Archive for March, 2015

Drums Are For Parades

It's, as I type this, twenty-five minutes until my birthday, so in honour of that, here's a completely self-indulgent post on my part…

When you have an upright bass, Gentle Reader, and a player who knows how to slap it, you do not actually need drums. And here's the proof…

First off is one of my favouritest rockabilly songs, All I Can Do Is Cry, originally recorded by Wayne Walker in 1956, but here performed sans drums by two members of Dublin neo-rockabilly/psychobilly group, Spellbound. If I had to articulate why I like this song so much, I think I would say that it's partly because of that lovely opening riff, the somewhat freestyle guitar-work, and the contrast between the quite mournful lyrics and the up-tempo rhythm. Or, less pretentiously—I dunno; I just do. Oh, and in this version, watch for the fuck-up by the guitarist around 1:25; 'cause hey, it's nice to know accomplished musicians do it now 'n' again. Gives the rest of us hope!

And here's another from '56, this time by the original artists, The Rock 'n' Roll Trio, aka Johnny Burnette's Rock 'n' Roll Trio. Lonesome Tears In My Eyes, like the previous song, contrasts a sad song with a fairly fast rhythm, and there's some quite nice intricate guitar work from Paul Burlison. The rhythm achieved by Dorsey Burnette on bass though; well I'm not quite sure what to call it. It has that 'broken' feel typical of a rumba, but it don't sound like any rumba I've ever heard. Nice though, whatever it is. (Dorsey Burnette had, you may find interesting if you like musical trivia, played, uncredited, on some of Howlin' Wolf's radio shows. The Wolf would merely make the introduction, 'Me and my cats.' And thus, in small ways, was southern race-law flouted and slowly weakened in the 1950s. They couldn't mix on a stage in front of an audience, but musicians being musicians, they were damn well gonna mix where they could get away with it; and if it left them all with a slightly smug feeling of having got one over on (the white section of) an audience who might have been horrified, who can blame them?) Here's Lonesome Tears In My Eyes:

This next one, Rollin' And Tumblin', was originally recorded by Hambone Willie Newbern in 1929, but the version I'm posting is a tad later; Muddy Waters, in 1950, with Ernest "Big" Crawford on bass. There is, I have to say, nothing particularly special about this record if you look at the component parts. Lyrically, there's a million blues songs like it. The guitar part, though played well enough by Waters, is based around a riff that goes back to some of the earliest guitar-blues numbers, and the bass is a steady, relaxed, double-slap. But somehow, when combined, they make a classic. This has been covered more than Adam and Eve's genitalia, but somehow, with a drum and electric bass backing, it lacks that 'God, I really need to dance!' feeling that I always get from this version. Oh, and I'm posting a video of parts one and two; because you hardly ever get to hear part two, and it deserves an outing.

This next number and the artists performing it, I know very little about. It's been covered to hell and back by rock 'n' roll and rockabilly bands over the years, but I couldn't even tell you who first recorded it. (This image of the record label shows one Wayne P. Walker being given the writing credit. I wonder if that's the same Wayne Walker who recorded All I Can Do Is Cry. Nice coincidence if not.) Still an' all, it's a good song, with a lovely, dance-floor filling pounding single-slap rhythm.

With this next number, Real Rock Drive, we introduce just a touch of drums. It's the first single by Bill Haley With Haley's Comets (later to be, variously, Bill Haley And The Comets, and Bill Haley And His Comets), after they changed their name, and musical approach, from the more cowboy-influenced Bill Haley And The Saddlemen. I've always been quite fond of the way, in those late Saddlemen, early Comets, numbers, the bass (Marshall Lytle, on this track) provides virtually all of the rhythm, while the drums (either Charlie Higler or Dick Boccelli; I'm not sure which), though they do provide a quite muted emphasis of the beat, are only really heard in short bursts, providing 'mood' between lines in the vocals. Quite clever, and very effective.

And this number, too, has some fairly muted drums on it. But how, I ask you, could I do a post on slap-bass, without including Willie Dixon? And I should hope that I really don't have to tell anyone anything about the man. This is just pure magic, from beginning to end…

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Coin-cidence Or Causation?

A little factoid I picked up from a radio quiz show, the other day:

In eighteen forty-nine, in Britain, a new florin (two shillings, which was twenty-four pence, one tenth of a pound) was minted. Apparently in order to make room for the words 'One tenth of a pound,' in an early attempt to dip British toes into the water of decimalisation, the traditional 'D.G.' (Dei Gratia—By God's Grace) and 'F.D.' (Fidei Defensor—Defender of the Faith) were left off. This led, somewhat predictably, to some furore, and to the coin being nicknamed the 'Graceless' or 'Godless' florin. Almost as predictably, a bad outbreak of cholera that year was blamed by many on this 'anti-religious' slight. The coin was withdrawn and is now, if in mint condition, worth, aptly enough, a mint.


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So, I was kinda struck by this…

Jonny Scaramanga

The Toy Dolls, ten Years Of Dolls album cover

Only one question remains… Is Olga or Jonny Scaramanga the secret identity?


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Tuppence For Paper And Strings

Time for another music post, methinks. Six songs on the general theme of 'toys.' Because I need summat fun, after that slavery stuff. Any suggestions by commenters are, as ever, heartily welcome.


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[Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6.]

Permit me, oh gentlest of readers, to emit a small yeehaw. If pushed, I might even manage a mini-hallelujah. And definitely a large and stentorian ramen!

I reached the end of that horrible book! This, below, is the final instalment of Bible Defense Of Slavery!

There's still work to be done. When Rustiguzzi, may his bike remain forever upright, catches up with my sudden burst of productivity, there'll be errata to, erm, un-errat. The formatting for the blog version was kind of rough-and-ready; I'll be spending some time tweaking that into something I'd be proud—or at least unashamed—to let the world see, before converting to e-book formats. There's some artwork to apply (a cover-image, and a cleaned up version of the frontispiece), which is currently in Fojap's capable hands.

But the hard slog is done and dusted, may FSM be thanked!

So, okay, the content below…


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The Heavenly Firewall

You ask me how I know my wrong from right,
Without a godly heaven-proffered moralistic guide?
What stops me robbing people, causing fights,
Why don't I murder, lacking God and Jesus at my side?

Well my friend I surely hope you keep your faith in God,
For if all that stops you pillaging is Biblical instruction,
I wouldn't want to be there if you lost your staff and rod,
If they are all that hold you back from violent eruption.

Your questions tell me much of you, more than they ask of me.
They tell me what you think you'd do, if you were only free
Of thoughts of hellish torture as punishment for crime.
That mote's in your eye, matey, not in mine.


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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

And so we come, Gentle Reader, to the publisher's addition to the sixth edition of Bible Defense Of Slavery. It takes a more political stand than the main body of the work, presumably because by the time this edition went to press, the topic of slavery itself, and various grudges against the northern states, had become even more hot button issues. Topics range from (obviously) slavery itself, and the allegedly highly benevolent treatment of slaves, to a proposal to forcibly settle freed slaves in Liberia or elsewhere. (Liberia had been a voluntary destination for some freed slaves since eighteen-twenty, when the American Colonization Society set up a colony there.) (Because, well, blacks are okay when in slavery, and there's 'mutual respect' an' all, but free blacks are economy-draining scum no self respecting white person would want to share a society with. This, possibly, is one of the earliest iterations of 'Send 'em all back…,' a staple of racist and xenophobic rhetoric ever since. There's even a hint of 'I'm not racist but…' about it, for good measure.)


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