Archive for December, 2011

Listen here to this week’s show:

Cruising with The Commissioner #39 (29.12.11) 2

Well, here we then, bidding you an enthusiastic welcome to the last Cruising with The Commissioner of 2011. We’ve saved a seat especially for you to join us on this cruise across musical frontiers, in and out of time zones and jumping genres . . . . . and we’re taking a timely look back at some of the many memorable moments on the show in the past year

For our review of 2011, we’ve picked out some of the many tracks that brought both surprise and delight during the year and we started with a cracker of a track from Little Richard and his recording of a Sam Cooke song (written especially for him) . . . . ‘Well, Alright’. Pausing only momentarily to steady the Cruising pending tray, we were joined by Jackie Wilson and ‘So Many Cute Little Girls’.

As we gained musical momentum, we reached for one of the memorable finds during the past year from Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson with his 1955 recording for the Vee-Jay label, ‘Every Woman I Know Is Crazy ‘Bout An Automobile’ . . . . famously covered by Ry Cooder. Several of the tracks featured in our review were the result of listening to other radio shows and this included a track from Ray Charles that was heard on Johnny Alpha’s ‘Killer Diller’ show on Wireless FM . . . . this was ‘Hide Nor Hair’.

There have been many moments during 2011 when we have demonstrated the art of ‘just in time’ management . . . . and we closed the year with a glorious example. One of the long running endeavours here at Cruise Control has been to persuade Mumbles, a Wireless FM stalwart and regular traveller with us on Cruising with the Commissioner, to give us a ‘Three From Me’ selection. We had all but given up on this, when,  just as we were running out of time in 2011, Mumbles delivered a most welcome festive present. So, we included it this week’s show.

So far, so good . . . . and one of the delights of Cruising with The Commissioner in 2011 has been the many visitors who have joined us to share their choice of music their stories about why some tracks have a special meaning or memory for them. So, we decided to choose some highlights from these selections, just to remind us of what a fascinating array of musical moments and memories we have enjoyed over the past months. Everyone was in the mix and we hope that there will be even more in 2012.

There were far more we had to leave out than we squeezed in, but here’s the playlist for this week:

Cruising for the border . . . .
Well Alright – Little Richard
So Many Cute Little Girls – Jackie Wilson
Every Woman I Know’s Crazy ‘Bout An Automobile – Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson
Hide Nor Hair – Ray Charles

Three From Me . . . . with Mumbles
The Good The Bad & The Ugly – The Ventures
Green Onions – Booker T & The MGs
Golden Brown – The Stranglers

Cruising in good company . . . .
Two Of Us – The Beatles (presented by Joe Duckworth)
Absolutely Sweet Marie – Bob Dylan (presented by John Burgess)
My Generation – The Who (presented by Lil-Sis)
Get Your Goosebumps On – Kevin Montgomery (presented by Mrs TC)
Move It Over – Hank Williams (presented by Richard Mann)
Put Yourself In My Place – The Elgins (presented by Mr T)
Walk Away – Joe Walsh (presented by Phil Tyler)
Bossy Boss – Fingers Lee & The Upper Hand (presented by DJ Wheeliebag)
The Beat That Can’t Be Beat – Jan & Arnie (presented by DJ Leyton Rocks)
10 Miles High – David and the Giants (presented by Paul Devine)
Giddy Up A Ding Dong – Alex Harvey (presented by Max Quirk)
Transfusion – Nervous Norvus (presented by DJ Captain Scarlet)
Early In The Morning – Bobby Darin & Buddy Holly (presented by Amigo)
Passenger – The Conqueroo (presented by The Spongeman)
Going Back To Miami – The Blues Brothers (presented by The Vikster)
Hope Leaves – Opeth (presented by Mark)
Nobody – The Invincibles (presented by The Majestic)
Eye On You – Killing Floor (presented by Mick Clarke)
Eight Miles High – The Byrds (presented by The Shake)

Cruising for home . . .
Starry Eyes – Roky Erikson
Ain’t Love Wonderful – The Fantastic Four
That’s When The Tears Start – The Blossoms
Tippity Top – The Rays

We rounded off our guest list selection with The Shake reprising one of his trips down Memory Lane . . . . . and maybe we can coax him back for some more in 2012. We even managed to squeeze a few more gems before we had to head for home on our cruise, but not all that we had hoped to play. Amongst these were great tracks that reflected our pursuit of rock, soul and real rhythm and blues and included Roky Erikson, The Fantastic Four, The Blossoms and a particular favourite, The Rays with ‘Tippity Top’.

