Coverplaya: Crazy About You Baby X4

I spent many years in immersed in blues geekdom before hearing about Doctor Clayton, and you could say I’m still figuring out who he is. In 1993, Document Records reissued Clayton’s Okeh and Bluebird sides, but his RCA Victor sides (recorded in 1946) are harder to come by. One that I still haven’t heard yet is “I Need My Baby,” which, according to the literature, B.B. King later covered as “Walking Dr. Bill.”

Until yesterday, I hadn’t listened to “Walking Dr. Bill” in years. What happened yesterday? Well, I’ll get to that. But first let’s start with Little Walter.

#1

Little Walter, “Can’t Hold out Much Longer”
(Checker single 758; recorded on May 12, 1952)

Marion Walter Jacobs arrived in Chicago as a 16-year-old kid in 1946 — the same year RCA Victor released Doctor Clayton’s “I Need You Baby.” Here’s a fragment of one of the verses (note that I’m extrapolating here, as all I’ve got on hand is “Walking Dr. Bill”):

I can’t sleep sound at night / I just catnap through the day.
I can’t hold out much longer, people / Living this a-way.

Six years later, Walter recorded “Juke” with the original Muddy Waters band. The B-side was “Can’t Hold Out Much Longer,” which cribbed the insomniac verse from “I Need You Baby,” and added to it a catchy little chorus: 

I’m crazy about you baby / Wonder do you ever think of me?
You know I’m crazy ’bout you baby / But you don’t care nothing in the world for me.

This chorus wasn’t original; Walter lifted most of it from “Crazy About You Baby” (the flip side of “Eyesight to the Blind”), which Sonny Boy Williamson had recorded for the Trumpet label in 1951. Here’s the Sonny Boy chorus:

I’m crazy about you baby / I’m just crazy about you baby.
I’m crazy about you darling / But you don’t care nothing in the world for me.

It’s worth pointing out that “Can’t Hold out Much Longer” is a slow, almost plodding, blues, while “Crazy About You Baby” is a lightning-fast boogie. They share a chorus, but little else. And while he might have borrowed most of the lyrics, Walter came up with the more memorable song.

This is where we hit a fork in the road. If you head to the right, you get to a bunch of faithful Little Walter covers by the likes of Big Walter Horton, Lightnin’ Slim, Fenton Robinson, Magic Dick, Mark Hummel, and Eric Clapton.

And if you head left, you get to Ike & Tina.


#2

Ike & Tina Turner, “Crazy ’Bout You Baby”
(From the Outta Season LP on Blue Thumb; released in 1969)

In 1969, Blue Thumb Records released Outta Season by the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Among the album’s thirteen tracks is a swampy, mid-tempo blues that’s credited to a Willie Williamson — i.e., Sonny Boy Williamson.

Lyrically, “Crazy ’Bout You Baby" is just "Can’t Hold out Much Longer" with a new verse tacked on:

Sometimes I sit and wonder / What am I gonna do?
I guess if I tried hard enough / Then I’d forget about you.
I’m crazy about you baby…

Arrangement-wise, “Crazy” is a long way from the studio that Chess & Dixon built — funky bass line, power-chord accents, and Tina Turner’s raspy teasing on vocals. (Walter never got to hear the Ike & Tina version; he died in 1968.)


#3

Ann Peebles, “Crazy About You Baby”
(From the This Is Ann Peebles LP on Hi Records; released in 1969)

In the spring of 1969, Ann Peebles broke into the R&B Top 30 with “Walk Away,” her first single for Hi Records. Her debut album, released at the end of the year, would include a wah-wah drenched cover of “Crazy About You Baby.” Peebles follows the gritty style of the original, but there’s a little more contrast here in the backing tracks, which are slick with that Willie Mitchell secret sauce. I think Peebles makes a good run of it (and Teenie Hodges has some nice moments with the guitar part), but “Crazy” falls a little short of her best sides for Hi Records.


