Thursday, 27 September 2012

"President's Walk" - and other fabulous instrumental gems from the vaults

This 1960 release from Canadian guitarist Ray Ethier has to be one of the coolest rock 'n' roll records I've ever heard - and I only came across it a couple of weeks ago. It was one side of the only single Ethier appears to have released. For other examples of his excellent playing, you have to turn to tracks by rockabilly singer Ben Hewitt, including the excellent "My Search". (While Ray's guitar timbre is simple enough to replicate, I can't get Garageband to produce that lovely, sloppy, splashy brush-hitting-a-snare-drum sound so prevalent at the time - been driving me nuts.)

Ray Bryant's lovely 1970 jazz instrumental, "Shake a Lady", is another cool classic I've only just come across. (I've always loved of his great dance number, "The Madison Time".)

"Cool" isn't quite the word I'd use to describe Ernie Freeman's cover of Bill Justis's rock 'n' roll hit, "Raunchy" - too bouncy for that. Freeman was a multi-instrumentalist (piano, organ and saxophone) who played on numerous hit records, including the "pling pling pling jazz" (as Stan Freberg called it on one of his parody records) on The Platters' "The Great Pretender". He was also a distinguished arranger - for instance, he did string arrangements for Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water LP. Talented bloke. "Raunchy" was his biggest hit under his own name, deservedly reaching No. 4 on the US charts in 1957.

While I presume Ernie was playing the alto sax (?) on "Raunchy", you can hear his piano work on session-group B. Bumble and the Stingers' excellent first hit, "Bumble Boogie" (he missed the session for "Nut Rocker", apparently - oops!):

Speaking of Bill Justis, here's his excellent 1958 Sun recording of the Floyd Cramer composition, "Flip, Flop and Bop":

The Scarlets' deranged, high-energy rocker, 1959's "Stampede", made me laugh out loud when I first heard it recently. What an absolutely mindless delight - pure vinyl benzedrine:

The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra's 1938 stonker, "Boogie Woogie", still sounds terrific (and makes one wonder why it took quite so long for Rock 'n' Roll to come along - why would anyone want to listen to Frank Sinatra droning away in front of a big band after hearing stuff like this?):

I'll leave you chillaxin' with yet more super-hip '60s jazz that you don't have to be a smug be-bop aficionado to enjoy - Herbie Mann's inspired live 1961 Village Gate performance of "Comin' Home Baby". Hmm - nishe!


  1. Thanks for reminding me about B.Bumble&The Stingers. Excellent group second only to Sam the Sham and the Pharaos who were the heirs of that great British act Wilson, Keppel and Betty [or was it Wesslers, Keppel and Horst?]. Very enjoyable post.

  2. Thank you, SDG.

    Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs were indeed wonderful - Lil' Red Riding Hood, Ring Dang Doo, Big City Lights, Woolly Bully and the glorious Ju Ju Hand. Sam's real name was Domingo Zamudio and today he's a motivational speaker and poet.

    Are you sure you're not thinking of Sue, Grabbitt & Runne? Actually, I'm almost certain I saw Wilson and Keppel (no idea what had happened to Betty) performing their sand dance while I was queuing outside the Empire Leicester Square in the mid-1960s, but they might have been imitators.