Saturday, 6 October 2018

Some real gems from "1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die"

Sorry if this strikes anyone as ghoulish, but I downloaded 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die a few days ago (having gone through 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die the previous week). I've reached the early '70s in the song book, and, apart from non-Anglosphere numbers, I don't appear to have missed much. However there were a few tracks on the list I'd never heard, and some interesting ones buried in the text along the way. Here's a few of them, starting with Sol Hoopii's delightful "Hula Girl" from 1934:

I also took a fancy to Trios Matamoros's 1928 Cuban release, "Lágrimas Negras" ("Black Tears"):

Another Cuban hit - René Touzet and The Cha Cha Rhythm Boys' "El Loco Cha Cha Cha" - gave Richard Berry the lick for "Louie Louie", to which he added the storyline from Chuck Berry's "Havana Moon":

I'd always assumed that The Kingsmen were the first band to turn Richard Berry's compelling R&B chugger into a primitive garage band classic, but that honour belonged to Rockin' Robin Roberts & The Wailers in 1961:

Anyone who bought Dave Berry's wistful "The Crying Game" in 1964 must have got a shock when they flipped it over and found "Don't Gimme No Lip Child", a raucous, sneering slice of Stones/Pretty Things/ Animals/Yardbirds-style British Invasion R&B, on the B-side:

Most people know Billy Fury's "Wondrous Place", a UK hit in 1960. But I'd never heard the original, by the American singer Jimmy Jones, despite the fact that the man who gave us "Handy Man" and "Good Timin'" was an early favourite of mine:

We all familiar with The Monkees' version of "I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone" - but it was first recorded by Paul Revere & The Raiders, who did it better:

Here, for my wife (who's partial to a bit of upbeat flamenco/gypsy music) is "El muerto vivo", a hit for Spanish artist Peret in 1965:

I'd only been dimly aware of Memphian soul singer, O.V. Wright - but I'm going to be listening to more of his stuff after hearing the utterly brilliant "A Nickel and a Nail" (1971):

Mind you, Candi Staton's "I'm Just a Prisoner" (1969) is even better - and, in case you were wondering, the terrific guitar work is by Joe South, who played on Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools":

The only possible answer to Rod Stewart's 1978 disco hit "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" was always "No, you scrawny-arsed little twit, I think you're ridiculous". Nevertheless, the song had something - which turned out to be a riff from the Brazilian performer/composer Jorge Ben's 1972 hit, "Taj Mahal". Jorge Ben sued, and Stewart stopped waggling his bottom long enough to settle the case amicably:

1 comment:

  1. I'm afraid old Rod has quite a lot to answer for. Not only did the tune borrow from Jorge Ben's but the string arrangement is a straight lift from the opening bars of Bobby Womack's 'If you want my love (put something down on it)'. However, as intellectual property in the music industry was not held at that time to apply to arrangements, Rod did not have to divvy up. I hadn't come across O.V. Wright. Great voice that reminds me of Benny Latimore, whose 'Let's Straighten it out' should be on everyone's 1001.

    Thank you for choosing not to trouble us with the Sex Pistols version of 'Don't gimme no lip child'.