Well, if you’ve enjoyed Cruising with The Commissioner during 2011, be assured that you will be receive a warm welcome back for more of our Thursday night musical adventures in 2012, and we will look forward to sharing even more great music with you then.

Grateful thanks go to you, to our many guests and of course Wireless FM who continue to provide the time and freedom for all this each week.

So, until we start Cruising with The Commissioner in 2012 . . . . have a great time . . . . and have fun!

Here’s this week’s show:

Killer Diller with The Commissioner (27.12.11)

Well, Johnny Alpha’s Tuesday night Killer Diller show on Wireless FM is a ‘must listen’ item for the many regular followers of the show . . . . and there is always a disappointment if Johnny Alpha can’t present the show for some reason. So, when the call came to sit in on the last Killer Diller show of 2011, it was a real challenge to pull together a playlist that just might reflect the sort of selection that ‘the man’ would make himself. No pressure there then!

We did our best to ‘fly the flag’ on this occasion, while Johnny Alpha was out there somewhere on his mission. But fear not, because he will return soon to restore all that we expect of Killer Diller and in the meantime, here’s the playlist that we pulled together to keep up your spirits until then:

PAD – Bobby Summers
Break It Up – Googie Rene
The Hurtin’ Kind – Tula Babies
The Story Of My Love – Lavern Baker
Tip Toe – Robert Parker
I’m Gone – The Noblemen
I Belong To Nobody – Soul Inc.
The Well’s Gone Dry – Dorothy Williams
M1 – Ted Taylor Four
Twitchy – Rene Hall Orchestra (ft. Willie Joe)
The McCoy – The Ventures
Somebody’s Always Trying – Ted Taylor
This Time – Ray Pollard
The Weekend – Sidney Hall
True Blue Poppa (Looking For A ‘Love Me’ Gal) – Bill Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
Batteroo – The Planet Rockers
Pretty Bad Blues – Ronnie Self
Fever – Carlos & The Bandits
Voodoo Woman – Laurel Aitkin
Boogaloo No. 3 – Lee Roy Johnson
Hold It – Leo’s Five
Holy Smoke – Brian Auger
Uptight – Billy Preston
Dance Joanne – The Four Epics
I Knew From The Start – The Moonglows
Money Talks – The Penguins
Boot ‘Em Up  – The Du Droppers
Roaring Blue – Jimmy Nichol
Get Out – The Troopers
Nature Boy – The Shields
Oh What A Night For Love – Roy Tyson

Well, that selection may not have added to my wishlist this week, but let’s hope it will have brought some cheer until normal Killer Diller service is resumed again with Johnny Alpha at the Killer Diller controls. So, until then, this is The Commissioner wishing you a great week and remember . . . . have fun!

Listen to this week’s show here:

Cruising with The Commissioner #38 Xmas Special (22.12.11)

Well, you are most welcome this week, whether you stumbled here through some internet accident, or the hand of destiny has brought you here, or perhaps you liked a previous show and wanted more (it has been known)! Whatever, we are very pleased to have your company on this festival or rock, soul and real rhythm and blues . . . that we call Cruising with The Commissioner .  My mission (which I have accepted) is to take you on a journey across musical frontiers, in and out of time zones and jumping genres . . . . all in the interests of pursuing the music I like.

This week we started our musical adventure with Roy Gaines and the controversial revelation that Skippy is a Sissy . . . .  and I’m continuing to say nothing more about that, since I have reason to believe that the show is being monitored by the League Against Cruel Sports . . . . who want to know if we put the ram in the ram-a-lama-ding-dong, or the bah bah in Barbara Ann.

