Trailer: ‘Should’ve Been There’ The Story of The Melody Maker

Directed by: Leslie Ann Coles and starring: Barrie L Wentzell, Ian Anderson, Eric Burdon, Alan Jones, Sonja Kristina, Peter Whitehead  – behind the scenes peek at all the rock ‘n roll legends of the 1970s, as director Leslie Ann Coles guides us through the ribald history of the influential British rock magazine Melody Maker, featuring unseen photographs of all the greats by Barrie Wentzell.

This is the true story of the rise and fall of the world’s most influential music publication in history and uncovers an era of tremendous creative freedom.

At the heart of the story is Barrie Wentzell, Chief Contributing Photographer of Melody Maker Magazine (1965-1975) and his iconic photographic archive featuring prominent legendary musicians that emerged during the birth of rock n’ roll.

Selected musicians, and Melody Maker journalists, Chris Welch, Chris Charlesworth, Richard Guardian, Alan Lewis, Mick Watts and Allen Jones infuse the film with stories about a unique period when Melody Maker, founded in 1926 as a jazz musician’s trade paper boldly became the first publication to cover popular music seriously in the early 1960’s, setting the stage for publications like Rolling Stone.

Melody Maker captured the attention of the musicians, fans, and the journalists who shared a common passion, the music. Bands were formed from the classified section, a pop culture phenomenon!

This landmark documentary takes a fresh look at the changing landscape of music journalism that lead to the end of Melody Maker Magazine, and a style of music journalism that no longer exists today.

Thanks to Ann Hock for alerting me to this documentary.

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Tales From The Woods May 13th Gig

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Battle Ground Korea – Songs And Sounds Of America’s Forgotten War

Box set specialist Bear Family are to releasea four CD set ‘Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of America’s Forgotten War’, on March 23rd.

Bear Family Records have assembled an impressive four-CD anthology that is part 1950s American soundtrack and part historical document, representing the most comprehensive examination ever assembled of songs inspired by the Korean War.

While the music of the World War II and Vietnam War eras garnered a lot of attention, far less is known about the sounds of the Korea War period, even though it stands as a significant time in American society, from the post-WWII boom years to dawning of the 1960s.

The 121 tracks on the four discs incorporate a full range of U.S. music styles  — blues, R&B, country, folk, bluegrass, gospel and pop — and features country stars like Ernest Tubb, Gene Autry, Jean Shepherd, Tex Ritter, Red Foley, and Merle Travis as well as blues artists including John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup, and Jimmy Witherspoon. There are songs by rhythm and blues giants such as Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Dave Bartholomew, and gospel star Sister Rosetta Tharpe, along with the Delmore Brothers, Louvin Brothers, Jim & Jesse, and the Osborne Brothers who are among the bluegrass luminaries in this collection.

Each of the ‘Battleground Korea’s’ discs is organised around a different theme, essentially taking a chronological look at the war. CD 1’s songs are about “Going to War,” while CD 2 deals with being “In Korea.” “On the Homefront” is CD 3’s focus and CD 4 explores “Peace And Its Legacies.”

One of the well-thought-out aspects of this compilation is that Bear Family created several short narrative-style song-cycles throughout. The “On the Homefront” CD, for example, has “A Dear John Letter,” followed by “John’s Reply,” “Dear Joan” and “Forgive Me John.” Another set of songs goes from “Please Daddy, Don’t Go to War” to “Why Does the Army Need My Daddy,” “God Bless My Daddy” and “Don’t Steal Daddy’s Medal.” The “Peace and its Legacies” disc, meanwhile, strings together a run of tunes that starts with “Leavin’ Korea” and ends with “Back Home.”

This anthology also does a clever job of pairing songs. Arthur Crudup’s “The War Is Over” followed by Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “The War Is Over.” B.B. King’s “Questionnaire Blues” precedes John Lee Hooker’s version.

