Saturday, 27 February 2010

Yes, I remember Doc and old "Beat Me Daddy" Slack. It was late June. Or The Imperfect Enjoyment

As promised, both sides of the rock'n'roll-anticipating 78 found in my grandfather's attic in the early seventies and presumably once prized by him. I don't know whether John R.T. Davies ever got his hands on a copy of this record , but having heard several CD transfers and listened to the BBC's copy on a record request programme I can say that the sound you will hear below is better than average. A CD I had of Bradley/McKinley sides had certain frequencies boosted, resulting in trebly, prominent vocals but no bottom. You've got to have a bottom.

The other side, also found on youtube, seems to come from a better copy. Or is that the rule, anyway - that great recordings dubbed from 78s are always going to be inferior as they will have been played to death. so that poor sound is actually a guarantee of enjoyment to come, marred though that enjoyment is by the resentment you feel about the greater pleasure afforded to earlier listeners of a well-worn platter?

Anyway, have a listen to the song which was later played by so many rock'n'rollers. I remember an album of that much-loved Irish entertainer entitled Val Doonican rocks ... but gently. This, I'd suggest, is the same kind of thing. Not not quite so gently, perhaps, but certainly insouciant rather than frantic, as underlined by that whistle; I remember even thinking it might be Bing Crosby when I first heard it. We're still a long way off from Little Richard, even if a current ebay seller describes a 45 of Bradley's recording as a "WILD ROCKER".

Still there? And now Chicken Gumboogie, which is plenty hot and demonstrates that Art Rupe's quest was not exactly new:
You can strut like a rooster, scratch your feet,
But whatever you do, don't you lose that beat.

Actually, as we're all assembled, shall we listen to the pre-Andrews Sisters Beat Me, Daddy, Eight to the Bar? Thought you might say that.

The Will Bradley / Ray McKinley CD I found in Cheapo Cheapo Records and bought partly in an effort to capture a trace of bygone days - that attic was cleaned out once for all in the late eighties - was an odd mix, as seems partly explained by this extract from a biography of Ray McKinley here:
In 1939 Ray McKinley became a partner of trombonist Will Bradley co-leading a band that recorded under Bradley's name. This band, that also featured Freddie Slack on piano, cut dozens of boogie-woogie laden sides for Columbia between September of 1939 and January of 1942. Many were hits, some featuring McKinley’s humorous and personable vocals and one line shouts like on Celery Stalks At Midnight and Fry Me Cookie In A Can Of Lard. Unfortunately there was friction between the two stars. Beat Me Daddy Eight To The Bar and Bounce Me Brother With a Solid Four type numbers wore on Bradley, as so did the syrupy trombone ballads of Bradley wear on McKinley. The two had a less than amicable split in 1942 as reported by Down Beat magazine.
 And my Crosby confusion above isn't quite as unlikely as it sounds. True, his supposed embracing, in Now You Has Jazz, of the music deemed the output of "cretinous goons" by "one of the new fellas" doesn't entirely convince - and can these really be Cole Porter's words?
From the equator
Up to the pole
Everybody wingin'
Everybody singin'
That rock rock rock rock rock and roll
But the younger Crosby could swing, as in this song which he is revisiting in a radio broadcast around 1950. Beats Little Drummer Boy anyway. To close, and to ease us towards the next post, a version of another 78 brought from that now doubtless transformed attic. It's not the same recording or the same orchestra, as that disc had the deathless ditty Noah Had Two of Everything on the other side, but it's better than nothing.

Hold on - does it in some way prefigure the Latin American craze picked up by Leiber and Stoller and can therefore be stirred into your allegedly rich soup of illusory musical connections? I don't know. All I can say is that when I mentioned the song to my elderly aunt on a recent visit, she remembered the record but had no wish to hear it again. She may have been right, so anything you click below is entirely your own responsibility:

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