusicologist throughout my formative years of the early Seventies. One of the ‘Big 3’ that also included Curtis Mayfield and Bill Withers. Of course there were others but these 3 were the main players.

musicology #388

Modernist #16

(The Orlons – The Wah Watusi)

Have to keep it brief today as I’m up to my eyeballs with various things that demand my full attention making it nigh on impossible to wax lyrical about Mod/ernists, Musicology, Sociology, Philosophy, The Bauhaus and all of the other strands that woven together inform who I am or even ‘we’ are.

So without delay hold this cut. Yet another from the magic year of 1962 by vocal group The Orlons..one of the important things about this cut is that it made #2 in the U.S Pop chart which for an ‘R&B’ vocal group was no mean feat and for me highlights one of the reasons that 1962 was an important year sociologically. Before then the likelyhood is that it would have been re-recorded by a more shall we say marketable vocal group but ‘walls’ were breaking down especially in America and ‘Race’ music was leading the charge.

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 #385

Modernist #13

(Gene Chandler – You Threw A Lucky Punch)

After two days of rest themusicologist is coming down the home straight for the Mod/ernist theme this week so I’ve decided to fly by the seat of my pants , (so to speak), and lay down some cuts that might not have been played in the critical years, (1961-1963), but I’m sure would have been if known about. As the theme has unfolded and due in part to the dialogue I feel like I am tuning in to the pace of the music that moved the crowd. As Tony Blue said ‘Shout & Shimmy’ was too fast whereas all the commentators have, (independantly), identified some of the key sounds and what has emerged is that they are all of a certain tempo. No surprise really as my own experience of the various scenes that I have been privliged to have been involved in over the years have all marched to one special beat, (whatever that may be), seems like the ‘biggest’ cuts of the theme so far are all what I would call Mid Tempo…or to put it another way…the ‘Perfect Beat’. Not too fast or too slow but just the right pace to make your feet move without forcing them to. The Cats know the beat of which I speak….the one that would ‘raise the dead’ and compel them to throw whatever ‘shapes’ were in their bones. Of course there are some whose sense of timing and natural rhythm is a joy to behold but even their best is brought out by the same beat that seems to catch all of our dancing feet and moves us onto the floor. Today’s cut is, (for me), in that groove and is also the original to the Mary Wells cut ‘You Beat Me To The Punch’, (musicology #376), sung by none other than the ‘Duke Of Earl’ himself, Gene Chandler whose name, (or if not name then certainly his musical contribution), should be known to Mod/ernists everywhere. Recorded for and released on the Vee Jay label in the magic year 1962.

musicology #379

modernist #7

(Jackie Wilson – Lonely Teardrops)

Part of the method of inquiry adopted here on this theme is to get a better idea of, (as TonyBlue said in the comments), what, who, where, why and how the nameless thing evolved from the depths of the young Urbanite experience and as far as I am concerned, (and have already stated), the music is the key to unlocking the period. Not only the music of America but also from the island of Jamaica. One conclusion is that in each of the places of note there was a genuine sense of shaking off the chains of Imperial/colonialism and the Slave/Master mentality that had ruled around the world for longer than living memory. Not just in terms of skin colour but also the ‘Class’ system which in England at least was deeply entrenched like nowhere else in the world.

A Cat named Patrick Uden makes a great point on the nameless thing, (we’ll be hearing more from him later), and it’s this

“To be a Mod/ernist you had to come from a culture where Modernism didn’t exist and therefore that made you different and England at that time was ancient it…was falling to pieces. I mean it was awful. You have no idea how miserable and Grey Britain was. The first Habitat shop opened, I think in 1962 in Chelsea and was a complete revelation”

For me the point here is that all over Europe and America the ‘Modern’ had been part of the language since the early part of the century from music in America through to architecture and design in Europe so under those conditions there was nowhere else for a youth movement to be different other than England and especially London until a group of young-bloods emerged to drag Britain kicking and screaming into ‘today’ which according to a Philosopher who I rate highly is the stomping ‘ground’ of the proletariat, one of three ‘classes’ he defines. The other two being the Arisocrat, (who lives in and on the past) and the Bourgoise who looks to and lives in tomorrow. A great observation which for me is spot on.

