21 May 2006

Mad Dogs and Originals

Listening again to Joe Cocker's live album of the Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, I was startled to realise that this is now a generation old, a bit over 35 years.

At the time it was a joy, and I still marvel at how far rock'n'roll had come since my early teens, when the Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion took off. Joe Cocker wouldn't have been a star in 1963, he would've been laughed off the stage, and yet here he was in 1970, unkempt, idiosyncratic, unlikely and just wonderful.

I was thinking, as I do, about the sources of the songs, songs that were often reworked and transformed into something fresh. Apart from Cocker's (then) alarming delivery, credit is due to the arrangers, notably Chris Stainton - a member of Cocker's Grease Band - and Leon Russell, who produced Cocker in the studio and was the musical director of Mad Dogs & Englishmen.

Here's a list, with writers and original versions. I'm guessing that the Ray Charles versions of some of these songs would've been the significant ones for Joe Cocker.

Honky Tonk Women (Mick Jagger - Keith Richard)
The Rolling Stones
, 1969.

Sticks and Stones (Titus Turner - Henry Glover)
Ray Charles
, 1960.
Ray Charles had the original release: an earlier recording by co-writer Titus Turner was unreleased at the time. It was also recorded in the 60s by Billy Fury, Manfred Mann, The Zombies, The Righteous Brothers, and Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels and others.

Cry Me A River (Arthur Hamilton)
Julie London, 1955.
Slow burning torch song rocked up by Leon Russel

Bird On The Wire (Leonard Cohen)
Judy Collins, 1968.
Recorded by Leonard Cohen himself (in 1969), among others.

Feelin' Alright (Dave Mason)
Traffic, 1968.
Writer Dave Mason was a member of Traffic, along with Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi.

Superstar (Leon Russell - Bonnie Bramlet + Delaney Bramlett)
Delaney & Bonnie, 1969.
Nothing to do with the rock opera, but a song originally issued as Groupie. More details at my own Superstar page at PopArchives.com.au.

Let's Go Get Stoned (Valerie Simpson - Nickolas Ashford - Josephine Armstead)
The Coasters, 1965.
Once again, Ray Charles had a version (1966), among others.

I'll Drown In My Own Tears (Henry Glover)
Sonny Thompson & Lula Reed, 1951.
Original title:
I'll Drown In My Tears. Notably recorded by Ray Charles (1960) among others.

When Something Is Wrong With My Baby (Isaac Hayes - David Porter)
Sam & Dave, 1966, but hang on a minute:
The Originals gives the original to Charlie Rich, by a couple of months.

I've Been Loving You Too Long (Otis Redding - Jerry Butler)
Otis Redding, 1965.
Full original title: I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now).

Girl From The North Country
(Bob Dylan)
Bob Dylan (with Johnny Cash), 1969.
On Nashville Skyline.

Please Give Peace A Chance
(Leon Russell - Bonnie Bramlett)
A Mad Dogs & Englishmen original? I think so.

She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
(John Lennon - Paul McCartney)
The Beatles, 1969.
On Abbey Road. Cocker had previously recorded this on the 1969 Leon Russell-produced album Joe Cocker!

Space Captain (Matthew Moore)
This is the original, here
on Mad Dogs & Englishmen: Matthew Moore was one of the band. Matthew Moore's own version didn't appear until 1979, on his album The Sport Of Guessing. (The travel guide company Lonely Planet was named after co-founder Tony Wheeler's mishearing of lovely planet in Space Captain.)

The Letter
(Wayne Carson Thompson)
The Box Tops, 1967.
Written by Nashville-based singer-songwriter Wayne Carson Thompson, aka Wayne Carson, whose demo version that 'sounded like the Everly Bros' was The Box Tops' source. Wayne Carson released his own version on Life Lines (1972).

Delta Lady (Leon Russell)
Joe Cocker, 1969..
Studio version on the album Joe Cocker! that predates Mad Dogs & Englishmen

16 May 2006

More Kookies

Since I wrote here about A Kookie Little Paradise, Phil X Milstein has posted some Kookie audio treasures over at Probe is Turning-on the People!

There you can listen to two Jo Ann Campbell versions, one with a Tarzan call, one without; and what may well be the original version, by The Tree Swingers, along with the B-side.

Kees van der Hoeven (of John D. Loudermilk fame) was onto the alternative Jo Ann Campbell versions, at The Originals Problem-solving Forum: Original version had an Ape-call introduction. After release it was quickly withdrawn and re-issued with a decent no-ape version that became the OZ hit. (Post now deleted.)

Joop Jansen, also at the Forum, mentioned three other versions, all in languages other than English, now also listed by Phil.

06 May 2006

Twenty Years on Wheels by Andy Kirk

I'm still reading bandleader Andy Kirk's memoir Twenty Years On Wheels (1989), based on conversations with the music writer Amy Lee. It's an anecdotal account of the Swing Era, all the more interesting for being told by a less familiar participant, and for its insights into working with a touring black band in the 1930s and 40s.

Of course, I opened the book near the end, to see what he had to say about Killer Diller, the film I wrote about in an earlier post:
In 1948 the band was in a movie called Killer Diller. It was a comedy, and made at Pathé studios on East 116th Street. Convenient for me, because Mary and I had moved into 555 Edgecombe several years before - 1939 - so New York had been home-base since then. I didn't see the movie. I wasn't excited about it. I never got excited about big names and all that.
Amy Lee comments:
But Andy did finally see that movie. In a phone conversation I had with him on 30 March 1980 he said he and Mary and Bernice had seen it "a couple of months ago" at the Thalia on Broadway and 95th Street, and that Butterfly McQueen was in it. They had paid regular admission to get in, but word got around that he was there, and at the end of the movie he and Miss McQueen - who apparently was there also - were called up on stage for a question-and-answer-session. "We also got our admission fee refunded," he said.
- Andy Kirk, as told to Amy Lee, Twenty Years on Wheels, University of Michigan Press, 1989.