The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

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Prof. Wagstaff
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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:12 am

Still in the middle of my wonderful Louis Jordan wig-out but also thinking about Chuck's music.
Check out the intro to this Jordan cut from 1946 and see if it sounds familiar to ya...

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby DCB » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:06 am

No surprise to read tributes from all the big names in rock'n'roll. One thing that struck me was their appreciation of his lyrics. His words were really clever and original.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby PaleoLiberal » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:30 pm

I remember seeing an interview with John Lennon about Chuck Berry. Lennon said that in the 50s most of the lyrics were really bad, but Chuck Berry's were great. Lennon praised the rhyme and meter of the lyrics.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Mar 26, 2017 12:58 am

LOUIS JORDAN -- Louis Jordan is hands-down one of the greatest performers in music history and I will not listen to any claims to the contrary. He was a fantastic jump blues singer and an underrated singer of ballads, a fine sax player, a great bandleader, a media pioneer (he was one of the first performers to make short films of his songs, many of which were bigger draws at theaters than the movies they purportedly were supporting) and a wonderful judge of material (he was not a prolific writer but all his best songs sound like he wrote them specifically for himself and his way with a rhyme was unmatched by anyone except perhaps Tom Lehrer*) but it was as an entertainer that he most excelled. His greatest songs play like well-oiled comedy routines and he was beloved in his day by just about anyone who saw him. His massive success is pretty much unparalleled. My book of top Billboard R&B hits (which spans 1942-1988) ranks him as the 5th "top" performer of all-time, behind James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and The Temptations. What makes that so amazing is he accomplished that feat in only 10 years, as opposed to those ranked above him whose hits span three decades or more. In a mere 10 years, Jordan placed 57 songs on the R&B charts, all but three of which went Top 10 (and of those, one was an already 7-year-old instrumental that went to #13 and another was a B-side that stalled at #14, his lowest chart position ever.) 15 of those hits went all the way to #1 and the biggest of'em stayed there seemingly forever -- "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" spent 17 weeks at the top spot, "Boogie Woogie Blue Plate" had 14 weeks of that honor, "Saturday Night Fish Fry" did it for 12 weeks, and perhaps the best of all, the incredible "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" (a song with as much claim to laying the foundation for the rock and roll to come as any other) managed a staggering 18 weeks. And lest you think his popularity was limited to the purveyors of "race records", he also topped the Pop chart with "G.I. Jive" and twice had top honors on the Country & Western chart, with "Ration Blues" and the beloved "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby". And if you listened to those cuts you'll undoubtedly see what I mean by calling him an entertainer above all else; the dude knew how to deliver smiles to an audience. The only other person who immediately comes to mind who approached his command of pure entertainment was Louis Armstrong, with whom he worked several times over the years, most delightfully on a pair of early '50s singles, an exuberant version of "Life Is So Peculiar" and the absolutely adorable "(I'll Be Glad When You're Dead) You Rascal, You".

As I noted in an earlier post, I am blessed to own the Bear Family box set which collects every single one of his recordings for Decca Records from late 1938 through January of 1954 and while it starts slow -- his earliest stuff is fairly standard jazzy blues with only hints of the rambunctioness and comedic wordplay and timing which would become his signature -- once the hits start coming in 1942 with the one-two punch of "I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town" and the downright hilarious "What's The Use Of Getting Sober (When You Gonna Get Drunk Again" -- he's pretty much unstoppable. Just listen to his transcendent wail on "Caldonia Boogie". Revel at the interplay with his band on the cautionary "Beware, Brother, Beware". Be delighted by his duet performance with Ella Fitzgerald on the calypso novelty "Stone Cold Dead In The Market". Try not to shake your rump while he runs through his gamut of animal noises on "Barnyard Boogie". I could go on and on piling on superlatives, but these records speak for themselves . . . "A Chicken Ain't Nothin' But A Bird", "Beans And Cornbread", "Hungry Man", "Safe, Sane and Single", "Texas and Pacific", "Knock Me A Kiss" . . . OK, I'll stop. But you shouldn't. If Louis Jordan recorded it between 1942 and 1952 or so, it's worth hearing. I've also got a single disc of sides he cut for the Aladdin label after his association with Decca ended and the hits had dried up. The best of it is as good as he ever was, but on much of it the magic is gone. Best to just stick with the classic stuff.

