Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Train 45

Train 45 – Stanley Brothers – 1959

Monday, September 19, 2011

What did Jackie say. . . ?

In 1983 at the age of 50 James Brown reemerged from one of the many doldrums he’d begun to increasingly occupy after his peak days were beginning to flatten out and turn into long lulls with a six song LP called Bring It On. The last track was an homage to himself (natch) and a number of his comrades, both standing and fallen. The tune was “For Your Precious Love” originally recorded by The Impressions, a Top 5 R&B hit in 1958, just about the time James himself was beginning his ascension. James’ version begins with an in-tempo monologue: 

“I’d like to dedicate this song to lovers and the people who got themselves somewhere along the way. I want to remind them that a man has to go back to the crossroads before he finds himself. I want them to know that hurt goes deeper than the skin, it goes to the heart. I just want to thank God for the energy, ’cause I’d like to say to everyone right here. . . .”

and launches into a slow, burning, soulful rendition of “For Your Precious Love” that sounds like it could have been recorded twenty years earlier. Midway through the song he picks up the monologue again, recounting all the big auditoriums he and the Famous Flames performed in in his rise-to-fame days, “the Apollo Theatre, the Regal, the Royal, and the Howard in Washington,” playing to the crowd, seeking that connection that makes it all happen, and he tells us, “I used to look in the front row and I’d see a smiling face down there . . . and maybe somebody in the back would say, “What did Jackie say?” Here James begins his tribute to the great Jackie Wilson, at that moment in a coma and nearing death,

“I’d say, I’d say Jackie said, Jackie said one day, he said, ‘Lawwwwoooooohhhhhh-
ohohoh. . . .’ May God bless you Jackie, you gave us so, so many, so many joyful and beautiful days. . . .”

For Your Precious Love – James Brown – 1983

Text excerpted from The Surfer’s Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2, April-May 2011, p. 65.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Session: January 11, 1963

By the time my friends and I discovered Sonny Boy Williamson via the Sonny Boy Williamson & The Yardbirds LP on Mercury, he’d already been dead for a year. As the folk and blues boom expanded across white suburbia, there were many more treasures to be discovered. Down and Out Blues, Sonny Boy’s initial Checker LP from 1959 was still available, a reissue of his early 50s Trumpet sides came out on Blues Classics, and Chess reissued a number of his singles and other previously unissued material on two LPs aimed squarely at the folkie crowd: The Real Folk Blues and More Real Folk Blues (other artists in this series included Memphis Slim, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf).
     At a four song session in January 1963, Sonny Boy laid down the classics heard here; three of them originally came out on Checker singles, then all four appeared on RFB and MRFB, issued in the years just after Sonny Boy’s death. They were pretty modern sounding for their time, featuring Lafayette Leake prominently on organ and M. T. Murphy on guitar, as well as Milton Rector’s electric bass and Al Duncan’s drums. A few months later, Sonny Boy travelled to Europe with a large contingent of American blues musicians and took the Continent by storm.

Monday, September 12, 2011

You’re running wild

Illustration: Glenn Barr, Bad Betty.

Blues for Monday

Blues For Monday – The Emanon 4 – 1956

Illustration: Brad Barrett, Untitled, c.1985. Copyright © 2011 by Brad Barrett

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Reflections – Johnny Cash – 1965

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fathers and Sons

Gabby Pahinui made the first commercial recording of Hawaiian slack key guitar in 1946, with his rendition of “Hi‘ilawe,” the story of a love affair that took place in Waipi‘o, on the island of Hawai‘i. Gabby, one of the all-time greats of slack key, took the younger Sonny Chillingworth under his wing when Sonny was a teenager and they played together for many years. Ledward Kaapana grew up in Kalapana on the Big Island in the postwar years and was influenced by some of the great players of the previous generation like Gabby, Sonny, and Leonard Kwan as well as popular guitarists like Chet Atkins, Wes Montgomery, and The Ventures, and is one of Hawai‘i’s most popular guitarists. So . . . here are three beautiful interpretations of the classic tune “Hi‘ilawe,” played by Gabby Pahinui, Sonny Chillingworth, and Ledward Kaapana.

Tore Up and Down

Monday, September 05, 2011


Merle Haggard • Workin’ Man Blues • 1969

Get it: The Best of the Best of Merle Haggard