“Mountain Mambo”: Latinbilly

Joe Goldmark is not only a musician but also a scholar, whose International Steel Guitar and Dobro Discography – “a resource book that attempts to list every steel guitar and Dobro instrumental ever recorded” – is a fascinating reference tool for those interested in Syd Nathan’s King Records legacy.

Jerry Byrd – one-time steel guitarist for Hank Williams – recorded four songs at Cincinnati’s King Records studio on October 29, 1954 as part of The Country Cats (with Al Myers on guitar).  “Mountain Mambo,” is the A-side of a King 45 that playfully incorporates Latin elements within a hillbilly jazz framework:

“Mountain Mambo”     The Country Cats (featuring Jerry Byrd)     1954

Audio clip includes excellent B-side, “Hot Strings.”

Thanks to The Jerry Byrd Fan Club website, I now know that “during the 1950s, Jerry Byrd upgraded to a seven-string, pre-war model of the same Rickenbacker Bakelite steel guitar (as pictured below).  He was playing this fine instrument while on WLW radio in Cincinnati, Ohio, and recorded his popular Decca album, Hi-Fi Guitar, using this guitar.”

Jerry Byrd - 1950sJerry Byrd - Hi Fi Guitar LP

Steel Guitarists – and the Music Historians Who Love Them

Listed below are the other King/Federal/Deluxe/Audio Lab recordings referenced in The International Steel Guitar & Dobro Discography, with the names of the featured steel guitarists – where known and/or applicable – indicated in parentheses:

New!   Streaming audio for many of the recordings below:

Paul Blunt & His Islanders
              Golden Goodies of Old Hawaii   1960   [King LP]

The Buckeye Pals
              "Buckeye Boogie"   1952?   [Deluxe 78 & 45]

The Country Cats (featuring Jerry Byrd) 
              "Mountain Mambo" / "Hot Strings"  [King 78 & 45]
              "Sun Shadows" / "Hop Scotch"  [King 45]

Eddie Chamblee Orchestra
              "Blue Steel"   1950?   [(leased) Federal 78]
Cowboy Copas (featuring Slim Idaho)
              "Jamboree"   January, 1948   [King 78]

Mel Cox (featuring Lefty Perkins)
              "Guitar Jump" / "No Suh"   1950   [King 78]

King Curtis
              "Steel Guitar Rag"   1962   [King & DeLuxe 45s]

Andy Iona & His Islanders
              Hawaiian Interlude   1950   [King EP]

The Kiddie Ka-Dees 
              "Remington Ride"   1959   [King 45]

Freddie King 
              "Remington Ride"   1965   [King LP]

Krazy Kris (featuring Floyd Smith)   [rec. October, 1956 in NYC] 
              "Floyd’s Guitar Blues" / "Wishy Washy"   [King 45]

Eddie Martin & His King Serenaders
               Echoes of Hawaii   c. December, 1946   [King EP]
              "Pineapple Polka"   November, 1947   [King 78]

Leon McAuliffe (featuring Leon McAuliffe)
              "Faded Love" / "Panhandle Rag"  [Starday-King 45]

Hank Penny & His Radio Cowboys 
  ~ featuring Noel Boggs (c. early 1946): 
              "Steel Guitar Stomp" / "Counting the Days"  [King 45]
              "Steel Guitar Stomp" / "Merle’s Buck Dance" [King 45]
  ~ featuring Bobby Koefer (1947):
              "Hillbilly Jump" / "Kentucky"   [King 78]
  ~ featuring Ralph Miele (October, 1946): 
              "Penny Blows His Top" / "Locked Out"   [King 78]
              "Steel Guitar Polka" / "Won’t You Ride..?"  [King 78]
  ~ featuring Herb Remington (March, 1950):  
              "Jersey Bounce" / "Wham! Bam!"   [King 78]
              "Remington Ride" / "Have My Picture Took"  [King 78]
  ~ featuring Speedy West (March, 1949): 
              "Hillbilly Bebop" / [b-side from 1947*]  [King 78]

Webb Pierce (featuring Shot Jackson)
              "New Panhandle Rag"   1960   [King 45]

Charlie Ryan (featuring Neil Livingston)
              Hot Rod King LP - includes 1960 track "Steel Rock"

Cecil Surratt & Smitty Smith
              "Liza Jane" / "The Words You Say"   1960   [King 45]

T. Texas Tyler  (featuring Noel Boggs)
              "Tell Your Lies to the Man in the Moon"  1946 [King LP]
Jimmie Widener (featuring Earl "Joaquin" Murphy)
              "Jimmie’s Jump" / "She’s Left Me"   1948   [King 78]

King-a-Paul Blunt LPKing-b-Charlie Ryan LPt-texas-tyler-lp-amoon-mullican-lp-a

“From the Back Side”: James Brown’s Parting Gift to King?

Son’s of Funk – i.e., Fred Wesley & the JB’s – with their 1972 single release on the King label:

“From the Back Side (Pt. 1)”     Son’s of Funk     1972

Is it really true – as YouTube contributor, BuckeyeCat2002, recalls – that “this James Brown / Fred Wesley cut was given to King Records as a going away present by James Brown?”

As it turns out, both parts of this rare soul 45 would be included in Ace’s top-notch collection of King Funk, and Dean Rudland’s CD liner notes affirm that this two-part instrumental recording by The JB’s was, indeed, “given to King as a favour by James himself a couple of years after he had left to go to Polydor.”

Even though the artist on this track is but one of several amusing variant names for Fred Wesley & the JBs, it is fascinating nevertheless to discover that this 45 would be the only one to be released under the name, Sons of Funk.

Brown’s last release for King would be “Soul Power (pt. 1),” which reached #3 on the soul chart and hit the US Top 40 (#29), as well as UK Top 100 (#78) in 1971.  The Collins brothers, Bootsy and Catfish – neighborhood kids who lived close to the King studio – played as part of The JBs on “Soul Power,” an epic 3-part soul tune that was, curiously enough, recorded in Washington, DC.

Brown’s first single release for Polydor meanwhile – “Escape-ism (pt. 1)” which was written by Brown’s arranger & bandleader, David Matthews – would hit Top 10 R&B (#6) and Top 40 (#35) in the US.

The Impacs: King Goes Garage Surf

King wasn’t the only independent label in the early rock era to dabble in various sounds and musical genres; nevertheless, it’s still pretty hard to beat King for its sheer stylistic breadth.  While never really considered much of a “rock” label, King nevertheless signed another Beatle-sounding group (besides Them) called The Impacs, who – judging by the Fender guitars on their two King album covers – look like they might also have a little west coast surf in their sound.

Impacs LP b1Impacs LP a1

The Impacs first recording session on December 10, 1963 yielded 28 songs, of which 12 (including “Cat Walk”; “The Grab”; “Hamburger”; “Ambush”; “Love Struck” & “The Breeze”) would remain unreleased.  One more round of recording on May 12-13, 1964 would yield eight more songs, all of them seeing light of day as single and/or album tracks.  All recording was done “principally” in Miami.

An avid collector of 45s once described The Impacs as “surf rock” within the context of “pre 65 garage” music.  Of the five King 45s released, only one is available for preview, however, on YouTube, but it’s classic — “Your Mama Put the Hurt on Me:

“Your Mama Put the Hurt on Me”     The Impacs     1964

I suspect the B-side, “Cape Kennedy Fla,” and album track, “Music for a Space Station,” are both instrumentals, as I know “Kool It” and “Zot” both to be.

