cream of the crate : louis jordan – the best of
Album Cover – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

 This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.

cream of the crate #34 : pink floyd – the vinyl boxed set

"Louis Jordan is a direct link between classic rhythm & blues and rock & roll." - (Rolling Stone)

This is number forty four in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my personal collection.

The series is called, “Cream of The Crate”, and they represent vinyl albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.

I am once again presenting a compilation album for your aural edification and it’s not because compilations are the only albums I have.

Far from it, but in some cases they do represent extremely good value in that they bring together fantastic tracks that would otherwise be scattered across many albums, or in the case of artists from the forties and fifty’s, tracks that never appeared on a previously released album.

This is “The Best of Louis Jordan“, and was released in 1981 on MCA Records (1631-1). It has 16 of his very, very best tracks, and is still very playable.

 

cream of the crate : louis jordan – the best of
Album Label – [Click to enlarge]

Now most of us realise that what we call Rock and Roll came from a melting pot of styles and even eras. In fact, elements of Rock and Roll themselves came from other melting pots and so it is with the style that has been labelled Jump Music or Jump Blues.

Jump music was in its day a very exciting form of music.

The Big Band Era that preceded it, and indeed to some degree Big band Music was still active when Jump music formed. Jump music was a combination of the brass and rhythmic drum patterns of the Big band style, combined with the breakneck runs of the ‘Boogie Woogie‘ pianists and the ‘hollering’ and passion of the ‘Rhythm and Blues’ singers.

It is quite frankly, impossible to go past Louis Jordan if you were to seek out one artist who was the epitome of Jump music excellence! He had a string of hits in the 1940’s and won five gold disks each for selling a million units.

The great thing about this compilation is that it features 16 red hot tracks including his five biggest hits.

Born in Brinkley Arkansas in 1908, his father taught him the basics of what he needed and he had his first professional engagement while still in his teens.

By the time he had worked with a number of groups and finessed his style he was twenty eight, and ready for the big time.

In 1936 he joined the Chick Webb Orchestra who had a residency at Harlem’s famous savoy ballroom. He was an immediate hit!

His lively alto sax playing along with his blues tinged vocals and his lay-back, if not numerous introductions, made him a star.

cream of the crate : louis jordan – the best of
Louis Jordan & Ella Fitzgerald – [CLICK to enlarge]

 This was the same period when the young Ella Fitzgerald was coming to prominence as the Webb band’s lead female vocalist; she and Jordan often sang duets on stage.

In 1938 Chick Webb fell seriously ill and was hospitalised and Jordan formed his own combo immediately gaining employment in some of the top clubs.

 

 

He and his band signed a contract with American Decca (now MCA) in 1939 and they became “Louis Jordan and his Tympani Five“. Mind you, the name was one thing, the numbers in the band constantly changed and hardly ever reflected the band name.

cream of the crate : louis jordan – the best of
Luois Jordan and the Tympani Five – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

Between 1944 and 1949 he had his five million selling records, and it certainly was his halcyon period. In 1954, after a bout of ill health, he left MCA, leaving a wealth of fine recordings behind.

Over the next 20 years he recorded for a variety of labels including Aladdin, RCA and Mercury.

He suffered a serious heart attack in 1975 and passed away.

We cannot overlook that his music of his greatest years would have an immense impact upon the development of R&R in the 1950’s and that elements of his style were adapted and adopted by great artists such as Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

And so to this album itself.

The cover comes without any bells and whistles. There is no gate fold, no insert and a very plain off-white cover.

All the delights are in the music itself.

cream of the crate : louis jordan – the best of
Rear Cover – [CLICK to enlarge]

TRACK LISTING

Side 1.
1. Choo Choo Ch’boogie*
2.
Five Guys named Moe
3.
Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby*
4.
Buzz Me
5.
G.I. Jive
6.
Saturday Night Fish Fry*
7.
Early In The Morning
8.
What’s The Use Of Getting Sober

 

Side 2.
1. Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens
2.
Let The Good Times Roll
3.
Reet, Petite, And Gone
4.
Blue Light Boogie
5.
Beware Brothers Beware*
6.
School Days
7.
Beans And Cornbread

8.
Caldonia*

* Denotes a Gold Record for one Million sales

I really cannot heap enough praise and use enough adjectives to describe the tracks on this album, let alone the one’s being features in both the audio samples and the video samples that I have provided.

It is a vitality and excitement that is provided by an artist who was a true musical genius and who knew how to project and entertain an audience.

His backing group, in all its forms, was brilliant. It was always composed of professional musicians who were able to interpret both Jordan’s compositions as well as other writers pieces but in a way that was totally sympathetic with Jordan’s desired style. W

What’s more, they have a good time, and brother, do they project it!

Five Guys Named Moe may not have been one of his gold record tracks. It should have been!

This track is really infectious and tells the story of Big Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, Eat Moe, No Moe, and Little Moe.

If you will excuse the pun, moe than that is unnecessary as the track really rocks along. 

Five Guys Named Moe

 

Is You is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby is one of his million sales hits. It’s not a track that bops along, rather it swaggers with attitude.

The dominance of the piano and bass, supplemented with a horn, provides a really quality track. Written by Louis Jordan and Billy Austin, it asks the eternal question most men ask when they are unsure of just where their relationship is going.

I got a gal who’s always late
Any time we have a date
But I love her
Yes I love her

I’m gonna walk right up to her gate
And see if I can get it straight
‘Cause I want her
I’m gonna ask her

Is you is or is you ain’t my baby
Way you’re acting lately makes me doubt
You’se is still my baby, baby
Seems my flame in your heart’s done gone out

A woman is a creature that has always been strange
Just when you’re sure of what you’ll find
She’s gone and made a change

Is you is or is you ain’t my baby
Maybe baby’s found somebody new
Or is my baby still my baby true

Is you is or is you ain’t my baby
Maybe baby’s found somebody new
Or is my baby still my baby true.

