Monday, September 4, 2023



Behold “Pleadin’” (above) and “Don’t Lie to Me” (below). A singer & drummer named Mercy Baby aka Julius W. “Jimmy” Mullins recorded these wild R&B numbers in the late 1950s on the now-defunct New Orleans label Ric Records. We suggest you medicate yourself appropriately and then consider the following 10 observations as you listen to these rollicking tracks.

10 Things to Consider About This Release

1. Mercy Baby is a pretty good stage name.
2. The drumming (by Mercy) and the hollering (by Mercy) are quite propulsive.
3. Notably, the guitar is played by one Frankie Lee Sims, a cousin of Lightnin’ Hopkins.
4. Never underestimate the B-side! Especially for the horns.
5. The topics – pleading and lying – seem to go hand-in-hand.
6. Apparently, pleading and lying can be great reasons to jump around!
7. Neither of these records prospered. Mr. Mullins himself died of a gunshot wound.
8. Once again great American music associates with tragedy and a paucity of commercial success.
9. These tunes appear in the very formidable Shakers Era.
10. Grab yr Sweetie Pie. Turn up the sound. & Shake everything on yr body!

Discographic Information

Mercy Baby. “Pleadin’” (A-side) b/w “Don’t Lie to Me” (B-side). Ric Records 955. Recorded in 1957 or 1958 in Jackson, Mississippi or in New Orleans. (Probably released in 1958; potentially released late as 1960). Likely personnel: Mercy Baby aka Julius W. “Jimmy” Mullins (drums and vocals); Jacquette Brooks (saxophone); Jack White (saxophone); Willie Taylor (piano); Frankie Lee Sims (guitar); Ralph Morgan (bass); other musicians, if any, unknown. Songwriting credit: Jimmy Mullins and Joe Ruffino.

Sources of Information

Discogs page for the release on Ric Records
45cat page for the release on Ric Records
Wikipedia page for Ric Records
Wikipedia page for Mercy Baby
Wikipedia page for Frankie Lee Sims
Cosimo Code page for Ric and Ron Records
Jeff Hannusch. I Hear You Knockin’: The Sound of New Orleans Rhythm and Blues. Swallow Publications, 1989
Jeff Hannusch. The Soul of New Orleans: A Legacy of Rhythm and Blues. Swallow Publications, 2001
Stefan Wirz discography page for Frankie Lee Sims

Tuesday, August 1, 2023


A young Mac Rebennack aka Dr. John

Behold “Rockin’ This Joint To-Nite” and “Storm Warning”

Both of these shakers will rattle your marbles if you play them loudly and you should play them loudly, Dear Reader, so beware the jostled immies in your noggins. Both songs travel to us from 1959. The musicians who recorded them led vastly different lives. One died in obscurity and tragically at that. The other reached considerable heights. Nonetheless, both tunes predict mischief and both deliver. Amply. They deserve our devotion so let’s get to jumping! Shall we?

Kid Thomas – “Rockin’ This Joint To-Nite”

The man who would eventually call himself Kid Thomas was born Louis Thomas Watts in Mississippi, circa 1934. He moved to Chicago with his family at a young age and eventually began gigging in South Side clubs. In 1957, he convinced the mighty King Records to record several songs but the company only released one of them on its subsidiary label, Federal. This one single did not chart or generate any recognition for the harmonica-playing bluesman. Having gotten little traction in the Chicago music scene, Kid Thomas relocated to Los Angeles in 1959 where he cut “Rockin’ This Joint To-Nite” b/w “You Are an Angel” on a micro-label, Transcontinental Records.

Easily one of the roughest-sounding, hardest-charging songs of its generation, the lyrics for “Rockin’ This Joint To-Nite” may have been hollered in emulation of Little Richard, but the side occupies its own terrain somewhere between the jump blues efforts of Chris Powell and Jimmy Preston, the Chicago electric blues idiom, and the proto heavy metal developed by the controversial Pat Hare in the mid-1950s. The ferocious shouting, amped-up harmonica, and relentless guitar will rock the joint to-nite, to-morrow nite, and every other nite. Unfortunately, “Rockin’ This Joint To-Nite” did not achieve commercial success.

