Friday, July 31, 2015


Kanui & Lula were a Hawaiian-French duo who recorded in Paris in the ’30s, making them a natural for BAK and Waltzes, Steel Guitars, Etc., Etc.

Kanui & Lula • Tomi Tomi • 1933

William Kulii Kanui, vocal/guitar. Paris, 21 June 1933

Illustration: Ben Shahn. Four Piece Orchestra, 1944

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Tom Russell • Stealing Electricity • 2006

Image: Japanese women walk through ruins of Hiroshima, August 1945

Monday, July 27, 2015


Connie Mack Booker • Love Me Pretty Baby • 1953

Connie Mack Booker, vocal/piano; Cal Green, guitar; saxes; bass; drums. Houston, 8 December 1953

Get it: Speak Easy – The RPM Records Story Volume 2 1954–57.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


In his outstanding HBTN essay for entry number 9 Bill Friskics-Warren writes, “Records as evocative as ‘Rank Stranger’ cry out for multiple interpretations. The song’s narrative is as straightforward as it is sketchy—and as harrowing. . . . [One] possibility is that the dystopia depicted in ‘Rank Stranger’ isn’t so much a physical place (although it’s certainly that) as a moral condition. . . . Adrift in some infernal limbo, Ralph’s aggrieved wailing floats, untethered, on the chorus, making it plain that, for now, the brothers are stuck in a living hell.”

The first time I heard “Rank Stranger” was at the height of my blues fever which had been built upon a foundation of a decade’s worth of listening to Top 40 rock’n’roll and pop music. Country music and bluegrass could not have been farther from my musical interests. Until the fateful day when a banjo playing friend played for me the Stanley’s “Rank Stranger.” To say I was floored, flabbergasted, my heart and soul taken with no resistance, might be a little on the dramatic side but no less accurate a description of my reaction. So let’s just say that nearly 50 years later “Rank Stranger” and the Stanley Brothers remain near the very top of my own “500 greatest records” of any stripe or color.

9.  Rank Stranger • The Stanley Brothers • 1960

Friday, July 24, 2015


Sure wish ol’ Bill could’ve sped things up a little on that mandolin. . . .

Monroe Brothers (Charlie & Bill)

Bill Monroe, Charlie Monroe, vocal duet; Bill Monroe, mandolin; Charlie Monroe, guitar. Charlotte, North Carolina, 
17 February 1936 

Illustration: Ben Shahn. Four Piece Orchestra, 1944

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Vulkana Stoyanova with the Radi Angelov orchestra
 Dimitur tovari gimiya • 1939

Image: Japanese women walk through ruins of Hiroshima, August 1945

Monday, July 20, 2015


Albert Collins & His Rhythm Rockers • Freeze • 1958

Albert Collins, guitar; Frank Mitchell, trumpet; Henry Hayes, alto sax; Cleotis Arch, tenor sax; Bill Johnson, bass; Herbert Henderson, drums. Houston, 1958

Sunday, July 19, 2015


“‘Coat of Many Colors’ builds to a declaration—‘One is only poor only if they choose to be’—that upon first listening seems more than a little naïve. After all, the choices Dolly Parton had in whether or not she would grow up poor in the East Tennessee hills numbered exactly zero. But then, that’s not what she’s saying. In the very next line, she concedes that ‘we had no money,’ 
so she’s clearly not denying her poverty. Rather, she’s claiming that her poverty need not define her. . . .” David Cantwell’s perceptive essay goes on to say “. . . ‘Coat of Many Colors’ is not a documentary or even a memory, but a story [Dolly’s] telling herself. How the adult Parton presents this childhood story says a lot about the survival tactics of poor kids generally, and of Dolly specifically. . . . I refuse, Parton insists as she wanders back through the years, to believe a story about myself in which poor is all I am. . . .”

8.  Coat of Many Colors • Dolly Parton • 1971

The Dolly Parton album Coat of Many Colors is the obvious place to go for “Coat of Many Colors.”

