|October 28, 2012 | Found Images, New Orleans Music
A collection of digitized issues of Vox Humana ( later called The Vox ), the magazine of New Orleans’ Tulane University station WTUL, is here.
A collection of digitized issues of Vox Humana ( later called The Vox ), the magazine of New Orleans’ Tulane University station WTUL, is here.
This 1963 recording isn’t elevator music, not quite – but it is definitely smoothed-out for the cocktail generation. Even so, you can tell that the man and his horn are from New Orleans.
Al Hirt : Night Theme
As related to this post of a couple of weeks ago. So, you’re a musician in 2012, nobody’s willing to pay for music, things are rotten, nobody cares, there are no fucking jobs, I know, I know. Here, though, is a band who, by thinking things through and budgeting carefully, are pulling it off. I met these guys when they’d been together only a few months, and we bonded immediately over a shared love of old hardcore, classic metal, and horror movies. Most of them have been in bands before, so they were able to come together pretty quickly, write songs, and play shows – they hit me up about recording, and it was based on these early gigs, flying-bodies-mosh-pit-super-action, the band burning it up right out of the gate, that I thought, ” yeah, we could do that – we could make a raw, old-school thrash record “. I was attracted to their strong DIY ethic. They are not rich kids, and they will not spend money on anything they can learn to do themselves, like hand-screening t-shirts, fixing amps, painting banners.
The band rehearsed quite a bit before recording ( this is something I can’t stress enough : if you’re good at playing the songs, they will be much easier to record. Practice EVERY DAY, for at least a week, before you go into the studio ), and we were able to capture something good fairly quickly, often on first or second takes. So, She’s Still Dead, New Orleans metalcore horror band, debut album. Now what? First of all, want the tracks? They’re free. Here. That Radiohead pay-what-you-want thing a couple of years ago was kind of a fiasco, but the honest truth is that most people will download your digital music files for free, and you, the artist, might as well direct them to a place – your website or Bandcamp page or whatever, where it’s about not just your tunes, but you, and what you’re doing, and other stuff you’re selling. Offer people a chance to pay for the tracks, and, surprise, a few will.
01. She’s Still Dead : Hands Of The Ripper
02. She’s Still Dead : Voices
For the physical release, as has been the case recently with just about everything everyone I know has been recording, the primary objective was vinyl – good quality, heavyweight colored wax ( just look at this ” blood and teeth in a porcelain sink ” color scheme ), nice inner sleeve with photos and lyrics ( one of the funnest things about this group – it’s all Jack The Ripper, coffins, knives, blood, and screaming ), and a heavy matte cardboard cover ; all this ( plus a free download code ), by the way, for $14.00, direct from the band. Getting a record pressed is pricey, and there’s no way around that, but rather than coming out of pocket or gigging for a year to pay for mastering and manufacturing, they funded the whole thing with Kickstarter ( you’re probably familiar with the concept, but if not, this ). I’m a big fan of Kickstarter ( and of crowd-sourcing in general ) because it allows things to happen that might not otherwise be possible, but also because it can be a pretty good indicator of whether or not you should be trying to sell your music. If you mount a Kickstarter campaign, and you really work it, making sure all your friends and relatives know what you’re trying to achieve, and you don’t make your goal, well, that’s sobering, but it’s a lot better than ending up with 490 of your 500 CDs under your bed, forever, which is what happened quite a bit in the very different world of 10 years ago.
Speaking of CDs, they made those too. They did the smallest run possible, the packaging is as simple as possible ( a CD in a matte cardboard sleeve, really just a little replica of the LP — no plastic, thanks! ), and they’re selling them for as little as they possibly can ( $6.00, which is a pretty good deal considering that you still see handwritten, burned discs on merch tables for $5.00 ). As I’ve said before, some people still want CDs ( I sometimes buy them, although it makes me feel funny ), but if you make a few and they don’t sell, it’s not the end of the world.
The Kidds : Drunk, Drunk, Drunk
Because today is Duke Ellington’s birthday, and because it’s such a cool album. Sometimes we have these freak afternoon rainstorms that last 10-20 minutes, and this is what I always put on.
01. Duke Ellington : Bourbon Street Jingling Jollies
02. Duke Ellington : Thanks For The Beautiful Land On The Delta
03. Duke Ellington : Portrait Of Wellman Braud
04. Duke Ellington : Portrait Of Mahalia Jackson
.. An assortment of old records and cassettes.
