Springsteen On Broadway

It’s 45 years since of Springsteen’s debut album ‘Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.’ released in 1973. The album sold poorly, but it started of a career spanning years of sell out three-hour stadium gigs and world tours.

Now 69, he undertook a one man residency at the 975 seat Walter Kerr Theatre, on Broadway, playing 236 shows, five nights a week from October 2017 to late November 2017 with additional dates booked through the end of June 2018 and another run between March and December 2018.

He played guitar, harmonica and piano, performing songs for his extensive catalogue interspersing them with reminiscences from his childhood and career. They are humorous, poignant and capture important times in his personal life and musical career. His wife Patti Scalia appeared at most shows duetting with her husband on ‘Tougher Than The Rest’ and ‘Brilliant Disguise’.

Commencing with ‘Growin’ Up’, he talks about his early life – a humdrum existence of school, church, holidays, Christmas, weddings, funerals and green beans!

That was it until a seismic shock hit the collective nervous system of the USA when Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. Springsteen says that if they knew what would going to happen “they would have shut that shit down”. It also encouraged the seven years old Bruce to take up ‘that thing below the waist’ – a guitar.

He says that he never worked in a factory, or worked hard labour and never worked five days a week – “until now”. He had never ‘raced in the streets’, or done the things he sang about – but he says he did have good, tight band.

His songs reflected working class life. His father hated working in a local rug factory, in a car factory, in a plastics factory and as a truck driver.

His recollection of being sent to a local bar to fetch his dad home is a wonderfully told story. He talks about his pride in his mother, who loved dancing to 1940s swing bands and who held down a good job at an insurance company.

The intros and monologues are filled with stories of small town USA. ‘My Hometown’ recalls a time before the good industrial jobs left the USA and the racial tensions in school. On the intro to ‘The Promised Land’ Springsteen says: “Jersey was in the boon docks”. A place where nobody came and nobody left and runs through the dead end gigs he played in N.J. – drive in movies, weddings, supermarket openings, church halls, before moving to the west coast to try to make it big.

Although the set list and scripted monologues changed little you can feel the sheer emotion on ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out’ when he is speaking about his friendship with the late E Street Band sax player Clarence Clemons.

The CD contains ‘Long Time Comin’’ (on which explains his complex relationship with his father) and ‘The Ghost Of Tom Joad’, both substituted for the duet he performed with Patti when his she took ill.

‘Born In The USA’ is a eulogy for friends killed in action in Vietnam, delivered with anger and bitterness.

‘Tom Joad’ has a damning spoken intro on those “in the highest offices of our land who want to speak to our darkest angels, who want to want to call up the ugliest and the most divisive ghosts of America’s past, who want to destroy the idea of America for all. That’s their intention.”

‘The Rising’, the anthem written for New York fire fighters after ‘9/11’ is taken at a reflective pace, but ‘Dancing In The Dark’ brings back the good times (even done solo) and is met with a thunderous applause.

Springsteen says his is “an American story – a long and noisy prayer and hopes he has been a good travelling companion” He has. There are not many performers who could pull off a stunning show like this – but as a review of a show many years ago in an English music paper once said “Springsteen delivers.”

‘Springsteen On Broadway’ is the soundtrack to the Netflix film of the same name issued by Columbia as a 2 CD set, or on vinyl as a 4 LP set.

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South To Louisiana – revised and updated published in March.

Posted in 45 rpm, 78rpm, Americana, Blues, Country/Hillbilly, Rare Records, Rhythm & Blues, Rock & Roll, Roots, Soul | 1 Comment

Paramount’s Rise & Fall – Out in April

How did a chair manufacturer in rural Wisconsin come to dominate the new “race record” field in the 1920s?

The fascinating story unfolds in this landmark study of Paramount records – the label that introduced Ma Rainey, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, Skip James and other blues greats to the world. But there’s more to the Paramount story than its legendary blues recordings.

Alex van der Tuuk reveals the history of the people and companies behind the label in the third edition of this classic work. Now in full colour.

“An invaluable study… it’s exciting to have this essential book available again.” – The late Samuel Charters

 “The very best and most compelling journey into the world of a small record company that recorded some of America’s greatest talent.”

