Oddball Hendrix 45s Worldwide

Those familiar with Jimi Hendrix‘s song catalog might be amused by the quirky decisions made in various ‘foreign’ (i.e, non-US or -UK) markets around the globe — that’s right, it’s another romp through the 45Cat database not unlike the previous piece with The Beatles.

Let us begin our quest with “Burning of the Midnight Lamp,” Hendrix’s fourth UK single and an ‘important’ early composition — right away, we note that Germany produced a playfully expressive picture sleeve for this 1967 A-side release.

Norway, on the other hand, would take Hendrix’s ‘wild man’ stage persona and run with it.

Barclay of France (previously celebrated here), meanwhile, would present Hendrix in a slightly more regal fashion in this 1967 picture sleeve.

Tragically humorous to see “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” as a B-side in 1969, paired with “Fire” for the UK market, however with the A-side mistitled as “Let Me Light Your Fire”!

New Zealand, Yugoslavia, and Germany would also confuse “Fire” with The Doors’ big breakout hit also from 1967 – pop music’s peak year – along with Spain, whose picture sleeve release (below) wins an award for most imaginatively literal interpretation.

Spanish 45 – “Let Me Ligh Your Fire”:  Musical Misspellings!

“Light Your Fire” / “Midnight Lamp” Polydor 45 from unknown country – possibly Singapore.

“Burning of the Midnight Lamp” would also be used as a B-side on this 4-track EP from Portugal that was released in 1968.

“Burning of the Midnight Lamp” would receive somewhat of a promotion in Bolivia, where the song was sequenced as the second track (side A) of a four-cut EP from 1970 that features “Come On (Pt. 1)” in its first and only starring role as an “A-side” (EP also notable for “Love or Confusion” – a recording otherwise found only on Are You Experienced).

“Come On (Pt. 1)”:  first & only A-side appearance

4-song EP from Iran (with one Hendrix track) sold for $180

Musical misspelling!  “Jimmy Hendrix Experience”

Some of Hendrix’s more adventurous songwriting efforts, such as “Are You Experienced”; “Third Stone from the Sun”; “Little Wing”; “Castles Made of Sand”; “House Burning Down”; “Rainy Day Dream Away” and “Still Raining Still Dreaming” (et al.) would not end up on a 45 release – or, at least, during his lifetime.

However, there are a couple unlikely Hendrix compositions that found themselves being issued in 7-inch format, such as side one’s ambitious (5 minutes and 29 seconds) closing track for Axis: Bold As Love – “If Six Was Nine” – chosen for the US & Australian markets in 1969 as the B-side to “Stone Free” (no doubt prompted by the song’s inclusion in the soundtrack to that same year’s classic counterculture film, Easy Rider).

“If Six Was Nine” — unlikely Australian B-side

Another unlikely Hendrix track found on a 45:  “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)” selected as the B-side for “Crosstown Traffic” in 1968 for the Australian market, while serving the same role in 1970 for the Yugoslavian market (although paired instead with “Voodoo Chile”) — the song’s only non-LP releases thus far known.

“Have You Ever Been” — unlikely Australian B-side

But without a doubt, the oddest Hendrix composition to end up on either side of a 45 is the epic underwater fantasy that fills an entire album side on Hendrix’s finest long-player — “1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)” — which Barclay saw fit to release in 1972, along with another Electric Ladyland cut, “Come On (Part 1),” that, aside from Bolivia, could not be found on a disc measuring less than one foot in diameter [in fact, hilarious to discover that Iran beat everyone else to the punch when bootleggers issued “Come On” on this EP from 1968, the year of Electric Ladyland‘s release].

French 45 – 1972

This French 45 release from 1972 would be the sole non-LP release of beautiful ballad, “Drifting” (with nice vibraphone work from Buzzy Linhart), from the first posthumous LP, 1971’s The Cry of Love.

French 45 – 1972

Spanish Castle Magic” – otherwise confined to Axis: Bold As Love – would find itself loudly liberated in Japan, where it would be released on 7-inch (and nowhere else) in 1968.

