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Recently, after moving a large collection to the record shop, we discovered one of the boxes contained not albums but a variety of books. Many of them were jazz biographies, and one — Duke Ellington’s 1976 memoir, Music is my Mistress — has proven to be an especially enjoyable read.

One of the most remarkable things is its appendix which lists all of the songs he composed during his career in their copyright order — from “Blind Man’s Bluff” in 1923 to the four-part Togo Brava suite written in 1973 it takes nearly thirty pages to list them all!

ellington flaming youthHere is a song from early in his career (1929 according to this book) which was re-recorded many times over the years. It is on this RCA/Victor compilation of the 1927-9 band, which features several Ellington Orchestra alumni who worked for Duke for decades — one could hardly imagine the Orchestra without Johnny Hodges or Harry Carney for instance.

Our favorite era of Ellington’s enduring Orchestra is the 1940-2 incarnation known by fans as the “Blanton/Webster Band.” We posted about bassist Jimmy Blanton not long ago (here). One could spend a lifetime collecting only Duke Ellington record, and always have plenty of great jazz to listen to — his music changes so much from decade to decade based on the distinct personalities that make up the Orchestra, and it would take a post longer than this to list all the favorites of jazz listeners.

From his autobiography, Ellington describes the process of fluctuation as members come and go:

The cats who come into the band are probably unique in the aural realm. When someone falls out of the band — temporarily or permanently — it naturally becomes a matter of “Whom shall we get?” or “Whom van we get?” It is not just a matter of replacing the cat who left, because we are concerned with a highly personalized kind of music. It is written to suit the character of an instrumentalist, the man who has the responsibility of playing it, and is almost impossible to match his character identically. Also, if the new man is sufficiently interesting tonally, why insist upon his copying or matching his predecessor’s style.

In other words, if we are completely satisfied with the horse and buggy, who invent an automobile or airplane? In the first place, when a man is needed, I personally scarcely even know which way to look for a replacement. I haven’t the slightest idea whether the grass next door is greener or leaner. So someone suggests so-and-so, and we send for so-and-so, and get him. We play together a day or two, and then I inquire whether or not the new cat likes what we are doing, having already watched his reaction in the band. If he likes it, he is invited to stay.

Everybody agrees he’s a nice guy until one day, sooner than expected, one of his other selves breaks through, or one of his more eccentric sides show. Then I confess, or one of the other cats in the band hollars, loudly, “Duke, you never miss!”

Our new man has come home to the home of homies. He manifests his acceptance of the honor bestowed upon him, and settles down to the prospect of welcoming the next new so-and-so.

The Dead Kennedys released “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” in 1981. The single came with an armband that featured a crossed-out swastika. It was written as a response to the appearance of neo-nazism and white supremacy in the punk rock culture in both the US and the UK.

Yesterday, after the shocking events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the band posted the anti-swastika image on their Facebook page to the delight of tens of thousands.

We never before thought we would find something likable about Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, but his remarks yesterday were exactly what this country needed to hear, and what needs to be repeated.

“I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple. Go home,” said McAuliffe yesterday evening. “You are not wanted in this great commonwealth.” He went on to say, “There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America.”

We also think it is worth noting the words of Robert E. Lee, as it was Charlottesville’s planned removal of a statue of the Confederate General which precipitated yesterday’s tragic events. Invited to a reunion at Gettysburg in 1869, Lee politely declined, writing in part,

I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.

The statue was commissioned in 1917, nearly a half century after Lee passed away. It seems unlikely he would have approved of its creation in the first place and even more likely that, a hundred years later, he would have supported a plan to remove the statue.


This 1977 single calls for donations to be sent to Local #366, Brewery Workers of Golden, Colorado. That April, 1,472 workers went on strike, but after Coors announced they would replace them nearly half crossed the line to return to work.

In December of the following year workers voted by a large margin to decertify the union, but those still on strike were not allowed to participate in the vote. This ended nearly a half-century of union representation at the brewery.

coors brewery strike songsThe AFL-CIO maintained a boycott of Coors for a decade, before a closed door agreement was reached with the brewery in April 1987. This expanded existing regional boycotts from unions which charged that the brewery discriminated against hispanic workers dating back to the mid 60s. Other union activities to punish the brewery was to push western states, where Coors was primarily marketed, to pass laws prohibiting the sale of unpasteurized beer. Coors, of course, is cold-filtered as an alternative to pasteurization.

(Your home brewin’ friends can explain the difference, but in the end it doesn’t matter because Coors is kinda gross.)

Coors workers voted on establishing a new union the year after the AFL-CIO boycott was lifted after the Teamsters collected enough signatures to require the election, but it was voted down by a large margin. The Golden, Colorado remains the largest brewery in the world.

Despite some lean years in the 1980s, which the company insists were unrelated to its labor relation issues, Coors (now MillerCoors after a series of mergers) is the third largest brewing company in America, and in the world. The hold about a ten-percent market share in the U.S. as of last year, down from its peak at forty percent in the 60s.

Folks less concerned about labor relations may take issue with Coors’ long history of supporting extreme right wing causes. Joseph Coors, the third generation dynast, was described by his own brother as “a little to the right of Attila the Hun.” In 1987 he purchased a $65,000 cargo plan for the the illegally U.S.-backed Contras fighting the democratically elected Sandinista government in Nicaragua. It was donated through Oliver North. Coors was also a founding donor to the Heritage Foundation. There are plenty of other pro-labor, pro-equality beers you can drink.

Glen Campbell, who was one of the top selling country music performers of the 60s and 70s, has passed away at the age of eighty-one.

In recent years Campbell had given a celebrity face to Alzheimer’s disease, as his family’s struggle to help him was shown in the documentary, I’ll Be Me.

Many of Campbell’s hit songs were written by Jimmy Webb, including this one, “Wichita Lineman.”

Before his successful run of hit singles for Capitol Records, Campbell was one of the busiest session musicians in the industry. As a member of the legendary Wrecking Crew, Campbell appeared on hundreds of singles from Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” to many of the Beach Boys’ hits. If you are a record collector it seems likely that there is at least one recording of Campbell in your collection.

We’ve had so many great blues records in the shop this summer! Lately we’ve been listening to a lot of Bo Diddley albums which reminded us of this post from about four years back into the Hymies blog archives…

Often a 45 has a lesser-known song from the same album as the hit as it’s flip side, which is sometimes a reward for 45 collectors like ourselves. For instance, we don’t need to own a copy of Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey because the best cut on the album, “Starting a New Life,” is the B side to one of its singles.

Other times they make choice we don’t understand, like putting “Sweet Black Angel” on the backside of “Tumblin’ Dice.” It really should have been “Hip Shake Thing,” because that song really captures the spirit of Exile on Main Street. Plus it’s kickass awesome. WeI would play it every time we play “Tumblin’ Dice.” It’s a great song! (By the way, you can hear it if you click on that link above) Even though its our favorite song on that classic album, we’ve always thought it was a re-make of “Bring it to Jerome” by Bo Diddley.

bo diddley

Guess we could have listened more closely to Exile all these years, or at least read the label before flipping it to side two. “Hip Shake Thing” is credited to James Moore, aka Slim Harpo on the side one label — And in fact, in the middle of the song Mick Jagger sings, “Say, what do you know / There’s Slim Harpo.”

exile side one

Turns out Harpo was the one doing the borrowing, whether Mick Jagger knew it or not. We’re guessing as a guy who probably listened to a lot of blues 45s he probably did (the Stones are after all great interpreters of blues records from their earliest singles onward). Harpo’s 1966 hit for Excello Records is the song that was based on “Bring it to Jerome.” Slim Harpo’s awesome songs — not all of them based on equally awesome Bo Diddley songs — were also covered by other major white rock acts in the 60s: The Who, the Kinks, the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd…

slim harpo

Slim Harpo ran a trucking business on the side. He died tragically young, only 46, following a heart attack, and was buried near the Louisiana town where he grew up.

Bo Diddley, of course, lived a much longer life, and enjoyed a great deal of success as a performer. He also received recognition for his contributions to the creation of rock and roll music. Bo Diddley is sometimes called “The Originator” for his essential role. He was a technical pioneer as well, creating a home studio years before it was the standard for stars — in fact, his home studio was the first place where Marvin Gaye recorded. His “Bo Diddley beat” — dum dum dum, dum dum — appears throughout the history of pop music, including at least twice on London Calling. This is probably why the Clash asked him to open for them when they toured the US to promote that album in 1979.

Bo Diddley also bought and donated three police cars to Valencia County, New Mexico, where he lived and volunteered. After moving to Florida he lived in a log cabin he helped build. He was just awesome all around. Mick Jagger said he had been “very generous to us in our early years and we learned a lot from him.”

Usually when we revisit posts from the past, we dig deep into the archives. Today’s re-run is a song which we first posted only a year and a half ago, around the time we bought a collection that was entirely albums by Hank Williams Jr. The owner did not have any records by his father, nor a single record by another country artist at all. She liked them and loved their music, but only collected Hank Jr.’s albums. This episode reminded us that everyone collects records in their own way. Here’s what we wrote about a record she recommended we play…

hank jr and friendsThe song in yesterday’s post, “You Don’t Know How it Feels,” must be one of Tom Petty’s most popular singles. He even shot a typically goofy video for the song at the time, although in it efforts were made to mask the drug reference in its chorus with an overdub.

If anyone else could say we don’t know how it feels to be them, it might be Hank Williams Jr. For so much of his life, he lived in his father’s shadow, even though he was a highly talented multi-instrumentalist.

Hank Jr. took lessons from famous musicians as varied as Fats Domino and Earl Scruggs, and has played on his many albums at least a half dozen different instruments: guitar, banjo, dobro, piano, drums, etc.

Last week we bought a¬†monstrous collection of country records which leaned heavily on the seventies ‘outlaw’ scene. Naturally, there were a lot of albums by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and those great Bakersfield bands of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. There were also more of Hank Jr.’s albums than we’ve ever seen at once. Whole boxes of them. Who knew there were so many?!

His 1975 album Hank Williams Jr. and¬†Friends is a country-rock classic. It’s last song, “Living Proof,” is one of the most heartbreaking country tunes we’ve ever heard.


Following up on yesterday’s goofy post, in which we have always enjoyed collecting songs which have the same title as another, more well-known hit, there are those “mistaken identity” singles — bands and artists with the same name as someone more successful.

For instance, Starship here should not be mistaken for the post-Kantner Jefferson Starship. This group was a short-lived collaboration between one of the Monkees and a producer best known for his work with pop idols like Shaun Cassidy.

While its hardly an essential addition to any collection — unless you’re really, really into Mickey Dolenz — their cover of “Johnny B. Goode” is a little more rockin’ than those bloated Starship albums.


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