– Gayle Dean Wardlow

 “A must-read for everyone interested in early blues, jazz or country music!”

Rhythm & News

 “A solid contextual narrative [to] which all future work should refer.”

ARSC Journal


Alex van der Tuuk is the author of Paramount’s Rise and Fall (2003, 2012, 2019), Out of Anonymity: The Paramount and Broadway Territory Bands (2014) and The New Paramount Book of Blues (2017). Together with Guido van Rijn he compiled the five-volume The New York Recording Laboratories Matrix Series between 2011 and 2015.

Product Details

  • Format:                       Lavishly illustrated full colour paperback
  • Edition                        Fully revised third edition
  • Publication Date:      April 2019
  • Price:                          30 Euros
  • Publisher:                   Agram Blues Books
Posted in 78rpm, Blues, Country/Hillbilly, Gospel, Rare Records, Roots, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blues Unlimted Exhibition In Bexhill Museum

Bexhill Museum is pleased to announce a new exhibition for 2019 – BLUES UNLIMITED.

Did you know Bexhill was the birthplace of Blues Unlimited Magazine?

This small exhibition explains the foundations of the magazine and the personnel involved. It charts the story of how a publication originally produced by hand grew to be read by people such as the Rolling Stones and how Blues Unlimited secured its place in the annals of music history.

In 1963 former Bexhill Grammar School boys Mike Leadbitter and Simon A. Napier founded the world’s first magazine exclusively devoted to blues music.

Their dedication to the magazine produced world class research that is still considered pre-eminent in its field.

The story of the magazine is told through text, photographs and other exhibits including copies of the magazine, books and ephemera.

Exhibition opens January 21st. The museum is open 7 days a week until mid-December. Opening hours 10-5 Tues-Fri, 11-5 Sat, Sun, Mon and bank holidays.

Our telephone number is 01424 222058.

Please see our website for full contact details.

Posted in 45 rpm, 78rpm, Americana, Blues, Magazine, Rare Records, Rhythm & Blues, Roots, Soul, Vinyl | 2 Comments

Lament from Epirus by Christopher C King

An Odyssey Into Europe’s Oldest Surviving Folk Music

In a gramophone shop in Istanbul, 78rpm record collector Christopher C. King uncovered some of the strangest—and most hypnotic—sounds he had ever heard. The 78s were immensely moving, seeming to tap into a primal well of emotion inaccessible through contemporary music. The songs, King learned, were from Epirus, an area straddling southern Albania and northwestern Greece and boasting a folk tradition extending back to the pre-Homeric era. To hear this music is to hear the past.

Lament from Epirus is a journey into a musical obsession, which traces a unique genre back to the roots of song itself. As King hunts for two long-lost virtuosos—one of whom may have committed a murder—he also tells the story of the Roma people who pioneered Epirotic folk music and their descendants who continue the tradition today.

King discovers clues to his most profound questions about the function of music in the history of humanity: What is the relationship between music and language? Why do we organize sound as music? Is music superfluous, a mere form of entertainment, or could it be a tool for survival?

King’s journey becomes an investigation into song and dance’s role as a means of spiritual healing—and what that may reveal about music’s evolutionary origins.

Also see review in the Financial Times

Also see review in The Wire



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UPDATED:: 3rd Edition Of ‘The Blues Discography’

The third edition of Bob McGrath and Les Fancourt’s mighty ‘The Blues Discography 1943-1970’, published by Eyeball Productions, is now available from their website.

The history of ‘The Blues Discography’ can be traced back to the mid 1960s when Mike Leadbitter (of Blues Unlimited) and Neil Slaven (of R&B Monthly) came together to work on ‘Blues Records 1943-1966’, a ‘selective discography’ of 380 pages eventually published in 1968.

Subsequently, an expanded ‘Blues Records 1943-1970 (A-K)’ by Leadbitter and Slaven was published by Record Information Services in 1987 and a second volume (L-Z) was published in 1994 by RIS, credited to Leadbitter, Les Fancourt and RIS. In 2006 Eyeball Productions published the award winning ‘The Blues Discography’ and a second, limited edition appeared in 2012.

