Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Irma Thomas Rocks My World - Twice!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the Soul Queen of New Orleans. And here are two of her biggest cuts!

The first, released in 1960 on Ron, came out when Irma was the tender age of 19. But by that time she'd been married twice and had four children! So she could tell you a thing or two about men.  This one hit #22 on the charts and was her first hit. Great sense of humor, swinging beat, screaming horns - "Don't Mess With My Man" has all the makings of a Nola classic.

"Wish Someone Would Care" came out in 1964, and was Irma's biggest hit.  It's about a perfect soul tune if you ask me. 

Irma Thomas never got the mainstream success she deserved, but she is still known and adored by music lovers everywhere.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Professor Longhair - "Big Chief" - Watch Records, 1964

Today it's a real treat - one of my favorite records from New Orleans legend Professor Longhair!

Henry Roeland Byrd AKA Professor Longhair AKA Fess was born in 1918 in Bogalusa, Louisiana. Although he didn't really begin to play music seriously until his 30's, and never had a large repertoire, Fess became a huge figure in New Orleans music. He had a unique style which instantly set him apart from his peers, but he lacked the crossover appeal to become a national star.
Black or white, local or out-of-town, they all had Longhair's music in common. Just that mambo-rhumba boogie thing. —Allen Toussaint
Check out "Tipitina", "Let's Go To The Mardi Gras" and "Bald Head" for more of a feel for this cat's sound.
I don't have much info on Watch Records, but I believe it was run by Earl King and Wardell Quezergue. They recorded a ton of great NOLA artists from that era like Eddie Bo, Tommy Ridgley, Benny Spellman and others. Now listen to this and start strutting!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Cynics - "Sweet Young Thing" - Dionysis, 1985

Today it's a mid-80's garage rocker from Pittsburgh! So who are The Cynics?

They formed in '83, with Gregg Kostelich on guitar and Michael Kastelic on vocals the constant driving force over many years and lineup changes.The influence of 60's garage punkers and RnB is definitely apparent in this record, their first outing.

“I was maybe 4 or 5 when I started collecting Garage records, and I’ve been listening to that type of music ever since." - Gregg Kostelich
Cynics '92 lineup
These guys are still going strong after 25 years, now on Gregg's "Get Hip" label.

Dionysus Records was based out of California and hosted the Cynics first two outings. Interesting, not only was this The Cynics' first release, I believe this was the label's first 45 release. From the label website:
"Dionysus Records was started by me, quite haphazardly and from scratch at the tail end of 1983 because I wanted to release a 45 by my then band Yard Trauma. The label was actually an extension of a cassette-only label run I ran out of the Roads to Moscow record store on Park Ave in my hometown of Tucson, AZ between ‘81 and ‘83. In 1984, I moved to Los Angeles and became pals with Greg and Suzy Shaw at Bomp who helped me to establish the label here in Southern California and distribute the first two albums (by Yard Trauma and Thee Fourgiven) and a couple of singles (by The Cynics.)"
And of course, the clip!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Halloween 2011 Mix!

For a limited time only. Something totally different - a bit of a flashback for me to the stuff I listened to in high school. Let's go goth this Halloween!

Oh My Goth It's Mike Crash! by djmikecrash

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rufus Thomas - "Walking The Dog" - Stax, 1963

This one's a classic tune on a class label, one that always gets the crowd amped. Let Rufus show you how it's done!
A Memphis native, Rufus was performing early and performed until his death, releasing R&B, Blues, Funk and Soul tunes. He was also a comedian and DJ. Now that's what I call an entertainer!
Today's song was the first big hit for Rufus, hitting #5 R&B and #10 Pop. A song's influence can be gauged by the bands that cover it.  This monster was covered by The Rolling Stones, The Sonics, Aerosmith, Roger Daltrey, Green Day, The Trashmen, and many more.
We've talked about Stax before; great label with tons of hits. It's pretty hard to go wrong with the early catalog if you ask me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Billy Gayles - "I'm Tore Up" - Federal, 1956

Songs about getting drunk - now that's what I'm talking about! Make it a nice RnB shouter, and you've got a tremendous tune like this one.

