Records I keep going back to. Volume one.

Seeing that our local NPR station (KUT radio, 90.5fm) is now completely programmed by the Music Director, leaving virtually no opportunity for the DJ to play his own choices*, I determined that I don’t need all these damn CD’s piling up in my office anymore. If I can’t share this music with anyone anymore, then might as well digitize it all and keep it to myself.

Like many folks are doing these days, I’m shedding the biscuits and keeping the tunes. MP3 sucks it may be true, but it’s manageable, easy to store and compress and share with others. I have not one, not two, but 3 hard drives (one stashed off site) to back up all my stuff however as I wish not to screw up completely.

There has been an unintended positive consequence to all this however. I get to listen to everything I load into the iTunes, and thus find some real gems that I may have overlooked otherwise. It reminds me of a similar experience many years ago, when I got my first CD changer. I would pop in 5 new CD’s, load in a blank 90 minute cassette tape and let it rip on “shuffle.” I’d take the tape with me on tour and through this exercise got exposed to a lot of good material I might have missed. The “shuffle” on my iTunes now serves exactly the same function only now I have 1700+ CD’s to choose from now. Ain’t technology grand?

So while I do this tedious task, I’ll got a few lines about records that I seem to be going back and listening to. Stuff you might have missed yourself and might do well to seek out.

Dave Stuckey & his Rhythm Gang “Get A Load of This” Hightone Music Group, 2000.

Here’s one that I really think didn’t have its day. Loaded to the gills with some of the finest roots pickers in Austin and recorded old-fashioned style at the bass players front living room, Mr. Stuckey hopes to evoke the freewheeling glory days of west coast hillbilly swing and in more than a few moments is quite successful. The casual environment of the session’s surroundings, coupled with the genuine joy of each others company while playing this material sets this CD head and shoulders above your run of the mill “gee I wish it was the 50’s” revivalist set, (which strangely most of these folks work in.) They really sound like they just discovered this stuff, they hit it hard and losse and by golly convince me too, even on tunes I’ve heard way too many times before. Stuckey’s originals stand up well to the classics as well. Truthfully, I’ve never heard any of these players sound better even on their own releases (with the possible exception of Dave Billers amazing LeRoy’s Blues, but that’s another essay.)

Hamstrung by being too scene-driven, and then released on a notoriously lousy label, it's a wonder it got out at all. Worth checking out.

****

OKeh Rhythm & Blues, Various Artists

Look around and see if you can’t find this CD reissue of the old double LP. It was my introduction to actual Black music, found at a record shop in Dallas TX in 1987. I make no small comment when I say it changed my musical life profoundly. Titus Turner, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Big Maybelle, the Ravens, even Little Richard and stupid novelty song about Willie Mays.

Holy cow. This stuff is big, loud, raw even when smooth and in your face. Made me reconsider ‘the Blues’ entirely which was only represented to my up to that point by balding middle age white guys slinging vintage Stratocasters at the open mic night at VZD’s in Norman OK. Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf LP’s were in my collection, but this uptown but way lowdown expression was a new one to me.

Led me to Big Joe Turner, Wynonnie Harris, T Bone Walker and eventually to Dallas native Zuzu Bollin who I was lucky enough to have played with a time or two before his untimely passing in 1990.

Sony eventually released an expanded OKeh collection, but it didn't have the same impact as these 28 tunes did all collected together.

*****, must find and cherish



*bear that in mind when they come asking you for money next pledge drive.