Archive for the ‘On This Date’ Category

Saturday Single No. 773

February 12, 2022

A quick look in the RealPlayer for tracks recorded on February 12 doesn’t bring up a lot of results, but some of the tracks that do surface are interesting:

On that day in 1936, bluesman Casey Bill Weldon spent some time in a studio in Chicago. One of the tracks he laid down was “W.P.A. Blues,” released as a Vocalion single.

In 1962, Patsy Cline was in a studio in Nashville. One of the tracks laid down that day was “Heartaches,” released as a Decca single.

On that same date in 1970, Dusty Springfield was in a studio in Philadelphia, working with the production team of Gamble and Huff. Two tracks – “Cherished” and “Goodbye” (not the Paul McCartney tune) – went unreleased until 1999 when they came out on a bonus disc as part of a CD release of Springfield’s 1969 album, Dusty in Memphis.

And in 1999, Bruce Springsteen was working on “The Promise” at Thrill Hill Recording in New Jersey.

But we’ll drop back almost five decades from there to a Howlin’ Wolf session in West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1952. For a time, Memphis producer Sam Phillips had been dangling the services of several recording artists in front of the four Bihari brothers who owned Los Angeles-based Modern Records and dangling them as well in front of the Chess brothers of Chicago, owners of the label named for them.

A settlement ensued, resulting in the dangled performers being dealt like trading cards to the two recording outfits (this is all according to Bill Dahl’s notes to the 2002 CD package Howlin’ Wolf Moanin’ at Midnight: The Memphis Recordings). The Wolf ended up with Chess, but – whether this was according to the deal or via some chicanery by Phillips or the Biharis, I don’t know – there was one last Wolf session in Memphis for Modern on February 12, 1952.

Out of that session came eight tracks: “House Rockin’ Boogie,” “Worried About My Baby,” “Brown Skin Woman,” “The Sun Is Rising,” “My Friends, “I’m The Wolf,” “Driving This Highway,” and “Chocolate Drop.” From what I can tell, the first three of those ended up on Howlin’ Wolf Sings The Blues,  a Crown LP in 1962; the next three came out on Memphis Blues, a 1970 Kent anthology; and “Chocolate Drop” and “Driving This Highway” were finally released on Howling Wolf Rides Again, a Flair CD in 1991

All eight of those Wolf tracks are raw and vital. The best, I think, is “I’m The Wolf.” According to the video at YouTube, he’s backed on the track by Ike Turner on piano, Willie Johnson on guitar and Willie Steele on Drums. And all that’s good enough to make “I’m The Wolf” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 766

December 18, 2021

Employing one of my favorite musical crutches this morning, I asked the RealPlayer to sort out tracks recorded over the years on December 18. I got back four, which is a little fewer than usual.

Least pleasing among them was Julia Gerrity’s plaint, “Sittin’ On A Rubbish Can,” a 1931 recording in the stilted style of mainstream pop of those days. I’m not sure where I got it. But it probably showed up here around 2005, when I was beginning my vintage music digging but wasn’t yet too picky about my sorting and tagging.

Two of the December 18 tracks came from a 1951 session in St. Louis, a raw, bluesy and unreleased pair recorded by Clifford Gibson. “Sneaky Groundhog” and “Let Me Be Your Handyman” came my way via the 2010 four-CD box set Juke Joint Blues, one of several sets I have from JSP, a firm operating out of the United Kingdom.

I have two copies of the fourth December 18 track, a 1947 boogie by Wild Bill Moore titled “We’re Gonna Rock, We’re Gonna Roll.” Recorded in Detroit for the Savoy label, the track showed up on a 1977 double-LP set titled The Roots of Rock ’N Roll (a set I also have on CD, thanks to reader and friend Yah Shure) and it also showed up on a four-CD set titled The Big Horn: The History of the Honkin’ & Screamin’ Saxophone released by Proper, a London-based firm.

Both sets are fine; I have some difficulty sorting out the notes on The Big Horn. They’re detailed enough, but each entry begins with personnel notes, leaving the title of the piece and the recording date and place at the bottom of each entry. It feels backwards to me, and it caused quite a bit of double-checking when I entered the data.

Anyway, “We’re Gonna Rock, We’re Gonna Roll” features tenor sax work from Moore and alto and baritone sax work from Paul Williams. The record hit No. 14 on the Best Seller chart and No. 15 on the Juke Box chart during the summer of 1948, and – exactly seventy-four years after it was recorded – it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘A Lovely Golden Glow . . .’

December 8, 2021

I’m a beer nerd.