I don't have too much info on Mr. Gayles.  You see on the left, he was born on October 19. 1931 and passed away on April 8, 1993.
A St. Louis native, he was a singer and also played drums. "Tore Up" was his first outting on Federal, but he also released "Let's Call It A Day", "No Coming Back", and "Just One More Time". The last one was in '57. There were a couple of tunes on smaller labels, but I don't see anything after '61. I think today's tune is pretty wild for '56.
You'll note the (in)famous Ike Turner is in on this too, providing the flames for the drunken scorcher.  That dude had a hand in just too much good music!
Have a listen!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Marathons - "Talkin Trash" - Arvee, 1961

Novelty tunes - what happened to 'em? Today's 45 is a weird number from The Marathons, actually both sides are novelty tunes.  The flip is "Peanut Butter", a song singing the praises of our favorite nut paste, and was the more popular of the two.  I like this side for the naughty edge it has.  It's simply one character trying to seduce a young girl, who does nothing but giggle in response.  By the end of the record, her dismissive laughs anger the suitor, who finally gives up. It's actually pretty annoying, but I suppose that's the point: by the end you are just as annoyed as the suitor.
The Marathons were really a psydonymn for The Vibrations, who were under contract with Checker.  When it was discovered they were recording for another label, a lawsuit resulted, and Checker released their own version of "Peanut Butter".  These same folks charted with "Stranded In The Jungle" earlier under the name The Jayhawks (we covered The Cadets version of that song here).

As far as the Arvee label, here's a blurb from "West Coast Sock Hop", an Arvee compilation I came across:
"Richard Vaughn founded his Arvee Records (his initials formed the label's name) imprint in Los Angeles in 1959, and thanks in part to loose-limbed productions by H.B. Barnum and Marty Cooper, had hits right out of the box with frat party R&B acts like the Olympics and the Marathons, and although party R&B tracks (often with deliberate novelty appeal) remained the label's bread and butter, Arvee also dabbled in rock & roll, doo wop, and instrumental surf music."
I first encountered this tune on the wonderful "Talkin' Trash" compilation, but it was misattributed to The Olympics. Have a listen!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Frantics - "Werewolf" - Dolton, 1959

This is a classic tune, basically a standard amongst a certain set of bands.  It influenced The Cramps' "Don't Eat Stuff Off The Sidewalk".  It was covered by Los Straitjackets.  The Ventures played it note-for-note and retitled it "The Fourth Dimension". I got in on the action too. So who were the original men behind the music?

The Frantics were based out of Seattle, Washington and were active between '55 and '65. Ron Petersen and Chuck Schoning started as a duo in jr. high, and the band grew from there. By the late 50's they were recording what would become their classic material with Dolton. The two most well-known cuts are probably "Werewolf" and "Fog Cutter", but "Straight Flush" also charted. In the 60's, the band line-up was shifting and thier sound drifted towards the RnB side of things. By '65, they disbanded. There's a great collection of info at this site for those who want to dig into it further.
Dolton was a Seattle-based label started by Bob Reisdorf and Bonnie Guitar, and was active until '67. First called "Dolphin", they changed the name after a few releases to avoid confusion with a Laurie "Dolphin" subsidiary (but they kept the fish in the logo). Aside from The Frantics, other acts included The Ventures, The Fleetwoods, and Vic Dana. Avnet scooped up the label in '63 and in '65 it was merged with Liberty. It was finally closed in '67.
Most of the other songs in The Frantics catalog seem to be of the tamer teen variety, but this one is tough and eerie. Have a listen:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Elliot Shavers & His Bossmen - "Toe Jam" - Checker, 1964

Today I've got another R&B stormer from one of my favorite labels, Checker. Not much info out there on this cat, but I've come across some other great tunes by Elliot Shavers "and his Blazers".   Blazing indeed, both sides of this 45 will burn up a dancefloor.  The flip, "Rice And Gator Tails", is no slouch; but this is the side that really does it for me.  Have a listen:

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Pyramids - "Hot Dog Dooly Wah" - Shell, 1958

