“Don’t Mess With Cupid”: A Mostly B-Side

Interesting that web discographies consistently list “Don’t Mess with Cupid” as the B-side of Otis Redding‘s “My Lover’s Prayer” single from July 1966 (on both sides of the Atlantic) – but then this French Atco picture sleeve shows “Cupid” to be the A-side.Don't Mess with Cupid 45 - Otis Redding

Song written by Steve Cropper, Eddie Floyd and Deanie Parker.– included on 1968’s posthumous Otis Redding Volt/Atco LP, The Dock of the Bay.

“Happy Tracks”: Universal Code of Conduct?

Here’s a lyric that I wish everybody would use as their spiritual guidepost:  “Happy Tracks” by Ray Pennington – I particularly like this 1967 version by The Browns:

Musicians on this album include Weldon Myrick on steel, David Briggs on piano, and Jerry Reed & Wayne Moss on guitars.

From Wikipedia:

Ray Pennington first performed in a western swing band called the Western Rhythm Boys, which performed in Ohio. In 1958, he signed with King Records and released “Three Hearts in a Tangle” under the name Ray Starr.  However, Pennington was dissatisfied with the recording, so he asked that it be withdrawn as a single.  Pennington then took up record producer and artists and repertoire jobs at the label, including a production credit on Hawkshaw Hawkins’ final album, Lonesome 7-7203, one of the first country albums to feature both black and white session musicians.  He also produced for The Stanley Brothers and Reno and Smiley, playing drums for the latter.

“Happy Tracks” would also be covered by an artist who – like Ray Pennington – was a pretty big music figure from the Ohio Valley:  Kenny Price:

“Happy Tracks     Kenny Price     1969

Born in Florence, Kentucky, Price played live music at the tender ago of 14 on Covington, KY radio station WZIP.  After a brief stint at Cincinnati’s College – Conservatory of Music (CCM), Price became a musician on WLW’s Midwestern Hayride program and later its host until the show went off the air in the early 1970s.  Six feet tall and nearly 300 pounds, Price enjoyed the nickname “Round Mound of Sound” – before slimming down in later years.

Kenny Price - Happy Tracks

Price went on to national fame as part of the Hee Haw TV show cast, especially it’s long-running Hee Haw Gospel Quartet, with Grandpa Jones, Buck Owens and Roy Clark.

“Do the President Twist”: First Depiction of a Rockin’ President?

The song that launched a national dance craze – The Twist – cast an unbelievably long shadow.  Even though Hank Ballard’s original version of the song was released on King in 1959, groups were putting out twist songs well into 1962.*   I was reminded of this fact recently when listening to Etta James’ version of “Fools Rush In” from 1962, and I noticed that Etta playfully sings at the song’s conclusion, “Open up your heart and let this fool twist on in,” instead of the original lyric “…let this fool rush in.”

One of my favorite Twist songs was recorded in Cincinnati in February 1962 by Lula Reed & Freddy King with Sonny Thompson‘s Orchestra and issued on King subidiary, Federal – “Do the President Twist“:

“John, Jackie and the baby, too – if they can do it, so can you,” sing Lula & Freddy.  Could this be the first depiction of a US President embracing the “new” rock music?Do the President Twist - Lula Reed, Freddy King & Sonny Thompson

*Historical note:   “The Twist” enjoys the distinction of being the only single to reach #1 in two different chart runs –  September 19, 1960 (for one week) and then again mysteriously on January 13, 1962 (for two weeks).

“Adios Aloha”: Honky Tonk Internationale

In 1972 Starday-King released a country compilation LP (on their Nashville imprint) entitled, Almost Persuaded, that was strictly a ladies-only affair:  Rose Maddox, Dolly Parton, Jan Howard, Dottie West, Lois Williams, Betty Amos – and Ruby Wright.  Ruby’s playful little rocker, “Adios Aloha” — written by June Carter & Don Davis — is the standout track for me:  a sly lyric that is supported by unusually (for a Starday release) deep and warm bass tones, as well as exuberant drumming and punchy mariachi horns.

Adios Aloha – Ruby Wright

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play ”Adios Aloha” by Ruby Wright.]Almost Persuaded

As it turns out, “Adios Aloha” is not a Starday recording but rather a song originally released in 1965 on the RIC (Recording Industries Corporation) label as the A-side of a single.  Starday-King must have simply leased the song – along with its flip side, “A Smile on My Lips” – for this 1972 collection of country coquettes.

Ruby Wright

Curiously, though, Ruby does have a bona fide King Records connection:             Between the years 1949 and 1959 Wright was a King recording artist.

Billboard‘s November 14, 1970 edition would reveal Ruby Wright’s Cincinnati connection in its regular report from one of the “music capitals of the world’:

Ruby Wright, widow of Barney Rapp, veteran band leader and talent booker who died of a heart attack here October 14, will continue operation of the Barney Rapp Entertainment Agency, with offices in the Sheraton-Gibson Hotel.  She will be assisted in the venture by her four daughters.  Miss Wright, for many years a featured singer on [local NBC TV] WLW-T here until her retirement a year ago, said last week that she will also continue with the office’s expanding tour business and the producing of the local annual Shrine Circus.

