Friday, September 29, 2006

What do you expect me to do

Thursday, September 28, 2006

How will it be?

This is the easily most depressing song I’ll ever post. It’s even worse than “Honey”.

Yes, that is Jan Brady singing this bummer. Her dad was Neely Plumb, a well-known arranger & producer, working with Ennio Morricone, Frank Sinatra and Esquivel among many others. Dad co-wrote this song and got Eve to record it in 1970 when she was twelve years old. Is that a Kent State reference in there?

The record was released twice, once on Paramount and again on RCA. I don’t know which one was first. I find it hard to believe that any record company thought this had any potential. Neely must’ve had plenty of pull from his string of successful soundtrack albums.

The flipside to this downer is just that – a too cheerful song about how too avoid being sad. I recommend not letting your dad make you record songs like “How Will It Be?” as the best way to avoid depression.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Are you gonna

say those magic words?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Daphne Of The Dunes

This is my favorite Harry Partch composition. "Daphne Of The Dunes" was written as the soundtrack to an art film called Windsong. The film was a modern retelling of the myth of Daphne & Apollo. The percussion instruments are Apollo and Daphne is represented by the strings.

The instruments played on this piece are the adapted viola, Kithara II, Surrogate Kithara, Harmonic Canons II & III, Chromelodeon I, Cloud-Chamber Bowls, Spoils Of War, Gourd Tree, Diamond Marimba, Boo, Bass Marimba and pre-recorded tapes. No more than four instruments are played at any one time.

"Daphne" was first recorded in 1958, this recording was made in 1972.

Partch described the music as "A collage of sounds... The sudden shifts represent nature symbols of the film, as used for dramatic purpose: dead tree, driftwood, falling sand, blowing tumbleweed, flying gulls, wriggling snakes, waving grasses."

But I like it anyway.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A music man seduced into carpentry

I'm going to spend a couple days with the music of Harry Partch. Partch was a composer that decided that American music should not be based on European tradition so he wrote in his own 43-tone scale. Traditional instruments are not capable of playing music written in the intonation so Partch had to build his own instruments. That's the source of this post's title.

Let's start with an album called A GLIMPSE INTO THE WORLD OF HARRY PARTCH. It's Partch talking about & playing his custom built instruments:

Side One:
1. Partch In Prologue/Adapted Viola
2. Chromelodeon I/Blo-Boy
3. Adapted Guitar
4. Kithara
6. Diamond Marimba
7. Bass Marimba
8. Cloud-Chamber Bowls
9. Spoils Of War
10. Marimba Eroica
11. Surrogate Kithara
12. Kithara II

Side Two:
1. Boo
2. Koto
3. Harmonic Canon I
4. Chromelodeon II
5. Chromolodeons I & II
6. Crychord
7. Zymo-Xyl
8. Mazda Marimba
9. Gourd Tree & Cone Gong
10. Eucal Blossom
11. Quadrangularis Reversum
12. Harmonic Canon III
13. Hand Instruments/Partch in Epilogue

A GLIMPSE INTO THE WORLD OF HARRY PARTCH was included as a bonus LP in the 1969 release of Partch's DELUSION OF THE FURY. It's pretty good on it's own though.

If you want to see more pictures or try playing some of Partch's instruments, go here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Well I beg your pardon

walk the straight and narrow track

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bad seeds

They keep us apart from the other kids
They try to keep us from each other
We're no good is what they say
But we just see this world in a different way

We're bad, bad seeds
Bad, bad, bad bad seeds
We're bad, bad seeds
Bad, bad, bad bad seeds

They make a lot of rules
They tell a lot of lies
If we don't wanna, we won't behave
And they can't make us, 'cause we can't be made

We're bad, bad seeds
Bad, bad, bad bad seeds
We're bad, bad seeds
Bad, bad, bad bad seeds

The new generation formed the teenage nation
This time, let's do it right

Bad, bad seeds
Bad, bad, bad bad seeds
We're bad, bad seeds
Bad, bad, bad bad seeds

Bad, bad seeds
Bad, bad, bad bad seeds
We're bad, bad seeds
Bad, bad
- Beat Happening

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The last glam record

The late ’79 release of this album means that this is probably the last glam record of the Seventies, even though David Werner is disguised as a new wave singer on the cover. The record holds up pretty well. I still like it anyway.

This record didn’t come from a junk store, I bought the record new at Paradise Records in Hixson, Tennessee in 1980. I liked the two songs that were on the radio, especially this one. The vocals sound like the Association. Even better, Werner's song doesn’t have a flute.

Werner had two earlier LPs on RCA. I don’t like them as much as this one. I know a guy that feels the opposite – he likes the RCA LPs but not this one. The earlier records are not as common as this one in the used record bins, this one is there regularly. I also have a promo live record that Epic released at the same time as the LP. If anybody is interested in hearing that, let me know and I’ll post it too.

