So what’s in this week’s five pack of scratchy 45’s? From the top we find somebody with the catchy nome-du-disque of The Creep on the Oakridge label, both unknown entities to me, The tune is a snappy little rocker called Betty Lou’s Got A New Tattoo. It’s basically a take off on Bobby Freeman’s Betty Lou Got A New Pair Of Shoes, but better, and dumber. In her time Betty Lou might’ve seemed like quite a gal but nowadays it’d be harder to find a Betty Lou without a tattoo. The tune might be familiar as it’s been in the A-Bones set for several decades. Maybe they should find something to rhyme with “Betty Lou got her labia pierced….” as a way of making it more timely.
Another unknown group are Pat & the Satellites who cut this wild rocker, Jupiter C, for Atco in the early sixties. This was on the very first cassette Bob Quine ever made for me, and since that fateful day it has been one of my favorites. Like I said last week, I just love rockin’ instrumentals and this sits near the very top of what Phil Schaap would call “the pantheon of sides”. I think that means it’s a good ‘un.
Mr. Wiggles was a pimp from Norfolk, Virginia. A good place to be a pimp since it’s basically one big Navy port and full of horny sailors (it was also something of a hotbed of rockabilly, Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps, Janis Martin and the Rock-A-Teens all hail from the area). Herr Wiggles issued this homage to his bad self on his own Golden Triangle label– Homeboy. What a classic– I love his anti-materialistic stance stated over the fade– “I don’t want no Cadillac, all I need is a mule….”.Mr. Wiggles also issued a strange LP about the Clifford Irving/Howard Hughes scandal in the early 70’s, I almost sold my copy on Ebay, luckily the buyer never sent the cash and while I was holding on to it for him an article on Mr. Wiggles appeared in Living Blues magazine with the Howard Hughes disc pictured prominently. Some day I’ll play the damn thing. I got to find it first, it’s in a stack of unfiled LP’s in the basement somewhere.
Bob “Froggy” Landers’ Cherokee Dance first entered my life on the old Specialty Doo-Wop LP that Dr. Demento compiled in the early 70’s. Long out of print, every tune on it is a classic, although some titles like Roddy Jackson’s “Moose On The Loose” (see the “Call Of The Wild” posting back in Oct.) are pretty far from doo wop. Anyway, I eventually tracked down the 45 and it has improved my quality of life considerably. That’s Willie Joe Duncan playing his Unitar (a one string guitar) that gives the record its distinctive, almost fuzz tone sound. Willie Joe played on Chicago’s Maxwell Street with Jimmy Reed before heading for the coast and briefly ending up in Landers’ band the Cough Drops. He’s featured on the b-side- Unitar Rock, a tune that was re-recorded by the under rated guitarist Rene Hall who brought Willie Joe back into the studio and issued the title (also on Specialty) as Twitchy. See if you can tell the difference in the two versions. Landers cut another disc– River Rock Part One b/w River Rock Part Two for Ensign, an early Herb Albert/Jerry Moss (of A&M fame) label, but something’s missing— the Unitar!
Had they kept Willie Joe in the group the second single would have also ended up in the aforementioned P.O.S. (pantheon of sides), but instead it resides in the ‘for Froggy Landers completists only’ category.
Winding up this week is a platter from the Santa Clara, California label Blue Moon, one of the coolest labels of all time. They released such uber-classics as Johnny Amelio’s Jugue (what be a Jugue? my guess is he’s saying Juke and the person in charge of typing the record label messed up), and Linda & the Epics’ Gonna Be Loved and our current topic: Cecil Collins & the Fretts’ Rock’n Baby (as another aside they also were the first label to release Jimmy Bowen’s I’m Sticking With You which became a hit when leased to Roulette, it was the label’s only real hit). The Fretts’ disc made today’s list because I just got it yesterday. I like everything about this record from the primitive guitar chords that open the disc to the honking sax solo. I even love the way off key girl’s harmony voice comes in right at the last verse as if she had gotten to the session a verse late. Oddly enough, this one was picked up by the jazz label Verve for distribution. Perhaps they were preparing the promo department for their future signing– Velvet Underground?
Okay, I’ll take you commenter’s suggestion and try and make this a weekly feature. Five 45’s. Here’s this week’s stack.
