This 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.
The GRATEFUL DEAD weren’t noted as a recording band but they were as good as anyone (when they were on song) as a live band.
However, they did record three excellent albums, one of which I’d include in my top ten. That album was “American Beauty” and from that one we have Sugar Magnolia.
BESSIE SMITH was known as the Empress of the Blues.
She was certainly the best known blues performer in the twenties and thirties and had a huge influence on other blues and jazz singers (as well as later rock singers such as Janis Joplin).
Her work challenged the elitist norms of her era encouraging woman, especially working class woman, to embrace their right to do things that men were doing. This is evident in Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl.
In the early seventies JESSE COLIN YOUNG was extracting himself from his band The Youngbloods.
During that period he recorded a couple of excellent solo albums. The best of those was “Song for Juli” but it’s not that one we want today. Instead, the album is “Songbird” and from that the song we need is Sugar Babe.
DJANGO REINHARDT could do more with playing with just two fingers on his left hand than just about any other guitarist can do with a full set.
He lost the use of the others in a caravan fire where he was living at the time, early in his career. The doctors said he’d never play again. He showed them. From around about 1939 Django plays Sugar, with the help of an unnamed band.
One of the first songs I thought of for this category is by the MCGUIRE SISTERS.
They were all over the hit parade in the fifties, including several songs that hit the top of the charts. One of those was Sugartime.
NAT KING COLE has one of the most famous sugar songs, certainly one of his most famous songs.
This is from recordings he made with Billy May and a big band going full tilt behind him. The song is When My Sugar Walks Down the Street.
Besides her solo career, NANCY SINATRA had a long musical association with Lee Hazelwood.
As well as often recording together, Lee wrote many of her biggest songs. These Boots were Made for Walking was one of his. Jackson was another. Yet another that hit the top of the charts is Sugar Town.
Here's another song called Sugar Babe but it's a different one from Jesse Colin's. This one is by TOM RUSH.
This was from his terrific early-ish album “Take a Little Walk With Me”, more than 50 years old and still one of the best albums around.
If the world was an equitable place JOE TEX would be a more important artist than James Brown, but it’s not, so I’ll just have to do my thing and play his music when I can.
This song will get you up and dancing, or at least tapping your toes. The song is If Sugar Was as Sweet as You, a song he wrote himself.
I can only remember one song by JIMMY GILMER & THE FIREBALLS.
However, checking Wiki, it seems he had quite a few that made the charts. I guess I wasn’t taking much notice at the time.
That song is Sugar Shack which was written by Keith McCormack and Jimmy Torres. Keith gave the rights to the song to his aunt, who helped him with some of the lyrics, for her birthday. That would have been a nice little earner for her as it hit the top of the charts around the world.