Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Audidisc Recording Acetate Unknown Artist and Year
Just saw this in a pile of 45s at an antique mall, it was surrounded by a bunch of soul, so I picked it up seeing how it indicated a cover of the Lieber-Stoller classic, "Kansas City", was on it. There was a sticker indicating the song that I have since tried to remove to see if I could discover the artist's or group's name. Unfortunately, peeling the sticker ripped the label so if there was an artist listed, I'm not going to figure it out anytime soon.
It's pretty beat up and has heavy surface noise, so much so, it's not a very enjoyable listen. But, at the same time, it's a keeper. It's obviously local, it's obviously old, and the players do "Kansas City." It's done with male vocals, and very much in the Kansas City shout or jump blues style. There's a cool backbeat, guitar solo, and backing chatter that would make it good at a club if the copy were clean. There's a vibe run in the middle. Based on that, I don't think this was done at the time Big Joe Tuner was ruling the blues scene, but likely a group of throwbacks that recorded the demo in the early to mid-60's. It doesn't feature the "Hey, Hey, Hey" made famous by Little Richard or the Beatles, so I'm thinking on the earlier than 1965. Then again, the vibes...could be a lot later. At the end, there's also a shout out, "Get some BBQ!", which could mean it was done as a demo for some elaborate restaurant give-away record. The flip side features a female singer, doing the song "Jim" that was made famous by Billie Holiday. It's awfully close to torch jazz, like Holiday's version, but has a lot more swing due to instrumentation. The group didn't have horns apparently, so they rely on a blues riff, a chugging organ line, and a jazz inflicted drum line.
Despite not being able to identify the players, the acetate gives me the chance to discuss the song "Kansas City." Written by the song Lieber & Stoller in 1952 when those dudes were just 19 year old, living in Los Angeles, neither of them had ever been to Kansas City prior to writing the song and wrote the tune based on Big Joe Turner records they heard. Amazing how much they got from Big Joe Turner, huh? It was first recorded by Little Willie Littlesfield as a blues song and was put out by the Federal Label as "K.C. Lovin'". The song had some success as a blues tune, but was a hit in 1959 when North Carolina artist, Wilbert Harrison, recorded a slightly striped down version under the original title. After that, tons of people recorded the track. Little Richard's rendition was the first to feature the "Hey, Hey, Hey" that the Beatles recorded. James Brown also recorded a successful version of the tune. At his funeral, it was requested that Marva Whitney to perform the tune. The song is now the official song of Kansas City, in the Rock N' Roll hall of fame, and widely considered as one of the songs that shaped rock n' roll.