#4

Elvin Bishop Group with Jo Baker, “Crazy ’Bout You Baby”
(From the Feel It! LP on Epic, released October 1970; the video clip above is from a 1970 Fillmore East performance)

Who was Jo Baker? I hadn’t heard of her until I came across this on Quora yesterday. I’ve since watched the clip about a dozen times. I’m not exactly sure what it is about her — that she’s twenty-two and rocking out at the Fillmore East, that she somehow makes the soul-singer-with-a-jam-band idea a brilliant concept, or that the band is in love with her. Or maybe it’s just her presence and the way she owns this song.

A year after Ike & Tina’s Outta Season came out, the Elvin Bishop Group recorded Feel It!, with Jo Baker taking on more of the lead vocals. It’s not hard to see why.

Actually, it is hard to see why, as those early Elvin Bishop albums are now out of print. And that’s why I hadn’t heard of Baker until yesterday. I haven’t yet tracked down the studio recording of her singing “Crazy ’Bout You Baby.” Still, I felt I had to write something. How could I not, after hearing her for the first time?


Sources:


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Various Artists, The American Folk Blues Festival ’80(L+R)

When Lippmann & Rau unexpectedly revived the AFBF in 1980, the talent pool was less deep and the budget seems to have been tighter. Louisiana Red, resident in Germany, brought his nagging ‘look at me, I’m so blue!’ melodramatics to the first two latterday festivals, but 1980’s highlight, despite Carey Bell’s theremin imitations and Eddie Taylor’s flat singing on ‘Dust My Broom,” was the Chicago band, with Bob Stroger and Odie Payne solidly effective on bass and drums. Sunnyland Slim’s voice shows some wear, and his ‘New Orleans Boogie’ is a paradigm of over-extended tedium, but Hubert Sumlin surprises with a pair of bearable semi-spoken vocals. In this he outshines Willie Mabon, who was well past his prime. Washboard Doc et al. and Eunice Davis never had primes to be past, and swiftly returned to obscurity.

—Tony Russell, The Penguin Guide to Blues (Penguin, 2006)
I was really looking forward to Sunnyland Slim’s lost “paradigm of over-extended tedium,” but apparently no one is brave enough to post it on YouTube. Here’s what I could find:
Louisiana Red’s “Look at me, I’m so blue!” melodramatics:

Eddie Taylor’s flat singing on “Dust My Broom”:

Willie Mabon, well past his prime:

Washboard Doc, Lucky & Flash (with Louisiana Red) just prior to their swift return to obscurity:

We queue. You decide. 
bQ • panned-me-downs #013

Various Artists, The American Folk Blues Festival ’80
(L+R)

When Lippmann & Rau unexpectedly revived the AFBF in 1980, the talent pool was less deep and the budget seems to have been tighter. Louisiana Red, resident in Germany, brought his nagging ‘look at me, I’m so blue!’ melodramatics to the first two latterday festivals, but 1980’s highlight, despite Carey Bell’s theremin imitations and Eddie Taylor’s flat singing on ‘Dust My Broom,” was the Chicago band, with Bob Stroger and Odie Payne solidly effective on bass and drums. Sunnyland Slim’s voice shows some wear, and his ‘New Orleans Boogie’ is a paradigm of over-extended tedium, but Hubert Sumlin surprises with a pair of bearable semi-spoken vocals. In this he outshines Willie Mabon, who was well past his prime. Washboard Doc et al. and Eunice Davis never had primes to be past, and swiftly returned to obscurity.

—Tony Russell, The Penguin Guide to Blues (Penguin, 2006)


I was really looking forward to Sunnyland Slim’s lost “paradigm of over-extended tedium,” but apparently no one is brave enough to post it on YouTube. Here’s what I could find:

Louisiana Red’s “Look at me, I’m so blue!” melodramatics:


Eddie Taylor’s flat singing on “Dust My Broom”:


Willie Mabon, well past his prime:


Washboard Doc, Lucky & Flash (with Louisiana Red) just prior to their swift return to obscurity:


We queue. You decide.

bQ • panned-me-downs #013

Various Artists, Living Chicago Blues, Vol. III(Alligator Records, 1980; reissued in 1991) Cover photo by Jim MatusikNotes by Jim O’Neal 
In 1977, Freddie [Dixon], Billy [Branch], Lurrie [Bell], and ten other Chicago bluesmen aged 18 to 23 made history in Germany as stars of ‘The New Generation of Chicago Blues,’ a presentation of the Berlin Jazz Festival. To commemorate the event, the group came up with a new song, ‘Berlin Wall,’ which was first performed in public at the Berlin festival.
bQ • fyeahlinernotes #013