The Impacs King Discography

King 45 #5851 “Two Strangers” b/w “Jo-Ann” 1964

King 45 #5863 “Shimmy Shimmy” b/w “Zot” 1964

King 45 #5891 “Kool It” b/w “She Didn’t Even Say Hello” 1964

King 45 #5910 “Ain’t That the Way Life Is” b/w “Don’t Cry Baby” 1964

King 45 #5965 “Your Mama Put the Hurt on Me” b/w “Cape Kennedy Fla” 1964

King LP #886 Impact 1964

King LP #916 A Week-End with The Impacs 1964

“Don’t Look Now”: ‘Beatle Beat’ on King Records

Just weeks following The Beatles’ landmark first appearances on television’s Ed Sullivan Show, King Records would lease recordings belonging to a “European” group by the name of The Beehives, whose versions of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” would grace both sides of their one and only King 45 released in April, 1964.

Beehives King 45

Later that same year in September, a Cincinnati group by the name of Them would record a handful of songs at the King recording studio — “Don’t Look Now,” with its playful Mersey influence, would see release as the A-side of a King 45:

“Don’t Look Now”      Them     1964

In 2016, someone shelled out $223 for a copy of Them’s King 45.

Buckeye Beat has the back story on how The Torquays evolved into Them:

The Torquays were started in 1961 by a couple of students at Cincinnati’s Walnut Hills High School.  After a couple years of building their skills and reputation, they got a contract with King records in September 1964 to record their first 45.  The band decided to change their name to Them (after the 50s film, without any knowledge of the Irish band, Them, with Van Morrison) prior to the record’s release, allegedly because a band in Lexington, KY was using the Torquays name.  The 45 that emerged turned out to be a classic two-sider – “Don’t Look Now” b/w “A Girl Like You“, featured on many “compilations” of 60s garage band music.

Torquays logoThem logo

“Them kept getting bigger and bigger, while the band members attended the University of Cincinnati by the fall of ’64.  Between appearances at U.C. dances, teen dances, fundraisers, etc., Them were the biggest group in town.  In the fall of ’65 Them got a regular TV gig on “Between Time,” a teen-oriented variety show on Cincy’s WCPO TV.  They added Mary Ellen Tanner, a beautiful singer, and later Steve Welkom, a guitarist and singer who was a few years younger than the other members and brought the band some of more harder edged ’66 era garage influences.

Them B&WGeorge Makrauer (drums), Paul Simons (lead guitar and vocals), Eugene Katona (bass and vocals), Mary Ellen Tanner (vocals), Stan Hertzman (rhythm guitar, keyboards, and vocals)

“It was Steve who composed the A-side of Them’s second 45, “Baby (I Still Need Your Lovin’).  Before the recording, Them had been negotiating with the American arm of Brian Epstein’s management for a contract.  The second 45 was also recorded at King, but the record was released on the short-lived Toy Tiger label, run by local promoter Don Litwin, who also had a connection to Cincinnati resident and future famed film scorer, Randy Edelman.  Edelman was connected to a vocal group, the Strangers in Town, who recorded a 45 on Toy Tiger with Them providing the music.

“The Toy Tiger 45 was released twice, first using the name TTHHEEMM and another pressing as It’s Them to prevent confusion with the Irish band and to avoid potential interference if they got a contract with Epstein.  For some reason the record is very hard to find (the Buckeye Beat team wants a copy badly, please!).  “Baby I Still Need Your Lovin'” is an absolutely great piece of snarlin’ garage rock featuring [future Adrian Belew producer] Stan Hertzman on the organ.

Unfortunately nothing came of the Epstein deal and the band, with the members in disagreement about the future direction, disbanded in ’67.”

King recording session – September 30, 1964

Them Cinti OH

Photo courtesy of ThemTorquays.com

Torquays/Them website show their actual King recording and songwriting contracts.

“In My Heart I’m a Free Man”: L.A. Sunshine Pop on King

I wish I could say that this slice of 1970 sunshine pop released by King Records was recorded in Cincinnati; however, Michel Ruppli’s 2-volume King discography indicates the recording to have taken place in Los Angeles on May 21, 1970.  Check out the fancy picture sleeve worked up by the Starday-King art department for this single release.

The Establishment - King 45Even better, check out the art work for their 1971 King album —

The Establishment LPFrank’s Vinyl Museum has a hilarious piece about the group’s debut 45 – the museum’s “first 45 rpm single” as it turns out:

The first 45rpm single in Frank’s Vinyl Museum is brought to us by Starday-King Records in Nashville (a city that seems to have been quite adept at producing this kind of thrift-store quality record).  I was drawn to this disc by its title — The Establishment.  What a name for a band!  What were these guys thinking?  That they’d be the “alternative” rock band for sensible folks who didn’t identify with the counterculture?  Or did they once hear some hippies talking about “the establishment” and mistake it for a cool buzzword?

Pretty certain dogs are no longer allowed to ride motorcycles in music videos*

[eagerly awaiting the return of the *video clip referenced above]

Attached to Frank’s piece are comments from three former members of The Establishment, as well as history from family members who note, for instance, that the group served as part of Jonathan Winters’ backing ensemble for his TV variety show:

Dean Chapman says:
My then wife Jean Anne and I were in The Establishment from about 1972-1975.  Being around D’arniell Pershing, Larry Meredith, Jimmy Pakala, Bill Bowersock, Lois, Mic Bell, and Diane Pershing was so much fun.  I’ve been in touch will Bill; does anyone know what happened to Jimmy and Dee Dee?  Glad to hear that Larry is doing well in Memphis.  Where’s Lois? Diane?  Jean Anne and I came from the Pipers, a similar pop group.  While in those two groups I must have performed at every major show room in Vegas/Reno/Tahoe. Great memories.  Sadly, few of those showrooms exist today.  You know you’re an old-timer when you can remember Foxy’s penny slots in Vegas (Sahara and the Strip). 

Jonathan Arthur says:
I was in the Establishment in 1976, we toured with Perry Como.  The name “The Establishment” was owned by a management company, and they would hire singer/dancers to fit whatever the client needed (same with the New Christy Minstrels or Up With America).  When I was in it, they needed 4 guys and 4 gals.  Over the years I’ve met a few people who were in it at other times.  I know that the next permutation after us was all women.  The guy who ran the company was a cheapskate, we got paid less than the average amount for singing/dancing behind a star of Perry Como’s magnitude.  When Perry found out that we had to pay for our own hotel rooms, he reimbursed us.  By the way, we went from being The Establishment in the first half of the show, then changed to the Ray Charles Singers after the intermission.

Phyllis Lovit says:
Hey Phil Luttrell I was a member of the wonderful group “The Establishment” with your cousin Larry who was a fantastic singer. I’m the girl at the top of the picture with long dark hair.  This album did not do justice to the talented members of this group.  We were a performing group of singers and dancers and played to very appreciative audiences in Las Vegas as well as “The Greek” and many other notable theaters on LA.  We also appeared on the Merv Griffen Show,TV specials with Perry Como, Shirley Bassey, Paul Anka, Ann-Margret and many other stars of that era.  Standing ovations…yes we had many.  Tell Larry hello from Phyllis Mitchell Lovit.

Michele LaBonte says:
Hi Everyone!  I am proud to say that my aunt Lois Jean LaBonte was a member of The Establishment.  I have wonderful memories of going with her to the Hollywood Bowl where they were performing and I got to meet Englebert Humperdinck in person!  The group was one of the best performing groups in the 60s and 70s!!