Ambrose Brazelton: Fab Four as Force for Fitness

In a noble attempt to leverage the Beatles’ massive popularity on behalf of making kids more physically fit all across America, Ambrose Brazelton – a lifelong educator and former Director of Health, Physical Education & Recreation for the Ohio public school system – went into a NYC recording studio in 1971 and (with help from hired musicians) transformed six Beatle hits into educational vehicles for teaching balance, body control, endurance, and coordination, among other skills. For instance, “ObLaDi, ObLaDa” – Paul McCartney’s attempt to emulate the “new” reggae sound of 1968 – in Brazleton’s hands, becomes a vessel for achieving “mastery of the gallop and slide to effect smooth transition to polka step”:

Ob La Di – Ambrose Brazelton

[Psst: Click on the triangle above so you can gallop & slide along with Ambrose Brazelton.]Ambrose Brazelton - And The Beatles Go On & On

The album (which I discovered in the combined record collection of my brother & his wife) includes detailed notes and photo illustrations for each of the physical activities associated with “Ticket to Ride”; “Eleanor Rigby”; “Ob-La-Di”; “Something”; “Got to Get You Into My Life”; and “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

Ambrose Brazelton received his B.S. Degree at the University of Akron in 1952, his Master’s Degree at Kent State University in 1960.  He was the recipient of the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation Teacher Award in 1963.  He is a member of AAHPER, OAHPER, Midwest AHPER, Ohio State Education Association, National Education Association, and the Society of State Directors of Health, Physical Education & Recreation.  Brazelton (1924-2010) once traveled extensively throughout Ohio and the nation as a consultant lecturer and demonstrator.  He proved again and again his ability to make children enjoy and participate in physical education programs.

George Draws the Short Straw – Again

On the back cover, just below the list of song titles, it states “Music and lyrics, Lennon & McCartney” – even though George Harrison’s #1 Beatle single, “Something” is on the album!

“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

“Love Can Run Faster”: B-Side of Mystery

In 1978 Robert Palmer traveled to Lee Perry‘s recording compound in Kingston, Jamaica to get a little piece of that magic Black Ark sound.  “Love Can Run Faster” (B-side of Robert Palmer’s big 1978 hit, “Bad Case of Lovin’ You“) is the only song Palmer released from that recording session and bears the unmistakable imprint of Perry during a particularly fertile period of sonic exploration at Black Ark:

“Love Can Run Faster”     Robert Palmer     1978

“Love Can Run Faster,” which shows Palmer very much under the spell of Stevie Wonder, is a song I did not encounter until much later in life when it came mistakenly bundled on a CD – or rather, included as a mis-identified bonus track on Lee Perry’s groundbreaking collaboration with two stranded and destitute musicians from Zaire, Kalo Kawongolo and Seke Molenga.  That is, on the 1993 CD reissue of From the Heart of the Congo, the track listing indicates the final track to be “River Stone” – a dub reggae instrumental by Jamaican band, Zap Pow – but for some unfathomable reason, “Love Can Run Faster,” Robert Palmer’s soulful Lee Perry-produced flip side is, in fact, the actual track included on the disc!

Love Can Run Faster - Robert Palmer

“Museum”: Herman’s Hermits’ Lone Moment of Hipness

I dismissed Herman’s Hermits ages ago (“I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” etc.) but then, in recent years, was given a copy of their 1967 MGM album Blaze (by Tom Avazian – who else?), and had to admit that the kick-off tune was a surprisingly effective one:

“Museum”     Herman’s Hermits     1967

I only just now learned that “Museum” is, in fact, a Donovan cover.

Museum - Herman's Hermits

“Cool Jerk”: Starday-King Goes Boogaloo

What a revelation to learn that The Coasters, along with producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, collaborated with Fania recording legend, Larry Harlow, on five tracks that were recorded in Autumn, 1971 – the highlight being a fresh boogaloo take on “Cool Jerk:

“Cool Jerk”     The Coasters     1971

Click on this link to play “Cool Jerk” by The Coasters

The recording session info below – thanks to Claus Röhnisch‘s excellent Coasters website – seems to be saying that tracks recorded at the Starday-King studios were then mixed and edited in NYC:

Marty Sheller, arranger; Larry Harlow, director; Mike Stoller, possibly on piano; Taco Meza, flute; probably Thomas Palmer, guitar; unknown second guitar; unknown orchestration.  Dave Palmer, engineer; Leiber & Stoller, producers.  Mixed & edited at Electric Lady Studios, New York City, late 1971.

(Starday) Studios, probably. New York City – Autumn, 1971
K-13959   Cool Jerk               2:56       King LP 1146; King 6389
K-14176   Good Lovin´           ?:??      (unissued – only instrumental track exists)
K-14177   Mustang Sally        3:38       King LP 1146
K-14178   On Broadway         2:30      King LP 1146
K-14179   The In Crowd         2:55      King LP 1146

Note:  “In Crowd” is essentially a ‘dub’ version of “Cool Jerk” that features Taco Meza‘s flute playing.

Coasters - Cool Jerk

Starday-King in the Leiber-Stoller Era

Says Claus:  In the autumn of 1971 Leiber and Stoller purchased and remastered all Date/Columbia tracks.  They overdubbed and edited some tracks from the 1968 session, produced the new recordings above, and reissued all Date singles (with K-master numbers used) on Starday-King, newly bought up by Leiber, Stoller, Freddy Bienstock, and company president, Hal Neely.

George Jones & Gene Pitney Have $5 – and It’s Saturday Night!

Tonight I was supposed to have seen George Jones play in Lancaster, PA as part of his Farewell Tour, but unfortunately, “The Possum” departed this earthly plane on April 26th.  Somehow I’ll have to make do with his recordings – such as this one:

George Jones handily steals the show on this fun duet with Gene Pitney.  This single went Top 100 pop, Top 20 country in 1965.