Various Artists, Living Chicago Blues, Vol. III
(Alligator Records, 1980; reissued in 1991) 
Cover photo by Jim Matusik
Notes by Jim O’Neal 

In 1977, Freddie [Dixon], Billy [Branch], Lurrie [Bell], and ten other Chicago bluesmen aged 18 to 23 made history in Germany as stars of ‘The New Generation of Chicago Blues,’ a presentation of the Berlin Jazz Festival. To commemorate the event, the group came up with a new song, ‘Berlin Wall,’ which was first performed in public at the Berlin festival.


bQ • fyeahlinernotes #013

Grant Green and Herbie Hancock, 1962Photo by Francis WolffFrom “Secret Strings: 10 Most Underrated Jazz Guitarists" by Bill Milkowski (JazzTimes, July/August 2002)
Is he counting off? Or maybe he’s telling the band to hold back…or maybe he’s just feeling it. Not sure if I will ever figure it out.
bQ • here’s my picture 013

Grant Green and Herbie Hancock, 1962
Photo by Francis Wolff
From “Secret Strings: 10 Most Underrated Jazz Guitarists" by Bill Milkowski (JazzTimes, July/August 2002)

Is he counting off? Or maybe he’s telling the band to hold back…or maybe he’s just feeling it. Not sure if I will ever figure it out.

bQ • here’s my picture 013

Behold, the German expressionists’ take on “J.D.’s Boogie Woogie" (1946). From Pina (2011), directed by Wim Wenders.

bQ • stop and listen (and watch) no. 013

I had a very funny problem with Wolf. When we played Poland and East Germany, he got the salary paid partly in dollars but we had to take 50 percent in local currency, which is not convertible, so we had to spend it in the country. Willie [Dixon] bought himself a mink hat which was stolen, Hubert Sumlin bought some jewels and stuff, and Wolf didn’t know what to buy so he said, ‘Give it to the YMCA.’ I said, ‘But Wolf, there is no YMCA. This is a communist country.’ He said, ‘The YMCA is everywhere.’

Horst Lippmann, on the 1964 American Folk Blues Festival tour that traveled behind the Iron Curtain. From I Am the Blues by Willie Dixon with Don Snowden (Da Capo Press, 1989).

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Black Snake Cadillac Honey: The Celluloid Blues

(Editor’s note: We did not anticipate the Hugh Laurie column to spin off a full-fledged celebrity issue, but here at bQ we are known to occasionally sell out.)

In January of 2008, I bought a ticket at the Kendall Square Cinema for a film starring Danny Glover and Charles Dutton. I’d seen the trailer online, and even though it gave away the entire movie I was still interested enough to go. Then again, I’m an easy sell; hearing boogie-woogie in the trailer was enough to seal the deal.

And so I went. “Honeydripper” was (and remains) the only movie I’ve ever seen in a theater completely alone. It was a strange experience — sitting there watching an okay movie (with good acting, decent music) but feeling pensive about the utter lack of an audience for a “blues story.”

There were actually three blues stories that reached the big screen in 2007–2008:

Black Snake Moan [trailer]
Released March 2, 2007 (Paramount Classics)
Stars: Samuel Jackson, Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake
Production budget: $15 million
Worldwide box office: $10.9 million 
Domestic DVD sales: $12.6 million

Honeydripper
Released December 30, 2007 (Emerging Pictures)
Stars: Danny Glover, Charles Dutton, Lisa Gay Hamilton
Production budget: $5 million
Worldwide box office: $545,000
Domestic DVD sales: N/A

Cadillac Records [trailer]
Released December 5, 2008 (Sony Music Film)
Stars: Jeffrey Wright, Beyoncé, Adrien Brody
Production budget: $12 million
Worldwide box office: $8.9 million
Domestic DVD sales: $11.5 million 

It’s a bit unfair to compare financials for “Honeydripper” (which was self-distributed) with the other two films, but I think it’s clear that blues is not much of a box-office draw. Each of these films had quality casts and directors, each of them received decent reviews (“Honeydripper” and “Cadillac” more so than “Black Snake”), yet ticket sales were disappointing.

