April 29, 2019

20,000 vinyl LPs 181: Duke Ellington ~ A Drum Is a Woman

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vinyl LP front cover detail
photographer unknown 
detail photo of album cover by Styrous®


Today, April 29, is the birthday of jazz great, Duke Ellington, He was born in 1899 in Washington, D.C. and was an American composer, pianist, and leader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his death on May 24, 1974, with a career spanning more than fifty years.    


Duke Ellington - November 3, 1954 
KFG Radio Studio 
photographer unknown


My favorite work by Ellington is A Drum Is a Woman which is a musical allegory by him and his long-time musical collaborator Billy Strayhorn with Ellington narrating the adventure. It is the story of how jazz came from Africa to the Americas, from there out into the world to be transformed and then back again to the Americas with new influences.       


vinyl LP front cover 
photographer unknown 
photo of album cover by Styrous®


It tells the story of Madam Zajj, brilliantly portrayed and sung by Joya Sherrill, the personification of African rhythm, and Carribee Joe, who has his roots firmly in the jungle with his drums. Joe comes to the Americas with his drum which is magically transformed into the beautiful and seductive Zajj who travels out into the world seeking fame and sophistication and melds with the influences of cultures she weaves through the story; it is a marvelous history of the rise and evolution of Jazz and Bebop.       
   
    
vinyl LP back cover
photo by Styrous®


A Drum Is a Woman was originally recorded for the Columbia label in 1956 but, According to Jazz Views (link below), Ellington had originally discussed the project with Orson Welles in 1941. It was produced for television on the US Steel Hour on May 8, 1957.  I saw this broadcast; it and every song (links below) of the production was forever burned into my memory on that evening. 
       
The performers were Joya Sherrill (link below) as Madam Zajj, Margaret Tynes (link below) singing A Drum Is a Woman and Ozzie Bailey (link below) as the innocent Carribee Joe.        



vinyl LP back cover details
detail photos by Styrous®



During the May 8, 1957, televised performance, Thomas Mcavoy photographed it for the weekly publication, Life Magazine.


Thomas Mcavoy A Drum Is a Woman Life images






 











        



There are some great songs from the production, my favorites is, What else can you do with a drum? As Joe's drum has been magically turned into the vibrant, sensual Madam Zajj, and a woman should not be beaten, it begs the question.




vinyl LP back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®


 



vinyl LP back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®


A stage performance was produced by Marc Stager on June 24, 1988, at Symphony Space in Manhattan with pianist and arranger Chris Cherney leading the orchestra and Duke's son Mercer Ellington.      
      

vinyl LP, side 1
photo by Styrous®


vinyl LP label, side 1
photo by Styrous®






vinyl LP, side 2
photo by Styrous®


vinyl LP label, side 2
photo by Styrous®

          
Tracklist:

Side 1:

    Part 1
A1 - A Drum Is A Woman   
A2 - Rhythm Pum Te Dum   
A3 - What Else Can You Do With A Drum
   
    Part 2
A4 - New Orleans   
A5 - Hey, Buddy Bolden   
A6 - Carribee Joe   
A7 - Congo Square   

Side 2:

    Part 3
B1 - A Drum Is A Woman (Part 2)   
B2 - You Better Know It   
B3 - Madam Zajj   
B4 - Ballet Of The Flying Saucers   

    Part 4
B5 - Zajj's Dream   
B6 - Rhumbop   
B7 - Carribee Joe (Part 2)   
B8 - Finale   

Credits:

    Alto Saxophone – Johnny Hodges, Rick Henderson, Russell Procope
    Baritone Saxophone – Harry Carney
    Bass – Jimmy Woode
    Bongos – Candido Camero*
    Cello – Ray Nance
    Clarinet – Harry Carney, Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope
    Drums – Sam Woodyard, Terry Snyder
    Harp – Betty Glamann
    Liner Notes – Irving Townsend
    Music By, Lyrics By, Arranged By – Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington
    Orchestra – Duke Ellington And His Orchestra
    Piano, Leader – Duke Ellington
    Tenor Saxophone – Jimmy Hamilton, Paul Gonsalves
    Trombone – Britt Woodman, John Sanders, Quentin Jackson
    Trumpet – Cat Anderson, Clark Terry, Ray Nance, Willie Cook
    Violin – Ray Nance
    Vocals – Joya Sherrill, Margaret Tynes, Ozzie Bailey

Notes:

Original release on 6-eye Columbia label. 

