Tuesday, February 21, 2006

PoohsDay Blues: The Spirit if Not the Form

I may have mentioned previously that I introduced myself to the blues in a sort of accidental way - in my teens, listening to the Black Crowes, and the Stones, and Jimi there was a certain something in the songs that I liked best that I couldn't put my finger on. The first time the 'blues' element occured to me was reading one review or another about Clapton's unplugged and the slowed-down 'bluesy' version of "Layla" was described in those terms. From there I got into Jimi's instrumental version of "Born Under a Bad Sign", and probably listened to it 25 times in a row.

So naturally, when a class on Blues History was offered while I was in college, I jumped at it. Unsurprisingly, I recall much more from that class than from more 'important' subjects like Econ or Political Science.

But I still enjoy music with 'bluesiness' as much as either accoustic or electric blues. So today's ten are drawn from songs which have that certain something without being 'blues' records.

  1. "Dust My Broom" - Elmore James. Is it blues? Is it rock? Who cares, it rocks.
  2. "Gimme Three Steps" - Lynard Skynard. For hillbillies, these guys have a whole lot of soul.
  3. "In the Midnight Hour" - The Commitments. R.I.P. Wilson Pickett, plus, I wonder what happened to Andrew Strong. How do you have a voice like that and then are never heard from again?
  4. "Move It On Over" - George Thorougood and the Destroyers. Gives me an excuse to link to Publius's excellent Hank Williams post, (even when he talks about music, he's much better at this "blogging" thing than I am) plus this version absolutely and unabashedly kicks serious ass.
  5. "Stop Breaking Down" - The White Stripes. I think the reason I don't really dig Radiohead or Coldplay is that when it comes to music, for me, simple is often best. Enter The White Stripes.
  6. "Ain't That a Shame" - Fats Domino. I think Fats is vastly underrated, but Ray Charles outlived him by about 40 years, I'm an idiot (thanks, 'Pick), so thems the breaks.
  7. "Runaway" - Bonnie Raitt. She adds a fair bit of balls to the Del Shannon classic.
  8. "Evil Ways" - Santana. With more than just a touch of latin rhythm.
  9. "Jail House Rock" - Elvis Pressley. Fat Elvis, not so much. Rock-a-billy Elvis, "Thank you very much."
  10. "Tutti Frutti" - Little Richard. If Pat Boone is going to hell, it's for trying to do covers of this kind of stuff.


bill said...

1. Boy, don't you know? Muddy waters invented electricity.

2. The blues ain't nothin' but a good man feelin' bad.

bad movie, great quotes.

Icepick said...

Fats Domino is still alive.

Frankie said...

Love it.

Icepick said...

Pooh, honestly, I thought you had meant to say Ray's career had lived on 40 more years.

Until last fall and the whole Katrina mess in New Orleans, I thought Fats was dead too, if it's any consolation.

Pooh said...

No, I honestly thought he died tragically young. Like it would be the first time for a rotund, life-loving musician...

Mr Furious said...

Interesting list... like just about every song there, but some are not the tunes I would have picked for that particular artist. Take Bonnie Raitt for instance, I have several of her albums (on vinyl that I haven't listened to in years), but on her greatest hits CD, "Runaway" is about the tenth "bluesiest" song I can think of. In a recent FRT I actually was pretty hard on that tune. Go with "Love Me Like a Man" or "Finest Lovin' Man." The Toussaint cover "What is Success" is my favorite Raitt tune.

The White Stripes kick some serious ass, indeed. I still like me some Radiohead (The Bends is a tremendous album), but they are frankly overrated. As is Coldplay. But check the last track on the new album. "Kingdom Come" is a tribute to Johnny Cash. Good stuff.

Skynard's good, but I'll take the Allmans for my redneck blues.

I'm sure the Commitments guy drank himself into oblivion...just a hunch.

Random blues faves:
Journey "Walk Like a Lady" (live from Captured)
Led Zep "Bring It On Home"
Tons of Blues Brothers...serious musical chops. Hard to believe this started as an SNL skit.

No list is complete without Stevie Ray Vaughn and check into Chris Whitley as well.

Mr Furious said...

Never mind. I missed the point of your post in that the songs were not really blues, but had that special flair...

Whatever, it was fun to respond, and I just wasted plenty of time scrolling through the iTunes and listening to some good stuff...

Pooh said...

Yeah, no sweat. I picked "Runaway" because, as I said, it adds balls to what was originally whited-up 'rock'. Same with the Thorogood, as my favorite of theirs is "One Bourbon, One Sctoch, One Beer" but that started as a JLH song, whereas "Move it on Over" was a Country song for chrissake...

And, no, you don't need to tell me about SRV ;)

mortnut said...

I am still on the edge of my (temperpedic) seat waiting with hardly contained anticipation for your top ten bad white guy list--ya know, your Barry Manilow (how to choose between I Write the Songs and At the Copa, to say nothing of Mandy), Wayne Newton ( I would peg you as a Daddy Don't Walk so Fast kinda guy, but would you surprise me by going Danke Shoen???), Tony Bennett (does he actually make the list--the dude actually has some chops), Pat Boone (don't ya gotta go with Love Letters in the Sand over either April Love or his cover of Ain't That a Shame--probably, btw, what you were thinking of when you erroneously noted the early demise of Fats Domino--if he survived this, he might live forever!), etc.

Like I said, I wait with eager anticipation.

reader_iam said...

John Lee Hooker.

Icepick said...

Pooh, I also thought Fats had died young.

Same with the Thorogood, as my favorite of theirs is "One Bourbon, One Sctoch, One Beer"

My favorite thing about this song is that it takes about 20 minutes before the actual song gets going. Just lots of George 'splainin' his troubles.

Pooh said...

"I don't know man, she kinda funny"

I said "I know. Everybody funny. Now you funny too."

Pastor_Jeff said...


Great list. Good songs, all.

I'd add some old Hank ("Wedding Bells" just kills me) and ZZ Top ("Jesus Just Left Chicago").

Pooh said...

Ugh, how could I forget ZZ Top? (My excuse is that there's a suspicion that they just ripped off "Boom Boom Boom Boom" to make "La Grange." Post hoc, etc...)

Pastor_Jeff said...


I don't think I'd heard that theory before, but now I can hear the connection in my head. Of course, everyone rips off everyone else at some level -- some more than others.

I just wish 'Top had never gone off into all the synth garbage.

And for some reason, I had thought Fats was dead, too. Glad to know he's alive and well.