Saturday, February 11, 2017

John Lee Hooker On Campus & Show # 644


John Lee Hooker has many albums. On Campus is one of many albums that Hooker has released. In fact this album was released under three different titles. There is the 1963 album On Campus, I Shout The Blues and Big Band Blues. All issued on different labels. So what makes this album so different from other Hooker albums? Selected at random for the purposes of this radio show, On Campus shows the record company at the time attempting to smooth out and modernize Hooker’s gritty blues sound. However, the music that is underneath the productions shines through. The album is filled with many soulful blues tracks which are, despite the album’s title, not live.

Born in Mississippi in 1912, John Lee Hooker was an American blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. After working a variety of factory jobs during World War II, John Lee Hooker moved to Detroit when he got a job at the Ford Motor Company. He became immersed in the Detroit music scene, playing bars and blues clubs. Hooker would record a large amount of music during his long career, often recording under different names for different labels and reworking his songs. With a song style based on the Delta blues, he incorporated elements of North Mississippi Hill country blues, talking blues and piano driven boogie-woogie music. As a result, Hooker came up with his own rhythmic style. Some of his early gritty blues songs that he’s known for are songs such as “Boogie Chillen”, “Crawling King Snake”, “Boom Boom”, and “It Serves You Right (To Suffer)”.

On Campus starts off with the blues song “I’m Leaving”, featuring sliding blues licks, piano, shuffling drums and scratchy guitars. Lyrically with words such as “I’m cutting out this morning” Hooker seems to be singing not only of a woman that he wants to get away from, but perhaps also his current situation. This record, as mentioned earlier, attempts to clean up Hooker’s early sound. However, while Hooker may be leaving an earlier production style, he is also venturing into another. On Campus added more soul with back up singers and horn sections that sweat with the music. Recorded in Chicago over two sessions, On Campus also featured more rough blues songs such as “I Want To Ramble”, “Half A Stranger”, “My Grinding Mill” and “Bottle Up and Go”. These songs are balanced with the other more soulful ballad-type songs throughout On Campus.

“Don’t Look Back” stands out amongst the other songs on this album. A song that has a slow, heavy groove, “Don’t Look Back” has a nostalgic feeling, while the lyrics convey something different. They dismiss the nostalgia and call for a need to keep moving forward. Ironically, this song was re-recorded again in 1998 with Van Morrison. Morrison also performed this song as a duet with Hooker, in addition to producing it. Prior to this, Van Morrison also covered “Don’t Look Back” with his first band, Them. In 1998, it won a Grammy Award.

John Lee Hooker has released many albums, but with On Campus, Hooker stepped out into the beginnings of a broader world of music. He would walk this path for quite sometime, often collaborating with other musicians. Hooker began to take steps forward with On Campus, not necessarily looking back, but not forgetting where he came from as he moved forward.

The Playlist:

