Feb 14, 2015

RhoDeo 1506 Grooves

Hello, today it's all about that father and daughter connection starring in the music industry...

When Sam Phillips launched his fledgling Sun label in the fifties, it was Rufus who gave the company its first hit, a sweet-and-nasty Hound Dog-style song called Bear Cat. In 1960, Rufus and his daughter Carla recorded Cause I Love You for Satellite, another label that was just getting started. The company changed its name to Stax soon after Cause I Love You became a hit. Stax Records went on to define and epitomize soul music, with the help of Otis Redding, Booker T. and the M.G.'s, Sam and Dave, and of course Rufus, who kept Stax going with gritty dance-lesson hits like The Dog, The Funky Chicken, and the immortal Walking The Dog.  .....N'joy

xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

Rufus was a Memphis music legend long before he helped get Sun Records off the ground. During the 1930's, when Memphis' Beale Street was the epicenter of blues culture, a six-year-old Rufus Thomas made his performing debut at Beale's Grand Theater, playing the role of a frog in a local theatrical production. Born a sharecropper's son in the rural community of Cayce, Mississippi, Thomas moved to Memphis with his family when he was two years old. His mother was “a church woman.” Much later in life, he would impersonate all kinds of animals: screeching cats, funky chickens and penguins, and mournful dogs. By age 10, he was a tap dancer, performing in amateur productions at Memphis' Booker T. Washington High School.

As a teenager, he toured Deep South backwaters and whistle stops with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Returning to Memphis and the still-jumping Beale Street scene as half of the Rufus and Bones vaudeville team, he specialized in singing, dancing, comedy and all-around jiving. Thomas' local popularity led to long-running gigs as master of ceremonies at the more opulent Beale Street theaters, where the likes of Count Basie and Louis Jordan were headline performers. He also emceed at the rowdy amateur night competitions, where two early contest winners were B.B. King and Bobby "Blue" Bland.

When Memphis radio station WDIA introduced its pioneering black music programming in 1949, becoming "the Mother Station of the Negroes," Rufus was among the station's first and most flamboyant air personalities. He had two aptly-titled shows of his own, "House of Happiness" and "Special Delivery." He's announce his presence on the air by crowing, "I'm young and loose and full of juice, I got the goose, so what's the use?" After proclaiming these words with gravel-voiced relish, Rufus would spin the latest blues and R&B hits, puntucating the music with exclamations, interpolations, and flights of sheer verbal lunacy.

But throughout his years as a Beale Street celebrity and WDIA jockstar, Rufus also held down a demanding dayjob, operating eight boilers at a textile-bleaching plant. With a wife and four children to support, Rufus Thomas wasn't about to stake his family's economic well-being, and his kids' educations, on the vagaries of an entertainment career. He'd get up at the crack of dawn, put in a grueling day at the textile plant, rush over to WDIA to do his afternoon show, then get in a car crammed with musicians and their instruments and drive, sometimes for several hours, to an evening gig in Tennessee, Mississippi or Arkansas.

 "I must have played every fraternity house there was in the South," Rufus told author Peter Guralnick in Sweet Soul Music. "When we played Ole Miss, they'd send the girls home at midnight, and then we'd tell nasty jokes and all that stuff. Oh man, we used to have some good times down there." These gigs helped make Rufus Thomas a legend beyond Memphis' city limits. They also kept him young. He'd watch the way the kids were dancing, what kind of rhythms and lyrics they responded to, and work those insights into records like Walking The Dog, perhaps the ultimate Southern frat-party anthem. Performing in outrageous outfits--bermuda shorts and knee-high socks in shocking day-glow colors, ankle-length capes--Rufus would brag that he was "the world's oldest teenager."

But above all, Rufus Thomas was a blues singer. Whether he was stoking young romances with a slow-burner or pumping out a driving shuffle, Rufus sang with the grit, the growl, the pinpoint definition of vocal textures and pitch-shadings he'd learned from his earliest years in Memphis. "The blues you heard in the Beale Street theaters was a more polite, uptown kind of blues," he recalls. "To hear the real down-in-the-alley blues, you'd have to go out to the rougher joints, in neighborhoods like Orange Mound. The Beale Street crowd would talk about going to these places like it was slumming, but we'd go, we'd go! Because those were the places where you got to know the blues."

Thomas' years of experience have hardwired this instinctive blues knowledge into his nervous system. During the late sixties and early seventies, when Stax began sliding downhill and young black listeners seemed as determined to shun the blues as young whites were eager to embrace it, Rufus kept the music alive on Memphis radio and in his incendiary live shows. More recent performances have shown no dimunition of his finely-honed voice and timeless, straight-from-the-heart feel.