The squib on the blog page “About Your Host” says, “And I still like a good dark beer.” That’s true, but over the past twenty years, I’ve come to love others as well: ambers, pale ales, red ales, and more.

It was during my long-ago travels in Europe that I came to like beers other than the basic yellow lager most Americans were drinking at the time. When I came home, I drank some dark beer in bars that had it on tap, but it wasn’t available a lot of places, and if it was available in liquor stores, it was more expensive than your basic brands, so as I went through college and just beyond, I drank a lot of the American lager.

As circumstances changed throughout my life, beer came and went from my refrigerator. I quit drinking for a while in the Eighties and early Nineties for various reasons, and then again in the late Nineties when a doctor told me to avoid yeast for a year, so it’s only in the past two decades that I’ve been able to indulge myself in beer styles and brands from around the world.

So, why this today? Because I’ve been pondering returning to a long-abandoned project: my journal from my time in Europe during the 1973-74 academic year. I worked on it regularly for maybe a year almost twenty years ago, then stopped (probably about the time I started this blog). My method was to type up verbatim each day’s journal entry and then clarify and expand the entry as well as comment on how those events seem to the adult me.

And I’ve been poking through the six-plus months I have completed – that sounds like I’m close to ending it, but I was on the road all of March and most of April; those two months are likely to be the longest chapters in the project, and I’m only up to March 7 – and thinking about resuming things. And as I poked around this morning, I checked out the entry for December 8, 1973, a Saturday I spent in Brussels forty-eight years ago today. Here’s a portion of my commentary on that day’s entry:

I did not do Belgium well. I did sip enough beer, however, to judge it among the best I ever had. Now, the best beer I had during my entire time in Europe was the Danish Tuborg Rød I’ve already mentioned.  But Belgian brews were very good.  I didn’t drink a lot, but I had a good sample, including the beer I had [December 8] with the fellow from Montreal. We sat in one of the cafés on the Grand Place, next to a window so fogged over that the lights of the square outside – glinting off the gilt facades of the buildings across the way – were diffused into a lovely golden glow as the afternoon faded away. I don’t think I ever had a bad beer in Belgium – and Belgium is the only nation I can say that about – but that one, a dark beer I drank in the warmth of the café as the December evening began, is the one I remember the most fondly.

It took years for that seed to sprout, but I think on that day, the beer nerd in me began to form.

So, what else happened that day in Brussels? Well, one of the things I liked to do in each major city I visited was – along with visiting historic sites and museums – to take some time to wander through the grocery stores and the downtown arcades, seeing at least a little bit of what life was like for the folks who lived there.

And while I wandered through a glitzy and very modern arcade not far from the restaurant where I would drink a beer that afternoon, I went past a record store and learned from a window display that Ringo Starr had a new album out, the album simply titled Ringo from which came the hits “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen.”

I tucked the information away, and a little more than a year after I came home, I came across the album in a used record shop, and it’s long been one of my favorites.

So, to mark all that from forty-eight years ago today, here’s my favorite album track from the Ringo album, “Step Lightly.” (And I’ll likely also mark those long-ago events late this afternoon with a dark beer from the selection in the new mini-fridge that sits not far from where I write.)

‘Hammer Of The Gods . . .’

October 13, 2021

I’ve been reading a lot of the discussions over the past few days about how we should no longer be celebrating Columbus and how we should change the name of the holiday to Indigenous Persons Day. Some folks brought in Leif Erikson’s Norsemen, and a few even mentioned the Phoenecians as folks who got to the shores of the North American continent before Columbus.

My take on it? Columbus was an evil man, evil enough that other Spanish explorers around him – who were pretty bad actors themselves – sent him back to Spain in chains. He’s not someone we’d should really want to celebrate. His navigational feat (along with those of other explorers), however, did open the North American continent to exploration, exploitation and settlement. But there were already other folks here, of course, who were dispossessed and nearly exterminated by that exploration, exploitation and settlement.

I say: Tear down the statues, cancel the holiday and find another day in the calendar to mourn the Native American cultures lost to Manifest Destiny and to celebrate the Native Cultures that survived. I guess we can call it Indigenous Persons Day, though that seems kind of stiff. I like what Canada did when it used First Nations as a combined term for those who were here before the Europeans. That might be the term we should be using.

Anyway, to take kind of a left turn, as I was pondering this stuff in the past few days, I was reminded of a video posted at YouTube a year ago today. A user there who goes by the name of “the_miracle_aligner” posted a video offering Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” sung in old Norse.

In the notes, the_miracle_aligner credits a user named Constantine Bard for the backing track. (Constantine Bard’s page is filled with versions of current and older pop songs recast in medieval form.) And the_miracle_aligner credits Angus Bolton for translating the words of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page into old Norse and offering some pronunciation training.

