Best of the smackdowns

The smackdown is a Hymie’s blog tradition, as tried and true as posting novelty songs and making fun of John Maus.

(Hey by the way, the guy who said in this interview that he was “happy that the days of the record store are coming to an end” now has a Record Store Day release (check it out here) … That’s chutzpah folks.)

Today’s post is smackdown retrospective, although it doesn’t include any of the primitive posts from the pre-streaming music era of the blog (those terrible dark ages when I had to find a way to describe the music instead).  It only includes one song smackdown and steers entirely clear of unsuccessful experiments like the battle of the southern state rainy day song.  These are the fun ones, the ones that remind you why you started collecting records in the first place.


#5  Dr. Lonnie Smith vs. Lonnie Liston Smith

Actually, this smackdown between the great 60s/70s jazz keyboardists sort of became about mid-level baseball player Lonnie Smith, who blew the 1991 World Series for the Atlanta Braves.  As a Twins fan I’ve always been okay with that.

The Lonnie laydown was the first smackdown to put two favorites against one another.  In fact, I think all of the tracks in this post came from our collection at home.  I still don’t think I could pick a winner.

#4  Battle of the Byrds

This is my personal favorite smackdown.  I felt like I discovered a lot of things about the music of Jerry Byrd and Charlie Byrd in researching and writing it, and in the end I kept one of the Charlie Byrd albums (Blues Sonata) in my collection because it was just soooo good.

#3  Lockjaw vs. Cleanhead

Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson actually performed and recorded together with Cootie Williams’s big band in 1944, which I though was the most interesting thing about this smackdown.  A compilation of the Cootie Williams band that included both nicknamed Eddies came into the shop only weeks after this post went up, offering an opportunity to compare the two solo vs. solo just a little too late.

#2  “Sunny” vs. “Sunshine Superman”

The quintessential song smackdown, and also probably the longest yet – eighteen rounds for sure.  My favorite part was speedy little medley of so-so “Sunny” covers, which take on a new life placed back-to-back.  It’s right at the end of the post.

#1  Boston vs. Chicago

I received a number of angry emails after Chicago bested Boston in this early smackdown, but I stand by my decision.  The truth is there’s nothing on that third or – ugh – fourth Boston album worth remembering, let alone taking the time to record it and post it on a website, and Chicago’s albums featured at least one good song all the way up to XI or so (which had “Baby What a Big Surprise”).  Chicago is better than Boston.

And in the end that’s what the smackdowns have been all about:  the arbitrary opinions of a man who posts records on the internet. Next week I promise a new and long-overdue smackdown.  Perhaps we’ll finally visit Europe vs. America (which of course is going to turn into a Europe vs. America vs. Asia three-way pretty quickly).  Perhaps we’ll finally put Beethoven’s 9th up against Herb Alpert’s 9th.  Lord knows I’ve been working on Jon Anderson vs. John Anderson long enough.  Next Monday, I promise, a new smackdown.


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