Friday, March 25, 2011

Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band - "Shake a Tail Feather Baby!" (Piccadilly, 1967)

Not to be confused with the Detroit igneous shouter Gino Washington, this Geno was not bad at all - even though my personal fave of the two, is the one with an "i" on his name. Geno Washington was an American Air Force GI, stationed in England during the period of the big R&B Boom! Clever enough to understood this, got involved with the growing day by day culture of the Mods and became the frontman of a well oiled machine under the name of the Ram Jam Band. His musical background had a healthy dose of Little Richard, Wilson Pickett and Don Covay and even though his voice was not something special to be remembered of, his energy and especially on stage, made him win with his own sword a secure place among this period's pantheon.
Geno with the Ram Jam early on scored a hit on Piccadilly in 1966 with the "Water" and even though never entered the highest positions of the charts, made some more appearances in there through the years that followed. Arguably their best were at concerts cause they had the skills to easily pack a place and make the sharp dressed crowd to sweat their suits. Of the last clause's truth -  people today usually stands (when it comes for recorded material) on their first two live records (" Hand Clappin' Foot Stompin' Funky-Butt...Live!" & "Hipsters, Flipsters, Finger-Poppin' Daddies!") but... the heretic lunatic of this space prefers their only (?) studio recorded long play, for a presentation. "Shake A Tail Feather Baby!" had it all! A great front sleeve and a good dose of Memphis Soul execution-ed in its RAWER and FUNKIER  instances! With Stax in mind ("Raise Your Hand," "Knock on Wood", "Who's Foolin' Who") or rock n' roll ("Bonie Moronie"), Geno and the Ram Jam delivered a classic of gritty vocals, wailin' saxes with pounding drums and phunky strings. The keywords on this, should be "Energy" and "Vitality". Perhaps, the best ever approach of the Stax sound, outside America.
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Phunky Butt!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Detroit Cobras - "Black Tie - Live" (Bootleg - TOTH-948CD-R, 200?)

photo by Christopher Chouinard
The Detroit Cobras were/are the exact respective of groups like the Lyres or the Milkshakes. A garage approach on everything obscure and cool 'bout Soul and R&B music, 'specially of the 60s era. I really can't remember someone doing it better if not doing in it at all! And it's one of those rare things in rock & roll when a "cover band" has more to tell and spread than the obvious, to reduplicate or repeat things.
Don't know if you already knew this, but when I'm saying it on a conversation, everyone seems to mount his eyebrows... Alex Chilton was responsible for this band more or less... They seem to be blessed with coolness from the day one. They searched on trashcans and dusted off brilliant sides by artists like Irma Thomas, the 5 Royals, Gino Washington, Nathaniel Mayer, The Olympics, Shangri-Las, the Ronettes, Mickey Lee Lane or the Gardenias... And all this without looking like mods but like street punks. They have on their arsenal the BEST female vocalist came outta US the last 20 years at least. Rachel Nagy's the SEXIEST chick around. Something like a real cool Janis' daughter in a stripper's disguise! They were SO GOOD that legendary songwriters like Jackie DeShannon and Ellie Greenwich expressed their will to wrote new material especially for them! Nothing's just luck in this life, right? If you don't own their records just add it on this next week's schedule and start with it. A great live appearance that broadcasted by Detroit's WCSX radio station with the Cobras blasting out a 17 song set that smokes! That's as far as i know an only CD-R boot but if anyone from you guys and gals out there knows more, please comment.
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Black Tie! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

DMCA trouble... Pirates, aren't we all?