We set about getting up to full speed on our cruise with the late Don Covay and a real stomper call ‘Turn It On’ and a great track, ‘Loving By The Pound’ from the Stax album, ‘Once upon a time in Wigan’ featuring the distinctive voice of Otis Redding.

Well, one of the joys of the past week was a long awaited local gig by Albert Lee and Hogan’s Heroes and what a treat it was too. Albert is a superb guitarist and was the featured guitarist in the Everly Brothers band for a long time . . . . and the setlist for the gig ranged far and wide. So choosing a track for the show was difficult, but in the end we settled for something that gets him in his best rockabilly ‘Tear It Up’.

This week marked a number of events . . . . 5 years ago this week we lost James Brown, 41 years ago this week George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” album entered the charts, and 56 years ago Carl Perkins recorded his seminal hit, “Blue Suede Shoes”. There were also some birthdays this week for Dionne Warwick, Connie Francis and Dave Clark. After just too much ‘encouragement’ from the Cruising Crew we decided to include a seasonal selection this week, on our last show before Christmas. So, in the best traditions of Cruising with The Commissioner, we went looking for some festive rock, soul and real rhythm and blues, quite determined to avoid the obvious and anything that just might remotely get played in the department stores or supermarkets at this time of year.

So, we found some superb ‘alternative’ seasonal songs for your discerning approval and we even found three kings to bring some gifts to the playlist. The Cruisettes brought a couple of bottles chilled bubbly and some very tasty pastries into Cruise Control and we set out to have a very merry rockin’ good Christmas.

Our playlist was jammed packed with juicy gems and much as we love Joe ‘Mr Piano’ Henderson, there was just too much else already on the list, but who knows what awaits us in 2012. So, here’s our playlist for this week:

Cruising with a little help . . . .
Skippy Is A Cissy – Roy Gaines
Turn It On – Don Covay
Loving By The Pound – Otis Redding
I’ll Do A Little Bit More – The Olympics
Do You Love Me – Jackie Lee
Shake A Hand – David Starr
I Smiled Yesterday – Dionne Warwick
Robot Man – Connie Francis
Tear It Up – Albert Lee with Hogan’s Heroes
Doctor Rhythm – Dave Clark Five

Three From Me . . . . with The Vikster
Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry
Backdoor Santa – Clarence Carter
Driving Hone For Christmas – Chris Rea

Cruising with Santa . . . . .
Dig That Crazy Santa Claus – Brian Setzner
Hey! Santa Claus – The Moonglows
Santa Is Rockin’ – The Boppers
It’s Christmas Time – Status Quo
Boogie Woogie Santa Claus – The Tractors
Santa’s Beard – The Beach Boys
I’m The Real Santa – The Refreshments
Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto – James Brown
Santa Claus Is Back In Town – Jonny Lang
Jolly Old St Nicholas – Chicago
Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’ – Mack Rice
Please Come Home For Christmas – Little Johnny Taylor
Santa! Santa! Santa! – The Rockabilly Boogie Band
Gee Whiz It’s Christmas – Carla Thomas
Presents For Christmas – Solomon Burke
Purple Snowflakes – Marvin Gaye
Christmas Tears – Freddy King
Christmas In the Air – Carole King
Christmas Comes But Once A Year – Albert King
All I Want For Christmas – Huey Piano Smith & The Clowns
I Want A Present For Christmas – Doc Bagby Orchestra (featuring JB Summers)
Father Christmas – The Kinks
A Very Merry Rockin’ Good Christmas – The Rockabilly Boogie Band

Another treat for Cruising with The Commissioner was the very welcome and festive return of The Vikster to the ‘Three From Me’ slot, She came wearing a Santa’s hat and jewellery that, rather appropriately, jingle jangle jingled to accompany her Christmas music choices. She was on good form too and there were those (less charitable than myself) who suspected she may have been getting in some early training for ‘the season to be jolly’, but it seemed to work well and we much enjoyed her visit.

