Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Golden Teardrops ... avec la guitare!

If you have read earlier entries on this blog about the Flamingos' 1953 doo wop classic Golden Teardrops then you may be interested in this youtube clip of the 1961 Vee-Jay reissue with overdubbed guitar. Presumably this was done to lessen the gap between the group's Chcago recordings and their recently successful sides for End, most notably I Only Have Eyes For You.

Be warned it ends a second or two prematurely, so you miss the guitar rounding things off at the end. The sound isn't great on this particular clip, but you can hear enough to decide whether you like this reworked version. I've written about it on many occasions in this blog, such as here (about the overdubbed version versus the original) and here (an essay about the recording and notes about the oldies album where I heard it first) and even now I'm not sure how I feel - it was, after all, the form in which I first heard (and loved) it. How can you erase that completely?

Anyway, here is the youtube clip of the overdubbed Golden Teardrops, followed by a clip of the original, undoctored recording (sans guitars, as Clarke put it), if you fancy making a comparison. It's not really a fair competition, however, as the sound of the second youtube clip happens to be superior - and doesn't stop before the end. But it's a handy excuse to remind yourself of what a great record (or two) it is.

Listening to the two versions again, what I can hear is that the addition of the guitar masks or replaces what I presume is a very, very softly played (very softly indeed) sax. The original musicians were careful not to impose themselves on the beautiful vocal arrangement - something which I presume must have been obvious the first time the group sang it to them, so the redubbed version is not about the need to conceal something ungainly - like Uncle Phil camouflaging what is said to be Lennon's lousy bass playing on The Long and Winding Road, according to Ian Macdonald's Revolution in the Head.

Nevertheless, maybe a guitar is simply a more natural accompaniment for voices. But I dunno. I think you can say, however, that it's underlining something already there, or implicit, in the existing accompaniment - maybe a bit like Ringo adding some simple drumming in earlier Beatle days when a track had been bounced down several times. The only difference is that presumably Golden Teardrops was live, so the self-effacement of the musicians was presumably a conscious decision on their or the engineer's part - or whatever the technical term was in those days. So could it be said that the guitar is too on-the-nose, musically? I can't decide - but maybe you can.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Sam Cooke radio play available - but hurry ...

This is to alert readers that Neil McKay's A City Called Glory, the play about Sam Cooke which I've discussed in earlier posts, has just been repeated today (Saturday 17th April 2010) on BBC Radio 7 and will be available to hear via the Radio 7 for one week - which will mean till the end of next Saturday, April 24th. Go to the relevant Radio 7 page here (the above image is a screengrab).

I really do recommend it very strongly; you can read my comments about it towards the end of an earlier post with Sam Cooke-related reviews, here.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Ravens

Just found the Ravens' 1955 recording of On Chapel Hill on youtube and had to include it here: like the Del-Vikings' Wilette, it's another overheated doo wop fave which I have only come across on one CD (below), despite the current proliferation of Ravens collections.

As is customary with that group, the performance is odd mix of emotion and refinement, which at one time would have had me agonising about whether it really constituted "true" doo wop, but now I don't care. If you too have doubts, just hang on in there for the ending: overblown anguish framed with a kind of dignity.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Talkin' 'bout Jackson

Thinking about Lou Johnson and Burt Bacharach in the previous post leads inevitably to thoughts of Chuck Jackson, another great African American singer whose gospel background helped give an added conviction to the work of Bacharach and David and other Brill Building writers. On an early Beatles questionnaire John Lennon actually names him as his favourite singer. Appropriately, when I won a record token for a letter in Melody Maker about the Beatles, I spent it on a Chuck Jackson LP on the DJM label - an assembly of Scepter/Wand tracks including Any Day Now, I Wake Up Crying and The Breaking Point. How's about this for a track listing, eh?

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Pleased, Mr Johnson!

Here's another much-needed CD compilation - and this time it's Ace Records, so no worries about sound quality. Lou Johnson's original version of Always Something There to Remind Me is rarely included on Bacharach compilations (with the exception of a large box set and a recent single disc Various Artists Bacharach collection on Ace) but has haunted me since I first heard it in the early seventies; Johnson's performance reveals it to be a soul song, not a pop song.

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Upper Crust of Soul: Hutch and Turner Layton

Having quoted from Robert Cushman's description of Hutch in the previous entry, now seems a good point to paste in a review prepared earlier of a Turner Layton CD, Thanks for the Memory (below) which also makes reference to Cushman's essay.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

They Turned Me On - Part Four: Benny Green & Robert Cushman

It's no reflection on the late Benny Green that it's harder for me to recall the specific songs he played on his Sunday lunchtime programme on Radio 2 than it is to bring to mind the content of Hubert Gregg's shows. Green was an important influence in my life, nevertheless, and not only for his radio show:

Friday, 2 April 2010

New Flamingos CD

Aaccidentally came across this unique Flamingos compilation on the UK-based Jasmine label when shopping at HMV in central London yesterday. If you're in America, t's also available to order online from the Jasmine Records website (details below).

This compilation is significant because it's the only one to date which includes all the recordings for Chance, Parrot and Chess plus a brief selection of recordings for End. And as far as I'm concerned, that's all you could ever need - although in the interests of balance I will discuss a few alternatives later.