Monday, December 31, 2007

Barefootin'! Or, How Cinderella Got Her Shoes Back

UPDATE: All the songs should be up now, including the most excellent Miss Black America. Enjoy!

"Happy holidays and a Happy New Year! We hope you have enjoyed our program of westerns this afternoon. Now its time for our main feature of the evening.
With apologies to the original rapper and Apollo MC, King Coleman, the Apollo Theater presents Barefootin'! "

"KING COLEMAN": "Thank you! Thank you! It's a joy to be here! If you don't dig it, don't knock it! Somebody else might wanna rock it! ‘Tis the season to be jolly, when Poison Ivy meets Buddy Holly. So find a seat that suits you fine, and enjoy a strangely soulful pantomime. Our story tonight is a real bestseller, about Cinderella and her fella. Though if she leaves that ball without a soul, man, look no further than this ole’ King Coleman! Now if things get crazy, holler out and tell her, let’s hear the tale of Cinderella!...

We begin our story here, in a dark and tragic room. Who’s this, about to dust my broom? Now, keep it clean, fellas – this is our future princess, Cinderella! You mind your mouth, she has some moves in her! With that broom she's her own Executioner!

She is clothed in rags, smudged in dirt and grime, she cleans the stage floor in double time, with a tear in her eye, and a weary sigh."
CINDERS: "I've been working on this stage for an age, earning less than a maid. All my life I've been shucked and shirked. A Fair Day's Pay For A Fair Day's Work!"

KING COLEMAN: "Now, you know me, I'm a real gent - but that don' t go likewise for the management! This hard life for Cinders, it takes me back - to Tennessee, to a cropper’s shack. Nutbush is the name they give it, and with it Cinders had reached her limit!”

Ike & Tina Turner – Nutbush City Limits (1973)

“Yeah, that’s right people! There's songs about this, and songs about that -- There's songs about people, big and fat!

In Kansas they have rainbows to take you far away; in Tennessee you have to deal with it, and live from day to day. This ain’t no fairytale, with ruby slippers, dogs and twisters! Aw hell, here they are, those put-you-down sisters!"

SISTERS: “Where you be at, baby sister? Scrubbing at floors? You gonna get blisters! Prince Charming just gave us a call, he says tonight we’re gonna have a ball. So you gonna help us, make us nice and fair, first of all, straighten out our hair! We don’t want to give him a fright, so make us out to be just like Snow White!”

KING COLEMAN: "So off they go, full of jubilation, while Cinders attends to her station."
CINDERS: "You know, I could do without that strife. Tomorrow is a new dawn, a new day, and a new life."

Nina Simone - Feeling Good
KING COLEMAN: “You know, Cinders ain’t got nothing to fear, ‘cause this is the time when I appear! There’s plenty a trick, Cinders, that I know – you shall go to the Apollo!”

CINDERS: "But my sisters, they all straight and fair; and I haven’t got a stitch to wear!"

KING COLEMAN: "I know what you’re really after, and I’ll give it like I was a Fairy Godfather! Come here, momma, quick, and I’ll bring you my magic stick!"

CINDERS: "Ole King Coleman, now you behave! I don’t need your magic stave! My Prince awaits me at the ball – I just need a dress and shoes, is all!"

KING COLEMAN: "Like an alley cat chasing a rat across a railroad track ... stay tuned, I will be right back!... now, here I am back again, before you knew I was gone – wear these high heeled sneakers and put that red dress on!"

Ike & Tina Turner – Hotpants/High Heeled Sneakers

"So you gonna have a ball, but remember this one thing right – the magic will end at ‘round midnight!”

"Put your left foot on the floor -- get out the front door. Rush, rush, rush -- get on that bus! If you wasn't on your heels -- you could be driving a brand-new automobile!"

The Kings Of Rhythm – Rocket ‘88

"So here we are at the Apollo, ready to enjoy the show! I’ll MC this thing, of course, and rock this pantomime by force! Cinderella is dressed to look alarming – and catches the eye of her Prince Charming! But by others she is also spied, by fine Jim Dandini at the Prince’s side!"

JIM DANDINI: “Be wild and free, but save the last dance for me!”

The Drifters – Save The Last Dance For Me

KING COLEMAN: "There she stands, in fine shoes and dress, yeah, and everyone gives cries of ‘Bless her!’”

