Monday, June 28, 2010

The Cadets - Stranded In The Jungle - Kent, 1958(?)

The Cadets were a doo-wop group that has been performing under various names and lineups since the late 40s.  During the 50s they releaed tunes on the Modern label, as well as music on the Modern subsidiary RPM under the name The Jacks.
I have so many jungle-themed tunes from the 50s.  People seemed to have really been into "exotic" things during that period. "Stranded In The Jungle" was already a popular tune by The Jay Hawks when The Cadets covered it, and thier superior version released in June of 1956 shot up the charts, to #4 R&B / #15 pop. The song's about someone trapped in the jungle as his girl fends off suitors in the States. One memorable line from the song became a sort of a catch phrase for The Cadets: "Great googly-moogly, let me outta here!"
89 cents will get you tune on Amazon. $.89! Stranded In The Jungle

The BSNPubs site has a great writeup on Modern/RPM/Kent labels, here's an excerpt:
The Modern label was formed in 1945 in Los Angeles, California, by Saul and Jules Bihari. Modern recorded rhythm & blues, country &western, jazz, popular, blues, and gospel. The subsidiary RPM was formed in 1950 and released blues, jazz, rhythm & blues and rock & roll. The subsidiary Crown was formed in 1954 and after three years (starting in 1957), was used only for budget priced albums. The Riviera label subsidiary was a budget label that operated in 1959. The Kent label subsidiary was formed in 1958 and issued only singles, but the name was used again from 1965 to 1971 for album issues. All of these labels were very much a family affair, as the President of all the labels was Saul Bihari, his brothers Jules and Joe served as Vice Presidents, and brother Lester was head of Sales and Promotion. At the Modern, RPM and Crown labels, A&R was handled by Joe and Jules Bihari, Maxwell Davis, Austin McCoy, Jake Porter, Lester Sill and Ike Turner.
In the late '40s and early '50s, Modern/RPM was able to attract many fine blues performers to the labels, including B.B. King, Roscoe Gordon, Elmore James, Smokey Hogg, Lightnin' Hopkins, Little Willie Littlefield, Jimmy McCracklin, Jimmy Witherspoon, Pee Wee Crayton and John Lee Hooker. Modern also leased masters from Sam Phillips in Memphis, and was the first label to release material by the legendary Howlin' Wolf. A split between the Bihari brothers and Sam Phillips occurred when Phillips started leasing the Wolf masters to Chess in Chicago.
Modern/RPM was even successful in the rock & roll field, with vocal groups including the Cadets, Marvin and Johnny, the Jacks, and the Teen Queens, and single artists Jesse Belvin, Etta James, Jimmy Beasley, Richard Berry, and Shirley Gunter. The biggest hits for the Biharis were an uptempo instrumental by tenor sax player Joe Houston, titled "Blow, Joe, Blow', the slow group recording by the Jacks titled "Why Don't You Write Me" in 1955, a novelty number titled "Stranded in the Jungle" in 1956 by the Cadets (a group with the same personnel as the Jacks), a hit by Jesse Belvin with the fine ballad "Goodnight, My Love" in 1956, and a hit with the amateurishly sung "Eddie My Love" by a girl group called the Teen Queens, also in 1956.
What I can't seem to figure out is - when was my 45 released? According to the BSNPubs Site, Kent started releasing singles in 1958. But this Kent discography doesn't list the Cadet's single. Also strange is the fact that my Cadets record is labeled release number #994 - which by looking at the discography leads me to believe this is a 70s reissue. BUT - this is an old style Kent label and 994 is the number of the original Modern release in the 50s. So I'm gonna throw out a guess that this was an early release on Kent (late 50s) before the label had it's own numbering system and unique releases. If you know something, say something!
And now, the clip:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Next Wednesday the 30th, come out to the legendary Otto's Shrunken Head for a Rockin' good time with me!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Olympics - "Western Movies" - Demon Records, 1958

"Western Movies" has been practically begging me to write about it, as I've come across three copies of it in one month: a 45 on Demon, a 45 on Mirwood, and a Mirwood album.  Great, great tune with a bit of humor and plenty of Soul.

