(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.
(Bobby Bland – St James Infirmary)
Leaving it all to the dialogue and Bobby Bland today..(both from 1961). So you’ll just have to take a listen for yourself if you want to know what’s occured.
(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..
(John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom)
Words have been spoken and the action begins again..The trio ‘hit the track’ and meet Findlay, (Eddie’s next opponent). Some banter goes down and ‘Fast’ Eddie wastes no time and cuts to the chase and proposes to take Findlay on in game of ‘pocket billiards’. Bert manages to put Eddie down with another mention of him being a loser but this time Eddie, (almost), lets it go. Findlay takes the bait and invites them all to a party that he is throwing. Sarah doesn’t fancy it but Burt insists and finishes the dialogue with a dig at the two lovebirds.
The music today is one that had to be slipped in somewhere on this theme and this is as good a time as any to release it. Classic piece of Rhythm & Blues from Mr John Lee Hooker…yet another MASSIVE mod/ernist stomper that never fails to get the Cats off their arse and on the floor to ‘Block’. The second piece in as many days on this theme recorded and released on and for the Vee Jay label which seemed to have it’s finger well and truly on the pulse during the transition from Blues with Rhythm to Rhythm and Blues with a side order of Soul.
One of themusicologists earliest memories of this kind of sound that still sounds as good and fresh as it always has which is something for a slice nearly 50 years old
(Memphis Slim – Mother Earth)
Today’s dialogue is unique in that it’s the first piece that doesn’t feature Paul Newman. The trio have arrived in Kentucky and Eddie has sloped off to join some old pool hustling aquaintances he meets in the foyer of the hotel they are staying at. Bert has aquired two adjoining rooms, (much to Sarah’s disaproval), and the two of them are left to ‘stake their claim’ on the kid. Bert finishes the scene with menace, (the first time we have seen this side of him), leaving an impression that he is not as cool, calm and collected as he prentends to be………
The music today is quite simply one of the best slices known to man, woman, child or beast from the mouth and hands of the majestic Memphis Slim whose career stretched over many decades. Starting out playing ‘Jukes’ in the 1930’s and later in the decade hooked up with Big Bill Broonzy whom he backed on many sessions. He was also a major influence during the 1940’s in the development of what became known later as Rhythm & Blues but at the time was known as ‘Jump’….Have to cut it short here as I’m off to earn a crust and need to get my skates on !!!
(Lavern Baker – Shake A Hand)
After the emotional plea yesterday from Sarah, Eddie asks her to join him on the Kentucky trip. They meet up with Bert who tries to belittle her, (but doesnt succeed), and the three of them board the train…
The music today is from one of the great female Rhythm & Blues singers, Lavern Baker whose recording career begun 1n the late 1940’s but had some big hits in the 50’s with cuts like Tweedle Dee and Jim Dandy. This one from 1960 was recorded for and released on the Atlantic label.
(Betty James – I’m A Little Mixed Up)
So Eddie has taken Bert up on his offer and is planning a trip to Kentucky to get back on the Hustling trail. He takes Sarah out to a fancy restuarant to break her the news that he’s going away for a few days and it doesn’t go down too well. We pick up this soul searching piece of quality dialogue after they have returned to the apartment.
Today’s cut must have been made for this scene. A 1961 cut again from the Chess Records vaults but this time a slice of the emerging sound that fused Rhythm, Blues and Soul. Featuring a little known female singer by the name of Betty James. Big early Mod/ernist cut that had London’s young, (and not so young), Cats throwing tight shapes at clubs like the ‘Whiskey’, The Scene, The ‘Disc’ and The Marquee, (to name but four), from late at night until the early hours.