How about some kinda silly and upbeat doo-wop? Well, that's what you're getting.
I could find no info on The Pyramids.  Anyway, this is a finger-poppin' tune about a girl that's a great cook.  Obviously such praise can only elicit a response of "HOT DOG DOOLY WAHHH!"
Better view of the logo on the flip, bet that was an issue with Shell Oil
Not a whole lot of info on Shell Records out there.  I gather from this discography that today's 45 was the first release for Shell Records.  Looks like they were active till the mid-60s at least.  The label indicates some involvement with Saxon Music, both Shell and Saxon were under Allied Entertainment of New York.  A short note in the November 10, 1962 Billboard Magazine, announcing that Allied was going public, also notes that Allied was formed by Dr. Herbert Breger in '61.  That's all I got.

Monday, August 29, 2011

LaVern Baker - Tweedlee Dee - Atlantic, 1954

Lavern Baker had music in her blood, being related to both Memphis Minnie and Merline Johnson. A Chicago native, she was born there in 1929. By the mid-40s she was performing around town as "Little Miss Sharecropper".  After signing to Atlantic in '53, this was her second release and first big hit - it went to #4 on the R&B chart and #14 on the national US pop charts. "Tweedlee Dee" was an even bigger hit for Georgia Gibbs (a bit of a sore subject for LaVern, she sued unsuccessfully).
And in this corner - Gibbs

LaVern's other big hit was "Jim Dandy", a tune probably familiar to most of you.
From Wikipedia:
"She received the 1990 Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 1991, Baker became the second female solo artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, following Aretha Franklin in 1987. Her song "Jim Dandy" was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and was ranked #343 on the Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."
LaVern Baker passed away in 1997, and was buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, Queens, NY.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene On My Mind

Yesterday I had a bad case of hurricane on the brain as Hurricane Irene made her way up the coast to NYC. Luckily, we didn't get hit too bad. But it did bang out this song while I waited for the skies to clear and head back to my local pub. Less than two minutes of surfy silliness.
Irene On My Mind by djmikecrash

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shake Frantic, One Year Anniversary and Final Party

This Thursday the 25th will be the last Shake Frantic at Huckleberry Bar.  It's been fun year, but the DJ booth is getting yanked out and the parties killed along with it.  Help me drown my sorrows in delicious booze and music.  588 Grand and Lorimer, 10PM sharp. Be there or be L7.

Facebook invite here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mix for August is up!

New set is up so get at it. This month, a little something different - old school bass, island style! Rocksteady now, rudeboy.
The Harder They Crash by djmikecrash

Hank Ballard And The Midnighters - "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go" - King, 1960

I play this one all the time, a great, great tune that just puts a smile on my face.
Hank Ballard is a GIANT, I tell you.  Maybe you've heard this song before.  Or that scorcher "Work With Me Annie". Or maybe you've heard that little tune called "The Twist", which was in no small part responsible for the 60's dance craze scene.  In the mid-50's, Hank Ballard had a big hand in creating Rock and Roll.
Hank was a Detroit, Michigan native; performing young in church and enjoying the sounds of singing cowboy Gene Autry. In '53, he joined up with The Royals,  but they had to change their name to avoid confusion with The Five Royales.  Their first big hit was in '54, "Work With Me Annie" - a huge tune with a not so subtle sexual message.
"Work with me Annie,
Let's get it while the gettin' is good!
(So Good! So Good! So Good!)"
"Annie" led to a number of answer songs like "Annie Had a Baby" and "Annie's Aunt Fannie". In '54, they released respectable ballad "Tearsdrops On Your Letter", but the B-side was a monster that was a number 1 hit for Chubby Checker (twice!), "The Twist".
From Wikipedia: "Ballard & the Midnighters had several other hit singles through 1961, including the Grammy-nominated "Finger Poppin' Time" and "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go" which hit number 7 and number 6, respectively, on the Billboard pop charts."
The band split in '65, never again reaching those early peaks. Hank Ballard did release a few more singles and a James Brown produced album.  He passed away in 2003.
Syd and Hank
Based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, King Records put out too many brilliant records to name.  Syd Nathan started the label in '43, originally focusing on country or "hillbilly" music.  But RnB really picked up at King and sister label Federal starting in the 50's.  We're talking guys like James Brown, Bill Doggett, Charlie Feathers, Wynonie Harris, Joe Tex, etc, etc. I've been seeing Federal repros about; so do yourself a favor and buy some!

