Today East Coast soul powerhouse Chuck Jackson turns 78 and in honor of his special day I would like to celebrate what I consider the a masterpiece of New York uptown soul. The record was released in 1962 by Wand Records and features a Leiber & Stoller composition and production which stars Chuck on vocals accompanied by the brilliant arrangement of Teacho Wiltshire. The unusual and imaginative orchestration and instrumentation is what really clinches it for me on this one:
- I still can't quite identify what is used for the signature percussion gimmick on this song but whatever it is, it's perfect for creating the feeling of stumbling into a fall.
- The xylophone portrays the singer's emotional unravelling as he struggles to grasp the reality of love lost.
- The back-up singers were utilized in an unusual way on this record (at least up to this point in early soul) providing a foundational layer of unnerving drama. Instead of doing a call and response, they're humming quietly and eerily in the background with the occasional louder punching "AH!"
It's no surprise that Teacho Wiltshire is involved with this masterpiece. He was the arranger on a lot of my favorite soul records:
The Exciters (Do Wah Ditty, Tell Him, There They Go)
Inez & Charlie Foxx (Baby Drop A Dime)
Isley Brothers (Twist & Shout)
The Lullabyes (You Touch Me)
The Shirelles (What Does a Girl Do)
Solomon Burke (The Price)
Tommy Hunt (I Am A Witness)
The Coasters (Wild One)
Baby Jane & the Rock-A-Byes(Half Deserted Street)
What IS surprising though is how little known he is when considering his contributions to early soul. Also surprising is that this record did not chart on the R&B charts. It's part of what I call the great Chuck Jackson break-up trilogy:
"I Wake Up Crying"
"I Keep Forgettin'"
"Two Stupid Feet"
and the bonus vindication song "Beg Me"
Everyone has their go-to singer for break-up music. Chuck Jackson has been my chosen soundtrack to heartbreak and recovery for over twenty years. Thanks for the memories!
Bobby Day, who was born on this day in 1930 in Fort Worth, is best known for one of the biggest hits of the early rock n roll era, "Rockin' Robin". In fact, when I was playing a wedding gig last summer I was about to spin a different Bobby Day record, when a little girl strolled up to my turntables, read the label on the record and said, "Bobby Day. He did "Rockin' Robin!" And by that measurement, I'd say Bobby Day is pretty well-known even to this day.
However, there's more to Bobby Day than "Rockin' Robin." For example, he was an original member of famous LA-based doo wop group The Hollywood Flames. As Bobby Day & the Satellites he wrote and recorded the original version of "Little Bitty Pretty One" which was an enormous smash hit for Thurston Harris. He co-wrote one of the most famous uptempo doo wop tunes "Buzz Buzz Buzz" recorded by the Hollywood Flames and he wrote and recorded the original version of "Over & Over" which is more famous by the Dave Clark 5 (I have yet to find a nice clean copy of Day's version). And if that's not enough, Day was also reportedly the first "Bob" in the famous soul duo Bob & Earl. Bobby Day is full of surprises!
My record of the day is one of those surprises. This rare 45 beautifully arranged by Jack Nitzche, is a rendition of the unofficial "cajun national anthem". The first cajun recording of this song goes back to 1929. The song gained popularity outside of the cajun community when it was adopted by country music artist Harry Choates in 1947 and it swiftly became a country music standard. An r&b guy like Bobby Day wasn't expected to record a song like this and THAT is what makes this cajun meets country meets r&b version of this song so very interesting to me. I love these vintage recordings that pushed boundaries and busted outside of boxes.
Give it a listen as you head into your holiday weekend. It's a great reminder of the beautiful things that can happen when we rebel against societal definitions of who we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to do
DJ Action Slacks
I'm excited to highlight some of my favorite records in a variety of genres (soul, R&B, classic country, rockabilly, oldies, garage rock, etc). These won't all necessarily be "dance" records per se. They will all be records that I believe deserve a special listen. I simply love good music, rare or not. Hopefully you will spend some time here and love music right along with me! Lets give this a shot!