So here’s how Erikson’s men might have sounded had they been singing Led Zeppelin as they came ashore in what was to become northeastern Canada sometime around the year 1000.

Saturday Single No. 696

July 11, 2020

Okay, so how many tracks among the 80,000 on the digital shelves were recorded on July 11?

This, of course, is the kind of thing I resort to on days when my stock of ideas to write about is running low. Sometimes it results in something that limps, sometimes it works. (And it’s worth remembering that I have recording dates for maybe ten percent of the mp3s in my collection.)

Anyway, the answer is ten, and those tracks are:

“Put It There (Shag Nasty)” by McKinney’s Cottonpickers, 1928
“Pete Brown’s Boogie” by the Pete Brown Quintet, 1944
“Fat Stuff Boogie” by the Beale Street Gang, 1948
“Me & My Chauffeur Blues” by Memphis Minnie, 1952
“You Win Again” by Hank Williams, 1952
“I Forgot To Remember To Forget” by Elvis Presley, 1955
“Mystery Train” by Elvis Presley, 1955
“Trying To Get To You” by Elvis Presley, 1955
“(You’re A) Bad Girl” by Paul Revere & The Raiders, 1966
“Samantha’s Living Room” by the Guess Who, 1972

Four of those – the first two by Presley and the singles by Memphis Minnie and Hank Williams – are pretty well known. The others? Well, the Cottonpickers’ record is 1920s jazz on the Victor label, and the two from the 1940s are – as their titles indicate – piano-led boogies (with lots of horns) on Savoy. “Trying To Get To You” showed up on Presley’s 1956 self-titled album. “(You’re A) Bad Girl” came out of the sessions for The Spirit Of ’67 but was unreleased until the CD era. And the Guess Who track was on the 1973 album Artificial Paradise.

And of those, the one that catches my ears this morning is “Samantha’s Living Room.” An odd, atmospheric track, it showed up here on a two-CD anthology of the Guess Who’s work, and its lyrics intrigue me:

The family’s in the front room cheering
Old Dad’s in the corner snoring
Mother’s helping baby walk
And Auntie Jean is yawning
In Samantha’s living room

Granddad’s at the punchbowl drinking cordial
While Grandma sees the children play
Blindman’s bluff and chess, and the music plays
All in all it’s time for fun
In Samantha’s living room
In Samantha’s living room, in the year 1921

In Samantha’s living room
In Samantha’s living room
In Samantha’s living room, in the year 1981

So, because it intrigues me, and because I have the sense that I’ve not often mentioned the group here, “Samantha’s Living Room” by the Guess Who is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 664

November 2, 2019

When we look on the digital shelves here in the EITW studios for tracks recorded on November 2, we find more than we anticipated as well as a broader variety of styles and genres than might be expected.

Our harvest starts in 1939 with “Jersey Belle Blues” by Lonnie Johnson. The Bluebird release recorded in Chicago was a piano-based blues ostensibly lamenting the loss of livestock:

My nights is so lonely, days is so doggone long
My bedroom is so lonely, every doggone thing is wrong
You know I ain’t had no milk and butter since my Jersey Belle been gone

We shift to New York City in 1954, when Dinah Washington recorded two tracks for the Mercury label that have ended up here: “Teach Me Tonight” and “I Just Couldn’t Stand It No More.” The first of those two was a sizable hit for Washington in early 1955, placing in the top eight on three of the various R&B charts Billboard compiled at the time, with its peak performance being No. 4 on the Best Seller chart. “I Just Couldn’t Stand It No More” wound up as a B-Side to Washington’s “The Show Must Go On,” which did not reach the charts.

Tony Bennett pops up on our November 2 list with “Love Look Away,” recorded in 1958. Released as a single by Columbia, the lush ballad has the velvet-voiced stylist rejecting love: “After you go, I cry too much. Love, look away, lonely though I may be. Leave me and set me free.” The record did not chart.

Country singer Tommy Collins had some sizeable hits for Capitol on the Billboard country chart in the mid-1950s, reaching No. 2 with “You Better Not Do That” and No. 4 with “Whatcha Gonna Do Now” in 1954 and getting to No. 5 with “It Tickles” in 1955. He charted again with a track recorded on November 2, 1965; “If You Can’t Bite, Don’t Growl” – another light-hearted record, this one on Columbia – went to No. 7 on the country chart in early 1966. It bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, peaking at No. 105.