And, the clip:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Huey "Piano" Smith and The Clowns - "Don't You Just Know It" - Ace, 1958

It's time for a return to New Orleans, with a classic cut from RnB legend Huey "Piano" Smith.

Huey Smith
Huey was making music from an early age; it's rumored he composed and performed his first tune at the age of 8! By the time he was 15 he was playing clubs, and by the time he was 18 he had signed to Savoy Records.  Huey came up as a sideman to some of the biggest names in the business, guys like Little Richard, Lloyd Price, and Earl King. But in '57 he formed The Clowns and began releasing tunes at Ace Records. They hit it big with "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu", an absolute essential New Orleans tune. Today's single, released in '58, is their most well known hit, making it all the way to #4 on the RnB charts. You may also be familiar with Frankie Ford's "Sea Cruise" - a number that Smith composed and originally performed, which took that charts by storm when smooth white crooner Ford did his take.

After the late 50's, Huey was never able to regain that early fame. At some point later, he became a Jehovah's Witness and dropped out of the music scene entirely. But his piano playing, and its influence on Rock and Roll, won't be forgotten.

Johnny Vincent
Ace Records was run by Johnny Vincent. After his start at Specialty as an A&R man and producer, he opened Ace around '54 - '55. Ace had a few great hits, biggest among them the Smith and Ford tunes mentioned above, but by the early 60's things began to slow down and in '62 the label was shuttered. Johnny Vincent passed away in 2000 of heart failure, he was 74.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Enforcer - "Ride On Marcus" - Well Charge, 1978

The magnetism of Reggae cannot be denied. Wonderful music, rare records, tons of sub-genres, and a tight community with its own unique culture. This may very well translate into many dollars missing from my wallet and new records on my shelves.
Today's record is a great tune from the mid-late 70's, which I'm hearing is considered by many to be the golden age of that music.  As you'll hear, this particular record is well thrashed, and the label picture above is a good indication of what the actual vinyl looks like.
All I know about the Enforcer is they put out some other wicked tunes in the 70's, like "Pay Them". The Well Charge label put out quite a few releases judging by the partial discographies I've seen, but I have no real info on them.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy a minute of this reggae enigma:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Joe Cuba Sextet - "Pud-Da-Din" - Tico, 1972

This week I'm showing a bit of my Puerto Rican side, with a hot number from Joe Cuba.
Joe Cuba is known as the "Father of Latin Boogaloo", the style that rocked New York in the mid to late 60's with it's original combination of R&B, rock and roll and soul with mambo and son montuno.
Born "Gilberto Miguel Calderón" in New York City, his parents moved to Harlem from Puerto Rico in the 1920s. Joe picked up the conga young, and was playing in bands by high school. Inspired by a Tito Puente performance, he started a band - the "Jose Calderon Sextet" which was later changed to the "Joe Cuba Sextet". Joe Cuba was born!
In 1965, the Sextet got their first crossover hit with the Latin and soul fusion of "El Pito (I'll Never Go Back To Georgia)". Their later hit "Bang Bang" really started the boogaloo craze.
I believe today's cut is from the "Bustin' Out" album, in which Joe starts to move beyond the strict boogaloo style.  This particular tune was edited out from early versions of the album. Why? Well, I'll leave you to figure out what "I pud-da-din cause I like it" might mean in this very silly and a little naughty song.
I don't have a lot of info on Tico, but here's the Wikipedia take:
"Tico Records was a New York record label that was founded in 1948. It was originally owned by George Goldner and later acquired by Morris Levy and incorporated into Roulette Records. It specialized in Latin music and was significant for introducing artists such as Ray Barretto and Tito Puente. In 1974 it was sold to Fania Records and stopped releasing records in 1981."
Surprise: in Puerto Rican hoods in NYC, you find these records
And last but not least, the clip!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Hollywood Persuaders - "Drums A-Go-Go" - Original Sound, 1965