Take-down notifications my ass! I'm sick of it! You know, people through blogs sharing their passions, expressing their feelings and why not, educate in a way some others who didn't have the luck or the opportunity to catch a piece of culture. But i know, who gives a fuck, right? "Show me the money"! And Google gives you the rights to express your thoughts but with barriers... How ICE-T have said it? "Freedom of Speech...just watch what you say..." I'm not going to stop this blog even though day by day i become less interested on doing this. And I'm no fuckin' criminal! I never consider myself a thief. I never put an advertise in this space and i never being interested on donations. I spit on the last one. Bloggers that receive donations, are moochers and nothing else. I'm SO out of my mind this moment! So, if you wanna see me as a criminal, well here i am - I'm going to accomplish my boyish dreams and act as a Pirate! Pam pam, pam pam! But I'm not going to delete this blog. You have to do it! Get it? You!
Learn to share motherfuckers!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Sonics - "Live - Fanz Only" (LP, Etiquette/Fan Club - 1987)

Imagine this. Let's say there's somewhere a lexicon with words explaining pictures (or sounds...). And somewhere in it there's this classic photo shoot of the Sonics "BOOM!" front sleeve, OK? So, let's give it a try and put aside all these words perfectly fits 'em...
"Savage", "ferocious", "explosive", "mayhem", "vulgar", "dirty", "motherfuckers", "bumps", "strollers", "hooligans", "tough", "gritty", "hard", "thump", "powerhouse", "energy", "raw", "stripped down", "manic", "splinter", "punchy", "bust", "fuck", "young", "juvenile", "devilish", "tilt", "distortion", "fuzz", "buzz", "drunk", "earthquake", "dangerous", "venomous", "lethal", "uncontrollable", "sweaty"...Gosh, it's endless...
Or you can abstract all the above with just one......Punk! That's right, the one and only true punk band ever stomp feet n' boots on this planet. The Stooges looked like lame imitators and the Black Flag as an orchestra of wind and string instruments compared to the Sonics. Hard boiled, rock n' roll thugs that took genre to another level. Don't frazzle it, this is where the action is! Period.
PS: That's a very rare item of the Sonics discography. Came out in 1987 by Etiquette (their original company) in the States and the French New Rose/Fan Club label for the Europe. Three tracks here, recorded during the 60s decade ( James Brown's "Please, Please, Please", the Seeds "Pushin' To Hard" and Bo Diddley's standard "I'm a Man") and three more from a 1972 reunion show (Little Richard's "Lucille" in a version that RIPS, and their own "Psycho" and "The Witch" - the later two outcropped on the "Psycho-Sonic" compilation and the Norton's reissue of "BOOM!"). That's the only record by them i don't own. Thankfully Jean Philippe did and made the rip for our listening pleasure (and unpleasantness for your neighbors!), exclusively of course for White Trash Soul!

Aaaahhh Wooooo! 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Iggy & the Stooges - "Raw Power" (1973, UK Edition - CBS) In search of the best mix, the best pressing or the best mastering..?