The album was re-released on CD in 2014 with the song Pomegranate as a bonus track at the end of the CD.

All tracks recorded in New York on September 17, 24, 25 & 28, and October 22 & 23, 1956 except for tracks B2 and B8 (December 6, 1956) and CD bonus track 16 (March 7, 1957).      
          
Duke Ellington And His Orchestra ‎– A Drum Is A Woman
Label: Columbia ‎– CL 951
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Mono
Country: US
Released: 1957
Genre: Jazz
Style: Big Band
       
         
        
Viewfinder links:        
       
Duke Ellington           
    
Net links:        

BandChirps ~ Joya Sherrill
Black Past ~ Margaret Tynes
I Witness ~ Ozzie Bailey      
Jazz Views ~ A Drum Is A Woman     
Literary Hub ~ Duke Ellington Wanted to Be a Writer      
NY Times ~ Ellington's Drum Is A Woman review      
Oxford University ~ Ellington’s A Drum Is a Woman turns 60   
Villesville ~ Drum Again...         
   
YouTube links:        
       
A Drum Is A Woman (full album)
A Drum Is a Woman     
Rhythm Pum Te Dum
What Else Can You Do With A Drum     
New Orleans     
Hey, Buddy Bolden       
You Better Know It         
Carribee Joe (Part 2)          
Finale        
vinyl LP front cover detail
photographer unknown 
detail photo of album cover by Styrous®
 
     
           

Styrous® ~ Monday, April 29, 2019       





     





Tina Turner articles/mentions

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The Platters ~ Only You (And You Alone) 
The Who ~ Tommy     
  
    
    
photographer unknown
    
    
  
    
    
  
    
    











Buck Ram articles/mentions

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The Platters ~        
My Prayer      
Only You (And You Alone)      
(You've Got) The Magic Touch      
     
    
     
Buck Ram    
photographer unknown     
     

     











April 26, 2019

45 RPM 31: The Platters ~ Only You (And You Alone)


7" 45 single in original Mercury Records sleeve
photo by Styrous®


Only You (And You Alone) by The Platters is for me the most beautiful love song I have ever heard! There are many, MANY wonderful love ballads that I adore but Only You is at the apex of them all.   





The Platters first recorded the song for Federal Records on May 20, 1954, but it was never released. They re-recorded the song on April 26, 1955, for Mercury Records. It was released the following month in May and became a major hit. The song has been covered by many other recording artists (link below).       

For me, Only You was the first "serious" love song of the modern "pop music" era. By serious I mean not only excellent musically in orchestration and execution but with lyrics that conveyed the feeling of sincere commitment, deep love and an intensity of emotion.      

"Serious" love songs were standard in the 20's, 30's and 40's. Although, "serious" love songs were sung by Patty Page, Kay Starr, Vic Damone, etc., well into the fifties, they were doing it in the style of the 40's with lush orchestrations. The early fifties love songs were what I consider bubble gum or puppy-love songs. Perhaps that's because they were mostly sung by young kids with small combo backups. Then Only You came along and reset the standard.    

Only You was composed by Buck Ram who is best known for his long association with The Platters. He also wrote, produced and arranged for the Penguins, the Coasters, the Drifters, Ike and Tina Turner, Ike Cole, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, and many others.      




Only You (And You Alone) lyrics

Only you, can make this world seem right
Only you, can make the darkness bright
Only you, and you alone, can thrill me like you do
And fill my heart with love for only you
O-only you, can make this change in me
For it's true, you are my destiny
When you hold my hand, I understand the magic that you do
You're my dream come true, my one and only you
O-only you, can make this change in me
For it's true, you are my destiny
When you hold my hand, I understand the magic that you do
You're my dream come true, my one and only you


The "B" side of the record is an upbeat, doo wop tune called Bark, Battle and Ball (link below). The vocal lead is by Zola Taylor.  It's feeling, theme and tempo is completely opposite from that of Only You.          

