Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mr. Blues

is coming to town

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Beale Street Saturday Night

A followup to yesterday’s James Luther Dickinson post:

In 1978, Dickinson produced a musical tour/history of Beale Street for the Memphis Development Foundation. Beale Street was not yet the tourist destination that it is now. This album was part of the plan to revitalize the street. It worked.

The record is entertaining but it’s not something you’ll want to listen to every day. Some of the performers on the record are Furry Lewis, Sleepy John Estes, Grandma Dixie Davis, Sid Selvidge, Ry Cooder, Prince Gabe, Mudboy & The Neutrons and Thomas Pinkston. There is someone named Alex but it’s not the one you think it is, I understand that this Alex was a Memphis street musician.

My wife & I got this record at the Southern Folklore Center in Memphis almost 20 years ago. In 2003, the center release a completely different CD called BEALE STREET SATURDAY NIGHT by a singer named Joyce Cobb. I guess the Dickinson version isn’t available anymore.

Monday, August 28, 2006

You get a nickel, I'll get a dime

The first I ever heard of James Luther Dickinson’s music was when Tav Falco covered “Oh How She Dances” on 1986’s PLAY NEW ROSE FOR ME compilation. The song was weird, I liked it. The liner notes said that it was taken from Jim Dickinson’s DIXIE FRIED. I figured it was from story or play so I started looking for books by Jim Dickinson. There aren’t any.

A few weeks after that I was flipping through the used records at Courter Brother Records in Chattanooga. I found one with a cool cover of a guy in a white suit standing on a marble monument reading from a book. It was by James Luther Dickinson. I didn’t make the connection until I flipped the record over and there in the middle of side two was “O How She Dances”. I took the record up to the counter and Bob Courter started telling how great the record was. He said it was somewhere in between Tom Waits and Dr. John. I bought the record anyway.

It is a great record. There’s not much else like it, Tom Waits and Dr. John are close but DIXIE FRIED rocks more than either of them. Dr. John actually plays piano on the record, Eric Clapton adds some guitar.

Jim Dickinson was already a well established session man in 1972. He’s played on more great records than most of us own: Aretha Franklin, Rolling Stones, Sam & Dave, Flamin Groovies, Brook Benton, Tony Joe White, Arlo Guthrie, Little Esther, Lulu, Betty Lavette, Petula Clark and many others. Dickinson’s produced almost as many: Big Star, The Replacements, Mudhoney, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, Jason & The Scorchers and the band his two sons started: The North Mississippi All-Stars.

The album was re-issued on CD a few years ago and I believe it is still available. Go find a copy.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

By the rivers of Babylon

where he sat down

Friday, August 25, 2006

That's how

you got killed before

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I belong to the _____ generation

What happened to the Art In The Dark.

Back in April, I posted a thing about Art In The Dark. I ended the entry wondering what happened to them. Now I know, Sam the keyboard player fills us in:

Thanks for remembering Art in the Dark. I left the band and moved to Atlanta. The guys added a second guitarist - Brian Lilje. They played for a while longer in the Southeast, but no more big tours, then we all scattered. The bass player Jack went off the grad school (MFA) and became Hank McCoy and the Dead Ringers. Jack lived in Germany for a while, married, had kids, went back to grad school (JD), and is now an attorney. The drummer Rick became a set dresser, married, had kids, went way out west, and runs a business. The guitarist Tim moved to NYC, became a Buddhist monk, left the order, and moved back to Athens (still there, as of last summer). The second guitarist Brian became a guitar repair guy, moved to Atlanta, married, and has a kid. The manager Kenny married, moved back to Atlanta, became an aviator and runs an aviation business. I moved around, went to grad school, played in an August band in the early 90's (called BLAH!), married, had kids, and make software.

- Sam (keyboards)

Thanks Sam!

I also got a message telling me that True West has played a few reunion shows. Any more coming up?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

All we have is four minutes

When Pylon’s third 45 came out in 1982, the 7” version was a very common sight in record shops. The 12” wasn’t. I’ve only seen it a few times. It’s kinda weird because the early eighties were when the 12” single was at its peak. Everybody had 12” records in the eighties, even bands like The Cramps and Husker Du. So was this a promo thing or for distribution to dance clubs? Anyway, the 12” has got the same dB catalog number as the 7” version.

The two songs on the A-side, “Beep” and “Altitude” are the same versions that are on the 45 and the CHOMP album. They’re both great. “Beep” is one of the Pylon’s best songs.

The b-side is not as good. It’s a nearly six minute song called “Four Minutes”. The song is built up from elements of “Beep”, sound effects and some fooling around in the studio. I’m a Pylon fan and I don’t care much for it. Playing the thing at 45 rpm doesn’t help much except that the title is a bit more accurate. And the song is over sooner.

