Archive for January, 2012

Listen here to this week’s show:

Cruising with The Commissioner #43 (26.01.12)

Well, it has been an eventful week . . .  to say the least! There has been plenty of social and business activity to keep us on our toes and generally engaged. . . . . but we still looked forward to the arrival of Thursday night and the opportunity to extend a very warm welcome to one and all, as we embarked on this week’s Cruising with The Commissioner. What we hadn’t anticipated was the sad passing of not one or two, but three luminaries of the R&B scene. So, we will remember the week with very mixed emotions.

So, we were in need of some good company and, in anticipation, we wound the windows down, turned the volume up and saved a few seats especially for the Cruising Crew on our musical extravaganza. This was all designed to excite some enthusiastic participation as we savoured this week’s fine selection of rock, soul and real rhythm and blues.

The past week has brought its joys and sorrows in similar measure. The news of the passing of Johnny Otis, Etta James and Jimmy Castor were particularly sad notes. We took the opportunity to pay tribute to these three, whose contributions to the development of R&B and rock music is legendary.  So, we assembled tracks by them to give a glimpse of what inventive and adventurous artists they were.

On the positives, there were some splendid new additions to the Cruising Library from our visits to some of our favourite record stores and a little internet dabbling. As you might expect, we’ll weave these into the playlists over the next few weeks. There were also visits from some celebrated members of the Cruising Crew and, along with the Cruisettes, I am now looking forward to seeing Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers at their forthcoming UK concert and our annual pilgrimage to Blues On The Farm.

We started off our cruise with some rockin’ R&B from Fats Domino and a ‘Whole Lotta Lovin” and, catching the mood, we followed on with the Georgia Peach, otherwise known as Mrs Penniman’s favourite son, Richard, and his classic track ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’. Once we’d got up to speed, we uncovered some notable numbers for your listening pleasure, including a song that is probably best know for the version by Millie Small. We found the original of ‘My Boy Lollipop’, recorded by14 year old Barbie Gaye as a rhythm and blues hit in 1956 on the Darl label, which Island Records founder, Chris Blackwell, chose for Millie Small to record in 1964 and it became a blockbuster hit that helped to launch Island Records into mainstream popular music. We also pulled out the songwriter’s own version of  “Needles and Pins” by Jackie De Shannon, but discovered that it was hearing this song performed by Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers at a club in Hamburg, Germany that enthused The Searchers about making it their next single and, as such, making the song an international chart success in 1964.

As we wait (with mounting excitement) for our membership of the Wombles fan club to arrive, here’s our playlist for this week:

Cruising for the city limits
Whole Lotta Lovin’ – Fats Domino
The Girl Can’t Help It – Little Richard
Pink Shade Of Blue – Sil Austin
Star Revue – Warren Lee
Nature Boy – The Shields
My Boy Lollipop – Barbie Gaye
Needles & Pins – Jackie DeShannon
Wiggle Wiggle – The Accents
Rockin’ Through The Rye – Bill Haley & His Comets

Three From Me . . . . with Johnny99
Over The Sea – Jesse Rae
Not The Heart – Champion Doug Veitch
Letter From America – The Proclaimers

Cruising with Johnny Otis, Etta James & Jimmy Castor
I Promise To Remember – Jimmy Castor & The Juniors
Hey Leroy – Jimmy Castor
Oh Yeah – Jimmy Castor
Bang Bang – The Jimmy Castor Bunch
Roll With Me Henry – Etta James
One Night – Etta James
I Just Want To Make Love To You – Etta James
Holding Back The Tears – Etta James
Too Tired – Etta James
Harlem Nocturne – Johnny Otis
Telephone Baby – Johnny Otis
Little Richard Boogie – Little Richard (with Johnny Otis)
Willie & The Hand Jive – Johnny Otis
Ma He’s Making Eyes At Me – Johnny Otis
Hum Ding A Ling  – Johnny Otis
A Fool In Love – Johnny Otis

