Ray Ellis was a record producer, band leader and arranger who worked with jazz singers such as Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn. He also composed many themes for film and television. Today’s selection, however, was penned by Paul Anka, the Canadian singer and songwriter who’s most memorable achievement in a long and distinguished career was writing the lyrics to Frank Sinatra’s signature song, My Way. Although The Sheik doesn’t seem to bear any similarities to the jazz standard The Sheik Of Araby, it’s similarly exotically inspired. It was released as a b-side in 1962 and has the hallmarks of a crime jazz thriller.
Roy Montrell’s That Mellow Saxophone is arguably the most joyous jump-blues record that exists, so when I had the chance to own a copy of this great cover version, I jumped at it. Rather than being a horn blower, Montrell was actually a guitarist, but on the original version of today’s tune, released by Specialty Records in 1956, he also sang. Ralph Marterie was a trumpet player and band leader who had Larry Ragen sing on this rendition, released later the same year on Mercury. Whereas Lee Allen’s tenor sax inspires us to rip it, rock it, really bop it on Montrell’s version, I couldn’t figure out whose not-at-all-mellow saxophone is on this one. That minute factoid, however, certainly won’t stop this record becoming a regular spin for me over the next few months.
Today’s sides were recorded by Frances Faye in 1957 for an album called Sings Folk Songs. Faye was cabaret singer and pianist who began in showbiz at a young age. St. James Infirmary and John Henry are both traditional songs that came from a time long before songwriters got properly credited. I’ve enjoyed many versions of each over the years. Back in February, I wrote a little of the tale of John Henry in connection with a Buster Brown version. Faye’s renditions are fun, expressive and come with the full sound of a jazz big-band. Since her foray into folk jumped the gun on the impending folk revival by several years, this Bethlehem single wasn’t released until 1962.
Louis Jordan – Choo Choo Ch’Boogie
Louis Jordan – Run Joe
Louis Jordan was a giant of mid-20th century American music. I won’t go into detail but you should know that he was a singer, saxophonist, bandleader, songwriter and actor, and Chuck Berry said that he (Jordan) was the first person he (Berry) heard playing rock’n’roll.
Recorded in 1946 with Jordan’s Tympany Five, Choo Choo Ch’Boogie was a multi-million selling smash hit. It’s a rollicking jump blues featuring lyrics that resonated with people transitioning from war-times away to tough-times at home. And, it’s a classic train song. The calypso inspired flip, Run Joe, is just as good in my books. This pink-labelled Decca 45 is one of my favourite recent acquisitions.
Also, I feel I should add; you may or may not have noticed, but the last few recordings I’ve put up here have been of a lower audio quality than perhaps you would expect of a reputable blog such as this one. I was going through some technical difficulties, which are sorted for now. Today’s offerings sound bang on.
Ray Anthony – The Hokey Pokey
Ray Anthony – The Bunny Hop
I reckon today’s offering will be the last in this series of songs used in John Waters films, but maybe the most fun. I bought this record especially, and somehow accidentally ended up with a re-issue, which other vinyl collectors might be able to sympathise with. For the purpose of this post, however, it doesn’t make a lick of difference. This version of The Hokey Pokey was used in a hilarious dance scene in 2004’s Dirty Shame, where Tracey Ullman’s character really gets into it in a retirement home.
Of course, Ray Anthony isn’t the singer, that’s Jo Ann Greer; Anthony is the bandleader. The flipside track, The Bunny Hop, is a cool tune too – an easy paced big band swinger from 1953. It was featured in another Waters film, Cry Baby, making this post is a real two-for-one.
Cozy Cole – Ol’ Man Mose
An ol’ Diddy Wah favourite, Cozy Cole, moves from the drum kit to the microphone to gruffly talk through this slower version of Ol’ Man Mose from 1962. He’s fronting the Alan Hartwell big band on this recording, which also features Alan’s wife, Savina Harwell, on backing vocals.
Gerry Brown’s Jazzmen – Ol’ Man Mose
Well, it’s been quite a hiatus. I’m back from India, but with no Indian 45s. I’m sure they exit, I did see a few 78s, but I was too distracted by everything else going on to give record shopping my full attention – a change is as good as a holiday, and all that…
Today’s selection is from the UK. Gerry Brown and his Jazzmen recorded this version of Ol’ Man Mose in 1961. It’s a cracking swing tune, written by the incomparable Louis Armstrong and recorded by many. Soon after this was released, Gerry Brown’s Jazzmen were chosen to tour as backing band with the man himself.
The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra – Spooky Takes A Holiday
Today’s selection is another easy find which I just bought for the name and was pleasantly impressed when it turned out to be a crowd favourite at my DJ nights. To me, it sort of creates a similar vibe to the music from the bar scene in Star Wars. Billed as the The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, this record was actually made a couple of years after Dorsey died in 1956. Trombonist Warren Covington had taken charge of the ensemble (at Dorsey’s widow’s request) and lead them through this version of Satan Takes A Holiday (Satan became Spooky on the UK release for some reason), a song which was written by Larry Clinton and previously had been recorded by Dorsey himself in 1937. It appears as the b-side to I Want To Be Happy Cha Cha, which I’m guessing was an attempt to capitalise on the success of Tea For Two Cha Cha, also released in ’58.
What I love about a record like this, apart from it being a killer tune, is that it’s cheap and easy to find. As a DJ, it’s easy to get sucked in to thinking that all the banging tunes are rare and cost big bucks; that ain’t the case at all, you just need to do some digging.
Abbe Lane – Whatever Lola Wants
Abbe Lane was a showbiz type; a singer, dancer and actress. She once said “Jayne Mansfield may turn boys into men, but I take them from there”. Great quote. She also has a star on the Hollywood walk of fame and was once married to Latin bandleader Xavier Cougat, who she often sang with. In 1958 she recorded an album with Tito Puente, which is where today’s tune comes from. Whatever Lola Wants was originally written for a 1955 musical called Damn Yankees. I hadn’t heard of it before but Wikipedia tells me that it’s a modern retelling of the Faust legend. I also gather it has something to do with baseball. I’m not totally convinced that it would be my cup of tea but I am a big fan of sassy big band musical numbers like this, so you never know.
An Aquarium Drunkard
Be Bop Wino
The B Side
Carlos Rene's Scene64
Derek's Daily 45
The Devil's Music
Flea Market Funk
Frankie Bundle's Mazzetta78
Home Of The Groove
Jester Wild Show
Kogar's Jungle Juice
La Dimension De Trastos
Liam Large's Rekkids
Mean Mojo Mathias
Night Beat Records
So Many Records, So Little Time
You Got Good Taste