The 12” is the only place that “Four Minutes” was available, maybe it’ll be on the CHOMP reissue. GYRATE is being released in a remastered deluxe version this fall, I hope CHOMP gets reissued too.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I wish

you would

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Look how this world

has made a change.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why don't you

eat carrots?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

In the cool night air

This is a great rocking song by a band called the Mints. They were a five member group from Center, Texas. How many vocal groups came from Texas? Even stranger, they’re white guys. I never would have thought this record was made by a bunch of white guys from Texas!

The Mints, also known as the Four Mints, grew up together and had been singing since the forties. They formed the group around 1954 and release this 45 on Lin Records in 1957. Hollywood’s Imperial Records picked it up and re-issued it the same year.

Unfortunately, this is the only Mints song I have. Strangely enough (this record has a lot of strangeness – how common were split singles in 1957?), the record was split single with Ken Copeland on the flip. I don’t like Copeland’s side of the record and didn’t want to post it. Apologies to all you Ken Copeland fans out there. Copeland’s song was written by one of the Mints.

I don’t know if The Mints made many records. The group did stay together until 1962, eventually playing clubs in Las Vegas.

I found the 45 (on Imperial) in a junk store in Johnson City, TN in 1996. The vinyl has got a bunch of strange spiral scuffs running out from the label. Maybe the record was in a jukebox for a few decades.

Bonus(?): The runout groove from the Mints record is pretty cool sounding. If you're interested, here it is.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Who do you blame

when all your dreams come true?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Switched-on or turned down

OK, I thought FLOYD CRAMER PLAYS THE MONKEES had limited market appeal. But it probably sold ten times as many copies as SWITCHED-ON BACHARACH. I just don’t see a whole lot of overlap in the two audiences. Would synthesizer fans really want to hear a whole album of Burt Bacharach standards? Would Burt Bacharach fans want to hear Moog beeps instead of Dionne Warwick? Whoever had this record before me wasn’t in either camp, my copy was still had 35-year-old sealed plastic wrap on it when I pulled it out of the free bin.

I do like synthesizer records and some of Bacharach’s stuff ain’t bad. The songs do translate to the Moog pretty well.

Dave Mullaney arranged and conducted the music, Christopher Scott played the Moog synthesizer. I imagine that neither one of them will admit to the comb-and-tissue paper sound on this. The rhythm section is uncredited. The liner notes say there’s a guitar in there somewhere but I don’t here it.

Dom Cerulli's liner notes say that “Burt Bacharach is going to enjoy hearing this album because, like his songs, it is done with taste and artistry and real feeling.” Did Burt ever hear the record? Did he enjoy this?

Dom goes on to say that “…electronic or no, switched-on or turned down, you just don't hardly get that kind of musical integrity anymore these days. This is a today album that will be around tomorrow and quite a few days after.”

Mr. Cerulli didn’t say anything about the album making somebody's day when they pulled it out of a free bin three decades down the road.

Oh yeah. There are rumors that Christopher Scott recorded SWITCHED-ON BACHARACH VOLUME TWO in 1970. Can anybody confirm? Anybody got a copy to share? And go here if you want a CD of SWITCHED-ON BACHARACH.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Summer breeze

makes me feel fine.

Keep your hand

on the plow.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sad news

R.I.P. John Locke.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The cosmic scene

I just found out that Duke Ellington’s THE COSMIC SCENE has just been re-issued by Mosaic Records. Get one. It’s my favorite Duke Ellington album.

Ellington recorded the album in 1958 with a small group of nine (for Ellington, that was small) core players from his orchestra. In honor of the just starting space race, Ellington called the group Duke Ellington’s Spacemen. The most interesting element of the group is the three (!) trombone players. Also in the Spacemen were the great Clark Terry on trumpet, tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, and Jimmy Hamilton playing clarinet. The rhythm section was drummer Sam Woodyard and Jimmy Wood on bass. Ellington played piano and led the group.

The songs are mostly standards - including some of Ellington’s own - and a couple of new songs.

There are bits on this record that remind me of what Charles Mingus would be doing just a few years later.


threw the whiskey in the well?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Go ahead

cause I don't care.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Floyd Cramer plays who?

Sometimes I see a record and know that it’s worth getting even if the music isn’t any good. FLOYD CRAMER PLAYS THE MONKEES is one of those records. Fortunately the music is pretty good and was worth the fifty cents I paid for the album.

I don’t know who came up with the idea. Chet Atkins produced the album so it was either him or Floyd. I do wonder how long they sat around and laughed when they had the idea. “Hey Floyd, I got an idea that’ll make you popular with teens. You wanna do a whole album of Monkees songs?” The Monkees were popular in 1967 but I can’t imagine many Monkees fans buying a Floyd Cramer album.

Nobody gets credit for playing on the record so I can only guess that Chet Atkins is playing guitar. Cramer is playing organ and piano, of course. The back-up vocals make for a nice “Now Sound” on some of the songs. I wonder if they would have recorded "Last Train To Clarksville" if they had known that it's an anti-draft song?

Not everything works on the album. This one does. Are there any other songs that both Floyd Cramer and The Sex Pistols covered?
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