01. The Scripts : Nobody Cares
02. Groanbox : Waste Of Time
03. The Dictators : Stay With Me
04. Down : Pillars Of Eternity ( Demo )
05. Flower : Crash
The other night, my friend Rami had me laughing uncontrollably with his dead-on Dr. John impersonation, and he told me that NPR just aired a great 1986 interview, which I went and found for you. Doctor .. Mother .. Fucking .. JOHN. Unbelievable. Anyone familiar with 1950s-1960s New Orleans will tell you that the crazy stories here are not embellished, and while Dr. John is a mystical character portrayed by the great musician Mac Rebennack, his accent is 100% true old school NOLA – I know people down here who talk just like him. Also, you can go here and download Dr. John’s amazing, psychedelic first album.
Dr. John : NPR Interview
Lil’ Bob & The Lollipops : I Got Loaded
Sometimes, you wake up, and you realize that the party is indisputably over, and that it’s time to get off at the next station. Here’s a song for such an occasion.
Hurray For The Riff Raff : Fly Away
Photo by Andy Cook.
Bandy 700003, from the New Orleans Series. The beautiful queen of New Orleans – down here, we think of her as the Queen Of Soul, although that title has been claimed by a slightly more famous singer. You know that scene in High Fidelity where the guy goes, ” watch me sell a couple copies of this record “, puts that Beta Band 12″ on and everybody in the store buys one? I once saw that happen with this album, or rather, the Mississippi Records reissue of it. L-O-V-E.
01. Irma Thomas : Two Winters Long
02. Irma Thomas : Somebody Told You
03. Irma Thomas : Gone
04. Irma Thomas : Cry On
05. Irma Thomas : Look Up
06. Irma Thomas : I Done Got Over It
07. Irma Thomas : It’s Raining
08. Irma Thomas : Ruler Of My Heart
09. Irma Thomas : I Did My Part
Bandy 70004, from the New Orleans Series. Late in his career, K-Doe started billing himself as the ” Emperor Of The Universe ” — I don’t know about all that, and Fats Domino is the king of New Orleans rock n’ roll, but Ernest Kador Jr., singing, wailing, never boring, was its prince.
01. Ernie K-Doe : Mother-In-Law
02. Ernie K-Doe : Make You Love Me
03. Ernie K-Doe : Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta
04. Ernie K-Doe : Hurry Up And Know It
05. Ernie K-Doe : Tain’t It The Truth
06. Ernie K-Doe : Rub Dub Dub
07. Ernie K-Doe : Hello My Lover
08. Ernie K-Doe : Where There’s A Will There’s A Way
09. Ernie K-Doe : Heebie Jeebies
10. Ernie K-Doe : Wanted, $10.000 Reward
11. Ernie K-Doe : Waiting At The Station
12. Ernie K-Doe : She’s Waiting
.. and it was recorded in 1967 on borrowed studio time in Los Angeles by a crew of eccentric, heroin-addicted, paranoid New Orleanians led by Malcolm John ‘Mac’ Rebennack, Jr., who was on the run from the cops, sleeping on floors, and, for the first time, playing the character of mystic /shaman /voodoo priest Dr.John.
Gris-Gris is one of the most psychedelic records I’ve ever heard, but not in a rock n’ roll fuzz-wah-wah-acid sort of way. Dr.John conjures up a timeless, dark, magic place – literally, this sounds like it could have been recorded in a swamp to an audience of frogs, blinking in the moonlight. You can download the tracks here, which are taken from my original vinyl copy. Note : if you’re a windows user and are having problems opening files from this site, try 7-Zip.
Here’s more, from Rebennack’s excellent autobiography Dr.John : Under A Hoodoo Moon :
” In 1967, after a couple of years of studio and other kinds of sidetripping in L.A., me and my New Orleans partners-in-exile finally fell into a situation where we could cut an LP on an idea I’d had since before I left New Orleans. I had always thought we could work up an interesting New Orleans-based concept behind the persona of the legendary conjureman Dr.John. This would not only allow for a dash of gris-gris in the lyrics but would also let us musicians get into a stretched-out New Orleans groove. With the help of Harold Battiste, we recorded at Gold Star Studios between sessions Sonny & Cher were doing there for Atlantic Records. The album we created, Gris-Gris, was heavy on rhythm, percussion, and guitar, and light on keyboards. I did play some organ, as on songs Mama Roux and Danse Kalinda, but stuck mostly to guitar. Steve Mann and Ernest McLean also played guitar on the session. On some songs we used two basses ( Harold Battiste and Bob West ), and our percussionist, Didimus, also doubled up on a bunch more instruments with the rest of the cats.
We were looking for an unusual, textured sound, and the cats nailed it. Naturally, we wanted the album to sell, but we weren’t into bending our music to fit somebody’s idea of what the market was about. First and foremost, we were into it for the music. This attitude isn’t often appreciated by record companies. To give you a for instance, at one point later on, I was doing a session for Bobby Darin when Ahmet Ertegun walked into the studio looking for me. ‘ Why did you give me this shit? How can we market this boogaloo crap? ‘ He was stuck with a record that was done on the sly, and he was acting as if he wouldn’t release it.