Japanese 45 – 1968

This pair of 45s from 1967 – Italy (left) & Spain (right) – shares the same design template, if not typography.

The cover design of this “Purple Haze” EP from Mexico (1968) also wins for ‘most literal’ — includes three tracks from the debut album, plus one (“Up From the Skies”) from the ‘new’ one, curiously enough.

“Freedom” b/w “Angel” 45 picture sleeve – Japan – 1971

1971 EP from Singapore — rare non-LP appearance of “My Friend” from The Cry of Love.

“Hej Joe” 45 picture sleeve – Yugoslavia – 1975

This Hendrix piece would not be complete without bootleg EP releases from Thailand, beginning with this 4-song Are You Experienced sampler (title track + 3 others).

Axis: Bold As Love would likewise get packaged as a 4-track EP sampler — includes rare instance of “Wait Until Tomorrow”; “You Got Me Floatin'” & “Little Miss Lover” on non-LP.

4-track EP (1969) includes 2 tracks each from Hendrix’s Experience & Clapton’s Cream.

Another noteworthy 4-track bootleg EP from Thailand with a familiar cover montage — includes Jimi’s “Freedom” plus three non-Hendrix (!) tracks.

Jimi appears on the cover of another 4-track EP, albeit with only one Hendrix recording — this one a bootleg from Malaysia, however.

Iran would produce other bootleg Hendrix product, such as this 4-track Smash Hits EP.

Iran would also boldly pair two musical giants – James Brown and Jimi Hendrix – for the first and last time ever on this split EP that includes “Let Yourself Go” (a song previously celebrated in Zero to 180’s salute to Brown’s brave and patriotic Vietnam tour in 1968).

Distinctive green-vinyl EP from Iran includes “House Burning Down” — plus “Mr. Soul” from Buffalo Springfield (not to mention “Grits and Corn Bread” – a 1966 soul instrumental  previously celebrated here).

Hendrix releases on obsolete playback formats are available for purchase, go figure.

Zero to 180 is stunned to discover that all three Jimi Hendrix Experience albums received radically different covers and sleeve designs when released in France on Barclay imprint, Panache, as shown below.

1967 debut

1967’s Axis: Bold As Love

1968’s Electric Ladyland

Hendrix, incidentally, would only merit one picture sleeve in his lifetime for the US market — debut 45, “Hey Joe” b/w “51st Anniversary” (released April, 1967 on Reprise).

Lord BooBoo’s Lone 45 – on King

Lord BooBoo‘s lone single release on King Records would end up being the calypso singer’s entire recorded output!  Michel Ruppli’s 2-volume King discography reports that Lord BooBoo laid down these two tracks – “De Knife, De Fork, De Spoon” b/w “No Man and Woman Get Along” – in NYC on April Fool’s Day, 1957.

“De Knife, De Fork, De Spoon”     Lord BooBoo     1957

Note that this single was issued on 10-inch (78) as well as 7-inch (45) vinyl.

Lord BooBoo 78-aLord BooBoo 45-a

Zero to 180’s Midwest correspondent, Mike Rep Hummel, notes that Earl Robbins, the song’s creator and undoubtedly Lord BooBoo himself, recorded a couple of split singles that same year for Cincinnati label, Gateway, where (as you might recall) my brother’s father-in-law served as vocalist under the pseudonym, Jack Daniels.

Earl Robbins 78

TMBG: Learning Can Be Fun

I’ve always appreciated how They Might Be Giants respect their fanbase and labor hard to provide high value for the entertainment dollar.  While their music has always had strong appeal to a younger demographic, in recent years They Might Be Giants have released albums aimed squarely at the school-age crowd, such as Here Comes the ABCs, (released as 25 tracks on CD, 39 on DVD) which has gotten a lot of airplay around our house.  Note the clever lyric and accompanying animation sequence for “Alphabet Lost and Found“:

“Alphabet Lost and Found”      They Might Be Giants     2005

There is a good reason why this YouTube clip was uploaded under the name of “DisneyMusic” — so says Wikipedia:

