Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Wailers

No, not those Wailers, but the Washingtonian Wailers of the mid 1960s. Although they never gained much national attention, The Wailers were at the forefront of garage in the Northwest (in fact, suggests they may have been the 'first,' although such distinctions are often dubious).

My first exposure to them was "Out of Our Tree," included on the expanded Nuggets compilation released by Rhino. Sometime in 2004, I'd heard the "Louie Louie" episode of Little Steven's Underground Garage. It was there that I first heard the Wailers' version of one of the greatest rock songs of all time.

The Wailers' version is the second to see release, the original having been recorded by Richard Berry and the Pharaohs in 1956. A few years later, the Wailers gave it their own spin, making it a bit less r & b, a bit more rock n' roll, and adding that oh-so memorable preface to the middle 8, "Ok, let's give it to 'em right now!" Shortly after the Wailers' release, two other area bands, The Raiders and the Kingsmen recorded the song, both riding the song to national chart success.

Curiously, the Wailers' recording is a little hard to come by. To my knowledge, it only exists on this import which combines the great live album At the Castle and the studio album Wailers & Co. This release also comes with 6 bonus tracks. 32 tracks overall, which is a lot of music on a single disc, which makes the $22.98 tag a little easier to manage.

Here for your enjoyment is Wailers & Co., including the group's great take on "Louie Louie."

Side note: I highly recommend Dave Marsh's book Louie Louie, a fascinating examination of the song's history and cultural impact. A must for rock/garage/pop culture types.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Shirley Ellis

For some time, I've been looking to acquire some Shirley Ellis material for my collection. After some research, I found The Complete Congress Recordings to be the most complete collection. Of course, it's also out of print. So I've been occasionally checking the Amazon marketplace,, et. al., but the disc goes for upwards of $50. Far too much for me to spend on a single disc. However, I recently got a great deal on this collection via eBay, and it arrived yesterday.

It's a great listen, and contains all of the essentials - "The Nitty Gritty," "The Name Game" and "The Clapping Song," as well as a bunch of covers and live takes. "The Clapping Song" is my personal favorite, as it brings to mind the few Soulcialism nights that I attended in Pittsburgh. And of course, it was also covered by Gary Glitter years later.

I can't imagine why this is out of print. Probably some sort of rights entanglement. At any rate, give a listen, and enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

this is what it sounds like

When I went to the Smithsonian, Prince's guitar was a highlight for me as well.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sunday, January 6, 2008

"sock it unto others as you would have them sock it to you"

I've managed to turn what was a fairly productive day into an evening of procrastination.

The reason?


First, my girlfriend gave me the Sly and the Family Stone boxed set for Christmas. So I've been happily digesting that for the last two weeks.

Then earlier this evening, I was forwarded this article from Vanity Fair. It's a well written article with a little bit of history, a bit of a recent interview with the man himself, and hope for a full blow return in the not too distant future.

While his Grammy appearance a few years ago was less than stellar, it was nonetheless incredible that he came out of seclusion. I then heard over the summer that he was doing some limited dates in Europe with a reformed Family Stone (although not the full blown original lineup). Via the Vanity Fair article, I learned that the Europe one-offs were preceded by a show in Vegas on 7-7-07 - the same day as Prince's return First Ave. What a day for funk!

You can check out footage from the Vegas and Europe shows on You Tube (the Europe shows are pro shot). Verdict: Surprisingly good! Not 100% spot on, but far better than I would have expected. I keep saying that I'm not going to any more of these arena reunion shows, but somehow I keep doing it. Anyhow, I wouldn't even question seeing a reunited Family Stone, particularly if we're talking original lineup.

I was intrigued by the article's mention of a Dick Cavett appearance, which I've found:

Entertaining for a bit, but ultimately depressing, not unlike that James Brown news interview from a few years ago. But an interesting piece of history nonetheless, and of course, Cavett handles it all perfectly.

To clear the air, here's a nice little version of one of my favorites, "If You Want Me to Stay" :