A rare LP from 1964 from Lightnin' Hopkins entitled "Lightnin's In Town." We will listen to the whole LP. Sam John Hopkins (1912-1982), better known as Lightnin’ Hopkins, was an American country blues singer, songwriter, guitarist and occasional pianist, from Houston, Texas. Also - 1950's "Extended Play" 45s by Chuck Berry and Elvis. Hosted by Spike Priggen. Link.WGXC.org
It simply wouldn't be Christmas without the dulcet tones of Clarence Carter's lewd, lascivious and downright randy anthem of delivering, ahem, 'packages'.
Clarence Carter is one of the coolest cats out there; his string of 45's and LP's on Atlantic throughout the late 60's and early 70's contain some of the all time best blues based soul ever cut to wax; his vocals and guitar work are the epitome of deep soul. This track appeared on both the essential Soul Christmas LP and as a 45; it surprisingly became a big hit back in '68, crossing over into the pop charts. Clarence spent the 70's and 80s touring almost non stop, and scored a fluke undeground hit with the ridiculous (and once again lascivious) 'Strokin'' in 1981.
Run DMC brilliantly sampled the catch horn hook for their hip hop Xmas classic "Christmas In Hollis" back in 1987.
There's been a real debate amongst Rock'n'Roll erudites and scholars on who actually wrote the classic "Love is Strange" (which later made hits most notably for the Everly Brothers, later Sonny and Cher, and inspired Buddy Holly's "Words Of Love"... ), and that debate lately heated up when Mickey Baker, the writer of Rock'n'Roll's first guitar method and original hitmaker with Duet partner Sylvia Robinson (herself future founder of Rap's first hit label : Sugarhill Records... ! ), died last year... until I read a quote from an original interview printed on an article about Mickey Baker on the latest French Oldies magazine : "Jukebox magazine" that recounted what had actually happened...
The story goes like this : apparently, Sylvia who was a great fan of Bo Diddley's and used to attend a lot of his gigs, loved an original number which he would perform on stage that she thought would be wonderful for the duet act she was having with Mickey Baker at the time; it was called "Paradise", but remained unreleased since Chess rejected the track and Ellas "Bo Diddley" McDaniels had to register the song under his wife's maiden name "Ethel Smith" for contractual reasons. Now, Mickey disliked the tune, finding the original lyrics even ridiculous... he finally gave out to Sylvia's urging and rewrote the lyrics, readapting the tune as "Love is Strange", keeping the intantaneously recognizable gimmicky guitar riff by Jody Williams (which Williams had played on Billy Stewart's debut single "Billy's Blues" before!.. ) that was later used by Dave "Baby" Cortez in his 1962 instrumental song "Rinky Dink" too (...the mind boggles! )... and the rest is Rock'n'Roll HIstory!
Nevertheless, the co-writers of the song are of some dispute since, Sylvia Robinson claims that she and Mickey Baker wrote the lyrics, while Bo Diddley claims that he wrote them. However (according to Wikipedia source... ), it appears the first recorded version of "Love Is Strange" was performed by Bo
Diddley himself (! ), who recorded his version on May 24, 1956 with Jody Williams on
lead guitar (this version was not released until its appearance on I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955-1958 in 2007... ); while Mickey & Sylvia's version was recorded several months later on October 17, 1956... hm!
Now, if you type the words "LOVE IS STRANGE" on the BMI website, they currently list the writers as all three : Bo, Mickey and Sylvia... !!!?
BAKER MICKEY SACEM 1863218 (French copyright )
ROBINSON SYLVIA BMI 26288282
MC DANIEL ELLAS BMI 63640292
Hm... What to think now? Love is Strange indeed! ;-)
(PS : The funny part is, despite the dispute, Bo Diddley went on to pen a song specialy for the Duo called : "Dearest"... ! ) :
I try my best not to pick favorites of anything, since my introduction to The Dells I've always thought of them as the ultimate soul vocal group. It's with a heavy heart that I write this tribute to their lead vocalist, the amazing Marvin Junior; a man whose powerful baritone voice embodied the epitome of soul music. Laid out end to end, I probably have three feet of Dells 45's and LP's, and the thought of distilling their career into 4 sides is daunting to say the least. While I have your attention, I'm gonna start out with the track that, if I were asked, would be the one that sums up the greatness of this group in 2:40. With a super funky intro (what *is* the instrumentation???), a sublime wordless harmony intro, and the arrival of Marvin Junior's vocals this record sends me into a zone where no distractions could pull me out of the hypnosis that great music induces.
The Dells formed
while the members were still in high school (1952) during the early doo-wop
years, and it's not hard to imagine these young men honing their chops while singing under a street lamp in their hometown of Harvey, IL (just south of Chicago). Their first single was released as The El-Rays in 1954
(featuring the lineup of Marvin Junior, Mickey McGill, Lucius McGill,
Verne Allison, Chuck Barksdale, and Johnny Funches), and by 1955 they
had renamed themselves the Dells and became a quintet after the
departure of Lucius McGill. The group cut the exquisite "Oh What A
Night" for Vee Jay Records in 1956 which became a million seller, and
one of the most loved doo-wop songs in the history of the genre. As simple as a haiku it goes straight to the heart, and the purity of this record sends chills down my spine, and Marvin co-wrote this track with group member Johnny Funches.
Follow up singles didn't hit (although fortunately the music business of the 50s' and 60s allowed artists to continue recording and building their audience), and the group was derailed temporarily
after a serious 1958 car accident which involved Mickey McGill. The
group put their career on hold until 1960, when Mickey recovered, but
Johnny Funches had left (to be replaced with Johnny Carter). This lineup
remained stable for FIFTY years until Johnny Carter passed away in
2009. However, it's hard to imagine the Dells carrying on without Marvin...
The Dells spent the early part of the '60's as studio singers (most
notably singing the backups on Barbara Lewis' "Hello Stranger"; a
performance which I rank as one of the all time greats, not only from
Barbara Lewis and The Dells, but in the history of recorded music). The group cut several unsuccessful (but
usually quite good) singles for Vee Jay during these years (such as this one from 1965,
career renaissance began when they were signed to Chess records and
began working under the production and writing talent of Bobby Miller.
The singles released by the group between '66-'68 are some of the
greatest ever, and the LP There Is, which collects some of
these 45's and adds in a few more stellar tracks, is simply one of the
greatest soul LP's ever released. "Run For Cover" is featured on that LP, and was also released as a single. The track has it all- drama, tension, and a groove that, once again, hypnotizes me and sends me into a really great place.
Over at the Daily 45, I re-posted another amazing Dells track, the title track of their masterpiece LP, There Is. Check it out here. I recommend immediately buying and listening to this LP as soon as possible! While the '60's soul era is typically best represented by singles, this album hangs together as a whole, and every song on the album is stellar.
"Stay In My Corner" proved to be one of the Dells biggest hits, and this ballad (once again) shows Marvin's uber-powerful voice along with those sublime group harmonies. Luckily for us, this incredible live performance is available for our viewing and listening pleasure.