Week 51 - Fri 17 Dec
Welcome to the RPM Seven Day Soundtrack, week ending Friday 17th December 2021. With winter solstice mid-week, here's looking forward to lengthening days, summer festivals and a diminishing pandemic. In the mean time, here's some music to while away a few wintery hours. This week's edition is dedicated to the North Shropshire electorate. Over to...
"This year has been full of difficult days and nights, but possibly for Jayne and myself, non less difficult than yesterday, and more importantly, yesterday evening.
With news of the COVID14 OMICRON variant spreading through the British public, faster than Australian wildfire in the time of climate emergency, I was in two minds as to what to do with regards to the monthly ‘Jewel in the Crown’ acoustic session which I organise. I contacted the band ‘Birdsong’ which had agreed to play the half hour spotlight this month. I assured them that they should feel no obligation to play, and although they had been willing to honour their commitment, it was with some relief that they accepted the opportunity to stand down, as they have family coming from abroad for Christmas. I look forward to hearing them both at a later date. I immediately posted the news on ‘The Jewel’ page.
I knew that if I cancelled the session completely, at least a couple, of older players that don’t use social media, would still be unaware that the session was scuttled.
I contacted folk that regularly attend, and explained that although I didn’t think that it was a good Idea for people to go against their instincts, a very small session might take place, (Peculiarly, against my own!).
Jayne and I packed our instruments into our car and headed for Fakenham.
In the event I was right. Luckily a very few attended. The bar was large enough for eleven of us to remain comfortably, socially distanced, and have a fun session. Which ended with a full rendition of ‘Silent Night…
Would I do it again…. Who knows !?!
These are the tunes that I listened to, as I drew our Christmas Greeting yesterday afternoon."
"Hi RPMers, hope you are well. Here’s some tunes from my week."
"Hi RPMers, here are my three for this week...."
America by the Nice -
Johnny Was by Skip Marley - "Written by Bob Marley's wife, Rita. Sung by his Grandson, Skip. From the excellent film 'Yardy' (superb supporting role from Stephen Graham)."
Jibber and Twitch by Cardiacs -
"We saw the live streamed Nutcracker from the Royal Opera House at the lovely art deco cinema in Malton the other evening. It all felt very Christmassy. Here's some of the music."
The Trip by Still Corners -
It's 400 miles from Penzance to my house, hence..
"Take care & stay safe over the festive period everyone, Cheers!"
"This week, it's blues and soul...... but with a twist."
Herbert Harper's Free Press News by Muddy Waters - (from 'Electric Mud' LP, released October 1968. Cadet label). "Recorded at the behest of Marshall Chess, the album featured an 'all star' line up of some of Chicago's finest avant garde musicians (see below) instead of Muddy's usual line up on re-recordings of some of Muddy's finest songs, several cover versions and this co-comp between Sidney Barnes (compadre of George Clinton) and Pete Cosey (soon to be in the Miles Davis band). Marshall's raison d'être was to make money for Muddy but, in doing so, it's generally accepted that the 'experiment' was unsuccessful. Chess is quoted "It was never an attempt to make Muddy a psychedelic artist; it was a concept album like David Bowie being Ziggy Stardust." whilst Muddy is on record as "Quite naturally, I like a good-selling record. I was looking at it because I played for so many of these so-called hippies that I thought I could probably reach them." but later remarked "If you've got to have big amplifiers and wah-wahs and equipment to make your guitar say different things, well, hell, you can't play no blues." Sales-wise, however, in the US the album became Chess' biggest seller to date, sold 150,000 in the first six weeks and hit the Top 150 album charts, but then sales dropped alarmingly and stores began returning their stock. Reviews in the UK were generally more favourable and the album did gain plays on the radio and it's rumoured that Jimi Hendrix usually listened to this track before his gigs. The album was later quoted as a major influence by many rap artists and was particularly highly praised by Chuck D of Public Enemy. Amongst the backing musicians on this LP were..................the next group!!!"