The insistent “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by the Temptations is another track recorded November 2. Written by Norman Whitfield, Eddie Holland and Cornelius Grant and produced by Whitfield, the record was No. 1 for two weeks on the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100. (One of my regrets as a music listener is that the first version I heard of the song was the 1970 cover by Rare Earth instead of the original version by the Temptations.)

The last tune we’ll think about this morning is a Bob Dylan track titled “Nobody ’Cept You.” It comes from the 1973 sessions in Los Angeles that Dylan held with The Band for the Planet Waves album. The box set notes from The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 indicate that “Nobody ’Cept You” was headed for the album but was knocked out at the last minute by “Wedding Song.” To me, that seems like a poor decision, but then, I’ve never liked “Wedding Song” and would have much preferred the sprightly love story of “Nobody ’Cept You” for the admittedly uneven album.

So, seven tracks to consider this morning. I think we can dismiss without quibbles the Lonnie Johnson and Tommy Collins tracks, as well as the Dinah Washington B-side. And as good as the Tony Bennett track is, it is a little overdone. Then, even though the Dylan tune is a bit of a rarity, I likely post his stuff too often, as least as compared with the Temptations and Dinah Washington.

Let’s do some digging: Since moving to my own site in early 2010, I’ve posted two tracks by Washington and eight tracks by the Temptations alone plus four additional tracks by them with the Supremes. In contrast, I’ve posted tracks by Dylan – with and without The Band – twenty-two times.

That decides it. “Teach Me Tonight,” recorded November 2, 1954, by Dinah Washington is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 626

January 26, 2019

Wondering about January 26, I did a search on the RealPlayer and came up with eight tracks recorded on today’s date over the years. (As always, I should note that I have recording date information on maybe ten percent of the tracks in the player.) And I thought we’d run down a little bit of what we know about those tracks.

The earliest of the bunch comes from Alcide “Blind Uncle” Gaspard, a guitarist and singer with Cajun roots from Louisiana. He was in Chicago on this date in 1929, laying down some tracks for the Vocalion label. Two of them are in the digital stacks here: “Assi Dans La Fenetre De Ma Chambre” on his own and “La Danseuse” with the help of Irish fiddler Delma Lachney.

The first of those two tunes came my way via the soundtrack to the 2002 movie Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and the second found its way onto the shelves here on my copy of Harry Smith’s Anthology Of American Folk Music, a three-volume anthology first released in 1952.

Moving ahead five years, we find two tracks laid down in New York City by Jimmie Lunceford & His Orchestra on January 26, 1934: According to discogs.com, “Jazznocracy” was released on the Victor and Bluebird labels, while “Swingin’ Uptown” came out on His Master’s Voice. Lunceford and his band don’t come immediately to mind when one thinks of the Big Band music of the 1930s and 1940s, but whenever I’ve come across his stuff, I’ve been pleased. His stuff swings.

“Jazznocracy” most likely came to the digital shelves here during the early days of this blog, when music of all eras and genres was widely offered at blogs and forums. Which blog or forum? I have no idea. I found “Swingin’ Uptown” on The Fabulous Swing Collection, a 1998 anthology that I came across last May.

Harry Smith’s name pops up again when we get to the year 1938. On January 26 of that year in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Arthur Smith Trio recorded “Adieu, False Heart” for the Bluebird label. In 2000, it was included in Volume Four of Smith’s Anthology, a set assembled based on notes Smith made before his death in 1992 and released on the Revenant label by the Harry Smith Archives. The album notes call “Adieu, False Heart” a “darkly sentimental piece” that was collected by a folklorist in south central Virginia in 1931. Its language, the notes say, “suggests that it comes from the 1860s or 1870s.”

Moving ahead quite a few years, we come to 1956, when Buddy Holly recorded “Midnight Shift,” a track that went unreleased for a couple of years before landing on the 1958 album That’ll Be The Day. “Midnight Shift” was recorded in Nashville, most likely one of the tracks from sessions that the Decca label found unpromising. Holly evidently took the track with him when he headed to Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico.

Two tracks in the RealPlayer were recorded on January 26, 1962. One of them I know nearly nothing about and the other is very well known. The first is Edith Piaf’s “Fallait-il?” I can say nothing more about the track except that it was recorded in Paris. The second track from this date in 1962 is Claude King’s “Wolverton Mountain,” about which I know much more: The track was No. 1 for nine weeks on the Billboard country chart and went to No. 6 on the magazine’s Hot 100.

The Piaf track came here via the 2000 collection Éternelle, and I found “Wolverton Mountain” in the five-CD set Columbia Country Classics.

