Rascals Redding Ritter

They started out as the Young Rascals, sporting knickerbockers & newsboy hats when groups and to have a look. As they became popular & older they dropped the ‘young’ & switched from knickerbockers to bellbottoms & tied-died t-shirts. I was a fan of their hits & they had many of those. Top 10 radio hit parade heroes. With a fun, pop r’n’b sound with covers like Mustang Sally, Midnight Hour & sunny originals like Good Lovin’, Groovin’ & ballads How Can I Be Sure.

They were incredibly popular without being bubble gum disposable. A more soulful version of the Lovin’ Spoonful. I have 3 stand-alones a self-titled, Collections & the hits collection The Ultimate. They were a ‘singles’ group & the hits collection is excellent. I’ve also had Freedom Suite & See in which their sound & direction changed & the fan weren’t happy with there jazzier work.

The Rascals were a teen group where as Otis Redding was clearly for adults. Some of his songs would drift into the top forty but, at least in Cape Breton, such deep soul wasn’t in demand. He wasn’t as accessible as say Wilson Picket or Sam & Dave. His songs were about heartbreak & white boys really didn’t dance to them.

I picked up a cd of his Ultimate hits & that lead me to download the Complete Studio Albums. That’s a lot of great soulful music – it incudes King and Queen, a set with Carla Thomas. There is an equal number of live recordings & his  gospel roots shine on those. Solid, gritty but never as funky as James Brown. 

To round out the Redding mp3 cd I added When The Sun Goes Down, an amazing collection of vintage gospel by the likes of Paul Robeson – one see the roots of rock’n’roll here. Finally I filled out this cd with another classic voice: Tex Ritter – The Streets of Larado. An astonishing bass voice singing country classics like the title track, Rye Whiskey & what has to be one of my favourite old country songs Blood On The Saddle – this song gives me chills. The bass guitar plunk when he sings there was Blood on the saddle is a work of art.

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Joe Joe Jo Joe Joe Joe

This next cd on the shelf is an mp3 collection filed under ‘j’ for Joe because these are all ‘Joe’s.’

Here is Joe Simon’s My adorable one (Vee Jay); Happy Birthday, Baby; Get Down. The first is a compilation of singles when he was recording with Vee Jay. Soulful & sweet & traditional r’n’b. The next two are later in his career and have a great strut disco sound that I love. You know that Blaxploitation movie sound that Isaac Hayes perfected. The songs are more sexual with great make out groove sultriness. His voice is pure sex too. 

Joe Tex: The Very Best Of – an amazing combo of gospel, country & soul. Another of those rich commanding voices that gave even indifferent material greater depth of feeling. Music I never heard on my local top 40 radio & now love.

Joe South: Introspect. Another southern soul singer with an amazing voice & also an amazing writer, best known for Game People Play, Never Promised You A Rose Garden – he straddled country & pop. Romantic social commentary.

Big Joe Turner: The Blues Collection – early rock’n’roll – Shake, Rattle, and Roll – soulful rock-a-billy by a performer who influenced nearly everyone starting with Elvis. Good fun stuff that’s great for doing housework 🙂

Jo Stafford – You Belong To Me. Stretching the Jo a little with this fine set of songs by one of the foremost female vocalists of the 50’s/60’s. Jo has a pure voice that is more jazz than pop. She was never in the youth market – this is adult music. Here is a set of a great show/movie songs done well.

Finally Country Joe McDonald: The Vanguard Years. Yes this the Country Joe of Country Joe & the Fish. He did have a solo career before, during & after the Fish. More hippy, folk blues than psychedelic experimental mind you. Just as political, romantic & never escape that faint counter-culture of marijuana. At least then grass was counter-culture.

Dead Details

‘This is Ross Hadley.’ The old gent ran his finger along the newspaper clipping. The photo showed several students surrounding a fellow who had broken his leg in a ski accident. The newspaper was over 50 years old and the old gent was pulled into his past before our very eyes. ‘He was Rob’s best friend. That’s Rob there with the broken leg.’

Rob was on the outer edge of the group. Face `turned toward the camera while most of the other faces where turned in his direction. I knew which one Rob was, as this was Rob’s funeral. 

I had selected the group of photos to put out. All of them were from a time when many of us wouldn’t have known Rob. But for this man, only this one was of a time when he knew Rob.

‘Ross and Rob were best of friends. Couldn’t pry them apart. Great chums they where. Ross we called Suit because he would show up in a different suit nearly everyday.’

Turns out they had gone to a proper dress school. Business suits were required.

‘We found out later that Ross’s Dad ran some sort of garment shop – made linens for all the hospitals in the city at that time and supplied uniforms too. So of course he could get decent clothes easily. Suit. Haven’t seen a picture of Suit for years. Not this one ever. You got any others.’

I didn’t. I had wanted a selection for the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. To bring a memory of a Rob we didn’t know, rather than current ones, they would be reminders of the Rob we would never see again.

‘He wasn’t much a student. I can recall one of his teachers saying ‘It would be nice if Rob would leave his dream world and join us in class.’ ’

I guess teachers don’t change much because I can recall a teacher saying almost the same thing to me years later in another part of the world. Big world, but the details remain the same. Boys would be boys wherever they were in time or place.

‘He was always laughing though. People liked him. You know? Now Ross here married Grace O’Connor. Her Dad owned several bakeries. Wonder what became of them? Haven’t heard of Ross for many years. I read the obits everyday though, so, just like reading about Rob here, I may see what’s become of Ross too.’

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every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: https://www.highlandartstheatre.com 


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September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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