Fats Domino recorded Why Don’t You Do Right for ABC-Paramount in 1965. The bright brass backing is just one marker of the stylistic change from his many collaborations with Dave Bartholomew at Imperial. On this song, which has a distinctive big-city jazz feel, it works. Why Don’t You Do Right is often sung from a woman’s perspective – famously by Peggy Lee, Della Reese and Jessica Rabbit. Having a woman telling her man to go get her some money softens the lyrical allusions to prostitution. When Domino sings the same words, with the gender roles reversed, he sounds like a straight out pimp. Why Don’t You Do Right’s first incarnation was as Weed Smoker’s Dream by the Harlem Hamfats in 1936. It’s about a man, the weed smoking protagonist, who wishes his woman friend would go earn some money by turning tricks.
There’s a film out called Whiplash, maybe you’ve heard of it, about a young jazz drummer. The song Caravan features prominently and has inspired me to post this version by real jazz drummer, George Jenkins. Before getting together his own group, Jenkins cut his teeth in Lionel Hampton’s big band in the 1940s. Another of his claims to fame is being Dinah Washington’s second husband, although that union didn’t last long. This version of the Juan Tizol/Duke Ellington standard was recorded in 1955 and released by the West Coast jazz label, Tampa. It’s dominated by Jenkin’s drumming, but there’s still plenty of space for the tenor sax of Plas Johnson. The Plas Johnson Quartet also released a version of Caravan on Tampa. Intriguingly, it features 6 musicians, none of whom
are Plas Johnson.
Koko-Mamey was born in the mind of Canadian jazz musician and composer Morris ‘Moe’ Koffman. In 1958, along with three of his pals, Koffman laid down what could have been just a groovy instrumental. It’s the addition of the robotic sounding Sonovox vocal effect which elevates today’s selection into a much more memorable position in the revisionist world of once-popular music.
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.
Cozy Cole – Blop-Up
Cozy Cole – Blop-Down
Cozy Cole, drummer extraordinaire, has long been a Diddy Wah favourite. He’s featured on blog posts, podcasts, radio shows and mixes. The up-blopping half of today’s selections was used on my last mix, which also took its title, Blop-Up. Blop-Down is just as exciting a journey into syncopated rhythms, a continuation of the a-side. Originally released in 1959 on Cincinnati’s King record label, my copy is a Canadian pressing on Regency.
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.
Plas Johnson – Blue Jean Shuffle
And now for another swinging instrumental from Louisiana-born hard-bop tenor sax man, Plas Johnson. Blue Jean Shuffle was released in 1956 on Hollywood’s Tampa Records. I think this is one of Johnson’s better known numbers, at least on London’s 1950s R&B 45rpm DJ scene. I’ll be testing my copy out on the jumpin’ jivers at Joe’s this Thursday.
Plas Johnson – Hoppin’ Mad
Recorded late in 1957 and released in ’58, Hoppin’ Mad is a swinging rocker from saxophonist extraordinaire, Plas Johnson. Johnson cut his teeth in New Orleans before moving to LA to become a super successful session man. He’s probably best known for playing the unforgettable tenor sax solo on Mancini’s The Pink Panther Theme.
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.
Earl Bostic – Jungle Drums
I like it when I google a record and it brings up an old Billboard magazine entry. This from 24 April 1954: “It started off strong in New York, Buffalo, St. Louis and Cincinnati, and was also reported good in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Nashville and Atlanta.” It doesn’t say anything about Baltimore, but Earl Bostic’s Jungle Drums is another tune featured in John Waters’ Cry Baby. The record was actually released in 1953 and has Bostic on alto sax and a young Stanley Turrentine on tenor.
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