We traded our ‘Memory Lane’ slot for some more seasonal sounds for our ‘Cruising with Santa’ selection, but it will return . . . . unless the feedback starts threatening violence.

But all too quickly, the festively decorated clock on the wall told us that we had to bring our Christmas cruise to a close . . . . and just when we were getting into our stride too. We had a great time in finding and playing this week’s selection of fine sounds and hope it was good for you. The Cruisettes join with me in sending you our best wishes for the festive season and the warmest of invitations to come back next week for our review of 2011 and some of the rock, soul and real rhythm and blues music that we have much enjoyed during the year on Cruising with The Commissioner.  But if your musical taste buds need to be tantilised before then, why not take a listen to the Tuesday Night Mafia on Wireless FM, where The Spongeman, The Shake, Max Quirk and Johnny Alpha will make you a musical offer you can’t refuse and play you music you’ll never forget.

So, until we meet again, be of good cheer for when, once again, we can go Cruising with The Commissioner . . . . and until then . . . . have fun!

Listen to this week’s show here:

Cruising with The Commissioner #37 (15.12.11)

Well, the seasonal spirit is very evident around here and The Cruisettes have even put some seasonal decorations around Cruise Control to ensure we have no excuse to be anything but jolly on Cruising with The Commissioner . . . . as if we are ever anything else !!!! So, this week we were in particularly good spirits to go cruising across musical frontiers, in and out of time zones and jumping genres in pursuit of the very best in rock, soul and real rhythm & blues. There’s been a lot going on here lately and plenty of pre-Xmas travelling to catch up with friends and family.

We heard from some of our Cruising guests this week, including Richard Mann, DJ Leyton Rocks, The Vikster, John Burgess, Lil-Sis, Phil Tyler, Mick Clark and Joe Duckworth. There was even a reported sighting of DJ Captain Scarlet. The Spongeman and Mumbles are amongst the frequent visitors to the chatroom during the Cruising shows and we are trying to persuade them (and one or two other guests) to come and share a ‘Three From Me’ for a future show.

Our cruise started off this week with ‘ Flipping Their Top’ by The Egyptians and followed up quickly with ‘Shake A Tail Feather’ by the Five Du-Tones . . . . which is the earliest version of the song that I can find . . . . and if you know of an earlier version, I want to hear from you . . . and soon! There have been some very welcome additions to the cruising library this week and we’ll be sure to include some of those in future playlists here.

In compiling last week’s Cruising with The Commissioner playlist we missed the birthday of Tom McGuiness, but we caught up this week and played Sha La La by Manfred Mann with Tom playing on the popular cover of The Shirelles song. Listening to the new Amy Winehouse album this week was a reminder of that great 60s hit ‘Our Day Will Come’ and I went a-rummaging in the Cruising library for the version by Ruby & The Romantics . . . great stuff.

If you’ve been listening to the show over recent weeks, you will know that we have featured various versions of the Jimmy Jones hit ‘Handy Man’ and this week we found another, this time by Frank Black & The Teenage Fanclub and they certainly gave it a distinctive treatment.

One of the joys of the past week was joining the birthday celebrations for our good pal DJ Leyton Rocks and what a time that was with plenty of music, family, friends and colleagues, including many friendly faces who feature amongst the Cruising Crew. By way of a happy memory of those celebrations, here’s a favourite of DJ Leyton Rocks . . . . this is Bob Seger and Rosalie (which featured in the birthday band’s set for the evening) and we followed on with a Badfinger track that went down particularly well in the DJ set.