Memory Lane . . . . with The Commissioner
Man Of Stone – Eddie Bluesman Kirkland

Cruising way down yonder
Dancing In the Street – LaBert Ellis
Hi Hi Hazel – The Troggs
Put Yourself In My Place – Delroy Wilson
Pretty Red Balloons – Rosetta Hightower
Yeah Man – Sam Cooke

The past days and weeks have brought some very welcome surprises here at Cruise Control, including some lively chats and visits from some celebrated, previous Three From Me guests. We’ve heard from Mr T., Richard Mann, John Burgess, DJ Leyton Rocks and The Vikster. With a few possibly still recovering from Burns Night, we invited our good pal John Burgess (or ‘Johnny 99’, as he wishes to be known) to come back with a Scottish theme to his next ‘Three From Me’ . . . . and he did just that, taking us on a tour of some of his choices along with a few stories to go with the tracks.  Our traipse down Memory Lane had a distinctly bluesy tinge to it, with a story of musical curiosity and enthusiasm, leading to resolve and resourcefulness in tracking and tracing a little known recording by Eddie ‘Bluesman’ Kirkland. The prize was a hard to find vinyl album on Prestige records that included the stomping ‘Man of Stone’ and that album is still has a cherished place in the Cruising Library.

Well, after our respectful tributes, there was only a little time left, but we made good use of it . . . . . a little rare ‘Dancing in the Street’ from LaBert Ellis to mark the fact that Martha Reeves is in town and getting rave reviews for a series of sell-out concerts. We heard the news today about Reg Presley retiring due to ill-health, so we dug outHi Hi Hazel’ by The Troggs and promised to play Geno Washington’s version on another occasion. We even squeezed in Rosetta Hightower and (as we promised last week) Sam Cooke’s ‘Yeah Man’, the inspiration for Arthur Conley‘s ‘Sweet soul music’.

We had three previous Three From Me guests in the chatroom and the chatter gave some good feedback on the playlist choices and even reported some clandestine dancing out there . . . . and that’s when we knew we were cooking! So, we cruised gently to the close of the show, knowing that we can do it all again next week. . . . . and if that seems too far off, you can always get a fix from 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!

Having a party . . . .

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Hear This . . . . !

Listen here to this week’s show:

Cruising with The Commissioner #42 (19.01.12)

Well, if the start of 2012 so far is anything to go by, it’s going to get lively and I’m hoping that this is a good sign for our weekly journeys of discovery and the juicy gems that we find along the way to include in that extravaganza of rock, soul, and real rhythm in blues that we call Cruising with The Commissioner.

In the best traditions of the show (and you’d expect no less, I know) we launched ourselves with guile and gusto into our multi-terrain musical voyager, wound the windows down and turned the volume up as we got off to a great start with Party Time from The Downbeats. They were signed up by Motown and Berry Gordy  changed their name to The Elgins (a name he had considered for the group that we know now as the Temptations) and we kept everything heading in the right direction with Jeannette Baker & Oscar McLollie and their ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’.

Our considerable efforts to tantilise your musical taste buds were clearly resented by the technical gremlins, who interrupted the show on a few too many occasions this week . . . . the exterminators will be round shortly!!!

Amongst our ‘finds’ this week was a Tammi Terrell song called ‘Oh How I’d Miss You’. This was (for a long time) an unreleased demo version by Tammi with an unknown male duet partner. It was finally released on The Complete Duets compilation with one or two differences from the later duet version with Marvin Gaye. Another ‘ooooh’ moment this week was finding The Blossoms on a Duane Eddy 45. Now, we’ve played The Blossoms a few times on the show before and we particularly like them. So, it was a pleasant surprise to find that they were the vocal group behind ‘Mr Twang’ on his early 60′s track ‘Your Baby’s Gone Surfin”.

We took the opportunity to salute Bob Weston with a Fleetwood Mac track from when he was with the group and to mark his sad passing during the past week. He was the guitarist and singer who joined Fleetwood Mac in 1972 for two albums, as they completed their transition from blues to pop, following the departures of Peter Green and Danny Kirwan. We chose a track from their album ‘Mystery To Me’ which included their inventive treatment of the familiar song, ‘For Your Love’.