“While [the album] was produced and released by Walt Disney Records, the band was reportedly given complete creative control over the project, which at the time was very unusual for Walt Disney Records, which had until then followed a strict artist control policy.  As a result, the DVD features a variety of puppetry, animation and live action supplied by personal friends of the group, including A.J. Schnack, who directed the TMBG documentary Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns).  For guest vocals on a few tracks, they turned to family:  John Flansburgh’s wife Robin Goldwasser, and John Linnell’s son, Henry.  The music videos that appear on the DVD were also aired (in part or whole) on the Disney Channel’s children’s programming block, Playhouse Disney.”

Sounds like Alvino Rey‘s “Sono-Vox” being employed in the phased backing vocals — or some simulation thereof, yes?

TMBG-aDivya Srinivasan is the artistic hand behind the animation on “Alphabet Lost and Found” — check out the rest of her work at her website, which includes an animation reel and illustration slide show.

Here Come the ABCs would be the successor to No!, their first formal children’s album.TMBG-bTMBG Flexi-Disc Trivia

For their April 1992 edition, Reflex Magazine would release a “split 331/3 RPM flexidisc:  XTC b/w TMBG!  Side A features “Rip Van Reuben” – a home demo of an Andy Partridge compostion – with They Might Be Giants’s “Moving to the Sun” on the flip side.

TMBG-cTMBG-cc

Garlic in Popular Music

There are a considerable number of people on this planet who are not yet aware of the existence of a restaurant – The Stinking Rose – that celebrates the garlic bulb in all its glory, with garlic infused into the majority of the menu offerings.  With only two locations (one in Beverly Hills, the other in San Francisco), I’m afraid this dream destination will simply have to remain one for the indefinite future for many of us.

In the meantime, I will to have content myself with garlic-themed music for my soul food.      But do songs about garlic exist?  Here’s what Zero to 180’s investigation turned up.

As it turns out, garlic songs – at least here in the States – are at least as old as the blues.  Sylvester Weaver‘s “Garlic Blues” from 1927, it bears noting, will turn 100 in 11 years:

“Garlic Blues”     Helen Humes with Sylvester Weaver & Walter Beasley     1927

Not much else would appear for a couple decades, it seems, until The Max Brüel Quartet from Denmark released their jazz instrumental composition in 1955, “Garlic Wafer.”

“Garlic Wafer” by The Max Brüel Quartet – side one, track 2

Garlic 45-b 1966 would bring another garlic sighting, when Capitol subsidiary label, Tower, released its single “(Get Off That) Booze & Garlic Bread” by garage rocker, Denny Rockwell.

This 45 deserves, if not partial credit, at least an asterisk

Garlic 45-aGarlic 45-aa

Two years later, vibraphonist Mike Mainieri and his Quartet would channel the spirits, and beat John Lennon to the punch in the process, with the wryly-titled “Instant Garlic” from the group’s 1968 album, Insight.

Instant garlic’s gonna get you — gonna knock you right on the head

Garlic LP-bb1972 would see the release of NRBQ‘s (Eddie Kramer-produced) Scraps, a wide-ranging album that would include the whimsical and dadesque “Who Put the Garlic in the Glue.”

“Who Put the Garlic in the Glue” by NRBQ – back when the Q stood for Quintet

NRBQ LP-a[42 years later, Lin Brehmer from Chicago’s CBS affiliate XRT would single out NRBQ’s “Who Put the Garlic in the Glue” for her October 22, 2014 ‘Hump Day Unusual Moment‘ segment.]

Sometime in 1977 — within the confines of Italy, appropriately enough — garlic would get the funky instrumental it so richly deserves in the form of “Garlic Salt” by The Joy Unlimited Group & the Continentals:

“Garlic Salt”     The Joy Unlimited Group & the Continentals     1977

1978 would see the final album – Spaceguerilla – from German progressive jazz-rock group, Missus Beastly, with “King Garlic,” fittingly, as its closing track.