Today it's a pounding dance floor orgy from The Hollywood Persuaders!
Mick and Mallory dig that crazy beat!
You may remember this song from the prison riot sequence in Natural Born Killers, and the tune's frantic intensity certainly fits.
Mastermind Paul in the middle
The Persuaders were primarily Paul Buff, he wrote most of the songs and even played many instruments on the recordings. His first hit, "Tijuana Surf", was pressed with buddy Frank Zappa's “Grunion Run" on the flip. The success of that tune started Paul's career, and he linked up with Original Sound records for plenty more tunes.
From the "Drums A Go Go" album liner notes:
"...Paul Buff was working on an idea which showcased drums in the arrangement. Buff’s first attempt was entitled “Drums” and simply featured drums with his wife Allison’s backing vocals. This version was released on an extremely rare promotional single with “Yes, I Want To Dance” as the B-side. Paul Buff went back and completely re-recorded the track with an extremely powerful drum presence, more instrumentation and a sax replacing Allison Buff’s vocal. This version became “Drums A-Go-Go,” and it was an even bigger local success."
Art working the boards in a promo shot
Original Sound is run by Art Laboe, and I believe this is still an active studio in Hollywood. Check out his website here for the full info.
Current pic of the studio
Now start bouncing!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Utopians - "Dutch Treat" - Imperial, 1962

Today I've got one of my favorite doo-wop records for ya - but unfortunately I have almost no information on The Utopians.  All I know is that they are also known for their hit "Along My Lonely Way" which is a nice doo-wop ballad sought after by record collectors. This one is a great up-tempo doo-wop number, and the other side is ace as well. Pick this up if ya see it, and please send any info on the band if you have it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Barbarians - "Hey Little Bird" - Joy Records, 1964

Today I've got one of my favorite garage tunes for ya - The Barbarian's "Hey Little Bird".
The Barbarians formed in 1964 and were based out of Cape Cod. There's no denying their roots - listen to one of their tunes and the accent is heavy and unmistakable. "Hey Little Bird" was their first tune, and it flopped badly. I think it's a pretty rocking little number and a heavy guitar drone/gong at the end of each verse really makes the song for me.

The Barbarians' big hit was "Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?", which peaked at around #55 on the charts. Also, I'd recommend checking out "Moulty" - a silly ballad about how the drummer lost his hand, that was later included on the infamous "Nuggets" compilation. The Barbarians split by '68 but I'm glad they left us with a few gems. Here a clip of them performing today's 45 on the TAMI show.

Joy Records was active between 1958 and 1965. Based in New York, it was run by Hal and Mariam Weiss. I also know that the producer of this tune, Al Ham, was the A&R chief at Joy. That's really all I've got on Joy.
And the clip:

Sunday, July 3, 2011

King Curtis - "I Never Love A Man (The Way I Love You)" - Atco, 1968

Today I've got a nice blues-soul instro from sax god Curtis Ousley AKA King Curtis. Maybe you don't know the name, but you've got to know his honking on tracks like The Coasters' "Yakety Yak" or Buddy Holly's "Reminiscing."
Born in 1934, Curtis picked up at sax at age 12. He got his professional career started as a sideman in the 50's and 60's, but by the mid 60's he was able to lead his own band recording plenty of instrumentals for Atlantic. He died tragically, stabbed to death while trying to shoo some junkies away from his apartment stoop in 1971. Curtis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 6, 2000.

Today's song was originally an Aretha Franklin tune, peep this YouTube clip for a taste of the flavor:

Atco Records released a ton of 45s and I'm sure you've come across many. From Wikipedia:

"Atco Records was founded in 1955 as a division of Atlantic Records. It was devised as an outlet for productions by one of Atlantic's founders, Herb Abramson, who had returned to the company from military service. It was also intended as a home for acts that did not fit the format of Atlantic, which at the time was only releasing blues, jazz, and R&B/soul. The Atco name is simply an abbreviation of ATlantic COrporation."
And now, the clip!