Classie Ballou is a guitarist from Louisiana. He was born in 1937 and played in bands backing the likes of Chuck Berry, Etta James and B.B. King. Incredibly, he’s still performing and played at the New Orleans Jazzfest just last year. Crazy Mambo was recorded by producer Jay Miller in 1957. It was the very first release on Nasco Records which, like Excello, was a Nashboro subsidiary. As its title implies, this tune contains Cuban influenced mambo rhythms, which were popular in certain circles in the US at the time. For a more in-depth blog post about Mr Ballou, head over to The Hound’s site.
Here’s a cool double-sided instrumental record I picked up recently for a bargain. Tequila Records is a label that I can only imagine was run by Danny Flores aka Chuck Rio aka the guy who wrote and played sax on The Champs’ uber-hit Tequila. The Individuals were one of his post-Champs, post-Originals bands, on another record on this label they are credited as Chuck Rio And The Individuals. It’s mainly the always-upbeat La Bamba side of this record I play out, but I also really dig their take on the moody Heartbreak Hotel, so I’ve ripped them both for you to listen to today.
The Rhythm Kings – Exotic
Exotic is my favourite record of the moment. Fritz, my Heavy Sugar co-conspirator, turned me on to it last time we DJed together. The sound coming from the speakers blew my mind and I just had to own the 45. To my surprise and delight, with some effort, I managed to track one down within a week. It’s a recording from 1963 by a Pachuco surf-and-soul combo Al Garcia and the Rhythm Kings, credited here simply as The Rhythm Kings. Exotic was written by Bruce Morgan and is based on a traditional Spanish dance tune from the 1700s called The Zorongo. A comprehensive essay on the origins of this tune can be found here. Versions were also recorded by Latin rockers The Sentinals, The Original Surfaris, and Bob Vaught & The Renegades, but this Rhythm Kings version is the best. My copy is a UK pressing, released on the Decca subsidiary label
Vocalion Pop. In the US it appeared as a single on GNP Crescendo and on a couple of surf compilation albums on the same label. I hope it elicits the same reaction in you as it does me.
Googie Rene – Big Foot
Googie Rene – Rebecca
Released in 1958 on Class, Googie Rene’s father’s label, this elusive 45 is one that took me some time to capture. I was tracking it down for the b-side novelty rocker with a giant bassline, Big Foot. Rebecca, on the other side, is totally different. It’s a Latin influenced instrumental popcorn shaker, but also well worth investigating.
Ruth Brown – Mambo Baby
Ruth Brown and her Rhythmmakers took up a Cuban beat for this single from 1954. On it, Brown complains that her man so loves the crazy mambo dance that he’s neglecting their romance. Mambo Baby went straight to #1 on the R&B chart. My copy is a little scratchy, but you get the idea. Brilliant tune with a sound that is popular in the London clubs right now (at least the ones I go to) thanks largely to the excellent Jukebox Mambo release of late last year.
Jerry Green and The Passengers – Puerto Rico
When Puerto Rico was released on Atlantic in 1964, drummer Jerry Greenberg already had his own label and was immersed in the music business. Ten years later, aged just 32, he became President of Atlantic records; apparently the youngest person to ever to head a major. He went on to work with ABBA, Led Zeppelin and Michael Jackson, among many others. But, who really cares about all that? Today’s selection is a top-notch Latin-infused tittyshaker — that’s the main thing.
The Village Callers – Hector
Today I bring you a record that’s been in my collection for a while and is not often out of my DJ box. Recorded live in 1968 at The Plush Bunny nightclub in Pico Rivera, California, Hector is a marvellous laid back funky organ groove driven piece of Latin rock. I always play this when I’m looking to change the pace a little — it’s a good starter and a good palate cleanser, like a tasty musical sorbet. The Hector referred to is Hector Riviera, The Village Callers’ manager. What a bloke he must have been, I can’t even imagine.
Mona Baptiste – Rumbango
Mona Baptiste was born in Trinidad but sailed to Europe just after the Second World War to continue pursuing a career as a singer. A little while after landing in Britain, Baptiste moved to Germany where she recorded for Polydor and acted in a number of films. In 1956, backed by Werner Müller and the RIAS dance orchestra, Baptiste recorded a song called Rumbango — which may or may not be a dance hybrid of the rumba and the tango. It seems to have been also released, or at least promoted, stateside as the version I have is a Decca US sample copy.
The Coasters – Besame Mucho (Part I)
The Coasters – Besame Mucho (Part II)
Here’s another version of the enduringly alluring song — written by Consuelo Velázquez when she was 14 — Besame Mucho. The title translates to ‘kiss me a lot’ and Velázquez once said that, at the time of writing, she had never been kissed. First recorded in 1941, it lays some claim to being the most important Mexican song of the 20th century. In addition to Jet Harris, whose version I posted here last October, Besame Mucho has been recorded by dozens of artists including The Beatles, most of the classic crooners, lots of loungey types, and all of the modern jazz-lites. But don’t let that put you off as this is a cracking up-tempo recording from 1960. Part II is just as good, an instrumental-ish version featuring a tenor sax solo from King Curtis.
Yma Sumac – Bo Mambo
Yma Sumac – Taki Riri
Yma Sumac – Gopher
Yma Sumac – Chicken Talk
Yma Sumac came from Peru and possessed one of the most possessed sounding voices ever recorded. No discussion of multi-octave vocal ranges would be complete without mention of her. Stunning looking, and apparently an Incan princess, Sumac became the queen of a musical genre known as exotica — a kitsch 1950s descendant of what we call world music. This excellent EP came out in the USA in ’55. Gopher is the song I usually play out’n’about but they are all great in their own right.
I also should note that it’s five years to the very day since I started this here mp3 blog. So charge your glasses and wish a happy fifth birthday to the Diddy Wah blog, long may it be around. Cheers!
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