This week’s playlist provides an arid wilderness for avid fans of Esther and Abi Ofarim, but here’s what we did squeeze in:

Cruising for the border . . . .
Flipping Their Top – The Egyptians
Shake A Tail Feather – The Five Du-Tones
Don’t Push, Don’t Pull, Don’t Shove – The Willows
Don’t Be Ashamed – Jackie Lee
Randy – The Cookies
Walk Away Renee – Four Tops
Locking up my Heart – The Marvelettes
Sha La La – Manfred Mann
Our Day Will Come – Ruby & The Romantics
Handy Man – Frank Black & The Teenage Fanclub

Three From Me . . . . . . Lil-Sis
Private Number – William Bell & Judy Clay
My Generation – The Who
Rock With The Caveman – Tommy Steele

Cruising with friends . . . .
Play It Cool – Freddie King
Eye On You – Killing Floor
I Can’t Wait To See My Baby’s Face – Aretha Franklin
I’ll Be Around – Seal
Choosing Up On You – The Dramatics
Rudy A Message To You – Dandy Livingstone
Gonzo – James Booker

Cruising with no particular place to go . . . .
Getting Tired, Tired, Tired – The Orioles
No Time – The Titans
I’ll Never Let You Get Away – Bill Dennis
Have Faith In Me – Sugar & Spices
Time Stand Still – Rush
Don’t Fear The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
Rosalie – Bob Seger
No Matter What – Badfinger
Love Your Shoes – Furniture

Memory Lane . . . . with The Commissioner
Cruisin’ 1958 with Jack Carney on WIL St Louis
Short Shorts – The Royal Teens
Rock ‘N’ Roll Music – Chuck Berry

Cruising for home . . . .
Mercy Mercy – Don Covay
You Better Dig It – Bill Johnson & The Four Steps Of Rhythm
Sandy – The Colonaires
(Do You Wanna) Jump Children – Dave Bartholomew

We welcomed back Lil-Sis for another ‘Three From Me’ and she gave us some stories of the events and music that for her bring back the rich musical memories of the 60s and 70s. She was smooth and relaxed, despite some hectic events, and we were pleased to have her company in the chatroom where she picked out some of her favourite tracks from the rest of the show’s playlist.

Although we marked the sad passing of Don Covay in last week’s Cruising with The Commissioner, but we returned to the distinctive voice of Don Covay this week with his ‘Mercy Mercy’ which has some tasteful guitar work of a very early Jimi Hendrix. We also included a little ‘find’ from Bill Johnson & The Four Steps Of Rhythm with one of the first two recordings on Talos Records which was a label created in 1958 by Charles Douglas and then governor of Georgia, Carl Saunders to showcase local talent.

We were enjoying our cruise, but time caught up with us and we had to head for home, so we did it in with the rocking rhythm of The Colonaires and their 45 on Ember records ‘Sandy’ and we even managed to squeeze in ‘Jump Children’ by Dave Bartholomew . . . . and then we reached our cruising capacity.

Well, we certainly had fun at Cruise Control and we hope that our musical adventures provided you with good times too. It’s always a joy to have your company . . . . . and grateful thanks go to Wireless FM for allowing me this time to play the music I like to who ever I like. If there was something in our playlist that you enjoyed, perhaps you might come back next week, when once again we can go Cruising with The Commissioner and if you can’t wait till then . . . . why not try the Tuesday night Mafia on Wireless FM, where they’l make you an offer you can’t refuse and play you music you’ll never forget.

So until the next time we go Cruising with The Commissioner . . . . have fun!

Listen to this week’s show here:

Cruising with The Commissioner #36 (08.12.11)

Well, blustery and chill winds have arrived this week to remind us that we are (belatedly) descending into winter and the festive season is fast approaching. Although we may be running out of days in 2011, but we are certainly not running out of great music here on Cruising with The Commissioner. The recent weeks have seen plenty of juicy gems entering Cruise Control and the real challenge has been finding the time to listen to them all, when there is so much else going on. But, we are neither daunted nor despairing in our quest to bring you a fill week’s fun filled festival of rock, soul and real rhythm and blues. As part of our carefully planned preparations, we wound the windows down, turned the volume up and quickly got up to full cruising speed for our journey across musical frontiers, in and out of time zones and jumping genres.

We started off our playlist with a superb Ace recording from 1957, featuring The Blue Dots with their ‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’ and, in case that didn’t quite get us right up to the speed limit, we got Sammy Myers to follow up with ‘ My Love Is Here To Stay’.