This new third edition is revised, much expanded and has significantly more new information. Co-author Les Fancourt has done sterling work in collecting and collating new information/recording data from blues and R&B record company files and vaults, reissue companies, blues and R&B record collectors, discographers and researchers worldwide, from specialist blues and music magazines, other publications and websites.

 The third edition which features over 1300 artists will be published with a slightly changed format in order to reduce postal costs. It will be over 775 pages – (it would have been over 850 pages if the previous format had been used and much more expensive to mail according to Eyeball’s Bob McGrath).

The third edition has a new cover design, historical introduction by Blues & Rhythm’s Tony Burke, plus full acknowledgements of those who have contributed information over the years.

Date of release is 1st February, at a cost oto be announced and it will be available exclusively from www.eyeballproductions.com 

Price is $99 plust p&p.

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2018 Music: Gone But Not Forgotten

During 2018 we lost (among many others – too many to mention at present) the following artists and music industry people.

 Barbara Alston: Member of – and one time lead vocalist of the great 1960s Phil Spector produced vocal group The Crystals

Henry Butler: Technically gifted, blind New Orleans Jazz and R&B pianist.

Eddie C Campbell: Great Chicago based bluesman, hailed from Mississippi and waxed ‘King Of The Jungle’ for Rooster Blues.

Ace Cannon: Memphis based R&B and rock and roll sax player with Bill Blacks Combo

Eddy ‘The Chief’ Clearwater: Another great Chicago bluesman, started out playing Chuck Berry styled rock and roll. Dubbed ‘The Chief’ for appearing on stage with Indian head dress.

Johnny Dawson: Singer and co-founder of the Motown vocal group The Elgins.

Dennis Edwards: Singer with Motown vocal group The Contours and later with The Temptations.

Terry Evans: R&B vocalist who formed duo with Bobby King touring and supporting Ry Cooder on some of Ry’s best albums.

Clarence Fountain: Great lead singer with the long established and legendary Five Blind Boys of Alabama.

Don Gardner: R&B, soul singer and drummer recorded hits with singer Dee Dee Ford.

Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul. Nothing more to say except a legend not just as a soul singer but also for her gospel recordings.

Rick Hall: Record producer and owner of the Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Edwin Hawkins: Gospel musician, arranger, choir leader and writer who hit in the 1960s with the classic ‘Oh Happy Day’.

Denise Lasalle: Great soul/blues singer, stalwart of many US and European blues and soul shows and festivals.

Lazy Lester: Excello Records swamp blues singer, harmonica player and guitarist. Regular visitor to the UK.

Hugh Masekela: US resident and South African born trumpeter, composer and singer, anti apartheid campaigner.

Country Pete McGill: West Coast blues artists who played and recorded with his Cottonfield Blues Band

Trevor McNaughton: Co-founder of Trojan ska and rocksteady group The Melodians.

Big Jay McNeely: King of the 1950s honking sax players, started out in the 1940s, recorded with Johnny Otis and Little Sonny Warner in Los Angeles.

Winston McGarland Bailey (aka Mighty Shadow): Award winning Trinidadian calypsonian.

Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy: Blues guitarist who supported Memphis Slim and many blues artists. Toured Europe with the American Folk Blues Festival. Appeared as Aretha’s errant husband in the original ‘The Blues Brothers’ film

Charles Neville: New Orleans R&B and jazz sax player member of the Neville Brothers clan with brothers Cyril and Art.

Calvin Newborn: Jazz guitarist started out playing R&B in Memphis gave guitar lessons to Howlin’ Wolf before becoming jazz giant.

Eugene Pitt: Founder and lead singer of the classic doo wop and soul group The Jive Five.

Otis Rush: Chicago blues guitarist, singer and a major influence on John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Peter Green and many UK blues guitarists.

Teddy Scott: Founder and singer with the classic doo wop group The G Clefs.

G. G. Shinn: Blue eyed soul and swamp pop singer leader of the Fabulous Boogie Kings.

Yvonne Staples: Long time manager and sometime singer with the soul and gospel group Staple Singers.

John ‘Jabo’ Starks – James Brown’s much sampled drummer.

Melvin Ragin (aka ‘Wah Wah’ Watson): Guitarist with the Mowton session band – the Funk Brothers.