1. Muddy Waters - I Got My Brand On You (Muddy Waters At Newport 1960 - 1960)
2. Chuck Berry - Reelin' And Rockin' (Takes 7 & 8) (Johnny B Goode (His Complete 50's Chess Recordings) - 2007)
3. The Contours - Can You Do It (Dance With The Contours - 2011)
4. Steve Mancha - Need To Be Needed (Detroit Soulman - 2000)
5. Gino Washington - Gino is a Coward (Out of This World - 1999)
6. R.L. Burnside - Jumper On The Line (The Rough Guide To Delta Blues - 2002)
7. The Unique Quartet - Mama's Black Baby Boy (American Pop: An Audio History - 2000)
8. Josh White - Uncle Sam Says (Let Freedom Sing! - 2009)
9. Elmore James - (My) Bleeding Heart (Bleeding Heart - 1965)
10. Ray Charles - Sinner's Prayer (Ray Charles - 1967)
11. John Lee Hooker - I'm Leaving (On Campus - 1963)
12. John Lee Hooker- Don't Look Back (On Campus - 1963)
13. Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson - Caldonia (Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson 1949-1952 - 2003)
14. Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson - I'll Eat My Spinach (Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson 1949-1953 - 2003)
15. Shorty Long - Here Comes The Judge (The Essential Collection - 2000)
16. The Contours - Whole Lotta Woman (The Sound of Detroit (Original Gems From The Motown Vaults) - 2012)
17. Nina Simone - Pirate Jenny (Nina Simone in Concert - 1964)
18. Ike & Tina Turner - Mojo Queen (It's Gonna Work Out Fine - 1963)
19. Eddie Bo - Hook & Sling (Hook & Sling - 1969)
20. Roy Ward - Horse With A Freeze (Horse With A Freeze - 1968)
21. Lucky Laws - I'm Not Teasing (Jerk Boom Bam! Vol 8 - 2013)
22. Booker T & The M.G.'s - It's Your Thing (The Booker T Set - 1969)
23. Booker T Jones - Rent Party (The Road From Memphis - 2011)
24. The Contours - He Couldn't Do The Cross Fire (Dance With The Contours - 2011)
25. The Fantastic Four - Don't Risk Your Happines On Foolishness (Alvin Stone (The Birth and Death Of A Gangster) - 1975)
26. John Lee Hooker - Birmingham Blues (On Campus - 1963)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 11.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Skip's Song: The music of Alexander Lee "Skip" Spence & Show # 643


There is a story about Skip Spence that in 1968, following his exit from Bellevue Hospital, where he was committed after some bad acid trips and an incident involving a fire axe. He was diagnosed as a schizophrenic, however following his six months in Bellevue he got on his motorcycle and drove down to Nashville to record his first and only solo album. The story also states that he exited Bellevue in his pajamas and then drove immediately to Nashville. Whether or not this is completely true or just a myth has never been completely confirmed. But, one thing is true Spence did record music in Nashville. It would eventually be released as Oar in 1969.

Alexander Lee “Skip” Spence was born in Windsor, Ontario on April 14th, 1946. In the late 1950s, Spence’s family relocated. In the 60s, Skip Spence became involved in the San Francisco psychedelic music scene. He was an early member of the Quicksilver Messenger Service and despite being a guitarist, was asked to be the drummer in pioneering psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane. Chosen because apparently he looked the part, Spence drummed on the band’s 1966 debut album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off and had a few writing credits with the band. However, he was not in the band long. Shortly after this, he returned to guitar and co-founded Moby Grape. The band would release two full-length albums with Spence and despite the attraction and interest in the three-guitar driven psychedelia that was Moby Grape, the band never really took off in the mainstream. While recording Moby Grape’s second album Wow, Spence showed up at the hotel room of Moby Grape drummer Don Stevenson with a fire axe. He chopped down the door, but Stevenson was at the recording studio. Spence with axe in hand went to the studio and the situation was diffused. But, Spence was never really the same.

Recorded in Nashville in December of 1968, Spence put down the tracks to his songs quickly and played all of the instruments on them. Musically, the album was a mix of folk, country and a bit of psychedelia. The songs were for the most part stories that dealt with many themes of the battle between angels and demons. They were crafted in a way that they serve as folktales, with the characters searching for a deeper meaning. And while it is obvious that the circumstances that preceded this recording were influential on the songs, they aren’t everything that the songs are about. “Cripple Creek” is an almost murder ballad type song. Sung in a lower register, the song tells the story of someone visited by an angel that embarks on a surrealistic journey, “Diana” is a bit haphazard, although it is filled with devotion and anticipation in the lyrics, while “Weighted Down (The Prison Song)" takes on an immediate, mellow country-folk influence. The song is most likely influenced by the isolation that Spence experienced in Bellevue, however, it is woven into a narrative that appears throughout this album.

“War In Peace” has been called a resurrection hymn that dips into psychedelia, with electric guitar and various sound effects, “All Come To Meet Her” is surrounded by a more laidback Moby Grape vibe, as “Books of Moses” reflects on past mistakes telling a tale of battles between angels and demons, complete with thunder, rain and hammering sound effects. “Dixie Peach Promenade” continues the same country-folk vibes as “Weighted Down (The Prison Song)”, but this song shows a sense of hopefulness in the lyrical content, as “Laurence of Euphoria” is a short bouncy track about overcoming troubled times. “Grey/Afro” ends the album, delving into psychedelia complete with off kilter drums and guitars and vocals loaded with effects.