I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun by (New) Rotary Connection - (from 'Hey Love' album released 1971. Cadet label) "Another Marshall Chess experiment for his Chess label spin-off, this comes from the bands sixth and final album and, like the preceding offerings, 'Hey Love' was a patchy affair. However, any album which features string arrangements by Charles Stepney, vocals by Minnie Ripperton and guitar courtesy of Phil Upchurch can't be all bad! Allmusic describes the music as 'psychedelic chamber music' but there's also soul, jazz and blues and more than a soupcon of rock in the mix too. Marshall Chess chose the rhythm section from failed rock group The Proper Strangers before adding two male and two female vocalists to form a sound which was pretty unique for 1967 but, unfortunately, his management decisions held the band back. He concentrated their live shows around Chicago and the MidWest but probably his biggest mistake was in turning down an appearance for the group at Woodstock in favour of a better paid appearance at the Toronto Rock and Roll Festival. Granted John and Yoko, Bo Diddley, Chicago, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Little Richard and The Doors appeared but, other than a limitedly shown, poorly shot film of the one-dayer, the festival has never lodged in the public's consciousness in the same way as Woodstock. The band's albums were a mix of (sometimes substandard) originals, spiced with total (and not always successful) reworkings of tracks such as 'Ruby Tuesday', 'Like a rolling stone' and 'Respect' (plus three covers of Cream songs!) but, with 'I am the black gold...', the band produced a true classic which has received several covers and namechecks from later 'r&b' artists. For some reason Marshall Chess appended the 'New' to the band's name for 'Hey Love' although the line up remained unchanged. However, by late 1970, Ripperton had already released her first solo album which probably alerted Chess to the band's lack of future viability."
The Rubaiyats- 'Omar Khayyam' (7" single, US only release, September 1966. Sansu label. This from 'Mod Life Crisis: 60's Mod anthems for the In Crowd' CD released 2011. Harmless label) "It's generally accepted that this Motown influenced dancer is an almost one-off release by Allen Toussaint and Willie Harper (they had also released one single as Willie and Allen for Sansu earlier in 1966, the Lee Dorsey sounding 'Baby do little' ). Toussaint, of course, had progressed through the 'Crescent City' bands of Earl King, Fats Domino and Smiley Lewis before finding fame as a composer (often under the alias Naomi Neville) and arranger for Jesse Hill, Ernie K Doe, Chris Kenner and Irma Thomas plus, following the formation of Sansu in '65, his whole string of hits with Dorsey of course. Following several solo recordings (with Sansu's 'house band' The Meters) Toussaint went on to work with Paul Simon, Little Feat, Dr John, The Band and LaBelle amongst others and his compositions received many cover versions over the intervening years. Willie Harper was a long time associate, co-composer and arranger with Toussaint and had around a dozen singles released under his own name, including a fine cover of 'Naomi Nevilles' 'A certain girl' in 1968. There's fine back up from the Meters on this ahead of its time dancer and the subject matter alone (Khayyam was a 9/10th century mathematician, astronomer, historian, philosopher, and poet who is most famous for his work on the 'classification and solution of cubic equations, where he provided geometric solutions by the intersection of conics'.... plus 'his understanding of the parallel axiom'!!!! Don't ask me............. I only research this stuff!!!!) makes this a truly unique record."
"A bit of a weird mix this time...."
My Home Is In The Delta by Muddy Waters - "Found a compilation CD I'd put together of slide blues songs and stuck it in the car CD player. This was a stand out track."
Food Roof Family by The Levellers - "Well, I'm sure this'll sound scary to some, but what a proper gig the Levellers at York Barbican proved to be; a crowd standing area, a drunk man who fell over and created a pretty impressive "domino effect", a pint thrown in the air front of stage giving a none too pleased Mark Chadwick a beer shower, and finally rounded off with a bit of a scuffle between two fat blokes. Brilliant!!!.....oh, the band were pretty good as well...apart from an unnecessary encore of Devil Went Down to Georgia. I left. Made it to the Bluebell before last orders. Probably won't have a night out like that, now, for a while....."
'Til Next Time...