This was David Werner’s last record. It looks like he went into songwriting (he wrote “Cradle of Love” for Billy Idol – I'm not sure I've ever heard that song) and record production. Apparently he works with a Pittsburgh production company too.

Monday, September 18, 2006

It'll never get better

than this

Sunday, September 17, 2006

When you walk through the garden

you gotta watch your back

Friday, September 15, 2006

That's why they call me

the king of the bop

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Sleepwalk" Guitars

The only reason I picked up this record is the because of another album on another label.

THE “SENSATIONAL” GUITARS OF DAN & DALE PLAY BATMAN & ROBIN is a legendary record. Dan & Dale were actually members of Sun Ra’s Arkestra and The Blues Project (exactly who played is in dispute - Al Kooper says he wasn't there) picking up some pocket money in a session produced by Tom Wilson. It’s a very good record.

So when I saw this copy of THE "SLEEPWALK" GUITARS OF DAN & DALE: WILLOW WEEP FOR ME in the dollar bin, I grabbed it. I didn’t know who played on the record but I decided to take a chance on it. Maybe it was another Arkestra/Blues Project thing, maybe it was someone else.

It’s someone else. I don’t know who this is. Maybe it really is a couple of guys named Dan & Dale. Or maybe it's Santo & Johnny, that’s who I would say it was if I only heard the songs and didn’t know who it was playing. They’re the only act I can compare this record too. It’s got that same dreamy, lazy acoustic/slide sound. If you like “Sleepwalk” at all, you’ll like this. One of the songs even has the same beginning that will fool you into thinking it's "Sleepwalk".

There are at least 11 Dan & Dale LPs (and maybe some 45s) that I know of. All of them are on the Diplomat label except for the BATMAN & ROBIN record. That one is on Tifton records.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

All she needs to do

is wake up to make the angels cry

Monday, September 11, 2006

Is that all there is?

I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire.
I'll never forget the look on my father's face as he gathered me up
in his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement.
I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames.
And when it was all over I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a fire?"

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is.

And when I was 12 years old, my father took me to the circus, the greatest show on earth.
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.
And as I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle
I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don't know what, but when it was over,
I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a circus?"

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is.

Then I fell in love, with the most wonderful boy in the world.
We would take long walks by the river or just sit for hours gazing into each other's eyes.
We were so very much in love.
Then one day, he went away. And I thought I'd die -- but I didn't.
And when I didn't I said to myself, "Is that all there is to love?"

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing

I know what you must be saying to yourselves.
If that's the way she feels about it why doesn't she just end it all?
Oh, no. Not me. I'm in no hurry for that final disappointment.
For I know just as well as I'm standing here talking to you,
when that final moment comes and I'm breathing my lst breath, I'll be saying to myself,

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is.
-- Leiber & Stoller

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Run on

for long time

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The last drop

"Beer Drinkin' Woman" - Black Ace: This is a modern (1960) recording and it was by chance that I heard Buck Turner - The Black Ace - referred to the beer drinkin' woman as a Jake drinkin' woman as well. There are many variants on this theme, including whiskey drinkin' and gin drinkin' women.

"Jake Leg Blues" - Byrd Moore: Moore's performance is a blue yodel, clearly modeled after Jimmie Rodgers. This is the most overly sorrowful and sympathetic performance regarding the victim's plight.

"Alcohol and Jake Blues" - Tommy Johnson: Johnson was the artistic leader of a group of blues singers from central Mississippi, near Jackson - not the Delta. All of the black artists recording Jake songs were from this area and were influenced by him. This March 1930 recording had never been found and may not have been issued. Johnny Parth, an Austrian collector, somehow found it in 1991. This is the first American reissue of the recording at the beginning and at the heart of the Jake Leg story.

"Got The Jake Leg Too" - The Ray Brothers: The Rays were invited to record a second time in Memphis in 1930. This time they brought this song composed by a Winona song writer named Clayton Riley and melodically related to Frankie and Albert. S.V. Ray has precise diction and enunciation, reflecting his life as as a school teacher. He held the copyright for the song, and recalls recieving a few dollars in royalty fees. A younger Ray brother, who didn't perform on these recordings but played tenor banjo frequently with the family group, was a Jake Leg victim.

"Jake Liquor Blues" - Ishmam Bracey: Despite a noisy disc and some inaudible lyrics, this is a moving, powerful performance. Bracey is backed by a clarinet and piano in the setting of urban blues, but his vocal inflection and guitar make this a down-home performance. Bracey and Tommy Johnson traveled together to Grafton to record Jake songs. They indicate that the Jake Leg was widely known in the black community, although the official data from the southern health departments listed few blacks.