Kid Thomas had few additional recording opportunities in Los Angeles and, by 1969, was working in L.A. as a landscaper. In that capacity, he accidentally struck a boy with his lawnmowing equipment in 1969 and killed him. A few months later, the boy’s father waited for Kid Thomas / Louis Watts outside a courthouse and shot him to death. There is just too much sadness in this outcome to swing this concluding note upward, but the ferocity of Kid Thomas’s record nevertheless ought to remind us about living large, larger-than-life, while we still have the opportunity to do so.

Mac Rebennack – “Storm Warning”

Yes, someone recorded a song under the absolutely devastating, winning name of Mac Rebennack. Born Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr., the fellow in question would go on to call himself by a moniker—Dr. John—you may very well recognize. A New Orleans native, Dr. John began his recording career as a teenager, and would come to blend the rich Nola music he inherited along with voodoo, psychedelia, and other genres. Eventually, he became a member of the famous group of session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew, a winner of six Grammys, and an inductee into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. His albums such as Gris-Gris (1968) and Gumbo (1972) are well-known, important, and have received critical praise. We here at Blood And Gutstein especially appreciate Gumbo because he included a version of the folk song—“Little Liza Jane”—that features America’s favorite Poor Gal

Dr. John cut the instrumental “Storm Warning” as a seventeen-year-old guitarist in New Orleans. He molded it in the “Bo Diddley vein” and the song would go on to become a regional hit. We can understand why. First of all, Dr. John / Mac Rebennack discredits the entire notion of “the calm before the storm.” The song serves the dual purpose of predicting the “house rocking” to come as well as actually rocking the house. A “storm warning” generated by a New Orleans musician more than likely refers to a hurricane, and in this case, it’s the two saxophonists—Lee Allen on tenor and Alvin “Red” Tyler on bari—who do the hurricane-force blowing. In fact, Tyler really jumps the piece about halfway through. He unleashes some muscular phrasing upon the groovy ladder that Rebennack, et. al., offer via guitar, bass, keys, and drums.

As a teenager, Rebennack obeyed an impulse to rock hard. He didn’t reinvent instrumental rock ‘n’ roll with this piece but, at the same time, he substantially swung the proceedings. He also chose saxophone as the soloing instrument in a genre that was increasingly turning to the electric guitar for this kind of statement. Of course, coming from New Orleans, Dr. John would naturally choose a horn to represent the virtuosity of the soloist, a practice that another Nola musician—a cornetist / trumpeter named Louis Armstrong—established a few decades earlier and, in doing so, in establishing the importance of soloing, would change American music forever. 

Best Practices When Listening to These Songs

Dear Reader, we advise you to adopt the following protocols:
—Liquid refreshments (e.g., corn liquor) wouldn’t hurt, but swill these in moderation.
—Put on some sensible slacks! 
—Engage your core.
—Jump by squatting down low, then propelling yourself into the air. Repeat often.
—Above all else, invite your sweetie pie to join you. If you don’t have a sweetie pie, then invite a nice companion to join you. This hardy soul may—just may—turn into a sweetie pie, especially if you’ve observed all the other best practices given above. Oi.

Kid Thomas

Discographic Information

“Rockin’ This Joint To-Nite” A-side b/w B-side “You Are an Angel.” Transcontinental T-1012, Hollywood, Calif., 1959. Kid Thomas aka Louis Thomas Watts (vocals, harmonica). Other musicians, potentially including two guitars, drums, and any other instruments, unknown. Songwriting credit: Kid Thomas and Brad Atwood.