“King Garlic” by Missus Beastly — Side 2, track 4

Garlic LP-fBefore decade’s end, Leo Kottke would do his part to advance the cause with the release of 1979’s Balance, an LP that would include “1/2 Acre of Garlic.”

“1/2 Acre of Garlic” by Leo Kottke —  Yugoslavian PressingLeo Kottke LP-a

1979 would also see the release of a Folkways album – Folk Songs from Latin America by Suni Paz – that would include the heartfelt paean “Al Ajo (To Garlic)”:

“Al Ajo (To Garlic)” — side 1, track 4

Garlic LP-e1979 would prove to be a banner year, with the release of the soundtrack to George A. Romero’s vampire-themed film, Martin — an album that would include “Garlic Chase #6.”

“Garlic Chase #6 — side 1, track 7Garlic LP-a

But the big breakthrough for garlic in song would come by way of Chapel Hill foursome, Superchunk, who no doubt “sweated out” vast amounts of garlic recording their unabashed 1990 declaration of bulb love, “Garlic” — the B-side of a split single on noted indie label, Merge, along with Seaweed and Geek (“released to go with a US tour of the three bands”):

“Garlic”     Superchunk     1990

By the turn of the new century, it was a whole new era for Garlic in Popular Music, and even LeeScratchPerry and Guided By Voices would eventually get in on the game, as you will note on the list below — a public service from the tireless research staff at Zero to 180.

Garlic in Modern Pop:  An Exhaustive & Exhausting Discography

Also Worth a(n) Historical Asterisk

Bobby Gregory‘s Country Comedy LP includes a comic routine “We Always Feed Our Baby Garlic” that is also illustrated at the very bottom of the album cover – dead center:

Garlic LP-d

The “contents” of Side A from Monty Python‘s Previous Record from 1970 – written from the perspective of a ‘Harley St. dentist’ – is an amusing bit that includes a ‘Where’s Waldo’ game:  can you find the phrase “stinking garlic”?

Garlic LP-c

“Washita Love Child”: Jesse Ed & Eric Whatsisname

In The World of Indigenous America, Brian Wright-McLeod writes of the “powwow style” and its influence in popular music, as exemplified by such artists as Jim Pepper, Peter DePoe, and Jesse Ed Davis:

“Jesse Ed Davis (Comanche-Kiowa) began his work as a leading session guitarist in the early 1960s when he accompanied country singer Conway Twitty.  The powwow influences in Davis’s music are both subtle and yet apparent to the trained ear.  From his first solo album, Jesse Davis (Atco, 1970), the song ‘Washita Love Child’ contains both lyrical references (‘And I did that powwow thing’) and the combined background vocals of Merry Clayton, Clydie King, and Gram Parsons, utilizing the vocal refrain of ‘hey-ya-hey’ typical of the powwow song style, but arranged by Davis as a standard back-up vocal.  The back beat and rhythm of the song are obviously powwow-based.”

Edited by ROBERT WARRIOR

World of Indigenous AmericaThe autobiographical “Washita Love Child” – with its driving beat and guest guitar solo by Eric Clapton – seems the obvious choice for the album’s opening track, and yet it would get bumped to the #3 spot:

“Washita Love Child”     Jesse Ed Davis with Eric Clapton     1970

Musician credits for Jesse Davis

  • Guitar, Keyboards & Vocals:  Jesse Edwin Davis III
  • Guitar:  Eric Clapton & Joel Scott Hill
  • Backing Vocals:  Bobby Jones, Clydie King, Gloria Jones, Gram Parsons, Maxine Willard, Merry Clayton, Nikki Barclay & Vanetta Fields
  • Keyboards:  Ben Sidran, John Simon, Larry Knechtel & Leon Russell
  • Bass:  Billy Rich & Steve Thompson
  • Drums:  Alan White, Bruce Rowland, Chuck Blackwell & Steve Mitchell
  • Percussion:  Alan Yoshida, Jackie Lomax, Johnnie Ware, Pat Daley, Pete Waddington & Sandy Konikoff
  • Tenor Saxophone:  Frank Mayes
  • Tenor Saxophone:  Jerry Jumonville [solo]
  • Trombone & Trumpet:  Darrell Leonard
  • Baritone Saxophone & Clarinet:  James Gordon
  • Producer, Arranger & Album Cover Concept:  Jesse Edwin Davis III
  • Cover Painting:  Jesse Edwin Davis II

