“Hold It Baby”: Swedish Soul

Just as “Boliver Shagnasty” conveys the comic sensibility of a more modern mindset, Sweden’s Slam Creepers similarly seems like a band name of relatively recent vintage (e.g., 80s hardcore?) — and yet, their first release, fascinatingly enough, was a split single in 1965 a 7-inch flexi-disc in which shared Slam Creepers shared space with The Hollies and fellow Swedish band, Lucas!

Vinyl debut:  Slam Creepers on … flexi-disc!

Slam Creepers flexi-discFour years and a handful of singles later, Slam Creepers would find themselves in another “shared” arrangement — a 12-inch “Shelby Singleton product” wherein the band would be rubbing shoulders on the same LP with Jeannie C. Riley, The Hep Stars, and Mister “Cincinnati Kid” himself, Prince Buster!

The Hep Stars would include future ABBA founder, Benny Anderson
Title of the Hep Stars’ first album:  ‘WE AND OUR CADILLAC

Great Youth Festival LP-xWorth considering  how “radical” it was in 1969 to release a sampler album that co-mingled late 60s country (Riley), Jamaican rocksteady (Buster) & Swedish pop (Slam Creepers & The Hep Stars) – although this album was issued in the Spanish market.

From a typography standpoint, I am very intrigued that Slam Creepers utilized – as would their American musical colleagues, The Afro-Blues Quintet Plus One – the “Future Shock” typeface for the cover of their 1967 debut album:

Are there any earlier LPs with this same “Future Shock” typeface than these from 1967?

Slam Creepers LPAfro Blues LP-x

CONTEST OPEN TO ALL:
Who can find the earliest musical use of this 1960s typeface?

Future Shock-x

In 1968, Slam Creepers would issue two singles, and – in the noblest Beatles fashion – these four songs would not find release on the band’s sophomore ’68 LP Sweet Ruth.

Slam Creepers’ 1968 B-side “Hold It Baby” reveals a refreshing American soul influence:

“Hold It Baby”     Slam Creepers     1968

Wanna take a trip to Catchy Town?  Check out 1968 sure-fire hit, “We Are Happy People“.

“You Shakin’ Things Up”: Southern Soul Supreme

Here’s a tasty two-minute slice of southern soul from Robert (“Barefootin'”) Parker:

1969’s “You Shakin’ Things Up” is the first of two singles for Shelby Singleton’s Silver Fox and SSS International labels.

Written by Robert Parker

Robert Parker 45(Produced By Bob Robin For Shelby Singleton Productions)

 

Great complementary piece from Home of the Groove in which we learn that the two Robert Parker singles were produced by Bob Robin in Muscle Shoals and leased to Shelby Singleton:

“I previously assumed, as had some others, that Parker recorded this single [‘You See Me’], issued by Shelby Shingleton’s Nashville-based Silver Fox label, in New Orleans through Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn’s Tou-Sea/Sansu Productions and that it ended up on the label through a deal made via DJ and fellow record label owner, Bob Robin.  What threw me off was the fact that Toussaint wrote ‘You See Me’ and the arrangement sounded like one of his. But things went down differently.

“It turns out that Robin, as the record label so states, actually did produce this single himself along with another [‘The Hiccup’] by Parker.  The sessions were done in Muscle Shoals rather than Nola, as I found out from Neil Pellegrin’s highly informative notes to the Soul-tay-Shus/Tuff City CD compilation, The Best of International City, which features tracks produced by Robin, who owned the International City and River City labels in New Orleans.

“The Parker sides did not appear first on either of Robin’s labels, but were leased directly to Singleton, who issued ‘You See Me’ / ‘You Shakin’ Things Up’ on Silver Fox and ‘The Hiccup’ / ‘Rockin’ Pneumonia’ on SSS International (#819) …

“Parker had not recorded for several years, since his previous label, Nola Records, went bust as part of the Dover Records distributorship collapse that pretty much closed down the recording scene in New Orleans for several years, wiping out numerous small local labels. Neither of his Singleton-released singles gained any traction, and the singer would not record again until the mid-1970s when he did sign with Sansu and recorded three funky singles issued by Island.”

