Thursday, March 17, 2011

How SPAGHETTI WESTERNS Revolutionized Rock Music! (3 Music Players!)

The Man With No Name

SPAGHETTI WESTERNS brand much of your favorite music. Here are three music players to prove it.

Straddle your saddle and ride some of the coolest music ever made!


All of them and many more from every music style have paid loving tribute to Ennio Morricone's scores for these radical Western films.

In the mid-60's, a minor TV star named Clint Eastwood took the odd offer of making some Western films in Italy. The trilogy -"A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS", "FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE", and the epic "THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY"- made him an international star, revolutionized film technique, and unleashed scores of clones.

(The films got called "Spaghetti Westerns" because Americans thought it was novel to have their history retold by Italy. Since we don't call US films "Hamburger Movies", I'm going to skip that tired pejorative and call them what they are, Italian Westerns.)

Director Sergio Leone's use of hand camera, natural light, fast edits, severe close-ups, and panoramic vistas virtually invented modern cinema and videos. But just as important was that thunderous, edgy, bizarre, and brilliant music.

If you know, you're raring to go. And if you don't, it's time for a mind blow...

Here are three music players:

1-The roots of the sound
2-The Italian Western soundtracks
3-The galaxy of great songs that homage the sound

1-The Roots Of The ITALIAN WESTERN Sound!

Many different strains of music all led to the classic Italian Western sound.

-Folk activist WOODY GUTHRIE was an unlikely catalyst. His song
"Pastures Of Plenty" would be the trigger for the Spaghetti Western sound in a later remake arranged by Morricone. (More below.)

-Western soundtracks are the obvious main template: Film scores such as Dmitri Tiomkin's "HIGH NOON" and Elmer Bernstein's "THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN"; TV themes such as "RAWHIDE", covered later by THE BLUES BROTHERS and DEAD KENNEDYS.

-Country & Western was actually two different musics; Western was influenced by old Cowboy songs and later incorporated Swing Jazz horns. More importantly for our topic, the guitar took on a hard clanging sound played with deep bass notes in a new genre called HonkyTonk in the mid-50's. This hard clang galloped hits by JOHNNY HORTON, JOHNNY CASH, and guitarist BILL JUSTIS.

-Rock'n'Roll had strong Country roots, and the hard clang of HonkyTonk then inspired guitar virtuosos like DUANE EDDY and LINK WRAY. Eddy's sound of strong resonant bass chords earned him the name "the Twang Bar King". In their wake came all-guitar bands with instrumental hits like THE VENTURES and DAVIE ALLAN & THE ARROWS.

-English guitar bands, many produced by sonic wizard Joe Meek, followed in pursuit, like THE SHADOWS with hugely-influential hit "Apache", and THE OUTLAWS which included young Ritchie Blackmore (DEEP PURPLE, RAINBOW). A rival was THE JOHN BARRY SEVEN, whose leader went on to use the tough guitar sound with dynamic strings as legendary composer for the James Bond films.

-Surf music caught that sonic wave and rode it to new shores with DICK DALE and THE SENTINALS. Note the original version of "Cecilia Ann" by THE SURFTONES, later immortalized by PIXIES. And also JACK NITZSCHE's "The Lonely Surfer", an arranger for Phil Spector whose use of epic strings, hard clang, and triumphant horns foretells Morricone.

-Classical clearly paved the way with the use of symphonic scores for Western films. But, in its loose and instinctive structure, the spirit of freeform Jazz also haunts the trails. A good parallel course is MILES DAVIS and Gil Evan's atmospheric hybrid of both forms on the "Sketches Of Spain" album.

-Spanish flamenco guitar particularly is a key ingredient of many Italian Western scores. And while Opera ushered the theatrical vocals, another similar parallel for mood and majesty is the Portuguese blues of Fado music, ruled by AMALIA RODRIGUES.

-Mexican horns lift the triumphant anthems of the sound, which scored hits for HERB ALPERT like "The Lonely Bull".


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Why is this music so damn cool?

The "Punk Rock" Of Italian Western Cinema

Martin Scorsese makes the case that Westerns changed to reflect their times. In the 30's, America saw itself as morally good, and the Westerns coded that into simple good-versus-evil plots which starred White Hat paragons like John Wayne against swarthy Black Hats. By "THE SEARCHERS" (1957), America was undergoing much inner struggle as to the morality of its character, and John Wayne plays an ambivalent and strident crusader who's squarely on the wrong side.