CD 1, in fact, contains renditions of “Korea Blues” done by Fats Domino, Clifford Blivens with the Johnny Otis Band, and Willie Brown. Bear Family have dug deep to discover tunes for this set, and certainly came up with some interesting obscurities including Hank Harral and His Palomino Cowhands on “When They Raised the UN Flag In South Korea,” Cactus Pryor and his Pricklypears’ tune “(In Again, Out Again) Packing Up My Barracks Bags Blues,” and “When They Drop the Atomic Bomb” from Jackie Doll and his Pickled Peppers?

There is much more to ‘Battleground Korea’, however, than just the songs; archival non-musical material is woven in throughout including General Douglas MacArthur as well as excerpts of speeches by presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. There are field reports from war correspondents and public service announcements from Vic Damone and even cartoon character Howdy Doody.

Click here to hear a previously unheard song from the collection.

The box comes with a 160-page, full-color hardcover book, with liner notes from music scholar Hugo A. Keesing detailing background information on every song and recording artist.

Fully illustrated, the book also is packed with vintage photographs, flyers, advertisements, record covers, magazines, and other period memorabilia. Special chapters include an interview with country singer Frankie Miller about his time in Korea, a nine-page section with some rare photographs of Marilyn Monroe’s visit with the U.S. troops, and a history of the Korean War.

“Battleground Korea” arrives at a timely moment, with Korea a frequent subject in the news and the U.S. government having a particularly fraught relationship with North Korea. This highly relevant box set provides a compelling collection of period music and historical perspective into the sights and sounds of America’s forgotten war.

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The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of UK Record Shops

A new book by Garth Cartwright called ‘Going For A Song’ will explore the history of UK record shops – from the age of the wax cylinder to the days of dubstep and the recent resurgence of vinyl. It will describe how these fondly remembered stores across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland became musical oracles for the nation’s youth, transforming fashion and culture in the process.

Cartwright is the author of several books and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4, the BBC World Service, and he also writes for the Financial Times, The Sunday Times, Songlines, Record Collector and other international publications.

The book covers the story of UK record-buying – from market traders selling music-hall 78s alongside Whitechapel’s shellac synagogues, through to HMV’s Oxford Street classical emporium and London’s post-World War Two, jazz, blues and folk specialist shops in London including famous names such as Dobell’s, Rays, Mole Jazz, Honest Jon’s, Rock On, Stearn’s and Colletts; Barry’s Record Rendezvous, Paul Marsh, Spinn Inn in Manchester (all regular haunts!) and many others throughout the UK such as Beano’s, Chris Wellard– even Woolies!

It will reveal how Brian Epstein, the man behind Liverpool’s NEMS shops, used his trade contacts to launch The Beatles and documents how the Mods discovered rhythm and blues, ska and Bluebeat importers as well as the golden dawn of psychedelia at Mayfair’s One Stop – where Jimi Hendrix was a regular customer

The early 1970s finds Richard Branson’s Virgin shops leading a revolution in record retail, and Rough Trade, Beggars Banquet, Small Wonder and Good Vibrations launching their own punk record labels.

Disco, reggae, techno and dubstep are all shaped by other shops. The CD boom fuels the megastores, and then downloading takes hold and the big chains crash.

But then independent record shops rise again from the ruins, riding the vinyl revival and Record Store Day.

In these UK record shops, friendships were forged, knowledge shared, bands formed, labels launched and music history made. ‘Going For A Song’ tells this incredible story for the first time.

Never-before-published research finds a youthful Bob Dylan recording in the basement of Dobell’s, and East End villains unloading lorry loads of stolen albums via Carnaby Street.

Meanwhile, race relations are tense in dub shacks, while African and Indian, Turkish and Albanian record vendors serve exotic sounds to their various immigrant communities.