“Storm Warning” A-side b/w B-side Foolish Little Girl. Rex 1008, New Orleans, 1959. Likely personnel: Mac Rebennack aka Dr. John (guitar); Allen Toussaint (keyboards); Frank Fields (bass); Charles Williams (drums); Lee Allen (tenor sax); Alvin “Red” Tyler (baritone sax); and Melvin Lastie (trumpet). Other musicians, if any, unknown. Songwriting credit: Rebennack.

Sources of Information
Dr. John and Jack Rummel, Under a Hoodoo Moon, St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 1995
45cat page for “Storm Warning”
Album Liner notes page for a Dr. John anthology
Wikipedia page for Dr. John
Wikipedia page for Kid Thomas
AllMusic page for Kid Thomas
Bear Family Records page for Kid Thomas
Mike Leadbitter and Neil Slaven, Blues Records, January 1943 to December 1966, Hanover Books, 1968. (Contains session information for the 1959 Thomas recording.) 

Friday, July 14, 2023



Behold “Park Avenue” (above) and “Stampede” (below), two instrumental shakers recorded in 1959 by The Scarlets, a group that would release only one 45 before morphing into another group, or disbanding, or running riot. To be fair, it’s always possible they power-walked or jogged riot. “Park Avenue” is the B-side, but we present it first because we prefer it just a smidgen better than “Stampede.” We admit that “Park Avenue” is brighter; “Stampede” is more malevolent. Still, we prefer the B-side, slightly. And in case you haven’t noticed, we specialize in bands like The Scarlets, who poked their heads out for just one recording session in 1959 — during that fertile Shakers Era between the appearance of Elvis and the British Invasion of the Beatles et. al.

After listening to “Stampede” we feel like walking the hot summer streets at sundown just looking to heist — or hoist — an armored car. It doesn’t matter, heist or hoist, we’re just fairly jacked up. With “Park Avenue” on the other hand, we want to walk the hot summer streets at sundown and find us some new sweetie pies. We want to tell them all sorts of tales about ourselves — “we just heisted an armored car” — “we just hoisted an armored car” — before whirling them about a dance floor to the strains of that phat saxophone. O, we have torrid affairs with our new sweetie pies, and O, our new sweetie pies have torrid affairs with us. (For couple of minutes, anyhow. . . . . It’s all very innocent fwiw.)

As for you, Dear Readers, skip the heisting and hoisting and go right for the new sweetie pies. We suppose you can keep your old sweetie pies if you must. The key thing is to medicate yourselves (in moderation) and prepare to jump (knee high?) when that phat sax arrives.

Discography and Personnel:
“Stampede” b/w “Park Avenue.” Dot Records 16004, Hollywood, Calif. (1959). Also released on Prince Records PR 1207, Hollywood, Calif. (1959). Likely personnel: Tony Lepard (drums); John Sanzone (guitar); Pete Antonio aka Pete Antell (lead guitar); Bert Salmirs (piano); Howard Herman (saxophone); unknown additional musicians may include a second saxophone and upright bass. Composition credits: Wally Zober, Bert Salmirs, and Pete Antonio (“Stampede”); Wally Zober and Bert Salmirs (“Park Avenue”).

Earlier on, the band may have been known as Tony Leopard and the Spots before changing to other names such as the Escorts and the Scarlets. Antell, Salmirs, and Herman went on to have lengthy careers in music. Sanzone seems to have been a Vietnam Veteran who served in the U.S. Navy. Not much is known about Lepard and any of the other musicians who may have played on these tracks.

Sources of information:
Discogs page for The Scarlets
Howard Herman website
Pete Antell website
AllMusic page for Bert Salmirs’ composing credits
Blogpost with some biographical information on John Sanzone
John Clemente. Girl Groups: Fabulous Females Who Rocked the World. Author House, 2013
September 28, 1959 issue of The Billboard

Saturday, May 20, 2023


Behold “Weekday Ave.” I sometimes consider it to be the jewel of Joy on Fire’s hard-charging (and mildly charting) 2022 album States of America. Your humble blogger served as lyricist and vocalist for said album, and as you might imagine, Dear Reader, I brought some poetry to the mix. In this regard, you might detect echoes of Robert Hayden and Paul Celan. See below for those details, as well as the full lyrics, but first let’s have a look “under the hood” at the fabulous musicians who provide “Weekday Ave.” with its formidable pulse.