Jesse Ed Davis 45-aJesse Ed Trivia That Might Blow Your MInd, If Slightly

~ Jesse Ed Davis released “Sue Me Sue You Blues” in 1972 before the song’s author, George Harrison, issued his own version on 1973’s Living in the Material World.

~ Jesse Ed Davis provided musical support for two artists who would each record distinctive versions of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” for debut albums released in 1971 & 1973, respectively:  Leon Russell (guitar) and Bryan Ferry (backing vocals).

~ In 1973, when Jesse Ed Davis and Iggy & the Stooges shared the same label for exactly one album, Columbia released a “split EP” (4 songs on a 7-inch 33 rpm record) that paired the two artists, bizarrely, for the first and last time.

Jesse Ed & Iggy-aJesse Ed & Iggy-b

~ In 1987, the year before his untimely death, Jesse Ed Davis contributed a guitar solo on the closing track “At Last” for Scott Colby‘s Slide of Hand album on respected punk label, SST (Black Flag, Minutemen, Descendents, Bad Brains, Hüsker Dü & Meat Puppets, et al.)


Jesse Ed Helped Breathe Life into the Following Songs:

~ “Doctor My Eyes” — the breakout hit from Jackson Browne’s 1972 debut album.

~ “Heal Your Heart” on Stevie Miller Band’s 1972 album, Recall the Beginning…A Journey from Eden.

~ “Open Up the Watergate (And Let the Sunshine In)” on 1974 Bert Jansch album, L.A. Turnaround.

~ “(What a) Wonderful World” from David Bromberg’s Midnight on the Water album from 1975.

~ “Stand By Me” (slide guitar solo) on John Lennon’s hit version from 1975’s Rock ‘n’ Roll album.

~ “Don’t Think … Feel” from 1976 Neil Diamond album, Beautiful Noise.

~ “Hard Workin’ Man” by Captain Beefheart with Jack Nitzsche & Friends from 1978 soundtrack album, Blue Collar.


Jesse Ed Played Guitar (et al.) on the Following Albums

  • Taj Mahal     Taj Mahal     1968
  • Taj Mahal     The Natch'l Blues     1968
  • Rolling Stones & Friends     Rock & Roll Circus     1968  [Taj Mahal]
  • Taj Mahal     Giant Steps     1969
  • Jesse [Ed] Davis     Jesse Davis     1970
  • George Harrison & Friends     Concert for Bangladesh     1971
  • Gene Clark     White Light     1971
  • Roger Tillison     Roger Tillison's Album     1971
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie     She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina     1971
  • John Lee Hooker     Endless Boogie    1971
  • B.B. King     L.A. Midnight     1971
  • Albert King     Lovejoy     1971
  • Albert Collins     There's Gotta Be a Change     1971
  • Lightnin' Hopkins     It's a Sin to Be Rich     1972
  • Jesse Ed Davis     Ululu     1972
  • Alex Richman     Salty     1972
  • Jim Pulte     Out the Window     1972
  • Jesse Ed Davis     Keep Me Comin'     1973
  • Rod Taylor     Rod Taylor     1973
  • Dion     Born to Be With You     1975
  • Mac Davis     Burnin' Thing     1975
  • Harry Nilsson     ... That's the Way It Is  +  Sandman     1976
  • David Blue     Cupid's Arrow     1976
  • Jimmy Cliff     Follow My Mind     1976
  • Leonard Cohen     Death of a Ladies' Man     1977
  • Ben Sidran     A Little Kiss in the Night     1978
  • Jack Nitzsche & Friends     Soundtrack from 'Blue Collar'     1978

Elaine Armstrong’s Sole 45

According to Michel Ruppli’s The King Labels:  A Discography, Elaine Armstrong would record a total of four sides (possibly at King’s Cincinnati studio?) although only two would make it on to her one and only King 45 from 1968.  “Sad But True” would be the A-side:

“Sad But True”     Elaine Armstrong     1968

A copy of this 45 would sell at auction for $76 in 2010.

“Sad But True” is otherwise available on a 2012 European anthology of King material, Royal Grooves:  Funk and Groovy Soul from the King Records Vaults.  The single’s flip side – “Precious Minutes” – can be found on Ace’s 2001 CD collection, King’s Serious Soul Volume 2:  Counting Teardrops.

Elaine Armstrong 45Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven asserts that the recordings were likely cut in Nashville.

More importantly, Sir Shambling points out that “soul singer” Elaine Armstrong and civil rights pioneer Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong — one of two students who integrated the University of Southern Mississippi at Hattiesburg — are one and the the same!

At the dedication of the Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong-Raylawni Branch Plaza on September 6, 2013, Dr. Rodney Bennett – University of Southern Mississippi President – would give the following tribute (in part):

“…In 1965, Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong was eighteen years old.  Bright, ambitious, and musically gifted, she had just graduated from Rowan High School in Hattiesburg.  Despite scholarship offers from colleges elsewhere, she preferred to continue her education at her hometown university to be near her mother.  To do so, however, she would have to challenge a color barrier that had stood for more than half a century since the school first opened its doors in 1912.  Others had tried before but were not successful; however, she was determined

On September 6, 1965, these two brave women, quietly and without incident, ended segregation at the University of Southern Mississippi.  The administration was determined to avoid the kind of notoriety that had accompanied earlier attempts at USM and especially the violence that had marked integration elsewhere in the state, and they took great pains to make what was in reality a momentous event seem largely uneventful.  Despite the absence of overt hostility, Armstrong and Branch endured the loneliness and anxiety that confront all pioneers.  In Branch’s words, “Somebody had to go first.  Somebody had to go through whatever might happen . . . so . . . others could come along and wouldn’t have to give it a thought.”

Armstrong, who lived on campus, participated in the full range of student activities, including the University Choir, to whose success she was a major contributor.  After leaving Southern Miss, she married and eventually moved to Maryland, where she worked, raised a family, and currently serves as an investor consultant and agent for a prominent real estate firm.  Branch’s family responsibilities restricted her experience to the classroom.  As a commuting student, she often made the lengthy trek from her home to campus and back on foot.  Forced by family responsibilities to withdraw after a year, she went on to a successful military career, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force reserve.  She later returned to Southern Miss, earned a master’s degree, and taught nursing at Pearl River Community College and USM until her retirement in 2004…”

photo courtesy of Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven

Elaine Armstrong2011, fascinatingly enough, would see “Sad But True” reissued as part of a split 45 (with “So Many Days” by The Vonns on the flip side) released on King lookalike label, Fryers.  UK’s Kudo Records offers this single for sale and invites you to ponder these words:

“Elaine Armstrong’s ‘Sad But True’ is a hopelessly obscure and surely under-played sister funk gem and another reminder that there were so many great vocalists and musicians active whose careers, for whatever reason, never took off.  As far as it can be told, the obscure yet clearly talented Ms Armstrong cut just the one record. – a great shame, maybe, but at least here is a chance for you to hear it and pop it in your collection / DJ box.”

Elaine Armstrong Fryers 45

Purple Reign – from 1968!

One has to wonder whether the Columbus, Ohio combo – Purple Reign – sought legal counsel over the homophonic similarity of the band’s name with the title of Prince’s career-defining album (22 million sales worldwide to date) and movie from 1984, Purple Rain:

“Wish You Didn’t Have to Go”     Purple Reign     1968

Note the singer’s ingenious use of “home-spun” echo on the song’s chorus — who needs expensive gadgetry and special effects when you can be your own Echoplex?

How fun to see (as a former Ohio State student who frequented record shops) that Used Kids Records (a subsidiary of Columbus-based School Kids Records) sold this 45 a couple years ago for sixteen bucks.  As Buckeye Beat notes, this 7-inch recording is a “split” single, which means a different artist on the flip side — in this case, Touches of Gold.

Check out Hillside‘s built-in ad on the 45 label itself:  “For Rent Guitars – Amps – Microphones – Organ – Piano – Speakers – P.A. Systems”:

Purple Reign 45

Alvino Rey: Steel Guitarist Bandleader

Thanks to Andy Volk of the Steel Guitar Forum for pointing me to Anne Miller’s fascinating profile of steel guitarist bandleader Alvino Rey for the Smithsonian in which we learn Rey, as a consultant for Gibson in the 1930s, helped develop the prototype for the ES-150 (made famous by Charlie Christian), the first modern electric guitar.  Alvino Rey, therefore, is an un(der)-acknowledged “father of the electric guitar.”

Alvino Rey:  musical bat advocate

Alvino Rey - bat fanCan you name any other pop bandleaders who played the steel guitar besides Alvino Rey? I didn’t think so.

In this TV clip, Lawrence Welk informs his audience that Alvino Rey is(was) a Capitol recording artist whose latest album is Ping Pong — and then insists that Rey play a song not even on the album!   Rey’s musicianship in this performance is masterful:

“Hindustan”     Alvino Rey on The Lawrence Welk Show     1959?

The Smithsonian article also pointed out the reason for the facial resemblance between Alvino Rey and Win (& Will) Butler of Arcade Fire:  it’s genetic.  Rey is the Butler brothers’ grandfather – a fact that becomes quite clear when you look at the photo that accompanies this tribute page from the Gibson Guitars website:

“Built by Alvino Rey and John Kutilek as a test bed for their new pickup, the instrument pictured here (below) comprises a simple frame to which a vestigial ‘body’, fingerboard and headstock – all of which are fabricated from sheet brass – are attached.  Hardware includes a brass nut and bridge, inexpensive tuners and a basic trapeze tailpiece.  The pickup itself consists of two magnets with the strings running between the top magnet and a coil of wire.  The pickup was hardwired with no jack socket or controls.”

Alvino Rey with gibson es-150 prototype in 1997     (gibson guitars website)

Alvino Rey with ES-150 Prototype

Alvino Rey:  A Futuristic Musical Coda

Alvino Rey would pass in 2004, and the following year, Arcade Fire would release a split single, with a 1940 radio broadcast of the Alvino Rey Orchestra used for the flip side.  This performance of the song, “My Buddy,” would also feature Win & Will Butler’s grandmother, Luise King Rey (of The King Sisters) on the Sono-Vox, a 1930s electronic precursor to the “talk box” that Rey himself pioneered and was “rediscovered” in the 1960s & 70s by the two Petes:  Drake & Frampton.

“My Buddy” (live)     Alvino Rey Orchestra     1940

Lucille Ball would use a Sono-Vox to emulate the sound of a freight train whistle in this fascinating Pathe newsreel snippet.

1960 Capitol LP

Alvino Rey LP

“Evil, Evil Evel”: Insane Fool?

My dad worked in retail merchandise for many years, and I remember fondly when he came home from the annual toy industry convention with the hot new toy at the time:

Evel ToyIdeal introduced this stunt cycle toy on the heels of the 1971 Evel Knievel biopic that starred George Hamilton and inspired a handful or so of 45s.  Stu Phillips and Bob Stone would write “Evel Knievel,” a song covered by Rawhide (1971) and George Hamilton (1972).  Two individual compositions with the same title, “The Ballad of Evel Knievel,” would be released in 1972 (Hub Reynolds) and 1974 (John Culliton Mahoney – actually a “split” single with Evel himself on the A-side “reciting” a song he had co-written, “Why”)

Evel 45However, Eddie Carr and his backing band, The Navajos, didn’t need cues from Hollywood to celebrate the derring-do of Evel Kneivel.  No, sir.  Eddie and the boys had the vision and gumption to sing Evel’s praises a full three years before the release of the 1971 film:

“Evil, Evil Evel Knievel”     Eddie Carr & the Navajos     1968

Stevie Wonder, to my great surprise and excitement, would also throw his hat in the ring with a 1972 B-side entitled “Evel, but alas … a typo.

The First Funky Song?

I tried an interesting exercise:  searching the 45Cat singles database to see if I could locate the earliest use of the word “funky” in a popular song title.

First, I did a basic keyword search using the word “funky“:  46 pages of results, with the first page of funky tracks leading off in vague chronological order with the 1966 hit, “Funky Broadway (pts. 1 & 2)” by Dyke & the Blazers, followed by Wilson Pickett’s version the following year, along with Chris Kenner’s angry retort – “Fumigate Funky Broadway” – plus Young Jesse’s sports-minded “Funky Funky Football”; James Brown’s “Funky Soul #1”;  Pretty Purdie’s “Funky Donkey,” and a flood of other tunes from 1967-1970.

I then repeated the search (“funky”) but added the term “1965” as a filter.  The results:

  • Al Caiola – “Hunky Funky” – United Artists B-side – February, 1965
  • New Hollywood Argyles – “Do the Funky-Foot” – Kammy B-Side – November, 1965
  • Big Ben – “Funky Junky” – Ric B-Side – November, 1965

Funky 45aFunky 45b

Same search but this time using “1964″ as the filter.   The results:

  • Jeannie & Her Redheads – “Funky & Fleopatra” – Decca UK B-Side – February, 1964
  • Shirley Scott & Stanley Turrentine – “The Funky Fox” – Prestige A-Side – 1964
  • Les Nocturnes – “Dansons Le Funky” – Laval (Canada) B-Side – 1964

Funky 45cFunky 45d

Repeated the search, but guess what?  That’s right, “1963” as the filter.  The results:

  • Howard Roberts (& Jackie Wilson) – “Color Him Funky” – Capitol B-Side – May, 1963
  • Lou Donaldson – “Funky Mama (pts. 1 & 2) – Blue Note A&B-Side – 1963
  • The Castanets – “Funky Wunky Piano” – TCF B-Side – December, 1963

Funky 45eFunky 45f

Are we almost there yet?  No way, man – let’s try “1962” as the filter.  The results:

  • Lee Evans Trio – “Funky Night” – Capitol acetate – 1962
  • Mezzrow Bechet Quintet – “Funky Butt” (*) – Denmark EP (“Really the Blues”) – 1962

What happens if I try “1961” as the filter?  The results:

  • The Cavaliers – “Funky” – Coral A-Side – January, 1961 (surprisingly unfunky – listen for yourself by clicking on the triangle below)

I struck out with “1960” and “1959” – but hey, I did turn up an item with “1958“:

  • Terry Gibbs & His Orchestra – “Funky Serenade” – EmArcy (Sweden) – 1958 EP

I then struck out with 1957 but turned up something using “1956“:

  • Pete Brown Quintet – “Funky Feelin’ Blues” – EmArcy (UK) – 1956 EP

1956 “split” EP with Pete Brown Quintet’s funky track on the A-side

Funky UK EPAnd then not one funky song prior to 1956 in the 45Cat database.  Surely, this UK release can’t be the earliest of the funky tunes, right?  That’s where we need the public’s help.

One key historical fact:  45Cat contributor, mickey rat, astutely asserts that Memphis Minnie’s “New Orleans Stop Time” from 1936 might “possibly be the earliest recorded use of the word ‘funky'” [click on link above – 0:45 mark].

Except if you go back to the tune “Funky Butt” [(*) covered in 1962 by Mezz Mezzrow],   you quickly discover that this composition was written by legendary New Orleans cornetist, Buddy Bolden, who did not live past the year 1931.  So, despite Memphis Minnie’s valiant efforts, it is clear that we must confer Buddy Bolden as the reigning renegade of funk until proven otherwise.