You can read the full “Coat of Many Colors” entry on David Cantwell’s Living in Stereo blog.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Bobby Vinton • Blue Velvet • 1963

Billboard Top Pop Hits:1963 is out of print but probably easy to find. “Blue Velvet” is on it.

Retitled reissue of Blue on Blue LP cover: Wikipedia

Friday, July 17, 2015


Jimmie Tarlton • Ooze Up to Me • 1930

Jimmie Tarlton, vocal/steel guitar. Atlanta, 29 Febraury 1932

Illustration: Ben Shahn. Four Piece Orchestra, 1944


Oh, mama loochie! This one’s been creating excitement all over blues fandom since the news broke of its imminent release a few months ago. Now it’s here. We haven’t had a chance to listen yet, it’s only an hour out of the mailbox, but I doubt we’ll have to retract our headline any time soon. Tampa Red’s postwar Victor and Bluebird recordings, for the first time in pristine sound, straight from the original tapes and metalwork transfers. The first track of this 2-CD set from Ace is our feature today: a previously unheard take of “Evalena” with a typically fine Tampa vocal but no stinging slide, a barking amplified harmonica break by Big Walter Horton, and fabulous rollicking piano by the great Little Johnny Jones. Couldn’t be better. Everybody “within the sound of my voice” should “Run, Don’t Walk” to your nearest dealer and get this set today. Check out full details on Ace’s website for Tampa Red’s Dynamite! The Unsung King of the Blues.

Tampa Red • Evalena [take A] • 1953

Tampa Red, vocal/guitar; Little Johnny Jones, piano; Walter Horton, harmonica; Willie Lacey, guitar; Ransom Knowling, bass; Odie Payne, drums. Chicago, 4 December 1953

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Geoff Muldaur • Tennessee Blues • 1999

Geoff Muldaur, vocal/guitar. Bremen, Germany, 30 May 1999

Geoff Muldaur’s Beautiful Isle of Somewhere is available from Tradition & Moderne.

Image: Japanese women walk through ruins of Hiroshima, August 1945

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Well, folks, we been kicking this dog around for four years today.* BB’s Magic Jukebox was started on a whim as a boredom killer, changed its name to Blues All Kinds somewhere along the way to better suit our sensibilities, added an administrator (the aptly named Frank Jive), and continues to bring you a song a day almost every day of the year. We nearly closed BAK down a year ago, but due to popular demand (one listener, actually) decided to remain as your faithful “one-a-day brand” internet jukebox for a while longer. So stick with us, have fun listening, put up with our ofttimes silly written expositions and incompetent guest liner notes, and we’ll try to continue to post our usual schizophrenic mix of tunes from the past hundred or so years that has proved so popular with our listening audience.

Earl Curry & His Orchestra • One Whole Year Baby • 1954

William Curry, vocal; with saxes; piano; bass; drums. Los Angeles, 18 December 1953

Listen to four whole years’ worth of RPM singles on Ace’s ace new collection Speak Easy: The RPM Records Story, Volume 2, 1954–57

*That original post can be found here. Many thanks to Boogiewoody and Marie for help getting started and 

encouragement along the way! (Unfortunately, many of the songs posted prior to 2015 are not playable right now 
as the file server host player thingy divShare seems to have gone under. We will try to bring back as many older 
posts as possible via a different host, Box, but that’s a time consuming job and will be undertaken only a little at 
a time.)


Also known as our “Happy Birthday, Woody” post. This time we reach back to the mid ’40s with Woody and Cisco duetting on this delightful little number. (First heard here on budget LP pictured.)

Woody Guthrie • More Pretty Girls Than One • 1944

New York City, 16 April 1944

“More Pretty Girls Than One” is on My Dusty Road.