Robert Parker (left) & Lonnie Bolden – Club Tijuana, New Orleans – 1950’s

Robert Parker & Lonnie Bolden

“Cajun Interstate”: Cajun-Built

Thanks to the bibliographic notes in 2003’s The Cajuns:  Americanization of a People by Shane K. Bernard, I was able to affirm that “Cajun Interstate” by Rod Bernard is, indeed, about the building of the highway that traverses the bottom of Louisiana – Interstate 10:

Atchafalaya Basin Bridge

Atchafalaya Basin Bridge

As Shane K. Bernard writes:

“South Louisianians were fascinated by the construction of I-10, particularly an eighteen-mile section known as the “Atchafalaya Expressway” [which opened in 1973].  The monumental elevated causeway cut directly through the Atchafalaya Basin, a vast, snake-infested wetlands that to many symbolized South Louisiana’s cultural isolation.

‘They said it couldn’t be done — building a highway over the swamps,’ mused a journalist.  The engineering feat so impressed one South Louisiana musician that he composed ‘Cajun Interstate,’ a rock ‘n’ roll paean to the structure that also manifested a growing grassroots ethnic pride movement.”

Here comes the superhighway,

That superhighway boss,

But it’s gonna take a Cajun crew

To get that road across…

Fifty mile of concrete,

Fifty miles of steel,

Louisiana sunshine,

Shining down on me.

Mama make a gumbo.

Tonight we’ll celebrate

And sing about your Cajun boy

That build that interstate.

Released on Shelby Singleton’s SSS International label in December 1970 — backed with “A Tear in a Lady’s Eyes.”  Both tunes were written by Rod Bernard (who, earlier in his career, helped pioneer a musical mix of New Orleans rhythm & blues, country, Cajun and black creole known as “swamp pop“), along with “E. Futch” — birth name of country singer/songwriter, Eddy Raven, who would later write a song also voicing praise for the Cajun work ethic, “Alligator Bayou,” on which he sang, “Working on a board road running through the swamp for a dollar and a half an hour / A Cajun man with a love for life and a whole lot of muscle power.”

Cajun Interstate 45

Thanks to Shane K. Bernard, who provided the back story on Eddy Raven (above) as well as the tip to Rod Bernard’s 1964 labor lament of working for the “Boss Man’s Son” – featuring the backing of Johnny and Edgar Winter:

“A Woman’s World”: Feminist or Traditionalist?

Teresa Brewer – whose duet with Mickey Mantle, “I Love Mickey,” reached #87 in 1956 – would later record ever so briefly for Shelby Singleton.  June 1968’s “A Woman’s World” was the first of but two singles Brewer recorded for SSS International:

The song initially gives the impression of threatening to challenge the status quo regarding gender roles and division of responsibilities, as the singer sobs over the plight of a homemaker’s isolation and lack of fulfillment.  “The woman’s born to make the man a home,” begins the second verse, “You cook and clean and sew all the time he’s gone.”  But somehow, just the sight of him entering their domicile after a long day’s work is enough to make her forget all about the deep structural inequities of their relationship.

Who wrote this song, I wonder – and was it a man?  I am hoping to obtain the answer to that question without leaving my seat, but alas, the Internet has let me down.  So I go fetch the record, half expecting to see the name “Tom T. Hall” when, lo and behold, it turns out to be Teresa Brewer herself!  Or wait – is it?  According to the songwriting credit on the 1969 Plantation compilation album, Country Gold Volume 1, Brewer is the song’s composer.  But according to the 45 image that I just now retrieved and attached to this blog piece, the tune’s creator is Ben Peters (a man – just as I had suspected).   The truth?

Teresa Brewer 45“A Woman’s World” was paired with “Ride-a-Roo,” a large rubber ball toy that kids bounce upon (also known worldwide as a space hopper, moon hopper, skippyball & hoppity hop).

Ride-a-Roo poster(Also known as a kangaroo jockey ball)

Commercially speaking, “A Woman’s World” did not do well, unfortunately — according to 45Cat, “this record did not chart.”  As one YouTube contributor astutely observes, this song finds Teresa Brewer very much in the Sandy Posey mold.  How interesting to consider that just five years hence we will find Teresa in London embracing the hard rock sound of Oily Rags.

The liner notes for the 2-disc anthology of Shelby Singleton’s Plantation and SSS labels, Plantation Gold, confirm Ben Peters as the tune’s author.

