Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Sonny Burgess, Tom Petty, J. Geils - some of the great musicians whose deaths in 2017 I failed to mark

Not everyone who recorded for Sun in the '50s joined Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins in the charts - for example, Billy Lee Riley, Ray Harris, Warren Smith and the splendidly hard-edged, raucous rocker, Sonny Burgess, who died in Arkansas last August at the age of 88. Burgess made some of my favourite Sun non-hits: my favourite is probably "Ain't Got a Thing":
The instrumental, "Itchy", was a joy:

"Red Headed Woman" and The Arkansas Wild Man's first single, "We Wanna Boogie", are classics - but I've always had a soft spot for Burgess's version of the old country standard, "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It":
As I recounted in my previous post, I first heard of J. Geils via a rave review of his band's eponymous first album in Rolling Stone. I was so enthused by the promise of rock-hard, Chicago-style R&B from a new band from Worcester, Massachusetts that I spent a small fortune on an import copy - and loved it from first bar to last. Apart from a great version of John Lee Hooker's "Serve You Right to Suffer", my favourite track was probably the up-tempo stomper, "Pack Fair and Square":
Their cover of The Contours' "First I Look at the Purse" was also top-notch:
The second album, Morning After, released the following year, was just as strong. Here they perform a blistering version of a track from the album - "Floyd's Hotel"- on Old Grey Whistle Test, which gets Bob Harris really excited (not - dozy twit):
I didn't bother writing a post in praise ofTom Petty, because I thought obituarists had gone rather overboard about his importance. I didn't much cotton to him when he first appeared: he initially struck me as a derivative journeyman - a mash-up of various more far more original performers. It took me several years  to appreciate how good he really was. Here's "Refugee", the song that first made me pay attention:
I don't know whether it's the fact he's from the South (Gainesville, Florida - the properly Southern Northern part of the state, if that makes sense) that makes him excel with songs of defiance - but he does:
And did I mention defiance?:
I'll end with a compilation of great Glen Campbell guitar solos - my, but that little country boy could play!
...after a while, Crocodile.

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