iPod Shuffle: September 2018

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1. Small Town Heroes : Hurray for the Riff Raff, from Small Town Heroes *

2. Buckets of Rain : John Renbourne & Wizz Jones, from Joint Control

3. Beyond the Horizon : Bob Dylan, from Modern Times

4. Four or Five Times : Jimmie Noone, from Clarinet Frequency

5. Saturday Jump : Humphrey Lyttelton Band, from The Parlophones 1949-1959 Vol. 4 **

6. Lil’ Darlin’ : Georgie Fame & the Harry South Big Band, from Sound Venture ***

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7. In a Sentimental Mood : Robert Wyatt, from For the Ghosts Within

8. What Can I Say? : Boz Scaggs, from Silk Degrees

9. Monkey Man : The Maytals, from Young, Gifted & Black

10. Short Wet Summer : Rob McMinn, from Avignon****

* The lead singer and leading light in Hurrah for the Riff Raff, is Alynda Segarra, who was born in the Bronx of Puerto Rican heritage and whose mother, Ninfa Segarra, is a former Deputy Mayor of New York City. The band’s most recent album, The Navigator, was released in 2017 and there is a quite superb video, directed by Kristian Mercado Figueroa and photographed by Rudolph Costin, featuring one of the tracks, Pa’lante.

**This was recorded in December, 1958, along with The Bear Steps Out, only the second session by the version of the Lyttelton Band that regularly featured three saxophones in the line up for the first time – Tony Coe on alto, Jimmy Skidmore on tenor and Joe Temperley on bartitone – giving the ensemble a little-big-band sound that confirmed, for good, its move from traditional to mainstream jazz and the style of such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Buck Clayton. As such, I saw and heard them at the 100 Club in Oxford Street many times.

***By 1966 Georgie Fame had enough clout, I guess, to talk the powers-that-be at EMI into letting him live out one of his fantasies and make an album with a big band, a band that would sound as close to that of Count Basie as possible. [And he did get to sing with the actual Basie band just a year later. Lil’ Darlin’, which Georgie knew from the Lambert, Hendricks & Ross album, Sing a Song of Basie, was first up at the first session and as he said, “I was terrified because it was such a challenge. I had to produce these long, clear, straight notes … It was the first track we did, so I do sound very nervous. It’s a hard song to sing if you’re not confident. I get a bit embarrassed when I listen to it now, but I was trying.” Sounds pretty good to me.

****Written by Rob McMinn, who also plays guitar on the track, plus everything else that’s going, this is another of Rob’s hypnotic songs of barely requited love.

 

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(Return of) The Random Playlist

Here it is again, after absolutely no requests from anyone … [though I’m told, once in a while, the odd individual has been inspired to delve down into his or her collection or go looking for stuff on the internet] … the first dozen tracks to spring out of my iPod set to random shuffle while wandering on the Heath, slightly heat-bedazzled, today Friday 3rd July …

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  • Durango : John Stewart,  from Cannons in the Rain
  • Blues for Alice : Roland Kirk, from We Free Kings
  • I Loves You Porgy : Miles Davis, from Porgy & Bess
  • She : Gram Parsons, from GP
  • Is This What You Wanted : Leonard Cohen, from New Skin for Old Ceremony
  • Central Reservation : Beth Orton, from Central Reservation
  • All of Me : Lester Young, from Lester and Teddy
  • That’s My Home : Humphrey Lyttelton, from Humph Swings Out
  • Cocaine Blues : Rambling Jack Elliott, from South Coast
  • Love Vibration : Josh Rouse, from 1972
  • That Old Feeling : Louis Armstrong, from Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson
  • It’s Getting Better : Mama Cass, from The Best of the Mamas & the Papas

One thing about shuffling music around this way, the sometimes neat, more usually incongruous connections it makes between one piece and another, is the memories it can throw up about where you first heard a certain song or album. [A thought that comes all the more readily to me now, I’m sure, because of the exhibition of George Shaw’s paintings I saw yesterday – more of which, I’m sure, in a day or two.]

But the John Stewart, released in 1973, I would have first heard at the house of my late friend and co-author, Laurence James whom I mentioned recently, an album – aside from The Phoenix Concerts Live, arguably Stewart’s best – which was rarely off the stereo in the ensuing years. As my older daughter, Leanne, once said of Stewart’s voice, and I paraphrase, it was there as a comforting presence throughout my childhood.

Kirk’s We Free Kings was first released in 1961 and it would have been later that I bought a copy, towards the end of the sixties, and ordered, I’m sure, from the lamented Peter Russell’s Hot Record Store in Plymouth. We were living in Andover at the time, in one of a newly-built row of council houses (you remember those?) on the edge of the town and ours to rent thanks to my new job as Head of English at Harrow Way Secondary Modern. [Kirk I’d been thrilled to see in London, I think at the old Marquee club, an experience that I’ve written about in the poem, “You Did It! You Did It!”, which might well find its way into a blog post soon.]

The Gram Parsons, GP,  was one of the two great albums he made with James Burton on guitar and Emmylou Harris on backing vocals, Return of the Grievous Angel being the other, and I came to it in a slightly bizarre fashion. One of the girls in the school where I was teaching in Stevenage had been to see Gary Glitter at the Locarno the previous evening and in the interval a number of disparate LPs had been given away for free, one of them Return of the Grievous Angel. No fan of country music, she sold it to me for £1.00 next day. I took it home, played it, went up to London that weekend and bought its companion.

Quite a few evenings in the mid-sixties – far too many if my sad A level results are to be believed – were spent at the 100 Cub in Oxford Street, the Humphrey Lyttelton Club as it was in those days. Humph Swings Out was a 10″ LP, one of the first albums I owned, and features the seven piece band I would have listened to – danced to – at the club on many occasions: Bruce Turner on alto, John Picard on trombone, Humph on trumpet, Johnny Parker, piano, Freddy Legon, guitar, Jim Bray, bass and either Eddie Taylor or Stan Greig behind the drums. Little sign here of the more traditional style or repertoire that would have predominated a year or so earlier; this was well into, as we called it back then, the mainstream – based around the ensembles and riffs of the 40s and early 50s, more Kansas City than New Orleans.  “That’s My Home”, the track here, with Humph in clear Armstrong mode, harks back, in fact, more than most.

The most recent track comes from Josh Rouse’s album 1972, which stems, paradoxically, from 2003.
Molly Ernestine and I went to see Rouse earlier this year at Kings Place. He took time to warm up, the sound wasn’t always as clear as it could have been, but the audience were firmly on his side – many of them singing along from the get-go – and by the end Rouse was enjoying himself and we were on our feet with the rest, surrendering, as Brinsley Schwarz would have sung, to the rhythm in earnest. Or in my case,  swayed my arthritic hips as  best I could.