I just got back to NYC and even though it ain’t what is used to be it’s always a relief to be home.
Five days back in Florida where I spent the greater part of my youth and I feel like somebody took a vacuum cleaner and stuck it in my ear and sucked out that dried up little peanut looking thing that now sits where there was once part of a brain. Since I can’t seem to finish anything I start today, I’ll just do what I’ve been doing since I got home last night, spinning 45’s. Somehow these little buggers always cheer me up, they’re my favorite type of record, and the perfect delivery system for rock’n’roll. Here’s five great 45’s, in fact, five of my absolute favorites.
First one is Tommy Jim Beam & his 4/5th’s; if that isn’t the coolest band name ever, it’ll do ’til the coolest gets here. They were out of Fort Worth, Texas (despite the Tulsa and Nashville label info) and issued this disc on their own 100 Proof label. I’m gonna post both sides of this baby, the a-side (which I favor) is a spooky ballad called Bayou and it never fails to put chills up my spine. It’s probably the best white disc ever to feature bongo drums. The b-side is a feral rocker: My Little Jewel which gets extra points for mentioning Dragnet. I believe it was released in 1958.
Next in the stack is from the great Fortune label from Detroit, Michigan. Fortune might just be the greatest label of all time, it’s roster included John Lee Hooker, Nolan Strong & the Diablos, Dr. Ross, Andre Williams, Johnny Powers, Nathaniel Mayer, and this guy, Eddie Kirkland who began his career as John Lee Hooker’s sidekick. He is often billed as Eddie Kirk for reasons known only to him. He’s still alive and has made many great records, and is often seen beneath the ultimate sartorial touch– a turban. He cut this canticle thrice, first on Volt as The Hawg (Pts 1 and 2), then this version retitled The Grunt, he re-cut it a third time for King as Hog Killin’ Time. The year of our Lord, 1966.
Plop goes the automatic changer and the next disc that hits the turntable is Bop Cat Stomp on the Folk-Star label, a subsidiary of Eddie Shuler’s Goldband Records from Lake Charles, Louisiana. The titled might make you think it’s a rockabilly platter, but it’s not, it’s a wild R&B instrumental rocker. The artist is King Charles and his Orchestra (the orchestra being guitarist Left Handed Charlie wailing away, a sax, piano, a bass player and drummer). If they still made records like this the world would be a much better place.
Since the subject sort of came up anyways, I must say rockabilly and Goldband Records are two things that go together well as exemplified by this beat up old slice of polystyrene. Ray Vict and his Bop Rockers– We Gonna Bop Stop Rock. I think this band’s gimmick was they tuned their instruments after the song, not before it like normal people do. Have you ever heard anything like this before? Or since? I think this one is from ’58 also.
Now we set the Wayback machine for Chicago, 1966 and bingo, we land on Baby Huey & the Babysitters’ Monkey Man on the Satellite label (not the Satellite label from Memphis that became Stax). Baby Huey & the Babysitters where hugely popular on the frat circuit around Illinois, and the rotund Baby Huey has received much posthumous acclaim for the LP- The Baby Huey Story: Living Legend, produced by Curtis Mayfield, it’s something of a funk classic. I prefer this earlier and cruder sounding disc. Baby Huey (James Ramsey) was only 26 when his heart gave out in 1970.
So keep your box sets, wax cylinders, and digital downloads, I’ll take the little ones with the big holes every time. Maybe I’ll do this (post five 45’s) once a month, or once a week. Or never again.