Monday, July 13, 2015


B. B. King, vocal/guitar; trumpet; saxes, including Jewel Grant, alto sax; Maxwell Davis, Hubert “Bumps” Myers, tenor saxes; Willard McDaniel, piano; bass; congas; Jesse Sailes, drums. Los Angeles, 2 March 1954

Ace’s B. B. King collection The Vintage Years is your one-stop for B. B. King’s greatest recordings. The above take of “When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer” can be heard on Singin’ the Blues.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


“To call George Jones the greatest country singer of all time has become something of a cliché over the past few decades, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. What no one talks about, though, is just how strong a songwriter Jones was in his first half decade or so of recording and how it was, in fact, the very twists and turns of his own songs that allowed him to refine his unique ballad style. . . .” —David Cantwell in Heartaches by the Number

7.   The Window Up Above • George Jones • 1960

George Jones, vocal; other details unknown. Nashville, April 1960

Hear “The Window Up Above” on Country & Western Hit Parade 1960.

George Jones image: KLLL

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Poppa Hop & His Orchestra • I’m A Stranger • 1960

Hop Wilson, vocal/steel guitar; Elmore Nixon, piano; Pete Douglas, guitar; Ivory Lee Semien, drums. Houston, 
27 October 1960

Find “I’m a Stranger” on Ace’s terrific Hop Wilson collection Steel Guitar Flash! . . . Plus.

Friday, July 10, 2015


Louis Jordan’s Elks Rendez-Vous Band

Session personnel: Louis Jordan, vocal/clarinet/alto sax/baritone sax; Courtney Williams, trumpet; Lem Johnson, tenor sax; Clarence Johnson, piano; Charlie Drayton, bass; Walter Martin, drums; ensemble vocals. New York City, 
20 December 1938

Let the Good Times Roll is a nice 2-CD Jordan collection. “Barnacle Bill the Sailor” is the opening track.

Illustration: Ben Shahn. Four Piece Orchestra, 1944

Thursday, July 09, 2015


Charles Mingus • Myself When I Am Real • 1963

Charles Mingus, piano; New York City, 30 July 1963

“Myself When I Am Real” is on Mingus Plays Piano.

Image: Japanese women walk through Hiroshima ruins, August 1945

Monday, July 06, 2015


Liner Notes

Welcome, music lovers, to Volume 5 of our long living Blues What Am series. This issue, Volume 5, is known as our “guitar special,” featuring the fabulous fretwork of such guitar giants as Betty James and Earl Hooker, though they are unrelated to their more famous namesakes, but shouldn’t stop a savvy listener from recognizing their nonpareil talents. Also on board are the very great blues artists B. B. King, Crying Sam Collins, and Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, as well as a number of others equally regarded as the best of the best. We expect this series to run for several weeks and look forward to your enthusiastic comments before it runs its course and is subsumed by its ironic and electronic follow-up, Volume Six.  —Melvin Kukai Cowznofski

Earl Hooker • Two Bugs and a Roach • 1968

Earl Hooker, vocal/guitar; Andrew “B.B. Jr.” Odom, vocal; Pinetop Perkins, piano; Gino Skaggs, bass; Willie Williams, drums. Chicago, 14 November 1968

Hear Earl and B.B. Jr. try to “kill that bug” on Two Bugs and a Roach, available on both CD and vinyl LP.

Sunday, July 05, 2015


In the midst of all the hullabaloo over who was going to influence the musical tastes of the newly discovered teenage demographic (and grab as much of their record buying money as possible), 
up walked Ray Price. Ray was just coming into his own after shedding his earlier Hank Williams influences so he was not particularly interested in trying to be a Rock’n’roller or embracing the emerging Nashville Sound. Instead he and his musical cohorts invented a sound of their own, the “Ray Price beat.” As Bill Friskics-Warren writes in HBTN, “‘We were having trouble getting a good clean bass sound,’ Price recalled of the session [that produced “Crazy Arms”]. ‘So instead of going with the standard 2/4 beat, I said, “Let’s try a 4/4 bass and a shuffle rhythm.” And it cut—
it cut clean through.’ Indeed, Buddy Killen’s surging bassline—which Price suggested be played on both electric and acoustic bass, making it doubly rocking—cut a swath wide enough for honky-tonk to rocket straight into the modern era. . . . Price and company transformed the gutbucket country shuffle of the postwar era into a pop-wise rhythm that kicked as hard as big-beat rock & roll. Hard enough, in fact, to knock [Carl] Perkins’s ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ off the top of the country charts. . . .”