Because their post-War affluence in the 50's seemed like the fruition of Manifest Destiny, Americans loved film and television Westerns that reaffirmed this in moral parables. But the Civil Rights movement and rising youth rebellion called this status quo into question. Now issues like Native American rights and an array of past injustices began to surface.

By the 60's, that reassessment of moral character and social injustice became a shared world struggle. The Italian Westerns are in a sense anti-Westerns. They use the conventions of Westerns, but they upend them in every way.

The contrived Hollywood theatricality and artifice disappeared. No more studio sets, slick grooming, and jingoistic robots. Italian Westerns, made in the wake of naturalistic films from Neorealist pioneers to Japanese auteurs to France's New Wave youngbloods, were shot verite-style, in the moment and location, with lens flares, gritty edges, and unadorned. The heroes were anti-heroes, with no stance but survival. In musical terms, if John Wayne was akin to Frank Sinatra, then Clint Eastwood was closer in spirit to Johnny Rotten.

Italian Westerns absorbed the style and substance of avant-garde film and succeeded with mainstream audiences. The raw style and maverick outlook helped trailblaze the counterculture's New Hollywood films of the early 70's.

© Billy Perkins, 2008.

Why all this yadda-yadda? Because that radical revamp extended to the music.

Western scores had always been triumphant anthems and romantic swirls that sloshed through every scene. Stirring at best, syrupy at worst. It was time for something else. Enter Ennio Morricone.

Woody Guthrie's "Pastures Of Plenty" was covered by Italian crooner PETER TEVIS in 1962, with a dramatic arrangement by rising composer Morricone. Film director Sergio Leone was so taken by the style that he insisted it be used for his Western, "A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS" (1964). It became the signature sound of all Italian Westerns going forward.

A hard clanging guitar. Brutal chanting chorals. The rubbery twang of a Jaw Harp. Stampede rhythms. An eerie whistling. An ethereal wordless female aria. A corroded harmonica. Midnight Flamenco. The declarative horns of Mexican angels.

Gone were the amorphous symphonies tumbling, replaced now by silences, streamlined harshness, and textural sounds. In the moment, in the character, with emotional flares, gritty edge, and unadulterated. An anti-symphony for anti-heroes, something both brutal and glorious.

Some of the coolest music ever made.

The Players

"La Dolce Vita". Rome in the mid-60's was as much a pop renaissance scene as London, Paris, and San Francisco. The Cinecitta film scores by a pantheon of composer gods are holy scripts of hyper-hip.

The composers swung every style that came, from Rock to Bossa to Electronic to Lounge to Funk. Nowadays their soundtracks are coveted by rockers, cratediggers, and samplers of all countries and styles. (I'll do separate blogs profiling their varied sounds.)


The Prime Mover. The Italian Westerns launched his career and fame, but he was too vast and prolific to be hemmed in. He has made over 400 scores in every musical style and movie genre, most of them superior to the films they were for. Almost certainly the most diverse and formidable composer in film history.

Everyone in Rome followed his lead.


The clanging guitar and signature whistling was by his friend, Alessandroni. 'Sandro' also led the Cantori Moderni (Modern Singers) who did all the chorals and chanting. Besides playing, whistling, and singing on everyone's scores, he wrote great film soundtracks of his own.


Morricone's right-hand man, Nicolai arranged all of Ennio's compositions for recording, and wrote many excellent scores in his own right.


Edda is the ethereal operatic voice that lifts so many of these themes. Morricone used her voice like an instrument, avoiding words for soundscapes. She enlivens countless Italian soundtracks with angel arias, jazzy scat, sensual cooing, edgy moaning, and lounge bliss.


The hepcat, very jazzy and funky. As hip as anything going, whether Funk or Electronic or Psychedelic. He did the original "Mah Na Mah Na" that the Muppets covered.


The Argentinian, bringing in the Bossa Nova and Samba Jazz. Could also Rock like a brofo!


Umiliani's contender in the Funk and Jazz stakes. Uber-cool, sexy swang, makes you wanna shake that thang!

ARMANDO TROVAIOLI (also, Trovajoli)

Another embarrassingly talented and well-rounded composer who hit it note perfect in every genre.


Thankfully breaking up the boys club, Nora was a choral leader (who discovered Alessandroni) and also wrote terrific scores.

in Rock, Pop, Electronic, Punk, Hiphop,
Reggae, Metal, Games, and TripHip!

