Friday, 2 September 2011

War - Low Rider

All my friends know the low rider. The low rider is a little higher. Low rider drives a little slower

Quick Hit

“Low Rider” by War (1975)  

I once was in Orange County and saw this car with several Chicano gentlemen looking very serious pull up at the intersection. The car bobbed up and down on its hydraulic lifters and I just could not help myself and I laughed. I was not laughing at them per se, but just struck by how so unlikely it was to see something so stereotypically real down to the headbands and glimmering hubcaps. They could have shot me or something if they wanted to I’m sure so I pretty quickly took the grin off my face.

I was in a summer vacation town recently and was watching the cars go up and down the strip. Every town has a strip and every town had the boys that drive up and down them. The prosperity of the towns vary, so therefore so do the quality and quantity of the cars. The one thing that seems to be constant however is the attitude. The look that they have in their eyes is always the same – the incarnation of James Dean or Elvis or something - don’t you know it is never cool to smile!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Wild Cherry - Play That Funky Music

Play that funky music white boy Play that funky music right Play that funky music white boy Lay down that boogie and play that funky music till you die…

Quick Hit

“Play that Funky Music” by Wild Cherry (1976)

They used to be called “Wild Cherry” flavoured, but now if you check the box of cherry Vicks cough drops they just say “Cherry”. When they were called “Wild Cherry”, Rob Parissi (lead singer, guitar) was recovering from a hospital stay and thought the name on the box sounded like a good name for his new band. From Steubenville, Ohio, the band originally played straight up rock music and produced a few fairly unknown albums.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Ben E. King - Stand by me

If the sky that we look upon should tumble and fall and the mountains should crumble to the sea I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear just as long as you stand, stand by me

Songs Everybody Should Know

“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King (1961)

Last week Jerry Leiber of the famous song-writing team Leiber and Stoller died of heart issues at age 78. It was almost a half century run for the versatile song-writer and producer. His start really came with L&S penning “Hound Dog” for Big Mamma Thornton (later covered by Elvis). Leiber & Stoller went on to pen many others for Elvis including “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Jailhouse Rock”. A string of popish hits for the Coasters included “Yakity Yak”, “Along Came Jones”, and “Charlie Brown” and “Searchin’” put them at the top of their game. They became in demand as producers and song-writers for many years including producing such acts as Steelers Wheel (Stuck in the Middle) and writing classics such as “On Broadway” for the Drifters and “Stand By Me” for Ben E. King.

Benjamin Edward King was one of the principal lead singers of the Drifters that L&S worked with in the late ‘50s and early ‘60’s. After the original lead singer of the Drifters was fired, King stepped in to record such classics as “There Goes My Baby”, “Save the Last Dance for Me”, and “This Magic Moment”.

After a salary and royalty discussion gone bad in early 1960, King went on his own. Charlie Thomas, who replaced King, would lip-synch King’s songs in live performances. Remaining with Atlantic records now as ‘Ben E. King’, he hit with “Spanish Harlem” in early 1961 and followed up with the irrepressible classic “Stand By Me” which he actually helped L&S write having known them from his Drifter’s days.

“Stand By Me” is one of the most covered songs of all time, having been recorded over 400 times by artists ranging from John Lennon to Elton John. It is based on the spiritual song “Lord Stand by Me”, which in turn has roots in Psalms 46 of the Bible. The song went to number 1 of the R&B charts and was top 10 in 1961 and again in 1987 when it was used as the theme song of the movie of the same name. The movie was based on a Stephen King short story called “The Body” and is not a bad ‘coming of age’ movie packed with great oldies.

Ahmet Ertegun1 said “King is one of the greatest singers in the history of rock and roll and rhythm and blues”. Ahmen Brotha...
1.        Ahmet Ertegun was the Turkish immigrant founder and president of Atlantic Records known for its classic R&B and later rock acts.