As regular listeners to Cruising with The Commissioner will know, our Memory Lane spot can reveal some ‘strange associations’ and while we were playing some of the early tracks on this week’s show, my mind turned to a track that happened to indulge the preferences of several previous Three From Me guests here. I realised this was a song by one of DJ Leyton Rocks favourite artists, Bob Seger, which was covered by one of John Burgess’s favourite bands, Eddie and The Hotrods, and performed by a favourite band of Mrs TC and Lil-Sis. So, we played ‘Get Out Of Denver’ by Status Quo . . . . and it went down well!

We also played a track that I particularly like called ‘Calender Girl’, which comes from a band that I’ve seen gigging around London called Supurbia. The band features our previous Three From Me guest, John Burgess, and there was plenty of fun when he called by at Cruise Control recently. He pointed us to the various versions of the song ‘Handy Man’ and in last week’s show we played the original recording by the Sparks of Rhythm, as well as the hit version by Jimmy Jones. Jimmy co-wrote the song with Otis Blackwell, so we found one of his later recordings of the song from his album, ‘They Called It Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

Well, it was a busy week for birthdays and farewells in the music world. As avid musicos will know, one of the birthdays this week was that of Little Richard and we couldn’t let the event pass without our own celebrations. So, we selected his cover of Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill . . . . and it gets the full Little Richard treatment . . . . as you can hear.

One way and another, it was not a good week for the music world. As well as losing Hubert Sumlin, other sad losses to the music world this week included Howard Tate, Dobie Gray and Keef Hartley, each of whom will be much missed. So, I thought we paid tribute to each of them with something from them each at the top of their game.

One of the joys of the week was rediscovering an excellent track from Monty Babson, who was one of the founders of the Morgan recording studios and the Morgan Bluetown label. He produced several singles by The Smoke and covered their most celebrated track ‘My Friend Jack’ as a groovy little organ piece.

I know that we are still getting requests from the Liberace fan club for a track by him on the show and I’ve learnt to ‘never say never’, so I’ll just say ‘not yet’, but here is what we did squeeze into this week’s playlist:

Cruising way out there  . . . . .
Saturday Night Fish Fry – The Blue Dots  
My Love Is Here To Stay – Sammy Myers
Cheatin’ Woman – Frankie Ford
Dearest Darlin’ – Huey Piano Smith & The Clowns
Get Out Of Denver – Status Quo
I Know Your Love Has Gone Away – The Drapers
One Day Love – Tommy Dodson
Yesterday My Love – Odds & Ends
Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye – The Casinos
I Have No Choice – Johnnie Mae Matthews

Three From Me – Joe Duckworth
Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
Two Of Us – The Beatles
Vegas Two Times – The Stereophonics

Cruising without frontiers
Calendar Girl – Supurbia
Handy Man – Otis Blackwell
Blueberry Hill – Little Richard
Don’t Be Cruel – The Upsetters
Nothing Takes The Place Of You – Johnny Adams
You’re Gonna Make Me Cry – O.V. Wright
High Voltage – Johnny & The Hurricanes
Yas Sah! – Charles Earland Erector Set
My Friend Jack – Monty Babson

Cruising way out there . . . .
Lose Control – King King
Killing Floor – Howlin’ Wolf
Play It Cool – Hubert Sumlin
Look At Granny Run Run – Howard Tate
The In Crowd – Dobie Gray
Not Foolish, Not Wise – Keef Hartley
Knocked Out – Ernie Fields

Memory Lane . . . . . with The Commissioner (5:12)
In The Mood – The Hawk

Cruising for home . . . . 
Rubber Biscuit – The Chips
Everybody Rock and Go – The Sparks of Rhythm
The Bear – Johnny Guitar Watson
Baby Its Love – Johnny Angel

For our Three From Me slot this week we were pleased to welcome a new guest, Joe Duckworth, and he quickly settled in to the task of bringing us his selection of favourites from his current playlist. He ranged from soul to pop and onto rock, together with accompanying memorable moments . . . . and it all came together nicely. What we didn’t include was the ‘off mike’ hearty laughter and exchanges . . . . . . inspired at one point by a dancing fox and a badger . . . . (don’t ask!) It was such fun, we are hoping that we can encourage him to come back to Cruising with The Commissioner on another occasion.