Along the way, David Bowie, Dusty Springfield, Danny Baker and Elton John all enter the music industry through jobs in record shops. Also appearing are John Peel (of course), B.B. King (a regular visitor to Dobell’s when in London), Bluebeat king Prince Buster, Ralph McTell, Joe Strummer, Bert Jansch, Malcolm McLaren, Lemmy, Phil Lynott, The Small Faces, Louis Armstrong and Sir Edward Elgar (alongside many other notable musicians, DJs, writers, hustlers and chancers).

Garth has travelled the the UK to conduct more than 100  interviews with record-shop pioneers, trendsetting musicians and, of course, the customers.

He conducted extensive research to trace the history of record retail across a century of unprecedented social, cultural and political change. The book is illustrated with dozens of great photographs, advertisements, record bags and other treasures from the golden age of record retail.

Book available at the end of March, will be available in independent record shops and book shops around the UK  and is being distributed by Proper.

 

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Bloodshot Records – Special Xmas Album!

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Detroit Record Man – Joe Von Battle

Joe Von Battle was a self-made man, who followed a well-trod path from the rural South to the urban north during the Great Migration. His Detroit record shop not only sold the sounds of the black South — blues and gospel —  but recorded many of the recent arrivals all around him.

Artists like Aaron “Little Sonny” Willis, John Lee Hooker, Reverend C.L. Franklin and his daughter Aretha,

He also recorded blues artists such as One String Sam, Detroit Count, Calvin Frazier, Washboard Willie, Tye Tongue Hanley, Walter Mitchell and Robert Richard.

But the promise of Detroit wore thin for many black residents, and under the surface of the golden age, trouble was brewing. Joe’s Records would be caught in the middle of the tumult that overtook the city in 1967, but his daughter Marsha Music has kept his story alive.

This short film tells Joe’s story and the golden days of Detroit blues and the eventual demise of J-V-B Records.

For more information on the golden days of Detroit Blues and a fantastic three CD box set click here.

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New documentary charts the birth of British blues in Ealing

A new documentary about a West London club where The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Eric Clapton played in the 1960s is now available.

‘Suburban Steps To Rockland’ is an independent film about the Ealing Club produced by 62 Films and directed by Giorgio Guernier.

The smoky basement venue, tucked down a set of stairs across the road from Ealing Broadway tube station, helped establish the careers of numerous rock legends.

Among the film’s key contributors include Cream’s Ginger Baker and frontman Jack Bruce (giving one of his last broadcast interviews before his death) along with Paul Jones of Manfred Mann and Eric Burdon of The Animals.

The Rolling Stones first met at the club and were resident band there for six months between 1962 and 1963.

Supported by the BFI and Film London, the event showcases original music documentaries from all over the world.

The club’s story began when UK blues pioneers Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies – deemed just too loud for the jazz crowd at the Marquee club – met Iranian student Fery Asgari, an events manager at the club.

With the help of Art Wood, Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood’s brother, the UKs first Rhythm and Blues venue was born on 17th March 1962.

The club quickly became known as the “Moist Hoist” because of the condensation, which ran down the walls during crowded gigs.

The Who, Ealing, 1965.

The venue soon became the focal point for fmusicians like Mick Jagger and The Who’s Pete Townshend.

Director Giorgio Guernier said: “The list of influential musicians who became associated with the club is absolutely breathtaking. Many of the first golden generation of British Rock Music began their careers or simply visited the venue, just to learn how to play the blues”.

“As a former musician, avid vinyl collector and filmmaker, the idea of making a movie about this legendary venue was a no-brainer. It was a story I just had to tell.”

Asgari appears in the film, as does Korner’s widow Bobbie. Other key contributors include Terry Marshall, co-founder of the legendary amp makers – who were based in nearby Hanwell.

It’s a heritage that Alistair Young, secretary of The Ealing Club Community Interest Company – and a co-producer of the film – is anxious to preserve.

He said: “It’s no surprise that esteemed music bible Mojo credited The Ealing Club with the title of ‘The Cradle of British Rock’.