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The sound of Italian Westerns raised generations. Whether at the movies, on TV, or video, that haunting and powerful sound was all-pervasive and seductive to musicians of all angles. It haunts many of our favorite songs, even when we don't realize it.


From 1966 on, bands were in love with the soundtracks of Morricone and his gang. Here's a walk through time that sheds light on many of your favorite songs...

-LOVE lived in L.A. when the Spaghetti Westerns hit critical mass in 1966. Their Spanish-inflected and cinematic "Alone Again Or" bears striking similarity to the Morricone sound. Later, THE DAMNED covered it with a video homaging the Leone films. Scout out also THE DOORS' "Spanish Caravan" and MOUNTAIN's "Theme From An Imaginary Western".

-That hard horse-galloping power, akin to "Riders In The Sky", is the drive underneath BLACK SABBATH' "Children Of The Grave", HEART's "Barracuda", and MELISSA AUF DER MAUR's "Skin Receiver".

-Bollywood gets in the act with a number from the classic "SHOLAY", the biggest film in Indian history.

-BLONDIE's "Atomic" is a fine homage; this is why the horse is riding around NYC in the video.

-Then there's THE CLASH connection. 'The Last Gang In Town' has a lot of that Morricone mood in "Straight To Hell". Mick Jones' BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE throw in samples from "The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly" in their "Medicine Show". Paul Simonon's HAVANA 3AM really rides the range with "Hey, Amigo". Joe Strummer starred in the modern Leone homage film "STRAIGHT TO HELL", while fronting The Latino Rockabilly War with their b-side "Don't Tango With Django".

-Punk grabbed the reins in such songs as DEAD KENNEDYS' "Holiday In Cambodia" (listen to those guitar soars), and the opening of THE VANDALS' "Urban Struggle".

-In the PostPunk years, that hard clanging anthemic guitar rode roughshod through MAGAZINE's "Shot From Both Sides", BAUHAUS' "In The Flat Field", CRIME AND THE CITY SOLUTION's "Trouble Come This Morning", NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS' "The Weeping Song", THE PLUGZ' "Reel Ten", and TOM WAITS' "Yesterday Is Here".

-Atmospheric and cinematic bands like CALEXICO, GRAVENHURST, FRIENDS OF DEAN MARTINEZ, and SCENIC continued that tradition. And MUSE went for glory with "Knights Of Cydonia" and its epic Leone-esque video.

-New Wave guitarists loaded their arsenal with that sound. Particular stand-outs are THE GOGO's "This Town", Marco Pirroni's ringing guitar and the blasting horns of ADAM ANT's "Desperate But Not Serious", and WALL OF VOODOO's "Call Of The Wild".

-Dance bands knew a good riff and horn chart when they heard it. Check out the galloping synth and fanfare that opens ABBA's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" again. France's CASINO MUSIC extends that quest with "Faites Le Proton", foretelling the Jaw Harp and eerie vibe of AIR's "Wonder Milky Bitch". And after their song "Clint Eastwood", GORILLAZ really ride rawhide with "O Green World".

-HipHop had lots of lyrical shout-outs to Cowboy films from the beginning. Avant-Funkers MATERIAL enlist DJ DsT in their street take on "For A Few Dollars More"; KOOL MOE DEE chronicles the "Wild Wild West" with the classic "Good/Bad/Ugly" riff; and the trail is picked up lyrically by THE BEASTIE BOYS' "High Plains Drifter"; and lately, Columbian rapper ROCCA, and THE CYCLE OF TYRANTS.

-Surf helped unfurl the sound in the first place, and that came back around in PIXIES' Morricone-esque cover of The Surftones' "Cecilia Ann", and retro-wavers like SHADOWY MEN FROM A SHADOWY PLANET and THE AQUA VELVETS.

-Electronic Music was an early tool of the Italian film composers, so it should be no surprise that acolyte GEORGIO MORODER rides the moog through "Tears". Electronica continued the chase with THE ORB's "Little Fluffy Clouds", and THE PRODIGY's "The Big Gundown".

-Video Games flint the flame with themes in "SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2" (Masato Nakamura), and "WILD ARMS" (Michiko Naruke). Italian Westerns got their own game with "OUTLAWS", and this continues with current hits like "RED DEAD REVOLVER" and "RED DEAD REDEMPTION". Plus, their influence is clear in shooter games like "Fallout: Las Vegas" and "Bulletstorm".