Tony Joe White: The Swamp Fox – swamp blues singer/songwriter and guitarist. Wrote ‘Polk Salad Annie’ and ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’ and later hits for Tina Turner.

Jody Williams: Chicago blues guitarist, worked the streets with Bo Diddley, a member of Howlin’ Wolf’s band as well as recording sides in his own right.

Eddie Willis: Guitarist with Motown’s Funk Brothers sessioneers.

Elder Roma Wilson: Detroit gospel artist who cut some raw blues-gospel sides with his family members in the late 1940s. Died aged 103.

Danny Woods: Co-founder and singer with great 1970s soul group The Chairmen Of The Board.

UK Blues & Rock ‘n’ Roll

Jon Hiseman: Drummer with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, went on to form prog rock groups Colosseum and Tempest.

Chas Hodges: As part of the UK duo Chas and Dave who created ‘rockney’ played many a great rock and roll shows.

Danny Kirwan: Singer and guitarist with Fleetwood Mac when they were a proper blues band.

Roy Young: Original and authentic UK 1950s rock and roller and pianist.

 US Country & Rockabilly

Roy Clark: Master guitarist and banjo player, star with Buck Owens on syndicated TV country music and comedy show ‘Hee Haw’

Lawrencine Collins (aka Lorrie Collins): One half of great rockabilly duo The Collins Kids with brother Larry (Lawrence).

D J Fontana: Legendary Sun Records rockabilly and rock and roll drummer who backed Elvis on over 200 sides.

Herb Remington: Master teel guitar player with western swing band Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.

 UK Music People

Stuart Colman – Radio DJ, broadcaster, writer and record producer who helped get rock and roll music back on BBC.

Gerard Homan – UK blues record collector, and promoter of blues gigs via his Shakedown Promotions. Brought over many obscure US bluesmen.

Mick Huggins – Designer and part of the team at UK blues magazine Juke Blues.

Cliff White – UK R&B, soul music writer, journalist, sleevenote writer and reissue compiler for labels such as Charly Records. World authority on the music of James Brown.

Peter Young – DJ on Capital Radio and later on Jazz FM’s ‘Soul Cellar’ which broadcast wide range of soul music including Northern rarities.

Work still in progress. Taken from Blues & Rhythm, Now Dig This, Record Collector, Tales From The Woods, Mojo, Uncut and elsewheres!

Posted in 45 rpm, 78rpm, Americana, Blues, Cassette, Compact Disc, Country/Hillbilly, Gospel, Jazz, Magazine, Rare Records, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Rock & Roll, Roots, Soul, Uncategorized, Vinyl, Website, World Music | Leave a comment

Trojan Records 50th Anniversay Book

This article first appeared in the Morning Star on December 15th

Growing up in the early 1960s in Manchester, with grandparents living in Moss Side, the infectious music of bluebeat and ska records newly imported from Jamaica booming out giant speakers of local record shops was a familiar sound.

These shops were stocked with boxes of imported 45s, which customers seemed to select by the handful – and there were older records stored in racks and boxes outside – sometimes with multiple copies of the same disc – all selling cheaply.

In amongst the imports could be found discs on the UK Island and Blue Beat labels – by artists such as Derrick Morgan, Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, The Ethiopians, The Skatellites, Roland Alphonso and the mighty Prince Buster (massive at the time via his ‘Al Capone’ chart hit) pressed in the UK for the West Indian market.

And then came Trojan Records. Formed in 1968 by Chris Blackwell and Lee Gopthal.

Gopthal, who arrived in the UK on the Empire Windrush aged 28, operated the Musicland retail chain and owned Beat & Commerical Records and Blackwell owned Island Records. Initially, Trojan licensed recordings from Jamaican record producers such as Duke Reid and Coxone Dodd but they soon established Trojan as the number one ska and later reggae label signing artists such as John Holt, Judge Dredd, Jimmy Cliff, Bob and Marcia, The Pioneers and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.

Jimmy Cliff – one of Trojan’s biggest stars.