Teresa Brewer & MuppetsTeresa Brewer with Miss Piggy & Kermit – July 1977

 

“From the Bottom of My Heart”: Wilbert Harrison in New Orleans

A fun bit of rockin’ blues with a slight go-go groove, “From the Bottom of My Heart” by Wilbert Harrison – singer of 1959’s #1 hit, “Kansas City” – was recorded in New Orleans in 1966 and later included on 1971 album Anything You Want, issued by Wet Soul, a Huey Meaux-affiliated label that was distributed by Shelby Singleton Productions

Wilbert Harrison LP

“Wave Bye Bye to the Man”: Good Riddance to Bad Man

Lynn Anderson’s ‘hard country’ take on “Wave Bye Bye to the Man” – a mother and child’s declaration of independence from a bad dad – provides a musical punch that perfectly matches the lyric:

Interesting to hear Lawanda Lindsey’s version of the song from the previous year (1968) and notice how the flute part takes some of the edge off the song.  As lovely as it sounds, the flute, unfortunately, is no match for the twin guitars that kick off Lynn Anderson’s driving version. Oddly, “Wave Bye Bye to the Man” ended up as a B-side to “Our House is Not a Home” (unless, inspired by The Beatles’ example, this was intended as a double-A side).

Anderson recorded for the Chart label for four years beginning in 1966, until she got a record deal with almighty Columbia in 1970.  “Wave Bye Bye to the Man,” however, is notable for its renegade sound and darkly humorous sensibility that is very much in keeping with what Shelby Singleton and Plantation Records were putting out at the same time.  Song included on 1970’s Uptown Country Girl  (Lynn would go on to release two more albums that year, having also released three albums the previous year).

Lynn Anderson LP“Wave Bye Bye to the Man” – Music and lyrics by Betty Jo Gibson and Buck Lindsay.

“Proud Woman”: Unrequited Love’s Soulful Side

Shelby Singleton was someone who dared to be a little different from the rest of what Nashville was turning out in the late 60s and early 70s.  Singleton’s Plantation Records label enjoyed a great reputation for offbeat, funny tunes and wry social commentary, including early efforts by David Allan Coe, as well as Jimmie Dale Gilmore & the Flatlanders, whose 1973 debut recording was – intriguingly – released solely on 8-track.

Johnny Adams joined forces with Singleton in 1968 and, over the course of 3 years, proceeded to release a string of 11 singles on Shelby’s SSS International label, as well as one album, Heart & Soul, that included some great songs – such as this 1969 A-side single release, “Proud Woman“:

“Proud Woman”     Johnny Adams     1969

According to the indispensable Both Sides Now Publications website:

In 1968, Singleton signed Johnny Adams, a soul singer with a remarkable voice. Adams had had a minor hit for the New Orleans-based RIC label in 1962 (“A Losing Battle” [6/62, #27 R&B]), but had been having trouble getting on the national charts since. A New Orleans native, Adams had started out as a gospel singer, but eventually brought his voice and soaring falsetto to secular music, first with RIC and then with Wardell Quezergue’s Watch label. It was for Watch that he recorded a country song, “Release Me,” but it had little success until he signed with Singleton and reissued it on the SSS International label [SSS International 750]. This time, it reached #34 R&B and #82 pop when issued at the end of 1968.  For a followup, he tried another country song, “Reconsider Me” [SSS International 770], with Shelby Singleton producing and Adams going through an amazing vocal workout which reached #8 R&B and #28 pop. It proved to be Adams’ biggest hit. Two more minor hits followed, after which Adams left the label, only to fall into relative national obscurity again.  At home in New Orleans, he performed for years at clubs until his death in 1998 in Baton Rouge.

 

Johnny Adams - Heart & SoulThanks to the equally indispensable Soulful Kinda Music online discography for the following info about Johnny Adams’ SSS singles output – interesting to see that the B-side of “Proud Woman” ended up being the A-side of his next single:

SSS International 750 – Release Me / You Made A New Man Out Of Me – 1968
SSS International 770 – Reconsider Me / If I Could See You One More Time – 1969
SSS International 780 – I Can’t be All Bad /   In A Moment Of Weakness – 1969
SSS International 787 – Proud Woman / Real Live Livin’ Hurtin’ Man – 1969
SSS International 797 – Real Live Hurtin’ Man / Georgia Morning Dew – 1970
SSS International 809 – I Won’t Cry / I Want To Walk Through This Life w/ You – 1970
SSS International 831 – South Side Of Soul Street / Something Worth Leaving – 1970
SSS International 865 – Too Much Pride / I Don’t Worry Myself – 1971
SSS International 867 – Kiss The Hurt Away / Something Worth Leaving For – 71
SSS International 870 – Born To Love You / You’re A Bad Habit Baby – 1971
SSS International 873 – Just Call Me Darling / How Can I Prove I Love You – 1971