Old Curiosity Shop
By Bob Davis dnry122@yahoo.com

You Know I Love the Ladies (revised version) 

A couple of years ago, I went to a show featuring the Carnival of Soul band, led by Skip Heller.  He acknowledged my presence in the house, by saying, “We have that noted connoisseur of female vocalists, Bob Davis with us tonight” and introduced me to his new singer Ms Birdie Jones.  My interest in “ladies of song” goes all the way back to the 1950s, inspiring me to assemble this program.  Note that I posted a program with many of these same songs back in July.  I decided to make it a reality by compiling a CD full of travel tunes to play in my car while on the road.  For various reasons, some of the songs in the earlier list were unavailable for recording, so I came up with a revised version.

Joy to the World—3 Dog Night.  This Hoyt Axton song is one I’ve posted in the “70’s Music” group on Facebook.  Whether the subject is “feel-good” songs or recordings that mention wine it’s one of my favorites.  But we’re not discussing Jeremiah and his “mighty fine wine” or even passing around the “WPLJ” with our bros in the alley; the text for today’s discussion is “You know I love the ladies, love to have my fun….”

He’s a Rebel—The Crystals [the Blossoms].  The song title was also used at the title of the book about Phil Spector by Mark Ribowsky (which I have in my library). Although the record is attributed to The Crystals, the actual group was Darlene Love and the Blossoms, who provided vocals on many records made in the Los Angeles area, such as Dick Dale’s King of the Surf Guitar.

This Little Girl’s Gone Rockin’—Ruth Brown.  One of Miss Rhythm’s later releases, this one made the charts while I was at "Cow" Poly.  I had forgotten about it until Emy Bruzzo and the Rockabelles covered it as an extra in an Elvis Birthday Bash a few years ago.  Emy was so pleased to find a Ruth Brown fan who remembered the song.  Just recently I learned that the song was written by Bobby Darin.  Since her appearance at EBB, she has moved to New York, where she performed on a talent night at the legendary Apollo Theater, and has now started the school year teaching music at a New York public school.

Cow Cow Boogie---Ella Mae Morse.  The oldest recording in this compilation, this was the one of the first records released by Capitol Records in 1942.  The label credit is for Freddie Slack and his Orchestra, with vocal by Ella Mae Morse.  One of my earlier compilations has her paired with Don Ray for some primordial “jive talk” on “House of Blue Lights” from 1946.  Back in the days before TV, some listeners who had heard her on the radio, and went to see her at a live performance would comment “I thought she was ‘colored’.”  Caution—sly drug reference.

Rodeo—Evie Sands.  The artist whom Jonny Whiteside dubbed “The inimitable empress of  soul/pop” has a place of honor in the Old Curiosity Shop; indeed, had I not met Evie back over 18 years ago, I might never have gone into writing this monthly meandering.  I thought Rodeo was a good segue from “Cow Cow Boogie”—it’s the lead track in her latest 6-song EP CD, Shine for Me.  Like many of Evie’s newer songs, it has a “Can Do” spirit that can give us a lift when we need it.  If you look it up on YouTube, there’s a video of Evie performing Rodeo at the pressing plant where the vinyl copies of Shine for Me were produced.

My Guy and The One Who Really Loves You —Mary Wells.  She was one of the first hit-makers for Motown Records, and both of these numbers made the Top 10 in the 1960s.  I saw her sing them at the Music Machine in West LA back around 1984.  She was jet-lagged from a road trip, but still captivated the audience with these songs.  Some of us even sang along with “The One Who Really Loves You”.

Dancing in the Street---Martha and the Vandellas went to #2 on the charts but were edged out by the Supremes and “Where Did Our Love Go.” One of those songs that gets everyone jacked up.

I Can Hear Music—The Ronettes.  Probably best known for the Beach Boys’ cover, this Jeff Barry-Ellie Greenwich composition was the last number recorded by the Ronettes on the Philles label, and for years it was very hard to find either on a 45 or a CD.  It was produced by Jeff Barry, rather than Phil Spector, which may account for it being left out of the Back to Mono boxed set.  It was over ten years ago that I saw The Honeys (sometimes called the Beach Boys’ Ladies Auxiliary) sing this at the Carl Wilson Foundation benefit show at the Roxy in West Hollywood.  With Evie Sands on guitar and Teresa Cowles on bass, they had a solid backing.  Look up the video on YouTube for a musical treat.