Is You Is Or Is You Aint My Baby



Saturday Night Fish Fry! This track, along with Caldonia, is my absolute favourite Louis Jordan track.

It is a rock ‘n rollicking piece of Jump Band music of the highest quality. It tells the story of the hottest joint in town, and how on a Saturday Night if you wanted the very best of times, you go to the joint and mention ‘fish fry’!

Now if you’ve ever been down to New Orleans
Then you can understand just what I mean
All through the week, it’s quiet as a mouse
But on Saturday night, they go from house to house

You don’t have to pay the usual admission
If you’re a cook, a waiter or a good musician
So if you happen to be just passin’ by
Stop in at the Saturday Night Fish Fry

It was rockin’, it was rockin’
You never seen such scufflin’
And shufflin’ ’til the break of dawn
It was rockin’, it was rockin’
You never seen such scufflin’
And shufflin’ ’til the break of dawn………….

It is impossible to listen to this track hear how one’s like this influenced the development of Rock and Roll.

It is also impossible to keep your feet still (unless they are nailed to the floor or you are dead!) and you are guaranteed to start singing along.

Did I make it clear? I love this track!

Saturday Night Fish Fry

 

The last track I am commenting on is, another million seller, Beware Brother Beware. Why this track and not Reet, Petite, And Gone, or, Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens?

There is no logical explanation!

It could have been, maybe it should have been either! There is so much good music on this album that I have all the tracks transferred onto my iPod because they are such a delightful treat.

It could even be claimed that tracks like this was the for-runner of ‘rap’ music, as Jordan talks his way through the track as much as not singing, with his band providing a reply to the issues he raises.

What a brilliant example of the fluidity of his style and his lyric writing – he was in so many ways so far ahead of the pack, possibly even further ahead than he realised.

Do check it out!

Beware Brother Beware



So what’s left to be said about Louis Jordan, that hasn’t been said?

Maybe that his records successfully crossed over from what was then perceived of and was often described as, ‘Race Music‘, and actually captured the imagination of the mainstream ‘pop’ audience.

His music and his memory has remained appreciated for over 8 decades and there is no reason it will not last forever.

Louis Jordan stands out as a real giant of the American music scene, and just how far and broad his influence has really been, can only be guessed.

What confuses matters is that MCA later released another version of ‘The best of Louis Jordan‘ with additional bonus tracks (thanks guys) and for whatever reason this version can be found for under $5.00?

Yet, copies of the version I have reviewed brings around $30.00 plus postage. It might be a matter of quality of pressing, I’m uncertain.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that there is also a CD version.

Look in the long run, this album is an important part of my collection. I would highly recommend that if you get the chance to add this, or indeed any Louis Jordan album, that you do.

The music is of such high quality and historically is so very important, it really needs to be part of any genuine music collectors ‘crate’.


 


VIDEOS:

There are a reasonable collection of Louis Jordan videos on You Tube, which is in itself is amazing, so I have included four of them in this review. All four tracks are from this album.

 

Caldonia

 

GI Jive

 

Choo Choo Ch’Boogie

 

Buzz Me

Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:

Click to open:

#1.   Howling Wolf: Real Folk Blues

#2.   Otis Redding: Otis Blue

#3.   Dr John: Gris Gris

#4.   Spectrum: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet

#5.   Son House – The Real Delta Blues

#6.   Various Artists – Cruisin’ 1961

#7.   Various Artists – Live At The Station Hotel

#8.   Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Deja Vu

#9.   Moon Mullican – Seven Nights To Rock

#10. Billy Thorpe – Time Traveller

#11. Bobby & Laurie – Hitch Hiker

#12. Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland

#13. The Beatles – The Beatles Collection [A Box Set]

#14. Johnny O’Keefe – 20th Anniversary Album

#15. Jimmy Cliff – The Harder they Come (Music form the soundtrack to the film)

#16. Frank Zappa – Roxy and Elsewhere

#17. Junior Walker & The All Stars – Roadrunner

#18. Various Artists – Jump Children [Voit Voit]

#19. Various Artists – King – Federal Rockabillys

#20. Max Merritt & The Meteors – Max Merritt & The Meteors

#21. Planet Gong – Camembert Electronique

#22. Earth, Wind & Fire – Head To The Sky

#23. Ellen MclLwaine – We The People

#24. The Easybeats – Absolute Anthology [1965 – 1969]

#25. Rainbow Generator – Dance Of The Spheres

#26. Martha & The Vandellas – Greatest Hits

#27. Buddy Holly – The Rock & Roll Collection

#28. The Who – Quadrophenia

#29. Elvis – The Legend (1954 – 1961): A Boxed Set

#30. Col Joye – Lets Rock With

#31. The Yardbirds – For Your Love

#32. Eddie Cochran – The Singles Album

#33. Krozier & The Generator – Tranceformer

#34. Pink Floyd – The Vinyl Boxed Set

#35. Jackie Wilson – Jackie Sings the Blues

#36. Cream – Wheels of Fire [In the Studio]

#37. The Masters Apprentices – Masterpiece

#38. Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

#39. Billy Holiday – The Original Recordings

#40. MPD LTD – The Wild Side of Life

#41. Solomon Burke – Solomon Burke’s Greatest Hits

#42. Nina Hagen – Unbehagen

#43. Various Artists – Rockabilly Stars Vol. 3

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