Posts Tagged ‘Gator Creek’

Using Up One Of His Nine Lives

February 15, 2012

Originally posted March 2, 2009

It was late last evening, and I was doing some final tinkering with a few albums of mp3s I’d found online. Taking a break, I wandered up to the loft, where the Texas Gal was exploring the capabilities of her new laptop.

As I came up the stairs, Cubbie Cooper, our youngest cat – not quite a year old – was playing with something atop one of the bookcases that serve as a banister/wall near the stairway. Without the bookcases and a dresser at right angles to the bookcases, there would simply be a hole in the floor. As I walked past, Cubbie jumped for the dresser, crossing open space. He nearly missed, one leg kicking in mid-air as he righted himself on the dresser.

I picked him up as I walked past. “One of these days, Cubbie,” I said, as I headed to the desk where the Texas Gal sat, “you’re gonna miss and you’re gonna fall onto the stairs.”

I handed him to the Texas Gal as he purred. “He does it all the time,” she said. “Nothing we can do about it but hope that he stays lucky.”

I scratched Cubbie’s ears as we reviewed the schedule for the coming week, then set him on the floor and went back to the study and the mp3s. A few minutes later, I heard a scuffling sound, a thump-rattle and then bump, bump, bump. I turned around in time to see Cubbie walking slowly out of the stairway door, shaking his head.

“What was that?” asked the Texas Gal from the loft.

“Cubbie, I think,” I answered, following the little guy into the dining room. He sat there, looking around as if he weren’t sure where he was. I picked him up and he gave a pitiful “Rowr?” And his nose was bleeding. He had indeed tumbled off the dresser and into the stairwell.

We carried him into the bathroom, cleaned his nose and watched him for a few minutes. He let us touch his face without complaint, which told us he’d not broken any facial bones, and he let us hold open his mouth to check for blood. There was none, though his nose continued to bleed for a few minutes.

We decided that – in the absence of any obvious injury – all we could do was keep an eye on him and check him carefully in the morning. So we settled him in the cat bed, where he hunkered down, still shaking his head a little. By the time we retired for the night, he was dozing, although his cheek was slightly swollen.

This morning, when I headed to the kitchen, Cubbie was right there with Clarence and Oscar, eager for breakfast. His cheek is still a little swollen, but other than that, he seems to be okay. I have no idea how many of his proverbial nine lives he used up in his seven months of life before we got him, but I’m darned sure that one of them was charged to his account last evening.

A Six-Pack of Cats

“This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra from Dirty Boogie  [1998]

“Crosseyed Cat” by Muddy Waters from Hard Again [1977]

“Black Cat” by Magic Carpet from Magic Carpet [1972]

“The Cat Woman” by the Marketts from Batman Theme [1966]

“Cat Fever” by Fanny from Charity Ball [1971]

“Long-Tail Cat” by Gator Creek from Gator Creek [1970]

“This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof” was recorded and released in the middle of the 1990s swing/jump blues revival led in large part by Brian Setzer, one-time member – fittingly enough – of the Stray Cats. Setzer’s swing/jump blues work seems to have aged fairly well, and maybe that’s because Setzer’s work was performed with more of a straight face and with less of a smirk and a wink than that of other swing revival performers (the Cherry Popping Daddies and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy come easily to mind).

Muddy Waters’ Hard Again album was one of the last few albums Waters recorded in his long and stellar career. Produced by Johnny Winter, the album was a return to classic form for Waters. All-Music Guide notes: “Waters is not only at the top of his game, but is having the time of his life while he’s at it. The bits of studio chatter that close ‘Mannish Boy’ and open ‘Bus Driver’ show him to be relaxed and obviously excited about the proceedings. Part of this has to be because the record sounds so good. Winter has gone for an extremely bare production style, clearly aiming to capture Waters in conversation with a band in what sounds like a single studio room. This means that sometimes the songs threaten to explode in chaos as two or three musicians begin soloing simultaneously. Such messiness is actually perfect in keeping with the raw nature of this music; you simply couldn’t have it any other way.”

