Old Curiosity Shop
By Bob Davis dnry122@yahoo.com

Bobby Boy’s Old Curiosity Shop for November 2020

Here in the Old Curiosity Shop, Bobby Boy is recalling the days of yesteryear with some thoughts that could be summed up in that Grateful Dead song from 49 years ago, Truckin' "What a long, strange trip it's been....."

Hard to believe we're almost one-fifth of the way through the 21st Century!  Back in 1972, my first wife and I were filling out papers for the mortgage to buy a newer home five blocks east of our first abode in Duarte.  The escrow officer commented that she had encountered a number of people who were struck by the fact that their 30 year mortgages were (if everything went according to plan) going to be paid off in the next century.  Home computers, cell phones, VCRs and compact discs were still in the future.  Regular gas was still about 26 cents a gallon and a color TV set was still a few years away for us.  As it turned out, we were divorced in 1987, and she got the house, which she refinanced about two years later, retiring that 30 year mortgage.  The return of electric railway travel to Los Angeles was still 18 years away.  Creedence Clearwater Revival had peaked on the charts and Elton John's star was rising.  Japanese car makers were starting to make inroads on Detroit, and the 1973 gas crisis would give them a sales boost.  The previous year had seen the already thinned ranks of passenger trains cut in half with the advent of Amtrak.  Things that seem like ancient history now were in the headlines. 

Compact discs were an advance in audio recording technology that I didn't get into until the price of a no-name CD player got down to $120 in 1986.  I had already made some home-brew compilation cassette tapes, and one of the drawbacks of CDs was that one could not record them at home.  Toward the end of the 1990s, the CD-R format was developed, and when I bought my Honda Accord in 2001 with the car stereo unit that would play CDs rather than tapes, I bought a Yamaha CD recorder unit so I could make compilation CDs and not let radio program directors choose my road tunes for me.  Here's one of my early creations: 

22 FOR THE  ROAD

Ordinary radio got you down?  47 stations and nothing worth listening to?  Put this in your ears!  A wide variety of tunes, most featuring great guitar work and a lot of memorable singing.  (And one bogus track)

1)  Boil 'Em Cabbage Down  Leon McAuliffe: From the CD "Take It Away the Leon Way", which also has a country version of  "Night Train" (1952?).  Country-style instrumental.

2)   4 AM  Lisa Marr Experiment: The Lisa Marr Experiment features Lisa Marr on vocals and Fender Bass.  Their style combines country, rock big-band, and even a bit of Celtic musical influences.  You may detect echoes of "Boil 'Em Cabbage Down" in "4AM", which is the title track of the LMX's first CD, on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label.  I first encountered this band at Spaceland, in the Silver Lake district, when they performed a set as part of an International Pop Overthrow session.

3)   Beer and Whiskey  Lisa Marr Experiment: More rowdy rock and roll from LMX.

4)   Gasoline and Coffee  Evie Sands: Another combination of volatile liquids, this time vocalized by our new fave, Evie Sands.  Ever since Pat tipped me off to her performance at Borders Pasadena in Nov. 2000, she has been on my don't miss list. This song is from her first CD/album in many years, "Women in Prison", a rather grim title that's in front of a marvelous collection that wins the "Bobby" award for CD of the Century.  Update!  In April 2020, Evie was scheduled to release an album on CD and Vinyl with about a dozen new Sandsongs!  To borrow a title from the “Women in Prison” CD, she “ain’t done yet”.  But then the great pandemic struck, and many schedules went right into the shredder.  So it may happen late in 2020 or we’ll see it and hear it in 2021.

5)   Call Me the Breeze  J.J. Cale

I first heard this on the background music system at the Red Car Brewery in Torrance.   I already had the Lynyrd Skynyrd version, but this appealed to me as a more down-home style.  I had to guess the artist, because they didn't back announce, but a little music detective work led me to J.J. Cale.  He also wrote "After Midnight" and "Cocaine" which became bigger hits for Eric Clapton.  One of the lines is "might go down to Georgia, I don't know..." which leads into----

6)   Keep Your Hands to Yourself  Georgia Satellites

The Georgia Satellites came and went during a period when I was heavily involved in railroading and square dancing, so even though this song went to #2 in 1986, I never heard it until the Sonic Fonics performed it in LA's Chinatown in 2002.  The Sonic Fonics were a cover band, led by founder Ray Chin, with an ever-changing lineup of players and singers, that played an eclectic list of songs from the 1950s to the 1990s.  I learned about them through Lester, my son-in-law, who sang, and played bass, guitar and tenor sax for about three years until time constraints and artistic differences led to his leaving the band.  During Summer 2003, I attended two of their 2nd Saturday of the month gigs at Chinatown, the August show reached by the newly opened Gold Line light rail!

