Why don’t you try me tonight . . . . .

Posted: December 2, 2011 in Hear This . . . . !

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!

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