On which we get an elegant, traditional intro that lasts a minute. Then Mr. Smith gets to riffing on his Hammond B-3 organ. His big band gleefully plays along. Then we wind it back down for an elegant, traditional outro in the last 50 seconds.
This cut also is on Smith’s “Christmas Cookin’” LP, also released in 1964. This LP appears to be out of print but is available digitally. The only differences are that the latter has a much cooler cover and two extra tracks: “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (with Wes Montgomery on guitar) and “Greensleeves” (with Kenny Burrell on guitar and Grady Tate on drums).
Your Christmas music requests in the comments, please.
I work for a mainstream media company that for each of the past four years has had everyone take a week off without pay. It helps control costs, they say. (Such savings also help pay for the lovely $37.5 million parting gift given to the CEO who left the company last year.) After four years, it seems to be part of the business plan, like crack for the bean counters.
This is my furlough week. We’re going to take that lemon and make lemonade. Each day, let’s laugh so we don’t go insane. Just something a little different.
When I was a kid, I bought 45s until I could afford albums. In 1970, I was 13, a teenager, just barely. Yet old enough, I thought, that I should be buying albums. So I bought my first, probably with birthday money.
I remember going through the records at the J.C. Penney store in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I couldn’t decide on what kind of music I wanted (or what would be acceptable to my parents’ ears, a consideration I thought wise at the time). So I made the safe choice, settling on this one.
“The Best of Bill Cosby” was released in 1969. Here’s a cut on which Cos almost gets edgy. Listen to this, and you can tell just how Cosby influenced Richard Pryor. All it needs is one “motherfucker,” and it’s Pryor, not Cos.
What I never knew until this week is that this version of “The Lone Ranger” — the one I’ve known for 40 years — is just an excerpt of the original bit. There’s more of it in the video below, but still not the entire thing. My version runs 57 seconds. The video runs 2:26. The original cut from 1964 runs 3:07.
Do you remember when you first became aware of rock music? Maybe you were so young that it was more pop than rock, but you get the idea.
My moment came in early 1964, when the Beatles took America by storm. My introduction came from the girls at Russell Boulevard Elementary School in Columbia, Missouri. It came almost as a taunt.
“She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
That got old pretty fast, especially when you are in first grade and you can’t figure out why all the girls are going so gaga over it. Like this.
Yet it wasn’t all that long before I heard something I liked so much that I learned the whole song. It was the summer of 1965. I was 7, maybe 8 by then. I must have heard it on one of the TV variety shows my dad so loved watching.
“I’m Henery the Eighth I am, Henery the Eighth I am, I am.”
You get the idea. A song that’s easy for a kid to learn and sing over and over.
Peter Noone came to town earlier this year, playing an outstanding Herman’s Hermits show. Our tiny casino lounge was jam-packed. The overflow crowd snaked out around the slot machines. A woman standing in front of me fanned herself with a copy of 16 magazine from November 1965. This one.
I hope Noone signed it for her. Autographs aren’t my thing, and there were plenty of the faithful on hand, so I didn’t stay for a meet-and-greet. Besides, my night was made when we got to sing along. I’ve known the words for 45 years.
“I’m Henery the Eighth I am, Henery the Eighth I am, I am.”
Ever since that night, I’ve been keeping an eye out for a good Herman’s Hermits record. I found one the other day.
It was a little surprising to read the comments on last week’s post and to learn that you dig the records we listened to in Jerry’s basement in the mid-’70s. Your affirmation is much appreciated.
We certainly weren’t trend-setters among our peers, and we certainly weren’t all that sophisticated. Jerry reminded me that we also listened to “The Best of the Guess Who, Vol. 2,” which came out in 1973.
That we listened to good records in Jerry’s basement simply reflects what we heard on the radio at the time.
We grew up in the glory days of free-form FM, deep album cuts and adventurous DJs. Even though we lived in a small town in central Wisconsin, we were exposed to many sounds beyond the Top 40 after the sun went down. All that, plus the drinking age was 18, so you heard plenty of new stuff at parties.