There's a weird justice in music and especially in rock & roll when someone referring to a "successful" band or record. Something like a hoodoo voodoo shit. I mean, no one seemed to like the Stooges when the Stooges actually were the hottest shit around. Disappointing sales lead to many of the problems they confronted (drugs was another one) and sooner than later disbanded. Through the years and as their legend still grows (they tried their best to reduce him with all these unnecessary tours and the crap that titled "Weirdness" - thankfully failed), the sales around the "Stooges" trademark should grow by now, day by day. I own all their official albums in three or four different editions, and I'm of those Stooges fanatics that didn't get a lot further. Of course there are some cool boots too on my library. Sales wise, the Stooges must  be now a strong card. Not long time a go some dust got up for the Legacy "Raw Power" box set-special edition whatever anyway they named it. "Raw Power"'s my all time fave album (OK, "Exile"'s too but no Velvets' "Banana" here sir...). My desert island record. The one that changed my mind on what is "hard" or "metallic" in music. Til then i was searching on the wrong places for it (Sabbath etc). I know, i was another one that ate the bate, thankfully for a little. Through the ages, people referring to this monolithic output as "one of the most important proto-punk records".I spit on this. This is (along with "Here are the Sonics" and "BOOM!") THEE proto-punk classics. The only ones you really NEED to own. And there comes the 1.000.000 dollars question... What's the better mix of this? Or better should we add, the better pressing...or mastering?  I've got already four different "Raw Power" releases and I've heard already some more. The first one i picked was bought by me back in 1994 and it's a CD with the reference CDCBS32083. Next steps were the "Rough Power" mixes put out by Bomp!, the 1996's re-mixes of Iggy's for Legacy and the last one's the big fat vinyl of Sundazed. There are tracks that had obvious differences like for example "Search & Destroy" or "Gimme Danger" and others that in my ears at least sound exactly the same ("Raw Power")... But actually are more on the subject. So much, that you have to become an academic and not a punk rocker... But what the hell, I've grown up enough to claim still that I'm a young speed freak and to tell you the truth it always fascinated me searching on "mysteries" like the one we opened here.
 Facts: The secret weapon that makes "Raw Power" a legendary long play (except for its brilliant music of course) , is the disadvantage of the "production". I don't know if exists a book on the matter (probably not - i guess i would have know its existence but anyway...) but as you can find on various sources, Iggy blew it by himself. He had Columbia on his back, the best line up ( i prefer Ashetons as the rhythm section and Williamson as the axeman) a 24 track studio...and he used just three channels... THREE! It always sounded like a demo snappily recorded - alive in the studio, than a major label's project. And all these to me are GREAT! If it comes for rock & roll (aka punk rock), fidelity it's a small matter. It's the performance and the action that really counts. And both aforementioned elements, shines throughout "Raw Power"'s duration. Naturally, big fat ass people of the Main Man and CBS, freaked upon hearing the original mixes and bring along Bowie to set an order to the mess (or chaos). I don't like Bowie. But there are things on him that makes me respect him. And yes, I'm one of those who dig better Bowie's mixes than Iggy's. Iggy agreed with the Bowie option.
"...The most absurd situation I encountered when I was recording was the first time I worked with Iggy Pop. He wanted me to mix Raw Power, so he brought the 24-track tape in, and he put it up. He had the band on one track, lead guitar on another and him on a third. Out of 24 tracks there were just three tracks that were used. He said 'see what you can do with this'. I said, 'Jim, there's nothing to mix'. So we just pushed the vocal up and down a lot. On at least four or five songs that was the situation, including "Search and Destroy." That's got such a peculiar sound because all we did was occasionally bring the lead guitar up and take it out.." said Bowie on an interview.
You really need some guidance to go further and spent some more money on the same record to hear by yourself and judge. I tried to track down Jean Philippe to tell his opinion on this cause he's a master at it. I mean, this bloke has at least 10 different "Raw Power" copies... I failed. But you know what, i love internet. I thought i was one of the few fans of the Stooges and "Raw Power' especially... What a dumb-ass! Jean Philippe turned me on to a different mix i haven't noticed til a few days ago. The "Embassy Reels"...And it's an entirely different chapter that we're going to explore together but after finishing my homework first. He was right, i did a research and through the lot of the "Raw Power" posts found zero on the UK edition, with the unbeatable echoed version of "Search & Destroy"! So he made as usual an EXCELLENT rip of this and sent me the links to share it with you people. You really need to hear this version! Above, there's a copy of some things sent me via emails we've exchanged the last days to see a master's view on the subject.
"As for Raw Power, so many things have been said about it...where to start?
To make a long story short:
* Since its 1973 release, people -including the stooges themselves- have been complaining about the thin sound of the Bowie original mix. In fact, only the first track, Search & Destroy has a harsh sound, other tracks have balls.
* The original 1973 CBS UK pressing has a different mix for Search & Destroy. Who did this mix? Who knows/who cares? Punchy mix with clearly audible bass & drums. It was also available on *some* cassettes ["cassette mix"] and on *some* 1977 Raw Power UK reissues on CBS/Embassy ["Embassy mix"]. I own an Embassy reissue, but it doesn't have the alternate mix. It does sound different, though, with more bass, but it's probably a mastering issue rather than a different mix. As far as I know, the alternate mix was a UK-only release (Holland and Australian pressings, for example, have similar orange CBS label, but it's the same mix as the US one).
* The recent Raw Power Sony 3 CD reissue was supposed to have alternate mixes ("Embassy Reels"), but this rip-off release just has the regular mixes:
"Background on two more tracks: ‘Raw Power’ was cut from the Columbia U.S. catalog within a year or so after its release, but had reappeared on the CBS UK budget-line Embassy Records line, “by popular demand” of Brits at the dawn of the punk rock era. Matheu began importing copies to the Peaches record store he managed in Detroit. He immediately noticed the Embassy LP and cassette mixes of “Raw Power” and “Search And Destroy” were different than the U.S. mixes he knew. Three decades later, Matheu informed Dickinson of the Embassy issue, and Dickinson contacted Richard Bowe at the Sony UK archive. They were able to find the original tapes – now known as the Embassy Reels – which did, indeed, have different codes and matrix numbers on them. As Dickinson began transcribing the Embassy Reels, it wasn’t just ‘Raw Power’ and ‘Search And Destroy’ that were different, it was a completely alternate mix for the whole album. The alternate mixes of ‘Shake Appeal’ and ‘Death Trip’ on this Rarities CD are some of the fruits of that search."
This is just bullshit.
* Until recently, I wasn't even aware of this alternate mix (only Search & Destroy is different, the rest of the LP is the same), though I've been listening this LP for almost 25 years. When I found it, I share it with some members of the stooges forum. One of them re-posted it on a crappy Velvet Underground forum, without even letting me know, but I don't really care. Maybe it's time for this UK mix to have an "official" posting (sort of), and your cool blog is probably the best place for it...if you want..."
Many thanks Jean Philippe!

