SUMMER SONGS OF INNOCENCE & EXPERIENCE

by William Blake (1794)

With the sun rolling towards its apogee in the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice is fast approaching and with it the first official day of summer! (although the temperature itself had as of late seemed to be insisting upon this season’s arrival for some time now).

In the 2010 documentary Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child by Tamra Davis, the artist and filmmaker, Julian Schnabel says something regarding how summer in New York City is an incredibly lonely season, something about them being “a motherfucker.” Although the film itself is great and certainly recommended-viewing, I couldn’t disagree with Mr. Schnabel’s statement more.

BIG SUN by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1984).

Summer always seems to me to be received as the highlight of the year, when most appear to be attempting to cram in as many experiences as they can (even when these experiences sometimes entail lying prostrate in the heat, or strolling without purpose); all before we return to hunched shoulders, clenched fists in coat pockets, marching through the frost to arrive at Point B directly from Point A. Additionally, I’ve always found that the dichotomy created by both the overwhelming desire for one to take it easy and enjoy themselves, coupled by the urge to get-it-while-you-can, serves to heighten our sense of appreciation and elevate our summer days and nights into the territory of “fun times.”

Therefore, in celebratory anticipation, I present two tracks today that serve as small samples from either end of summer’s broad spectrum:

INNOCENCE

Prominent in my mind during this season is the easy joy to be found in all the summertime cookouts and backyard BBQs. Friends gathered—laughing and enjoying each other’s company—all awaiting for a bite of the undisputed main attraction on the grill at these events: The Hamburger.

…Yes they are, and so, from 1966, here’s Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces with “The Hamburger Song.”

———————————————————-(CLICK TO LISTEN)

like it? Buy it.

Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces

This amusing little song (which appropriates the rhymes of children’s hand-clap games, another feature of the summer as you often see little girls in pairs pass the time running through the complicated sequence of gestures that accompany each line) appeared on Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces sole album, Searching For My Love. It was released on the Chess label’s imprint, Checker. New Orleans native Bobby Moore (tenor saxophone) had joined the US Army in his teens and formed the initial line-up of the Rhythm Aces with members of the Fort Benning marching band. However, moving to Montgomery, Alabama in the early ’60s he put together a new group under the same name, featuring his brother, Larry Moore (alto saxophone), Chico Jenkins (vocals, guitar), Marion Sledge (guitar), Joe Frank (bass), Clifford Laws (keyboards), and John Baldwin, Jr. (drums). In 1965, recording what would become the title track of their debut at the renowned Florence Alabama Music Enterprises (FAME) Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama—on the strength of that song alone the group was picked up by Leonard and Marshall Chess. The group would continue to release various singles for the label throughout the decade, and although there are some fine slices of southern soul and R&B, none of them have quite the same sense of delight as “The Hamburger Song.”

EXPERIENCE

On the other side of the gold coin of summer there’s the heat; the sultry nights of grooving, sweating, and exposed skin: in the words of Sandy D. and Danny Zuko, “Summer lovin’ had me a blast.” In the spirit of being a gentleman (and perhaps a bit of the attitude of “if you have to ask, you’ll never know”), I’ll jump straight into our second song: “Touch Me Again” by Bernard “Pretty” Purdie.

—————————————————–(CLICK TO LISTEN)

like it? Buy it.

Considered one of the finest drummers of all time, Bernard Purdie made his career as a go-to session drummer, hired to add some physical presence and precision timing to tracks by such artists as James Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Steely Dan, Isaac Hayes, and Hall & Oates (and rumored overdubs for early albums by The Beatles). In addition, Purdie served as musical director for Aretha Franklin throughout the early-to-mid seventies, particularly during her Young, Gifted and Black era.

However, “Touch Me Again” comes not from any of his numerous (300+) session works, but from an album that he wrote, produced, and performed himself—the soundtrack to the first major black porn movie (often described as the “black Deep Throat”): Lialeh.

Released in 1973 (while the soundtrack itself would be released the following year), Purdie agreed to score this skin-flick, as it would be the first time he’d be credited as a “writer/composer.” And what an amazing soundtrack did he put together; assembling some top-notch session players such as wind instrumentalists Seldon Powell, Garnett Brown, Arthur Clarke, and Jimmy Owens, bassist Wilbur Bascomb, Ernest Hayes on organ, Horace Ott on Fender Rhodes as well as overseeing the arrangements, and Sandi Hewitt handling the sassy vocals for the lyrics provided by director, Baron Bercovichy.