Our detour down the dark and dusty Memory Lane took us back to 1958, when Jerry Lee Lewis was surrounded in scandal and almost vanished from the music scene. At this time, he recorded an instrumental boogie arrangement of In The Mood that was issued on the Phillips International label (rather than Sun records) under the pseudonym of “The Hawk”. So, we found a copy, on the light blue, Phillips International, label.

The end of the show crept up on us and before we’d got through all that we had hoped to play, time ran out. But there’s always next week . . . . and we’ll be planning another riotous romp through the record racks here at Cruise Control. So, if you enjoyed this show, here’s hoping you’ll be back to join us next week to go Cruising with The Commissioner again, and if you want more great music, why not take a listen to the Tuesday night mafia on Wireless FM . . . .  where they’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse and play you music you’ll never forget.

So, until the next time we go Cruising with The Commissioner . . . . have fun!

Listen to this week’s show here:
Cruising with The Commissioner #35 (01.11.11)

Well, here we are in December already and the social diary at Cruising with The Commissioner is starting to look pretty busy. The unusually slow seasonal weather changes have not deterred The Cruisettes from casually leaving their Xmas lists around for anyone who is interested. But, they were temporarily distracted from this endeavour by a much anticipated outing to the Royal Albert Hall for the annual bash with Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. This takes the form of a boogie woogie, big band bash, with guest singers and the prospect of all or most of the audience on their feet and dancing (in their own way) by the end of the gig. Sadly, despite excellent musicianship and enthusiasm by those on stage, the appalling sound quality managed to replicate a ghetto blaster in a deep well and made it all a painful experience. The set list included ‘Stranger Blues’, which I haven’t heard in a while, so I thought that was sufficient excuse to should play Elmore James’ version on our cruise.

On the positives, this week included plenty of contacts and some journeying to meet various friends and relatives, who seem to be in good spirits and doing well in, often, testing circumstances. One of the joys of the past week has been a visit to one of my favourite music stores, which is never a disappointment and provided many of the tracks for this week’s Cruising with The Commissioner, as did our musical postman (and we should be organising his Xmas box for services rendered during the year).

We set off on our musical adventure with the sound of ‘Straighten Up Baby’ from the wonderfully titled Willard Harris & The Czars of Rhythm. . . . . and we followed on with plenty of other juicy gems in a select soundtrack of rock, soul and real rhythm and blues. These included some fine songs that are not usually associated with the artists here, such as Etta James’ version of ‘I Got You Babe’, which is indelibly linked to Sonny and Cher. Along with that we had Clyde McPhatter’s interpretation of Arthur Alexander’s classic ‘Shot of Rhythm & Blues’, and not forgetting Maurice and Mac’s 1968 recording on Checker of ‘Why Don’t You Try Me Tonight’ (a song often associated with Ry Cooder for his version on his ‘Borderline’ album). Another notable listing was ‘Fortune Teller’, a song we’ve heard before on the show by Benny Spellman and even by the Tony Jackson Group, but this time we featured an early version by the Del-Rays.

Somewhere, Tina Turner celebrated her birthday this week and we included a track from her to mark the occasion in our own way. It was also a week that saw the passing of Hoodoo bluesman Coco Robicheaux, who was a familiar figure both on- and off-stage around New Orleans and is alleged to have lived an especially colourful life, even by the standards of a New Orleans musician. He was known for his especially gravely voice, a swamp-blues guitar style and a fascination with spiritual and mystical subjects. Perhaps it was the spirits moving The Cruisettes, as a result, because they were on their feet when we played his ‘Hot Sauce Boogie’ from his 2005 “Yeah U Rite,” album.

If you listened in to last week’s show, you’ll have heard John Burgess in the guest spot on ‘Three From Me’. We had some fun ‘off mike’ while he was in Cruise Control and this included a discussion about the song ‘Handy Man’. In John’s view the greatest version is the 1960 recording by Jimmy Jones, but, interestingly, there’s an earlier recording of the song in 1956 by the Sparks Of Rhythm. Well, I couldn’t resist playing them back to back, not least to show the quite different styles.