Curtis Mayfield – Miss Black America
KING COLEMAN: "She has eclipsed, I should mention, her snow-white sisters, by hair extension!

Now, Everybody get on your feet. You make me nervous when you're in your seat. Take off your shoes and stamp your feet, and do the dance that can’t be beat!"

Robert Parker – Barefootin’

"The Prince has crossed the stage, after checking she is of legal age! Jim Dandy, looking quite dismayed, decides to end his Prince's masquerade. As Cinders begins to look closely, he is not what he appeared to be!"

PRINCE APOLLO: "Why look at you, I must confess, you are the image of a fine princess! Fine and dainty from head to your toes, you remind me of a fragrant rose. You are surely Harlem’s finest flower - I shall pluck you in the midnight hour!"

Wilson Pickett – In The Midnight Hour

CINDERS: "Can you keep up ‘till the midnight hour? I’ll take a rain check – you take a shower! Who’d have thought this Prince would be a creep – all your talk puts me to sleep! You got to be at least twice my age - I ought to sweep you right off 'a this stage!""

PRINCE APOLLO: "Come on, honey, don't be sore - what you think I pay you for?"

CINDERS: "Do you know why I really came here? To get what's owed to me fair and square. I came here tonight to sing and dance, but now that I have got the chance, although my clothes are rearranged, I see that nothing's really changed! You've got the money - we all doled it out - so treat me fair or I'll walk out!"

CINDERS: "All your patter makes my toes curl – the Prince Apollo is just the Duke of Earl. Amidst all this finery and bustle, all you got to show me is a Harlem shuffle! You really think that I would choose you? - I want to know is, who's behind you?"

KING COLEMAN: "Now while you all enjoy the pantomime, our Cinderella forgot about the time! Cinderella, you take flight! The clock strikes twelve, its ‘round midnight!"

Miles Davis & John Coltrane – ‘Round Midnight

"Look at that! I ain't gotta say nothing! Cinders is off and rushing! Put your flappers on the floor -- head out that front door!

In all her rushing out the door, she forgot her shoe upon the floor. Sparkling, shimmering, shining bright, Jim Dandy picks up the slipper light. For while he watched the prince preen and pout, he realised Cinders is something to shout about!"

The Rivileers – Who Is The Girl? (1954)

"Now the Prince Apollo has awoken, and these are the words that he has spoken:"

PRINCE APOLLO: "I woke up this morning/I was all alone/Because I discovered my woman had packed up and gone."

KING COLEMAN: "Feeling no pain, he scratches his head - and pushes the two sisters out of bed! For a moment, he thinks to linger – then spies a ring upon each finger! He hollers out to hail a carriage, to make escape from a sudden marriage!

Jim Dandy know what he has to do, he really should report the shoe. But rather than play second mate, he hides the shoe and changes fate! Leaving the Prince in the lurch, Jim Dandy goes to start the search! Leaving the Prince in the arms of others, Jim Dandy searches for his new lover! True love ain’t just for the boss; he deserves the double-cross! The Prince realises he has been cussed – who will find Cinderella first?"

Sam & Dave – Hold On, I’m Comin’!

"The sisters have made their own way home, and find Cinderella all alone. They see Cinder's dress, now all in tatters, and decide to scorn instead of flatter:

SISTERS: "They said the ball is over
And love is here to stay
You kitchen-working women
Sure did have your way
But it’s all over baby
Now you girls have got to pay"

KING COLEMAN: "Nothing has changed, no dream came true?
Hey wait – here’s Jim Dandy to the rescue!

Getting them both out the way, Jim steps right in to save the day!"
JIM DANDY: "Sisters, listen - if you show off a rock, you have the Prince in a marriage lock! If he wants two for the price of one, make him pay for what he's done. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust -- Hit 'em in the head with a cornbread crust!"

KING COLEMAN: Go Jim Dandy! You know what to do!
Go Cinders! Try on that shoe!"

LaVern Baker – Jim Dandy

JIM DANDY: “Cinderella, I’ll be your fortune teller – forget the Prince, I’m your fella! Muscle ain’t your hustle, your mind is your thing. Get up off of that floor, you can do anything. From this life you're freed, and for me, you're all that I need!"

