A Slinky Trip Along Back Roads

Originally posted July 30, 2007

One of the maddening joys of collecting music, I imagine, is being a completist: aiming to acquire every piece of music produced by a certain musician or band. It’s an interesting idea, but unless the musician in question was a hermit and is long dead, it seems as if it would be impossible.

A note caught my eye at a forum where I drop in now and then. I’d posted Boo Hewerdine’s Baptist Hospital there, and one of my fellow forumites left a note “to all the Richard Thompson completists out there,” noting that Thompson played on a few tracks on the album. Certainly, in these Internet days, it’s far easier to be a completist if one wishes to be: There is more information more readily available than there used to be, and the music itself is more easily found, as well. So if one wishes to find the entire musical output of, say, Richard Thompson, one has a chance – however slender – of doing so.

I suppose it depends on one’s definition of completist. I have a lot of Beatles’ vinyl. In fact, I think I have almost everything that was released on Capitol/Apple, rare B-sides and all. I haven’t looked since I thought about it a few weeks ago, but it may be that of all the albums released from 1964 on – original releases and later compilations – the only thing I am missing is Reel Music, the compilation of music used in their films. If that’s the case, I probably should wander over to Ebay one of these days and find it. But I am certain that I have all of the songs on that compilation, so it’s not like it’s a matter of anything new escaping me. (I’m more interested these days in gathering the CD issues of the Beatles’ work in its British configuration, and I have five CDs to go on that little project. Now, if I were in the mood for a real collecting challenge, I’d aspire to collecting the British configuration albums on vinyl!)

As much as I like the Beatles, I’m not interested in acquiring every little thing they put on tape during their years together and during the odd times they were in each others’ company in the years after their break-up. (And I do like the Beatles very much; it was their music, for the most part, that brought me to loving pop music, and they remain one of my four or five favorite groups/artists of all time.) Given the sheer amount of stuff recorded during those years, acquiring all of it would be nigh impossible and, to my mind, not very rewarding.

Another artist whose fans would have a difficult time acquiring a complete collection would be Duane Allman. I said earlier that if the musician in question were long dead, it would make the acquisition of a complete collection easier. Well, in Duane’s case, that’s not necessarily so. Yes, he’s been dead for almost thirty-six years. But during his brief career as a member of the Allman Brothers Band and, especially, as a sideman, he was so prolific and so, well, casual about adding his talents to projects that from this distance, it would seem nigh impossible to get a complete collection of Duane Allman.

The website Duane Allman Resources is a good place to go to grasp the problem. Notes for many of the albums listed in the chronology at the site give differing accounts as to what tracks Allman played on. And given Allman’s well-known propensity for showing up at sessions and adding his talent to the mix without worrying about credit or even compensation, it would be utterly impossible, one would think, to track down every piece of tape to which he added his extraordinary talent.

After all, there would always be one more session to find, one more recording to seek, kind of like the legendary thirtieth song written by blues legend Robert Johnson or – more in my vein – the rumored tapes of sessions by The Band with Sonny Boy Williamson II. Now, I’m not here to rain on anyone’s parade; I wish completists well. I’m just happy to listen to the music that’s readily available, some of which itself can be difficult to find.

An album that falls into that category is one that features Duane Allman on four of its nine original tracks as well as on two bonus tracks included on the CD issue, now evidently out-of-print. Johnny Jenkins’ Ton Ton Macoute!, originally released in 1970, was issued on CD in 1997, according to All-Music Guide, but seems to no longer be available new anywhere (three copies were available used at Amazon this morning, starting at $60).

And that’s too bad. Ton Ton Macoute! is a tasty serving of southern stew, a slinky trip along the back roads. Several of the tracks, as I indicated above, have Duane Allman playing on them; they were originally intended to be part of an Allman solo album, but when the Allman Brothers Band took off, the backing tracks were handed to Jenkins, who made the songs his own. A few of the other members of the Allman Brothers Band – Jaimoe, Berry Oakley and Butch Trucks – added their talents to Jenkins’ sessions, as did Capricorn stalwarts Pete Carr, Eddie Hinton and Johnny Sandlin.

Highlights of the album include Jenkins’ sly takes on Bob Dylan’s “Down Along The Cove” and Muddy Waters’ “Rolling Stone,” both of which were included on the Duane Allman anthologies. But the best track has to be Jenkins’ slithery performance on Dr. John’s “I Walk On Gilded Splinters,” which Jenkins and crew turn into a voodoo-nasty excursion deeper into the swamp than many people dare to wander.

According to the above cited chronology, Duane Allman plays on those three tracks as well as on “Voodoo In You” from the original album, and on the bonus tracks “I Don’t Want No Woman” and “My Love Will Never Die.”

My thanks to the blog Discos Ocultos, where I found the CD rip.

Johnny Jenkins – Ton Ton Macoute! [1970]

Tracks:
I Walk On Gilded Splinters
Leaving Trunk
Blind Bats And Swamp Rats
Rollin’ Stone
Sick And Tired
Down Along The Cove
Bad News
Dimples
Voodoo In You
I Don’t Want No Woman (bonus)
My Love Will Never Die (bonus)

Some information
A visitor asked Friday: “Are you willing to share info on what program you use to clean up the pops and clicks from the LPs? [Your] transfers are exceptionally clean, and don’t have any of the ‘whooshing’ sound that comes from a lot of noise reduction processes.”

Actually, I don’t use any noise reduction program at all. Early on, in January and maybe February, I used the noise reduction utility in Audacity, the program I use to rip LPs, but I didn’t like what the noise reduction did to the overall quality of the rip: It seemed to make it a little tinny and echoey. So I quit using it.

I would guess that over the course of the blog, a little more than half of the album posts have been rips from vinyl taken from my collection. Other album posts have been rips from CDs in my collection that have now – from what I can tell – gone out of print. And there have been several shares of albums that I’ve found at other blogs, albums that are out of print, as far as I can tell. Some of those have been ripped from vinyl, according to the individuals who posted them at blogs or forums; others were ripped from CD. When I know the provenance of a rip, I try to say so in my post.

The fact that some of my shares are ripped from (out of print) CD’s is one reason the album shares here are clean. Another is that when I rip an LP, I am very picky. I mentioned the other week that I had been ripping a Jim Horn LP and abandoned it after too many scratches became too audible. I don’t mind a share with a few pops and scratches; many of the LPs I share are, after all, between thirty-five and forty-five years old. But I am picky, and the bulk of my record collection is in pretty good shape. So the rips I do post will generally be pretty clean, and the word “from vinyl” will be in the post line. [Those post lines – detailing the size of the download, the bitrate and the origin – have not been included in the archive.]

I should note here my policy on material found elsewhere. I will share music found on other blogs. I will not use other blogs’ uploads. The links to uploaded music you find here are my links. To share music found elsewhere is, to my mind, a good thing, expanding the awareness of music that can be fairly obscure. To copy and paste another blogger’s link is, to my mind, lazy at best and certainly dishonest. So any link to an upload here is one that I have created. Similarly, any written content posted here is my own – with the exception of quotations from another source, which will always be cited.

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