Celebrated as her catalogue of recordings is in many quarters, we didn’t include anything from Gracie Fields in our playlist . . . . but some of our ‘Three From Me’ guests have cosmopolitan tastes, so never say never . . . .but here’s what we did include:

Cruising for the city limits . . . .
Straighten Up Baby – Willard Harris & The Czars of Rhythm
Aw Shucks Baby – Tiny Topsy
Top Notch Grade A – Al Reed
Crackerjack – The Cues
Somebody’s Always Trying – Kingsize Taylor
Handy Man – Jimmy Jones
Handy Man – The Sparks of Rhythm
I Keep On Walkin’ – Jimmie Raye
Wasn’t Born To Follow – The Byrds

Three From Me . . . . . . Mrs TC
Get Your Goosebumps On – Kevin Montgomery
Last Night – The Travelling Wilburys
Sweet Talkin’ Woman – The Electric Light Orchestra

Cruising further on up the road . . . . 
Stranger Blues – Elmore James
Born In Chicago – The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
What Does It Take – Santana
When The Spell Is Broken – Bonnie Raitt with the Alabama Blind Boys
Mr Fine – Johnnie Mae Matthews
Don’t Walk Away – Carl Carlton
Tearing Us Apart – Tina Turner with Eric Clapton
Hot Sauce Boogie – Coco Robicheaux

Cruising with friends . . . .
I Got You – Etta James
Without A Woman – Kip Anderson
I’d Rather Go Blind – Spencer Wiggins
A Shot of Rhythm & Blues – Clyde McPhatter
Miss You So – Ted Taylor
Everytime – Linda Carr
Why Don’t You Try Me Tonight – Maurice & Mac
Fortune Teller – The Del-Rays
I Can’t Stop (No No No) – Arthur Conley

Memory Lane . . . . with The Commissioner
Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs Murphy’s Ovaltine – Harry The Hipster Gibson

Cruising for home . . . .
Mr Rainbow – Steve Flynn
Absolutely Sweet Marie – Jason & The Scorchers
Train Tour To Rainbow City – The Pyramids
Stranded in The Jungle – The Jayhawks
Don’t Be Angry – Nappy Brown

Well, our ‘Three From Me’ spot this week was a concession to world peace, at least in the bit or the world around Cruise Control. Hopefully, this will reduce the stream of emails seeking the return of Mrs TC to bring you another ‘Three From Me’. Her selection this time had a few memories of the seemingly endless clubs and bars around Nashville, offering a broad range of music styles. Kevin Montgomery and Tom Petty were in town at the time and both got featured in this trio of tracks, along with ELO.

Our diversion down the dark and dusty Memory Lane recalled veteran jazz singer, George Melly, and his enthusiastic and visually expressive interpretations of ‘Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs Murphy’s Ovaltine’. . . . . a song originally performed and recorded by Harry ‘The Hipster’ Gibson in 1947. We couldn’t find a recording of the song by George, but we did find a copy of Harry’s original recording and included it for us all to savour! Is it rock, soul or ‘real’ rhythm and blues? Well, frankly my dear . . . . . !

Familiar and new faces in chatroom provided some welcome leads on possible tracks for future shows and some positive feedback on this week’s playlist . . . . and favoured activities during the show.  If you’re wondering . . . . listening while relaxing in bed, testing the freedom of a new wi-fi system and raiding the wine cellar all featured . . . . but the last one got the most votes!

Sadly, all too quickly, our riotous romp through the record racks ran out of time and we had to put the music away again (hopefully in the right places) so that it’s all ready for us to go Cruising with The Commissioner next week. If you enjoyed this week’s selection, hopefully you’ll come back again for our next cruise, and if you want more great music, why not take a listen to the Tuesday night mafia on Wireless FM . . . . where they’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse and play you music you’ll never forget.

So, until the next time we go Cruising with The Commissioner . . . . have fun!