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – You're All I Need To Get By

KING COLEMAN: "Everyone ends up together, Jim Dandy with his Cinderella. Everyone makes it, at a pinch – the sisters team up against the Prince. Now it isn't quite so funny, his money's spent on alimony. The moral of this story, as you already knew, to get what you want, to thine own self be true!"


Bad puns and rhymes my own fault, of course - don't blame the real King Coleman! With some better ideas and rhymes from interviews with King Coleman, Shipyard Woman by Jim Wynn, and Weeping And Crying by King Coleman & The Griffin Brothers Orchestra. Apologies also for some missing songs at present - i've gone on holiday without them! They'll be up on Jan 2nd when I get back home! Also, read this interesting feature about the upcoming Disney cartoon "The Princess And The Frog" by Alan Jenkins at, a film which will star their first black heroine. How will she be portrayed?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ike Turner RIP: Kings Of Rhythm

Ike Wister Turner, born Clarksdale, Mississippi, 5th November 1931, died December 12th 2007.

It is a wet Wednesday, March 3rd 1951, and Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm are travelling up from Clarksdale into Memphis in the back of a Chrysler. An acquaintance of theirs, Riley King, has just got signed to play blues at Modern Records, and they have been jamming with him at a club in Chambers, Mississippi. Riley, or B.B. as he is now calling himself, tells them to go visit Sun Studios, a record label run by Sam Phillips. They have a song that Ike has written the first verse for and the rest of the band are trying to come up with an ending before they get there, as they have nothing else to record. It is about Jackie Brenston's favourite car, the Oldsmobile Rocket '88. While they are throwing around ideas, there is a loud bang, and Johnny Dougan swerves the Chrysler to the side of the road. They hear a thud, and Willie Kizzert sees his amplifier lying in the road. The tire has burst and everything has come loose. After packing again, they continue, only to hear the siren of a patrol car a few miles further down Highway 61...

...The band begin to set up at 706 Union Avenue. Willie checks his amplifier and finds it damp and cracked, and rain has leaked into it! It starts to buzz and crackle as Willie plugs in his guitar, but there's nothing to be done, and when Willie plays a few licks, everyone kind of likes the 'fuzzy' sound. Ike sets himself up at the piano, while band saxophonist Jackie Brenston steps up to sing the vocal. Ray Hill, a young addition to the group, picks up the saxophone this time. Blow your horn, Raymond! They need some bass, but the double bass is too quiet, so Willie starts to pick out a bass line on his electric guitar strings, and the sound makes the room vibrate. Ike starts to play a stand-out piano intro, and the band kicks in...

Jackie Brenston And His Delta Cats (Ike Turner & The Kings Of Rhythm) - Rocket '88

They cut a couple of more tunes, and they flip for whose name will appear on which side. Jackie gets his on Rocket '88. No problem, says Ike, you have that one, mine will be bigger. Sam releases it with another track with Ike's name on, but he knows already which side is going to hit... It's an r&b smash - and that rankles Ike for years, as he gave Jackie all of the song-writing credits too!

Now, nobody picks it up on the white radio, but Sam has heard something - a mix of jump blues and boogie-woogie - that he likes, and others, like Bill Haley and his Tennessee Boys, are listening hard too, taking it for a new sound.

They call it rock and roll, but Ike says its just what we always played, r&b, they just call it something different because when we play we're black and when they play it they're white. The Kings Of Rhythm are the hottest thing in Clarksdale, then Memphis, Granite City, then St Louis. They play with Ike pushing them on, in places where you mostly play non-stop, just one set, no breaks. It's a tough life, and the Kings of Rhythm change personnel from gig to gig. When somebody has to leave, somebody else has to jump in, play that part. Raymond subs for Jackie on sax, Bonnie Turner covers Ike on the piano, and Ike tries his hand at the guitar when Willie leaves. Ike's never really played guitar before now. In less than a year, Ike can play just like B.B. King, like John Lee Hooker, like Elmore James, like everyone he has played piano behind, and he still sees it as just something he has to do because he can't find someone else. He and Bonnie, his girlfriend, record tracks with different Kings Of Rhythm in a studio in Clarksdale that the Bihari Brothers have set up for Ike...

