Tag Archives: Blue Hawaiians

Red, white and blue revisited

As we did last year, we’re dishing up some music for your Fourth of July party.

We have some red, some white, some blue, the makings for a fine gathering. However, you still won’t find any Greenwood, if you know what I mean.


You’ll need a little something to eat and a little something to wash it down.

“Red Beans,” Marcia Ball, from “Blue House,” 1994.

“Red Red Wine,” Neil Diamond, 1967, from “Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits,” 1968. That’s long out of print, but the song is on “Neil Diamond: The Bang Years, 1966-1968,” released earlier this year.


Then you’ll need to chill.

“Ice Cream Man” and “Back Porch Therapy,” Tony Joe White, from “The Heroines,” 2004. It’s out of print but is available digitally.


Before enjoying a nightcap or two.

“Martini 5-0,” the Blue Hawaiians, from “Sway,” 1998. It’s out of print and apparently not available digitally.

“A Shot of Rhythm and Blues,” Dave Edmunds, from “Subtle As A Flying Mallet,” 1975. Also out of print and not available digitally.

Speaking of shots …

As you the blow the fireworks, be sure to …

“Pop That Thang,” the Isley Brothers, from “Brother, Brother, Brother,” 1972.

And as you reflect on it all …

“People Got To Be Free,” Dionne Warwick, from “Soulful,” 1969. Available on “Soulful Plus,” a 2004 limited-edition release from Rhino Handmade, and digitally.

Yes, people still got to be free, even today.


Filed under July 2011, Sounds

12 days of Christmas, Day 10

When we started these 12 days of Christmas, I noted that in writing the Three Under the Tree series for the last three years, I picked up a bunch of old Christmas vinyl and CDs, more for you than for me.

In so doing, there were a bunch of records that had more misses than hits. Most of them were used, so there wasn’t a lot of money wasted.

This year, I bought only one Christmas CD, one I’d been seeking for a while. I bought it new, and it turned out to be another one with more misses than hits. So it goes.

Rarely do I come across a Christmas record that doesn’t have something worth hearing. I can think of a couple, but there’s no need to name names.

We’re here to put some nice things in your Christmas stocking, so hope you will enjoy these tunes from records that had some nice moments.

“Christmas Time,” the Mighty Blue Kings, from “The Christmas Album,” 2000. This Chicago group covers a tune by West Coast bluesman Jimmy McCracklin.

“Christmas Is A Special Day,” Fats Domino, from “Christmas Gumbo,” 1993. It’s out of print as such, but is available as “Christmas Is A Special Day,” a 2006 CD re-release with a different cover. Fats wrote this charming little hymn and does it in — what else? — a laid-back New Orleans style.

“We Four Kings (Little Drummer Boy),” the Blue Hawaiians, from “Christmas On Big Island,” 1995. Let a little surf wash into your Christmas.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Shawn Colvin, from “A Different Kind of Christmas,” 1994. It’s out of print. A lovely, low-key version.

“Merry Christmas Darling,” Deana Carter, from “Father Christmas,” 2001. What makes this cover of the Carpenters song so remarkable is its acoustic arrangement with Carter’s father, veteran Nashville session man Fred Carter, on guitar. Deana Carter sings this in a higher register than did Karen Carpenter — and that may not be for everyone — but she nicely complements her dad. Fred Carter died earlier this year.

“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” the Whispers, from “Happy Holidays To You,” 1979. (The buy link is to a 2001 import CD.) Off the same album that delivered “Funky Christmas,” this is a smooth, jazzy arrangement clearly from the late ’70s.

“Joy To The World,” Aretha Franklin, 1994, from “Joy To The World,” 2006. This is an odd little compilation of Christmas songs, gospel songs and show tunes recorded over 30-plus years. This cut features Aretha backed by the Fame Freedom Choir, from the soundtrack to the 1994 remake of “Miracle on 34th Street.” That is about the only nice thing we have to say about any remake of the 1947 classic, long one of our favorite films.