Called “one of psychedelia’s brightest lights”, Alexander Lee “Skip” Spence has drawn comparisons to artists such as Syd Barrett and Roky Erikson, and although there are some similarities, Spence was different from them. Oar stands as an album that is rough around the edges and not over produced. It was apparently supposed to be a collection of demos initially with a full band arrangement to follow, but Columbia Records released Oar as is in May of 1969. It was not promoted by Columbia Records at the time of its release and within a year was deleted from their catalogue. It has since taken on a story of its own. It has its own myth that is surrounded in mystery that draws in listeners. Whether or not it was intended to be demos, Oar has taken on its own life as a result of the journey it took Spence to arrive to these songs. The songs, while some may say are not all that perfect, show that it is the journey and stories found within these songs that brings listeners to Oar.


Skip Spence Playlist:

1. Moby Grape - Indifference (Live) (Live (Historic Live Moby Grape Performances 1966-1969 - 2009)
2. Jefferson Airplane - Blues From An Airplane (Jefferson Airplane Takes Off - 1966)
3. Skip Spence - Books Of Moses (Oar - 1969)
4. Skip Spence - After Gene Autry (Demo For Columbia Records) (After Gene Autry/Motorcycle Irene - 2009)
5. Moby Grape - Skip's Song (Demo) (The Place and The Time - 2009)
6. Moby Grape - Omaha (Moby Grape - 1967)
7. Mudnoney - War In Peace (More Oar: A Tribute - 1999)
8. Outrageous Cherry - Keep Everything Under Your Hat (More Oar: A Tribute - 1999)
9. Moby Grape - Motorcycle Irene (Wow - 1968)
10. Skip Spence - Doodle (Oar Outtake) (Oar - 1969)
11. Skip Spence - Lawrence of Euphoria (Oar - 1969)
12. Skip Spence - Cripple Creek (Oar - 1969)
13. Skip Spence - All Come To Meet Her (Oar - 1969)
14. Skip Spence - Little Hands (Oar - 1969)
15. Skip Spence - Margaret - Tiger Rug (Oar - 1969)
16. Tom Waits - Books Of Moses (More Oar: A Tribute - 1999)
17. Beck - Halo of Gold (More Oar: A Tribute - 1999)
18. Greg Dulli - Dixie Peach Promenade (More Oar: A Tribute - 1999)
19. Mark Lanegan - Cripple Creek (More Oar: A Tribute - 1999)
20. Jefferson Airplane - It's No Secret (Jefferson Airplane Takes Off - 1966)
21. Moby Grape - The Lake (Grape Jam - 1968)
22. Moby Grape - Funky-Tunk (Wow - 1968)
23. Skip Spence - Land of the Sun (More Oar: A Tribute - 1999)
24. Skip Spence - War In Peace (Oar - 1969)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 4.

Coming Up On Revolution Rock in 2017!

It’s February which means that throughout this month Revolution Rock will devote each episode that airs in February to theme based programming. Dave and co-host Adam have special programming lined up ranging from folk to blues, soul, punk and surf. This year’s themed month programming starts off on February 4th with a program focusing on Windsor born artist, Skip Spence. Revolution Rock airs every Saturday from 7-9 PM on CJAM 99.1 FM in Windsor/Detroit. It can be streamed via cjam.ca and be downloaded via the very same website afterwards.