“More than 50 years on we are still proud to carry forward the name associated with this legendary Ealing location.

“Our aim is to inspire and promote live music events while instilling greater pride in Ealing’s amazing rock heritage.”  

 

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John Lee Hooker Box Set Due

A new career spanning five-disc set from John Lee Hooker is due in October which will include some of biggest hits, rarities, live performances and previously unreleased tracks.

Those unissued sides include “Unfriendly Woman,” “When I Lay My Burden Down” and “Meat Shakes On Her Bone”.

Disc one features some of his earliest sides.

Live sides include “She’s Gone,” “It Serves Me Right to Suffer,” “Boom Boom,” “Hi-Heel Sneakers” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.”

Disc five will feature his collaborations with artists like Eric Clapton, George Thorogood, Canned Heat, Santana and B.B. King.

“King of the Boogie” also comes with a 56-page book featuring photographs and new liner notes from Jas Obrecht, and Hooker’s long time manager Mike Kappus.

The box set was produced by Mason Williams (using today’s terminology “curated”) who said: “Even at 100 songs, this set is just a snapshot of John Lee Hooker’s incredible and influential career, but one that takes you on the long journey he took from his early days in Detroit, to his time in Chicago recording for Vee-Jay Records and up through his later collaborations with Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt and Santana, among others.”

Much of Hooker’s extensive back catalogue has been reissued many times, but on the 100th anniversary of his birth – this is a good as any place to start listening to the great music of the Boogie Man.

Disc: 1

  1. Boogie Chillen’ – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
  2. Sally May – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
  3. Hobo Blues – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
  4. Crawlin’ King Snake – John Lee Hooker & His Guitar
  5. Black Man Blues – Texas Slim
  6. Goin’ Mad Blues – Delta John
  7. Who’s Been Jivin’ You – Texas Slim
  8. (Miss Sadie Mae) Curl My Baby’s Hair
  9. Hoogie Boogie – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
  10. Burnin’ Hell – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
  11. Weeping Willow Boogie
  12. Moaning Blues – Texas Slim
  13. Huckle Up Baby – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
  14. Goin’ On Highway #51 – John Lee Hooker And His Guitar
  15. John L’s House Rent Boogie
  16. I’m In The Mood
  17. Two White Horses
  18. 33 Blues
  19. Sugar Mama
  20. Wobbling Baby
  21. Stuttering Blues – John Lee Booker
  22. I’m A Boogie Man – Johnny Lee
  23. Down Child
  24. Odds Against Me (Backbiters And Syndicaters)
  25. Shake, Holler And Run

Disc: 2

  1. Unfriendly Woman [Aka Stop Now]*
  2. Mambo Chillun
  3. Time Is Marching
  4. Dimples
  5. Little Wheel
  6. I Love You Honey
  7. Drive Me Away
  8. Maudie
  9. When I Lay My Burden Down*
  10. Tupelo Blues
  11. Good Mornin’ Lil’ School Girl
  12. I Rolled And Turned And Cried The Whole Night Long
  13. No More Doggin’
  14. Dusty Road
  15. No Shoes
  16. My First Wife Left Me
  17. Crazy About That Walk – Sir John Lee Hooker
  18. Want Ad Blues
  19. Will The Circle Be Unbroken
  20. I’m Going Upstairs
  21. I Lost My Job
  22. Don’t Turn Me From Your Door
  23. Grinder Man
  24. Meat Shakes On Her Bone*

Disk: 3

  1. Boom Boom
  2. Blues Before Sunrise
  3. She’s Mine
  4. Frisco Blues
  5. Good Rockin’ Mama
  6. I’m Leaving
  7. Birmingham Blues
  8. Don’t Look Back
  9. Big Legs, Tight Skirt
  10. It Serves Me Right
  11. Money
  12. One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
  13. The Motor City Is Burning
  14. Mean, Mean Woman
  15. Doin’ The Shout
  16. Homework
  17. Early One Morning
  18. Rocking Chair
  19. Hittin’ The Bottle Again
  20. Deep Blue Sea
  21. Spellbound

