Old Curiosity Shop
By Bob Davis dnry122@yahoo.com

You Know I Love the Ladies, 2020 edition 

More from the “You Know I Love the Ladies” list, featuring singers I’ve met in person and songs with stories.

The Mooche by Duke Ellington and his orchestra.  One of our favorite TV shows is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on PBS.  It’s set in Melbourne, Australia in 1929, and the street scenes seem to have most of the vintage vehicles in the State of Victoria out and about.  They haven’t had any scenes with tramcars in the series, but one character arrived late in one episode, reporting that the “tram had come unhooked”—this would have been possible, because Melbourne used cable-hauled trams similar to those still running in San Francisco up until 1940.  One of the attractions of the show is the hot jazz often used for background music.  Sometimes it’s transcribed from vintage recordings, other times it’s performed by a present day orchestra.  Such was the case in the show which featured automobile racing, and used “The Mooche” over the closing credits, as played by the Cairo Club Orchestra.  I looked it up on YouTube, and found a video of this band (with some of the musicians wearing fezzes), with the addition of a belly dancer shaking some serious shimmy.

Second Hand Rose by Fanny Brice.  Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but the name of this columun was inspired by a radio program that I picked up one night back in the 1950s when I was tuning around the AM band looking for out of town stations as far away from Monrovia as possible.  Among radio hobbyists, this is called DX BC, short for long distance broadcast band reception.  My radio brought in KFBK in Sacramento, and they were airing a remote show from the original Shakey’s Pizza parlor in Sacramento.  One part of the show was called “Shakey’s Old Curiosity Shop” which featured recordings from the 1920s (the parlor was famous for its live Dixieland jazz presentations).   The night I was listening, they played “Second Hand Rose” by Fanny Brice, recorded in 1922, back in the acoustic recording era.  Just listening to it makes me want to wind up the old Victrola and stick a new needle in the pickup.  The song reappeared on the charts in 1965, when Barbra Streisand made the charts after performing it on Broadway in the musical “Funny Girl. "

Oh What a Dream by Ruth Brown.  Most of my favorite Ruth Brown songs are up-tempo; this is a blues ballad that I probably heard on the radio back in the 1950s, but didn’t have on a record until I found a copy around 1980 in an oldies store, probably Loco Oldies in Santa Ana.  Nowadays, of course, it’s on a compilation CD.

Daddy Daddy by Ruth Brown: Oh What a Dream is a bit of a downer; let’s liven things up with one of the numbers that led me to comment: “ Hot stuff for teen-aged record collectors (who  tend to be shy, nerdy types).  For many of us Ruth Brown was our soulful dream girl, warming up our quiet lives with songs like "Wild Wild Young Men" and "5-10-15 Hours" spinning forth from yellow-label Atlantic 45s.  I finally had a chance to meet her at the Cinegrill in Hollywood about 25 years ago--she was still showing how it's done and wowing the audience.

Free Man in Paris by Rachel Wolfe.  This is from Adam Marsland’s '70s CD.  I think Evie Sands was originally scheduled to take the lead vocal, but was not available, so Rachel, who has been a delightful guest artist at Chaos Band shows, stepped in, and as Adam said “knocked it out of the park. " It was written and originally recorded by Joni Mitchell in 1974.

Here’s Rachel with the Chaos Band.  That’s Ms Sparklebass, Teresa Cowles on the Fender bass.

Detour by the Dime Box Band featuring Kristi Callen.  This is an oldie I remember hearing on the radio back in the 1940s.  Recorded originally by Jimmy Walker on the Coast label (part of the C. P MacGregor empire) and covered by Spade Cooley, an LA area Western Swing band leader.

The Dime Box Band at the basement “Speakeasy” in Venice CA, Nov. 2018.

Five and Dime Waltz by the Dime Box Band.  Dime Box is a small town in Texas, about 70 miles east of Austin.  The band dates back to the 1990s, and has evolved into family ensemble; they play various locations in the Los Angeles area.  Guitarist and lead singer Kristi Callan also sits in with other bands, and one night took the Kiki Dee part of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” in a Elton John Tribute night.

I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart by Alice Wallace.  Even older than “Detour," “Cowboy’s Sweetheart” was written and recorded by Patsy Montana in 1935, and Alice does a wonderful tribute to the first female country music artist to sell a million copies of a record (very impressive, considering that the 1930s were not a good time to sell records.)  Ms. Montana spent her later years in San Jacinto CA, out at the end of the Santa Fe branch that runs through Perris.

Our Cowboy’s Sweetheart, Alice Wallace, at her last US show before leaving for a tour of England, Scotland and Spain in Sept. 2019

Shine for Me by Evie Sands.  The title cut from Evie’s long awaited EP released in April 2017.  If you read the cover notes, you’ll find Pat and me listed there.  By the time you read this, Evie will be putting the finishing touches on her album of all-new songs expected to be released in April.

Ain’t That Peculiar by Fanny.  Originally recorded by Marvin Gaye, Fanny does a kick-ass cover featuring June on the slide guitar.  This is from a rare 45 RPM record; the band also did a live performance that is available on YouTube.  Fanny kicks ass!

