My parents were not music fanatics but they did love to dance and they did love music. I remember watching them swing dance at parties when I was a kid; how it lit them up and how good they were at it. It was so cool to see them have so much fun with each other. They both grew up in Winnipeg and my Mom recently told me about when they went to a big dance featuring both of the Dorsey bands. Oh, how I would have loved to have seen a show like that!
I sure never caught the dance bug from them but the music grabbed me. Big time. It was the only time they would be turn it up real loud in our house and I loved it!
I remember them telling me they bought a record player and got a bunch of records as part of the deal, from one of the ‘record clubs’ of the time. I think it was the RCA Record Club. I remember the RCA labels as well as the picture of the dog. How magical and promising of far away worlds it all seemed!
They had 3 records in their collection i was crazy for. These records had a significant influence on my own musical journey. I still love all three of these artists and in particular those same records:
Sam Cooke Night Beat
The dream Sam Cooke album with no cheesy back up stuff; just a late night blues recording session with a live band including Barney Kessell on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums and Billy Preston on organ. It features pure, raw Sam Cooke singing his guts out on lots of classic blues tunes. I had no idea how good this was when I listened as a kid, I just knew I was in LOVE with the sounds. It was my intro to Blues. I also remember the thick, thick vinyl. So warm , so good.
Belafonte at Carnegie Hall
If you can find an original version of this , than do. Lots of the in- between-songs talk is missing from the re-issue version as are some of the songs. A historic live album, (read the full story in Belafontes memoirs,) personally, this record introduced me to folk music, the songs of Leadbelly, the exotic sounds of Caribbean and Calypso, nylon-stringed instruments, showmanship and orchestras. I think it’s hard to overestimate the importance of this album introducing so much to the North American middle class audience. All done through the gentle persuasion of Harry Belafonte.
Homer and Jethro – Strike Back
I had no idea I was listening to Chet Atkins, Jethro Burns and a hotbed of Nashville session players. I had no idea I was listening to steel guitar. I had no idea (most of the time) I was listening to send -ups of popular songs. I just knew I loved the craziness and the fabulous playing mixed up with fantastic duo singing. It warped me for good! I realized, years later, you don’t really have to know how good it is for it to be good!
So there you have it.
3 albums that helped me in my formative years! Of course there were many more, but these three remain dear and clear to my heart.
I’d love to hear about yours in the comments below.
Here’s a couple of great books you should know about as well.
Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke
Written by one of my favourite music journalists, Peter Guralnick, this book tells the story of the man who became one of the most successful songwriters of his time and one of the most influential singers. He also became a real player as a business person in the music business. If you are a fan of the man or interested in the early history of soul music and you haven’t read this book, you should!
This is an incredible story ~ words from a man who not only was there for a huge part of the Civil Rights Movement but actually helped finance it. Harry Belafonte holds such a unique place in modern music history as one of the first truly powerful Afro- American Musical Icons and as one of the few Afro-Americans whose music was readily accepted by a large part of White America during those times.
I became an audio book junky while touring. It’s such a great, relaxing way to fill time while on airplanes, in airports or while driving. I signed up with Audible and get an audio book a month for a low subscription fee, plus, they let you return stuff, no questions asked if you get something you don’t enjoy! I’ll be recommending lots of these in the future.
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QUESTION : What were the albums out of your parents collections that you remember, good or bad?