Phil Luttrell says:
I’m pretty much an expert on the “Establishment”, as their lead singer, Larry Meredith, is my first cousin.  I had a box of these singles (not LP’s) when they came out in 69.  They were a singing and dancing group who had considerable success in the 60’s, most notably as the background group for “The Jonathan Winters show” on TV.  You can look it up on IDMB.  They also played on TV’s “Hollywood Palace“.  They backed up many stars in Vegas.  They broke up in 1970, many have passed away.  Larry made an album with his new group Pakalameredith [Jimmy Pakala and Larry Meredith] on Elektra Asylum where he worked as an A&R man for years after.  His vocals backed Rare Earth, Billy Thorpe, and Eddy Rabbit recordings.  He now lives just outside Memphis with his wife.

Two of the three songs recorded in Los Angeles were issued as a 45, while the third track – “Don’t Let Go” – remains unissued to this day.  In August, 1970, The Establishment recorded eight songs over two days in Nashville and issue them – along with their 45’s A & B sides – as The Establishment, their lone LP for King.  “House of Jack” from these Nashville sessions would also get issued as a single.

The Establishment - King 45 II

Tokyo Happy Coats: Japanese Pop on King Records

There is, interestingly enough, a Japanese label that shares the name King RecordsJapan’s King Records even predates Cincinnati’s King Records by twelve years or so.

But back in 1970, it was Cincinnati’s King Records who released two LPs and exactly three 45s by an “all-girl” Japanese pop group, The Tokyo Happy Coats, who are five sisters, we are told — Eiko, Keiko, Shoko, Tomiko & Ruriko Hakomori.   This would make at least three prominent family acts vying for dominance on the pop chart at the dawn of the 70s:  The Jackson 5, The Osmonds & The Hakomori Sisters of Tokyo Happy Coats.

Ed Sullivan Show – February 27, 1966   (source: William Bickel)Tokyo Happy Coats b&w

I confess I am still bewildered by the fact that I only just now found out about these “guys.”  Did any of the local stores in my Cincinnati hometown stock The Tokyo Happy Coats in the early 1970s, I wonder — back when Ultraman, the Japanese space superhero television series, was broadcast regularly on Cincinnati’s local independent station, WXIX (channel 19 in Roman numerals)?   Check out the gals’ take on Sonny & Cher’s “Beat Goes On” from their 1970 live club performance LP, The Tokyo Happy Coats Live:

“The Beat Goes On”     The Tokyo Happy Coats     1970

Music writer, Ken Shimamoto (The Stash Dauber) writes a fascinating first-person essay that leads into a review of and “appreciation” for The Tokyo Happy Coats from which we learn that “they were a lounge act that toured the states pretty extensively from the mid-’60s on, playing Las Vegas and The Ed Sullivan Show, as well as dives in Pittsburgh and Detroit.  Between ’em, those Happy Coats played a whopping 26 instruments.”  Shimamoto perfectly captures the oddball element in this real-life transcontinental story when he observes, “incredibly, they used to record for King Records, the same label as James Brown.”  Even more revealing are the heartfelt and enthusiastic comments attached to this blog piece that attest to the group’s magnetism, as well as magnanimity.

Tokyo Happy Coats LP Starday-King (the King label having been consolidated with Starday upon the death of founder, Syd Nathan in 1968) actually leased these recordings from another label — the discography does not indicate where.  What’s odd, however, especially in light of their popularity, is the complete absence of Tokyo Happy Coats recordings in either 45Cat or Discogs apart from these five Starday-King releases.

Billboard‘s June 13, 1970 edition reports that the “Tokyo Happy Coats, another of the Starday-King acts, opened at the Sahara Tahoe on June 4.  They recently released their first single, ‘Forevermore,’ and their first album, The Tokyo Happy Coats Live.”

“An Astro Sonic Production” – distributed by Starday-King

Tokyo Happy Coats 45

Tokyo Happy Coats Starday-King Discography

King 45 #6296 “Forevermore” b/w “Harlem Nocturne” 1970

King 45 #6337 “Tea A-Wanna Whistle” b/w “Here Is Happiness” 1970

King 45 #6419 “Forevermore” b/w “Here is Happiness” 1970

King LP #1096 The Tokyo Happy Coats Live 1970

King LP #1125 Forevermore 1970

“Fat Eddie”: James Crawford’s Mighty B-Side

Of course, no discussion about Cincinnati in song would be complete without a reference to the city’s storied indie label that helped give birth to rock & roll music – King Records.

September 14, 1967 may not be a date that registers strongly in Cincinnati local history, but it should:  for on this date, James Crawford recorded a mighty slice of James Brown-produced funk – “Fat Eddie” – at King’s recording studios on Brewster Avenue:

“Fat Eddie” — co-written by Crawford with James Brown and Bud Hobgood — was selected as the B-side of “I’ll Work It Out” and released by King in October, 1967.  The A-side received a favorable review (“feelingful slowpaced, James Brown-produced moaner”) in Cash Box‘s November 4, 1967 issue.

Alto Saxophone:  Pee Wee Ellis
Tenor Saxophone:  Maceo Parker
Baritone Saxophone: St-Clair Pinckney
Bass:  Bernard Odum
Drums:  Clyde Stubblefield
Guitar:  AlphonsoCountryKellum & Jimmy Nolen
Organ:  Bobby Byrd
Vocals:  James Crawford

Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven offers this biographical profile of James Crawford:

A member of the James Brown Revue for several years, Crawford is one of several artists who were so mesmerised by the Great Man’s personality and success that they attempted to make their vocal styles indistinguishable from the real thing.  He came from Toccoa, Georgia where he sang with a young Bobby Byrd in the Gospel Starlighters, and where he may have started his involvement with JB.  Crawford never really mastered James’ crude “rasp”, having a naturally purer tone to his voice, but his sense of timing and dynamics are straight Brown.  No doubt the presence of Brown sidemen like Nat Jones – not to mention James’ own production skills – reinforced this tendency.

He cut some funk/boogaloo tracks of course, like “Much Too Much”, “Help Poor Me” and “Honest I Do” but also recorded some really cracking ballads. “Strung Out” was the first, a simple but very effective song.  A great plodding bass line, piano triplets and subdued horns back Crawford up as his voice cracks with emotion – lovely.  “Stop And Think It Over” is another first rate performance, over a stop/go structured ballad, with minor keyed chord changes and a sympathetic string section.  Think Brother James on “Man’s Man’s World” and you’ll be in the right territory.

Hooray For The Child Who Has It’s Own” is fine deep soul as well, the “climbing” horn chart and arpeggio piano giving Crawford room to show his abilities.  “I’ll Work It Out” may just be the best of the bunch though.  For my money it’s his most committed and emotionally compelling effort, and the backing is just magic, with the guitar and horns meshing to superb effect.