7)  Long Tall Glasses  Leo Sayer: Getting to our "traveling" theme, I heard this in the '70s, probably on somebody's workbench radio at Hoffman Electronics.  I never have found who the guitarist laying down those wicked licks was, but Ry Cooder is a leading suspect.  I'm not a big Leo Sayer fan, but this song's a winner. When Adam was doing his “'70s Sessions” I kept threatening to stand up and sing this, because I know the words without a cheat sheet, but it didn’t happen (and it may be just as well).

8)  No One to Talk To But the Blues  The Derailers: Daughter Vicky sent me "Reverb Deluxe", which includes "Can't Stop a Train".  This song, which was recorded back in 1958 on the Caddy label by Jack & Jill as an R&B number, gets the full country treatment with plenty of fine guitar work.

9)  Sunshine of Your Love  Cream: Featuring Eric Clapton on guitar.  'Nuff said.

10)  Anyway That You Want Me  Evie Sands: Here's Evie again, with her hit from 1969, one that finally put her on the Top 100 after a series of misfortunes, such as having a recording "stolen" by another record label and a label going broke just after releasing one of her songs.  Definitely the most sophisticated production in this compilation.  Whether there's ten or a thousand in attendance, Evie brings it all to the performance.

11)  Jam up and Jelly Tight   Tommy Roe: Another "heard on the road" song, this was on the radio while I was driving out to San Bernardino one day in 1969, on my way to the Santa Fe Radio Shop.  Probably the closest thing I have to bubble gum music.

12)  Hold on Tight  Electric Light Orchestra: ELO really cranks on this one!  Not the original version but still a winner, even though it’s rather short.

13)  Don't Bring Me Down  ELO: Pat and I were driving through San Luis Obispo County on 101 in 2002 when this song came on the radio.  It was the studio version; this cut is from a performance in Melbourne, Australia (heaven on Earth for tramway nuts), complete with enthusiastic Aussies in the audience.

14)  Can't Let Go  Lucinda Williams: I learned about Lucinda Williams from her duet with Evie on "Cool Blues Story".  This recording features three guitarists playing slide-style; I've been a fan of slide guitar ever since hearing Elmore James records in the late '50's, so this is hog heaven!  I’ve even heard it on the sound system at the Hastings Ranch Trader Joe’s!

15)  Going Home  Rolling Stones:  Longest song in the collection, runs about eleven minutes.  There's a guitar break toward the end that just blows me away.  Said to be popular with radio DJ's who need to visit the rest room.  Lots of railroad feel.

16)   (false start) (five yard penalty)

17)  Give Me One Reason  Tracy Chapman: This one I heard at a Sonic Fonics concert and traced back to Tracy Chapman's "New Beginnings" CD from the '90s.  More recently I was at the CVS drug store next door to our local Trader Joe’s.  Not only was this song on the PA system, one of the staff members was singing along!

18)  Mule Skinner Blues  The Cramps: This song's older than I am, originally written and recorded by Jimmie Rodgers, one of the pioneers in recorded country music.  Featuring Lux Interior on vocal and "Poison Ivy" Rorshach on wicked electric guitar.  I used to cue it up on my way to work in the morning-- gets the ol' system up to speed.  “Muleskinner” is an old term for teamster, a person who drives mules (or horses).  My dad had an uncle who was a muleskinner (but that’s another story)

19)  How Many More Years  Howlin' Wolf: From way back in 1951, with a young Ike Turner on that sizzling piano intro.   Fuzz-tone guitar said to be from an amp that fell off someone's car or the tour bus, and was hastily patched together to make the recording session. (good story anyway)  Back about 20 years ago I was a streetcar host on the newly extended San Francisco Muni “F” line and heard some street musicians playing this near the Powell St. turntable.

20)  Good Music  Joan Jett: Joan and the Blackhearts, with 60% of the Beach Boys and Darlene Love (lead singer on many Phil Spector productions), rock out in this 1986 "Bobby" award winner.

21)  Night Time  Creedence Clearwater Revival: From the 1969 album "Green River", previously recorded by Ray Charles.  Great example of the CCR swamp rock sound.

22)  Louie Louie  The Kingsmen: All-time favorite garage-band song, originally recorded in quasi-Calypso style (and written by) Richard Berry in 1956.  Not the most polished production, but the glitches are part of the charm.  Used many years later  in  the movie “[National Lampoon’s] Animal House”.  No toga party is complete without it.

Compiled by Bob Davis on Yamaha CD recorder at Igor's Room Studio  Dec. 2002

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