Neil, the Answer Is Tonight

Oh Alabama
The devil fools
with the best laid plan.
Swing low Alabama
You got spare change
You got to feel strange
And now the moment
is all that it meant.

Alabama, you got
the weight on your shoulders
That’s breaking your back.
Your Cadillac
has got a wheel in the ditch
And a wheel on the track

Oh Alabama
Banjos playing
through the broken glass
Windows down in Alabama.
See the old folks
tied in white ropes
Hear the banjo.
Don’t it take you down home?

Alabama, you got
the weight on your shoulders
That’s breaking your back.
Your Cadillac
has got a wheel in the ditch
And a wheel on the track

Oh Alabama.
Can I see you
and shake your hand.
Make friends down in Alabama.
I’m from a new land
I come to you
and see all this ruin
What are you doing Alabama?
You got the rest of the union
to help you along
What’s going wrong?

Fred Cole, Pt. Two: Wowsers and YIKES!

Continuing the process of trying to hear everything Cole recorded. To start at the start, I knew The Lollipop Shoppe’s “You Must Be a Witch” from the original Nuggets collection but for many years I did not know, out of raw ignorance, that this was Cole’s first band (only album came out in ’68 when he was 20). Then, since I never even saw a single copy of it, I smoothed over my curiosity by assuming (like the dummy I was) that Just Colour suffered from the usual Nuggets Curse (that is, aside from the one marvelous track, the album was either too derivative or outright bleh). I got the definitive 2008 reissue on Rev-Ola and wowsers was I wrong — one of the best garage-classic-containing LPs I’ve heard and a Rilly Weird. Piece of Work. “Underground Railroad,” “Who’ll Read the Will,” “Don’t Close the Door on Me” and the last track, “Sin” show Cole’s angry, morbid/supernatural and proto-punk attitude in place already. Only [small] defect: the two unreleased Bonus Tracks are weak. The sort of simpering stuff you were afraid the whole album would be like.

The YIKES is that on what I believe is the Pierced Arrows final album, Descending Shadows, the songwriting and performing remain intact, but Cole’s voice sounds wracked and ravaged. Not surprised this was the end. Still, perfect final song for a free spirit who flew his own way decade after decade: “Coming Down to Earth.”

In Honor of Fats, This Is All-NOLA Night

I’ll update the list as the eve wears on (and/or I wear out):

 

  1. Various, The Cosmo Matassa Story: Vol. 2 “Try Rock ‘n’ Roll” (which includes some Fats)
  2. Bonerama, Hot Like Fire (Basin Street) Cookin’ mostly instrumental vets out on a new label. Fine stuff.
  3. The Neville Brothers, Walkin’ in the Shadow of Life (yeah, not my first choice, either — but all I could hustle up because I had to start the BBQ and hadn’t heard this in ages). (“Rivers of Babylon” belongs on their all-time greatest box.)
  4. The Meters, Funkify Your Life: The Meters Anthology: Vol. 2 . Soft on this because Cabbage Alley and “Do the Dirt” brought my head out of the muck over and over when I first moved to Cambridge.
  5. Louis Armstrong, The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings (2000). The very first track, “Gut Bucket Blues,” includes a reference to New Orleans. (How many of you know what a gut bucket was? I even saw a couple.)
  6. Allen Toussaint & Various, Saint of New Orleans (Great American Music) (2009) NOLA hardcore special. (I want to point out “Gossip Gossip” by Diamond Joe as one of the most deranged recordings in US history, coherent, but utterly deranged.)
  7. Tin Men, Gold Ear, An anthology of the diverse, droll and corrosive, unique to the place trio of cut-ups unfortunately assembled by the hack Milo Miles.