James Crawford 45 medium

90+ Years of Cincinnati in Song

Cincinnati is hardly the first American city to be celebrated in popular song.  Nevertheless, I find it curious how frequently — i.e., over 200 songs — Cincinnati (ranked #64 among US cities by population) has appeared in a popular song title in the past 95 years, to wit:   

Click on song titles below for (in most cases) access to streaming audio = 
Note the impressive 29-year consecutive run between the years 1959-1988.
[US artists unless otherwise indicated (in red*)]

Cincinnati Hornpipe”              William B. Houchens           1924

“Cincinnati Southern Blues”        Ivy Smith & Cow Cow Davenport 1927

“Cincinnati Daddy”                 Duke Ellington                1929

“Cincinnati Underworld Woman”      Bob Coleman                   1929

“Cincinnati Breakdown”             Blue Ridge Mt. Entertainers   1932

“I’m Going to Cincinnati”          Walter Coleman                1936

“Was You Ever in Cincinnati”       Freddie Fisher                1941

“C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I”              Teddy McRae Orchestra         1945

“Cincinnati Lou”                   Merle Travis                  1946

“Cincinnati Vout”                  Earl Warren                   1946

“Cincinnati”                       Martha Davis' Torrid Trio     1947

“Cincinnati Bound”                 Cowboy Jack Derrick           1950

“Cincinnati Hit Parade”            Bill Franklin & Skyline Boys  1950

“Cincinnati Dancing Pig”           Red Foley                     1950

“G'night Cinti, Hello Tennessee”   Shorty Long                   1951

“Cincinnati Rag”                   Buck Ryan                     1955

“Cincinnati Ding Dong”             Art Lund                      1957

“Cincinnati Ratamatati”            Cain & Abel                   1959

“High School USA (Cincinnati)”     Tommy Facenda                 1959

“Cincinnati Fireball”              Johnny Burnette               1960

“Cincinnati”                       Frank Slay Orchestra          1961

“Cincinnati Twist and Freeze”      Orlie & the Saints            1961

“Whole Town's Batty About 'nati”   Larry Vincent                 1961

“Cincinnati Ratamatati”            First Percussion Sextet       1961

“Cincinnati Rock”                  Cliff Nash                    1962

“Cincinnati Twist”                 Pat Field & Les Pumas [Fr.]   1962

“Cincinnati Blues”                 Boll Weevil Jass Band         1963

“Cincinnati Slow Drag”             Rev. Gary Davis               1964

"Cincinnati Flow Rag" Rev. Gary Davis 1964
Cincinnati, Ohio”                 Bill Anderson                1964 “Cincinnati Breakdown”             Charlie Moore & Bill Napier   1964 “Cincinnati Blues”     Jesse Fuller       1965

Cincinnati” Bob Braun 1965 “The Cincinnati Kid”               Ray Charles   1965 “The Cincinnati Kid”               Prince Buster [Ja.]          1966/7 “Cincinnati Ohio” Connie Smith 1967 “Cincinnati Woman”                 Freddy Cannon                 1967

Cincinnati” Van Trevor 1967 “I'm Leaving Cincinnati”        Larry Roberts                 1967

Walk Around Cincinatti [sic]” Dean Kay c. 1967 “Cincinnati Stranger”              Buddy Cagle                   1968 “Cincinnati Two-Step”              Dick Cary                     1968 “World War Two in Cincinnati”      The Shambles                  1968 “The Lights of Cincinnati”         Scott Walker                  1969 “Cincinnati Love Song”             The Two Dollar Question      1969 “Cincinnati Jail”                  Bobby Bare                   1969
Susie Cincinnati”                 The Beach Boys                1970 “The Cleanest Man in Cincinnati”   Claude Gray                   1970 “Cincinnati Man”     Mad Lydia     1970 “Cincinnati” Mirageman [Ital.] 1970

Cincinatti [sic] Cream” Brett Marvin/Thunderbolts [UK] '70

Cincinatti [sic] Woman”           Spode [UK]                    1971

Cincinnati”                       The New Seekers [UK]          1971

Cincinnati Woman” The Hubbubs [Austria] 1971
Cincinnati”                       Orville Stoeber               1971
Cincinnati Sidewalks” Shady Stevens 1972

Cincinnati Square” Chuck Robinson 197?

Cincinnati Flow Rag II”           Roy Bookbinder                1972 “Girl from Cincinnati”             Bobbie Gentry                 1972 “Anybody Goin’ North to Cinti” Lester Flatt                 1972 “Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati”    Rose & the Arrangement/Possum 1973

“(Tis a Sin to Sin in) Cincinnati” Rusty Draper 1974

I Went to Cincinnati” Joe Wise 1974 “Cincinnati Sammy”                 Hoagy Pogey [UK]              1974 “Cincinnati Floor”                 Brown’s Home Brew             1974 “Cincinnati” Janet Ellig 1975

Cincinnati Song” Vince Bell 1975 “Cincinatti [sic] Boogie” Emmett Brooks & James Barnes 1975

Apt. #4, 6th St. & Cincinnati”    Joe Stampley                  1976 “Benji's Cincinnati” The Sands of Time 1976
Cincinnati” Infinity 1976
Cincinnati”                       Roy St. John [UK]             1976 “Cincinnati” Blue Max 1976

Cincinnati” [last track] R Ducros/L Simoncini [Ital.] 1977 “Lacksadaisical Cincinnati”        Ogden Wahalia Blues Ensemble 1977 “Cincinnati Fatback”               Roogalator [US/UK]            1977

Cincinnati Growl”                 Roy Ayers Ubiquity            1977 “Cincinnati and Me”                Larry Kinley                  1977

"Cincinatti [sic] Sleeve" Changes 1977 “Cincinnati Cindy”                 Ray Campi                     1977 “Cincinnati Train”                 Cathy & Coins [Germ.]         1977

Cincinnati Capers” Cal Collins 1978 “WKRP in Cincinnati”               Tom Wells & Hugh Wilson       1978 “Cincinnati Stomp”                 Big Joe Duskin                1978 “Cincinnati Stomp” Teacher's Pet 1979 “Cincinnati Star” Ed Williams 1979 “Cincinnati Dice Man” [last track] Them [UK] 1979

"Cincinnati" Charlie Spivak Orchestra 1979 “The Cincinnati Cowboy” Ernie Vaughn 1980 “Cincinnati Baseball Saga” Rusty Ferguson 1980 “Twenty-Two in Cincinnati”         Martha & the Muffins [Can.]  1981 “Cincinnati Milacron”     Pentaject Corporation      1981 “In Cincinnati”                    Hudson & Bauer Singers        1982

Fatty From Cincinnati” Wonderland Chorus & Orch. c. 1982

Cincinnati Shout” Ted Des Plantes 1983 “Living in Sincinnati” Gary Platt & Pork All-Stars 1983 “South of Cincinnati”              Dwight Yoakam                1984 “Cincinnati Blues” Ray Pennington/Buddy Emmons 1984 “Cincinnati Slick” John Bunch 1984 “Back in Cincinnati” [last track] Steve Beresford [UK] 1985

Cincinnati Jail”                  Lonnie Mack                   1986 “Cincinnati” Cincinnati [Ital.] 1986 “Goin' to Cincinnati” Steve Tracy & King Snakes 1987 “Monday in Cincinnati” Pascal Charpentier [Belg.] 1987 “Cincinnati”                       Holidaymakers [UK]            1988

"Cincinnati Blues" Cliff Barnes & the Fear [Ger] 1990

Cincinnati 1830-1850” Paul DeMarinis 1991
Cinncinati [sic] Kid” Salmonella Dub [NZ] 1994

Philadelphia/Cincinnati” Banned From Atlantis [Can.] 1994
Cincinnati” Mood 1994

Cincinnati G's Roll” Convicted Felons 1995
Cincinnati Motel”                 Neal Casal                    1995 “Cincinnati Shuffle”               Sonny Moorman & The Dogs      1996 “Hardrockin’ Cincinnati”           Bran Van 3000 [Can.]          1997 “Cincinnati”     M.O.T.O.      1997