            
The Platters ~ Bark, Battle & Ball 
7" 45 single in original Mercury Records sleeve
photo by Styrous®


The line up for The Platters was headed by tenor Tony Williams with David Lynch, Paul Robi, bass Herb Reed, and Zola Taylor. Reed later recalled how the group hit upon its successful version: "We tried it so many times, and it was terrible. One time we were rehearsing in the car ... and the car jerked. Tony went 'O-oHHHH-nly you.' We laughed at first, but when he sang that song—that was the sign we had hit on something." According to Buck Ram, Tony Williams' voice "broke" in rehearsal, but they decided to keep this effect in the recording. This was the only Platters recording on which songwriter and manager Ram played the piano.      



The Platters ~ Bark, Battle & Ball 
7" 45 single, side 2
photo by Styrous®


Only You was number 1 on the U.S. R & B charts for seven weeks, and hit number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It remained there for 30 weeks, beating out a cover version by The Hilltoppers. When the Platters track, The Great Pretender (which eventually surpassed the success of Only You), was released in the UK as Europe's first introduction to The Platters, Only You was included on the flipside. In the 1956 film Rock Around the Clock, The Platters participated with both songs, Only You (link below) and The Great Pretender.         


The Platters ~ Bark, Battle & Ball 
7" 45 single label, side 2
photo by Styrous®


      
Viewfinder links:      
            
Duke Ellington            
Ella Fitzgerald            
Patti Page      
Patti Page     


Patti Page         
The Platters      
    
Net links:             
       
The Platters:
Original lineup (1953)
Classic lineup (1954–1970)       
The Platters Singles discography
Only You (And You Alone) covers       
     
YouTube links:  
   
Only You (And You Alone)        
Only You (And You Alone) film footage       
Bark, Battle and Ball        
    
        
         
     
         
Styrous® ~ Friday, April 26, 2019            
         


       
          
          
       










The Viewfinder 'desert island' vinyl LP list

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I have heard people talk of the music they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert Island. 

This is the list of the albums I would take on my 'desert island' . . .   


photo by Styrous®
    
      
         
Breakfast at Tiffany's        
Eraserhead      
Florence Foster Jenkins         
Flower Drum Song       
The Rocky Horror Picture Show             
Saturday Night Fever   
The Skatt Brothers       
Jack Scott     
Star Wars       
Gabor Szabó ~ Dreams        
West Side Story 
     
           
to be continued . . .           
       







April 23, 2019

20,000 vinyl LPs 180: The Rolling Stones ~ Sticky Fingers

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vinyl LP front cover with working zipper
conceived by Andy Warhol, design by Craig Braun 
album cover photo by Billy Name
photo of album cover by Styrous®


Sticky Fingers was released on this date, April 23, in 1971, 48 years ago! WOW! I just can't believe it! I have loved every album The Rolling Stones have produced, some more, some less but Sticky Fingers is at the top and on my 'desert isle' list (link below). 

Each song is outstanding in one way or another. What is a better song to dance to than Brown Sugar? For psychedelic drug trips, Moonlight Mile is among the best there is. And has there ever been a more beautiful song of devotion to love than Wild Horses?    

Then there is the cover! The original cover artwork was conceived by Andy Warhol and photographed and designed by members of his art collective, The Factory.    