Here's Wikipedia's Olympics blurb:
The Olympics were a doo-wop group formed in 1957 by lead singer Walter Ward (born August 28, 1940 in Jackson, Mississippi — died December 11, 2006 in Northridge, California). The group included Eddie Lewis (tenor, Ward's cousin), Charles Fizer (tenor), Walter Hammond (baritone) and Melvin King (bass) and except for Lewis were friends in a Los Angeles, California high school. Their first record was credited to Walter Ward and the Challengers ("I Can Tell" on Melatone).
After the name change, they recorded "Western Movies" (Demon Records) in the summer of 1958. Co-written by Fred Smith and Cliff Goldsmith, "Western Movies" made it to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song reflected the nation's preoccupation with western themed movies and television programs. It told the story of a man who lost his girl to TV westerns, and it included doo-wop harmonies as well as background gunshots and ricochet sound effects.
For a more nuanced look at the history of The Olympics, definitely check out Marv Goldberg's page here.
1966 Release on Mirwood
Mirwood LP 7003, "Something Old, Something New", 1967

While we're discussing them, here's another 45: "Good Lovin'" Released in 1965 by The Olympics on Loma and later covered by the Young Rascals!
The "Something Old, Something New" ablum released by Mirwood contains all the Olypics late 50's hits which were re-recorded for the purpose of the album. Note by this time, the line-up was slightly different as Fizer was shot and killed during the Watts Riots in 1965. This album was recently reissued on CD and is available at Amazon.  I highly recommend it, all of the cuts on the album are Solid!
CD here: Something Old Something New
MP3 Downloads here: Something Old, Something New
Finding info on Demon Records is proving difficult. It seems they were L.A. based and released a number of 45s from 1958 to 1960.  From Marv Goldberg's in-depth Olympics page, I was able to find this interesting nugget on Demon:
In 1958, their (The Olympics) idol, Jesse Belvin, introduced them to John Criner, who became their manager. (Criner, a former singer who recorded "Sugar Mama Blues" in 1946, owned the Shade and Spot labels.) He got them a contract with Si Aronson, Joe Greene, and George Brown's Demon label (which was distributed by Liberty Records). The A&R men at Demon, Fred Smith and Cliff Goldsmith, were also songwriters, who had written a little ditty called "Western Movies."
And now, the clip!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My monthly mix is up, and this time it's all cat-themed songs! Check it out on my Soundcloud page here: Caturday Night Special

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Just got booked at Brooklyn Beauty Bar for next Wednesday the 23rd, come make it Funky with me! Bushwick Printlab will also be there printing t-shirts for $5. Bring your own tee to be printed or buy one for $5!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Packers - Go 'Head On - Pure Soul Music, 1966

And now back to our usual funky goodness. The Packers "Hole In The Wall"/"Go 'Head On" is a solid little 45, both sides are class. So I've got clips of both songs today since I couldn't pick a favorite. "Hole In The Wall" hit the charts hard but the flip "Go Head On" is wonderful as well. "Go Head On" is a burning instro and wastes no time, kicking off with a strong beat to get you tapping before the organ and piano start pounding you.  Some nice guitar and horn work get laid down in the middle but this is mostly a keys driven affair. "Hole In The Wall" reminds me of a Ramsey Lewis number (see "The 'In' Crowd"), where a simple conga rhythm starts off and slowly builds with piano lines, claps, and shouts into a stone groove.

I like to include a link in these posts to somewhere where you can buy the song we're discussing, but unfortunately I could not find one today.  Lucky for you, these 45s are not that rare and you should be able to find one without much difficulty. As a matter a fact, I've got 2 extra at the moment (sorry, at my Ebay store, plug plug)
Here's Wikipedia's take on the Packers: "The Packers were an American soul group formed by tenor saxophonist Charles "Packy" Axton, who was the son of Stax Records part-owner Estelle Axton. Axton was a former member of the Mar-Keys; Leon Haywood (on organ) was among those who played on the group's records (Ed - Leon was prolific as hell and was sampled by Dre, Mariah, Redman, Basement Jaxx, etc,etc). Their first album, "Hole in the Wall", reached #7 on the Billboard Black Albums chart on the strength of the titular single, which reached #5 on the Black Singles chart and #43 on the Billboard Hot 100."

