BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS
DEDICATED TO THE COLLECTING OF MUSIC, ITS PRESERVATION AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP
MONTHLY MEETING THIS SUNDAY, MARCH 8th, 2020 – 2:00 PM
HOMEWOOD LIBRARY – 1721 OXMOOR ROAD 35209
NEXT MEETING SUNDAY, APRIL 5th, 2020 THE FIRST SUNDAY
REMEMBER TO TURN YOUR CLOCK UP 1 HOUR WHEN YOU GO TO BED SATURDAY NIGHT.
THIS MONTH’S MEETING
We have been talking about some of our favorite covers of hit songs. The cover may or may not have charted. At this month’s meeting we will take time to play some of those covers and giver everyone a chance to hear them There are plenty of covers that came of LP’s or maybe a 45 that didn’t chart or maybe a flip side of a charted song. I look forward to hearing some new sounds. If you have a few in mind but not on vinyl or an MP3 we will look it up on youtube. Come and join the fun visit borysgames.pl. Don’t forget it’s time to ‘spring forward’ one hour when you go to bed Saturday night.
CLUB MEETING DATES WILL BE DIFFERENT IN APRIL AND MAY:
APRIL: Due to Easter our April meeting will be the FIRST Sunday, April 5 and will be in room 116.
MAY: Due to Mother’s Day our May meeting will be the FIRST Sunday, May 3. Room 101, our regular room.
It’s kind of unfair for me to list some of my favorite cover songs that come to mind but I’m the only one here right now so it will be that way. Feel free to send me some of yours and I will mention them next month and I will list in next month’s newsletter some of the ones we hear this Sunday. Hope that will suffice. I will list just a small sampling just to get you to think.
How about Ray Charles’, ‘What’d I Say’. Rare Earth does an excellent cover of the song. They give it an upbeat rock sound. There was a 45 issued but it didn’t chart. It came off the One World LP.
One cover that I really enjoy telling people about is one that charted but just kind of faded away after its time. Candi Staton took Tammy Wynette’s, ‘Stand By Your Man’ to another level. Taking it from a C/W smash hit to a very well done R&B/soulful style. I play it quite often for people to hear. By the way, Candi also did a very good cover of the Harlan Howard composition, ‘She(He)Called Me Baby’, another C/W song. It was covered by both male and female singers with the title changing accordingly.
I personally don’t think a cover can get better than the original ‘Road Runner’ by Bo Diddley, but if there is a version I like it would be by The Gants. Their version did chart at #46 in 1965. ‘Road Runner’ has always been a Bo favorite of mine and The Gants did a very good job of making it a garage style sound and provide me lots of fun listening to.
How about Johnny Rivers? He did some very good covers that were also fun to listen to. “Memphis’, ‘Maybelline’ and ‘Mountain Of Love’ were all charted songs for him. In fact they were his first three hits. He did the songs well and really rocked the car radios at a time when the Brits were all over the charts.
David Bowie released an LP in 1973 entitled Pinups which was an LP of cover songs. Songs he liked that others did. He chose songs he liked and wanted to cover them. One that I like a lot is a song which was a flip side of the McCoys hit, ‘Fever’ entitled ‘Sorrow’. Although it wasn’t a charted song in the US, ‘Sorrow’ did chart in the UK when the British group The Mersey’s released their version. I say all that but let me go back to the Bowie cover. I like it very much. Give it a listen and maybe check out the entire LP.
Closer to home, I have to mention a cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Smoke Stack Lightning’. Wolf’s version charted on the R&B charts in 1956 at # 11. Birmingham’s very own Distortions covered the song and took it from the R&B genre to the Garage/Psychedelic genre. Still with a hint of the blues the guys did a great version along with a guitar riff and electric keyboard background that you need to listen to. Eddie Rice played the guitar on the recording and as I told him it is my favorite version of the song. Please give it a listen if possible and see what you think. Remember, it is more rock and psych than the original so if that ain’t your bag you may have a different opinion but I think it is a great cover. And remember the guys were in their late teens.
Well that gets us started on our cover songs. Many, many more to get to. Some many covers, so little time. Send me some of your favorites and let me spread your list to everyone else.
MORE FROM THE ‘BIRTH OF ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC PROJECT 1954-59
With a little space left this month I will add in another part of Mike’s project on the birth of R&R. We are up to part 8 this month. It has been educational and thought provoking and I for one thank Mike for spending so much of his time doing this research. If you missed last month’s meeting you missed, along with a fire drill at the library, Mike’s presentation about the project and the great music he played for us.
PART 8: The tune entitled “Juke” was recorded in Chicago in May of 1952 It is a harmonica instrumental. The harmonica player is Marion Walter Jacobs, a/k/a Little Walter. The tune was produced in the Studio by Bill Putnam, who has been described as “The Father of Modern Recording”. Putnam was the first producer/audio engineer in the U.S. to produce artificial reverberation in the recording studio by designing and using echo chambers. Later in the 1950s, Sam Phillips at Sun studio in Memphis tried to reproduce Putnam’s sound but was only partially successful. Phillips sent to Putnam in August 1955 the Sun master tape of Elvis Presley’s “Mystery Train” and “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” with these instructions: “ Give me a hot level on both a 78 and a 45 with as much presence peak and bass as possible!”
Walter Jacobs was to amplified harmonica what Charlie Parker was to the alto saxophone and Jimi Hendrix was to the electric guitar. Nobody ever played the harmonica like Walter Jacobs. This record represents the first music ever recorded by Walter Jacobs in the studio. In fact, the record released on Checker in 1952 is from the first take. There was only one other take of the tune recorded on the recording date in 1952, and it was not released until 1992.
Here is what Walter did that nobody else had ever done before: He took a small hand held microphone, plugged it in to a guitar amplifier, turned up the volume to the point of distortion, and held the mike directly under the harmonica while he played inside one of Putnam’s echo chambers. He got new original musical sounds out of the little harp that nobody ever got before. And again, his improvisation drew on everything he heard growing up in Louisiana before leaving for Chicago. What Walter plays here is not the blues, or even R&B; it’s not jazz or country. It is up-tempo boogie with phrases drawn from all those genres, played fast, in perfect time, similar to what we have been listening to, now with new electric sound effects. A very historic and ground breaking record.
Upon its release on Checker records, this record quickly entered the charts and ascended to the Number One position, where it remained for 8 weeks. It remained in the charts for 20 weeks. No other harmonica instrumental has ever achieved the number one position, before or since. The record was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008. Walter was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, the first and only harmonica player to be so honored. Sound engineer and record producer Bill Putnam died in Riverside, CA in 1989. He received a posthumous Special Merit/Technical Grammy award in the year 2008. Walter Jacobs died in Chicago at age 37 in the year 1968.
Don’t forget to check out all the new internet radio shows the club has on its website. Go to http://www.birminghamrecord.com/brc/ and click on ‘RADIO’. New shows added weekly.