"Hooray for the Cincinnati Reds" Erich Kunzel & the Cinti Pops 1998 “Cincinnati Streets”     Rachel Portman [Beloved] 1998 “Cincinnati Shuffle” Christian Bleiming [Germ.] 1998

Cincinnati, Here We Come” T. Crookham & Accidentals 1998 “Racing Cincinnati”                Chamberlain                   1998 “C'mon Cincinnati”                 Delakota [UK]                 1998 “C'mon Cinti” (Fatboy Slim Mix)”  Delakota [UK]                1999

Cincinatti's [sic] Burning” Shylow [UK] 1999 “Cincinnati Pink”                  Polarity/1                    2000

Cincinnatti [sic] Baby” Axel Z/Joe Duskin/J McShann 2000 “Cincinnati”                       David Childers                2001

North of Cincinatti [sic]” More Plastic [Can.] 2001 “Cincinnati Town”                  Fred Leonard                  2002

Cincinnati Red” Viva 2002 “Hard Times in Cincinnati”      Jake Speed & the Freddies     2002 “Cincinnati”                       Marianne Kesler               2002 “Cincinnati”                       Crime in Choir                2002 “Cincinnati”                       The Distillers               2003 “Cincinnati” Ozark Henry [Belg.] 2003 “Cincinnati Riot Blues”            Ghost Exits                   2003

Cincinnati on Replay” Lefty's Deceiver 2003

Cincinnati at Night” Jim Hurst & Missy Raines 2003 “Weekend in Cincinnati”            The Bobs                      2003

The Black Brigade of Cincinnati” J. Rawls 2003 “C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I” NSPCrew 2003

Cincinnati Traveler” Hem 2004 “Leaving Cincinnati”     Jake Speed & the Freddies    2004 “I Come from Cincinnati”           End.user                     2004 “Cincinnati (Village Queen)”       Glass Harp                    2005

Cincinatti [sic] Road” Ricochet [Germ.] 2005 “Cincinnati”                       Trey Anastasio               2006 “Love in Cincinnati”               Prairie Home Companion       2006

Three Cheers Cincinnati” Screaming Mimes 2006 “All Roads Lead to Cincinnati”     Jake Speed & The Freddies    2007

Cincinnati” Manishevitz 2007

Cincinatti [sic]” Sly [Fr.] 2008 “Oh, Cincinnati”                   The Seedy Seeds              2008 “Chance Encounter (In Cincinnati)” The Minor Leagues 2009

Cincinnati Summer” Kings of Tragedy 2009

Cincinnati Bears” PNS & Zavala 2009

El Chico De Cincinnatti [sic]” Anne Arbor [Sp.] 2009

Cincinnati”                       Tila Tequila                 2009 “Cincinnati”     Sok     2009 “Cincinnati”     Jangatha     2009 “Cincinnati”     Literature     2010 “Cincinnati” Julie Newmark 2010 “Cincinnati” Nick Jaina 2010 “Cincinnati” L.A. Love [Germ.] 2010 “Left Cincinnati”     Joe Frawley     2010 “Cincinnati Express” Ran Blake 2010

Cincinnati Shakedown” The Unsettlers [Can.] 2010 “Cincinnati Harmony”               The Dopamines                2010 “Cincinnati Dream”      Gregory Attonito     2011 “Cincinnati Love” Chris Collier 2011

Cincinnati” Derek Reese 2011

Cincinnati Agony”      Not Yet!      2012 “Sleepless in Cincinnati” Momentum 2012
Clouds Over Cincinatti [sic]” Cabin Fire 2012
Cincinnati”     Eric Stein      2012 “Cincinnati”     Quixote     2012 “Cincinnati” 2 Mello 2012 “Cincinnati”     German Brigante [Germ.] 2013 “Cincinnati” Vegan Death 2013 “Cincinnati” Ibiza Vibes [Fr.] 2013
Cincinnati” Nick Danger+Skytone/DCR [Can] 2013
Iron (Cincinnati)” Dain Saint 2013
Vuelo Cincinnati-Singapur” Manolo Kabezabolo [Sp.] 2014 “Cincinnati” Dani Flaco [Sp.] 2014 “Cincinnati”     Holy Holy [Australia] 2014 “Goodnight Cincinnati” Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC+Start [UK] 2015 “Martha (Cincinnati, 1914)”     The Corner Laughers     2015 “Cincinnati Fire Kites”     Scope & Figure      2015 “Cincinnati Chapter of the ...” Doleful Lions 2015 “Cincinnati Shuffle” James Reed 2015
Dallas to Cincinnati”      Mr. Hokum      2015
Cincinnati Transfer”     Old Brown Shoes [Austria] 2015

Cincinnati”      Zutroi [Sp.] 2015

Cincinnati” Zerostailaz [Sp.] 2016

One More Day in Cincinnati” The Creekdraggers 2016 “John from Cincinnati”     Connections      2016 “Cincinnati Shuffle” Big Z 2016 “Cincinnati Moon” Rumpke Mountain Boys 2016 “Cin Cin City” & “Cinti Sunrise” Carter Burwell [Anomalisa] 2016 “Cincinnati” Blake Neely [Buck Howard] 2016 “Cincinnati” Justin Hurwitz [La La Land] 2016 “Cincinnati” & “Cincinnati Waltz” Justin Hurwitz [Madeline] 2017 “Cincinnati” Golden Boys 2017 “Cincinnati” Big Nothing 2017 “Cincinnati, Ohio” Micah Schnabel 2017 “Cincinnati Sunday” D-Sisive [Can.] 2017 “Cincinnati Juggernaut” Hobosexual 2017 “Cincinnati Shuffle” The Thrill 2017 “Cincinnati Cola” My Name Is Ian [UK] 2017 “Cincinatti [sic] Blooms” The Sexual Objects [UK] 2017

Cincinnati Bowtie” Sheri Vari [Port.] 2018 “Songbird of Cincinnati” Hat Check Girl 2018 “From Cinti to Rosarito (Mexico)” Mil Beats & Main Flow [Eur.] 2018 “Goodbye Cincinnati” Ramin Djawadi [Jack Ryan] 2018 “Screw Cincinnati” Bob Rea 2018 “Cincinnati” Machine Moon 2019 “Cincinnati Chili Child” Pataphysics 2019

"Greater Cincinnati" Kinky Friedman 2019

"Stuck in Cincinnati" Jerry Adler 2020

"Ghost of Cincinnati" Big Red Machine 2021

[*Note:  Film soundtracks also indicated in red above]

Freddy Cannon (in 1967, backed by Strawberry Alarm Clock) – “Cincinnati Woman

Note:  produced by Frank Slay, who conducted & co-wrote 1961 B-Side, “Cincinnati”

Prince Buster single release for Spain (B-side mis-titled as “Cincinnati Kids“)

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Notable Album Covers

Title track produced by Shad O’Shea at Counterpart Creative Studios – 1979

2015 double album, Cincinnati, by Dutch blues group, King of the World
(Album features vocal work from Cincinnati’s Cheryl Renée)

1974 LP by one-time Mercury and Monument recording artist

Note:  Original cover design enhanced for extra emphasis 


Also Worthy of Mention

2016 single track of electronic “glitch” by Spain’s Zerostailaz

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Nick Keeling’s 2015 song cycle that utilizes piano and found sounds

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Modernist pavillion at Cincinnati’s Bellevue Park overlooking downtown

Actual game broadcasts by Joe Nuxhall & Marty Brennaman;
Recorded and mixed at Shad O’Shea‘s Counterpart Creative Studios.