Magic Carpet was a 1970s band that found its niche by using sitar, Indian percussion and gentle folk-rock instrumentation to back folk songs reminiscent of, if nowhere near as good as, Joni Mitchell’s work. Taken one song at a time, amid other and better work, Magic Carpet’s only album is kind of fun. On its own, it becomes repetitive and, frankly, wearisome.

“The Cat Woman” might or might not have been drawn from a musical theme used on the Batman television show. I honestly don’t know if there’s any connection at all, beyond the title, to the character played on the television show by Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether. I tend to think not (but I easily could be wrong). The track showed up on the Batman Theme album released by the Marketts in the midst of the Batman craze in 1966.

Fanny, of course, was one of the first all-female bands. “Cat Fever” is from Charity Ball, the second of the group’s three albums, and rocks pretty well.

Readers may recall that not long ago, I posted a so-so version of “Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie On The King Of Rock & Roll” by Gator Creek, a group whose lead singer was a young Kenny Loggins. “Long-Tail Cat” comes from the same album and is interesting because it’s an early version of a song that would end up a few years later on 1972’s Loggins & Messina. The arrangements are about the same, though the Gator Creek version is more robust and Loggins’ vocal performance is better on the latter version.

Edited slightly on July 8, 2013.

Saturday Single Nos. 108 & 109

November 16, 2011

Originally posted January 10, 2009

It’s so sweet when it works this way:

I write a post and share a tune (or several), hoping that what I know outweighs what I don’t know. A reader (or more than one) shares information, and that information provides me with both a lever and a place to stand. Using those tools, I go out into the cyber-countryside and dig up more information . . . and if I’m very fortunate, more music.

It went that way yesterday after I posted Long John Baldry’s 1971 version of “Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll,” which includes Baldry’s tale about being arrested for playing for pennies on the streets of 1950s London. Quite rapidly, a reader left a comment that widened my eyes a little:

“Being from Minnesota, I’m surprised you don’t remember that Crow recorded this earlier… I’m thinking fall of 1970, second single after ‘Evil Woman.’ It did chart, no idea how high, though. You might enjoy this discussion:

He added a note about Tony Burrows, whom I’d mentioned in yesterday’s post, a note that I will likely explore another time. But more information about Crow piqued my interest. As I clicked the link to the discussion, which turned out to be at a site called Prentiss Riddle: Music, I realized that – even though the group was from the Twin Cities – all I know of Crow is “Evil Woman . . .” I do have a copy of the group’s first, self-titled LP in my stacks of unplayed music, quite likely bracketed by the soundtrack to the 1970s film The Great Gatsby and a box set of Russian folk music.

The discussion of the song at Prentiss Riddle: Music had taken place in 2005 and was full of information and educated guesses from fans of the song and of Baldry, Crow and a little-known early 1970s group called Gator Creek (more on that group later).

One of the most valuable bits there was the full set of the song’s lyrics. The version I’m posting is a little different, based on the later discussion at the board I was exploring.

Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll.

Don’t you tell me n-n-n-no lies woman ’cause all you know I’ve told
Don’t sell me no alibi sister ’cause all you’ve got I’ve sold
You better leave that midnight sneakin’ to the one who worked it out
I don’t wanna hear no back talk speakin’ go on and shut yer mouth
And everything’s gonna work out tight if you act like you been told
So don’t try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock and roll.

Don’t you feed me no TV dinners when you know I’m used to steak
I don’t need no rank beginners when it’s time to shake that shake
You better pull your Thing together, reach in and dust it out
And if ya feel that you just can’t dig it then I guess you know the route
It ain’t a matter of pork ’n’ beans gonna justify your soul
Just don’t try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock and roll.

You weren’t alive when I started to drive, so don’t put none on me
You didn’t arrive ’til late ’45 but your head’s in ’53.
You got what it takes to keep the heads a-spinnin’ down by the old rib shack
And you come across just like a fool grinnin’ in the back of a red Cadillac.
You can’t come across the Atsville bridge until you pay the toll
So don’t try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock and roll.