John Morgan was born in Cincinnatti, Ohio, where his musical education was influenced by the WCKY Jamboree and by his parents. His mother, a slide guitar player and singer, and his father, an enthusiastic bass gospel singer, both moved to Cincinattit, where they met from Eastern Kentucky. He graduate from the University of Cincinatti College of Medicine in 1965 and did post-graduate study in Internal Medicine and Pharmacology and Toxicology. Most of the research into the Jake Walk epidemic was carried out at Rochester, where he taught in the Pharmacology Department and organized a course on the history of Country and Western music, which was enthusiastically approved by the Musicolgy Department of the Eastern School of Music. Dr. Morgan is now a Professor of Pharmacology at the School of Biomedical Education at the City College of New YOrk, and resides happily in Manhattan with his wife, who keeps him singing.

That's all, hope you enjoyed it!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Jake walkin' papa

A third round from John P. Morgans JAKE LEG BLUES:

"The Jake Leg Blues" - The Mississippi Sheiks: Bo Carter, Lonnie Chatmon, and perhaps Sam Chatmon made up one of the many versions of the Sheiks on these recordings in 1930. This Jake Leg Blues is likely based on a popular tune (Teasin'?). This version, like all found black Jake recordings, focuses on impotence (the limber leg) as a problem of the illness. Although little mentioned in 1930, modern evidence confirms that this occurs with TOCP poisoning. The only documentors of this fact in 1930 were the blues musicians heard here.

"The Jake Leg Rag" - Narmour & Smith: These white Mississippi artists recorded this instrumental in a San Antonio studio in June of 1930. In the same studio a few days earlier, also for OKeh Records, the black string band The Mississippi Sheiks recorded "The Jake Leg Blues".

"Jake Leg Blues" and "Jake Walk Blues" - Maynard Britton: These recordingsof this Kentucky musician were made by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax for the Library of Congress in 1937. Britton was recorded comercially as well, but didn't record these. They are obviously based on Byrd Moore's and the Allen Brother's recordings. The Lomaxes were not aware that these originated from commercial recordings and thought that Britton had composed them. Britton was a Jake Leg sufferer.

"Jake Leg Wobble" - The Ray Brothers: The Ray Brothers were from Winona Mississippi and recorded two Jake-related songs. This fiddle-guitar piece may have attempted an impresionistic portrayal of the affected gait.

One day left!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Another taste of Jake

"Jake Bottle Blues" - Lemual Turner: This slide guitar instrumental preceded the epidemic and Turner was identifying the Jake as a source of blues, not of paralysis. Black Ace uses a small medicine bottle as a slide and the softness of Turner's slide attack makes me think it might be a glass bottle as well, perhaps the one of the title.

"Bay Rum Blues" - Dave McCarn & Howard Long: Dave McCarn was from Gaston County, North Carolina. He recorded this selection with Howard Long in 1931 in Charlotte, NC. McCarn played guitar and harmonica on this recording and lamented the need to replace liquor and ginger with the bay rum.

"Jake Leg Blues" - Willie Lofton: Lofton, like many of the black artists who sang about Jake, was from central Mississippi, near Jackson, and was influenced by Tommy Johnson. This late performance was done for the then new Decca label in 1934.

"Bear Cat Papa Blues" - Gene Autry: In the early days of his career, Autry was very much infuenced by, and modeled his performances after, Jimmie Rodgers. This 1931 performance features the blue yodel of Rodgers and refers to an unfaithful sweetheart who numbers among her sins the drinking of Jake. Autry's autobiography refers to his seeing Jake Leg victoms in Oklahoma.

"Limber Neck Rag" - Narmour & Smith: (not mentioned in the liner notes. I wonder why? Just left out or forgotten?)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Jake Leg Blues

Over the next few days, I’m going to be posting the entire JAKE LEG BLUES album. This fine compilation of blues and country songs put together By John P. Morgan has been out of print for years. That’s a shame because it’s a great set. The informative notes by Dr. Morgan describe both the Jake Leg epidemic of 1930 and the songs about the horrible disease.

Anyway, here’s the Dr. Morgan’s history of Jake Leg and the first song:

Jake Leg Blues

Then he would eat of some craved food until he was sick; or he would drink
Jake or whiskey until he was a shaken paralytic with red wet eyes.
-- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

The strange paralytic illness of 1930 was widespread and to some communities devastating. Literally thousands of men (and a few women) were paralzed in the large cities of the southern rim, Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City and Cincinnati. The affect in smaller southern towns, although less documented, was likely worse. An afflicted attorney in Johnson City, Tennessee believed that more then 500 men in a community of less than 20 thousand were struck down with the paralysis.

