Posts Tagged ‘Doug Sahm’

Random In The ’80s

February 10, 2016

Simply because we don’t visit the decade very often around here, we’re going to make a four-stop trip through the 1980s this morning. When I sort for the decade, the RealPlayer offers us somewhere around 6,200 tracks. (I have to estimate because of things like catalog numbers – Buddy Holly’s “Rave On,” Coral 61985, for example – and releases from box sets and other re-releases that note a date in the 1980s for things recorded earlier.) So here we go:

First up is Wynton Marsalis with “Soon All Will Know” from his 1987 album Marsalis Standard Time, Vol. 1. Modern jazz is not a territory I know well or travel in confidently, but a while back – after Marsalis and Eric Clapton recorded a live blues album – I grabbed some Marsalis CDs from the library and dropped them into our mix here, figuring I might learn something. I’m not sure I have so far, but I keep letting the tracks fall here and there as I roll on random. After seeming to wander around for a while, “Soon All Will Know” grabs a decent groove and offers a nice intro to today’s wanderings.

Steve Forbert’s music has been for years on the margins of my interest. Folks might recall that his 1979 single “Romeo’s Tune” showed up in my Ultimate Jukebox six years ago, but that was more a consequence of its getting radio play at a time when I wasn’t hearing much I liked on the radio. This morning, we land on “Laughter Lou (Who Needs You)” from Forbert’s 1980 album Little Stevie Orbit, a work whose tracks pop up on occasion but on which I’ve not focused much attention. The album went to No. 70 on the Billboard 200, clearly following on the success of 1979’s Jackrabbit Slim, which hit No. 20. But there was no interest in any singles from the album, even though Nemperor released “Song For Katrina” as a promo. As to “Laughter Lou (Who Needs You),” the lyrics have some nice putdowns for poor Lou and the music drives along quite nicely. I probably wouldn’t have changed the station if it had come on the radio back in 1980, but I don’t know that I would have anxiously waited to hear it again.

We move on to “Crazy Feeling” a track from The “West Side” Sound Rolls Again, a 1983 album by Doug Sahm and Augie Meyers, the guys who years earlier were the heart of the Sir Douglas Quintet and its hit, “She’s About A Mover.” Sahm has shown up in this space a number of times over the years (as has Meyers, though almost always unmentioned while Sahm’s music played), and “Crazy Feeling” is a remake of a 1961 Sahm single that hews very, very close to the original; the major difference seems to be that the 1961 version doubled up on the crazy and was titled “Crazy, Crazy Feeling.” As to the album, there’s not a lot out on the Interwebs about it (and I’m not at all sure how it came to be in the digital stacks), but I do note this morning that a copy of the LP is going for $219 at Amazon. (That’s the asking price, of course; how much it actually sells for could be an entirely different matter.)

Anyone trying to keep track of the various unreleased works by Bruce Springsteen that end up bootlegged in the corners of the ’Net would have an impossible task. I don’t try to keep track; I just listen to the boots when they show up and keep some of them (well, most of them). One of the tracks that I’ve come across that way is “Sugarland,” which showed up on a board somewhere as part of a collection called Unsatisfied Heart, a group of outakes from the Born In The U.S.A. sessions in 1983 and 1984. According to Setlist.fm, Springsteen has performed the song live twice, two days apart in Ames, Iowa, and Lincoln, Nebraska in November 1984. It’s a plaint about the prospects of a farmer (and that makes sense of the locales of its performances):

Grain’s in the field covered with tarp
Can’t get a price to see my way clear
I’m sitting down at the Sugarland bar
Might as well bury my body right here

Tractors and combines out in the cold
Sheds piled high with the wheat we ain’t sold
Silos filled with last year’s crop
If something don’t break, hey, we’re all gonna drop

‘I’ll Be Just As Gone . . .’

August 7, 2015

In our tour of Texas music the other day, I missed some tunes that we could have included because I forgot about a variant spelling. In the days before, as I pondered the post and the city of San Antonio, I did check on the digital shelves for tunes that called the city “San Antone.” But as I wrote Tuesday, that spelling slipped my mind.

As it slipped, we lost our chances at hearing Emmylou Harris’ “I’ll Be Your San Antone Rose” from her 1977 album Luxury Liner, and we missed out on two versions of “Home In San Antone,” the first a vocal take by Redd Volkaert from 1998 and the second an instrumental version by the Quebe Sisters Band from 2003.

And we missed out, of course, on one of the classic country songs, “Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone.” The song was written by Glenn Martin and David Kirby, and its most famous iteration is its first, the version recorded in February 1970 by Charlie Pride:

Pride’s version was No. 1 for two weeks on the Billboard country chart and made it to No. 70 on the magazine’s Hot 100. (It was one of twenty-nine No. 1 hits for Pride on the country chart between 1969 and 1983.) And covers abound: Second Hand Songs lists twenty-eight of them, from Bake Turner’s version recorded in March 1970 to a version by Buddy Jewell that came out in June of this year (and there are likely others not listed there).