Well, I’m not sure if you can have too much fun, but we came close to our limit, I suspect, with this week’s playlist. It was a very pleasurable indulgence to put together the Sam Cooke Songbook segment and I’m hoping we found something good for you in the mix there somewhere. Sadly, no room for anything from Manuel & His Music Of The Mountains, but here’s what we did squeeze in:

Cruising for the city limits . . . .
Party Time – The Downbeats
Hey Boy, Hey Girl – Jeannette Baker & Oscar McLollie
Air Travel – Ray Bob
After Last Night – The Revlons
Oh How I’d Miss You – Tammi Terrell
Your Baby’s Gone Surfiin’ – Duane Eddy & The Blossoms
Bumbershoot – Phil Harvey
For Your Love – Fleetwood Mac

Three From Me  . . . . with The Spongeman
Painterman – The Creation
Arthur Brown
Them Changes – Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles

Cruising . . . . with the Sam Cooke Songbook
Shake – Otis Redding
Bring It On Home To Me – ZZ Hill
Only Sixteen – The Heptones
You Send Me – Sam & Dave
Chain Gang – The Persuasions
Win Your Love For Me – Snooks Eaglin
Another Saturday Night – Cat Stevens
Ain’t That Good News – The Supremes
Everybody Likes To Cha Cha Cha – The Olympics
Good Times – Eugene Hideaway Bridges
I Know I’ll Always Be In Love With You – Jackie Wilson
Cupid – Dobie Gray
Having A Party – The Ovations

Memory Lane  . . . . with The Commissioner
The Emperor Rosko
Everybody Needs Somebody To Love – Wilson Pickett
Soul Man – Sam & Dave

Cruising for home . . . . .
Kites – Arthur Brown
Statesboro Blues – Taj Mahal
Louisiana Hannah – Larry Williams & Johnny Guitar Watson
If You Gotta Make A Fool Somebody – Maxine Brown
Meet Me Down At Soulville – Little Joe Cook & The Thrillers
Twist Twist Senora – Gary US Bonds
Gonna Get Along Without You Now – The Vibrations 
Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While) – Kim Weston
Flip Flop & Fly – The Goofers

Our Three From Me spot this week featured one of the celebrities that you’ll hear on Tuesday nights on Wireless FM . . . .  the Spongeman. So, it was a joy to have him moonlighting on Cruising with The Commissioner and bringing his musical elixir, guaranteed to cure your ills and raise your spirits. As if to demonstrate why I enjoy his selections so much, we both managed to select an Arthur Brown track . . . . fortunately not the same one! Meanwhile, our detour down Memory Lane featured another DJ with impeccable taste in music, the Emperor Rosko. We went back in time to hear him with his soul extravaganza of the 60’s and 70s The Rosko Show . . . . and it was good to hear him again.

Well, just when we were really enjoying ourselves, the time ran out and we had to stop our Thursday night revels. But, we were cheered by the thought that we can do it all again next week. . . . . and in the meantime we’ll try to bring a little order out of the chaos at Cruise Control and find some more juicy gems for our next adventure. If that seems too far off, you can always get a fix from 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 here to this week’s show:
Cruising with The Commissioner #41 (12.01.12)

When things become unnervingly unpredictable, it’s re-assuring to be in good company and to have the comfort of familiar and friendly faces. So, I welcome one and all, to another Cruising with The Commissioner and more groovy moments, as we invite you to come with us on our musical adventures across musical frontiers, in and out of time zones and jumping genres . . . . . ever searching out the best in rock, soul and real rhythm and blues.

Every now and again the mood of the moment grabs us and we go off in an unplanned direction on our cruise. So it was that we started off with The Champions and ‘Keep A Rockin” (Chart 45 from 1954) and maintained the momentum with the wonderful  Otis Williams & The Charms and ‘ Little Turtle Dove’  (a King 45 from 1961) . . . .and we didn’t look back from there on . . . . . !

Anticipating his forthcoming UK concerts, we went looking for something unfamiliar from the catalogue of Frankie Valli and found his album, ‘Romancing The 60s’. It was there that we found a little gem that doesn’t get heard nearly enough, so we tried to remedy that (in our own small way) by playing his stylish interpretation of The Drifters’ ‘On Broadway’. Of course, Frankie was not unaccustomed to taking other folks’ songs and putting his own slant on them . . . . as he did with the classic doo wop song ‘Peanuts’, originally recorded in 1957 by Philadelphians, Little Joe & The Thrillers. So, we went rummaging for a copy of the original and found it on the Okeh label and put it on the playlist for this cruise and we may come back to Little Joe in future weeks.

Popular and cherished as his extensive catalogue of recordings are in the charity shops across this green and pleasant land, we have resisted the temptation (for now) of including something from Bobby Davro in our Cruising with The Commissioner playlist . . . . but you can never tell when our sense of mischief might get the better of us . . . . until then, here’s what we did include:

Cruising for the city limits . . . . 
Keep A Rockin’ – The Champions
Little Turtle Dove – Otis Williams & The Charms
I’m Getting Tired – The Carlettes
You Did The Best You Could – Candy & The Kisses
On Broadway – Frankie Valli
Peanuts – Little Joe & The Thrillers
That’s The Way – The Casinos
Do The Philly Dog – Lou Lawton

Three From Me  . . . . with Joe Duckworth
Bat Chain Puller – Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band
My Pink Half of The Drainpipe – The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
LA Woman – The Doors

Cruising across frontiers . . . .
Don’t Be Cruel – The Upsetters
Soulville – Dinah Washington
Save The Last Dance For Me – The Drifters
Shing-A-Ling – The Platters
Number One In My Heart – The Monitors
What’s Wrong With My Baby – The Valadiers
Everybody Loves A Good Time – Major Lance
Teach Me How To Shimmy – Michael & DeLee

Cruising  further on up the road . . . .
Sittin’ In The Balcony – Johnny Dee
Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye – The Casinos
Valerie Vanillaroma – Orange Alabaster Mushroom
The Wild Ones – Come On Back
Twist & Shout – The Top Notes
Daddy Rollin’ Stone – Jimmy Ricks
Dancing In The Street – David Bowie & Mick Jagger
Livin’ Lovin’ Wreck – Jimmy Page

Memory Lane . . . . with The Commissioner
Harlem Shuffle – Bob & Earl

Cruising for home . . . .   
Dance (Holes In Your Soul) – Oz & The Sperlings
The Marvellos – You’re such A Sweet Thing
Don’t You Cry – The Royalettes
I Guess I’ll Always Love You – The Isley Brothers
Yesterday My Love – Odds & Ends
One Day Love – Tommy Dodson
Hit, Git & Split – Young Jessie

Now, one of the joys of welcoming in the new year with friends and friends of friends was that it provided an opportunity for a casual conversation with David (a banker) that eventually turned to music and his renewed passion for Dinah Washington on discovering a box set of her music. It provided a great excuse to play Dinah’s version of ‘Soulville’ and sent me checking out the details of an intriguing story. David told a story I  hadn’t heard before about the origins of the classic Drifters’ song from 1960 ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ . . . . .  and it was just so. The song was written by Mort Shuman and his songwriting partner, Doc Pomus, who had polio and used crutches to get around. Doc Pomus’s wife, however, was a Broadway actress and dancer, who loved to dance. This set the backdrop for one of the great songs of the 60s, which was based on the personal experience of Doc Pomus, telling his wife to have fun dancing and to feel free to mingle and socialize throughout the evening, but reminding her who will be taking her home. I’ll will always hear that song with an added poignancy from now on!

We also confirmed the identity of Johnny Dee who wrote and recorded the song ‘Sitting In The Balcony’ and took it to #35 on the American pop charts in 1957. It’s a song that also gave Eddie Cochran his first chart hit reaching #18 in March of 1957. Johnny Dee was the stage name for John D Loudermilk, who went on to write and record many other classic hit songs, including the hit for The Casinos, which gave us the excuse to play another track by them on the show (no apologies), this time it was ‘Then you can tell me goodbye’.

