Steve Cropper/The 5 Royales
This Is Dedi-Cated to Mr. Lowman Pauling
Steve Cropper: Dedicated: A Salute to the 5 Royales (429)
This tribute record isn't designed for nostalgic old folks or curious young folks. The 5 Royales never attracted many of either. Yet without once cracking the top 40, they recorded more first-rate songs than any of their rivals except the Coasters, and unlike the Coasters they wrote their own. That is, Lowman Pauling did, and remarkably for a '50s vocal group, Pauling was primarily a guitarist. So here paying his respects comes the guitarist who co-invented Stax-Volt and co-wrote "Knock on Wood" and "In the Midnight Hour." Short on context for decades now, he proves Pauling's book is deeper than his own with assistance from such serial oversingers as Steve Winwood, Bettye LaVette, Delbert McClinton, John Popper, and Sharon Jones. Lucinda Williams takes "Dedicated to the One I Love" with Dan Penn manning the bridge. Cropper has the hubris and common sense to transform what you thought was James Brown's "Think" into an instrumental. A MINUS
The 5 Royales: The Very Best of the 5 Royales (Collectables '04)
Rhino's Ed Ward-picked Monkey Hips and Rice exemplifies the compiler's craft. It doesn't rank with Robert Palmer's Elmore James or Ken Braun's Franco only because the 5 Royales aren't quite in that league. But these North Carolinians certainly outshone such oft-mourned '50s also-rans as Charlie Feathers and Orioles, as anyone who owns Ward's long-deleted 1995 comp is aware. Anyone who doesn't, however, may be put off by collector prices that start at $45 for two used CDs and quickly rise into triple figures. So here's a starter kit, which adds 11 good-to-excellent tracks to 14 of the 41 keepers Ward chose. Presumably the idea was to target doowop nuts, who like things slow, and skip uptempo finds‑-although not such essentials as "The Slummer the Slum" or "Monkey Hips and Rice." Even the more generic new selections demonstrate that Lowman Pauling wasn't the group's only weapon‑-singer Johnny Tanner presages doowop's evolution into soul with a lot less market calculation than Ben E. King. And it's really too bad Ward didn't squeeze in the four-minute group workout "I'm With You" or the barely articulate "My Wants for Love," where Johnny lets his brother Eugene grab the lead and the opportunity moves him very much. A MINUS
'Somehow, Wxpert Eitness doesn't work.'
There are other built-in selection biases, like the fact that nearly half of the pubs are UK-based. If I kept more data I could tune this more, but that would be a lot more work, or infrastructure (which is pretty much the same thing).
Ah, these boho compilations. As a belated and partial convert to No New York, I still don't get Mars, and I bet in 1986 I won't get the Hi-Sheriffs of Blue or the State or I/S/M or (Gawd) Crazy Hearts, certainly not all four, even if I do like Mars by then. Unless they've all improved as much as Mofungo has since 1978, of course. I hope the album V-Effect deserves is better recorded than these two cuts, which are the best-sounding things here in more ways than one nevertheless. Which leaves the Scene Is Now, whose "Finding Someone" should be the single, and the Ordinaires, who combine the nicest parts of Glenn Branca and the Moody Blues and more power to them. Ah, these boho documents. B
does Miley Cyrus qualify as being "within the Nashville community"? I think of her as being more L.A.
In 1988, Xgau included the 5 Royales: Laundromat Blues (Apollo) in his list of Top 10 Reissues. That vinyl reissue was later reissued on CD in early 90s on Relic/Apollo. I just picked up that 13-track CD cheap on eBay and await its arrival. In addition to their Very Best comp, Collectables also has a Apollo Sessions CD with 25 tracks, but comparing track listings, I see that owners of the Rhino comp will have a lot of duplication with the Apollo Sessions CD, whereas the Laundromat Blues cheapie perfectly fills in the missing Apollo tracks not on the RHino. Make sense?
The 11 Apollo tracks on the Rhino + the 13 Apollo tracks on Laundromat Blues = 25 Apollo tracks on the Apollo Sessions CD on Collectables. Doesn't quite add up, but you see what I'm saying.
Also, Tom Ze''s Brazil Hits 4: Massive Hits the Best of Tom Ze' (Luaka Bop 1990) contains 75% of 1976's Estudando o Samba, and 33% of the shortish Todos os Olhos (1973), plus one track from Nave Maria (1984).
Adventures in (temporary) loneliness pt. 76: It occurred to me for the first time just now that in the phrase "Brooklyn owes the charmer under me" refers to some guy living in an apartment under the song's protagonist, and then I found this lying around the internet, from Walter Becker: "Well, the charmer was a guy who lived under Donald's apartment when we were in Brooklyn. And the song is just a bunch of things that the guy and his wife had coming to them, you know, for the indignities that they suffered living in Brooklyn, sitting on the stoop and just shooting the **** about the Mets and that kind of thing for 20 years. So, you see, the song does yield to a valid interpretation."
Now what I'd really like to find lying around the internet is Mofungo's Work, which is the only one left to procure and ingest besides the very earliest and very latest stuff.
[lingers at the lamppost well past a reasonable period of time, hands in pockets, eyes skyward]
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
live local music on
Enter your ZIP code to see concerts happening in your area.
Data provided by Zvents