He played an important part in the Stax reunion of 1988, and had a small role in the 1989 Jim Jarmusch film, Mystery Train. Thomas released an album of straight-ahead blues, That Woman is Poison!, with Alligator Records in 1990. In 1996, Rufus and William Bell headlined at the Olympics in Atlanta. In 1997, Rufus released an album, Rufus Live!, on Ecko Records.

Thomas was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001. He was interviewed by the public radio program American Routes (aired in February 2002). His last appearance was in the D.A. Pennebaker-directed documentary Only the Strong Survive (2003), in which he co-starred with his daughter Carla.

Rufus died of heart failure in 2001, at the age of 84, at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis. A street is named in his honor, just off Beale Street in Memphis. He is buried next to his wife at the New Park Cemetery in Memphis.

xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

If the truth be known, Rufus Thomas wasn't the greatest of singers, but maybe due to his vaudeville background (he started his performing career as a comedian for the Rabbit's Foot Minstrels in the '30s), he knew how to handle a crowd and keep everyone riveted and on their feet from the moment he hit the stage with his assortment of funky songs about dogs, chickens, bear cats, and penguins, for Thomas understood a fundamental fact: it doesn't much matter what you're singing about if everybody's dancing. This concise anthology, Stax Profiles, collects tracks from his lengthy stay with Stax Records, including an alternate take of his signature "Walking the Dog" (it doesn't matter that the original single isn't compiled here; the song works the same in any and all versions that Thomas recorded), the original cut of the ridiculous yet completely and delightfully irresistible "Do the Funky Chicken," and a Stax remake of Thomas' original Sun Records single, "Bear Cat," which is really "Hound Dog" in all but name. There are other Thomas collections out there that cover virtually this same ground, but there is a nice flow to this one, and from the first note of "Walking the Dog," even the most disinterested of listeners will get the point.

Rufus Thomas - Stax Profiles (flac 267mb)

01 Walking The Dog 2:34
02 Ride Your Pony 2:57
03 Jump Back 2:20
04 Stolling Beale No. 1 2:25
05 Do The Funky Chicken 3:18
06 Funky Hot Grits 5:28
07 Memphis Train '75 4:57
08 Bear Cat (Aka Hound Dog) 2:54
09 Funky Robot 4:25
10 Sixty Minute Man 3:32
11 Do The Double Bump 5:14
12 The Breakdown (Live) 4:07

Rufus Thomas - Stax Profiles (ogg 103mb)

xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

That woman is poison! has a soulful, swaggering strut, but it is first and foremost a blues album, and a long-overdue celebration of Thomas' mastery of the idiom. A masterful comeback album from a blues and soul veteran who was assumed to be ready for the retirement home. Rufus Thomas went back to the comic blues that had been his forte in the 1950s, and the edge in his voice and defiance in his tone proclaimed that he wasn't finished yet. After years of taking heat from purists for not issuing enough "real" blues albums, Alligator didn't get nearly enough credit for being the only label to give Rufus Thomas a fair shot in the 1980s. Memphis music might never have come grooving out of the city's tree-shaded streets and the surrounding cottonfields to conquer the world, if Rufus Thomas hadn't been there to help it along.

The minute you hear Rufus' throaty warning, "That woman is poison, she'll bite the head right off a snake," you know you're in for a good down-home soul-rinsing. When he sings about having the "blues in the basement, me and all these rats," you can tell exactly where he's coming from: "These blues in the basment, you can't get no lower than that." But while every note he sings, every subtle rasp and inflection, drives straight to the marrow of the Memphis blues experience, Rufus Thomas isn't about to make this spectacular comeback album a trip down memory lane. With the help of sympathetic production by Bob Greenlee, and backing from a group of gifted musicians that includes guitar hotshots Bryan Bassett and Ernie Lancaster and the renowned R&B saxophonist Noble "Thin Man" Watts, Rufus has fashioned a contemporary blues album that synthesizes the music's rich history into a tough, tight, modern sound. You'll hear Count Basie-style horn riffs melding with Roy Brown-style shouting and James Brown-style funk. There are rocking shuffles, feisty highstepping stomps, and downchild moans, cheek-by-jowl with stinging guitar and down-home harmonica.

 "I can't teach you the blues," Rufus told a group of young musicians during rehearsals for a recent Stax reunion concert. "You got to know them." And no one in Memphis knows the blues better than Rufus Thomas. THAT WOMAN IS POISON! is a stunning revitalization of the blues verities. It's the testament of a fiercely energetic, ageless man. Rufus Thomas is more than just the funky grandfather of Memphis R&B. He's a national treasure.