Ike Turner & The Kings Of Rhythm - All The Blues, All The Time (Modern Records) 1954 (released on Crown Records LP Ike Turner Rocks The Blues 1963)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ike Turner RIP: Growing Up In Clarksdale

Ike Wister Turner, born Clarksdale, Mississippi, 5th November 1931, died December 12th 2007.

Let us go back to Clarksdale, Mississippi, back to around the year 1935. Ike lives in a small house ... Ike looks up. Somewhere outside in the street there is a disturbance. People are yelling for his father, baptist minister Izear Luster Turner. His father goes to the door and out onto the porch. He tries to reason with the assembled mob of white men, but they don't want to listen. They drag Reverend Turner and pull him onto the front lawn, where they begin to beat him mercilessly. Young Ike can see everything from his vantage point at the window, until his mother, Beatrice, drags him away. Finally, the men leave, satisfied that the minister will never again 'mess around' with white women. The Turner family emerge to tend to his grievous injuries, while a neighbour runs to find a telephone to call for an ambulance. None is willing to take him to the hospital nearby, because he is black. The family are forced to tend to him themselves, in their back yard, erecting a small tent over him as some kind of protection because he is too weak to move. Reverend Turner lasts three years like this, before finally submitting to his wounds...

It is 1940. Ike is on his way home out of school with is friend Ernest Lane. They get to Ernest's house, and there is a heck of a noise! Young Ike and Ernest stare through the window and see Mr Lane laughing and cheering, for Pinetop Perkins is banging the heck out of a piano! Soon Lane and Ike are inside the house at the end of the piano looking at him... Ike runs home to tell his mama, 'Mama, I want a piano!' Beatrice tells him: "Pass the third grade and bring me a good report card - I'll get you one." Ike works hard and one day there is a piano. Pinetop himself teaches both Ike and Ernest to play. Ike never forgets his kindness, for the rest of his life...

Pinetop Perkins & Ruth Brown - Chains Of Love

It is 1940, and home is full of surprises, but they are not always the kind y
ou want. There is the woman who lives next door, the one who says she is his mother's friend. She says she will look after Ike when his stepfather comes home. Ike doesn't know which is worse anymore. Ike and his mother Beatrice live with one of a series of stepfathers. This one, like the rest, doesn't seem to want Ike around, and one night lashes out at him with a length of barbed wire for the yard fence. This time, Ike isn't going to take it. When the man drops his guard, Ike is ready with the nearest object to hand, and the nine-year old boy starts to pummel the grown man to the floor. If it is a father figure that Ike seeks from now on, it can be found in Pinetop, and the young blues players he starts to spend his time with around Clarksdale...

Young Ike has found a job manning the elevator at the Alcazar Hotel, working in the evenings after school. He thinks he was 8 years old, which makes it 1939, but others think he was at high school at Clarksdale High, which makes it at least around about 1947. It has to be because of what is about to happen. He takes a ride up to the second floor, where he sees a glass door leading into offices. The lettering on the glass door reads WROX Radio. There is a man, an African-American, behind the window.

His name is Early Wright. He is also known as 'The Soul Man' to his many night-time listeners, and is the first black radio announcer in Mississippi. "Hey, come in kid!", says Early to Ike, and the youth enters cautiously, yet fascinated by the surroundings. "Would you like to see how you 'hold a record'?", asked Early, and Ike just nods, staring at the turntables. "Sit there and hold this switch until the 45 that's playing stops, then turn the knob." Ike waits and turns, and the next record starts to broadcast across Clarksdale. "Good, kid, you got it." Early reaches over and presses the mike button to talk over. "That was a beautiful record I dropped on you for your listening pleasure." Ike is concerned. "Shouldn't you tell em the name of the record?", he queries nervously. "Nah," replies Early," They ought to know it already, and if they don't they'll phone in to find out, they'll beg us to tell them. You'll see. Try it again. I'm going over to get me some coffee..."

Friday, December 07, 2007

More Nugetre's Nuggets: Whatcha' Gonna Do?

The tribute concert to commemorate the life of Ahmet Ertegun has been postponed until December 10th. The announcement that Led Zeppelin would reform to headline the show sent rock fans into a frenzy for a furious ticket lottery earlier this year, perhaps to the detriment of the memory of Mr Ertegun himself, who sometimes was barely mentioned in the news reports.