Another story came with a very rare track from the Philadelphia R & B band, the Top Notes, released in 1961 and produced at the time by an up-coming staff producer by the name of Phil Spector. This is the very first recording of Twist and Shout and the story goes that when songwriter Bert Berns (aka Bert Russell) heard the final mix, he told Spector that he had “messed up the song” and he acurately predicted a quick demise for the single, But, a year later Bert Berns he produced the song himself for The Isley Brothers, and this became a hit and a template for many covers.

Our good pal Joe Duckworth returned to deliver another ‘Three From Me’ spot this week. This time he delivered it all with a mischievous smile and some hearty laughter when the microphone was off. He brought us a mix that took us from Captain Beefheart and the Bonzos and left us with The Doors . . . . and we’ll leave the door to Cruise Control ajar in case he wants to come back. Meanwhile, our trip down Memory Lane took us back to 1963 and an R&B song recorded by Bob & Earl. Somewhere lodged in the dark dusty corners of my recall, I thought there was an earlier version and I raised some doubts when I said this to Mi Amigo. So, some frantic research ensued, which showed that, whilst the song was written by the duo, it was based on an earlier number called “Slauson Shuffletime” by another Los Angeles singer, Round Robin. Perhaps we’ll play Round Robin on a future show.

Well, we got to our last track with some real reluctance and it came from Young Jessie with the appropriately titled ‘Hit, Git & Split’ . . . . which is just what we did . . . . hoping that there were plenty of juicy gems in the playlist to entice you back again next week for even more rock, soul and real rhythm & blues. But, if you need an earlier ‘fix’, why not stop by and take a listen to the Tuesday night mafia here on Wireless FM, where The Spongeman, The Shake, Max Quirk and Johnny Alpha will make you an offer you can’t refuse and play you music you’ll never forget.

So, until we once again go Cruising with The Commissioner . . . . remember . . . . . have fun!

Listen here to this week’s show:

Cruising with The Commissioner #40 (05.01.12)

Welcome one and all, to this first Cruising with The Commissioner of 2012.  The Cruisettes join me in wishing a most groovy of years to you and yours, as we take our first tentative steps into 2012, particularly if you were one of those who made one of the 1900 visits here in 2011 (thanks to WordPress for counting them all).

We’ve enjoyed some great moments with friends and family during the festive period and even found time to scour the record racks in unfamiliar music establishments . . . . with some joyful discoveries. But, otherwise, little has changed since we last met (if we did) despite the begging letters and emails. So (at least for the traditionalists), you may be pleased to know that it remains our stoic intention to bring you  the best in rock, soul and real rhythm and blues . . . . ever ready to share some treasured favourites and any new discoveries that come to hand (and ears) on our continuing  adventures across musical frontiers, in and out of time zones and jumping genres.

We’ve conducted the tradition sweep up around the Cruise Control (the throbbing nerve center of Cruising with The Commissioner) and attempted (falteringly) to pursue our new year’s resolution, to bring order out of chaos to the music strewn across in the Cruising Library. So far, we have repatriated the alternative Xmas record collections . . . . . but it’s a start!

We closed 2011 with a great London gig from a favourite Tex-Mex band and a good time was evidently had by all concerned, on stage and in the audience, including friendly faces from amongst the Cruising Crew. You won’t be entirely surprised that this experience inspired a little selection of Tex-Mex tracks in our playlist this week . . . . and we continue to look out for a visit from one of the ‘tequila babes’ here at Cruise Control. Meanwhile, the social diary is filling up nicely and there are plenty of gigs already scheduled for the weeks and months ahead. One of the late memories of 2011 was getting tickets to see Frankie Valli at the Royal Albert Hall on his visit to the UK and a return to the US to catch some artists that you can see ‘only in America’. There have been some big smiles around Cruise Control, due to the generosity of Santa, who delivered some invitations to see a number of other artists in the UK and US during the year . . . . so, the diary is filling nicely!

We set off on our first Cruising with The Commissioner in 2012 with a sprightly spring in our step and in the very good company of The Cadillacs with their 45 ‘Why’ and without pausing for a moment more to look around, we went on to ‘Vip a Dip’ with The Mint Juleps. The mood of the moment grabbed us and we pulled out something from The Sparks of Rhythm and their 1955 single on the Aladdin label called ‘Women, Women, Women’. It was all freewheeling from there on . . . . . !