What a Way to Die by the Pleasure Seekers.  By the mysterious forces of YouTube, this number showed up as something I might like— That algorithm saw me coming!  It’s hard to find on physical media; I now have it on a Sudazed LP.  The original band included Suzi Quatro and Patti Quatro, Nancy Ball (drums), Mary Lou Ball (guitar), and Diane Baker (piano). Suzi was 15 years old when they recorded this song.   Suzi is very much with us to this day-- she had a part in the British police procedural show "Midsomer Murders." She plays a band vocalist who gets zapped by a microphone stand that the bad guy wired up to 240 Volts AC (standard British house current). "What a way to die....."

Headin’ Home by Shirley Gunter and the Flairs.  One of the songs I remember hearing on the radio back in 1956, on the Modern label which released many R&B classics in that era.

Go Home by EZ Tiger.  Moving into this century, we have one of several bands featuring Teresa Cowles, whom I met about 16 years ago when she started playing electric bass with Adam Marsland’s Chaos Band.  Before that, she was in Dragster Barbie, which has Kristi Callan’s sister Kelly on the drums.

Everyday People by Joan Jett.  Originally by Sly and the Family Stone from the Bay Area, but I like the version from 1983 by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.  Back around 1988, when Pat and I were shopping for a new stereo system, I made a test tape that started out with this number, dubbed from the album titled “Album. "

 

Born to Be with You by the Chordettes.  The Chordettes were more mainstream than most of the artists in this compilation.  "Born to Be with You" is just a beautiful recording.  It made the Top Ten in 1956, and about two years later, they released a song about that daring hero of Early California, Zorro.

Born to Be Together by the Ronettes.  One of the later Ronettes numbers.

Please Mr. Postman by the Marvelettes.  Dedicated to all the letter carriers out there delivering the US Mail.

Snatch and Grab It by Julia Lee.  One Sunday a few years ago I was working at the computer while my wife was watching NFL action on TV.  I heard the soundtrack for a commercial and just about fell over; it was a record from 1947, Julia Lee singing "Snatch and Grab It! "  Back in the old days, you’d never hear a song like this on the TV or the radio (well, maybe on an after-midnight R&B program)

Lonesome Blues by Marie Corley (“Americas Blues Girl”).  Although the record label reads “Hollywood” the company was reportedly based in Texas.  This one came out in 1955, and I discovered it in a bargain bin in 1959.  Sounds like a one-off recording made in a club one afternoon before opening time.  It straddles the line between R&B and Country.

Miss You So by Lillian Offitt.  An Excello release from 1957; I probably heard it on Hunter Hancock or Huggy Boy’s radio show.

Ain’t Gonna Take It Anymore by Tracy Dawn.  Tracy is a singer, songwriter, model and actress.  I met her at a Jonny Whiteside Messaround show a few years ago.  This is one of her signature songs, telling off a no-good man in no uncertain terms.  I envisioned a segue to “Run Home To Your Mama” by Evie Sands.

Here’s Tracy in the May 2019 Messaround at Joe’s in Burbank.

I’ve Got My Pride by the Tearjerkers:  The Tearjerkers were a trio of lovely ladies who performed in LA back in the early 1990s.  I discovered them through a link in YouTube when I was looking up Anny Celsi.  She, Danette Christine and Cythia Jones made a smokin’ video back in 1991, but I haven’t located any recordings.  We’ve met Anny on our previous program, and she’ll be back toward the end of this one.

I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor.  Some critics may say that disco sucks, but there was plenty of good music recorded during that era.  If I were a video producer, I’d take some clips of preserved electric railway cars and vintage locomotives and sync them with this song.

Funkytown by Lipps Inc.  Funkytown is one of those mythical places, like Surf City.

Don’t Deceive Me by Delaney & Bonnie.  The next two numbers were written by Chuck Willis, composer of many R&B classics.  This one is on a hard-to-find CD titled Motel Shot.

Let Me Explain by Wanda Jackson.  Another recording that took some hunting to find; I knew it as the flip side of "Speedoo" by the Cadillacs, and only because I have the 78 RPM original on the Josie label.  Some of the reissues from the 1960s and '70s have another song on the B side.

Mainliner by Little Esther.  An early composition by the prolific team of Lieber & Stoller, who were working with Johnny Otis in 1952.  The steam train sound effects would still have been appropriate, although steam locomotive production in the USA had just about ended by then.

Train from Kansas City by the Shangri-Las.  From the heart of the Girl Group era, a Jeff Barry-Ellie Greenwich song with steam train sound effects that were anachronistic by 1965.  Added to the list in honor of the 2020 Super Bowl winners, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Au Revoir, My Darling by Anny Celsi.  From her CD “January” (I have an autographed copy) with a video recorded in New Orleans at Mardi Gras time. 

From Feb 2012, Anny Celsi with Adam Marsland’s Chaos Band, as Evie Sands takes the guitar break on an Elton John song at Brennan’s Pub.

Good-bye by Linda Ronstadt.  From her collaboration with Nelson Riddle in 1983, we have a Gordon Jenkins song from 1935 that was Benny Goodman’s closing theme.  With this haunting tune we will say “Good-bye” from the Old Curiosity Shop until next month, when we may do some traveling, or maybe just poke around the dusty corners.

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