Dream a Little Dream of Me—Mama Cass.  Another memory from the Second Sunday Sessions, with Lisa of the Wild Mountain Mystics doing a fine tribute to Mama Cass and accompanying herself on an acoustic guitar.

Heat Wave---Linda Ronstadt.  When I went to one of her last rock concerts before moving into the American Songbook with Nelson Riddle phase, this was the next to last song in her set.  Another big hit for Martha and the Vandellas, this song got the audience stoked, and it was probably good planning that the final number was “Desperado” to get the crowd down off the ceiling for the ride home.

Those Memories of You—Trio.  Another song that I was reminded of when a tribute version was part of a Second Sundays show Back in 1979, I bought a paperback biography of Linda Ronstadt (her life up to that year.  It mentioned that she had wanted to team up with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris to make an album of old-timey songs.  It wasn’t until 1987 that they finally got the logistics (and probably a lot of paperwork) settled and made their Trio CD.  Here’s the picture sleeve from the 45 single “To Know Him Is to Love Him” that I bought a week before the CD came out.  Yes, it’s the Phil Spector song from 1958.

Sally Go Round the Roses—Anny Celsi.  The Jaynetts’ original went to #2 on the charts in 1963.  Anny’s remake is special because her backing singers for this Girl Group classic are Evie Sands (whose earlier records have been included in Girl Group compilations) and Teresa Cowles, who has been quite busy in the last dozen years playing electric bass in at least ten different groups.

Tangle Free World—Anny Celsi.  One of Anny’s signature songs, the title track from her 2009 CD.

Shoulda Been My Lover—FunkyJenn (Jennifer Gibbons).  The first track on her Voodoo Queen CD, this is a kickass song that is now on a car CD for long drives when you need something to stay jacked up.  Back in July 2015, Jenn was part of another Second Sundays show and dedicated it to me (sorry Jenn, my heart belongs to Pat).  

Boom Boom---Funky Jenn.  The second track on the Voodoo Queen CD, I played it for Pat and she said, “Oooh!  That’s naughty!”  Yep, it doesn’t leave much to the imagination.  Run this back to back with “I Love Making Love to You” by Evie Sands, and “You Make Loving Fun” by Fleetwood Mac and you’re likely to melt down the stereo.

I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight---Linda Ronstadt.  The song was written by Bob Dylan, but Linda takes it to a whole new level (as she did with so many songs).  Good followup to “Boom Boom.”

While I Look at You---Evie Sands.  One of the numbers I’ve seen her sing in live shows, it’s from the Women in PrisonCD, the album that made me a permanent member of what local music critic and impresario Jonny Whiteside dubbed “The international cult of Sands worshipers.”  Another track with a sultry vibe for sure.

One Fine Day---The Wonderelles are a modern-day Girl Group that does tributes to songs from the 1950s through the 1980s.  They put on shows for the city park summer concert circuit, with varying numbers of instrumental backers, and Pat and I have seen them several times.  This Goffin-King song was originally recorded by the Chiffons in 1963, and then by Carol King in 1980.  Is it a “cover” if you’re the one who wrote the song in the first place?

Release Me---Esther Phillips was discovered by Johnny Otis in the early 1950s, when she recorded as Little Esther.  By 1962, she had gone out on her own, and made this splendid recording.  It was reissued in 1967 after Englebert Humperdinck covered it.  One of her previous recordings, “You Can Bet Your Life” is on my Careless Love compilation CD.

Charity Ball---Fanny, one of the first all-female rock bands, was a favorite of the late David Bowie.  This live recording from the 2014 CD reissue runs about 7 minutes and will rock your socks off.  Nowadays, June Millington, the guitarist, is part of a music institute in Massachusetts, and her sister Jean, the bass player, lives in Davis CA, where she is a friend of our younger daughter, who plays electric bass in a number of genres.

Like a Rock---Evie Sands, from her Shine for Me CD.  When I heard an advance copy, and told Evie that this was my favorite track, she said she had figured that I would like the “bluesy” flavor.

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