But we was of the mind that a hip record might sell if it was pitched the right way. The way we was looking at music was that it was circular in its groove, with no corners. That was what the old-time hipsters had meant by hip — something that hadn’t been squared off to fit into some kind of computerized, market-ized nightmare. In any event, Ahmet must have sensed something happening. We made five more albums for Atlantic before the deal fell through. Our theme song of that time, the first cut on the album, was Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya-Ya. It framed a mental picture of an imaginary New Orleans, and put our main character, Dr.John, out front and center. “
I recently managed to get my hands on a tape of an old college radio show – 72 minutes of music and DJ banter – from WTUL, which is the station at Tulane University in New Orleans. I edited and smoothed things out a little bit, but what you have here is pretty much what went out over the airwaves on November 29th, 1978.
There’s a lot of music that you’ll be familiar with if you’re a fan of early punk and postpunk, but there are also some obscure treats – The Normals are widely considered, along with the Red Rockers ( who came along in 1979 ), to be the most happening early New Orleans punk band, and you can listen here to Almost Ready, the ultra-rare, ultra-great 45 that was their only release.
It’s easy to forget what an exciting time this was, with fresh records arriving weekly from the UK and underground American bands starting to pop up all over the place. When the DJ ( Jay Hollingsworth wrote in to identify him as John Guarnieri, who went on to work at IRS Records ) says, casually, that Captain Beefheart is playing at Tipitina’s that night, I think, God, I’d give my right arm to be able to travel through time and see that show. Anyway, you can download the whole thing here.
THE WTUL NEW WAVE HOUR * 1978
01. DJ : Elvis Costello – ” Emotional Fascism “
02. Elvis Costello : Tiny Steps
03. The Jam : I Need You
04. Sid Vicious : My Way
05. WTUL Kraftwerk promo : ” Your FM alternative .. in stereo “
06. The Stranglers : No More Heroes
07. The Normals : Almost Ready
08. The Damned : New Rose
09. The Adverts : Gary Gilmore’s Eyes
10. DJ : playlist – station ID – import album hour – Johnny Thunders
11. New York Dolls : Who Are The Mystery Girls?
12. DEVO : Social Fools
13. The New Hearts : Plain Jane
14. The Radiators : Million Dollar Hero
15. Chelsea : High Rise Living
16. Blunt Instrument : No Excuse
17. DJ : playlist - station ID – import album hour – ” riding streetcars at strange hours ”
18. Jilted John : Jilted John
19. Split Enz : Crosswords
20. Ultravox : The Quiet Man
21. Brian Eno : Alternative 3
22. Brian Eno : Strange Light – DJ : station ID – import album hour – playlist - Captain Beefheart at Tipitina’s – The Shirts
23. The Shirts – Lonely Android
24. The Clash : Tommy Gun
25.The Boomtown Rats : Like Clockwork
26. Peter Hammill : Pushing 30
27. DJ : playlist – station ID – import album hour – musical entertainment at The Contemporary Arts Center
Here’s a couple of beautiful, heartfelt tunes from Allen Toussaint’s Southern Nights LP. Although this musical giant has written and produced a flabbergasting number of hit songs for other artists, he is not generally known for his solo recordings – maybe it’s his voice – he’s a good singer, but not truly great ( or not totally distinctive, or something like that ) — which he certainly is as a composer and piano player. Here, backed by The Meters, he reflects on his childhood in New Orleans’ Gert Town neighborhood and visiting his French-speaking country relatives.
Allen Toussaint : ” Last Train ”
Allen Toussaint : ” Southern Nights ”
.. so here’s a couple of classic 45s from one of the true giants of New Orleans music. These tunes are everywhere down here, all year long and especially during carnival season, but they don’t the provoke the same sort of eye-rolling that hearing, say, ” Sweet Home Chicago ” in Chicago does .. or Sinatra in New Jersey — New Orleans culture is a genuine living, breathing, hundreds-of-years-old thing, and Mardi Gras is its beating heart ( or maybe its liver, but that’s another story ). This ( and Dr.John, and The Meters, and Irma Thomas, and Fats Domino, and many others ) is what the city SOUNDS like, and it sounds great. Listen to those drums in Big Chief : how cool is that? Listen to what Fess says in Go To The Mardi Gras : go see the Zulu king. I am. BTW, Big Chief was split into parts 1 & 2 so it would fit onto two sides of a 7″ record, and I’ve glued them back together for you here.