-TripHop, with its cinematic moodiness, of course brushfired the plains with songs like PORTISHEAD's "Cowboys", HOOVERPHONIC's "Jackie Cane" and its video, and Alison GOLDFRAPP channeling Edda Dell-Orso's arias and Alessandroni's whistle through "Lovely Head".

-GNARLS BARKLEY used a sample of the Italian Western theme for "Last Man Standing" (by Gianfranco Reverberi ) as the basis for their giant hit, "Crazy". Now DANGER MOUSE is doing an homage album to Italian Westerns called "Rome" with musician/ producer Daniele Luppi and the reunited studio players from the original soundtrack sessions!

-Metal thundered into town with METALLICA's take on "The Ecstasy Of Gold". Mike Patton (FAITH NO MORE, FANTOMAS) was so enamored of Morricone that he issued CD compilations on his own record label, and sang covers with the orchestral MONDO CANE.

-MORRISSEY enlisted Ennio Morricone himself to arrange the orchestra for "Dear God Please Help Me".

-The Italian Composers put the thrill into "KILL BILL. 1 and 2". The yin-yang films, an Eastern and a Western, continued the cultural-swap tradition: "Seven Samurai" had inspired "The Magnificent Seven", "Yojimbo' had inspired "A Fistful Of Dollars". (This rocksex continues with today's "Sukiyaki Western Django" and "The Good, The Bad, The Weird".) Quentin Tarantino and RZA deliberately picked songs in the Morricone tradition by fellow composers like Bacalov, Trovaioli, Ortolani, and Orlandi, and artists like ZAMFIR, TOMOYASU HOTEI, and NANCY SINATRA.

Recent Films That Homage ITALIAN WESTERNS

-EL TOPO (Spain)
-SHOLAY (India)
-EXILED (Hong Kong)






-The DARK TOWER series by Stephen King



Video Games:


Holly and Karon buy a Morricone CD in Gotham City.
(CATWOMAN #50; Will Pfeiffer (w), Pete Woods (a), 2006.)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

- Ride the range!:
Morricone Rocks!

-The Pedigree of PETER GUNN
, with Music Player
-JOHN BARRY: The Influence Of The JAMES BOND Sound On Pop Music, with 2 Music Players
-Shock Waves: How SURF MUSIC Saved Rock'n'Roll!, with 2 Music Players

-2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY - Its Transcendent Influence on all Pop Culture!, with Music Player
-TWIN PEAKS: Its Influence on 25 Years of Film, TV, and Music!, with 5 Music Players
-How STAR WARS Is Changing Everything!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ROCK Sex: Sly Stone's "I Want To Take You Higher" And Its Unending Influence!

...with Music Player!

ROCK Sex says, "Happy Birthday to SLY STONE!".

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE are one of the most influential bands in history.

Today, the ever-escalating influence of the song "I Want To Take You Higher" and its impact on four decades of music, with a Music Player of all!



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Songs in chronological order from 1966 to now.

"I Want To Take You Higher" just may be the Big Bang of Funk-Rock.

It drove half-a-million people to their feet in dancing ecstasy at Woodstock, and helped turn Funk music into the soundtrack of the '70s. From HipHop to Mixology, from Manchester to Iran to Japan, it continues to lift the world.

"I Want To Take You Higher/ Stand" 45rpm

Sly actually did it before and after he did it.

The central chant has been a work in progress across records and time. The trial run was an album track called "Higher" in 1968, and again on another epic track called "Dance To The Medley". (The Psychedelic Soul of the latter is virtually the template for Funkadelic.)


SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE -"Dance To The Medley" (1968) ("Higher" comes in at 7:45)

Those joyful Gospel choral chants of "Higher" finally reached fruition when the ultimate song "I Want To Take You Higher" ascended in 1969 on the essential album, STAND.

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE -"I Want To Take You Higher" (studio version, 1969)

The roaring live performance of the song galvanized the Woodstock nation, and Sly And The Family Stone are still considered one of the crucial highlights of the Festival and the Documentary film.

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE -"I Want To Take You Higher" (live at Woodstock, 1969)

Later he did the wry rewrite "I Get High On You" in 1975, and a playful bounce of it as "High, Y'all" in 1983.