Two of those covers – along with Pride’s original – are on the digital shelves here: There’s a pretty basic country version by Nat Stuckey from his 1971 album Only A Woman Like You, and then there’s a 1973 take on the tune by Doug Sahm with some vocal help – according to both my ears and Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles – from Bob Dylan:

The track was released as a single on Atlantic and bubbled under the Hot 100 for three weeks, peaking at No. 115. It was also released on a 1973 album titled Doug Sahm and Band.

‘There’s A Man Down There . . .’

July 31, 2012

Well, you got me stranded, baby, on the second floor.
You keep tellin’ me, baby, I got to walk out that door.
Uh-uh, baby! Girl, I ain’t walkin’ out that door.
’Cause there’s a man down there, maybe your man. I don’t know.

So sang G.L. Crockett on the record that was bubbling under at No. 130 on the Billboard Hot 100 forty-seven years ago today. Crockett’s 1965 single – on the 4 Brothers label – had been bubbling at No. 111 a week earlier in its first appearance on the chart. It would eventually rise to No. 65 (and to No. 10 on the R&B chart), making Crockett a one-hit wonder on both charts.

So who was G.L. Crockett? Joel Whitburn says in Top Pop Singles that he was born George Crockett in 1928 in Carrollton, Mississippi, and he passed on in 1967. Wikipedia adds that he was also known as G. “Davy” Crockett and that he passed on in Chicago. There’s more information in a biographical sketch at Black Cat Rockabilly Europe, and a couple of his records show up occasionally in anthologies. (Interestingly, even though Crockett is tabbed as a blues singer, an alternate take of his first single, “Look Out Mabel,” recorded in 1957, showed up in the rockabilly series That’ll Flat Git It.)

But if Crockett is less than well-known, the song is not. Most folks my age likely know the tune from the incendiary live version by the Allman Brothers Band called “One Way Out” and found on the 1972 album Eat A Peach. The song began its malleable life, however, as a rollicking tune from the pen of Sonny Boy Williamson II (Aleck Miller) under the title of “One Way Out.” Here’s his 1961 version, released on Checker.

Wikipedia notes, “As with many blues songs, the history of ‘One Way Out’ falls into murk.” From digging through websites and files this morning, it seems that although Williamson wrote the song, he was not the first to record it. Elmore James got hold of “One Way Out” and smoothed some rough edges when he recorded it (likely for either the Fire or Fury label) in New York City in late 1960 or early 1961, according to Wikipedia. At the same time, James and Marshall E. Sehorn (perhaps the session’s producer?) claimed writing credit, an act of appropriation that was common at the time. James’ version of the tune, however, wasn’t released until 1964, when it was used as a B-Side for a single on the Sphere Sound label.

And in 1965, when Crockett’s sly adaptation of the song came out on the 4 Brothers label, he and producer Jack Daniels, in their turn, claimed writing credit. Most sources these days properly credit Williamson (which carries with it some irony, as Williamson, of course, famously appropriated the name of another famous harp-playing bluesman for his own).

From there, the song went on to become a standard of the Allman Brothers Band and to be covered by numerous other bands and performers. The website Second Hand Songs lists sixteen versions altogether (though I suspect there are far more), with the most recent being versions by the San Francisco band Tip of the Top in 2011, by New England blues singer Perry Desmond-Davies in 2009 and by Styx on its 2005 album of covers, Big Bang Theory.

There were, however, a few stops along the way from Crockett to the Allmans. Crockett’s version – frequently said to have been performed in the style of Jimmy Reed – sparked Reed to record “I’m The Man Down There” on Vee-Jay. And Prez Kenneth, about whom I can find little online, recorded “I Am the Man Downstairs” for the Biscayne label.

Finally, Doug Sahm – Texas musician, musicologist and the leader of the Sir Douglas Quintet – released “It’s a Man Down There” on the Tear Drop label in 1966 under the name of Him.

But no matter who sings it or how it’s sung, the dilemma remains:

Uh-uh, baby. Hell, I ain’t goin’ out that door.
There’s a man down there, maybe your man. How do I know?

Into The Junkyard On Friday Morning

June 29, 2011

Originally posted May 23, 2008

I’ve got plenty of things waiting in the pile of music I eventually intend to post here. There’s one last Patti Dahlstrom record, three albums by Redwing, a country-rock group from the Seventies. Bonnie Bramlett, John Stewart. Michael Johnson, Kim Carnes, Gypsy. Malo, Romeo Void, Shawn Phillips and Steve Forbert.