So, we have a fair number of tracks to choose from for a feature this morning. But my mind was pretty well made up from the start of this post. Buddy Holly doesn’t show up here very often, probably because – as important as he is to the history of rock and pop – he’s an icon of the Fifties, which is not my era, and then, not a lot of his music ever really grabbed me. (“Rave On” is the one exception; it was included in my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox.)

But listening to “Midnight Shift” this morning (almost certainly for the first time), I found myself startled by the topic of the song, written by Jeff Daniels and Jimmie Rogers:

If you see old Annie better give her a lift
Cause Annie’s been a-working on a midnight shift

If Annie puts her hair up on her head
Paints them lips up bright, bright red
Wears that dress that fits real tight
Starts staying out ’til the middle of the night
Says that a friend gave her a lift
Well, Annie’s been working on a midnight shift

If she acts a little funny, seems a little strange
Starts spending your money for brand new things
Tells you that she wants to use the car
Never explains what she wants it for
Brother, there just ain’t no “ifs”
Cause Annie’s been working on a midnight shift

Early in the morning when the sun comes up
You look at old Annie and she looks kinda rough
You tell her “Honey, get out of that bed”
She says “Leave me alone, I’m just about dead”
Brother, there just ain’t no “ifs”
Cause Annie’s been working on a midnight shift

If you got a good mama that’s staying at home
You’d better enjoy it, ’cause it won’t last long
When you think everything’s all right
She starts slipping round in the middle of the night
Brother, there just ain’t no “ifs”
Cause Annie’s been working on a midnight shift

So with that, here’s Buddy Holly’s “Midnight Shift,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single:

Exploring The Date

August 22, 2018

So, what do we know about August 22?

Well, the basics, first: It’s the 234th day of the year, with 131 remaining.

And just as it does with every other day of the year, Wikipedia offers a list of events that have occurred over the years on August 22. Here are a few:

The Battle of Bosworth Field in England in 1485, which marked, with the death of Richard III, the end of the House of York and of the Plantagenet dynasty and, with the claiming of the crown by Henry Tudor, the beginnings of the House of Tudor. Richard’s famous (if likely fictional) cry “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” comes from William Shakespeare’s account of the battle in his play Richard III. According to Wikipedia, British scholars have likely found – finally – the true site of the battle, located near the town of Market Bosworth in the county of Leicestershire. The newly researched site was found as a result of a 2005-2009 project and is actually not far from the previously assumed site of the battle. The battle most recently popped into the news in 2012, when historians discovered the grave of Richard III under a parking lot in the city of Leicester. His body was reburied in March 2015 in Leicester Cathedral.

Jacob Barsimson arrived in 1654 at New Amsterdam, the Dutch colony now known as New York City. He was the first known Jewish immigrant to American. He’d been sent there by leaders of the Jewish community in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to determine if Jewish immigration to North America was feasible. Following the fall of a Dutch colony in Brazil, twenty-three Dutch Jews arrived in New Amsterdam in September 1654 and established the first Jewish settlement in what would become the United States.

Automobiles made the news twice on August 22, 1902. The Cadillac Motor Company was formed out of the remains of the Henry Ford Company. (That company was Ford’s second short-lived firm; his third attempt, the Ford Motor Company, was formed in June 1903 and exists today.) And President Theodore Roosevelt became the first president of the United States to make a public appearance in an automobile. Sadly, Wikipedia does not identify which brand of auto Roosevelt rode in.

In 1941, German troops began the Siege of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Wikipedia says that the siege, which lasted nearly 900 days, “caused extreme famine in the Leningrad region through disruption of utilities, water, energy and food supplies. This resulted in the deaths of up to 1,500,000 soldiers and civilians and the evacuation of 1,400,000 more (mainly women and children), many of whom died during evacuation due to starvation and bombardment. Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery alone in Leningrad holds half a million civilian victims of the siege.” It was, says Wikipedia, the most lethal siege in history.

Let’s lighten it up a bit. On this date in 1989, Nolan Ryan struck out Rickey Henderson to become the first major league pitcher to record 5,000 strikeouts.

Sticking with baseball, on this date in 2007, the Texas Rangers set a one-game major league scoring record when they defeated the Baltimore Orioles 30 to 3.

And finally, let’s talk about music. Among tracks recorded on August 22 over the years, we find “Jumpin’ At The Woodside” by Count Basie & His Orchestra in 1938, “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” by the King Cole Trio in 1946, “The $64,000 Question” by Bobby Tuggle in 1955, and in 1967, Etta James laid down three tracks in Muscle Shoals, Alabama: “Steal Away,” “Don’t Lose Your Good Thing,” and “Just A Little Bit.”

All three tracks would be released on James’ 1968 album Tell Mama. Here’s “Just A Little Bit.”