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Related Trivia and Observations

  • “Cincinnati Jail” is a song title shared by two Ohio Valley greats — Ironton, Ohio’s Bobby Bare (1969) and West Harrison, Indiana’s Lonnie Mack (1986).
  • “Cincinnati Stomp” by blues & boogie pianist Big Joe Duskin was released in 1978, while the following year, Akron “punks” Teacher’s Pet recorded their own song of the same name that made reference to The Who concert tragedy of December 3, 1979 (but did not see release until nearly 30 years later in 2008).
  • Amusing to note back-to-back releases out of the UK in 1970-71 with the city’s name misspelled:  “Cincinatti Cream” by Brett Marvin & the Thunderbolts (1970) and “Cincinatti Woman” by Spode (1971).  
  • Intriguing to note that Spain had a three-year consecutive run of Cincinnati songs between the years 2014-2016.
  • 1970’s “Cincinnati” by “Mirageman” — stage name of Italian pianist and composer, Giovanni Fenati
  • 1985’s “Back in Cincinnati” is the final track of an LP-length tribute to Doris Day (Cincinnatian by birth) from British composer/arranger, Steve Beresford.
  • “South of Cincinnati” by Dwight Yoakam (who was born in Pikeville, KY, southeast of Cincinnati) was initially included as part of a 6-track EP in 1984 on Oak Records, two years prior to Yoakam’s major-label debut (bearing the same title and cover art) on Reprise Nashville.
  • Johnny Burnette‘s “Cincinnati Fireball” from 1960 is a rockabilly classic that retains a strong fanbase in Europe and Oceania.
  • Prince Buster recorded his tip of the hat to “The Cincinnati Kid” (i.e., James Brown) in 1965 in the prevailing ska idiom before rearranging the song the following year as a rocksteady funk showpiece that stands apart from the other Jamaican recordings of 1966 (or possibly 1967 – it’s unclear).
  • 1959’s “High School USA (Cincinnati)” is one of two “franchise” concepts [1961’s “Cincinnati Twist and Freeze” being the other] where the artist made/marketed versions of the song for various US metropolitan regions, Cincinnati included, in this case with spoken-word breaks that specify the names of public and parochial high schools in Cincinnati and beyond — all the way to Columbus, in fact.
  • In 2016, Cincinnati found its way into song titles for two film soundtracks (Anomalisa and The Great Buck Howard), as well as the film score for Oscar winner, La La Land, whose composer, Justin Hurwitz, would then include two additional Cincinnati-themed songs for the soundtrack of Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench in 2017.
  • 1977 — with eight Cincinnati songs — is a high-water mark for the pre-digital era, while 2017 proves to be the year to beat with nine songs that name the city.


Zero to 180’s Top Ten Cincinnati Songs: 

Dec. 2020 Cincinnati Magazine Sidebar Excerpts + Enhanced Historical Info!

#1:  “Cincinnati Hit Parade” from 1950, the oldest entry on this Top Ten list, is a truck driving tale by Bill Franklin, with backing from The Skyline Boys, that bears the unmistakable influence of Hank Williams with regard not only to the vocal but also the prominent steel guitar:


According to Discogs, Franklin started in radio in 1934 at the age of six, performing as The Franklin Brothers, along with his brothers Delmas and Clyde.  Franklin later became a member of the Skyline Boys, singing with the quartet and performing solo work, playing both mandolin and guitar.  “Cincinnati Hit Parade” appears to be among the earliest in a brief recording career that also includes exactly one King single:  1958’s “That Moon’s No Stopping Place for Me” b/w “One Minute.”   Franklin’s interest in space exploration would show up again four years later on a 1962 single release for Loyal “God and Glenn” b/w “Space Flight.”

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#2:  Jesse Fuller is a blues singer/songwriter and “one-man band” who is most famous for his “San Francisco Bay Blues,” which has been covered by The Weavers, Peter, Paul & Mary, Glenn Yarborough, Tom Rush, Janis Joplin, Richie Havens, Mungo Jerry, Phoebe Snow, and Eva Cassidy among others.  Elijah Wald notes in his appreciation for Acoustic Guitar that Cincinnati was the first destination for Fuller (born 1896) after leaving his hometown of Jonesboro, Georgia.  Writes Wald —

[Fuller] put together a rack that could hold a harmonica, a kazoo and a microphone, and invented the fotdella, a six-string bass with a modified piano action that drove felt hammers against the strings.  The fotdella, which he played with his shoeless right foot, was a visual novelty and gave his music a solid bottom, and he completed the rhythm section by using his left foot to keep time with either a sock cymbal or another homemade contraption that scraped a rubber arm across a washboard.

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Fuller would not call Cincinnati home for long, and his “Cincinnati Blues” appears to recount the time he decided to leave the city behind.  Fuller’s aching vocal and plaintive Piedmont-style fingerpicking, not to mention sublime slide work — on this live performance from a 2006 box set by Smithsonian’s Folkways [Friends of Old Time Music:  The Folk Arrival 1961-1965] — make for compelling listening:


Cincinnati Blues” was included on 1965 Prestige LP Jesse Fuller’s Favorites, although the year before Folk Art Recordings appears to have reissued Fuller’s 1956 EP Frisco Bound and added four additional tracks, including “Cincinnati Blues” – LP retitled as God Made the Blues Volume Two.  

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#3American clear-channel radio stations and imported US vinyl had a direct impact on the development of Jamaican popular music, and how interesting to discover that the King Records influence goes back to the 1950s, as revealed in this excerpt from Young, Gifted & Black – The Story of Trojan Records.

In the mid-1960s, one of Jamaica’s leading lights, Prince Buster, slyly called out praise to King Records’ most famous artist (guess who?) in this far-sighted fusion of rocksteady and funk – “Cincinnati Kid” – that draws a direct line between Kingston, JA and Cincinnati, OH, while also making a winking reference to Lalo Schifrin’s film soundtrack of the same name:


Important to point out, however, that the initial release of “Cincinnati Kid” (in 1965 or 1966 – unclear) on Prince Buster’s Voice of the People label was in a fairly standard ska arrangement:


To be fair, the city’s name is not an easy one to spell

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It’s also unclear when the new Clavinet-driven funk arrangement was first issued – note that this “live” version from 1967’s Prince Buster on Tour LP is the same studio recording albeit with dubbed crowd sounds:


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“Cincinnati Kid” also appears on 1969’s Queen of the Outlaws LP, as well as Soul Jazz’s 300% Dynamite reggae compilation from 1999.  Original 45 releases can easily command three figures at auction — in fact, one pre-release/white label 45 from “Steve Barrow‘s personal collection” (!) went for £770 in 2014.

#41971’s “Cincinnati Woman” by The Hubbubs is catchy AM radio power pop with fuzztone guitar, “go-go” horns and Laugh-In production sound and yet – surprise – German lyrics!  Fortunately, the song title (in English) begins each chorus and will have you singing along in no time:


“Cincinnati Woman” was released as an A-side in Austria and subsequently included on 1972 Fontana LP Nachts in Chicago.  The Hubbubs would later sign with EMI/Columbia, for whom they would record a handful of albums in the 1980s for the Austrian market.

