Monday, December 31, 2012

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
Mary Margaret O’Hara – 1991

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Your antifreeze won’t hold out there

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Home & Jethro with June Carter – 1949

Image: Homer and Jethro with June Carter, 1971. Courtesy

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Warm in December

Warm December – Julie London – 1956

Illustration: 夜ごとの美女

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sleigh ride

Sleigh Ride – Duke Pearson – 1969

Album cover: Cover Jazz

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ah’w baby

Ah’w Baby – Little Walter – 1957

Friday, December 21, 2012

I’ll never forget that day

I’m Sitting Here – Eddie Taylor – 1964

Dream team: Eddie Taylor, vocal, guitar; Jimmy Reed, harmonica; Johnny Jones, piano; Hubert Sumlin, guitar, Al Duncan, drums. Chicago, 1964.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Nat King Cole • Aquellos Ojos Verdes • 1959

Get it: A Mis Amigos

Image: Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung in Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Once upon a lifetime ago, like many, I discovered lots of great blues and R&B via the Rolling Stones. “Down Home Girl” was one of my favorites, mid-sixties. However you feel about the Stones, you’ve got to admit they had great taste in covers in their pre-writing days. I never even heard of Alvin Robinson till about 15 years after The Rolling Stones Now first hit my turntable. Sometime after that, I was reading the liner notes to a Coasters anthology and the writer made much of his assumption that the Rolling Stones, in their attempt to be heavy bluesmen, missed the humor in the song as evidenced by the Coasters’ version. Well, it’s definitely a funny song as befits a Leiber & Stoller production but I guess that writer had never heard their Alvin Robinson original either!

Alvin Robinson • Down Home Girl • 1964

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The heartaches linger on

Take These Chains from My Heart – Ray Price – 1966

Thanks to WFMU Rock & Soul Ichiban’s “Ray Price Month” earlier this year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why don’t you write to me

Why Don’t You Write to Me
L. C. Good Rocking Robinson Band – 1954

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Someday when things are good . . .

Someday When Things Are Good – Merle Haggard – 1983

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I made a big mistake

I Made a Big Mistake – Marc & Ann Savoy – 1992

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This will be my new number

Sometime around 1980 I dubbed a bunch of tracks from various gospel 45s and LPs onto 3 cheapo cassettes from a broken down record player hooked up to who knows what kind of cassette deck, probably one with auto levels. A lot of the dubs sound pretty rough but one that survived the process in relatively good shape is the opening track from the Dixie Hummingbirds’ 1967 album The Gentlemen of Song. Since James Walker is the lead on this one, you know it’s gonna be in waltz time, and for late Hummingbirds, it’s a nice strong performance with Walker moving smoothly from croon to falsetto to roar as he explains the mathematics behind his future address.

My New Home – Dixie Hummingbirds – 1967

Album cover: Just Moving On

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Take Five

Take Five – Chet Atkins – 1973

Dave Brubeck, 1920–2012

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Friday, December 07, 2012

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


Hop Wilson • Rockin’ with Hop • 1958

Hop Wilson, steel guitar; Ice Water, bass; Ivory Lee Semien, drums. Lake Charles, early 1958

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

I got lost tryin’ to find my way

Strange Land – Charley Musselwhite's South Side Band – 1967

Monday, December 03, 2012

Soon or later, soon or later
that’s a debt that must be paid

A tasty guitar solo by Howard Carroll, punctuated by the oohs and aahs of Tucker and the ’Birds.

Bedside of a Neighbor – Dixie Hummingbirds – 1962

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ook, baby, ook

Ookey Ook – The Penguins – 1955

Cleve Duncan, pictured above second from left, passed away at 78 on November 7, 2012 in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


There was an article on the web the other day about a record store owner coming across a 78 of Robert Johnson’s “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” and its being valued at somewhere between $6,000 and $12,000. Record prices sure seem to have gone through the roof, and this one is by no means one of the rarest or most expensive. I was kind of underwhelmed when I first heard a dub of this record on a Folkways collection (see top picture) in the mid-sixties, probably because by that time I’d already discovered “Dust My Broom” and “Dust My Blues,” a couple of the many storming versions of Johnson’s song that Elmore James seemingly made a career of. Anyway, the article got me to thinking of favorite Robert Johnson songs. Here’s one, made famous in 1969 by the Rolling Stones and Mick Taylor’s slide guitar solo: “Love In Vain,” unadorned, wistful, without hope.