“Pretty” Purdie today [photo by Fabrice Bourgelle Pyres]

Track for track this soundtrack lays down a complex but sensuous groove, whether it be on the funky floor burner “Hap’nin’,” or the bawdy ’60s swing of “All Pink On The Inside.” In 2003 the phenomenal reissue label Light In The Attic Records re-released this soundtrack and I highly recommend you pick up a copy. Oh, and “Pretty” Purdie and crew make a cameo as the film opens with them jamming the title-track at a music-club/sex-show. Highly skilled funk and topless gyrations, what more does a music video need?

Well, here’s to a marvelously full summer! Hope it feels good.

————Bobby Calero———————————-

Ref:

Bercovichy, B., & Purdie, B. (1973) (Creator) baaadmutha75 (Poster) (2011, Apr 25) Bernard Purdie – Opening scene from Lialeh (1973) [Video] retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdc0L8B0bC0

Purdie, B. (1973) Touch Me Again [recorded by Bernard Purdie] On Lialeh [Vinyl] Bryan Records (1974). [CD]             Light In The Attic (2003)

Moore, B. (1966) The Hamburger Song [recorded by Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces] On Searching For My Love [Vinyl] Checker (1966)

Sharonmnich (2009) (Creator). sharonmnich (Poster) (2009, Oct. 2) Eenie Meanie Sassaleeny Clapping Songs [Video] retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBVksBh0cLg&feature=player_embedded

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 thoughts on “SUMMER SONGS OF INNOCENCE & EXPERIENCE

  1. nick says:

    right on…julian schnabel is a ponce. for years I’d heard a story about him coming up to a friends’ dad at a party in the 80s, an artist who achieved some success in the commercial realm, and telling the man that he would be much more famous. sure, as it turned out, he was right, but years later I had the displeasure of encountering him while working as a gallery sitter (boojy for security guard) at Zwirner in Chelsea. not only did he have a defacto entourage of fat, sunglasses-wearing creeps, but he was such a dick for no reason. making fun of the artist (who’d recently died) and belittling those of us working there.

    schnabel deserves nothing but contempt. he reminds me of the line from scanner darkly about robert downey jr’s character, how he doesnt make anything happen, per se, he just waits around until you’re dying to stand over your corpse.

  2. diane chess says:

    Why is it that Marshall Chess’s name is always synonymously given credit for the old Chess Records?? It was:” Leonard and Phil Chess”. Marshall wasn’t even in the picture then. His working time at Chess Records was long after what Chess was known for. Why isn’t it obvious to anyone that Marshall Chess had nothing to do with the famous Chess Records. He isn’t capable of setting it straight but it should be. It’s amazing just how many people are lacking in common sense. There are some who are keen enough, some.
    The linking of the two names:”Leonard and Marshall Chess” is a joke. There was no linkage of any sort any how, none. Marshall knows that but as long as he can pull it off, he will. And for that very reason is why there was no linkage. And, Leonard is dead. So.

    • If I am mistaken, then I apologize. However, as at the moment I have no time to go over what aspect of my research led me to write Marshall’s name, I am willing to take your word for it and let the comment stand without any attempt at rebuttal. Thanks for reading.

  3. Brian says:

    Gee wiz, Diane, relax, he made a mistake and put Leonard’s son’s name instead of Leonard’s brother’s name, all you had to do was correct him nicely. By the way, thanks for mentioning The Hamburger Song, which is one of my new favorites since I discovered it recently through a Florida act called The Rockin’ Jake Band which plays it at their shows. It’s funky and funny, my kind of musical chemistry.

    • Hey thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yeah “The Hamburger Song” is simply a hoot! If I’m ever down Florida way I’ll try to check out The Rockin’ Jake Band’s rendition.
      As for the Chess issue, I’m still not sure that I am wrong. I read somewhere that Bobby Moore was picked up by the label on Marshall’s suggestion. As he would’ve been 23 or so at the time, I’m sure he would’ve somehow been involved with his father’s and uncle’s business, especially seeing as how that same year he would be heading up his own imprint under the label, Cadet Records, and then serve as President for Chess Records itself within 4 years of “The Hamburger Song” being recorded. Of course, I could be reading faulty information about all this, and again, If I am mistaken, then I apologize.
      Thanks for reading and I hope you come back around for more!
      All the best,
      Bobby

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: