King’s “Tequila” Knock-Off

King Records would try to cash-in on the success of “Tequila” by The Champs, as Johnnie Pate‘s 1958 Federal 45 “Muskeeta” would demonstrate:

Johnnie Pate’s     “Muskeeta”     1958

Johnnie Pate (b, ldr); Ronald Wilson (fl); Williams Wallace (p); Wilbur Wynne (g); Donald Clark (d).

Chicago, March 20, 1958

Cash Box‘s April 19, 1958 review acknowledged the structural similarities, though not in a bad way necessarily:

Pate sets his flute to a “Tequila”-like backdrop and hands in an exciting side.  At mid point a voice belts out the word “Muskeeta.”  Good mambo rock ‘n roll.

According to Armin Büttner‘s Johnnie Pate history website, the version of “Muskeeta” on the French EP (below) is exactly the same as the version on King LP 584, but for a tenor sax probably overdubbed by Ronald Wilson himself.  It is not yet known, which version of “Muskeeta” is on Federal 45-12325.

Johnnie Pate - Muskeeta - French EPThis would not be the first time King Records would attempt to mine this particular vein, as Zero to 180’s lengthy examination of “Rare & Unissued King Tracks” revealed another 45 released that same year, “Snake Charmer” by The Puddle Jumpers that attempted to ride the coattails of “Tequila” and its unexpected meteoric ride.

Billboard‘s April 21, 1958 edition reports that “Muskeeta” made the #5 spot of “R&B Best Sellers” that week in the Cincinnati area.  Song would be included on 1958 full-length release Swingin’ Flute Dance Beat for the Ivy League.

“Snowfall”: Soulful + Strings

The Soulful Strings evoke the magic of falling snow — thanks to Dorothy Ashby‘s harp — on their classic instrumental track, “Snowfall:

“Snowfall”     Soulful Strings     1968

Discogs helps us appreciate how The Soulful Strings were able to create an identifiable sound despite only playing other people’s material:

“The Soulful Strings was a project of the Chicago soul arranger Richard Evans, working with several musicians from the Cadet Records house band between 1966 and 1971 including Charles Stepney, Bobby Christian, Billy Wooten, Phil Upchurch, Lennie Druss, and Cleveland Eaton.

Employing a repertoire composed almost entirely of covers, Evans and company created a unique sound, combining a sharp, soulful rhythm section with a lush string backing.  Evans pushed the strings to the front, assuming an attitude previously reserved only for the hulking funk of bass and rhythm guitar.  It was this crucial element that made The Soulful Strings sound, so successful.”

soulful-strings-magic-of-christmas-lp“Snowfall” can be found on The Magic of Christmas, released in 1968 on Chess jazz subsidiary label, Cadet.

soulful-strings-magic-of-christmas-xCadet would issue 7 albums by The Soulful Strings between the years 1966-1970.

Bill Doggett’s “Soft”: Enduring

Bill Doggett and his Hammond organ, in 1957, would breathe (via flute) fresh life into Tiny Bradshaw‘s “Soft” from 1952 – both versions released on King.  Even though Doggett’s “Soft” would ‘only’ peak at #51, Billboard’s “Hot 100 Chart History” indicates this song to have spent 14 weeks on the chart – impressive staying power for an instrumental:

“Soft”     Bill Doggett     1957

Billboard would report “Soft” as an ‘R&B territorial best seller’ (1) in Detroit in its October 14, 1957 edition and (2) Cincinnati in its December 21, 1957 edition.  “Soft” would also be included in Billboard’s ‘Top 100 Sides – Store Recorded Sales’ for the week ending October 26, as well as December 7, 1957.

                     US 45 on King                          UK 45 on “Beatle” label Parlophone

Bill Doggett US 45Bill Doggett UK 45

The song would endure into the 1970s.  However, King Records would do a curious thing.  On the one hand, King would reissue “Soft” as a single in 1971 – though as a B-side (!) – while just the year prior, the song had been deemed fit to serve as the title track of a Bill Doggett LP compilation.  What gives?  Perhaps the 1971 single was an attempt to give record buyers a “double A-side” release with two solid tracks and no filler, so perhaps I should lighten up a little.

                   1971 King LP — “Soft” as title track        1970 King 45 — “Soft” as B-side

Bill Doggett LP (1970)Bill Doggett 45 reissue (1971)

It’s the Bill Doggett Centennial!

Bill Doggett, who recorded an instrumental in 1956 (“Honky Tonk”) that sold over 1 million copies — a ridiculous number, especially for King Records.  2016, therefore, means that “Honky Tonk” turns 60 (which is the new 40, anyway), and the artist who recorded it was (curiously enough) 40 years old at the time, as Bill Doggett was born exactly one hundred years ago.  I have to confess:  I didn’t figure this out on my own.  This information would come directly from Bill Doggett II, nephew and namesake, who recently reached out to Zero to 180 in response to the precarious future of the original King Records historic site in Cincinnati:

“King Records and its building are to Cincinnati Music History what Capitol Records and its building are to Los Angeles and West Coast r&b and jazz.  Preserving the building and turning it in to a restored TOURIST Destination will bring Tax revenue dollars and TOURISM.  Think BIG….not small.  THIS YEAR is The BILL DOGGETT CENTENNIAL 1916-2016 and THE 60TH Anniversary of the landmark KING Gold Record: HONKY TONK Parts 1/2.”

Honky Tonk”:  Promotional video from Bill Doggett Productions
https://vimeo.com/150982089

Latest Report on Efforts to Save the King Records Historic Site

What Will It Take to Save King RecordsCincinnati Magazine – January 6, 2016

Pop-Up Record Albums

Until fairly recently, I had a Tuesday Morning “close-out retailer” store within 2 miles of home.   In an age when we’re lucky to have just one large national bookstore chain, I was grateful to have a quirky home goods store that also offered the oddest assortment of book fare, the overwhelming majority of which can not be found in Barnes & Noble, Politics & Prose, and other “respectable” reading establishments.

This piece, therefore, is a tribute to the former Silver Spring location of Tuesday Morning for allowing me to purchase the ingeniously-crafted Country Music Pop-Up Book, a $45.00 retail value (as the price tag states) for only $14.99.  This delightful pop-up book I first mentioned two years ago last December in a classic “road” story about Waylon Jennings as told by Kinky Friedman.

Country Music Pop-Up Book-aaCountry Music Pop-Up Book-a

The closing of our local Tuesday Morning has me looking at this sumptuous movable book once again — I just re-read Steve Earle‘s funny essay about life as a struggling songwriter in Nashville working on “The Graveyard Shift” in which we learn that, when “Steve Martin led the entire audience down Ellison Place and bought everyone a Krystal hamburger, [Earle] was at the front of the line.”

When it comes to pop-up record albums, Jethro Tull‘s elaborate gatefold sleeve for their sophomore release — 1969’s Stand Up, with the pop-up art of the four band members — single-handedly rules the roost (one has to wonder, then, why the title of this piece is plural).  The concept was “based on ideas from Terry Ellis and John Williams and printed from woodcuts by New York graphic artist, Jimmy Grashow [whom you may visit on Facebook].”

Jethro Tull Pop-Up LP

One song I remember hearing on 1970s FM radio was Jethro Tull’s adaptation of a popular Bach lute piece (Bourrée in E minor).  Although Stand Up would reach the US Top 20, Island’s release of “Bourée” b/w “Fat Man” would fail to chart, except in Germany (#37) and the Netherlands (#5):

“Bourée”     Jethro Tull     1969

Jimmy Grashow would also design the artwork used for the French 45 picture sleeve:

Jethro Tull 45-aJethro D’oh!

Did You Know…Jethro Tull’s very first single release – their one and only on the MGM label – would find find the group identified as Jethro Toe!  In fact, 45Cat emphatically states that any copies of “Sunshine Day” b/w “Aeroplane” with the band’s name as ‘Jethro Tull’ are bootlegs — click here to check out the many interesting comments about this 7-inch equivalent of the postage stamp with the bi-plane flying upside down.

“Jethro Toe”:  a fire-able offense?

Jethro Toe-bJethro Toe-a

A rare beige/taupe 45 would sell at auction in 2009 for £500 ($800)!

Jethro Toe-c

Liberation’s Sweet Sound

The alluring flute and vibraphone are just a ploy – liberation’s crafty end game.of using music to help listeners recognize the shared humanity that binds us all:

“Liberation”     The Afro-Blues Quintet Plus One     1965

Liberation” is the debut single/opening statement from The Afro-Blues Quintet Plus One, who released five albums between the years 1965-1969.  45Cat appears to tell us that “Liberation” b/w “Walk on By” was released twice in 1965 but with the A & B sides flipped!  Is this really true?

Twin 45s but with the two sides flipped?     Note:  Hal David bumped from the credits

Afro-Blues 45-aAfro-Blues 45-b

1967 LP (early appearance for this “Future Shock” typeface?)Afro Blues LP

“Sugar Sugar”: Solid Gold from Muscle Shoals

Sugar Sugar” was inescapable in the summer of 1969, with Wilson Pickett and even The Wailers (with Bob Marley singing lead) recording their own versions.  Muscling in on the action also were the studio musicians behind the hits being recorded in the late 60s at Rick Hall’s Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama – The Fame Gang – who put together a (near) instrumental version for their one and only outing, Solid Gold from Muscle Shoals:

“Sugar Sugar”     The Fame Gang     1969

Meet the Band

Freeman Brown — drums

Jesse Boyce — bass

Junior Lowe — guitar

Clayton Ivey — piano & organ

Harrison Calloway — trumpet

Aaron Varnell — tenor & alto sax

Harvey Thompson — tenor sax

Ronnie Eades — baritone sax

Mickey Buckins — producer/arranger

Solid Gold - Fame Gang LP

That’s right, as the sticker indicates, there is an “expanded” version of this 1969 album that includes four additional tracks:  “Soul Feud“; “Grits and Gravy“; “Twangin’ My Thang“; and “Turn the Chicken Loose.”   Two of these non-LP tracks — “Soul Feud” backed with  “Grits and Gravy” — were issued as a 45 in August 1969 on the Fame label.

Grits & Gravy 45

                .                                         .                                        .

                         The Fame Studio Sidemen – Waves of Musicians

The Fame Gang, as it turns out, were the third “rhythm section” in Fame Studio’s long and illustrious history.  It was Arthur Alexander’s big 1961 hit, “You Better Move On,” that earned enough money to finance the building of Fame’s bricks-and-mortar studio, where Rick Hall assembled his first full-time session players, a group that included Norbert Putnam, Spooner Oldham, Terry Thompson, and David Briggs, among others.  The next rhythm section, easily the most renowned of the four, comprised Jimmy Johnson, David Hood, Roger Hawkins, Barry Beckett, and Junior Lowe (and sometimes Duane Allman) and was the backing group for Aretha Franklin on her groundbreaking “I Never Loved a Man” session in 1967.  However, on March 20, 1969, Johnson, Hood, Beckett, and Hawkins formally announced to Rick Hall their intention to open the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in nearby Sheffield.  Hall immediately assembled another top-flight team of talent and then – coincidentally or not – allowed them to put out this full-length release.  More history on the Fame Studio rhythm section musicians can be found at this link.

“Clarence”: Lovable Lion from TV’s “Daktari”

Shelly Manne, the legendary jazz drummer, also did extensive film and television session work, including the music for children’s dramatic TV series, “Daktari” (Swahili for “doctor”).

Daktari LP

“Daktari” itself was based upon the 1965 film, Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion, the subject of this particular track taken from the Atlantic album on which Shelly Manne “performs and conducts his originial music for the hit TV show”:

“Clarence”     Shelly Manne     1967

Wow — 15 cents

Clarence - TV Guide

“Artistry in Western Swing”: Progressive Sounds in County & Western

Stan Kenton – who released a 10″ Capitol EP Artistry in Rhythm in 1947 – was a progressive voice in jazz, just as Tex Williams, who answered Kenton in 1948 with “Artistry in Western Swing,” was likewise a forward thinker within the realm of western swing and country music.

SONY DSC

Kenton had actually kicked off this whole “artistry” thing back in 1943 with the composition, “Artistry in Rhythm” – one of the year’s big hits.  The Capitol EP, curiously, does not include the actual title track but does offer “Artistry in Percussion and “Artistry in Bolero” instead.

You can compare and contrast yourself – first, here’s 1943’s “Artistry in Rhythm”:

Next, click on the triangle below to play “Artistry in Western Swing” by Tex Williams & His Western Caravan from 1948:

“Artistry in Western Swing”     Tex Williams     1948

In The Jazz of the Southwest:  An Oral History of Western Swing, Jean A. Boyd writes,

“The Western Caravan at this time included Tex Williams (bandleader, vocals, guitar); Smokey Rogers (vocals, guitar, banjo); Deuce Spriggins (vocals, bass); Pedro DePaul (accordian, arranger); Cactus Soldi (fiddle); RexCurlyCall (fiddle); MaxGibbyFidler (fiddle); Johnny Weiss (lead guitar); Ozzie Godson (piano, vibraphone); Muddy Berry (drums); Spike Featherstone (harp); EarlJoaquinMurphey (steel guitar).  [Guitarist] Benny Garcia was also part of the Western Caravan band that recorded the magnificent Artistry in Western Swing album, a western swing response to Stan Kenton’s monumental Artistry in Swing.  Benny recalls that he had to hire jazz flutist Ezzie Morales to play the flute parts on the Kenton arrangements.”

Artistry in Western Swing 78

Stan Kenton:  The Original Wall of Sound

As Jim Gilchrist of The Scotsman points out in his piece, “Bringing Back the Original Wall of Sound,” Stan Kenton gained distinction for his orchestra’s famed Wall of Sound “way before Phil Spector annexed the term.”

“My Name is Nobody”: Soundtrack for a Cipher

I would love to know exactly how Ennio Morricone instructed his vocalists to yip and mew and emit all sorts of silly sounds, as on the title track to the 1973 Sergio Leone film, Il Mio Nome è Nessuno (My Name Is Nobody):

Vimeo lists musician credits for this soundtrack album – including a whistler, I love it:

Voice: Edda Dell ‘Orso & Franco Cosacchi

Whistle: Alessandro Alessandroni

Choir:  I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni

Flute: Marianne Eckstein

Mouth Organ: Franco De Lelio

Trumpet: Gino Agostinelli

Guitar: Bruno Battisti D’Amario

12 Strings Guitar: Silvano Chimenti

Piano & Keyboards: Arnaldo Graziosi

Synthesizer: Giorgio Carnini

Percussions: Vincenzo Restuccia

*

Henry Fonda plays an aging gunslinger who wants to retire peacefully in Europe

Il Mio Nome e Nessuno album cover

Zero to 180 is delighted and honored to have received a message from Silvano Chimenti, – Italian guitarist, composer and conductor, who played on this recording – in October, 2019 that you will find appended to this piece (in Italian).  Thanks to Zero to 180’s mother, who provided the following translation:

“Finally something written exact … Indeed in the main theme that accompanies almost all the film, the guitar and a 12 ACOUSTIC string (not an electric) Ed and The Allegro Folk Arpeggio was invented by me, the theme was directed by the great BRUNO NICOLAI.  I believe in the International Recording Studio.  Thank you!”

Bruno Nicolai’s mesmering “Secret Reunion” — from the soundtrack album for the 1967 Italian spy thriller, Agente Speciale — coincidentally enough, happens to be the subject of Zero to 180’s very next piece, you might recall.

Light in the Attic – a ’boutique’ record label famous for “deluxe album reissues” – reissued Ennio Morricone’s 1973 soundtrack album on black vinyl with new artwork, including a poster with flyers and lobby cards, “especially released for Record Store Day 2015.”

Toots Thielemans: Ya Ya!

From Toots Thielemans‘ appearance on David Sanborn’s ‘Night Music’ TV show, I learned that Toots is a jazz harmonica virtuoso who (1) played the harmonica on the original ‘Sesame Streettheme song, as well as (2) whistled the famous melody for the Old Spice deodorant TV ads of the 1970s.

I recently picked up a Toots Thielemans LP on ABC’s kitschy Command label, famous for its 60s “Mad Men”-era geometric designs that often celebrated percussion:

Command - Percussion

The Toots Thielemans album that I picked up, Guitar and Strings … and Things from 1966, is notable for showcasing Toots’ great guitar work – which I hadn’t previously known about:

Toots - Guitars & Strings

Some of the tracks are very much in the sound and style of “Lolita Ya Ya” – such as the lead-off track, “The Continental:

“The Continental”     Toots Thielmans & His Orchestra     1966

When Fred Astaire danced to this sweeping tune in the film, ‘The Gay Divorcee’, the huge studio orchestra that accompanied him could scarcely project the essence of the tune as excitingly as this gentle easy treatment does.  The octave unison of Toots Thielemans’ guitar and the vocal trio is decorated with airy swirls from Phil Bodner’s flute.  Toots’ solo fits logically into the overall pattern of the arrangement, moving out of the line that he plays along with the girls.  And pay special attention to the drumming by Bill Lavorgna behind the girls after Toots’ solo as he dances merrily with his sticks and then joins in a little by-play with Phil Kraus’ scratcher.

[from the album’s liner notes]

Toots’ Big Pop Moment:   Toots’ harmonica adorned Julian Lennon’s #5 US hit – “Too Late for Goodbyes” – in 1985.