6.  Crazy Arms • Ray Price • 1956

Ray Price, vocal; Van Howard, guitar/harmony vocal; Jack Pruett, Pete Wade, guitars; Jimmy Day, steel guitar; Tommy Jackson, fiddle; Floyd Cramer, piano; Buddy Killen, bass. Nashville, 1 March 1956

The Essential Ray Price is a good place to hear “Crazy Arms.”

Saturday, July 04, 2015

JULY 4th

’Long about July 4, 1957 this nine-year old heard rock’n’roll broadcast on the radio for the first time due to a parental error in station selection. Well, that’s all it took for the Kid to become a lifelong music crazy person fan listener collector wanna-DJ. 

The week of July 1, 1957 started out with Pat Boone’s “Love Letters in the Sand” enjoying its fifth week as the best selling single on Billboard’s Top 40 listing. Aural relief arrived a few days later when “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” by Elvis Presley knocked ol’ Pat off the number one spot and stayed put for six weeks until bested by Debbie Reynolds and “Tammy.”

Not hard to guess which record we’re spinning today. . . .

Elvis Presley • (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear • 1957

Elvis Presley, vocal/guitar; session musicians: Scotty Moore, Tiny Timbrell, guitars; Bill Black, bass; D. J. Fontana, drums; Dudley Brooks, Gordon Stoker, Hoyt Hawkins, piano; The Jordanaires, vocals. Paramount Scoring Stage, Hollywood, January 1957

“Teddy Bear” can be heard on Artist of the Century.

Image: Elvis performs “Teddy Bear” in the movie Loving You, via 

Our forthcoming post-Independence Day adventures: B. B. Junior hollers out, “Hey, Earl Hooker!” and Charles Mingus gets real with himself; Aaron Neville lauds the leader of the Club; Ray Price shuffles right on through the rock’n’roll/Nashville Sound kerfuffle; Hop Wilson experiences an existential crisis as Sonny Boy Williamson checks up on his baby, find out what she’s puttin’ down. And . . . here’s Leon again!

Friday, July 03, 2015


Here’s an alternate take of this classic, also issued at the time, with a different spoken intro by Bob, different solos, and without the familiar “Domino!” exclamation at the end. . . .

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys • Steel Guitar Rag • 1936

Bob Wills, fiddle/spoken; Jesse Ashlock, fiddle; Sleepy Johnson, fiddle/guitar; Everett Stover, trumpet; Ray DeGeer, clarinet/sax; Zeb McNally, sax; Leon McAuliffe, electric steel guitar; Al Stricklin, piano; Johnnie Lee Wills, tenor banjo; Herman Arnspiger, guitar; Joe Ferguson, string bass; Smokey Dacus, drums. Chicago, 29 September 1936

Both versions of “Steel Guitar Rag” are on Bear Family’s Bob Wills box San Antonio Rose.

Illustration: Ben Shahn. Four Piece Orchestra, 1944

Thursday, July 02, 2015


Inconsolable: decades-old war poems resonate 2015, world without end, amen. As Mingus reflects this reality from a darkened room, 1963, and Dimitur ferries teenage Stoyanova’s plaint across decades, so our local cantina is serving it up 100 proof. . . . Johnny Twovoice wails gospel-syncopated “oh baby” on out Central Avenue, across burnt out lanes, over high line poles, Plains states to Asia Minor. “Is anyone living to look for future forgiveness?” A lone mandolin trills its response from an Appalachian front porch.  —FJ

Greg Brown • Joy Tears • 2006

Greg Brown, acoustic guitar/harmonica/vocals; Bo Ramsey, electric guitar; Rico Cicalo, acoustic bass/electric bass; Steve Hayes, drums/percussion; Ricky Peterson, acoustic piano/B3. Memphis, c. 2006

“Joy Tears” is the first track on Greg Brown’s The Evening Call.

Image: Japanese women walk through Hiroshima ruins, August 1945.