I don't say stuff like this very often but Jordan is amazing enough for me to make an exception: if you don't like this music, I'm not sure I want to know you.

*I mean, come on -- just listen around the 1:20 mark of this song where he rhymes "menu" with "Virginia"!

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby bdog » Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:23 am

What was the first record / cassette / whatever you ever owned?

I'm just curious how you became what you are. Did some music in particular set you on your path?

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Mar 26, 2017 12:34 pm

bdog wrote:What was the first record / cassette / whatever you ever owned?

Destroyer by Kiss.

bdog wrote: Did some music in particular set you on your path?

Wasn't aware I was on a path. I just like (some) music.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Mar 26, 2017 2:39 pm

I've been working, working, working, digging through boxes and boxes of LPs for my business, which means I've had lots and lots of Listening Project time this weekend. The upshot? I've finished another letter! So here's the rest of the Js:

JOSEPH -- I know literally nothing about this guy, who as far as I know only recorded a single album. 1970's Stoned Age Man is a progish, psychish, blues-fueled mess of a record, where Joseph howls and screams his way through admittedly mediocre material (and one of the worst versions of "House of the Rising Sun" I've ever heard) but the super-heavy "Gotta Get Away" alone is worth the price of admission (and worth clicking on just so you can see the cover art) and if you like that, you'll likely enjoy some of the rest as well. You can hear the full album on YouTube here.

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS -- One of the two greatest discoveries I made when researching material for the cartoon-song cover band I sang for many years ago (the other being the already-reviewed Globetrotters LP) was that this band spun-off from The Archies show made some pretty great records. The Rhino Handmade CD I have has waaaaaaaaaaaay more then anyone needs, especially as it's so anal about collecting everything that several songs appear in three or four barely different versions, but how can any lover of bubblegummy pop music not be delighted by "Every Beat Of My Heart"? "Voodoo" is another stand-out and the group also had a great theme song to boot (which was the only one of these songs I ever tackled with The OuttaToons.) Most of this is decidedly filler but it's still unnecessarily high quality filler for a show cranked out by a cartoon studio famous for cutting corners (and I love the conceit that these heavily orchestrated songs are being performed by a trio consisting only of guitar, drums, and tambourines.)

personal note to Igor: I used to have a 2CD Judas Priest retrospective but it went MIA years ago, which means I have no Priest on CD and thus, they are outside the purview of the Project. Sorry. I always preferred their earliest stuff, so here's my all-time fave Priest cut anyway.

DON JULIAN AND THE MEADOWLARKS -- I have a wonderful CD from the good folks at the Ace UK label which compiles 22 cuts of high quality doo-wop from 1954-1958. As longtime readers know, I love this stuff and Julian excelled at both ballads and uptempo numbers but none of these songs ever came close to being a hit, although most R&B/doo-wop aficianados are familiar with "Heaven And Paradise", I reckon.
My fave cut: "I Am A Believer".

JUNIE -- Walter "Junie" Morrison was a member of The Ohio Players during the Pain/Pleasure/Ecstasy era just before they became big hitmakers. (He's the man most responsible for "Funky Worm", for example.) He split The Players, made three solo albums I've never heard, and then hooked up with George Clinton and the P.Funk Mob, making major contributions to One Nation Under A Groove and other albums from that era. In 1980, he made Bread Alone and it's a pretty agreeable, if unspectacular, slab of funk in the P.Funk dance mode (although the only other P.Funker who shows up here is Bride of Funkenstein singer Lynn Mabry) as exemplified by "Funky Parts". But my favorite cut is the non-representative, reggae-inflected title cut. You can listen to the entire album on YouTube here.

BILL JUSTIS -- I have a 19-track comp. from this sax playing Sun recording artist who had a big hit with "Raunchy" in the early days of rock'n'roll. That song's fine and all but not exactly earth-shatteringly great. Justis worked with lots of much better artists (folks like Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Charlie Rich) as a player as well as an arranger and producer but this disc is pretty useless -- boring, mostly instrumental, undistinguished pap, when it's not just outright terrible, that is. PURGED!

