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Sunday, 26 August 2012

ELDER MUSIC: Cadillac

PeterTibbles75x75This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


Cadillac

There are no cars that rival the Cadillac in iconic status even though the Germans make better cars, the Italians sexier ones and the Swedes safer ones. Also, when was the last time you heard a song about a Kia?

Okay, I’ll acknowledge the Ferrari but there are few songs written about it, so it’s not really useful for a music column.

Cadillac

The second song (the first is down below) I thought of when Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and I started pondering what to include is this one by WARREN SMITH.

Warren Smith

Warren learned to play the guitar while he was in the air force. He decided to make a career of music and played clubs around Arkansas and Tennessee upon his discharge.He caught the ear of a couple of local musicians who recommended him to Sam Phillips at Sun Records.

His first several releases actually outsold those of fellow Sun alumni, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. Well, who’s ever heard of them? This is one of those hits, Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache.

♫ Warren Smith - Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache

ALBERT KING was one of the Kings of the Blues, a subject I’ve covered in a previous column.

Albert King

Albert liked to call himself B.B. King’s half-brother as they were born in the same town in Mississippi. However, his birth surname was Nelson and they weren’t related.

Their guitar styles are similar although B.B.’s is more refined (if I can use that word when referring to the blues) and Albert’s singing reminds me somewhat of Bobby “Blue” Bland. Not a bad thing.

Anyway, here’s Albert with Cadillac Assembly Line.

♫ Albert King - Cadillac Assembly Line

The A.M. Insisted CHUCK BERRY be included. After all, he wrote so many songs about cars so you know there’ll be a Cadillac in there somewhere.

Chuck Berry

She was right. It was in the very first song of his that became a hit. Rather surprisingly, Chuck wasn’t driving the Caddie in the song, he was in the V8 Ford. Maybellene was the one in the Coup de Ville.

♫ Chuck Berry - Maybellene

WILLIE DEVILLE recorded this song when he was still theoretically a band, Mink DeVille.

Willy DeVille

With a name like that, you’d expect a Cadillac song. Willy and his band were usually lumped in with the punks and others at CBGBs mainly because they played there for some considerable time. He was a lot more interesting than that narrow slot.

There were blues influences, a lot of New Orleans, some jazz and lots more besides as became evident in his later solo albums. Here’s Willy when he still went by Mink DeVille with Cadillac Walk.

♫ Willy DeVille - Cadillac Walk

Cadillac

DADDY COOL was one of the greatest rock groups Australia produced and certainly a favorite of mine.

Daddy Cool

Their heyday was the early seventies. They didn’t last long as a group and each of the four members went on to produce interesting music elsewhere. They get back together every now and then to play and occasionally record, usually when Ross Wilson feels like it.

There are few people in this country who don’t like them. There’s a famous story about Ross Hannaford, the lead guitarist, and one of his later groups. One time, Bob Dylan was touring and some members of his backing band went to the club where Ross and crew were playing.

After the gig, one of Bob’s group said to the others, “It’s lucky Bob didn’t come with us, we’d all be sacked.”

This is Zoop Bop Gold Cadillac.

♫ Daddy Cool - Zoop Bop Gold Cadillac

The EVERLY BROTHERS had a rather acrimonious split for about ten years. After their reconciliation, due in large part to Albert Lee, they recorded several really good albums.

Everly Brothers

Maybe the best of those albums was one called “Born Yesterday.” This had some of their own songs as well as excellent covers of several of the finest songwriters around. It also had Albert playing lead guitar, something he did better than anyone around at the time. He’s still the best around.

One of the songs they covered was written by the wonderfully named Larry Raspberry, Always Drive a Cadillac.

♫ Everly Brothers - Always Drive a Cadillac

An interesting track I found in the A.M.’s collection is by MAURICE KING AND HIS WOLVERINES.

Maurice King

Not shown in that photo is the singer, by the name of Bea Baker.

Bea Baker

Bea went on to a successful solo career when she changed her name to LaVern Baker.

One of Maurice’s earlier gigs was to front the all-female band the Sweethearts of Rhythm (well, all but him I guess). Later with the Wolverines, he discovered Johnnie Ray. Johnnie later said that Maurice and LaVern taught him all he knew about show biz.