Robert Johnson • Love In Vain • 1937

Find it: King of the Delta Blues Singers Vol. II

Monday, November 26, 2012

If you want to treat me the way you do

This early, rough-and-tumble single of “My Own Fault, Darlin’” was recorded at Tuff Green’s house in Memphis, January 1952. Despite the vibes, it’s a great performance, with terrific, nasty guitar and tortured vocals, sounding a world apart from the better known remake of 1960.

My Own Fault, Darlin’ – B. B. King – 1952

Photo: B. B. King © 2012 by Brad Barrett

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I wants to go there too

I Want to Go Where Jesus Is – Duckett & Norwood – 1930

Friday, November 23, 2012


Robert Nighthawk’s last “commercial” session, for Chess in 1964, included an update of “Black Angel Blues,” with help from Walter Horton and an all-star rhythm section.

Robert Nighthawk • (Sorry) My Angel • 1964

Robert Nighthawk, vocal/guitar; Big Walter Horton, harmonica; Lafayette Leake, piano; Buddy Guy, guitar; 
Jack Meyers, bass; Clifton James, drums. Recorded in Chicago, 30 June 1964.

Photo: Robert Nighthawk, Memphis, 1966. “photo by Mylon Studio, 154 Beale St, Memphis 3, Tennessee, 
Oct 12, 1966.”  (BAK collection)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Had some hard days

Muddy Waters at his second commercial recording session (unissued at the time) trying on the Lester Melrose model for size. It would soon be discarded for Muddy’s own tougher and at once more modern and more archaic style, a real synthesis of the delta country blues of his mentors and the big city blues of his new home town of Chicago. Next stop: Aristocrat.

Hard Day Blues – McKinley Morganfield – 1946

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Walkin’ slowly from you darlin’

Walkin’ Slowly – Sleepy La Beff & The Versatiles – 1962

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer – The Swan Silvertones – 1959

For Hyatt Earl Moore

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I asked for water

I Asked For Water (He Gave Me Gasoline) – Lucinda Williams – 2007

Monday, November 12, 2012

Al Bowlly’s in heaven

Al Bowlly’s In Heaven – Richard Thompson – 2005

Sunday, November 11, 2012

G. I. Fever

Baba-Du-Lay Fever (G. I. Fever) – Mercy Dee – 1949

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I got a letter this morning

Many years ago, when I was just a blues- and folk-discovering squirt, hearing the Bright Light Quartet’s lilting vocals on “Sweet Roseanne” (on one of the Alan Lomax-produced “Southern Journey” series LPs) was one of the signal finds of that time. The LPs, on Prestige, came out a year after the “Southern Folk Heritage Series” on Atlantic, and both labels issued music recorded during the extensive field trips Mr Lomax made throughout the southern United States in 1959 and 1960. The Bright Light Quartet were a group of menhaden fishermen from Weems on the eastern shore of Virginia and were made up, on various recordings, of Shedrick Cain, James Campbell, Arnold Fisher, Laurence Hodge, and Robert Beane. Most of the songs here originally came out on Southern Journey 5: Deep South . . . Sacred and Sinful, Southern Journey 8: The Eastern Shores,  and Southern Journey 9: Bad Man Ballads. In 1997 Rounder Records began reissuing the Lomax field trips on CD under the series title “Southern Journey” and a few more unissued Bright Lights tunes turned up on those CDs.

Sweet Roseanne / The Prayer Wheel / Straighten ’Em
Po’ Lazarus / Hey, Hey, Honey / Menhaden Chanteys
I’m Tired / Just Beyond the River / Christian Automobile
Po’ Laz’rus – Bright Light Quartet, spring 1960

Friday, November 09, 2012

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Lithuanian Lullaby

Lithuanian Lullaby – Veronika Povilioniene – 1989

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Sunday, November 04, 2012


Fred McDowell & His Blues Boys

Fred McDowell, vocal/guitar; Mike Russo, guitar; John Kahn, bass; Bob Jones, drums. Berkeley, August 1969

Photo: Fred McDowell, Aug 1969 © 2012 by Brad Barrett

Friday, November 02, 2012

Five Spot

Five Spot – Otis Spann – 1954

For Armen

Otis Spann, piano; B. B. King, Jody Williams, guitars; Willie Dixon, bass; Earl Phillips, drums. Recorded in Chicago, 
25 October 1954.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Fred McDowell, Miles Pratcher, Fannie Davis

Fred McDowell, vocal/guitar; Fannie Davis, comb; Miles Pratcher, guitar. Como, Mississippi, 21 September 1959