Just A Little Bit

Rosco Gordon - Just A Little Bit

mp3: Rosco Gordon - Just A Little Bit

Here's a joyous R&B record from Rosco Gordon. What hits you first is the playful "Rosco" rhythm, a loping shuffle that influenced and helped shape Jamaican Ska. Then it's Gordon's honeyed vocals, and then a warm sax solo tops it all off. A stone cold classic. Gordon recorded Just A Little Bit in Chicago's Universal Studios in 1959. Soon after, Tiny Topsy released a fine version which could be described as New Breed, Northern Soul or Popcorn, depending on the current favourite retroactively dubbed music genre of the person you're chatting with. Elvis Presley also cut a soulful take on it while spending a dozen days in the early '70s at Stax studios, located in both his and Rosco Gordon's hometown of Memphis.


Mamo Mamo

Marvin Phillips - Mamo Mamo

mp3: Marvin Phillips - Mamo Mamo

Marvin Phillips usually recorded as Marvin & Johnny, with several singers being "Johnny" over the years. He went out alone with the frantic bop-infused jump-blues of Mamo Mamo, but even the flipside is credited to Marvin & Johnny. It definitely sounds like Phillips occasionally hollers mambo rather than mamo and I don't doubt that Cuban rhythms, which were very popular in 1955, inspired this recording. Emory Perry was probably the "Johnny" of the other side of the record, but he plays saxophone on this cut. Phillips himself also wailed on a sax before becoming a vocalist. The other tenor saxophonist is Maxwell Davis, who played on and arranged a plethora of hits for Specialty, as well as the Aladdin and Modern record labels.


Ska It Up

Ernie Freeman - Live It Up

mp3: Ernie Freeman - Live It Up

I've posted so many Ernie Freeman records over the years, I'll break the internet if I try to link to them all. Not to mention the ones he made as pianist in the Ernie Fields Orchestra. But, Live It Up is one I've been seeking for a minute. An issue of Billboard from 1959 described it as a rumba blues instrumental with a touch of the "Tequila". It's a song you might have heard blasting out of a Coxsone Dodd sound system during the embryonic stages of the development of the ska sound. In 1965, The Skatalites recorded their version as Beardman Ska for Sir Coxsone's own label.

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It's Too Late

Tarheel Slim And Little Ann - It's Too Late

mp3: Tarheel Slim and Little Ann - It's Too Late

With Record No. 1000 printed on the label, Tarheel Slim and Little Ann's teary It's Too Late was Fire Records' very first release. And what a debut! Typical of this couple, the emotion level is turned up to eleven. You've possibly read me wax lyrical about them twice before. I've also written a little on Fire's chief Bobby Robinson when I started posting a series of singles from this label early last year. So I'll keep it simple. If you're into melodramatic music, this duet bring it in spades.


Diddy Wah's got them Blues

We got them miss you blues. We got them crying blues. We got them worried blues. We got them stranger blues. Hitch a ride from Mississippi to Chicago with me and Howlin' Wolf as we go back to home to the guitar-led blues sounds of the '50s and '60s on this NTS radio show.


I'm gonna set your flag on fire

Sugar Boy - Jock-A-Mo

mp3: Sugar Boy - Jock-A-Mo

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.

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Heavy Sugar DJs – Glastonbury 2014

I was thrilled to be invited back to Glastonbury Festival again this year as half of Heavy Sugar DJs. We played two gigs on consecutive nights in the dystopian after-hours pleasure city that is Shangri-La. One was in the Rocket Lounge and one in the adjacent Deluxe Diner. Both had the revellers raising their hands and stomping their feet in delirious excitement. Here’s a recording of a segment of our set from the Deluxe Diner. We started at 2:30am on the last night and as testament to the Glastonbury crowd’s stamina, the party spirit was still at full strength. That slot is pretty much prime-time for Shangri-La, so we got straight down to business with some hot exotic 45s. As you’ll hear, it was a total blast.

The Clyde Valley Stompers - Istanbul
Jimmy Beck - Arabian Blues
Dick Dale - Miserlou
Buddy Love - Heartbreak Hotel
Chuck Rio - Margarita
Elvis Presley – Slicin’ Sand
G.L. Crockett - Look Out Mabel
Mickey & Sylvia - No Good Lover
Rusty Isabel - The Blast
The Scholars - Kan-Gu-Wa
The Four Jokers - Uggaboo
Marty Wilson - Super Sonic
The Road Runners - Quasimoto
Jack Ely - Louie, Louie ‘66
Gary ‘US’ Bonds - I Wanna Holler
The Candy Johnson Show - Ooh Poo Paa Doo
Linda Gayle - Twist and Shout
Kai Ray - I Want Some Of That
The Versatones - Bila
Ernie Fields - Teen Flip
B Bumble & The Stingers - Bumble Boogie
The Rhythm Kings - Exotic
Johnny Cash - Ring Of Fire
Danny White - The Twitch
Herbert Hunter - Twist It Up
Big Bo & The Arrows - Big Bo’s Twist
The Isley Brothers - Twist And Shout
Chubby Checker - Karate Monkey
Billy Strange - These Boots Are Made For Walking

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