musicology #373

Modernist #1

(Bobby Bland – Turn On Your Lovelight)

‘Modernist’ was a word used by some on the London scene in the early 1960’s to describe the ‘new breed’ of young bloods that had emerged out of the post war doldrums in Great Britain and had begun to throw off the shackles imposed on them by the establishment to do their own thing. They weren’t catered for or to so had to create a new set of ‘rules’, (clothes, music and attitude), and as a predominantly youth movement were unknown and unrecognizable, (this was when adolescents/teenagers were not even seen let alone heard), to all but those in the know. The influences of this movement were varied, (and will be gone into in greater detail as the theme unfolds), but as is often the case, (in England anyway), they were fused together by a creative vanguard to bear Englands first and most important youth movement.

Today’s cut is courtesy of a Modernist icon who has featured a few times on themusicologist and whose output was as important as any single artist’s in defining the new genre that became known as Soul. Born in 1930 Robert Calvin Bland begun his career in Memphis in the early 50’s associating with a collective known as the Beale Streeters but it wasn’t until ,1958 (at the dawn of Soul), that his distinctive vocal style begun to make Modernists sit up and take notice. Up until then he was a Blues singer but in ’58 he begun to set himself apart from categorisation with a string of monumental cuts of the highest order. This one is a classic from 1961 the year that his landmark album Two Steps From The Blues hit the streets. Many artists have cited Bobby as a major influence including original Modernist David Bowie who is reported to have said that the album changed his life.

Of note is that Bowie was born in 1947 making him 14 in 1961 and ripe for being at the forefront of a youth movement that peaked in London in 1964, (not sure about anywhere else as I have no background knowledge), and fell soon after when the media packaged it as ‘Mod’. Just like to add that In no way am I disregarding what came after ‘Modernist’, (especially not as far as music is concerned), but for many who were on The vanguard and had been at it since 1961 the infamous Bank Holiday gatherings signalled the end of the movement they cherished. I know that there will be many who disagree with me about the dates and events and I’m sure they can support their views and present them in their own way but certain dates such as ‘The Scene’ opening in August 1963 can not be disputed neither can the release dates of the musicology that supported and drove the movement as I intend to show. Finally I would also like to add that those born before 1946 and after 1948 must have been on the fringes purely as a result of their age and not their appreciation of either the music, attitude or the lifestyle in question.

All that’s left to say is that this one is for all the Lyceum, Town Hall, Tottenham Royal and Streatham Locarno Cats whose memories of being there can never be replaced.

musicology #357

AlternativeSoundtrack4 #24

(The Twistin’ Kings – Congo Twist Pt1)

Martin Luther King was quoted to have said

“No Victory without Sacrifice”

Well Sarah has made the Ultimate sacrifice and took her life..I think it was the philosopher Schopenhauer who said/wrote that suicide was a cowardly act and not one of bravery and much as I check for some of his philosophy as far as this act was concerned he was wrong. Sarah took her life for more reasons than one…Eddie. She sacrificed her body to Bert and in the process her heart to Eddie. Some might call that selfish but again they would be wrong. If you know the film, (and if not I hope the dialogue has provided some insight), you may agree that Eddie’s salvation was uppermost in Sarah’s heart and mind. ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson wasn’t cut out for the world in which he found himself…he thought he was but in reality he wasn’t. As Bert said “You’ve got to be hard Eddie” where what we meant to say is “You’ve got to be heartless Eddie” and he is right. There’s no room for ‘weakhearts’ in an environment like that you’ve got to be a killer and grind your opponent into the dust and when they plead for mercy you have to twist the knife harder and further and take no prisoners…and as far as I have read it, Eddie isn’t that kind of person. He just loves to play Pool. A few scenes ago when Eddie asked Sarah whether she thought he was a loser, (as Bert never stopped telling him), Sarah answered that he was a Winner because of the love and passion and childlike joy he got out of playing Pool at the top of his game. He retained the child and that is what made him a winner. Bert on the other hand for all his money and material possesions was twisted, crippled and alone and Sarah knew that. She is the film’s hero not Eddie and in this scene we hear him clarify that. All too late. Remember “No Victory without Sacrifice . If you want something chances are you have to make sacrifices…and very few of us are genuinely willing/able to do that….anyway enough of the philosophy and back to the action.

Eddie’s back at Ames Pool room, the place where it all began to unravel and he’s looking to take Fats on again. But this time he has a lot more to say…

Today’s music is an early Motown, (1961?) instrumental cut by a collective known here as ‘The Twistin Kings’. Who were they? I can only hazard a guess that it’s the same band who backed almost all the Motown artists from 1959 right through. None other than what became known, (after The Soul Brothers), as The Funk Brothers. Far too many Cats were a part of this collective to namecheck here but if they are listening they know who they are so I won’t even begin to list them

musicology #307

Live&Direct #4

(Etta James – Something’s Got A Hold On Me)

Fourth slice of the Live & Direct….and one you may not have heard before? A rousing performance overflowing with Soul, Blues, Rhythm and emotion from a Songstress who certainly tore the house down from beginning to end at the New Era Club in Nashville Tennesee over two performances during September 1963. Taken from the album ‘Rocks The House’….nuff said.