Since I’m a lazy shit, this week I just leaned over, from the reproduction of the couch that Sigmund Freud had in his own office, if I lay backwards on the one in my own office I find myself at eye level directly in front of the instrumental section of the 45 shelves. Easy enough. I love rock’n’roll instrumentals, especially guitar instrumentals. For seventeen years I opened my radio show with five instrumentals (take a listen here). I didn’t exactly grab these randomly, I wanted to give you some discs that hadn’t been re-issued, at least not on CD as far as I know, and by guys who you might’ve heard of, if it not heard of, at least heard (and maybe didn’t know it). And I wanted ’em to be great records. I think these past the test.
Roy Buchanan was amazing in his early days, he contributes some truly ominous guitar sounds to Dale Hawkins sides like Cross-Ties, early fuzz wackiness on Cody Brennan’s version of Ruby Baby and even made a handful of great 45’s under his own name. By the time his ship came in via a PBS documentary which portrayed him as the great, lonesome blues man, he’d turned into a bore, but this platter, a rendition of Erkstine Hawkins’ After Hours for the Philadelphia based Bomarc label illustrates just how cool he once was. Buchanan himself had long credited the Jimmy Nolen (guitarist with the Johnny Otis Show and James Brown, see the Dec. Johnny Otis I for more on him) waxing of After Hours (Federal, you can hear it on the Johnny Otis I posting) as his all time favorite and most influential disc. Here, Buchanan adds a few of his own tricks, including using the volume knob on his Telecaster as a primitive Wah Wah pedal (or as Hasil Adkins called it– the Bow Wow pedal), and some almost tasteful use of feedback. Quine used to say Buchanan was the only guitarist whom he couldn’t tell if he was black or white, on this disc he sounds grey with red pinstripes.
J.J. Cale is somebody I used to file in the same part of my brain as Jimmy Buffet, but the aforementioned Quine re-introduced me to Cale’s stuff and damned, if you really listen he’s almost the white Jimmy Reed. Ask Eric Clapton, who stole Cale’s sound, songs and band and durn near modled himself after the lazier than hell Okie trash genius (when told he had a hit record and should go out and tour to promote it Cale asked his manager “if I got a hit, why do I have to promote it”? Turns out Cale has a long history and appeared on quite a few great rockabilly and hillbilly discs back in Oklahoma before setting out for L.A. where he recorded as the Leather Coated Minds for Sidewalk in 1968 before returning to Tulsa and laid back near stardom. This instrumental, Shock Hop he’s billed as Johnny Cale, it is from ’63 and could sit proudly next to such classics as the Frantics’ Werewolf (see Halloween I posting) as instro-spook rock’n’roll at it’s best.
Jody Williams- Lucky Lou (Argo). Jody Williams started out in Bo Diddley’s band when they were called the Langley Ave. Jive Cats or something like that. He can be heard soloing on Bo’s Who Do You Love. As a session man he’s on dozens of incredible Chess/Checker/Argo discs including many by Howlin’ Wolf. He only got his due recently, and as of a few years ago was still playing at top of his game. I have fond memories of the first Ponderosa Stomp (when it was still called the Mau-Mau Ball) at the Circle Bar in New Orleans when Jody played a killer set with blues steel player Freddy Roulette. On this Argo disc, his only solo record for the Chess brothers, he displays all his best tendencies. Great record, no bout a doubt it.
Jimmy Dobro (James Burton)- Swamp Surfer (Phillips). This is of course James Burton, hero of countless fine rockabilly records by Dale Hawkins (Suzi Q), Bob Luman, Ricky Nelson, as well as sides by Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gram Parson and even John Denver. He’s probably one of the most deservedly praised guitar players in history but his solo work (an LP for A&M in ’72 and a duet LP with Ralph Mooney for Capitol in ’66) are good but never quite click into high gear. This, my favorite of all his solo sides, was cut under the name Jimmy Dobro because the a-side is a corny dobro-novelty called Everybody Listen To The Dobro that really isn’t worth posting. I love the vibe of this one, especially the way the rhythm section modulates south without breaking tempo. Swamp Surfer isn’t so much a monster as a real sleeper, in the best sense of the term.