Yes, “From Russia With Love.” That sums up 1963 to a tee. James Bond, U2 (not that one, silly, Francis Gary Powers, CIA spy flier), Dr. No, Astro Boy, all in the news. There’s more: Mona Lisa comes to the U.S.; “Ich bin ein Berliner;” Please Please Me is released the same week Alcatraz closes; Tristan Tzara passes away on Christmas Day; and the New Year’s Eve crowd in Times Square is the drunkest of all time. And let’s not forget Christine Keeler! Of course, there was much of interest in the world of music. The Anaheim Kingsmen Drum and Bugle Corps was formed as were The Shangri-Las and The Village Fugs. Some great singles this year, many of which can be heard in the Dinosauric Preception special edition on presentation herein: “Louie Louie,” “In My Room,” “Sweet Dreams,” “Ashita Ga Arusa,” “Donna the Prima Donna,” “Walkin’ the Dog,” and “Wipeout!” But enough with the statistics. Let’s get to the music, 1963’s twelve big top hits. . . .
*“If we determined we had nothing much worthwhile to add to the conversation about a single, then that record didn’t make the cut, no matter how good it was. . . . [T]hose singles were were bumped down to “Once More with Feeling: An Alternate 100.” That supplemental list gathers, for the curious, our runners up, but, just as importantly, it presents an alternate, compressed version of the arguments made throughout the book.” —David Cantwell, Bill Friskics-Warren, “How to Use the Book” in Heartaches by the Number
Find it: Riding That Midnight Train: The Starday-King Years 1958–61
“The Moon Is Rising”: Robert Nighthawk, vocal/guitar; Bob Call or Curtis Jones, piano; Ransom Knowling, bass; drums. Chicago, 25 Oct 1952 “Kansas City Blues”: Robert Nighthawk, vocal/guitar; Bob Call or Roosevelt Sykes, piano; Ransom Knowling, bass; prob. Jump Jackson, drums. Chicago, 12 Jul 1951 Get ’em: Bricks in My Pillow
Thirty years after it was recorded and issued on 78 Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was The Night—Cold Was The Ground” made its first appearance on microgroove via the Folkways LP Blind Willie Johnson and in the decades following, its reputation as one of the most powerful pieces of American recorded music has continued to grow. In 1964 it featured on the soundtrack to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film The Gospel According to St. Matthew alongside music from Odetta and the Missa Luba. The song was also launched into space on the Voyager Golden Record in 1977. In 2003 it was heard in Wim Wenders’ The Soul of a Man segment of The Blues documentary in a re-creation, by Chris Thomas King, of Blind Willie singing on the street.
When Randy Travis hit with “On the Other Hand” in 1986 he joined with other “new tradtionalists” in helping to turn eighties country music back into something worth listening to. That he never quite matched this first big hit and eventually spiraled down into some pretty weird personal problems doesn’t take away anything from this great record, one that offers just a glimmer of hope from the dark end of the street.
“World War II wreaked havoc on domestic tranquility in the United States. . . . Those who couldn’t endure the isolation sought comfort where they could find it. . . . [As] much as Floyd hopes [he and his lover will] be together for good someday, he can’t shake his suspicion that the pain of living a lie—and perhaps of getting caught—isn’t really worth the pleasure of their furtive couplings. . . .” —Bill Friskics-Warren, Heartaches by the Number
Arthur Spires, vocal/guitar; Earl Dranes, Eddie El, guitars; Willie Smith, maracas. Chicago, 13 Mar 1952 Johnny Shines, vocal/guitar; Moody Jones, bass. Chicago, 28 Apr 1952 Find ’em: Drop Down Mama (Big Boy Spires); Evening Shuffle (Johnny Shines)
They’re back, folks! Those fabulous girl groups that made 60s pop radio so much fun to listen to.
Erm . . . wait . . . our our programmers have not included one tune that evenvaguely qualifies as a girl group record. Guess you’ll just have to suffer through several weeks of really good perfor-mances by really good female singers from all over the really good world. Let’s get this fun fest started with Belô Velloso, Caetano Veloso’s and Maria Bethânia’s niece, and her 1997 take on “Send Me Some Lovin’.”
When John Lee Hooker first came to town, people, he was walkin’ down Parkway. Everybody was talkin’ about Club DeLisa, so he decided he’d drop in there. . . . This is a Chicago blues oddity: recorded in Detroit by Bernie Besman and sold to Chess. The originally issued 78, overdubbed with sped-up guitar and dual JLH vocals, name-checked South Parkway and the Club DeLisa. On this unissued, unadorned, take Johnny references the DeLisa and places it on Beale Street in Memphis. When the track first saw the light of day on LP in the 80s, it was on a comp called Wizards from the Southside and showed John Lee Hooker along with the usual Chicago suspects on the cover. You don’t have to know any of the above to enjoy this 1952 update to his big hit. “Jump, chillen!”