Disc: 4

  1. Hobo Blues – Live
  2. Maudie – Live
  3. Shake It Baby – Live
  4. Boogie Chillun – Live
  5. Bottle Up And Go – Live
  6. Crawlin’ King Snake – Live
  7. The Mighty Fire – Live
  8. You’ve Got To Walk Yourself – Live
  9. I’m Bad Like Jesse James – Live
  10. Boogie Everywhere I Go – Live
  11. She’s Gone*- Live
  12. It Serves Me Right To Suffer*- Live
  13. Boom Boom* – Live
  14. Hi – Heel Sneakers* – Live
  15. One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer* – Live

Disc: 5

  1. I Got Eyes For You – With “Little” Eddie Kirkland
  2. Mai Lee – With The Groundhogs
  3. Peavine – With Canned Heat
  4. Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive – With Van Morrison
  5. Five Long Years – With Joe Cocker
  6. The Healer – With Carlos Santana
  7. I’m In The Mood – With Bonnie Raitt
  8. Sally Mae – With George Thorogood
  9. Mr. Lucky – With Robert Cray
  10. Up And Down – With Warren Haynes
  11. Boom Boom – With Jimmie Vaughan
  12. You Shook Me – With B.B. King
  13. Don’t Look Back – With Van Morrison
  14. Dimples – With Los Lobos
  15. Boogie Chillen’ – With Eric Clapton

 *previously unreleased

 

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New Jimmy Reed Vee Jay Box Set Out

A new three CD anthology featuring Chicago bluesman Jimmy Reed is now out called ‘Mr. Luck – The Complete Vee Jay Singles’.

Issued by Craft Recordings via Concord, the collection is available in a CD set set, as well as digitally and on streaming sites.

This set features Jimmy’s recordings from the early 1950s until the mid-1960s, including his biggest hits as well as several rarer items, now making their digital debut – via newly-discovered master tapes.

Liner notes for the set are by the Scott Billington, and they are accompanied by detailed session notes and an annotated biography.

The set also features several spoken introductions by Calvin Carter, owner of Vee Jay who’s heard speaking to Reed retrospectively about some of his landmark tracks.

Reed had his first R&B hit ‘You Don’t Have To Go’ in 1955, and charted with 18 singles on Vee Jay up to 1965. He had ten top ten R&B hits.

Jimmy was just only 50 when he died in 1976 of alcohol related problems. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

“Of all the blues musicians who began recording in Chicago in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Jimmy Reed might have seemed least likely to succeed,” writes Billington in his liner notes. “Yet, until BB King’s run of bestselling records in the late 1960s, no post-war blues artist sold more records or showed up as often on the Billboard R&B and pop charts. Jimmy Reed’s music was approachable and, at least on the surface, easy for other musicians to play.”

Expect a similar set from the same label to celebrate the centenary of John Lee Hooker soon.

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New Album From Robert Plant Due In October

Robert Plant will release a new album in October – his 11th studio album, called ‘Carry Fire”. Street date is October 13th  with  a single, ‘The May Queen,’ – a reference to ‘Stairway To Heaven’ – promoting the album.

Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders joins Plant on a cover of rockabilly singer Ersel Hickey’s 1958 ‘Bluebirds Over The Mountain’.

The Sensational Shape Shifters once again provide back up – augmented by Seth Lakeman on three tracks.

In an interview on BBC6 Music, Robert said: “It’s about intention. I respect and relish my past works, but each time I feel the incentive to create new work, I must mix old with new. Consequently, the whole impetus of the band has moved on its axis somewhat – the new sound and different space giving way to exciting and dramatic landscapes of mood, melody and instrumentation.”

Plant has a 14 show UK tour for November and December planned, but there are no U.S. dates in support of the new album announced.

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