Newspaper articles beginning in early March, 1930 and later, medical journal articles, described the epidemic and its sufferers, many of whom were affected before the summer of 1930, The earliest newspaper articles atributed the illness to the ingestion of an alcoholic extract of ginger - the "Jake." There is however, a strange paucity of information on the impaired futures of these victims. They did not die, but they seemingly ceased to exist and there were very few follow-up articles in either newspapers or popular journals. The style of the 1930 reports is very unrevealing about the sufferers. The medical writers were sober and objective, and described statistics - not men. The newspaper reporters interviewed hpysicians, health officials and government spokesmen, but not victims, and produced narrativesas devoid of human issues as the clinical-scientific prose of the medical journals.

Some reasons for this one-dimensional chronicle are clear. The victims were generally poor working and farming class men. Owing to the Depression, many were not not working at all. In Cincinatti, most of the affected lived in rooming houses and small hotels in a poor downtown area populated almost exclusively by white men from Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. who had left failing farms and coal mines in search of work in the city. There were significant numbers of black victims although initially they were notincluded in the counts because even more than poor whites, they were excluded from contact with the medical system. Further, in a culture and a time that ostensibly valued abstinence and innocence before the Prohibition law, they were drinkers of illicit alcohol. They did not even deerve the equivicol pity we usually award the lame and halt because they were conted responsible for what happened to them. They were an embarrassment to the communities in which they lived, the characteristic paralytic walk marking them more clearly than a scarlet letter, bringing shame to the family. They became invisible men without compensation, without redress, nearly without sympathy.

An alcoholic extract of ginger (usually Jamaican) had been available in the United States since the 1860s. It was reputedly useful in many ailments, and it's alcohol content undoubtedly contributed to its popularity. Powdered ginger root, or an oily resinous extract of the root, was dissolved in a solution of 70-90 percent alcohol. The usual instructions specified a few drops dissolved in water to be taken for digestive upset, delayed menstuation or as a cold remedy. It was employed popularly as illicit alcohol in the southern United States well before Federal Prohibition because many towns, counties and entire states were already dry. After Federal Prohibition began in 1920, its use exploded. The official and legal medicinal extract was very high in ginger content and too irritating for most to drink. However, beverage entrepreneurs produced an adulterated version consisting of small amounts of ginger, dissolved in 75 percent alcohol and mixed with a variety of adulterants. The adulterants provided the necessary solid content because, at least theoretically, an FDA inspector could heat the product to dryness and check the weight of the residue. The illegal product was an amber-colored, pleasantly flavored beverage (called Jake) labeled as the official and approved Jamaica ginger extract. It was sold throughout the South in drug stores, groceries, roadside stands, and barber shops. At $.35 per 2 ounce bottle, it provided more alcohol than two legal pre-Prohibition mixed drinks.

In February f 1930, Harry Gross of the Hub Products Corporation in Boston, adulterated a bunch of Jake with triorthocresyl phosphate - an ingredient of paint and lacquers. It seemed an ideal ingredient. It was cheap, tasteless and odorless, miscible with ginger and soluble in alcohol. He shipped most of the Jake in bulk to rebottlers in larger cities. This single batch of TOCP-contaminated Jake4 paralyzed thousands of thirsty Americans. Gross served lass than two years, charged only with breaking the pure food and drug law.

Those poisoned were permanently paralyzed and most never walked again without canes, crutches or walkers. They dragged their feet, rocking from one side to the other to swing their weakened legs forward, slapping their shoes to the pavement. This peculiar gait became known as the Jake Walk and the illness, the Jake Leg.

Black and white untutored musicians of the South had entered recording studios for the first time in the 1920s - recording blues, fiddle tunes, gospel songs and other downhome music. In 1930, and a short time after, in an unprecedented fashion, they recorded multiple songs referring to the Jake Leg. They, knowing the vistims (and ocasionally being the victims) were personal, frank and explicit. Medical Journals and the Johnson City News did not discuss inpotence, but some surgeons surely did. The body of songs expressed some sympathy, but a more often a fatalistic, even humorous, view of the rounder with the Jake Leg.


"Jake Walk Blues" - The Allen Brothers: This recording sold widely (perhaps 25,000 copies), and lyrics were quoted to me by two Jake Leg Victims I interviewed in 1975 in Johnson City, Tennessee. The lyrics are not sympathetic and express the view that for a tough-drinking, tough-living man, the Jake Walk was inevitable. Lee Allen recalls seeing many victims as he and his brother, Austin, worked in an around Chattanooga, Tennessee.

"Jake Walk Papa" - Asa Martin: This late performance, 1933, was based on the Allen's "Jake Walk Blues", but modified the lyrics and the interplay between male and female characters in the song. Roy Hobbs played the fine mandolin lead. Marting lived, at this time in Corbin Kentucky - a community hard-hit by the illness - and recalls many acquaintances and friends who had the illness.

More JAKE LEG BLUES tomorrow!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Just better

get ready

Friday, September 01, 2006

The judge

and the jury
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