Celebrated as his catalogue of recordings is in many quarters, we didn’t include anything from Andy Williams 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 new horizons . . . .
Why – The Cadillacs
Vip a Dip – The Mint Juleps
Women, Women, Women – The Sparks of Rhythm
You Got Me In The Palm of Your Hand – Donald Lee Richardson
There’s No You – The Occasions
Sha La La – The Shirelles
And That Reminds Me – The Dolls
You’re Absolutely Right – The Apollas
La La La La La – The Rattles

Three From Me  . . . . with DJ Captain Scarlet
The Laughing Gnome – David Bowie
Rollercoaster – The Mighty Lemondrop
London Girls – Stephen Duffy

Cruising across frontiers . . . .
The In Crowd – Brian Auger
Gimme Little Sign – Memphis Black
Crazy Crazy Feeling – Esquerita
A Bottle of Pop & A Lollipop – The Lollipoppers
So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Love The One You’re With – The Isley Brothers
Shapes Of Things (from the album Feedback) – Rush
Shanty Town (007) – Desmond Dekker 

Cruising further on up the road . . . .
Handy Man – Del Shannon
Kiss Me Baby – The Four Tops
Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number – 100 Proof Aged In Soul
Nevertheless  – Lee Andrews and the Hearts
It May be Winter Outside (But In My Heart It’s Spring) – Felice Taylor
When Summer’s Gone – The Royalettes
Highway Patrol – Junior Brown
Little Sister – Ry Cooder
La Bamba – Ritchie Valens

Memory Lane . . . . with The Commissioner
Shotgun Wedding – Roy C

Cruising for home 
My Friend Jack – Monty Babson
Times Are Changing – Mother Tucker’s Yellow Duck
The Thrill Is Gone – Tino Gonzales
Ain’t Nothing You Can Do – ZZ Hill
Check Yourself Baby – Tony Allen
Trickle Trickle – The Videos

Amongst the juicy gems on our playlist, we found ‘Kiss Me Baby’, a 1956 release from The Four Tops on Chess, Lee Andrews and The Hearts with their great northern soul classic ‘Nevertheless’, and Diana Ross sound-alike, Felice Taylor, with her Barry White produced Mustang 45, ‘It May be Winter Outside (But In My Heart It’s Spring)’. As if that was not enough, there was also one of Baltimore’s best, The Royalettes, with ‘When Summer’s Gone’. The chatroom chatter was encouraging and Desmond Dekker’s 007 proved to be a particular favourite.

The excitement of the festive season was revisited with reported sightings of that other mythical character, DJ Captain Scarlet. His previous visit to deliver his ‘Three From Me’ was particularly well received by the Cruising Crew, but he has been most elusive since then . . . . doubtless the calls on him to save the world have been a worthy distraction. So, just like the best of kiddies tales, there was a happy ending,  but no sooner had he arrived, than he was gone again . . . . his cape unfurling behind him as he disappeared beyond the horizon. The Captain’s visit may have been fleeting but he left us another fascinating selection of tunes, to provide a great start to our 2012 ‘Three From Me’ schedule.

Our trip down Memory Lane this week took us back to when I was on the road as a DJ and the many nights when there were wedding parties in and some jolly jack the lad thought it would promote good relations to request Roy C’s classic recording of ‘Shotgun Wedding’. I developed a number of excuses for not playing it . . . . especially when an appeal to sensitivity was likely to fall on stony ground. It’s a positive recall, particularly, since it reminds me that I first heard it this track played by legendary radio DJ Mike Raven and I believe he was instrumental in its UK success second time around when it was re-released by Island Records in the 70s.

Well, there were still plenty of tracks in the pending tray at the end of the show, but we did squeeze in as many as we could during our riotous romp through the record racks. I very much hope that our playlist tonight will tempt you to join us again . . . . and, in anticipation, we’ll save a seat for you on next week’s Cruising with The Commissioner. If that seems too long to wait . . . . . 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!