Here is the scheduled line up:

Skip’s Song: The Music of Alexander Lee “Skip” Spence
February 4th, 2016
7-9 PM
CJAM 99.1 FM (www.cjam.ca)

Alexander Lee “Skip” Spence was born in Windsor, Ontario on April 14th, 1946. In the late 1950s, Spence’s family relocated to San Jose, California. In the 60s, Skip Spence became involved in the San Francisco psychedelic music scene. He was an early member of the Quicksilver Messenger Service and despite being a guitarist, was asked to be the drummer in pioneering psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane. Although he played on the band’s 1966 debut album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off and had a few writing credits with the band, he was not in the band long. Shortly after he returned to guitar and co-founded Moby Grape. Despite the attraction and interest in the three-guitar driven psychedelia that was Moby Grape, the band never really took off in the mainstream. Following a mix of drugs, bad trips and an incident with a fire ax, Skip Spence was committed to Bellevue. He was diagnosed as a Schizophrenic and six months later he drove to Nashville on his motorcycle to record what was to become his only solo album, Oar. On Oar he wrote and performed all of the music. This episode will focus on the music of Oar, which is primarily folk and country driven, along with outtakes, covers and selections from Moby Grape and Jefferson Airplane.

On Campus with John Lee Hooker: Revolution Rock Celebrates Black History Month
February 11th, 2016
7-9 PM
CJAM 99.1 FM (www.cjam.ca)

Born in Mississippi in 1912, John Lee Hooker was an American blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. After working a variety of factory jobs during World War II, John Lee Hooker moved to Detroit when he got a job at the Ford Motor Company. He became immersed in the Detroit music scene, playing bars and blues clubs. Hooker would record a large amount of music during his long career, often recording under different names for different labels and reworking his songs. With a song style based on the Delta blues, he incorporated elements of North Mississippi Hill country blues, talking blues and piano driven boogie-woogie music. As a result, Hooker came up with his own rhythmic style. In 1963, he released On Campus. Recorded in Chicago over two sessions, the album was comprised of originals that were made to sound like a live recording. Also released under two other titles (I Want To Shout The Blues and Big Band Blues) on different labels, On Campus is an example of one of the perhaps lesser known recordings that John Lee Hooker produced. Revolution Rock will feature selections from this 1963 release along with selections from other artists to celebrate Black History Month. Also featured on the program will be guest host Graeme Sylvio of CJAM FM’s Sylvio & Soul program.

L.A.M.F.: Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers Radio Special
February 18th, 2016
7-9 PM
CJAM 99.1 FM (www.cjam.ca)

Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers were formed following the demise of the New York Dolls by Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan. Originally a three-piece band with Richard Hell, the band became a four-piece when Hell left the band and they added guitarist Walter Lure and bassist Billy Rath. They released L.A.M.F. in October of 1977 on Track Records after taking part in the infamous Anarchy Tour in 1976. However, by the time the album was released, the band had broken up. The album itself was plagued by a muddy sound causing it to not receive the recognition it should have at the time. While some thought that maybe it could be the mixing of the album that caused this, it was later revealed that the mastering process of the album muddied up the sound. As a result drummer Jerry Nolan quit the band and for many years, the greatness of one of the most raw rock albums from this era lay hidden underneath waves of muddy sound. In 1994, after going through multiple mixes created on master reels, Jungle Records released L.A.M.F.: The Lost 77 Mixes, a version of the album that restored not only the sound of the album’s intent, but also one that matched up to the band’s live status. In 2012, Jungle Records released L.A.M.F.: The Definitive Edition, a box set compiling demos, the original mix of L.A.M.F. (with the muddiness removed) and alternate mixes. This episode will feature demos dating back to the Heartbreakers days when Richard Hell was still in the band, differing versions of the album, alternate mixes and other rarities focusing on the album that would be known as L.A.M.F.

Revolution Surf: The 11th Edition
February 25th, 2016
7-9 PM
CJAM 99.1 FM (www.cjam.ca)

This year marks the 11th edition of Revolution Surf, a program made up entirely of surf and instrumental music. Surf music is a genre of instrumental music that branched off from rock music finding its first popularity in the early 1960s. Although it also dates back to the 1950s, with pioneering artists like Link Wray, Dick Dale and others, it has since been incorporated into a variety of other genres and is still prevalent in some forms of rock music today. This year’s episode will feature a selection of surf and instrumental music from the past and present as well as special guests and more!