And if that diamond ring don’t shine: Incredibly Strange Bo Diddley cover…

BoDiddley

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This came in a collection of 45s I recently picked up. If ever there was a “Golden Turkey”, it is this. An instant classic.

“Bo Diddley” is a rhythm and blues and rock and roll song first recorded and sung by Bo Diddley at the Universal Recording Studio in Chicago and released on the Chess Records subsidiary, Checker Records in 1955. It became an immediate hit single that stayed on the R&B charts for a total of 18 weeks, 2 of those weeks at #1, and seven more weeks than its flipside (the B-side, “I’m a Man”). It was the first recording to introduce African rhythms into rock and roll directly by using the patted juba beat. It was Bo Diddley’s first recording and his first hit single. The song is featured on many of Bo Diddley’s compilation albums including His Best.

In 2012 the A and B-side pair were added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry list of “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” American sound recordings.

The song is rhythmically similar to hambone, a technique of dancing and slapping various parts of the body to create a rhythm and song. It is lyrically similar to the traditional lullaby “Hush Little Baby”. When Bo Diddley started playing with it, his electric guitar amplified the patted juba with his backup musicians on maracas and drums unifying the rhythm. This combination of rock and roll, African rhythms and sactified guitar chord shouts was a true innovation and is often called a Bo Diddley Beat.

He first titled his version “Uncle John” but before he recorded it, he changed the title to his own nickname Bo Diddly, with an “e” added to the song’s title and his professional name by one of the Chess brothers.

Other Cover Versions:

.Buddy Holly: Single by Buddy Holly from the album Reminiscing
B-side “It’s Not My Fault” Released 1963. Recorded 1956 and 1962 at Norman Petty Recording Studios in Clovis, New Mexico. Buddy Holly recorded the song in 1956, but it was not released until the LP Reminiscing in 1963 and later became a single release. Buddy Holly on vocals/guitar and Jerry Allison on drums recorded “Bo Diddley” at one of their earliest sessions with producer/engineer Norman Petty at his recording studio in Clovis, New Mexico sometime in 1956. In 1962 Norman Petty overdubbed the demo of “Bo Diddley”, as well as others, with the Fireballs.

.The Shadows did a (vocal) cover version on the album Out of the Shadows (1962).

.It was also covered by The Animals in 1964.

.Bob Seger performed the song in a medley with Who Do You Love?, another Bo Diddley song, under the title “Bo Diddley.” The original studio recording, backed by Teegarden & Van Winkle, opens Seger’s 1972 album Smokin’ O.P.’s, and a live version with the Silver Bullet Band appears on his 1976 live album, Live Bullet.

.An energetic version by Janis Joplin is available on the 1999 box set Box of Pearls.

.More recently, steel guitar great Robert Randolph has covered the song at some of his live shows.

.The song was performed by a supergroup consisting of Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters and Little Walter on Super Blues in 1967.

.The Grateful Dead performed it with Bo Diddley himself at the Academy of Music in New York City, March 25, 1972. They went on to perform it by themselves, May 23, 1972 at the Strand Lyceum in London, England, the third to last show in their 1972 European tour. See the officially released Steppin’ Out with the Grateful Dead.

And in case you have never heard the original, here it is, played out on youtube on an original 78 RPM from 1955 on the Chess Records subsidiary, Checker Records.

Big Ten Inch: A Letter To Elvis Presley

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Using samples in pop music is not something that appeared with the emergence of digital technology. Pop music in the 1950’s witnessed DJs and studio wizards of the time creating what became known as “Break-In” records, where snippets of well know pop songs were dropped into recited narratives to add a tongue-in cheek, ironic element to the telling of the story. Made famous first by Dickie Goodman and the famous “Flying Saucer” records, this tape-splicing tehnology spawned a rush of similar break-in records. The same tape-cutup technology was used to create Goodman’s hit “Mr. Jaws” in the mid-1970s.

Of course, established publishing houses were furious, and coyright infringement debates began flying. The more controversy, the more records were made. Sound familiar? In an attempt to limit the production of new “break-in” records, the publishing houses demanded an increase from the standard two-cent royalty for each song used, quadrupling it to eight cents per song from each of the new “break-in” discs.

One of the rarest and most and strangest of these break-ins is “Dear Elvis”, told by a mysterious teenager named Audrey. This ‘madrigal with mimicry’, which contains snippets from Elvis Presley’s ‘Baby let’s play house’, ‘Milkcow blues boogie’ and ‘I don’t care if the sun don’t shine’, peaked at #87 on the Billboard hot 100 on September 22, 1956. Variety reported that Plus Records, who pressed 53,955 copies of this ‘break-in’ record, sold only 30,000 copies before the increased royalty rate was assessed. As part of a settlement agreement, Plus Records turned over the master of ‘Dear Elvis’ to the publishing houses, who promptly destroyed it. Regarding the composer credits, ‘C B Samuel’ is believed to be a pseudonym for the Plus Record label’s owner Samuel Kaufman.

The best part of this is the last 30 seconds…

Incredibly Strange Records: Mother Angelica and Her Nuns…

Is there really anything more that I need to add to these? Mother Agelica and her Nuns sing for you, “I Am God, Not Man”. No date provided, but given the images, the age of Mother herself in the photos and the production EQ curve, I’d guess this is around the 1975 time frame. In the first audio track, Mother Angelia rivals William Shatner in her theatrical skills. In the second, well, this could be the soundtrack for the Nuns Having Fun calendar. Those nuns know how to throw a hootenanny. Or is that hootenunny???

Either you get this or you don’t. *wink*

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Special Report: Bassett Hand

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This 45 has been in my collection since time immemorial, and until recently, information about it has been totally elusive. The A Side sounds like it could have been used for the theme for a show for teaching language skills to adults; a sexier Sesame Street, what with the ‘Baby, Baby’ interlude and the foot-shufflin’ hip-swingin’ gum-snappin’ pool-shootin’ rhythm. *This* Sesame Street is squarely in the red-light district, and its residents drink & smoke and fuck like bunnies in the backseats of Buicks. And the flipside? Arguably the worst song ever recorded. So the debate began? Lost 45? Or Incredibly Strange Music?

Anyway, the more research I did on this record, the more intriguing it became. All the information I could find was peripheral, but apparently the characters behind Bassett Hand went on to be responsible for music more directly Jukebox Heart-ish. Hence, this Special Report. Oh yeah, here’s that fabulous flip side…

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But exactly who is Bassett Hand? An internet search doesn’t yield much. According to the Global Dog Productions discography for Josie Records, this single was released in 1965, along with one other that same year. This coincides with the timeframe for the information below.

A little more digging yielded an entry into the Spectropop Discussion Group archives:

> Does anyone know what the term BASSETT HAND means on Bang Records
> labels?

The liner notes to Robert Feldman’s career retrospective LP “Roots Of
S.O.B.*, Vol. 2” include this dedication (among several others):

“To Richard Gottehrer & Gerald Goldstein: The 2 “G’s in F.G.G., aka
Niles & Giles Strange aka Bassett Hand, etc., etc., thank you for some
of the best years of my life. The memories and the music will always
be there.”

The collection includes two Bassett Hand tracks, “Happy Organ Shake”
and “Soul Paradise,” (the other 45 on Josie) but offers no writing credits for these or any of its other tracks…

A close look at the record labels above will show the FGG team scores writing credits for both the tracks as well. Further investigation links Bassett Hand to many production credits on the famous 1960’s imprint, Bang Records as well as some intersting surprises. The place to begin is with The Strangeloves.

The Strangeloves were the creation of an American songwriting/production team in the 1960s who were from New York but pretended to be from Australia. Their biggest hits were “I Want Candy,” “Cara-Lin” and “Night Time”.

Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer (FGG Productions) had already scored big hits for other artists, including “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels, when they decided to invent The Strangeloves.

According to the press releases, The Strangeloves were three brothers named Giles, Miles and Niles Strange who had grown up on an Australian sheep farm. The brothers’ faked backstory involved getting rich with the invention of a new form of sheep crossbreeding (the long-haired “Gottehrer” sheep, allegedly registered with the Feldman-Goldstein Company of Australia), allowing them the time and financial freedom to form a band. The story did not exactly capture the public’s imagination, but the music still performed respectably on the charts.

When “I Want Candy” became a hit single in mid-1965, the producers found themselves in the unfamiliar and uncomfortable position of performing as live artists. This short-lived experience was followed by a road group composed of four of the studio musicians who had actually recorded these songs. The musicians in the initial road group were bass player / vocalist John Shine, guitarist Jack Raczka, drummer Tom Kobus and sax player / vocalist Richie Lauro. This group was replaced in early 1966 by a trio of FGG studio musicians that more closely adhered to the founding concept of the Brothers Strange: guitarist Jack Raczka (Giles Strange), drummer / vocalist Joe Piazza (Miles Strange), and keyboardist / vocalist Ken Jones (Niles Strange).

While on the road in Ohio in 1965 as The Strangeloves, Feldman, Goldstein and Gottehrer came upon a local band known as Ricky Z and the Raiders, led by Rick Derringer (who was Rick Zehringer at the time). Recognizing their raw talent, the producers immediately brought Rick and his band to New York, recorded Rick’s voice over the existing music track from The Strangeloves’ album I Want Candy and released “Hang on Sloopy” as a single under the name The McCoys.

The Strangeloves’ only LP, I Want Candy, was released in 1965 on Bert Berns’ Bang Records, with several of the album songs having been released as singles. Other singles by The Strangeloves have appeared on Swan Records and Sire Records.

Their songs have been covered by The J. Geils Band, The Fleshtones, and (with great pop success) by Bow Wow Wow.

Gottehrer went on to later fame as a record producer of early CBGB’s luminaries such as Richard Hell & The Voidoids, The Fleshtones, and Blondie, as well as being the co-founder of Sire Records along with Seymour Stein. He also worked with Robert Gordon, who was one of many who revitalized rockabilly in the late 1970s.

In his role as a producer and manager, Goldstein also continued to have an effect on the music world. He suggested to the band Nightshift that they team up with Eric Burdon, which became War, and had the Circle Jerks on his Far Our Productions management company and LAX record label.

The following credit appears on every Strangeloves record: “Arranged and Conducted by Bassett Hand.” In fact, there is no such person as “Bassett Hand.”

Fascinating.

Some more photos for my collector geek buddies:

Note the Bassett Hand credit:

And a picture of the band from the LP jacket:

Most recognize the yin/yang design of Sire Records from the late 70s and later.
Here is an early Sire Records label design:

New Category on Jukebox Heart: Incredibly Strange records

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ARTIST: Recordio One-Off records
TITLE: One of One
TRACK: 10. Eat To LIve
LABEL: Dish Recordings
FORMAT: CD

As the wait for the next full-length podcast continues (Jukebox Heart 015: All We Have Is Kisses), I’m bringing you another single-track category to give even more breadth and depth to Jukebox Heart. This new category takes its name from a book describing films of a similar nature, “Incredibly Strange Movies”. Invariably, the styles of music presented in this category could easily be soundtracks to these movies.

But rather than kicking off this category by brining you an actual ‘strange’ record, I am presenting a really unique compilation of recordings called ‘One of One’. If you are a record collector, you immediately get the joke; for decades, artists and labels strapped for cash have compensated by creating a mystique of highly desirable obscurity and unavailability by labeling their output as ‘limited, numbered edition, 100 copies only’ and so on. In fact, even predating this compilation, one of our favorite labels up in Lowell reportedly canceled a regular release, but released the single test pressing as a limited edition of one.

So, this compilation, ‘One of One’, pushes that to its limit by stating the records documented by this collection existed as single copies only; the owner of which owned the entire, hopelessly obscure edition of one copy.

I am referring, of course, to those objects of a time-gone-by, the recordio-gram. Recordio-grams were blanc discs invented to be recorded in real time by anyone with access to a recording device and then playable on any home record player. They were in commercial use for decades along beachside boardwalks and then for in-home use, as shown on the cover art above, to record sound direct-to-record for loved ones far away. Obviously, the advent of magnetic tape and ultimately of digital optical techniques would render this medium obsolete. Nevertheless, thousands of these historical documents can be found in thrift shops everywhere. These are moments captured in time – letters to loved ones overseas at war, first birthday parties. Taken individually, these are sappy and irrelevant, but you don’t have to be much of a romantic to feel your heart tugging after listening to a collection of them.

I have not been able to find any additional information on this CD, and i am surprised a second volume has not yet appeared. I selected this particular track in the spirit of the Incredibly strange Theme usually posted here, as it is the oddest of the bunch. Given that these were made as single copies, for whom could this possibly have been intended?