Written by the late Allen Toussaint and released as a single on the wonderful Minit Records in 1961, Mother-In-Law is not (spoiler alert) a song that is overly complimentary about the woman in question. A few lines to illustrate this:
The worst person I know ….
Satan should be her name …
But if she would leave that would be the solution …
A jolly tune though!
Sunday night, must be time for a spot of avant-garde jazz … and it gets no finer than this to my mind.
Part of the soundtrack to the film Les Stances a Sophie, this track features simply relentless bass and drums, killer trumpet and sax, and occasional vocals by the legendary Fontella Bass who was, at the time, Lester Bowie’s wife (he’s on the trumpet).
The lyrics are stupendous, if occasionally baffling …!
Your head is like a yoyo,
your neck is like the string,
Your body’s like a camembert
oozing from its skin.
Your fanny’s like two sperm whales
floating down the Seine
Your voice is like a long fuck
that’s music to your brain.
Your eyes are two blind eagles
that kill what they can’t see
Your hands are like two shovels
digging in me.
And your love is like an oil-well
Dig, dig, dig, dig it,
On the Champs-Elysees.
Simply never stops, utterly perfect!
This song has a remarkable history!
Written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, the track was originally recorded by Johnny Mathis (of all people!) for the 1957 film Wild Is the Wind. His is a sugary, anodyne reading that I advise all to steer clear of.
I first became familiar with this song through David Bowie’s wonderful version that he recorded for his classic Station to Station LP of 1976. I was also aware of Nina Simone’s first version that was recorded for her At Town Hall LP in 1959. However, it is her, later, studio version of 1964 which is the definitive reading.
A vocal of unparalleled depth and power with understated bass and drums and simply mesmerising piano adds up to a perfect record!
Whoever sings this has the advantage of some of the best lyrics of all time:
Love me, love me, love me, say you do
Let me fly away with you
For my love is like the wind
And wild is the wind
Give me more than one caress
Satisfy this hungriness
Let the wind blow through your heart
For wild is the wind
You touch me
I hear the sound of mandolins
You kiss me
With your kiss my life begins
You’re spring to me
All things to me
Don’t you know you’re life itself
Like a leaf clings to a tree
Oh my darling, cling to me
For we’re creatures of the wind
And wild is the wind
So wild is the wind
The 1964 LP version and then Nina’s earlier recording (for comparative purposes!) from 1959.
Question Mark and the Mysterians “96 Tears” reached number one in the USA in October 1966 and is a foundation stone of 1960’s garage and 1970’s punk rock. – right up there with the Kingsmen’s 1963 recording of Richard Berry’s classic “Louie Louie” (which the latter originally recorded in 1955).
The organ kicks off, the bass rumbles into action, the drums make an understated entrance, the organ riff reaches perfection and then ?’s vocals wander in, drawling laconically:
Too many teardrops
For one heart to be crying
Too many teardrops
For one heart to carry on
The song was written by ? himself (aka Rudy Martinez) and some followers may recall The Stranglers taking a version of 96 Tears into the UK singles chart in 1990.
A perfect Saturday night record.
This is one of the best records ever made.
One could argue that this was “manufactured” in a manner that anticipates the fodder of the X-Factor but the times were different, the incentives complex, and the quality of the confection? Off the scale.
Originally written by Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden, the song was first recorded by Robert Knight in 1967 and reached the US top 40. See below for his stellar reading.
However, in January 1968, Love Affair took the song to #1 in the UK. They had initially recorded the song playing all the instruments themselves, with Muff Winwood producing, but CBS Records rejected it as uncommercial, and arranged for a new version to be recorded under the musical direction of Keith Mansfield and with Mike Smith producing, in which vocalist Steve Ellis sang to a backing track performed by an orchestra, brass section and backing vocalists, including Kiki Dee and Madeline Bell. While it was in the charts the group inadvertently caused some controversy in the press when they admitted that they had not played on it, although this had long since been common practice in the pop industry.
I am frankly unconcerned about the provenance – the role of the bass guitar around 20 seconds warrants a place in musical history only challenged by the opening bars of My Generation by The Who …
The Love Affair masterpiece and the Robert Knight original as a close second …
Sipping a pina colada in Frankie and Benny’s this evening (I know how to live), I suddenly realised that there really cannot be a better way to ring in the new year than to put The Four Tops on constant rotation and crank up LOUD?!
One of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands of all-time finds writers Holland-Dozier-Holland at the peak of their powers and Levi Stubbs proving again to be one of the finest vocalists Motown Records ever had.
The original single, a live version from 1965 and then a scratchy, but euphoric, version from a Christmas show on Belgian TV in 1967!
This song is simply mesmeric.
Strumming some chords on the guitar the other day, His Guiding Hand suddenly leapt from my memory and became a record I just needed to hear again immediately.
Formed by a couple of grammar school boys, Medicine Head started to play together around 1968.
They were seen at the Lafayette club by John Peel who then played a tape of their songs to John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend and, at Lennon’s insistence, Peel signed them to his Dandelion record label.
The demo recording of “His Guiding Hand” was released as a single, Peel describing it as “the cheapest single ever made and one of the classic records of all time” and keeping the single in his box of most treasured records. The duo’s first album, New Bottles Old Medicine, was recorded in a single two-hour session, and they toured with Peel at many of his gigs, Peel paying them out of his own fee!
A perfect record.