DVD sales/rentals probably earned Paramount and Sony some money on “Black Snake Moan” and “Cadillac Records,” respectively (anyone know the P&A budgets? I don’t…), but my gut feeling is that we won’t be seeing another studio blues movie anytime soon — unless it involves Angelina Jolie…or possibly Transformers.

But how much does it matter? Does the “scene” really lose out if we are spared another “Black Snake” marketing campaign?


The next crossover blues phenomenon will not be a feature film. It will be on a much smaller scale, probably done on a microbudget. Maybe a viral video. Or a song from the 1920s that someone famous decides to sing on a whim and post on YouTube. Or a piece of graffiti that quotes Tampa Red or Memphis Minnie. Or maybe it’s two house cats that can play the right- and left-hand parts of “I Got a Woman” on a Casio keyboard.

I have no idea what it will be. But hey, if you are the one trying to manufacture the next blues breakout, I’ll give you a few pointers. One, make sure that it exceeds Samuel Jackson’s version of “Stagolee.” Two, it really needs to be better than Darnell Martin’s fictionalizing of Etta James. And three, please please please make it better Ralph Macchio’s air guitar.

Good luck. I know you can do it.


Sources:

  1. John Anderson, “Down South, Singing the Indie Blues,” The New York Times (December 2, 2007).
  2. Various contributors, “Black Snake Moan”; “Honeydripper”; “Cadillac Records”; Box Office Mojo.
  3. Various contributors, “Black Snake Moan”; “Cadillac Records”; The Numbers.


bQ • twelve-bar brood #012

Bruce Willis, The Return of Bruno (Motown, 1987)
At the height of Moonlighting mania and after the Seagram’s wine cooler commercials showcased his vocal skills, Motown asked Bruce Willis to record a full album of blues, R&B, and soul — hence, The Return of Bruno…Willis may deeply believe he has vocal talent, but the album stands more as a testament to the excesses of Reagan-era celebrity and baby-boomer nostalgia than as a piece of music.
— Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic
I guess everyone goes through that "Whammer Jammer" phase sooner or later. I don’t have this album. But the smirk alone has got to be worth…something. 
There was one good thing that came out of Reagan-era celebrity: You got to see Albert Collins on TV, if only for a few fleeting seconds.
bQ • panned-me-downs #012

Bruce Willis, The Return of Bruno
(Motown, 1987)

At the height of Moonlighting mania and after the Seagram’s wine cooler commercials showcased his vocal skills, Motown asked Bruce Willis to record a full album of blues, R&B, and soul — hence, The Return of Bruno…Willis may deeply believe he has vocal talent, but the album stands more as a testament to the excesses of Reagan-era celebrity and baby-boomer nostalgia than as a piece of music.

— Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic


I guess everyone goes through that "Whammer Jammer" phase sooner or later. I don’t have this album. But the smirk alone has got to be worth…something

There was one good thing that came out of Reagan-era celebrity: You got to see Albert Collins on TV, if only for a few fleeting seconds.

bQ • panned-me-downs #012

Junior Parker, James Cotton & Pat Hare, Mystery Train(Rounder, 1990)Cover photo: Junior Parker, Elvis Presley, and Bobby Bland in 1957 (E.C. Withers/Steve LaVere Collection; via Elvis Australia) 
Track list:
Mystery Train - Junior Parker
Love My Baby - Junior Parker
Feelin’ Good - Junior Parker
Fussin’ and Fightin’ (Blues) - Junior Parker
Feelin’ Bad - Junior Parker
Love My Baby (alt. take) - Junior Parker
Sittin’ Drinkin’ and Thinkin’ - Junior Parker
Sittin’ at the Bar - Junior Parker
Sitting at My Window (Please Baby Blues) - Junior Parker
Cotton Crop Blues - James Cotton
Hold Me in Your Arms - James Cotton
My Baby - James Cotton
Bonus Pay - Pat Hare
I’m Gonna Murder My Baby (Cheatin’ and Lyin’ Blues) - Pat Hare
—This is the only picture of Elvis I’ve got in the house — from the cover of Rounder’s reissue of the early ’50s Sun sessions by Junior Parker, James Cotton, and Pat Hare.
It’s not that I dislike Elvis. It’s just that, to me, Parker is king.
bQ • fyeahlinernotes #012