Between 1968 and 1972 Trojan enjoyed regular UK chart hits. Blackwell eventually sold his share of the company focussing on Island Records and its mega roster of rock and progressive artists (and Bob Marley!) while Gopthal continued releases a stream of 45s, (some with overdubbed strings to appeal to the pop market).

Despite the chart hits and regular radio airplay by the likes of Dave & Ansell Collins, Harry J, Dandy Livingstone and Greyhound, by 1975 Trojan, mired in debt went bust. Marcel Rodd owner of the budget album label Saga Records bought up the Trojan business. Trojan and its large catalogue changed hands on a number of occasions including ownership by record collector and accountant Colin Newman who focused on re-issuing Trojan’s back catalogue of ska, rock steady and reggae in classic three CD box sets.

The label went through the hands of Sanctuary, and Universal and now it is owned by BMG.

As part of the celebrations of the labels’ 50 year history comes this profusely illustrated ‘coffee table’ book, ‘The Story of Trojan Records’ authored by UK writer, researcher and reissue complier Laurence Cane-Honeysett, who was originally hired in 1992 to oversee reissues of Trojan material.

He has overseen all the label’s reissues ever since. Cane-Honeysett is unequalled in his knowledge of the label – as this lavish publication shows.

Commencing with the emergence of calypso and mento music which came to the UK with the Empire Windrush, the book covers the early years of blue beat and ska music in the UK and Jamaica; the golden years of Trojan Records; its myriad of associated record labels; vinyl album releases (anyone remember its vinyl budget sampler multi volume series ‘Tighten Up’?); the key people in the history of the label; artists biographies; chart listings and entries; UK culture including skinheads, the 2Tone and ska revival era plus photos and reproductions of rare memorabilia; record labels; newspaper and magazine articles and cuttings; adverts; promotional photos and sales material plus pages of album, 8 track and cassette covers.

This is a marvellous tribute to the label often dubbed the ‘British Motown’ and produced by an author who has a total passion for the music and knows the Trojan label and its history inside out. Essential Christmas reading for UK music history fans.

The Story of Trojan Records By Laurence Cane-Honeysett is published by Eye Books



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London Blues Festival: January 14th – January 19th

January 14th to 19th will see US blues artists return to London for the London Blues Festival to be held at the 100 Club on Oxford Street.

Kim Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds will play two nights on January 15th and 16th (the latter supported by the great US guitarist and session player Billy Flynn). Sugaray Rayford will play 17th at the 100 Club, London with additional dates on 18th Live Room – Caroline Social Club, Shipley; 19th Great British Rock & Blues Festival, Skegness. Sharrie Williams plays the 100 Club on 18th and Mud Morganfield (son of Muddy Waters) plays the festival on January 19th. He also plays the Eel Pie Club, Twickenham on 16th; 17th Shakedown Blues Club, Peterborough (Gerard Homan tribute gig) and 18th Taulouse Lautrec Jazz Club, Kensington.
Rick Estrin and The Nitecats play Stramash, Edinburgh on January 23rd and the 100 Club on the 24th. Also do not miss Cedric Burnside direct from the Mississippi Hill Country and a member of the famous R. L. Burnside blues dynesty who will play a promo gig on February 12th at Rough Trade East, Old Trueman Brewery, Brick Lane, London where he will be signing copies of a new release. Cedric will also play The Blues Kitchen, Camden on February 14th; The Cluny, Newcastle On Tyne on the 15th and St. Mary’s Creative Space in Chester on 17th.

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Stuart Cosgrove’s Soul Trilogy: In Conversation

Writer and critic Stuart Cosgrove will be at Watersone’s, 153–157 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3EW, on 21st January celebrating his latest book  – part of his three book trilogy. £5 entrance fee.

His new volume ‘Harlem 69: The Future of Soul’ is the final book in his epic 1960’s trilogy about soul music and social change in three American cities in three crucial years, following Detroit ’67 and the Penderyn Music Book Prize 2018 winner, Memphis ’68.  Stuart will be in conversation with Alison Stroak from Glasgow Music City Tours.

Cosgrove weaves a compelling web of circumstance that maps a city struggling with the loss of its youth to the Vietnam War, the hard edge of the civil rights movement and ferocious inner-city rioting … a whole-hearted evocation of people and places’ – Independent

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