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE -"I Get High On You" (1975)

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE -"High, Y'all" (1983)


"I Want to Take You Higher",
by Jeff Kalish (2009)

As the Music Player above reveals, the song became an instant classic and was either covered by everyone or referenced lyrically for years to come. The core of it is the "Higher!" chant. It summed up the utopian hopes of the progressive counterculture generation, while also winking about getting high.

If it wasn't being covered by Brian Auger, Tina Turner, or Googoosh (Iran), then the "Higher" chant was popping up in originals from The Temptations, The Chambers Brothers, War, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and beyond.

It gets a shout-out in the rapidfire pop history novelty "Life Is A Rock", gets quoted on the trail-out of "Play That Funky Music", and may be referenced sideways in Paul McCartney's banned single "Hi Hi Hi".

Into the '80s and '90s, it rises up in Grandmaster Flash's "White Lines", an unreleased song with the same name by Roger Taylor (Queen), a Curtis Mayfield homage by Lenny Kravitz, a Madchester trip-out by raving Moonflowers, a namecheck by Public Enemy, a pot anthem by Cypress Hill, and an electro resurge from Future Funk.

"I Want to Take You Higher: The Psychedelic Era 1965-1969",
The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Museum (1997)


As also heard on the Music Player, another key ingredient of the song that keeps coming back up is the lyric "Boom shacka lacka lacka, boom shacka lacka lacka, boom shacka lacka lacka boom". Everybody uses it, even if by now they don't know where it came from.

This chant has become a classic Reggae song, a Reggae band, and a Reggae magazine.

It jumps up in HipHop songs like "Whoomp! There It is!" and Pop hits like Was (Not Was)' "Walk The Dinosaur" and Brianna's "Boom Shaka Laka".

It's become slang in Basketball and in HipHop.

It's even been the name of a Bollywood film and an Indian fantasy TV series for kids!


Sly Stone and George Clinton, 2008.

"Feeling that should make you move
Sounds that should help you groove
Music still flashin' me
Take your places

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

-SLICE TONES: Sly Stone & His Infinite Influence!, with 5 Music Players

-ROCK Sex: "Sing A Simple Song" - Sly Stone > Jimi Hendrix > James Gang > P-Funk > Chili Peppers > Public Enemy

Monday, March 14, 2011

ROCK Sex: "Boredom"/ "Rip It Up" - Buzzcocks > Orange Juice

ROCK Sex lives a strange stray line.

Today, why all Indie bands exist because of The Buzzcocks.


The Sex Pistols bulldozed the way for anyone to be a band. But The Buzzcocks proved you could record and release your own record.

The "Spiral Scratch" EP (1977) was self-recorded and released on their own label, the first Punk indie label ever. 'Do-It-Yourself' was the new revolution. Every upstart DIY act since owes them a debt of gratitude.

Here's their first single "Boredom", a deadpan and dead cheeky blast of energized ennui. Singer Howard Devoto makes sly puns while guitarist Pete Shelley subverts guitar heroes with a bored one-note solo that enthralls!

BUZZCOCKS -"Boredom" (1977)

The Punk ethos was to fearlessly try anything. Beyond the classic sound, the scene flourished into myriad styles with as many names.

Scotland's Orange Juice were wringers of the New Pop, which brought sunny melodicism back into the mix with askew angles. Amid the Disco chops and arch lyrics, they throw in lines from "Boredom" and a playful vamp on the guitar solo (at 2:10).

ORANGE JUICE -"Rip It Up" (1982)

The phrase "Rip it up and start again" perfectly summarized the PostPunk explosion of musics, and was used as the title to author Simon Reynbold's crucial overview, "Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984".

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Friday, March 11, 2011

ROCK Sex: "Bad Reputation" - Joan Jett > Peaches

ROCK Sex knows "a girl can do what she wants to do".

Todays culture relay is the song "Bad Reputation".


After the pigboy record industry chased out the group The Runaways, they gave guitarist Joan Jett the runaround for years.

But when her hit record "I Love Rock'n'Roll" became one of the biggest single smashes ever, she had her revenge with this follow-up hit and video.

JOAN JETT -"Bad Reputation" (recorded 1980)

Electroclash provocateur Peaches took that sentiment to its most blatantly profane conclusion using this sample.

PEACHES -"I Don't Give a F@#*!" (2004)

And then Joan joined Peaches for this raucous fracas.

PEACHES with Joan Jett -"You Love It" (2004)

"A girl can do do what she wants to do
And that's what I'm gonna do
And I don't give a damn about my bad reputation!"