Raw Power!
Removed due to complaints

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tiny Topsy - All the Singles, Excerpt from "Tiny Topsy and Friends" (Bootleg CD, Rock 'N' Rhythm - 2006)

LaVern Baker, Big Maybelle and Big Mama Thornton are three of the household names that come easily to someone’s mind when it comes for busty and big voiced divas of the 50s R&B circuit. Luckily there were more. One of the first names I crashed on when I was searching for obscure big fat mammas some ages ago, was that of Tiny Topsy.
Obviously an ironic – self sarcastic nickname. Mark Lammar in the liner notes of “Roc – KING Up a Storm” CD (Westside, 1999) wrote about this:
"Tiny in the same spirit you'd call a bald man curly, Tiny Topsy definitely had the lungpower to match her name"! And yass, she sure had the lungpower to match not only her name but many on the scene. Don’t know much about her. She (maybe) started with Al Smith’s eight piece jazz/R&B combo and run with it for a couple o' years in the Chicago club scene. In 1952 the band broke and Tiny found a roof on the KING’s label subsidiary Federal, for about 7 singles, unfortunately without hitting the charts. Every single side it’s brilliant, even the novelty tune of “Western Rock & Roll” which was basically a pastiche of then hits like “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Lollipop”. “Come On, Come On, Come On” and “You Shocked Me” are kick ass rockers in the vein of Etta James “Tough Lover”. “Aw! Shucks Baby” and “Just A Little Bit” are screamers equal of LaVern’s in Atlantic. The latter’s certainly the original version of what was meant to become a classic in other people’s hands. Rosco Gordon had in 1960 a #2 hit version with it and the Killer Jerry Lee, covered it on his “Southern Roots” album with edgy results. After Federal, Tiny Topsy had just one more try in the recording business with the two sider of “Working On My Baby” w/ “How You Changed” on Argo but still no chart action. Mind also that this single issued in the UK as “After Marriage Blues” on Pye.
Topsy died at the very young age of 34. Many years later, a label from Denmark emerge an LP with all her Federal sides, under the title of “Aw! Shucks Baby” (Sing, 1988) probably an official release but the mastering compared to the newly Ace Records release of the same material, lacks in fidelity. There’s also a cool boot CD on the streets for those who want to catch at once all of her sides (Ace’s CD for licensing reasons does not contain the Argo/Pye single) with the title “Tiny Topsy and Friends” with a good 19 cuts bonus by artists such as Big Maybelle, Etta James or Mickie Champion.
A growling yelling mama that shoulda been bigger, but what the hell – legends have built that way many times, and I guess it’s time for Tiny Topsy’s turn.

Aw! Shucks Baby...

-From the Wang Dang Dula Database-