“What Christmas Means To Me,” Darlene Love, from “It’s Christmas, Of Course,” 2007. A cover of the Motown song done first by Stevie Wonder.

“Christmas Is,” Lou Rawls, from “Merry Christmas Ho Ho Ho,” 1967. It’s out of print. This tune starts out with a swinging big-band arrangement, then has Lou channeling Santa Claus midway through before wrapping up with some smooth nightclub cheer. This Percy Faith tune never sounded so good.

“Merry Christmas Baby,” Melissa Etheridge, from “A New Thought For Christmas,” 2008. Etheridge lets it rip on this Charles Brown blues tune.

“Christmas Celebration,” Roomful of Blues, from “Roomful of Christmas,” 1997. The B.B. King version may be more familiar, but this take by the veteran East Coast group is pretty good.

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time,” Pete Jolly, from “Something Festive!” 1968. Long out of print. This is a Christmas sampler from A&M Records. It was sold at B.F. Goodrich tire dealers in 1968. This cut is a cool, stylish, upbeat rendition by the California jazz pianist. (You’ll also find it on “Cool Yule: The Swinging Sound of Christmas,” a UK compilation released in 2004.)

“Blue Christmas,” Ann and Nancy Wilson, from “A Very Special Christmas 2,” 1992. Not a big fan of this tune, which everyone associates with Elvis, but this is a pretty good version. Melissa Etheridge also does it justice.

“What Child Is This,” Reverend Horton Heat, from “We Three Kings,” 2005. An upbeat yet moody take — it feels a little like Morricone — on a song usually done with much reverence.


Filed under Christmas music, December 2010

Last call for summer

As we sit here, thinking back on the sun-splashed summer months just past, it gets quiet. Deep quiet. You feel like you can reach out and grab a handful of the silence.

Not only is it getting to be the end of the night, but the end of the season, the end of another chapter in the life. The nights are turning cool in our corner of Wisconsin, and all the summer visitors are going home, so they’ll start packing up the outdoor bars after this weekend.

So we head over to the jukebox for a little music that will only intensify that deep quiet, only feed the longing for a few more weeks or days of another summer that blew past too quickly.


“Summer,” War, 1976, from “The Best of War and More,” 1991.

Cliched, perhaps, but still just the right vibe to get us started.


“The Moonbeam Song,” Harry Nilsson, from “Nilsson Schmilsson,” 1971. (The link is to a 2004 expanded version with six extra cuts.)


“Martini 5-0,” The Blue Hawaiians, from “Sway,” 1998.

Just about anything this L.A. surf/tiki/exotica noir band does is suitable for this kind of night. As in “Last Days of Summer,” another cut from the same album. Give it a listen on their MySpace page.


“Blues for the Night Owl,” Ramsey Lewis, from “The Greatest Hits of Ramsey Lewis,” 1973.


“Rememberin’ Stevie,” Buddy Guy, from “Damn Right I Got the Blues,” 1991. (The original CD apparently is out of print, so this link is for a 2005 expanded edition with two cuts that were B sides in the UK.)

This tune, a tribute to the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, is one I will forever associate with one particular end-of-the-night experience.

I took this CD along when I joined some pals on a road trip to a college basketball game. It had just come out, so it had to be late 1991 or early 1992 — not all that long after Stevie Ray’s death in a helicopter crash on a southern Wisconsin hillside in August 1990.

It was a 2-hour drive each way, and it got to be a long night. We were driving home, and we’d been shooting the breeze. But once we got to this cut, the last on the CD, it didn’t take too long before all four of us were listening in silence.

When it ended, I vividly remember one of my pals breaking the long silence.

“Whew!” he said, exhaling deeply.

“Man!” another of the fellas said.

Perhaps you, too, will have the same reaction if you play it late at night, as summer winds to a close.

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Filed under September 2007, Sounds