The Mar-keys performing with Packy  Axton on the far left.

That skims over all the details of course, which are much more interesting. Here's a taste from the excellent Funky 16 Corners blog: "...ostensibly the band of saxophonist Packy Axton of the Mar-Keys, the Packers records (over a number of labels) feature many studio musicians (and considering Axton’s personal history, some may not feature the bandleader at all)." Emphasis mine.
Check out the full story of this song and it's sketchy attribution at the Funky 16 Corner's great blog here
All I can find out about the Pure Soul label is that it was based out of L.A.  I believe Magnificent Montague ran this label (if you don't know, he was a legendary LA-based Soul DJ whose catch phrase "Burn, Baby, Burn!" became a rallying cry during the infamous Watts riots!) If anyone has more info on the label, please share! Anyway, here's an interesting anecdote on the recording of "Hole In The Wall" from Magnificant Montague's autobiography "Burn, Baby, Burn!":

"One of the cuts they wents nuts over was another of those half-hour-left-in-the-studio throwaway jobs. Booker T and the MGs had been in town in late '65 with the Stax revue for a show, and I booked them to help me with some studio themes.  Booker T.'s sax player was Packy Axton, whose mom, Estelle Axton, co-owned Stax. We finished the jingles, and then, just for fun, I started beating on my conga drum: one, two, bop-bop. I'd read it was what slaves used as a code beat, a warning at secret meetings that massa was coming; the change-up of rhythm was the signal to start their emotional dances and laughter, to fool massa that they were happy and contented. I was one-twoing and shouted out a chord to Booker T. to play on the piano. The rest of the band fell in and found there was plenty of room to work within the open confines of my rhythm. It was (forgive me) edgier, or maybe jazzier, than the standard R&B instrumental. The next day I came by this little studio to pick up the tapes of the jingles to mix them down from eight tracks to stereo.  In the process I listened to that instrumental, and something told me I had a hit..." Check the book for the rest of the story and other tales from this Soul legend.

And finally, the clips!
Hole In The Wall
Go 'Head On

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday the 16th, come catch me at Trophy Bar monthly in Williamsburg!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Peek-A-Boo" - Geffen, 1988

So I usually stick with kinda obscure older 45s, but I couldn't resist covering this one.  This 45 was the first bit of vinyl I ever purchased, when it came out in the late 80s. This must have been at the tail end of popular 45s, as this single was also released on CD.  I remember this song was getting heavy play on MTV and I had to run out and buy it (that's right, music on MTV folks! Remember that?).  Growing up near Chicago, the Waxtrax! label was a huge influence and the New wave/Industrial sounds they were releasing set the stage for falling in love with this single.  With it's layered and effected horn samples and subtle vocal effects (a different mic for every line!), this song really did my head in.  And I wasn't the only one, as this is one of Siouxie's biggest hits and her first foray into the US charts (#53 on th Billboard Top 100). Wow, that was over 20 years ago! Shit, I'm old.
This was a single of the "Peepshow" album, but you can grab the full MP3 of this song off of Amazon for a buck here: Peek-A-Boo

What can be said about Siouxsie Sioux that hasn't already been said? One of the most influential artists of the 80s, and true icon. Here's an random anecdote snatched from Wikipedia:
"Sioux's first gig was with her group Suzie and the Banshees, as an unrehearsed fill-in at the 100 Club Punk Festival organised by Malcolm McLaren in September 1976. The group did not know or play any songs; they improvised as Sioux recited poems and prayers she had memorized."
Siouxie Sioux has been shocking people awake since 1978's punky "Hong Kong Garden", and continues to tour today. I caught her at the first Lalapalloza, but to be honest that concert is a bit of a blur unfortunately. Here's to hoping I get another chance!

"None of them (modern bands) are as good as Siouxsie and the Banshees at full pelt. That's not dusty nostalgia, that's fact." - Morrissey
"On stage that first night with the Banshees, I was blown away by how powerful I felt playing that kind of music. It was so different to what we were doing with The Cure. Before that, I'd wanted us to be like The Buzzcocks or Elvis Costello, the punk Beatles. Being a Banshee really changed my attitude to what I was doing." - Robert Smith of The Cure
And now of course, the clip!