Monday, March 10, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Les McCann & Eddie Harris- Compared To What
Went record shopping
As I was reading over the liner notes to the record, I realized that this song was actually written by someone else beside Les McCann. I had always assumed that this song was half improvised, the anger and vitality of the song is so real that I just assumed that it came up from McCann's boiling guts. It turns out that the song was written by Eugene McDaniels. Eugene McDaniels was a lite r&b singer who soured on America somewhere in the sixties and turned deeply angry and political. He never recorded this song himself, as far as I've been able to find, though he did give it to Roberta Flack to record at around the same time as this recording. Flack's version mellows out the anger, and while good, has nothing on McCann and Harris' version.
So I decided to do some research on McDaniels, he had two albums in the late sixties and was fired by Atlantic reportedly on the say-so of Spiro Agnew. The two albums Outlaw and Headless Heroes of The Apocalypse. They're semi-funky and pretty damn good, from what I've heard of them so far. The lyrics are great, and you can easily draw lines from "Compared To What" to songs like "The Lord Is Black" and "Supermarket Blues". It's too bad that there isn't a contemporaneous version of "Compared To What" by McDaniels. Though I think it really would be hard to top McCann's.
The rest of The Swiss Movement is a great, raw soul-jazz album. McCann doesn't sing outside of "Compared To What" which is unfortunate. The album was recorded live at a jazz festival in Switzerland. McCann and Harris just got together and played without any practice, they just got together and busted out this amazing live album. McCann's piano chords chop out dramatic tension while Harris' saxophone bleats out little solos that he's making up off the top of his head. And in comes the ringer, Benny Bailey. A Cleveland expatriate living in Switzerland, who inserts these amazing trumpet lines into songs whose style he's never even played before. He was more of a "serious" musician, playing for the Swiss radio orchestra. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
I'm extremely happy to have finally gotten my hands on this record. I've spent years looking for it and have finally gotten my hands on what I've been looking for here. And I was not disappointed at all. And as with all good albums worth their salt, this has sent me on a new quest, to get my hands on those two Eugene McDaniels records. And probably some more McCann records with his singing.
Check back tomorrow or Monday for some stuff from this warped Bob Dylan bootleg I found for a dollar a while back.
Badfinger- Magic Christian Music
Paul Butterfield Band- s/t
NRBQ- At Yankee Stadium
Monday, March 3, 2008
So, I just finished downloading a handful of songs off of Soulseek, just to satisfy my curiousity about this band. To see if they're as good as that one 7" was. So far, so good. So far in my research about the band, I'm not seeing the kind of rhapsodizing about Badfinger that a band in a somewhat similar position (albeit with a lot less money behind them) Big Star. Not to discount Big Star. It's just that Badfinger are just as good if not better in some aspects, and seem completely overlooked. So, once I get my hands on one of their albums, look forward to a write-up about it over at The Red Skull.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Badfinger- No Matter What
The Box Tops- Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March
The Arbors- The Letter
Earlier this morning I was documenting my journey through my soon to be father in-law's stack of 45s, and I promised to return with more about what I found in there. It's a kind of weird idiosyncratic selection, though it hews towards the lite rock side of things, with a few novelty records thrown in. All together, I culled twenty songs from quite more records than that. Outside of what I've already discussed in the previous post, I was absolutely floored by Badfinger. Why have I been sleeping on this band. I've heard "No Matter What" before, but damn. Hearing it again, I'm just floored by how good this song is. It's just a flat out pure pop song, powerful and compact. Immediate research is pending, I'll probably swing by Amanda's store and pick up whatever I can find of theirs. Though I'm slightly weary because "No Matter What" is actually the b-side on this 7". The a-side is a meandering song that screams "CONCEPT ALBUM!" called "Carry On Til Tomorrow".
And speaking of The Box Tops, there was an excellent late period 45 of theirs that sounded like a lost Big Star session. Until I dug into The Box Tops further than "The Letter" I couldn't make a connection between The gruff urgent man behind that song and the much smoother voice behind Big Star.
Let's see, what else is there, a condensed version of the theme for "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly". Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs, "Wooly Bully" which I always forget how great and fun that song is. It was a disappointment to hear the b-side being such a blatant rewrite of the a-side. Either that or maybe Sam The Sham just didn't have any writing chops. I was hoping that he'd be more along the lines of Screamin' Jay Hawkins, whose discography is filled with things even more fantastic than his one hit.
Right now I'm listening to this fantastic Supremes song called "Put Yourself In My Place", which I think might have finally sold me on The Supremes. I've spent years on the fence about this group, at first, rejecting the group outright because of how smooth they were. Especially when I first got into soul music. I've always preferred the grittier soul music, Otis Redding over Marvin Gaye, etc. But man, just on a basic level of song, The Supremes' songs were built like The Colosseum, simple but huge, impressive, and enduring.
I'll post more about the songs as I listen to them, at this point, I've covered everything I've listened to this morning, so I'll return with more soon. I'm also going to try posting some of these songs online so you can download them.