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#5One of the more amusing observations when one scans the list above of 200+ songs from 1924-2019 that contain “Cincinnati” in the title:

  • In the years 1970-71, there were back-to-back releases out of the UK with the city’s name misspelled:  “Cincinatti Cream” by Brett Marvin & the Thunderbolts (1970) and “Cincinatti Woman” by Spode (1971). 

Today’s featured song – Spode’s “Cincinatti Woman” – is distinctive for its “throwback” sound:  galloping guitar lines, evocative of early ‘60s Hank Marvin of The Shadows, set against a lonely Moody Blues-style backing vocal that conjures up the mysterious charm of that elusive lass from the heart of the Ohio Valley, thousands of miles away:


1971’s “Cincinatti Woman” [not to be confused with The Hubbubs’ release of the same year in Austria with the (near) identical title] was a B-side when released by Decca in the UK, France, Belgium, Spain & Turkey.   Discogs informs us that Spode is an “alias of the band Cats Eyes [UK band from Evesham], only for recording 1971” and that “live concerts at the time were still played as Cats Eyes.”

45 – France (left)                                                 45 – Spain (right)

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#6Cincinnati Square” by Chuck Robinson is a groovy early 1970s “psych-jazz-funk” celebration of that super hip and happening gathering spot – “Cincinnati Square”— that, uh, doesn’t actually exist.   However, let’s give the singer the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant Fountain Square (in the heart of downtown), so as not to bring the party down any further:


Like a necklace you wear, “Cincinnati Square” is the B-side of the sole (and rather obscure) release by tiny indie label, Borfork, about which scant information is available.

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#7Former King Records producer, songwriter, and talent scout, Ray Pennington (who left us this past October), wrangled pioneering country-jazz steel guitarist, Buddy Emmons, on a western swing number – “Cincinnati Blues” — that declares Cincinnati to be the most effective restorative treatment in buoying the singer’s ailing spirits:


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Released as a 45 on Step One Records in 1985, “Cincinnati Blues” was also the closing track of 1984 double-LP Swingin’ From the 40’s Thru the 80s, with backing from The Swing Shift Band.  Step One is a Nashville indie label that was founded the same year as this single’s release.  According to Discogs:

The label was founded by singer-songwriter and producer Ray Pennington with Curtis Potter, the former of whom had produced for Waylon Jennings.  At the time of the label’s foundation, it was one of the few independent country music labels to have significant chart success, most notably in 1991, when the label released Clinton Gregory’s “(If It Weren’t for Country Music) I’d Go Crazy“, the only independently-released single on the Billboard country charts at the time of its release. The label lasted into the mid 1990s, having Top 40 success again in 1996 with Western Flyer’s “What Will You Do With M-E?“. Other artists signed to the label included The Geezinslaws, Ray Price, Faron Young, and Pennington himself.

Randy McNutt added this wonderful tribute on Facebook:

Ray Pennington was one of the best writers in Nashville.  King Records founder Syd Nathan loved him.  Ray once told me, during a session in the 1980s, that he would be “still be working for The Man today if he was alive.”  Ray was an easy-going guy who wrote many country hits.  At King, he was a hit songwriter too.  But in Nashville, he blossomed.  As a singer, he recorded for Monument and other labels.  As an A&R man at RCA, he produced a lot of big acts, including Willie Nelson, Kenny Price, and Waylon Jennings.  He produced and wrote Jennings’ “I’m a Ramblin’ Man.”  Ray wrote it back in his early years in Cincinnati, when he performed under his own name and also as Ray Starr.  He did rockabilly, country, and R&B.  He intended for the song it to be done in a R&B style.  I wonder if Jennings appreciated it.  “Jennings and Nelson hated Ray,” producer Carl Edmondson told me.  Ray cut one of Carl’s songs, “I Break Easy.”  Perhaps Jennings and Nelson saw themselves as the Outlaws and Ray as the traditionalist.  I can’t see why anyone would have disliked him. He had a lot of friends in Cincinnati and Nashville.  He did not play the role.  I am including here a recording I co-produced with Ray back in 1980.  We used Ray’s usual studio band, which included the talented guitarist and songwriter Dave Kirby and drummer D.J. Fontana.  We recorded a song written by the great Norro Wilson, who was hot then.  The band listened to a demo of “Mama McCluskie,” then knocked it out perfectly on the first take.  I gave the players no lead sheets.  They didn’t need any.  I told Ray that it sounded perfect to me.  He said, “We’ll do a couple of more takes just to get our money’s worth.”  We ended up using the first.  Ray will be missed.  RIP, Mr. Ramblin’ Man.

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#8Tuneful, jangly guitars come to the fore on this fetching, uptempo indie-pop number “Cincinnati” by a Scottish band, Holidaymakers, who recorded a couple singles in the UK in the late 1980s for Newcastle-based indie label, Woosh — and then nothing more.  Released in 1988 – the bicentennial year, coincidentally, of the city that began life as ‘Losantiville‘ (until General Arthur St. Clair intervened) – “Cincinnati” was the second of three releases for Holidaymakers:


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#9Findlay Market and (if I’m not mistaken) the city’s abandoned subway get a shout-out in a song – “Oh, Cincinnati” by The Seedy Seeds from 2008 – that sure sounds, to my ears, like an obvious (though unlikely) local radio hit, with wistful banjo lines tempered by a modern pop sensibility that somehow manages to convey a hopefulness throughout:


Instruments and vocals by Margaret Darling and Mike Ingram (with assistance from friends and family), “Oh, Cincinnati” can be found on The Seedy Seeds’ debut CD release Count the Days — available through Bandcamp:


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#10Zavala (given name, Alex) – of Seattle “alternative” hip hop duo Dark Time Sunshine – stepped out on his own in 2009 on a split LP with PNS (Juvenal Robles) entitled Canciones Modernas.  The irresistible groove of Zavala’s hip hop/funk instrumental with the odd title – “Cincinnati Bears” – makes an ideal backdrop for a scenic Cincinnati drive:


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Zavala’s 2017 work Fantasmas is considered the producer’s first proper solo album.  Dark Time Sunshine’s latest effort Lore will be released February 4, 2021.

LINK to Dark Time Sunshine’s Bandcamp site


Another notable hip hop number is 1994’s “Cincinnati” by Mood (produced by Hi-Tek), the kick-off track on a 4-song cassette demo that was “pushed out to radio and stores,” according to Discogs [Butch Gibson informs me the group was previously known as Three Below Zero].  “Cincinnati” was also used as the closing track on the Cincinnati group’s 1997 debut album, Doom, on which Talib Kweli guests on five of the tracks:


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Spotlight:  Dean Kay and His Elusive Cincinnati Song from 1967

According to the text that accompanies this streaming audio clip of Dean Kay singing his original composition “Sittin’ in a Drum”:

Taken from US test pressing single-side Acetate LP (Harmony Recorders) [entitled] Dean Kay – Who Is Dean Kay … Ultra-scarce test pressing/acetate of Dean Kay. Songs written/copyrighted by Dean Kay Thomson and Hal Blair around 1967-68. Songs are most likely unpublished, making this record even more interesting.