Sticky Fingers sits quite firmly in my, "Just the cover, Ma'am" category as well (link below). The album's artwork emphasizes the suggestive innuendo of the Sticky Fingers title, showing a close-up of a jeans-clad male crotch with the visible outline of a large penis.


vinyl LP front cover detail with working zipper
conceived by Andy Warhol, design by Craig Braun 
album cover photo by Billy Name
detail photo of album cover by Styrous®


The cover of the original vinyl LP release featured a working zipper and perforations around the belt buckle that opened to reveal a sub-cover image of cotton briefs. The vinyl release displayed the band's name and album title along the image of the belt; behind the zipper the white briefs were seemingly rubber stamped in gold with the stylized name of American pop artist Andy Warhol, below which read "THIS PHOTOGRAPH MAY NOT BE—ETC."


vinyl LP gatefold cover interior with working zipper
conceived by Andy Warhol, design by Craig Braun 
album cover photo by Billy Name
photo of album cover interior by Styrous®



vinyl LP gatefold cover interior detail with working zipper
conceived by Andy Warhol, design by Craig Braun 
album cover photo by Billy Name
detail photo of album cover interior by Styrous®

vinyl LP gatefold cover interior detail
conceived by Andy Warhol, design by Craig Braun 
album cover photo by Billy Name
detail photo of album cover interior by Styrous®


The artwork was conceived by Warhol, the photography was by Billy Name and the design was by Craig Braun (link below). Braun and his team had other ideas, such as wrapping the album in rolling paper - a concept later used by Cheech & Chong in Big Bambu - but Jagger was enthused by Warhol's cover with a zipper. Execution was then handled as Warhol sent Braun Polaroid pictures of a model in tight jeans.    


vinyl LP back cover 
conceived by Andy Warhol, design by Craig Braun 
album back cover photo by Billy Name
photo of album back cover by Styrous®


The cover photo of a male model's crotch clad in tight blue jeans was assumed by many fans to be an image of Mick Jagger, but the people actually involved at the time of the photo shoot claim that Warhol had several different men photographed (Jagger was not among them) and never revealed which shots he used. Among the candidates, Jed Johnson, Warhol's lover at the time, denied it was his likeness, although his twin brother Jay is a possibility. Those closest to the shoot, and subsequent design, name Factory artist and designer Corey Tippin (link below) as the likeliest candidate. Warhol "superstar" Joe Dallesandro claims to have been the model.      

After retailers complained that the zipper was causing damage to the vinyl (from stacked shipments of the record), the zipper was "unzipped" slightly to the middle of the record, where damage would be minimized.        
The album features the first usage of the "tongue & lips" logo of Rolling Stones Records, originally designed by John Pasche in 1970 and modified by Craig Braun (link below) in 1971. Jagger suggested to Pasche that he copy the outstuck tongue of the Hindu goddess Kali, and while Pasche first felt it would date the image back to the Indian culture craze of the 1960s, seeing Kali made him change his mind. Before the end of that year his basic version was faxed to Craig Braun by Marshall Chess.     
      
  
original "tongue & lips" logo
designed by Craig Braun 


The black and white copy was then modified by Braun and his team, resulting in today's most popular red version, the slim one with the two white stripes on the tongue.   


new "tongue & lips" logo
designed by John Pasche
       
     
The "tongue & lips" logo was used for the vinyl LP record sleeve and the record labels.


record sleeve with Rolling Stones logo
photo of record sleeve by Styrous®










Critic Sean Egan has said of the logo, "Without using the Stones' name, it instantly conjures them, or at least Jagger, as well as a certain lasciviousness that is the Stones' own ... It quickly and deservedly became the most famous logo in the history of popular music." The tongue and lips design was part of a package that, in 2003, VH1 named the "No. 1 Greatest Album Cover" of all time.     




record sleeve with Rolling Stones
photo of record sleeve by Styrous®
 

For the initial vinyl release the album title and band name is smaller and at the top on the American release. In the UK release the title and band name are in bigger letters and on the left.
     

The Rolling StonesSticky Fingers ad with the original artwork - 1971
left to right: Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman,
Keith Richards, and Mick Jagger


         
Viewfinder links:                      
       
“Just the cover, ma’am!”        
Mick Jagger          
      
Net links:        
       
Craig Braun
Festival Peak ~ How an Album Cover Defined the Rolling Stones  
RolllingStone Magazine ~ Sticky Fingers 1971 review    
Corey Tippin           
        
YouTube links:        
       
Brown Sugar   
Moonlight Mile       
Wild Horses       
     
       
       
     
Styrous® ~ Tuesday, 23, April, 2019