Here’s the group with I Want a Lavender Cadillac.

♫ Maurice King and His Wolverines - I Want a Lavender Cadillac

JIMMY LIGGINS started a band called the Drops of Joy after his big brother Joe did the same with The Honeydrippers.

Jimmy Liggins

Jimmy started out as a boxer but he left that and became chauffeur and general roustabout for his brother. Inspired by him, as I said, he formed his own band.

After playing the traps for a bit, he was signed to Specialty records. The song Cadillac Boogie was released in 1947 and was his second record. It was quite a hit.

You can hear the influence this song had on his brother’s song, Rocket 88, that’s generally considered the first rock & roll song (although there are many contenders for that title).

♫ Jimmy Liggins - Cadillac Boogie

THE JESTERS recorded for Sun records but after its heyday of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and yes, Warren Smith.

The Jesters

I guess it was easy for them to get signed to the label as one of the group’s guitarists was Sam Phillips’s son and another son produced this record. The song Cadillac Man was released in 1966, around the time English groups were everywhere so it disappeared, not without a trace, but without much notice.

It sounds as if it had been recorded a decade earlier but that’s no bad thing. The group, and this song in particular, has been described as “garage band rockabilly.” I guess it is that, but to me it’s just blazing rock & roll.

♫ The Jesters - Cadillac Man

This is the first tune we thought of for this category but as time went on it kept slipping further and further down the list until it fell off entirely. Then I thought: no it has to be included.

So, there’s a perfectly good jump blues track that got the flick just so this one can be present. I hope you appreciate it. It is THE PLAYMATES with their only hit, Beep Beep.

The Playmates

In the interest of openness, I should report that I discovered some rather interesting pictures when I went online looking for photos of The Playmates. The things I have to endure for you all.

The Playmates were a trio consisting of Chick Hetti (real name Carl Cicchetti), Donny Conn (Donald Claps) and Morey Carr (I guess he was satisfied with his name). Unusually for the time, they played their own instruments as well. Here’s that song.

♫ The Playmates - Beep Beep

Cadillac

FYI: I drive a Toyota Yaris. It’s a red one so it goes faster.


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Chuckled at your search for photos of the Playmates.
Another fun morning of music. Thank You!

The minute I saw your headline, I started jumping...
"As I was a-motivatin' over the hill, I saw Maybellene in a Coupe de Ville." Ah, yes.

And re the Everly Brothers (you have a typo this morning) and their acrimonious split--for some reason, being in a band together almost inevitably leads to arguments and fighting. Why is that?

And don't forget that many of these artist were brought to us by . . . ta-da!!! -- Cadillac Records!!!

And thanks foe recalling Albert King !!!!!

These were some great tunes Peter. I kept waiting to see Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac" Was it too recent a tune for your selection?

Larry, it was on the list, it just didn’t make the final cut.

I'm new to these "Elder Music" columns, but both my husband and I are enjoying them so much.

Quite a group of songs and musicians. My much older bro still talks to this day of the beauty of his favorite car -- the cadillac model with the straight sleek fin lines -- his top pick of all the cars he owned, including some of those still highly thought of European makes.

Quite a difference from his very first car when he was in high school -- a Ford Model "A" or was it "T"? I know it had a rumble seat. He allowed his little sister to accompany him to the Red Bird gas station where I distinctly recall he bought 25 cents worth of gas.

Running late here: The Cadillac feature surprised me. I didn't know songs were written about Caddys. For a few months, I got to own one. As a wedding present in 1956, my FIL bought us a 1951 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. This middle class girl was so thrilled to be driving such an icon of luxury! My parents tastes went to Nashes. No one writes songs about a Nash. Fun and sad to recall the short-lived Caddy. My spouse traded it in on a Jaguar XK, and shortly wrapped it and himself around a tree. Life: Up, down.

Peter, not to be a spoilsport, but I'm not a great lover of car culture. I do own a car. My approach to it is pretty basic, and I drive it as little as possible.
However I do have a favourite car song. It involves a story: Red Corvette by John McCutcheon.
Despite my lack of response to songs about Cadillacs, I would certainly not want to discourage you from doing what I consider overall to be a terrific job.
One could be corny and say, what one shouldn't say, let the oldies stick together!

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