Today’s slice is courtesy of a member of the elite..Jackie Wilson who somehow managed to shine even under the conditions forced on him by his ‘Master’ Nat Tarnapol. It’s true Jackie was humiliated by recording some awful p(o)op between but as we all know cream rises to the very top of the bottle and in matters musical Jackie delivered some of the best Soul ever made. Hold this 1958 cut to hear what I mean…ignore the terrible backing on this cut and listen to Jackie soar whilst standing on the vanguard of the transition from Rock & Roll into Soul. Again I would just like to add that the cuts upto and including this one are not in any way ‘Rare’ but in the context of ‘Mod/ernist’ there’s no denying that when released they were as fresh as spring daisys.

musicology #374

Modernist #2

(The Miracles – Way Over There)

Today I would like to take the opportunity and quote from a top ranking piece of critique on the subject of Modernist by a Cat named Johnny Spencer who lived through as well as observed the changing face of London during the early Sixties.

“In London during the early sixties as in other parts of the British Isles a tiny minority of young, (mostly working class), boys and girls known only to themselves as ‘Modernists’ were walking, talking, dressing and dancing to a different song. These youngsters who were conceived in the heady and delirious optimism that marked the end of WW II had passed onto them in their genes a very real sense of supremecy, invincibility and confidence, a confidence that was fuelled and underpinned by the meta narrative of the western world, the concept of modernity, then at it’s zenith. By the early 1960’s the social fabric of cities in England had changed radically from the period before 1945, the war had dealt attitudes of authority and deference a mortal blow, conscription had ended, and the young en masse for the first time found themselves with a realistic disposable income. With history on their side this generation of independently minded teenagers felt able to think and act for themselves, not in a quasi-intellectual way as the ‘beatnicks’ had done, or to have to rebel, like the ‘Teddy Boys’, but as a truly autonomous entity.”

The musicology is courtesy of modernist icons ‘The Miracles’, (Smokey Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Marv Tarplin, Ronald White and Claudette Rogers), whose unique and distinctive sound epitomised the emerging sound that became known as Soul. The cut that was BIG on the London scene was in fact the second version, (with strings), but in the essence of ‘Modernist’ I had to lay this, (regional) one, (without strings), on you. Recorded for and released in 1960 on Motown.

musicology #359

AlternativeSoundtrack4 #26

(Irma Thomas – It’s Too Soon To Know)

Final slice of the Alternative Hustler Soundtrack and it’s come down to the faceoff between Eddie and Bert. Yesterday’s slice heard Fats declare that Eddie was the new king of pool and Bert showed his true colours. Not that he has done much to conceal them but he hints that maybe it was his boys that broke Eddie’s thumbs and if he, (Bert), commands it his heavies will do more than that this time. But our man has learnt some character and is prepared to make whatever sacrifice is necessary to ensure that Sarah’s brings about a Victory over Bert, (who in my opinion represents the establishment).

Bert on the other hand is only really interested in ownership and money, he has said it throughout the film but what he hasn’t said is how much he envies those capable of showing true feelings and who are not chained by the evils of power and money. Classic Capitalist mentality trying to show that it’s wealth, greed and power that makes the world go round and not happiness, love and integrity, (character). I make no bones about it money and power don’t motivate themusicologist and never will. I have bills to pay and, more importantly, mouths to feed and there are some who may, (and do), call that irresponsible and obviously they are entitled to their opinion but integrity/character don’t come cheap and as with most things there is always a price to pay, (for everyone concerned). Fantastic interchange of dialogue and ideology between the antagonist, (Bert), and protaganist, (Eddie), in this scene that deserves mention. How none of the main actors received oscars for their performances is beyond reason and therefore must have been in some sense political.

The director Robert Rosen had integrity/character but ultimately it was shipwrecked on the rocks of so called ‘Democracy’ and he lost it. Which is not a judgement or criticism, (of Robert Rosen), more of an observation. For more insight into the facts of life it’s worth taking another listen to a slice featured earlier on this theme; Memphis Slim’s ‘Mother Earth’ (musicology #352)

Tough call the final cut..couple of options but going with my gut feeling it has to be this one from Irma Thomas with a slice of pure unaldultarated heart wrenching Soul, (with a capital S), A cover of the song made popular first by the Orioles and then by the irrepressible Dinah Washington a singer who set the standards for every female singer that followed. Rare to find a Dinah song covered that even comes close to her version but for themusicologist this one does. Also as far as I’m concerned it’s fitting that the final call belongs to a female in tribute to the character played by Piper Laurie and the answer, (posthumously), is a resounding Yes. Recorded and released in 1961 for and on the Minit label. Produced, (I imagine), by Allen Toussaint.