I can’t think of any other way we would have heard Montrose or New Riders of the Purple Sage. Having records by Sweet and Led Zeppelin simply meant you liked the singles and perhaps had heard some album cuts. Having records by the Guess Who and Steppenwolf simply meant you liked the singles.
(Richard Pryor had to have been a word-of-mouth recommendation or something heard at a party. None of those cuts could be played on the radio.)
In the early ’70s, we had only one real record store in our town. The guy who ran Bob’s Musical Isle was said to have been a bit of a perv. Regardless, BMI was one of those ’50s-style record shops that hadn’t aged well in the ’70s. So I bought records at Prange’s department store until a laid-back hippie opened another record store, the Inner Sleeve, in 1975.
I would like to say I bought a lot of cool records at Prange’s and then the Sleeve in the mid-’70s. One look at the iTunes suggests otherwise.
Yet in the early ’70s, Aerosmith covered “Train Kept A Rollin’” and “Big Ten Inch Record,” a couple of old ’50s R&B tunes by Tiny Bradshaw. Curious about that kind of music from that time, but wanting to go a different direction from all the “American Graffiti” stuff so popular at the time, I picked up “Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade” and started digging it. Still do.
“Too Much Monkey Business” and “Nadine,” Chuck Berry, 1956 and 1964, respectively. from “Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade,” 1967. My vinyl copy is this 1972 reissue. It’s out of print. Both cuts are available on “The Chess Box: Chuck Berry,” a 3-CD comp released in 1990.
Yesterday was a day that started so promising — I found three nice records in just a few minutes of digging — but ended in minor disappointment. The place we go for fish tacos has closed.
There was nothing disappointing about the digging at Half-Price Books, a place I occasionally go. It has a bunch of vinyl that even if half-priced still tends to be overpriced. Digging there tends to be all or nothing, Sydney or the bush.
Our corner of Wisconsin rarely yields Clarence Carter records, so it was delightful to come across “Testifyin’,” his second LP, from 1969.
“Back Door Santa,” one of the naughtiest Christmas songs ever laid to vinyl, is on here, albeit with a different drum intro than the one sampled by Run-D.M.C. on “Christmas In Hollis.” “Snatching It Back” and “Making Love (At The Dark End Of The Street” were the singles off this record, and rightly so.
But I’m digging another tune.
“Instant Reaction,” Clarence Carter, from “Testifyin’,” 1969. It’s out of print but is available digitally.
It must have been something to see and hear a young Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime. This LP, recorded live at the Birmingham Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama, on July 1, 1964, certainly lives up to its billing.
It’s the first of two live Jerry Lee records released on Smash. A while back, I found the other one, “By Request,” from 1966. The formula is the same: Rev ‘em up with rockers, wind ‘em down with a country tune and rev ‘em back up.
“Who Will The Next Fool Be,” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “The Greatest Live Show On Earth,” 1964. Both live LPs are on this hard-to-find two-fer CD released in 1994.
This is a cover of a Charlie Rich tune, and one appropriate for Jerry Lee.
It did nothing as a single for Rich in the early ’60s, when he was trying to figure out whether he was a rock, country or jazz artist. It barely dented the country charts when he re-released it in 1970. I’ve loved the song ever since hearing the Amazing Rhythm Aces’ cover of it on their “Stacked Deck” LP from 1975.
The third record, for the record, is “Six Silver Strings,” a B.B. King album from 1988.
Always delighted to hear from you. Your guide can be reached at jeffash at new dot rr dot com
About the music
These are mp3s from my collection, taken from vinyl whenever possible. Enjoy. They are intended to encourage you to get out to the music stores, real or virtual, or out to support live music.
If you hold the copyright to something posted here, and you don't want it posted, please e-mail me at jeffash at new dot rr dot com and I'll remove it. Then again, who else is exposing your music to a new audience today?
About the words
The text is copyright 2007-2014, Jeff Ash. Text from other sources, when excerpted, is credited.