A bit messy, but archival edition shows it was better than many remembered
Red Rose Speedway is a watershed album in the Wings catalog, coming as it does between the somewhat remedial Wild Life (which McCartney has also treated to an archival reissue this year) and Band on the Run, which is generally acknowledged to be Paul’s undeniable post-Beatles masterpiece. Neither Red Rose Speedway nor Band on the Run manages to bring Wings out from under Paul’s shadow, but both are worthy albums.
Tony Joe White passed away on October 24, 2018. He died suddenly at home of a heart attack only weeks after the release of his album Bad Mouthin’. The following piece is adapted from a review of White’s album The Heroines with additional observations on his collaborations with Shelby Lynne.
Tony Joe White’s music is generally described as swamp rock, and it is true that he was one of the first performers to have a hit record with that sound. Back in 1969, when “Polk Salad Annie” became a hit record, there were a few other performers, mostly black, playing a swampy cocktail of sounds from the southern United States, but the mainstream public had never really heard most of them.
How the paths of Ramsey Lewis and Maurice White led to the recording of this quiet storm classic
by Marshall Bowden
Ramsey Lewis was one of the more popular jazz musicians of the 1950s and 1960s, bridging the gap between gospel, blues, soul, and jazz. The Lewis of this period is best known for his gospel and blues-inflected pop tunes with a heavy backbeat, such as “The ‘In’ Crowd”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, and “Hang On Sloopy”.
Released in the summer of 1967, “Ode to Billie Joe” demonstrates how a good story can become more real than our own lives.
There was plenty going on that summer: the Monterey Pop Festival, Elvis married Priscilla, Richard Speck was executed, race riots raged across the country, the Vietnam War continued. The Doors released their debut album, Hendrix released Are You Experienced. Oh, and the Beatles dropped an album called Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. No one expected “Ode to Billie Joe,” the debut single by newcomer Bobbie Gentry, to make much of a splash.
But for a time, all America became obsessed by the question of what happened on Choctaw Ridge that caused Billie Joe McAllister to commit suicide by jumping off the bridge. Like Who Shot J.R.?, “Ode” became one of those cultural memes that spread like wildfire. Everyone wanted to know what the narrator and Billie Joe tossed off that same bridge: your third period teacher, Dad’s barber Luke, Grandma, the cop directing traffic. Maybe even Bob Dylan.
“Something cool…I’d like to order something cool” says the dame in the smoky, slightly seedy bar that is something out of a Raymond Chandler story. The kind of place where maybe there could be trouble at any moment; where maybe a couple of guys in raincoats with noses as crooked as a gerrymandered voting district come in and start asking questions. And that can’t be anything but trouble for you.
Former John Coltrane producer and Impulse! Records A&R man Bob Thiele founded the Flying Dutchman record label with the express intention of producing a line of jazz-based records that would sell and be played on the radio. He also recorded a lot of favorite jazz artists, including a great many leading avant-garde players (Ornette Coleman, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp) and others (Oliver Nelson, Bud Freeman) who found themselves without recording contracts. In 1971 the label was acquired by Atco, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records.