A blog about the things I find accidentally on Spotify while looking for something else

Monday, 30 June 2014

The Essential Recordings - Don Gibson

A while back, I wrote about an album of Roy Orbison's on which he showcased the songs of country artist Don Gibson, which I enjoyed very much.  This ultimately sent me back to the original recordings.  Although very much respected in country circles, Gibson's name hasn't gravitated out to the more casual music fan in the way his contemporaries Johnny Cash, George Jones or Patsy Cline have.  This is perhaps due to Gibson never really finding a consistent voice.  Some tracks here are sung politely, while with others he adopts a more ragged approach.
   What is undeniable, however, is the quality of his songwriting.  This is pre-outlaw country pop at its most tuneful and toe-tapping.  Occasionally melancholy, rarely morose, it's a bag well worth dipping into, and you may well recognise a few.  'Sweet Dreams' was made famous by Cline, while others would get the full country treatment from Ray Charles and Elvis.  Oh, and 'Oh, Lonesome Me' from After the Goldrush by Neil Young is here as well, albeit sounding a lot chirpier.

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Monday, 9 June 2014

The Prima Generation '72 - Louis Prima

By the mid-sixties, swingin' trumpeter Louis 'King Louis from Jungle Book' Prima had split from his wife and duet partner Keely Smith and set up his own label, Prima One Records.  His later albums are a strange affair as he used them to promote artists signed to his label, giving over whole tracks to them, interspersed with his own now slightly tired-sounding contributions of comedy Italian schtick swing.  This album from 1972, for instance, contains a version of the Rolling Stones's 'Sympathy For the Devil' featuring the fine jazz organist Little Richie Varola, which deviates from the original so much one wonders if it was meant to be a cover of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' that got mis-labelled.  What fans of prime Prima made of his apparent new jazz-rock direction is anyone's guess.  Elsewhere Prima's band the Witnesses get soulful on Stevie Wonder's 'If You Really Love Me' and Prima himself tackles Joe South's 'Rose Garden' in a manner that suggests even he knows it's not really working.
   Although many tracks are just plain failures, Prima's last albums are worth listening to purely for the sheer fascination of hearing someone venturing where they were never meant to go. To understand what Prima was really all about, however, check out 1956's The Wildest, where he channels Louis Armstrong, puts him through an Italian American filter, and explodes with so much energy he nearly makes that new-fangled rock 'n' roll redundant.  Primia, Smith and the Witnesses come across as a bunch of swing renegades.  'I ain't got nobody', they all sing together.  They may be freaks, but they've got each other's backs.  Also, check out any videos of him performing with Keely Smith on Youtube.  They are bloody funny.

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