Rufus Thomas - That Woman Is Poison (flac 221mb)

01 That Woman Is Poison! 05:13
02 I Just Got To Know 03:22
03 Big Fine Hunk Of Woman 05:48
04 Blues In The Basement 04:16
05 Somebody's Got To Go 06:04
06 Breaking My Back 06:04
07 The Walk 02:54
08 All Night Worker 03:27

Rufus Thomas - That Woman Is Poison (ogg   89mb)

xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

In the glorious decade and a half of sound that was Stax in the '60s and early '70s, Carla Thomas was the Queen of Memphis Soul. She was born in Memphis in 1942, and 18 years later she recorded a duet with her father Rufus Thomas, giving the fledgling Satellite label its first taste of success with the regional hit "Cause I Love You." As her 18th birthday drew nigh, she cut her first solo single, the teen ballad "Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)." Written a few years earlier and rejected by Vee-Jay in Chicago, it gave Satellite its first national hit, breaking the Top Ten mark on both the R&B and pop charts. Shortly thereafter Satellite became Stax, and Carla proceeded to claw her way onto the national charts another 22 times with such immortal slices of soul as her answer song to Sam Cooke, "I'll Bring It on Home to You," as well as "Let Me Be Good to You," "B-A-B-Y," "Tramp" (with Otis Redding), and "I Like What You're Doing to Me." Carla released six solo albums and, with Redding, one duet album on Stax between 1961 and 1971. In 2007 a live album she recorded for Stax at Washington's famed Bohemian Caverns back in 1967 was released in its entirety, including an impromtu cameo set from her father, Rufus Thomas.

Carla Thomas was more than deserving of her title "The Queen of Memphis Soul," but she was hardly oblivious to the sleeker, more pop-influenced sweet soul and uptown soul coming out of Detroit, Philadelphia and Chicago. One of her strongest albums, The Queen Alone isn't the work of someone who took a Memphis-only approach, but of someone who was well aware of what Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, Martha Reeves and others were up to. What's surprising is the fact that this album (reissued on CD in 1992) contains only two hits: the playful "Something Good (Is Going to Happen to You)," which made it to number 29 on Billboard's soul singles chart, and the idealistic, gospel-influenced ballad and number 11 R&B single "I'll Always Have Faith in You." Songs ranging from the sweet and vulnerable "I Want to Be Your Baby" to the remorseful "All I See Is You" and the pessimistic "Any Day Now" (a song co-written by Burt Bacharach) weren't singles, but it wasn't for a lack of heartfelt singing. Drawing on both Southern and Northern soul, Queen Alone is a pleasant reminder that they were equally attractive options.

Carla Thomas - The Queen Alone  (flac  283mb)

01 Any Day Now 3:43
02 Stop Thief 2:41
03 I Take It To My Baby 3:00
04 I Want To Be Your Baby 2:16
05 Something Good (Is Going To Happen To You) 2:35
06 When Tomorrow Comes 2:35
07 I'll Always Have Faith In You 2:56
08 All I See Is You 3:37
09 Unchanging Love 2:49
10 Give Me Enough (To Keep Me Going) 2:29
11 Lie To Keep Me From Crying 2:33
12 Me And My Clock 2:34
13 Same Thing 2:40
14 Your Love Indeed (Alternate Take) 3:02
15 I Want To Know (Take 2) 2:55
16 I Wonder About Love 3:00

Carla Thomas - The Queen Alone  (ogg   78mb)

xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

Twenty outtakes recorded for Stax between 1960 and 1968, a number of which are gems. In fact, it is really surprising just how good the unreleased Stax stuff was in the '60s. "Loneliness," "Sweet Sensation," and "It Ain't No Easy Thing" all could have been superb singles.

Carla Thomas - Hidden Gems (flac 299mb)

01 I'll Never Stop Loving You 2:59
02 I Wonder About Love 3:00
03 Little Boy 2:44
04 Loneliness 2:35
05 (Your Love Is A) Life Saver 2:22
06 Sweet Sensation 2:46
07 You'll Loose A Good Thing 2:54
08 I've Made Up My Mind 3:06
09 My Man Believes In Me 2:40
10 I Like It 2:28
11 Run Around 3:15
12 Good Good Lovin' 2:28
13 That Beat Keeps Disturbing My Sleep 2:27
14 If It's Not Asking Too Much 2:36
15 It Ain't No Easy Thing 3:20
16 Toe Hold 3:53
17 Good Man 2:37
18 I Can't Hide It 2:36
19 Thump In My Heart 2:45
20 Goodbye My Love 2:28

Carla Thomas - Hidden Gems (ogg  122mb)

xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

No comments: