wild bill davison lp

 

Our friend the Southside Aces perform at the Minneapolis Eagles Club #34 on the second Thursday of each month (hence the title of their new disc earlier this year, which we featured here). To keep their arrangements lively and exciting for all the dancers and jazz fans, they chose from the catalog of traditional jazz performers and composers. Last month, for instance, they played songs by Jelly Roll Morton.

Tonight’s featured artist is cornetist Wild Bill Davison, who lived into his eighties but early on earned the nickname Wild Bill for his drinking and womanizing. His playing was equally explosive, though he showed a sensitive side by releasing two very lyrical albums accompanied by strings in the 1950s.

Davison made his debut on record in the 20s. He was in the auto accident on Leap Day 1932 which killed trumpeter Frank Teschemacher, and spent several years afterwards living in Milwaukee. Davison became known to most dixieland fans through his appearances with Eddie Condon’s band starting around 1945, and continued to tour and lead bands for the rest of his life. Like many traditional jazz musicians, he spent a lot of time in Europe after the 1950s.

dixieland express LPHere is Davison performing one of our favorite Jelly Roll Morton tunes, “Wolverine Blues,” from a mid-50s session for Jazztone Society which features a fairly unknown band who rise to the occasion.

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“Wolverine Blues”

The Southside Aces will perform the music of Wild Bill Davison and others tonight at the Minneapolis Eagles Club #34, starting at 8pm. There’s a $5 cover which also gets you a raffle ticket, with which you can win some great records.

cliff kyes 78 request

Both were regional touring orchestras (sometimes called “territory bands”), who would visit places like St. Cloud’s Coliseum Ballroom, where the postcard pictured below was found. The back has a booking address for Cliff Kyes and his Orchestra in Iowa.

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“In my Merry Oldsmobile” by Jimmy Thomas and his Orchestra

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“South” by Cliff Kyes and his Orchestra

Both these singles were released by Request Records, which had a Minneapolis post office box.

$_57

seventh son willie mabon

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“Seventh Son” by Willie Mabon

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“Seventh Son” by Willie Dixon

Folklore around the world attributes supernatural powers to the scion of an unbroken line of males: the seventh son of a seventh son. These are sometimes dark, demonic powers, as in Argentina, where if the seventh son of a seventh son is not baptized in seven churches he will become the lobizón, a werewolf. Other cultures bestow upon him powers of premonition, or Christ-like abilities to heal merely by touch.

In 1 Chronicles 2:15 we learn David, second sovereign of the Kingdom of Israel, was the seventh son of Jesse. Apostles Matthew and Luke later assure us the Messiah was descendent of David. The lesser prophet Gad, who in 2 Samuel 24:11-13 instructed David to return to Judah where he would ultimately rule, was the seventh son of Jacob. The Book of Gad the Seer is a lost text.

We have already written recently about Ralph Ellison’s 1952 masterpiece, The Invisible Man. The book comes up again in the form of Petey Wheatstraw, who Ellison’s narrator meets in Harlem, and who claims to be the seventh son of a seventh son. Wheatstraw is drawn from Peetie Wheatstraw, blues singer alternately billed on records as “The Devil’s Son in Law” and “The High Sheriff from Hell,” who may have been the source of the Robert Johnson/”Crossroads” mythology.

Willie Dixon wrote “Seventh Son” in 1955, playing bass on the original recording by Willie Mabon. He performed the song himself on a 1970 album which included other songs he’d written as a Chess sideman, including “Back Door Man” and “I Ain’t Superstitious,” both associated with Howlin’ Wolf. It has likewise been covered many times over the years — notably by Johnny Rivers on his album, Meanwhile Back at the Whiskey A Go Go, by pianist Mose Alison, the Climax Blues Band and George Thorogood. Unfortunately the song has also been recorded by Sting.

willie dixoncannonball earth

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“Seventh Son” by Mose Allison

The Johnny Rivers album, his third of five ostensibly recorded the legendary Los Angeles club, sounds suspiciously to some like a studio recording with overdubbed crowd noise. Still, his “Seventh Son” peaked at, you guessed it, #7 on the singles chart.mose alison