That list could go much longer, as the records line up in the study, patiently waiting to be spun and heard once more. They’ll get their chances, but not today, at least not this morning.

In anticipation of the holiday weekend, the Texas Gal has taken the day off. While she will likely check in with her office via her newly issued laptop sometime during the day, we also plan to spend some time doing nothing together. And to get to that sooner, I won’t be ripping an album this morning or writing anything too deep or detailed.

Instead, here’s a random Walk Through the Junkyard, starting with a group that, surprisingly, has only popped up here three times, once with Bob Dylan.

“Truckin’” by the Grateful Dead from American Beauty, 1970

“Surfer Girl” by the Beach Boys, Capitol single 5009, 1963

“Cattle and Cane” by the Go-Betweens from Hollywood, 1983

“A Thousand Miles” by Joy of Cooking from Closer to the Ground, 1971

“Ball of Twine” by Lightning Hopkins, Ash Grove, Hollywood, August 1961

“North Country Blues” by Bob Dylan from The Times They Are A-Changin’, 1964

“Rise and Fall” by the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band from The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, 1974

“A Sense of Deja Vu” by Al Stewart from Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time, 1996

“Feelin’ Single, Seein’ Double” by Emmylou Harris from Elite Hotel, 1975

“I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” by Michael McDonald, Warner Bros. single 29933, 1982

“For Your Love” by the Yarbirds, Epic single 9790, 1964

“Wallflower” by Doug Sahm from Doug Sahm and Band, 1973

“To The River” by John Mellencamp from Human Wheels, 1993

“Crystal” by Buckingham Nicks from Buckingham Nicks, 1973

“I’m Easy” by Keith Carradine, ABC single 12117, from the soundtrack to Nashville, 1976

A few notes:

“Truckin’” was released in two forms – the album version here and a single (Warner Bros. 7464) that ran 3:16, almost two minutes shorter than the album track. Considering the state of radio and the state of the culture at the time, I find it amazing that the single didn’t crack the Top 40, with its loopy and matter-of-fact tale of druggies and narcs, travel and blissful crash-pad paranoia. (When I hear the song, I can’t help flashing to Cheech & Chong a few years later: “Dave’s not here, man.”) All of which proves the truth in the song’s tagline: “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

The Go-Betweens were a highly successful band in their native Australia and in Great Britain but were almost unknown in the U.S. during their early 1980s peak period. (The releases from those early years have since been released on CD in the U.S.) “Cattle and Cane” is a ballad with lush moments and an underlying edge that insinuates itself into one’s memory. For me, at least, it’s created an appetite for more.

Bob Dylan’s “North Country Blues” tells a tale of the iron mining milieu in which he grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota (home, for example, to the world’s largest open pit mine, essentially the world’s largest man-made hole in the ground). The song resonates with me, as I still see the occasional news piece about the hard life of mining in the northern part of the state and the hard times that come more and more regularly as the quantity and quality of the ore remaining in the ground continue to diminish.

The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band – made up of the criminally ignored country rocker J.D. Souther, Chris Hillman of the Byrds and Richie Furay of Buffalo Springfield – released three pretty good country-rock albums from 1973 to 1977. The self-titled first was likely the best, but the group never seemed to catch the attention of the listening public. All-Music Guide tags the ten songs on the album as a “collection of ten pleasant, if overall unremarkable tunes in the singer/songwriter, country-rock vein.” I think the record is a little better than that.

“For Your Love,” the single that drive Eric Clapton out of the Yardbirds because of its commerciality, is actually a pretty good record; it went to No. 6 in the U.S. No, it’s nowhere near the blues, but it’s a catchy tune, sonically (the lyrics are serviceable but nothing remarkable), and its memory can stay in a listener’s ear for a long time. For me, the song puts me in the halls of my junior high school, which is okay. As far as musical memories go, I’ve had better, but I have certainly had worse, too.

The sessions for Doug Sahm and Band, according to All-Music Guide, were something of a superstar jam session, with lots of famous friends of Sahm’s dropping in to hang out and lend a hand. Sahm, who first came to major public attention as the leader of the Sir Douglas Quintet in 1965 (“She’s About A Mover” went to No. 13), was a roots music enthusiast years before roots music (or Americana, if you prefer) was in vogue. Doug Sahm and Band is nothing other than roots music, ca. 1973. And yeah, that’s Bob Dylan on vocals; he wrote the song.

Back in the days when his manager called him Johnny Cougar and the Rolling Stone Record Guide called him “Meat Head” (1983 edition), who’d have thought that John Mellencamp would become an elder statesman of heartland rock? With his Rolling Stones meets Appalachia sound, Mellencamp has turned out a pretty good series of albums in the past twenty years (and some clinkers, too, but that happens in a long career). Human Wheels is a pretty bleak album, but it’s a good one, and “To The River” might be the best song on it.