Here is a song that took from another and gave to many more. Willie Cobbs recorded You Don’t Love Me in 1960, using the melody and some of the words from a 1955 Bo Diddley b-side, She’s Fine She’s Mine. Originally released on Mojo Records in Memphis, Cobbs’ song climbed the local charts and found national distribution through Vee-Jay. It’s often described as hypnotic. There definitely is something in the riff that resonates deeply and allows you to lose yourself in it. Jamaican artist Dawn Penn recorded You Don’t Love Me in an incredible rocksteady style in 1967, but I’m sure the version I first became familiar with was her 1994 dancehall re-recording, which was a huge worldwide hit. Of course, many artists from the worlds of blues and rock also had a crack. The Bloomfield-Kooper-Stills flange-filled Super Session version is another I became very familiar with around that time.
I’ve been chasing this original version of Iko Iko for a while. It’s a song perhaps best known from The Dixie Cups 1965 version. A New Orleans tune through and through, it was written in ’53 by James ‘Sugar Boy’ Crawford, who grew up around LaSalle Street. He was inspired by Mardi Gras Indian chants and recorded it as Chock-A-Mo in Cosimo Matassa’s studio on Rampart Street. Like so much incredible New Orleans R&B of the period, it was released by a record label outside of Louisiana. This time in Chicago, where Chess Records and its subsidiary Checker was located. They renamed it Jock-A-Mo and it was a minor hit when carnival rolled around in ’54. However, the song’s popularity has grown over the years through cover versions from artists as diverse as Dr John, The Grateful Dead and Cyndi Lauper. So now it’s fair to say that Jock-A-Mo/Iko-Iko is a NOLA standard and one of the most recognizable Mardi Gra songs.
The Rock-A-Teens were a rockabilly sextet from Virginia and Woo-Hoo was their only hit. Everything I’ve read says it came out in ’59, but 1958 is clearly
printed on the label of my Roulette release, but then again it also
states it’s an instrumental. Menacing guitars, heavy percussion, muted screams and a no-fuss pop attitude, sounds like a garage-rock classic to me. Woo-Hoo’s been covered a bunch of times, most notably by The 188.8.131.52’s, whose version was used in Tarantino’s Kill Bill. It’s also been used in adverts to help sell everything from cars and clothes to cars and beer.
Regular visitors will know I’m a fan of both Ann Cole and Got My Mojo Working. It’s a song that was written by Preston Foster and recorded by Cole in 1956. Muddy Waters heard her play it live when they toured together and then recorded his own version in ’57, which he claimed full writing credit for. It’s a song that’s been more associated with Waters than Cole ever since. There was an inevitable legal battle, which went in favour of Foster’s publishers. Strangely, Ruth Stratchborneo, who apparently wrote Larry Bright‘s 1960 local hit Mojo Workout, also got in on the act by attempting to sue the earlier version. As usual, the lawyers won, but the case notes are a good read if you’re looking for legal definition of a mojo and what it might mean to have one’s mojo working. A who’s who of the blues have recorded today’s tune, but as is often the case, it’s hard to go past the original.
James Brown – Shout And Shimmy
James Brown was a true master and his back catalogue is one that keeps on giving. I only just discovered Shout And Shimmy, which fits perfectly with all the other early-sixties gospel influenced proto-soul dance monsters I’ve enjoyed buying recently. Recorded in 1961 with The Famous Flames on backing vocals and released in ’62, it’s fair to say that Shout And Shimmy carries the same energetic fervour as The Isley Brothers’ similarly titled 1959 mega-hit, Shout. It was covered by The Who and released in ’65 as the flipside to the UK issue of My Generation.
Muddy Waters – You Need Love
Speaking of songs Led Zeppelin were inspired by, here’s a good one. You Need Love was written by Willie Dixon and released by Muddy Waters in 1962. First ripped off by the Small Faces for You Need Loving in ’66, then in ’69 Led Zep appropriated the lyrics for what became one of their repertoire’s biggest and best known staples, Whole Lotta Love (they did eventually settle out of court with Dixon in ’85). Don’t let these pop trivia nuggets distract you though, all that really matters is that this is a prime cut from a blues great at the height of his powers.
Little Walter – My Babe
When I stuck the recent post about Roy Brown’s Slow Down Little Eva up on the Diddy Wah facebook page, Lewis from Bristol left a comment suggesting that it was a Latin-y cousin of today’s selection. I think he’s onto something and now you can judge for yourself. A huge hit in 1955, the original My Babe was written by Willie
Dixon and performed by harmonica pioneer Little Walter and his Jukes. A
few months back, you may recall, I posted Dale Hawkins’ version. Both My Babes get a spin back-to-back during my latest radio show for the Version Excursion segment.
Joe Turner – Honey Hush
From 1953, here’s a giant of post-war jump blues. Big Joe Turner recorded Honey Hush in New Orleans with the help of a couple of local sax stars, Lee Allen and Alvin ‘Red’ Tyler. Their horn solos are joined by the bulbous sounding trombone of Pluma Davis, whose band backed them all on this recording. Three years later, in Nashville, the Johnny Burnette Trio released a version of Honey Hush, perhaps trying to emulate the success Bill Haley had with the cover of another Turner jumper, Shake, Rattle and Roll. It didn’t do that, but it is through this later rockabilly version that I became familiar with the tune, which is surely some consolation. I’m very glad to have now also bagged the original, complete with its Atlantic company sleeve, and be able to bring it here to you.
The Chords – Sh-Boom
Here’s the original version of the sweet doo-wop tune, Sh-Boom. Released in 1954 by The Chords, a vocal group from the Bronx, it shot up the charts cracking the top ten of both the pop and the R&B. The song was quickly covered by Canadian group The Crew Cuts, whose cleaner and, frankly, whiter, version also was a hit. The version I present for you today, with its killer sax break, is one I’ve been seeking on 45 for a while. Although my copy isn’t quite the VG+ (vinyl nerd speak for just the occasional crackle) it was supposed to be, I’m glad to finally own it. Both versions feature in my latest ‘nonsensical song title’ themed Diddy Wah radio show.
Nappy Brown – Little By Little
And now for another fantastic 50s R&B gem from Nappy Brown. Little By Little was recorded in 1956 in Hackensack, New Jersey. Writing credits go to Kelly Owens, whose orchestra it is backing Brown, and Rose Marie McCoy, who also had a hand in crafting Brown’s version of Don’t Be Angry. The other name on the label is the Zippers Quartet, a vocal group who don’t actually feature on this cut. Little By Little was soon covered by Canadian vocal group and serial song appropriators, The Crew Cuts.
An Aquarium Drunkard
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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