Iron Maiden’s seventh album explored clairvoyance, madness and evil in what began as a concept album based on the seventh son of a seventh son mythology. If there is a story to Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, we can’t follow it, although we’ve always considered “Can I Play with Madness?” a favorite track by the band. “Moonchild” is an entertaining entry into the hard rock obsession with occultist Aleister Crowley, and the title song places the eponymous soul at the crossroads:

Then they watch the progress he makes
The Good and the evil which path will he take
Both of them trying to manipulate
The use of his powers before it’s too late

On the jacket the tragic Eddie retains his lobotomy scar from Piece of Mind, as well as his cybertronic parts from Somewhere in Time. In addition he is disemboweled, and proffers a fetus.

iron maiden seventh

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“Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” by Iron Maiden

cannonball earth“Seventh Son” was one of the first songs Joe Zawinul contributed after joining the Cannonball Adderely band, then a sextet featuring Yusef Lateef. The Austrian pianist went on to contribute some of the bands’ best material for its Capitol Recordings in the mid-60s including the hit “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” and later led Weather Report with Wayne Shorter.

 

“He’s always off on one trip or another,” says the band’s leader on The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Person.

 

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“Seventh Son” by the Cannonball Adderley Sextet

 

 

 

 

peter

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“Peter Cottontail” by Gene Autry

The banana

If you waited, say, ten or twenty years to start peeling (it reads peel slowly and see, after all), the banana wouldn’t come off without a fight, as on this copy in the shop right now.

banana1The residue outline of the peeled banana is still there. They were, presumably, easy to peel when new. Most copies look more like ours at home (below), just pink fruit and hardly a memory of a peel. We bet they were fun to peel, just as we remember how much fun it was to light on fire the paper panties inside Alice Cooper’s School’s Out, which went up in wild flash! And don’t even ask about the “Bite Me” iron on inside our copy of Nilsson’s Son of Dracula. Who thought people would want to collect this kind of stuff.

There are other variations to the jacket of The Velvet Underground & Nico, because an image projected upside down on the band in the concert photo on the back contained an actor who threatened a lawsuit against Verve Records for unauthorized use of his likeness. Thanks to Eric Emerson, these so-called “torso” jackets are the rarest copies because the label was forced to recall them and reproduce new jackets with his big dumb, upside down body airbrushed out. Probably didn’t help original sales of the LP, either. Other copies have a sticker covering the picture, which people invariably tried to peel.

banana2The thing about The Velvet Underground & Nico is that original copies are all noisy, resulting from poor pressing. If you want clean sound your probably better off with a European press like the reissues on Polydor. We’ve never been audiophiles around here, but our experience is that they sound much better. If you’re as big a fan of the Velvet Underground as we are, you probably also have the five-disc Peel Slowly and See set which was produced in the mid-90s. The sound on those CDs is better than any Velvet Underground records we’ve heard, and the collection includes interesting out-takes and alternate mixes any fan would enjoy. Sadly, somebody borrowed the book from our copy back in the mid-90s and never returned it. Maybe we should have written our name on it, like somebody did with both these copies of the original LP.

We’ve always appreciated the fact that “MC” sold his collection to Root Cellar Records all those years ago, because we were lucky enough to find one of our all time favorite albums. The copy in the shop belonged to “TS” in case you’re wondering.

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“All Tomorrow’s Parties”

elvis and pricilla

SHE’S ALWAYS A WOMAN 

Billy Joel wrote “She’s Always A Woman” for his first wife Elizabeth Weber, who was also his business manager. The song contrasts her tenacious exterior with the way he knew her as a lover and wife. In the context of their divorce five years later lines like “she can wound with her eyes” and “steal like a thief” take on weighty new substance.

Rolling Stone called the song “misleadingly tender,” but everything about The Stranger struck a chord in 1977. Another single from the album, “Just the Way You Are,” took a similar (if less snarky) stance, and both were hits. That second tune was an artistic coup de grace for Joel, whose jazz leanings on his early Columbia albums were dismissed by critics, because the legendary Phil Woods played the solo.

Joel wrote “Just the Way You Are” as a birthday gift for Weber. According to the authorized biography by Fred Schruers for which Joel granted hours of interviews, Weber’s response when he played the song for her was calculating: “Do I get the publishing rights, too?”

The success of The Stranger started Joel on a streak which outlasted his first two marriages, but he rarely performed either love song after his divorce from Weber. Joel was generous in the separation until he was laid up in the hospital after a motorcycle accident in which he had badly injured both hands. In the biography he tells Schruers that Weber arrived at the hospital with contacts, asking him to sign over even more to her. Several years later he was forced to sue her brother for siphoning tens of millions out of his earnings.

A muzak version of “She’s Always a Woman” was playing in the plaza between the two towers of the World Trade Center moments before the South Tower collapsed.

ANNIE’S SONG

John Denver wrote “Annie’s Song” for his wife in 1974, and it was included on his hit album, Back Home Again. That’s Annie Martell next to him on the cover.

Initially,” she explained, “it was a love song and it was given to me through him, and yet for him it became a bit like a prayer.” The song is unique in Denver’s catalog as his only hit in the United Kingdom, although cover versions of other songs he wrote have been successful there. It was so popular there that an utterly dreadful version by flautist James Galway was also a hit.

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“Annie’s Song”

Readers of Denver’s 1994 autobiography Take Me Home learned that then, and throughout their marriage, he was unfaithful to Annie, and although it was his drug use and infidelity which led to their divorce he flew into a rage over how the couple’s assets were being divided. He describes in detail cutting their bed in half with a chainsaw and choking Annie. “Before I knew it I had her on the kitchen counter and my hands were around her throat. And I stopped. I had almost lost control but didn’t.”

annies song

pajaro ciego

Mixed into a musty box of the usual suspects (Ken Griffin, Frankie Carle, etc) this week were a few Argentine 78s on Odeon. We don’t sell many 78s these days, and find even fewer this fun. We refer collections of them to our old friends at Vintage Music Company, who specialize in 78s, cylinder recordings, and vintage machines. Their motto — Explore the past and preserve it for the future — says it all. Any collector of vintage recordings will have a wonderful time visiting their shop.

Our small selection of 78s include mostly swing and pop records which have been mixed into collections of LPs. Sadly, for most post-war 78s, the supply out there seems to far exceed the demand. Every box is still fun to flip through, and we often enjoy playing those dime-a-dozen pop records — these songs were such a delight we thought we’d share them.

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“Pajaro Ciego” by Rodolpho A. Biagi

There’s an enchanting magic to the music of pianist Rodolpho Biago — no surprise fans called him Manos Brujas (“Spellbinding hands”). His late 30s tenure with Juan D’Arienzo’s Orchestra contribute to the band’s enormous influence on tango, which shifted from slower, more romantic pieces to the dynamic style more familiar to listeners beyond Argentina. Biagi began his career in his early teens, accompanying silent films in theaters.

His sense of rhythm could be deceptively simple, almost monotonous, yet entirely enchanting. D’Arienzo’s first hit with Biagi at the keyboard, “La Puñalada” (“The Stab”), was a national sensation and also a revival of the early century 2/4 tango. Biagi left the D’Arienzo to form his own orchestra in 1938, which toured Latin America extensively for decades, popularizing the pianist’s unique rhythmic take on tango and later milonga. Biagi’s orchestra was the first to appear on Argentine television.

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“Brasil Moreno – 1st Parte”

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“Brasil Moreno – 2nd Parte”

Baritone Candido Botelho is known as one of finest contemporary interpreters of the songs of composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. He was also very successful as a singer of romantic pop songs — his most famous hit was a 1941 recording of Ary Barroso’s “Canta Maria.” The lively song on the 78 we found is from the soundtrack of Joujoux et Balangandans (“Knick Knacks and Trinkets”), and Betelho’s arrangement sounds almost as suited for Felix the Cat or Bugs Bunny as for a dance band.

 

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