Same deal currently applies that usually applies when I go missing for a while:
- Rough stretch at work.
- Creative mind occupied by things other than blogging.
- Not bursting with anything to say, and not usually in the mood to say stuff just to say stuff.
But I’ll stop in anyway just to share a couple of YouTube highlights.
There’s this evergreen. It’s one of the highlights of a generally overlooked album, and a knockout victor over Steely Dan’s “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo” in the category of Best Twenties Jazz/Blues Cover By A Seventies Rock Band.
It also does that thing where a blues or gospel tune, having been stepped up into double-time, is suddenly corralled back into its regular tempo to delicious effect. (Dunno what this maneuver is called, but Hot Tuna does the same thing on its version of the Rev. Gary Davis’s “True Religion,” as heard here.)
Blow some, Magic Dick:
When I get down or stressed, I’ll often to listen to New Orleans music. There’s something about that knock-kneed strut that lifts my spirits, just about every time.
I’ve needed that lately, which brings me to this next tune (tunes?): Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief (Parts I and II),” an amiable novelty that also happens to be danceable.
There’s funkier Longhair out there, and there’s rawer Longhair too, but this song (these songs?) have their own small but interesting distinction.
Between them, they show up on 14 local radio airplay surveys in the invaluable ARSA database, all between February and April of 1965. They’re the only Longhair songs in the ARSA database to make a local airplay chart outside the city of New Orleans, getting play on stations in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia.
(It’s old DJ practice, I’ve learned, to keep some instrumentals around to lead into the news at the top of the hour — the kind of records that could get cut off a little early and no one would mind. I bet “Big Chief (Part I)” got some spins for that purpose.)
I like the thought that this snaggletoothed, eccentric, whistling veteran of New Orleans’ wildest dives could sneak onto the airwaves in between “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Telling You Now,” and “Ferry Cross the Mersey.”
Never let it be said that, when the British Invasion swept America, New Orleans didn’t step up and fight back.
The tune(s), anyway:
And finally there’s this one, which came from the same exploration of the YouTube “Shang-a-Lang” Bay City Rollers archive I wrote about in my previous post.
In unreconstructed Edinburghese, the Rollers’ Derek Longmuir introduces a “fillum” clip that features three then-current British stars — Mud, the Rubettes, and the Glitter Band — miming the title song from a movie called Never Too Young to Rock.
Watching the unison struts and leg-kicks, I can’t get around how processed the whole thing is, how free of any threat or sweat. This is “rock music” as something you might find in a plastic packet at the bottom of a box of cereal, performed (or mimed) by bands that have clearly mastered the showband steps and stage tricks that would make them acceptable in any supper club in England.
(Edit: I almost feel sorry for these guys. They came along too late to do National Service, but they got press-ganged into pointless and tightly scripted maneuvers anyway.)
Of course, one does not watch the Bay City Rollers’ TV show for authentic raw rock n’ roll juice. Mainstream British cinema of the ’70s is probably not a great source for it either. And any movie called Never Too Young To Rock is probably going to be aimed at a pre-teen fan base — not a crowd that demands lots of R-rated banter and 60-cycle hum in its stage presentations.
Still, the “fillum” gives you a sense of the sort of cultural plasticity that people like Johnny Rotten, Joe Strummer and Siouxsie Sioux would shortly come along and run a rusty knife through.
And, it gives you a sense of why young people might have welcomed that.