So here for your enjoyment are some more nuggets of Nugetre ("Ertegun" backwards), r&b authored by Ahmet himself, continuing the series I ran last November. Well, this selection has a few twists and turns, which took it past Ahmet along the way...

Whatcha Gonna Do by The Drifters was recorded on 2nd April 1954 and was released in February 1955 and featured Clyde McPhatter on lead vocals, and was to become the last single featuring him, as several other recorded tracks were then canned and kept for rainy days and b-sides. It reached No.2 on the R&B chart. It marked the end of Clyde's tenure with the group, as it had been intended to promote it as a commencement of his solo career. Then in July 1955 he was drafted.

This was the third time that the Drifters had recorded the song, the first time having been with the short-lived Mount Lebanon Singers line-up, the next time when Bill Pinkney and the Jerusalem Stars had come in to replace the Mount Lebanon Singers on 9th August 1953. So in a way the song had a history that spanned the entire period of the classic Drifters line-up. It also had a gospel past.

Whatcha Gonna Do was originally recorded by The Radio Four, and written by their lead singer Reverend Dr Morgan Babb. Ahmet had heard the gospel tune perhaps on the legendary radio show Ernie's Record Parade, John Richbourg's show on WLAC on a 50,00 watt signal out of Nashville, as Dr Babb also acted as a gospel A&R man for Ernie Young, founder of Nashboro and Excello Records, who was the show's sponsor.

This 45 was recorded at 535 Fourth Avenue South in Nashville and released in April 1953 on Tennessee Records subsidiary label Republic. The new subsidiary had been set up in summer 1952 on the back of the success of Christine Kittrell's single Sitting And Drinking. The five brothers in the group, of whom Dr Babb was the youngest, had been performing in various line-ups since the late 1930s. The Radio Four had an enviable reputation in the gospel circuit, regularly sharing billing with R.H. Harris' Soul Stirrers, and by chance happened to be double-heading the bill for Sam Cooke's first outing with the Stirrers. They recorded a kind of country gospel style, which related very much to the older brothers' former days in a popular jug band before their conversion to religion (appparently due to a bolt of lightning that nearly killed their father.) When Dr Babb joined his older brothers in 1950, he brought a emotive, soulful style of singing, which set them apart from the emphasis on technical singing found in the jubilee singing groups of the era.

This particular track also bore the name of Madame Edna Gallmon, a bone of contention for The Radio Four. Morgan Babb had helped her to get a chance singing with them at Tennessee, and coached her in technique to develop an up close and personal style of performance. The first recordings were released released as just by The Radio Four, as Tennessee were unsure whether to even sign her to a contract. When she was finally signed, not for the first time Tennessee wanted to use them as a backing group for the new 'star', and so The Radio Four stated that they would not be backing her in the future. Despite this, tracks like this one were later released and promoted with both Gallmon and The Radio Four's names. To add further salt to the wound, Dr Babb was never paid any royalties for the songs , like this one, that he wrote for Republic.

Listen to a rollicking, boogie-woogie number:

Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters - Whatcha Gonna Do (Atlantic 1055) 1955

And here is the gospel original:

Mdm Edna Gallmon Cook & The Radio Four - Whatcha' Gonna Do? (Republic Records 7067) 1953

OK, I can understand Led Zeppelin being on the bill. But Paolo Nutini?

I really enjoyed researching this little post, as I discovered so many connections between this and other artists I had researched in the past year. Information and images about The Drifters from Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebooks, a site I cannot stop reading! Information about The Radio Four comes from
the liner notes of CD The Radio Four 1952-1954, written by Opal Louis Nations, which is also where I took the featured track from. The great gospel site Recordconnexion, written by Robert Termorshuisen, who got details from ''Gospel Music 1943-1969' by Cedric Hayes and Robert Laughton, is also a great resource. I also read about Dr Morgan Babb on the WLAC Fan Site. The Radio Four label scan and images come from Big Joe Louis and Robert Termorshuisen. The development of gospel in Tennessee is well documented by PBS in the article From Jug Band To Gospel by David Evans & Richard M Raichelson Also, visit this post at Red Kelly's gospel blog, Holy Ghost, to read a bit more about Nashboro Records.