Songwriter and guitarist / bassist John Paul Carillo directs the highly textured musical expedition of “Weekday Ave.” — one that seamlessly enters a variety of idioms. The song burns low-medium (or straight up the middle) with some notable climbing action. While JPC may describe the overall sound of Joy on Fire as “punk jazz,” this piece resists category. Ultimately, “Weekday Ave.” offers a potent urban elegy, but not without the energetic stripe of optimism that courses through the band’s catalogue.

Enter saxophonist Anna Meadors, who displays enviable versatility throughout. She doubles the vocals, chants in opposition to the vocals, and confers the sort of lyrical statement on saxophones (alto and bari) that endows the song with most of its emotional content. (She also audio-engineered the proceedings, including the addition of some synth keyboards.)

Drummer Chris Olsen delivers propulsive, off-kilter percussion, which amply contradicts the typical enervated rhythms found, these days, on a typical American weekday avenue.

The outro is sheer magic, and owes to John’s guitar communicating with psychedelic themes as well as futuristic content. It should be retroactively added to the sci-fi flick Blade Runner.

As for the lyrics, they are mostly original, but borrow from two twentieth century poets.

If you know Robert Hayden’s masterpiece “Those Winter Sundays,” then you might recall the phrase “weekday weather” as it applies to the speaker’s father, whose hands cracked selflessly during manual labor in just such climatology. From there, I arrived at “Weekday Ave.” — the typical American thoroughfare capable only of generating “glassy condos,” “cute t-shirts,” and symbolic outrage during a crisis. The enjoyable play between “Weekday Ave.” and “weekday haven’t you” ensued straightaway.

I drew a little more from post-Holocaust European poet Paul Celan, whose lines “Die Welt ist fort // ich muß dich tragen” (“The world is lost // I must carry you”) ring outward from his 1967 collection, Atemwende, or Breath-Turn. I invert and jumble these thoughts, with the singer (me) requiring the burden of being carried. Much of everything returns to love, and the inward turn we all take, when we lose someone. While Celan may have intended his lines to read with centripetal gravity, the genius of his language may reside in its elasticity — and universality.

As John’s outro proceeds, the concept of feeling inwardness springs forth. I suppose there is a difference between inwardness and feeling inwardness. The way there is a difference between “Weekday Ave.” and “weekday haven’t you.” The way we might trip along, numbly, without forming “a thinker’s word.” 

The lyrics follow below. States of America can be heard and purchased [here]. As always, Dear Reader, we urge you to don sensible attire, alter your mindset responsibly, and hardly resist when your body begins to move without any inhibitions. Oi.

     Weekday Ave.

     Scream, a siren
     The scream alone
     “O” of outrage
     & secondhand time

     Weekday Ave.
     Or weekday haven’t you?
     Weekday Ave.
     Weekday Ave.
     Weekday Ave.
     Or weekday haven’t you?

     Yeah! / Yeah!

     Glassy condos
     & cute t-shirts
     Never require
     A thinker’s word


     Da-da da-da! // You must carry me
     Da-da da-da! // The world is lost
     Da-da da-da! // And if the world is lost
     Da-da da-da! // I feel inwardness!

     [Da-da da-da! + Chorus]

     I feel inwardness […]


     John Paul Carillo: bass guitar, electric guitar, songwriting
     Anna Meadors: Vocals, alto sax, bari sax, sound engineering
     Chris Olsen: Drums, percussion
     Dan Gutstein: Lyrics, vocals

     “Weekday Ave.” & States of America appeared on Procrastination Records (2022). 

