Tag Archives: Chess Records

Chuck Berry, Sweet Little Rock and Roller (Pickwick, 1973)


Go ‘head with your sexual preferences, fellow humans. Enjoy. Far be it from me to judge – UNLESS OF COURSE you’re Chuck Berry and one of those preferences is fucking TAPING women in the bathroom without their consent. Then you’re a pure unadulterated creep, a realllllll dirty bird, just disgusting, and I reserve the right to point it out whenever I see fit. There’s always been something a little off about Chuck – some subversive shit that gives me the creeps, and I’m not just talking about his perm. I have ears and a soul, so obviously I enjoy the riffs, the pacing, the chord progressions, his fondness for super hip white women who love black music (ahem), and the fact that he’s a southern black man who is actually given credit for being an originator of southern black man music and has profited from his own creations for decades now. (I also really loved the casting of Mos Def in that otherwise pretty terrible Chess movie.) But then Chuck goes and writes “Back in the U.S.A.,” a song about 1959 Americuh being nothing but sock hops and jukeboxes and hamburgers on the grill, some real fucking whitewashed Happy Days nonsense, a full 6 YEARS before Missouri became desegregated. (I had hoped he wrote the song for purely financial reasons, to appeal to white kids buying 45s, but nope – the lyrics are as earnest as can be.) Now Chuck’s always wearing that creepy captain’s hat like creepy old Hugh Hefner and this does nothing to lessen the creep factor. CREEP. Christ, those RIFFS, though. Those riffs.

Elmore James, Anthology Of The Blues – The Resurrection Of Elmore James (Kent, 1970)

HFS Elmore 1264-2

Elmore James gets credit for laying down the first recorded version of “Shake Your Moneymaker” after he saw my performance at Magic City (Friday night, stage 2). There’s also the Jimi obsession, plus you’ve heard his “The Sky is Crying” as covered by Stevie Ray Vaughn from that goddamn classic rock station they have on at Jiffy Lube all the time.

Ahmad Jamal, Heat Wave. Cadet, 1966.

photo 1(1)

Let the music breathe, says Ahmad Jamal. The same applies to your legs, which need not be encumbered by the rigid fabric of pants. Let the legs breathe. (I know all about Winter in America thanks to my man Gil, but I’m also an expert on Winter in Los Angeles, where a lady has to improvise when the temperature dips down to sweater weather.)

[After you get Freeflight because you’re a jazz snob, go get Portfolio (Argo, 1959) & listen to “Autumn Leaves” and go back to being a kid every time you hear it like I do because my dad played it on Sunday mornings. Go play in the backyard. It’s a beautiful day. Mom will call you when dinner’s ready,]

The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Barefoot Sunday Blues. Argo, 1963 (LPS-723).


What’s a sexier Don Bronstein-designed album cover than the Howlin’ Wolf one with just a rocking chair & guitar? NOTHING. NONE. That’s the sexiest one. It is his finest work. But I still went out & sat in some scratchy plants & hurt the back of my thighs for you guys just so I could pay tribute to this one – chosen because it’s Christmas, my uncle is visiting, and this is a nod of appreciation to him for first playing this record for me when I was little. I have since realized the C. Adderley version of the title track is better, but the piano playing on that version is not. (No hard feelings, Wynton Kelly! xo)