Walking Around Cincinatti [sic]” is the second of five songs that can be found on a disc, of which only one copy exists!  Fascinatingly, Dean Kay himself chimed in one year ago with this comment attached to the YouTube streaming audio clip:

Hi … I’m Dean Kay.  This IS interesting to me.  I don’t think I have a copy of this track or the other tracks on the Acetate.  This is a true one-off.  I hand made the sleeve and gave it to the producer, Bob Ross, alone with the Acetate, as a joke.  I’m assuming that the album was among the items in Bob’s estate and was probably donated, thrown away or sold after he passed.  The tracks were produced in Hollywood probably in 1967-68 (as suggested above) with the idea of pitching them around to try to land a record deal … Didn’t happen.  I started seeing the sleeve on the net a year or so ago.  This is the first time any of the tracks have been uploaded.  Kind of fun to hear this 50 years after the fact.  Of interest, perhaps, is that the lyricist, Hal Blair, wrote 13 songs recorded by Elvis in addition to many big hit records … you can read about him on my website. http://www.deankay.com/clients.html#halBlair  You might find other interesting things on my website http://www.deankay.com/ as well.

The homemade artwork is priceless:

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Notable Cincinnati-Themed Ensembles


 Cincinnati song zzz


1958 advertisement for Canadian beer brand

Sing a Song of Cincinnati” by Steven Rosen
Cincinnati Magazine – December 2020


“Yeah Man”: Musical Thievery

I am riveted with Peter Guralnick’s biographical account – Dream Boogie – of the visionary musical entrepreneur, Sam Cooke, who also happened to be gifted vocalist.   My attention was particularly piqued by Sam’s fraught – and ultimately unsuccessful – attempt to release the song “Yeah Man” as a single.

Rare 1965 French EP

Sam Cooke EP

Beginning in 1963, Sam Cooke’s managerial and business affairs were being run by Allen Klein – the one who Mick Jagger would later (in)famously recommend to The Beatles as a manager in the wake of Brian Epstein’s tragic and unexpected death – and September of 1964 would find Sam angry and resentful over his failure to override Klein’s decision to release “That’s Where It’s At” b/w “Cousin of Mine” as a 45 on the heels of Sam’s September 16th appearance on TV’s Shindig live music program instead of “Yeah Man.”

As Peter Guralnick writes:

Sam met with Allen [Klein] while he was in New York to discuss the immediate future.  He was still [cheesed] off about the new single release.  He had wanted to put out “Yeah Man,” the litany of dances set to The Valentinos’ distinctive beat that he had recorded in March, but Allen had hated it.  In fact, violating one of his own cardinal rules for managing – not for the first time, and not by just a little – he told Sam it was the worst [flibbity] song he had ever heard in his entire life.  “What the [funst] do you know?” Sam shot back.  [“Yeah Man”] was the kind of stripped-down simplified number he was convinced the kids would go for.  But in the end, he had allowed himself to be swayed by Allen’s opinion, and now the single they had released, “Cousin of Mine,” which Allen had insisted was a cute little song that they could sell pop, had shipped fewer copies than any single Sam had put out in three years, and they had thrown away “That’s Where It’s At” on the B-side [editor’s note:  45Cat very clearly identifies “That’s Where It’s At” to be the A-side for the U.S. market — hmmm].

It burned Sam up.  He knew “Yeah Man” would have been a hit, but Allen had been right about so many things, and the thing about it was, the [fathead] wouldn’t back down, even if you put a gun to his head.”

Adding layers of complexity to the story, 30 pages earlier we learned that The Valentinos – a family-based affair signed to Sam’s SAR label that would later produce careers for brothers, Bobby and Cecil Womack – had already laid down the musical groove that became the foundation for “If I Got My Ticket” but had the song rejected initially by Sam — only to subsequently find it re-fashioned by Sam and re-titled as “Yeah Man”!

As Peter Guralnick explains:

[The Valentinos] had another song, “If I Got My Ticket,” something which they had been working on at Soul Station #1 and believed in almost as strongly as “It’s All Over Now” [famously covered by The Rolling Stones], but after a couple of rehearsals, Sam pronounced it “too churchy” and told Bobby it needed more work, they ought to just set it aside until the Womacks had a chance to polish it and turn it into more of a finished song.  It could not have come as a greater surprise, then, when Bobby and his brothers showed up at the studio to play on Sam’s session the following day, only to find him exploring the same groove, the same riff they had worked out for “If I Got My Ticket” as the centerpiece of a new number of his own.

“Yeah Man” was a song he had first come up with in England, a dance number along the lines of the call-and-response vehicle he had devised for Cassius Clay [Muhammad Ali], with a large chorus responding to a series of rhetorical questions (“Do you like good music?”) with a rousing “Yeah, yeah.”  What made it different was the vocal charm, the rhythmic complexity, the agile horns, and booming bass.

My attention sufficiently piqued, I immediately jumped on YouTube in order to hear for myself the song that both offended Allen Klein and embittered Sam Cooke:

“Yeah Man”     Sam Cooke     1965

How amusing then to quickly discover that this song – which already had been thieved by Sam Cooke – would itself get appropriated two years later by Arthur Conley (with the very able assistance of Otis Redding) and get turned into classic soul music homage, “Sweet Soul Music”!

I’m kicking myself for needing assistance to figure out that the song’s signature intro was itself “inspired by” (i.e., stolen from) Elmer Bernstein‘s Magnificent Seven theme song!  For a little bit of extra fun, in fact, play both clips at the same time to see if you can get the two songs songs to line up in sync.

Where do I go to report all this thievery?

What’s even more fascinating is the fact that Peter Guralnick does not, at any point, make reference to “Sweet Soul Music,” which is curious, given that the song is not an obscure one, or even hint at “Yeah Man” laying the ground work for a future hit single.  I checked the index of the book to be sure and found references to numerous songs by title — but not “Sweet Soul Music.”

“I Just Want to Touch You”: The New Rutles?

Why am I not terribly surprised that Todd Rundgren’s Utopia went to the trouble and expense of dressing up as Fab Four lookalikes in their video for affectionate Beatle pastiche, “I Just Want to Touch You”:

From 1980 album, Deface the Music, just two short years after spoof Rutles documentary – All You Need Is Cash — written by Eric Idle & Lorne Michaels, with songs composed by close friend of The Beatles and guitarist for The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Neil Innes.

Paul Lester’s excellent and informative essay that accompanied the CD reissue of Deface the Music points out that this track was considered but ultimately rejected for feature film, Roadie – purportedly since the song too closely emulated the early Beatle sound and songwriting style.

Released in the UK as the kick-off track on a 4-song EP — check out the cheeky copy on the back of the sleeve:

Utopia 45“Meet UTOPIA, an instantly likeable and aware quartet of bright young lads, carving a niche in today’s feverish pop market-place.  No Post-Industrial Funk for these pop-picking boys, just catchy snatches of hot rock ‘n’ roll.  Take the first cut, ‘I Just Want to Touch You’; a perfect example of Todd’s expressive lead vocals, combining with the harmonies of Willie and Roger.  Once heard, never forgotten, ‘Silly Boy’ of course is purposely tongue in cheek, showing how UTOPIA’s writing has expanded into wider fields.  Flip the disc over and straight into ‘Life Goes On’ revealing a more complex side to the band’s musical tastes.  A real grower this, and certain to become a stage favourite.  Finally, but not least, the record finishes with ‘All Smiles,’ a sure-fire UTOPIA classic, containing enough hooks to catch a haul of mackerel.  So there it is, four great songs by a great band.  Roll up folks and meet UTOPIA.”