1. Professor Longhair : ” Big Chief Parts 1 & 2 ”
2. Professor Longhair : ” Go To The Mardi Gras “
I recently managed to score a mint vinyl copy of a classic bounce track – UNLV’s seminal 6th & Baronne. It was one of the very first releases from Cash Money Records, and remains a crowd-moving favorite in New Orleans. Here’s what bounce scholar Ballzack has to say about it :
” This song is great for many reasons… the piano is really dramatic and immediately draws you in, UNLV’s sing- song delivery is hypnotizing, it sounds like it was recorded on a 4 track, and Mannie Fresh’s production is all heart. It’s a great song that gets you bucked up as soon it starts. If they released it now, it would still be great. It’s simply New Orleans punk rock at its finest. ”
UNLV : ” 6th & Baronne ”
UNLV : ” Eddie Bow “
Rik Slave sings with Rock City Morgue, which is the band that Sean from White Zombie plays bass and keyboards with, but he has fronted many groups, including The Phantoms, who were originally active from 1984 to about 1995 and were quite popular here in New Orleans. Back then, the band’s core consisted of Rik, bassist RJ O’Rourke, drummer Greg Terry, and a rotating cast of guitar players.
There are a variety of recordings of the original Phantoms, including a 12″ EP, a 45, and numerous demos and board tapes, but when they reformed last year and asked me to produce their album ( which is pretty evenly split between old songs and entirely new ones ), I reasoned that this is a different time and a different band and so I purposely didn’t listen to anything they had.
It’s not really fair to compare this version of ” Do You Believe ” from 1989′s More Drunken Buffoonery EP to the modern recording – they were in their early 20s then, and they’re grown-up men now, and their lineup has been fleshed out with two guitarists and a keyboard player, but it surprised me the other day when I listened to it for the first time. The new recording is a lot more hi-fi, and it’s got a lot more stuff in it, but it really is the same song.
Rik Slave & The Phantoms : Do You Believe ( 1989 )
Rik Slave & The Phantoms : Do You Believe ( 2009 )
1989 Phantoms : LJ, Greg, Robert Lambert, Rik
2009 Phantoms : Greg, Chris Lenox, Rik, Pat Catania, LJ, Ben Caston
Here’s a record I recorded and mixed earlier this year. I’ll write a little more on The Phantoms in a bit, but for the time being here’s some tunes from the album.
Rik Slave & The Phantoms : ” Dancing In The Rain ”
Rik Slave & The Phantoms : ” Friend I Never Had ”
Rik Slave & The Phantoms : ” Complications ”
Rik Slave & The Phantoms : ” I Shouldn’t Hang Around “
Here’s some early New Orleans hip hop – although this one gets lumped in with the classic bounce tracks ( such as on the Real New Orleans Bounce Compilation ), it is not itself bounce. As with most of the MCs from these early, underground recordings, very little is known about Warren Mayes. He left behind a bunch of stuff, much of it on cassette, but he never again achieved the profile he did with this song, and he was murdered in 2000. The strange thing about this record is that there are two versions of ” Get It Girl ” – the first is the familiar one, the one that I still sometimes hear booming out of cars, and then there’s the second version, which is the same backing track with a completely different, unknown rapper. Same lyrics and everything, same flow, and nothing on the record label about who or why.
Warren Mayes : ” Get It Girl ” Version one
Warren Mayes : ” Get It Girl ” Version two
Vinyl Solution Records V/S 004. I guess what they were going for with the cover art for this 1980 New Orleans punk compilation LP was the city post-apocalypse, or maybe they were trying to illustrate the explosive rock n’ roll power contained within. All I know is that right now is the riskiest part of hurricane season, and this picture of a destroyed Superdome and toppled streetcar makes me distinctly uncomfortable. Here’s the entire album.
1. Red Rockers : ” Dead Heroes ”
2. Red Rockers : ” Red Star ”
3. Aces 88 : ” Character ”
4. RZA : ” Can’t Never ”
5. The Hostages : ” Time To Change ”
6. The Models : ” Fire Patrol ”
7. The Models : ” Intimate Love ”
8. The Wayward Youth : ” Thinkin’ Bout You
9. David Oh! : ” Preparation X ”
10. The Fugitives : ” Mystery Girl ”
11. Mandeville Mike : ” Me ”
12. The Swingin’ Millionaires : ” The Cannibals Next Door ”
13. The Cheaters : ” A Little Too Much ”
14. The Manic Depressives : ” Not Worth The Time ”
15. The Manic Depressives : ” Think For Yourself ”
Bonus! I recently picked up an old vinyl copy of the Red Rockers’ 1981 album Condition Red. Here’s the LP version of ” Dead Heroes “, which is more hi-fi but retains the urgent power-punk feel of the earlier version from the compilation.
Red Rockers : ” Dead Heroes ” ( album )