Friday, May 31, 2013

In misery

Strangled, high-pitched vocals in waltz time, soloing fiddles, accordions, and steel guitars . . . as therapeutic as any gutbucket blues. . . .

Huey Meaux-Andrew Cormier & The Rambling Aces • Dans Les Misere
vocal: Rodney LeJune • 1958

Photo: “The Rambling Aces with Andrew Cormier (accordion), Rodney LeJune (drums), and Huey Meaux (emcee), 
c. 1962.” Johnnie Allan Collection via Floyd’s Early Cajun Singles 1957–1960, Ace CDCHD 743, 2007.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Blind Willie McTell’s most well-known song is probably familiar to many music fans with even a passing interest in the blues, but I was recently reminded of how new and out of context “Statesboro Blues” sounded the first time I heard it on the album The Country Blues which Folkways issued as kind of an aural appendix to Sam Charters’ book of the same name. This flashback arrived courtesy of Aki Kaurismäki’s 2011 movie Le HavreIn it the character Idrissa, a young African refugee, plays it on the ancient record player in the house of Marcel Marx, who is trying to help Idrissa avoid deportation. Via this “new” setting, I heard it with fresh ears and was happy to rediscover a great song I had taken for granted for decades.

Blind Willie McTell • Statesboro Blues • 1928

Get it: The Best of Blind Willie McTell

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Or just a cold and lonely, lovely work of art?

Elvis Presley • Mona Lisa • 1959

Image: the “alternate,” Isleworth Mona Lisa. Prob. Leonardo da Vinci, c1503

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


When Sam Cooke left the Soul Stirrers to sing pop music, Johnnie Taylor was drafted in from the Highway QCs to replace him, just as Cooke had been similarly picked from the QCs to take over for R. H. Harris when he left the Stirrers. Through all the changes, second lead Paul Foster held steady; that’s him taking over after Johnnie’s passionate vocal in the last minute and a half of “Out on a Hill.” The flip of this record is “The Love of God,” another great Taylor lead, and one of my all-time favorite Soul Stirrers sides.

The Soul Stirrers • Out on a Hill • 1958

click on song title to listen