Junior Parker, James Cotton & Pat Hare, Mystery Train
(Rounder, 1990)
Cover photo: Junior Parker, Elvis Presley, and Bobby Bland in 1957 (E.C. Withers/Steve LaVere Collection; via Elvis Australia

Track list:

  1. Mystery Train - Junior Parker
  2. Love My Baby - Junior Parker
  3. Feelin’ Good - Junior Parker
  4. Fussin’ and Fightin’ (Blues) - Junior Parker
  5. Feelin’ Bad - Junior Parker
  6. Love My Baby (alt. take) - Junior Parker
  7. Sittin’ Drinkin’ and Thinkin’ - Junior Parker
  8. Sittin’ at the Bar - Junior Parker
  9. Sitting at My Window (Please Baby Blues) - Junior Parker
  10. Cotton Crop Blues - James Cotton
  11. Hold Me in Your Arms - James Cotton
  12. My Baby - James Cotton
  13. Bonus Pay - Pat Hare
  14. I’m Gonna Murder My Baby (Cheatin’ and Lyin’ Blues) - Pat Hare


This is the only picture of Elvis I’ve got in the house — from the cover of Rounder’s reissue of the early ’50s Sun sessions by Junior Parker, James Cotton, and Pat Hare.

It’s not that I dislike Elvis. It’s just that, to me, Parker is king.

bQ • fyeahlinernotes #012

Bill Cosby, “Don’ Cha Know”
From Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings (Warner Brothers, 1967)

The sudden bQ celeb issue continues with the man who introduced me to the blues (and jazz, for that matter): Bill Cosby.

B.B., Diz, Lena Horne, Joe Williams — I saw all of them on The Cosby Show in the ’80s well before I ever heard their records. (Granted, at the time my household had a pathetic record collection — the highlights being a Sesame Street LP and Johnny Mathis’s Merry Christmas.)

I was still six or seven years away from buying my first blues records, but I remember being addicted to the show’s music, whether it was the opening credits theme song or the funny lip-synch routines set to Ray Charles or James Brown.

I haven’t really kept up with Cosby’s work since then. But lately I’ve been perusing The Voice of the Blues: Classic Interviews from Living Blues Magazine, and I came across this line in the chapter on Jimmy Reed:

Even TV comedian Bill Cosby once devoted half an LP to Jimmy Reed material.

Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings is still very much in print in the Warner Brothers catalog — to the point where the Jimmy Reed covers have all been yanked from YouTube. “Don’ Cha Know” is still up there, though. Worth a listen…

bQ • stop and listen no. 012

Erroll Garner and Clint Eastwood, 1970s
Universal Pictures/Getty Images

Clint listening to Kessel’s Easy Like (with The Greatest Garner on deck), 1959
CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images 

From “Do You Feel Lucky, Monk?" by Nick Tosches (Vanity Fair, December 18, 2008)


For some reason I’ve always procrastinated when it came to catching up on Clint’s “musical” side. (I’ve yet to see BirdPiano Blues, etc. Actually, I’m behind on his “star” work, too. I think the last movie I saw with him was In the Line of Fire.)

I often hear Eastwood talk about pianists when he does interviews. He sounds much more sincere than when Keanu talks about Chekhov.

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What Judge was most eager to show off, though, was a 1989 photograph in a copy of Living Blues magazine, which pictured Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, one of the bands he used to play with, along with the Texas Upsetters — Little Richard’s band. In the caption, Judge is identified as ‘unknown bassist.’

Karen Olsson, on visiting the studio of writer and director Mike Judge, who made a living as a bassist in the pre-B-n-B era.

The Eternal Adolescence of Beavis and Butt-Head" by Karen Olsson (New York Times; October 13, 2011)

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