Thursday, April 20, 2023



Behold “When Hollywood Goes Black and Tan.” Recorded in 1935 by singer-pianist par excellence Cleo Brown, the piece swings in the most nourishing ways. Our musicology team has been working overtime to present complete lyrics (below) and, as ever, our critical acumen. Let’s examine the mechanisms of a bright tune that will propel us into the air, jumping.

a proper overview of the song

The opening riff circles energetically a few times before the band enters and the song drives toward the vocals. Brown’s voice veers between propulsive forcefulness and angelic flourishes. Meanwhile, she confers a torrential workout upon the keyboard, with her notoriously powerful left hand. As a listener, Dear Reader, you may feel “swung” — but can you imagine what the piano must’ve gone through? It experienced dizzying sensations that few uprights have ever encountered. We love how the call and response verifies the bold vision (in 1935) of a Black and tan Hollywood.

roots in ellington?

The royal Duke Ellington may have partly inspired this song. He first recorded his own composition “Black and Tan Fantasy” in 1927 and then, a couple of years later, starred in the early talkie Black and Tan. This short fictional film would introduce the magnificent actress and dancer Fredi Washington in her big screen debut. Not simply a musical, Black and Tan turns surprisingly elegiac at its conclusion, with the Ellington Orchestra playing “Black and Tan Fantasy” in a dimly-lit apartment setting as the character played by Washington passes away. Added to the National Film Registry in 2015, Black and Tan offers a remarkable conduit for the Ellington composition, which has since been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. 

a bold vision

If Ellington’s composition began to foreshadow societal change, the Brown recording situated this coming transformation in the “promised land” of Hollywood, among the country’s elite performers. Composed by the brotherly songwriting duo of Leon René and Otis René, “When Hollywood Goes Black and Tan” introduces a host of burgeoning African American talents. Louis Armstrong, for instance, had already made his mark as a jazz trumpeter and singer. Other names may not be quite as familiar: musician Bob Howard, actor Stepin Fetchit, actress Nina Mae McKinney, and singer Ethel Waters. By comparing these new Black stars to established white talents such as Fred Astaire and Ina Claire, the pianist-singer Brown and her bandmates propound a very compelling Black and tan reality. Notably, “The Mayor of Harlem” may refer to African American dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

here’s good news and it’s the newest

While a boxing match between champion James Braddock and contender Joe Louis may have been “in the air,” the bout itself wouldn’t transpire until 1937, about two years after this song was recorded. In the end, Louis defeated Braddock, capturing the lineal heavyweight title. In time, Louis would become the first national African American hero, after he knocked out the German fighter Max Schmeling on the eve of World War II. In celebrating the rise of Louis and other stars, “When Hollywood Goes Black and Tan” doesn’t advocate the old dance moves of “wing-and-buckin’” but insinuates that “Everybody will be truckin’” instead. Yeah man! 

the career of miss brown

Born in 1909 in Mississippi, Cleo Brown moved as a young teenager with her family to Chicago in the early 1920s. She learned stride piano from her brother and, before long, began performing in Chicago speakeasies. There, she met the likes of King Oliver and Louis Armstrong. Over the next several years, she toured regionally with different groups and notably, in 1934, performed at the same club (The Three Deuces) as jazz pianist Art Tatum. In addition to Tatum, she met a who’s who in jazz circles while performing at The Three Deuces. In 1935, Brown moved to New York, where she took over Fats Waller’s radio show, signed a recording deal with Decca, and produced her first recordings. Over the next 15 years, she toured all over the country before dropping out of show business to become a nurse and a church musician. In the 1980s, pianist Marian McPartland rediscovered Cleo Brown living in Denver and brought her to New York to record a segment for McPartland’s show Piano Jazz that aired on NPR. A short while later, the NEA awarded Cleo Brown a Jazz Masters Fellowship. Based upon the NPR broadcast, just about anybody would note the graciousness and kindliness of Miss Brown. She passed away in 1995.