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

-THE RUNAWAYS, And Why Women Are Essential To The History Of ROCK!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ROCK Sex: "Crosseyed And Painless" - Fela > Talking Heads > Brazilian Girls

"I'm changing my shape, I feel like an accident,
They're back to explain their experience..."

ROCK Sex says "facts continue to change their shape".

Another cultural relay handoff today, centered around a TALKING HEADS song.


Nigerian FELA Ransome Kuti is the father of AfroBeat, a polyrhythmic and political funk-jazz inspired by James Brown and the counterculture rebellion of the '60s.

These propulsive jams had enormous musical influence, from the late '70s New York DIY scene and London's dub culture, to son Femi Kuti and Antibalas today.

FELA -"Roforofo Fight" (1972)

New York's Talking Heads and producer Brian Eno expanded their palette with a kind of abstract Punk take on AfroBeat, starting with the crucial album REMAIN IN LIGHT (1980).

Their expanded touring band included keyboard sorceror Bernie Worrell (P-Funk) and guitar maniac Adrian Belew (King Crimson).

TALKING HEADS -"Crosseyed And Painless" (1980)

New York's Brazilian Girls stirs the pan-cultural stew further with their take on the Heads' song. Singer Sabina Sciubba scats across five different languages.

BRAZILIAN GIRLS -"Crosseyed And Painless" (2006)

"The feeling returns whenever we close our eyes
Lifting my head, looking around inside..."

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

ROCK Sex: "Warning Sign" - Talking Heads > Local Natives

ROCK Sex says it happened before and it will happen again.


One of the great producer and band partnerships in Rock is Brian Eno's collaborations with Talking Heads.

This song has a killer drum break by Chris Frantz, mesmeric bass by Tina Weymouth, and stellar guitar work by David Byrne.

Its paranoic edge and polyrhythmic dynamics embody their musical transition from The Velvet Underground toward Fela.

TALKING HEADS -"Warning Sign" (1978)

Talking Heads set the template for most every indie band for the next three decades, with their normal anti-style look and mercurial style shifts.

Here's another descendent, Local Natives, doing "Warning Sign" with a harmonic emphasis that would also please Beatle or Brian Wilson fans.

LOCAL NATIVES -"Warning Sign" (2010)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

Thursday, March 3, 2011

LADIES FIRST: "See See Rider" - Ma Rainey > Janis Joplin > Mitch Ryder

LADIES FIRST spotlights classic songs that'she did first'.


Many folks know "See See Rider" from the mid-'60s hit by Mitch Ryder. But the song had a forty year history before that.

Gertrude "Ma" Rainey did the original in 1924. In the new world of vinyl records, it was the huge popularity of women like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey that put Blues music on the map and ushered the vinyl revolution.

Here she is backed up by Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson, who were concurrently defining Jazz for the future.

MA RAINEY -"See See Rider" (1924)

This Folk Blues take by Leadbelly changed young Martin Scorcese's life. "If I could have played guitar, really played it," he said, "I never would have become a filmmaker." Scorcese later made the BLUES documentary mini-series to expose new ears to the great legacy.

LEADBELLY -"See See Rider" (1935)

He was initially tipped to it, like many young people at the time, by this R'n'B version by Chuck Willis. The song is sometimes sung as "C.C. Rider" or "Easy Rider", the latter of which is a whole subcategory of other songs to itself.

CHUCK WILLIS -"C.C. Rider" (1957)

One of the queens of Atlantic Records, Lavern Baker did a slide and glide through it.

LAVERN BAKER -"See See Rider" (1963)

As well as some upstart girl from Texas (at 2:45).

JANIS JOPLIN -"See See Rider" (circa 1962-'63)

The most famous version is the medley of "See See Rider" and Little Richard's "Jenny Take A Ride" by Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels, who must've been punning on his surname.

This band was essentially the template for Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band, who also often covered Mitch's version in concert.

MITCH RYDER & The Detroit Wheels -"Jenny Take A Ride/ C.C. Rider" (1965)

The other most famous version is by The Animals, fronted by Soul belter Eric Burdon, which became a standard in his solo repertoire.

THE ANIMALS -"See See Rider" (1966)

The song has been covered over the decades by John Lee Hooker, Peggy Lee, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, The Who, The Grateful Dead, and Elvis Costello.

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

-WOMEN OF ROCK: The 1950s, with 2 Music Players