RADIO RPB #008 • April 27, 2018
Jazz Gillum – I Want You By My Side
Lee Dorsey & Betty Harris – Love Lots Of Lovin’
Nick Lowe- I’ve Changed My Wild Mind
Del Shannon – Sister Isabelle
Buddy & Julie Miller – Keep Your Distance
Glenda Collins – Something I’ve Got To Tell You
Tuff Darts – Rats
Tom Robinson Band – Man You Never Saw
The Rezillos – It Gets Me
The Escorts – Night Time
This week’s set starts off with a harmonica driven number by Jazz Gillum from Indianola, Mississippi. Despite its vintage, I Want You By My Side has the kind of rollicking feel that I’d more expect from a record one or two decades past its 1936 origin. Originally on the great Bluebird record label, this copy comes a Yazoo compilation.
I had the great joy of spending a few days in New Orleans recently, and I made sure to load up my portable music player with loads of songs local to that great city. Allen Toussaint wrote, produced and released this great number, Love Lots of Loving on his Sansu label. Lee Dorsey and Betty Harris treat it more as a shared song than a duet (I’m working on what that really means) and always a treat to hear Toussaint on those backup vocals.
I hear a little bit of publicity machine wind-up that Nick Lowe is coming back to rockin’ with a new rockabilly single in June 1018. Fact is that Nick Lowe never really left his rockin’ side, and I submit as evidence one side of this fun rockabilly single he released in 2011. Fun fact – he released this as a 7” 45rpm and gave marketing execs a curious task by also releasing the single as a 10” 78rpm disc. Even recent Robert Johnson 10” collectors reissues ran at 45rpm, so hat’s off to Nick Lowe, the purist!
Next, an absurdly catchy number about unrequited nun-love, performed by the great Del Shannon and co-written with Brian Hyland, best known for his huge hits with Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, and the sentimental end-of-summer lament, Sealed With A Kiss. I first encountered the oddball catchiness that is Sister Isabelle on an early Del Shannon CD compilation, but was happily surprised years later when I found that Teenage Fanclub felt the same affection for the song and performed the song at a BBC session with Frank Black.
Richard Thompson’s songwriting and performing career is long and intimidating. It was already long and intimidating to me in 1991 when he released his acclaimed Rumor and Sigh LP, but after dancing around his justifiably most famous LP’s with Linda Thompson, I dove deep into his catalog, and suggest to you that it is a worthy endeavor. Musical and lyrical rewards at every turn, and despite RT’s dour reputation, his wonderful sense of humor is a constant. Oops, I don’t play Richard Thompson this week, but I do play Buddy and Julie Miller’s cover of Rumor and Sigh’s Keep Your Distance. They treat it like a classic Richard & Linda duet and their performance takes a great song to even greater heights.
Glenda Collins was part of Joe Meek’s stable of stars, but I’m not so sure you could call her a star, at least if your barometer of success is making the pop charts. Every single one of her singles on Decca, HMV and Pye was a commercial flop, but that means little me at Radio RPB HQ. This flop is notable for its all around excellence – great melody, arrangement, production and vocal delivery. What could have gone wrong? Well, let’s face it – the lyric is , uh, unusual. Glenda confesses and apologizes for indiscretions “every time you go. What makes me do it, I don’t know.” Yow. Ouch. Not sure that the average 1966 lovelorn teeny was ready for that kind of trauma.
Man You Never Saw from Tom Robinson Band appeals to me for its sharp guitar breaks and paranoid lyrics!They’re best known for 2-4-6-8 Motorway, but their first LP Power In The Darkness (as well as the followup TRB 2) sound particularly good to me these days. Strong songs performed and arranged with lots of clever (but gimmick-free) touches, and Robinson’s lyrics were always ahead of their time.
The Rezillos 1978 Sire LP is tops and on the off chance that you don’t own a copy, please step away from this blog and make a purchase. Can’t Stand The Rezillos is just too good, too perfect. It hard to choose from its track list, so I made a conscious decision to choose It Gets Me, perhaps a lesser known track from this (did I mention) consistently fantastic LP.
And to shut things down on this episode we turn to the UK with The Escorts, and the b-side to their last single, Night Time. I’m a big fan of this record, and while I can understand why it didn’t hit the 1966 charts, it remains a favorite for me. I first encountered this song covered by Escorts über-fan Elvis Costello.That’s why I always the b-sides and credits!
That’s why I only operate at Night Time – listen in again next week!