complete lyrics

“When Hollywood Goes Black and Tan”
Cleo Brown, 1935

Creole babies from Manhattan
Will be leaving Harlem if they can
Yeah man! (Oh yeah, man!)
When Hollywood goes black and tan

Louis Armstrong with his trumpet
Will be heading westward with his band
Yeah man! (Oh yeah, man!)
When Hollywood goes black and tan

Harlem crooners with a swing
Will be singing at the studio
Makes no difference if you can’t sing
Just say, “Heedie-heedie-hidie-ho!”

When they start to swing that rhythm
I’ll be heading for that promised land
Yeah man! (Oh yeah, man!)
Yeah man! (Oh yeah, man!)

You won’t find them wing-and-buckin’
Everybody will be truckin’
It’s gonna be grand
When Hollywood goes black and tan

The mayor of Harlem says he’ll be there
To give those boys a helpin’ hand
Yeah man! (Oh yeah, man!)
When Hollywood goes black and tan

Old Bob Howard made a promise
To latch onto that baby grand
Yeah man! (Oh yeah, man!)
When Hollywood goes black and tan

Stepin Fetchit’s gonna sing and dance
Like Fred Astaire
Nina May don’t have to sing
Cause she can be petite like Ina Claire

Waters [is] gonna do a fan dance
And shake those feathers off her fan
Yeah man! (Oh yeah, man!)
Yeah man! (Oh yeah, man!)

Here’s good news and it’s the newest:
Braddock’s going to meet Joe Louis
It’s gonna be grand
When Hollywood goes black and tan

Personnel: Cleo Brown (vocals, piano); Bobby Sherwood (guitar); Manny Stein (string bass); Vic Berton (drums); backup vocals likely by band. Recorded Nov. 20, 1935, in Los Angeles. “When Hollywood Goes Black and Tan” released as Decca 632 and Brunswick 02123 B-side b/w “When” A-side. Lyrics by Otis René and Leon René. [Interestingly enough, both songs on this release share the same first word, even as they are very different songs. Most of all, never underestimate the B-side!]

sources of information
—Whitney Balliett, American Singers: Twenty-Seven Portraits in Song. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, 2006.
—Eugene Chadbourne, “Cleo Brown.” AllMusic Guide to the Blues. Backbeat Books, San Francisco, 2003.
—NEA Jazz Masters page for Cleo Brown.
—NPR page for Cleo Brown’s appearance on Piano Jazz.
—Brian Rust, Jazz Records 1897-1942: Volume 1. Arlington House, New Rochelle, NY, 1978.
—Mary Unterbrink, Jazz Women at the Keyboard. McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 1983.
—Wikipedia page for “Black and Tan Fantasy.”
—Wikipedia page for Black and Tan (film).
—Wikipedia page for Cleo Brown.
—Wikipedia page for Leon René.
—Wikipedia page for Otis René.

Friday, March 31, 2023


The Cuban composer plays a version from his 1954 album Lecuona  
Plays Lecuona. It would be the (relative) calm before the shakers. 

the king of 1947 cuban pop

Behold “Malagueña.” Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona wrote the piano piece no later than 1931, with reference to the Spanish town Málaga. In 1947, LIFE magazine crowned Lecuona the king of Cuba’s popular music, and noted that “Malagueña” had been, by then, a hit in the United States for 16 years. (According to LIFE, Tin Pan Alley music publishing houses in New York had sold 100,000 copies of the composition every year since 1931.)