The lyrics were posted by a Crow listener who said that the song had been on Crow’s Mosaic album and had also been originally recorded in 1970 by a group called Gator Creek. The lyrics as posted called the “rib shack” a “rim shack” and had “[inaudible]” for the name of the bridge in the next-to-the-last line. Another reader soon corrected “rim” to “rib.” And the fourth line in the second verse had been posted as “And if ya feel that your ass can’t dig it . . .”

Someone posting as Prentice Riddle, the board’s evident owner or moderator, noted that Baldry had changed that fourth line in the second verse to read: “And if you feel that you just can’t dig it you know you don’t know what it’s all about.”

But the name of the bridge stayed unknown for a time, with readers offering their own decades-long guesses. Some of those guesses were: Astro, Apsfail and Astral, which I quite liked. (My own guess? For years, I’d been hearing John Baldry sing about crossing the Oslo bridge, which I figured wasn’t quite right. But I’d never had the inclination to go find the correct lyric.)

And at that point, the discussion was helped greatly with a post from W.C. Thomas. W.C. wrote: “My brother Jeff wrote the song and I have a copy of the original demo with the Ray-Lettes singing background. Jeff says it’s ‘you just can’t dig it’ and the ‘Atsville Bridge,’ based on the slang of the time, like ‘where it’s at.’ Also it is the old rib shack.” W.C. added in a later note: “Jeff wrote the song for Elvis but Elvis didn’t want to call himself the King of Rock and Roll.”

So that answered the questions about the lyrics: But there were a whole lot of unanswered questions: When did Crow’s version come out? Is there a copy of it out there somewhere? Who was Gator Creek? And whatever happened to that demo by Jeff Thomas with the Ray-Lettes?

Well, a few posts later, Jeff Thomas himself weighed in: “I am quite flattered by the attention given to my song. I thought it was good enough to record by myself. The late, great, and dear John Baldry claimed the hit version, although Crow’s version was charted. Another great version was done by ’Gator Creek (Kenny Loggins sang the vocal). An unreleased version was recorded (produced by close friend Jimmy Bowen) live in Las Vegas by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (with exceptional vocal by friend and fellow Georgian Kin Vassey).”

After learning from another poster that Thomas’ version had been released in 1970 on Bell Records, I went hunting. I first posted a note here, acknowledging my ignorance of Crow’s version (and asked if anyone out there had it). Then I went to one of the better blog search engines: Captain Crawl. I entered “Gator Creek” and found a rip of that 1970 album through the blog Rare MP3 Music.

By the time I’d listened to Gator Creek’s version, I had an email from a fellow named Dave who had been the original commenter here. He’d attached to his email a copy of Crow’s version of “(Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie On The) King Of Rock And Roll,” which – as he’d thought – was from 1970. And moments ago, while writing this post, I stopped at Ebay, where I found and bought a promo copy of Bell single 941, Jeff Thomas’ version of his song. So that should be here in the next week or so.

(The names of a few of the folks who were on the Gator Creek album stand out: Along with Kenny Loggins, who was a member of the band, some of the folks who helped out on the sessions were guitarist Larry Knechtel, horn player Chuck Findley and background vocalists extraordinaire Merry Clayton, Clydie King and Venetta Fields.)

The last thing I wanted to know for this post was where Crow’s version charted. The group had a single titled “Slow Down” sit just underneath the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks in late March and early April of 1970. Another single, “Cottage Cheese” reached No. 56 in a fourteen-week sojourn in the Hot 100 in late spring and summer. And then in the fall, I learned, “(Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On the) King of Rock And Roll” peaked at No. 52 during a nine-week stay in the Hot 100 that began in October 1970.

So, as Jeff Thomas’ single makes it way to my lair, here are two versions (punctuated differently) of “Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll,” your Saturday singles.

“(Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On the) King of Rock And Roll”
Crow (Amaret 125, 1970)

“Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll”
Gator Creek (from Gator Creek, 1970)