musicology #355

AlternativeSoundtrack4 #22

(Dee Clark – Raindrops)

As yesterday’s slice of musicology pronounced…themusicologist is ‘A Little Busy’ at the moment so i’ll keep it brief. The dialogue today says it all. Eddie’s done his conkers and still hasn’t learnt any ‘character’, Bert still hasn’t learnt any compassion and Sarah, (who comes down to the arena unnoticed), learns that maybe Eddie is not the man of her ‘dreams’. Heart wrenching….

The music is courtesy of the majestic Delectus ‘Dee’ Clark whose voice is how I have always imagined an angels would sound. Yet another BIG mod/ernist dancehall classic, (and eary musicologist memory) from the dawn of a new era, (1961), and yet another on the Vee Jay label which between the years 1960 – 1962 did as much as any label to direct the new sound. Unfortunately that wasn’t backed up by artist renumeration and even though the record sold TWO million copies and hit #2 on the ‘Pop’ charts it signalled the end rather than the beginning for Dee who never scored another hit and ended up absolutely ‘pot-less’ in a Welfare motel in the 1980’s….Tragic.

But his memory lives on and the music he made is as good as it gets…So even though he is no longer with us…Dee this one’s in honour of you..

musicology #339

AlternativeSoundtrack4 #6

(Sam Cooke – Cupid)

The Kid has been rolled over by Fats who showed him that not only does he who laugh last laughs longest but also that action speaks louder than words. Talent alone can get you ‘there’ but is not enough to keep you there, that takes character which comes only with experience. I doubt Eddie had been chewed up and spat out like that before…collapsing in a heap on the floor that a few hours ago he was parading around on like a king. That’s a long way to fall from “I’m the best there is” to begging Fats to play him for his last ‘bottle’…

One of the many things I like about this film is how it deals with some of the raw sides of human nature. There Isn’t a ‘nice’ character anywhere to be found, they are all Corrupt, Twisted and Crippled in some way, (like we all are), and when I watched it recently it was a touch painful to be honest..as I said at the start of the theme as a youngblood growing up on London’s mean streets themusicologist identified with the Fast Eddie character and although I was only young, still I saw and was involved in enough ‘experiences’ to gain some of the ‘Character’ that the film deals with. I was always in disagreement with the ‘respect your elders just because they are older than you’ ideology and found it hard, (especially with authority), to accept. I was young and foolish, (and happy..doo doo doo do do do do !!), and was brought up to value actions over words. The man to watch is the one who says nothing not the one who is shouting and gesticulating about what is going to be done at some future date. I was taught that by both the males and the environment that influenced my early life and it has often provided insight during some of my less salubrious moments. Anyway I’m rambling a bit so I’ll get back on the track..where was I…

Oh yeah, Eddie has taken a beating from Fats and after a short sleep in a hotel room abandons his partner Charlie and heads for the Bus Station. From across the room he spots a lone female and makes a move…Hustler style? I don’t know..I have always believed that people are like magnets and some we are drawn to while others repel us. Made more sense when a few years back I read a lot about Frequency and how every living entity has one. Naturally harmony would draw us to those who are ‘playing our tune’ so that together we could make sweet music. What draws the bee to the pollen, the horse to water and the man to the woman..frequency, so with that in mind, (as far as I’m concerned at least), ‘our man’ Eddie is drawn to this woman and he ‘makes a play’.

Sarah, played by Piper Laurie, (real name Rosetta Jacobs), sees it coming and makes it plain that she’s not interested in his advances. She answers him but doesn’t leave him any room in which to manoeuvre so he gets his ‘nut’ down, (sleeps), for a while and when he wakes she’s gone.

Todays cut is one of the great songs sung by one of the greatest singers of all time…Sam Cooke and even though we all know the tune inside out it still kicks arse..tough tune that I could never tire of. Make no mistake this piece epitomises Soul, a genre that wouldn’t have been the same without ‘The Lion’ blazing trails. I have been listening ALL day to music from 1960 and 1961 waiting for the right slice and as soon as I reached this one, (six hours later !!), it struck the right note..so here it is. Eddie doesn’t know it yet but ‘The arrow’ has flown straight into his heart.