Performances and / or recordings by Marco Rizo, Caterina Valente, Violetta Villas, Connie Francis, and Stan Kenton — not to mention the royal figure of Count Basie — would continue to popularize the song among audiences all over the world. But we digress. After all, we here at Blood And Gutstein tend to specialize in a genre known as “Long Lost.” And the songs we tend to put forward will rattle your speakers. Therefore, let’s take a look at three examples of how rock ‘n’ roll transformed this Cuban composition into a banging shaker.

three rock ‘n’ roll extravaganzas

Ali Hassan aka Al Hazan. This song asserts itself immediately and jumps soon thereafter. With piano just as percussive as the drums, and played to excess in the upper register (we approve), the arrangement makes plenty of potent arguments, including:
     — “Given the hubbub, why don’t we engage in romance?”
     — “Yes, let’s.”
     — “Well, all reet then. Shall we remove our garments?”
     — “We shall.”
Not to be outdone, the guitar really wails. Thus, we have some percussive keys, phat drums (the train is coming), and blistering guitar. We have people ripping each other’s duds off, no less!

Session information: Ali Hassan (Al Hazan), producer and probably piano. Other musicians unknown. A-side “Malagueña” b/w B-side “Chopsticks.” Philles 103, Los Angeles, 1962. [Notably, the Philles label was founded by none other than the notorious Phil Spector and one Lester Sill. Also notably, Al Hazan played piano on the UK number one hit “Nut Rocker” by B. Bumble and the Stingers.]

The Wildtones. Little is known about this group, which may have cut only two songs under that name. On the one hand, “King Cobra” may be a bit deceptive, as the classic “Malagueña” riff runs nearly throughout the entire song (on guitar), and offers the other musicians a sturdy, hypnotic ladder upon which they can howl into or batter their instruments. On the other hand, “King Cobra” is probably an apt summary for the mayhem that ensues, especially the venomous saxophone. Or, “blistering,” if you will, and you will. Call the drumming “surfy,” call the horn “borderline avant,” call the guitar “twangy” (or Duane Eddy-esque) and then you’ll have some estimation of this eclectic cacophony!

Session information: The Wildtones. Musicians unknown. A-side “King Cobra” b/w B-side “Mendelssohn Rock.” Tee Gee 105, New York, 1958. Writing credited to “Ford” and “Newman.” [Notably, Tee Gee records was owned by George Goldner, a pioneer record producer who recorded, interestingly enough, the song “Gee” by The Crows, which became a hit on both the R&B and pop charts.]

The Trashmen / Los Trashmen. These Midwest rockers present a clear-cut surf treatment of the song. It reverberates heavily with ghost waves (we approve) and behaves suspensefully before the lead guitarist slashes into the proceedings. As a “building” or “climbing” or “burrowing” song, we find the musicians drifting into and out of numerous effervescent idioms. The “smoothest” cover of the three rock ‘n’ roll versions, don’t underestimate this song’s edgy properties and virtuosic musicianship. It propels the surfer, after all, through the barrel of a breaker!

Session information: The Trashmen. Likely personnel: Troy Andreason (guitar), Dal Winslow (guitar), Robert Reed (bass), Steve Wahrer (drums). The song was recorded in 1963 or early 1964, and would be released in LP, EP, and 7-inch formats in the U.S. and abroad. For the original LP release, see
Surfin’ Bird, Garrett Records, January 1964. Otherwise, we have Los Trashmen, Gamma 578 A-side “Malagueña Surf” b/w B-side “Mi Cuate” (Mexico, 1965). [Speaking of the band’s flagship song, “Surfin’ Bird,” it rose to No. 4 in the charts in 1963-64, and would go on to be covered by several bands, including the Ramones and the Cramps, and appear in film, television, video games, and other extravaganzas.]

the upshot

Rock musicians have always repurposed songs from other eras and genres. This continued, for sure, with “Malagueña.” These bands rocked all of our pronouns: we, us, me, I, and you. Now that you’ve been rocked, Dear Reader, it’s up to you how to proceed. We always suggest moderation here at Blood And Gutstein. Thus, you could jump, there, all by yourself, if you need an aerobic workout. You could surf if your abode abuts (!) saltwater climes. Or you could telephone your sweetie pie and propose romance. We have found that mere mention of the song title — “Malagueña” — tends to propose romance. Yes, you can text, ping, and DM, if you must, and if you must, just propose romance responsibly and (always) bear the gift of music, wink wink. 