Next up . . . you guessed it, the beginning of the Ks!
Last edited by Prof. Wagstaff on Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Kenneth Burns » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:27 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS ... the group also had a great theme song to boot


The Pussycats figure prominently in "Riverdale," the CW's new Archie series, and I smiled recently when a bit of Pussycats dialog quoted the "ears for hats" line from the old theme song.
Last edited by Kenneth Burns on Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Kenneth Burns » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:30 pm

The series prompted a discussion with my boyfriend in which he was surprised to learn "Sugar, Sugar" was a No. 1 hit for the Archies. He asked: "You mean they were a real band?" Kenneth: "Mmm ... define real."

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Igor » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:49 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:personal note to Igor: I used to have a 2CD Judas Priest retrospective but it went MIA years ago, which means I have no Priest on CD and thus, they are outside the purview of the Project. Sorry. I always preferred their earliest stuff, so here's my all-time fave Priest cut anyway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y60Mo_Nmydg is also good.

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Next up . . . you guessed it, the beginning of the Ks!


And a vigorous discussion of the many merits of various Kansas deep cuts, no doubt. Just kidding. Only I like Kansas around here, I am guessing.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby bdog » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:12 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
bdog wrote:What was the first record / cassette / whatever you ever owned?

Destroyer by Kiss.

bdog wrote: Did some music in particular set you on your path?

Wasn't aware I was on a path. I just like (some) music.

Thanks; I'm impressed with your knowledge and your love of music (and your willingness to share it with us).

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:09 pm

Kenneth Burns wrote:The series prompted a discussion with my boyfriend in which he was surprised to learn "Sugar, Sugar" was a No. 1 hit for the Archies. He asked: "You mean they were a real band?" Kenneth: "Mmm ... define real."

Wikipedia uses the term "virtual band".
I don't really feel the need to come up with special labels for music just because it comes from a fictional setting. No matter how you slice it, The Archies made some pretty great pop records and the studio pros involved weren't doing anything they wouldn't have done for a "real" group also utilizing session players for recording sessions. The notion that the only "real" music is performed by a specific group of musicians who also play that same stuff live seems quaint to me. By that logic, The Beach Boys aren't a real group either, and as much as I dislike The Beach Boys, I would never try to argue they were bad because they're "fictional". I'd say most "real" pop bands never come up with anything as winning as "Sugar Sugar" or "Bang Shang-A-Lang" (both of which were a blast to sing with The OuttaToons, btw) or my personal fave, "Jingle Jangle" (which I like so much I once included it on one of my annual Christmas mixes despite it having exactly nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas/winter/whatever. "What's more Christmassy than jingling and jangling?" I said in the liner notes. I stand by that argument.)

As for Kansas . . . yeah, not on my rack. They had a few good riffs. Too bad they didn't put them in good songs. :P

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby PaleoLiberal » Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:05 am

Were the Monkees real?

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:42 am

PaleoLiberal wrote:Were the Monkees real?

They were most definitely real musicians, singers, and songwriters, yes.
But if you're asking if the TV show was a documentary, then no.

I can certainly go into more detail now if you'd like, otherwise just stick around -- I own lots of Monkees and will surely give them a long and loving write-up when I get to the Ms, sometime 'round about 2022, I reckon.

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Re: The Giant Wagstaff CD Listening Project Thread

Postby Kenneth Burns » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:08 pm

I never understood why the Stars on 45 medley of Beatles songs, a big hit in 1981, begins with the Archies' "Sugar, Sugar" (after a quick riff from Shocking Blue's "Venus"). But there a lot of things I don't understand.

I'm a giant Beatles fan, and the Stars on 45 were essentially my introduction that year, at age 10. Guess everyone has to start somewhere.

FYI the title of that record is "Medley: Intro 'Venus' / Sugar Sugar / No Reply / I'll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / Nowhere Man / You're Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45." Truth in advertising. Titling.


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