sources of information:
Billboard advertisement (for Surfin’ Bird) January 11, 1964
Black Cat Netherlands page for Al Hazan
Discogs entry for “King Cobra” by The Wildtones
Discogs entry for Lecuona Plays Lecuona, 1954-55
Discogs entry for “Malagueña” by Ali Hassan / Al Hazan
Discogs entry for “Malagueña Surf” by The Trashmen
LIFE article on Cuban music Oct. 6, 1947
Wikipedia entry for George Goldner
Wikipedia entry for “Malagueña”
Wikipedia entry for Surfin’ Bird (album)
Wikipedia entry for “Surfin’ Bird” (song)

Monday, March 20, 2023


Behold the music video for “In Speaking Like Thunder.” It completely eradicates the distance between Jazzpunk and Horror, leaving us stranded in a world that crosses rural sectarianism with discordant Middle Ages topographies. With music by Joy on Fire, lyrics and vocals by your humble blogger, and video by Daphne Bacon and Cody Snyder, “In Speaking Like Thunder” will have you reaching for a talisman and a baggie of shrooms alike.

The main character and his fellow townsfolk attempt to confront a series of omens in the form of moonlit disturbances, grisly discoveries in the woods, puzzling iconography, and dizzying isolations. A proliferation of period weapons — scythe, axe, pitchfork — accompany the period garb of a transcendent era. Viewers will hardly doubt the extensive lubrication proffered by meads, wines, and grogs; surely, there must be some greenery in that phat pipe!

After a torch-wielding posse melts away, the main character confronts a bipedal forest beast who has fostered all the mayhem. The man bows down before the beast. He embraces the beast. The two even dance together. Then, the clouds part and the full moon confers some sobriety on what will surely be a gruesome conclusion. The lines “At night / I am the night” may apply to the powerful beast, or they may apply broadly to the moon-force, or the presence that speaks “like thunder.”

The music veers between an up-register drone and crunching narrative; between free jazz outrage and gnawing synthesis. Indeed, all these sounds congeal at once as the instruments stretch toward the denouement of the final, mad dance. As for the lyrics, this is the second time I wrote a song in French, before bringing it over to English. (Also see “Unknown City.”) My French is hardly perfect, but in the translation, cometh the jaggedness.

The lyrics in both languages follow below. May they inspire new thoughts and images. May you play the song loud, pour yourself something mildly intoxicating, and jump around in the usual manner. Oi.

       In Speaking Like Thunder

       In speaking
       The thunder
       In speaking
       Like thunder
       In speaking
       The thunder
       In speaking
       Like thunder

       My word
       As crazy as
       My word
       As crazy as the mouth
       My word as crazy as
       The mouth of God
       My word as crazy as
       The Mouth of God

       At night
       I am the night
       At night
       I am the night
       At night
       I am the night
       At night
       I am the night

       At night
       In speaking
       I am the night
       Like thunder
       At night
       In speaking
       I am the night
       Like thunder

       En Parlant Comme le Tonnere

       En parlant
       Le tonnere
       En parlant
       Comme le tonnere
       En parlant
       Le tonnere
       En parlant
       Comme le tonnere

       Ma parole
       Aussi fou que
       Ma parole
       Aussi fou que la bouche
       Ma parole aussi fou que 
       La bouche de dieu
       Ma parole aussi fou que
       La bouche de dieu

       A nuit
       Je suis la nuit
       A nuit
       Je suis la nuit
       A nuit
       Je suis la nuit
       A nuit
       Je suis la nuit

       A nuit
       En parlant
       Je suis la nuit
       Comme le tonnere
       A nuit
       En parlant
       Je suis la nuit
       Comme le tonnere