Wednesday, June 28, 2006:

To Daddy

Dolly Parton -- To Daddy
Emmylou Harris -- To Daddy
I love Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton both, and I rarely post anything by them. Not sure why; maybe it's just feeling I have little to say about them that hasn't been said before and beter.

A conversation, about "To Daddy."

Me: This song is awesome.
C: It's sad.
Me: But it's real.
C: Of course it's real.
Me: [amused, tired] You know what I mean.
C: Yeah.
Me: Yeah.
C: ...
Me: ...

It's the kind of thing that leaves me in a mute appreciation that's hard to break. I think Harris handles the song better, though Dolly Parton wrote it: Dollly's version is ostensibly sweet, probably because of the instrumentation, and it nearly fails for it--it's easy to mistake as something slight and inconsequential. Harris' version feels different, probably because of the backbeat and the guitar; it's bittersweet, melancholy, weighted with a grief hinted at but left unexplored. Musically, it's a marvel of economy and precision and--for me, at least--it engages the imagination more, inviting empathy in a way that Parton's doesn't. It's a neat trick, given that they have the same lyrics.
[The Essential Dolly Parton One: I Will Always Love You]
[Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town]


Thursday, June 22, 2006:

old shoes and a box of rocks that don't belong together

The Darts -- Peaches
Joe Sun w. Shotgun -- (Home Away from Home) I'll Find It Where I Can
David Griggs -- Satan James
Been feeling under the weather lately.

Here are some tracks I posted about a year ago, when I was using Yousendit (why? I don't know. Rev. Frost's site was the only one I ever bothered with yousendit links on.)

Darts writeup.
Joe Sun writeup.
The David Griggs writeup was subpar, even by my standards. I like his voice and also the harmonizing backup vocals; and the guitar work is ace. I'm not sure I understand all the story, but that never stopped me from liking a song before.

These are all out of print--ephemera. (Shane! Come back!)

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006:

The Roots Canal: Before the Blues

Original Dixieland Jass Band -- Livery Stable Blues (1917)
Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds -- Crazy Blues (1920)
Do you ever wonder what came before the blues? What came before jazz? What were the "roots of the roots?" I do, for sure. I've always wondered what African-American music sounded like before it evolved into blues, jazz, boogie-woogie, rhythm-and-blues, rock'n'roll, soul, hip-hop and the other genres that dominated the 20th (and so far the 21st) century.

What a shock, then, to discover that my very own cocktail guru is also an early American music guru! Dave Wondrich, the man who first poured me an Old-Fashioned at Smith & Vine and whose first book, Esquire Drinks, launched me on my serial obsessions with Americanos and Negronis and Sazeracs and Manhattans and Little Italys and Suburbans and Sidecars and Shermans and Pegu Clubs and Red Hooks and Brooklyns and White Negronis, is also a historian of African-American music whose second book was Stomp and Swerve: American Music Gets Hot, 1843-1924, which is completely dedicated to that same question.

Stomp and Swerve focuses on three American traditions: minstrelsy, ragtime and early jazz. Minstrelsy was huge in the 19th century, when black banjo music was mongrelized for white audiences by white -- and sometimes black! -- performers in blackface. Unrecorded, their music (along with the authentic black traditions it was loosely based on) is lost to history, although some of those traditions (like the banjo itself) were ironically preserved in what became white country music. Ragtime, which sounds so tame today but was as scandalous in its time as gangsta rap, was the first melding of African-American syncopation with formal Western music. And "jazz," according to Dave, "= ragtime + blues."

Fortunately, Dave released an album with selections of the music he wrote about. (There's nothing more frustrating than reading about music you can't listen to.) These two songs, he says, were the first real jazz record and the first real blues record. I'll let the historians duke it out with him. Livery Stable Blues put on disk for the first time the music that had been percolating in New Orleans, Chicago and other cities and took the country by storm, kicking off the jazz craze. Three years later, Crazy Blues combined the new jazz music with the blues that had started filtering out of the deep South in the 1890s and early 1900s, and kicked off the craze of girl blues singers like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. The rest is history.

I've often thought I should combine my twin obsessions in a music-and-drinking site called Rhythm & Booze, but now I've met my true master in both. This one's for you, Dave. You're the real Mr. Rhythm & Booze.

[Stomp and Swerve: American Music Gets Hot]
Monday, June 19, 2006:

Bob and Earl -- Harlem Shuffle

Bob and Earl -- Harlem Shuffle
I've been tinkering with Pandora lately, starting with various artists and songs and seeing what results from it. It's very good for finding new music, except when it's very bad at it (I loved one station starting with simply "Lee Dorsey," hated another starting with simply "J.J. Cale").

Among the finds was this one, a pop-soul postcard from Heaven that was a modest hit in the U.S. in 1963 and a much bigger hit across the pond in 1969, inpsiring covers by Vigon, the "James Brown francaise" and, later, by The Rolling Stones. I'm no Stones fan, so it's perhaps no surprise that I consider the remake a distinct disimprovement; but even Vigon's version has it wrong: his vocals are like sawdust on a sundae. Bob and Earl get it right the first time, delivering a smooth, suave performance that's hard to match.

Pandora tells me that I like this song because it features "classic soul qualities, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation, a busy horn section, and a vocal-centric aesthetic." Which might all be true, except all I noticed at first was "ooh, this is nice" followed by "I wonder who that was and what else they did." Unfortunately, not much. A handful of tracks released with "Harlem Shuffle" on an EP in 1966, and a later album which dismisses as "serviceable," without saying which of the three Bobs it is that were in the group this time, and which is long out of print.
[Groove 'N' Grind: 50s & 60s Dance Hits]
[Let's do the Harlem Shuffle]


Thursday, June 15, 2006:

The Roots Canal: Rabon Tarrant

Rabon Tarrant -- Opus Boogie
Rabon Tarrant -- Love Will Get You Down
I had a dream about Rabon Tarrant last night. Yes, Rabon Tarrant. I have no fucking idea how he got into my dream. Maybe he has such a weird name that it stuck in my mind. He's so obscure he doesn't even merit a bio in allmusic. He shouldn't be, though. Tarrant was a terrific blues singer, drummer and composer in the LA rhythm-and-blues scene in the 1940s. He recorded a lot of songs with Jack McVea, which is how I know him because he's featured on the McVea reissue album, McVoutie's Central Avenue Blues. (McVoutie was a nickname given to McVea by, who else, Slim Gaillard.)

In my dream, I was reading a newspaper article that quoted somebody named Bill Tarrant who turned out to be Rabon's son. (Don't ask.) I woke up this morning and googled the name Bill Tarrant but only found an author who wrote a bunch of books like How to Hunt Birds With Gun Dogs. So much for dreams. But it felt like someone was telling me to go back and listen to Rabon Tarrant's songs and write this post. Here are two of my favorites.

Bonus Track
: Rabon is given writing credit for Opus Boogie, but you'll recognize some of the lyrics from Big Joe Turner's classic Roll 'Em Pete, which he originally recorded with the great pianist Pete Johnson back in 1938 when they introduced boogie-woogie to New York audiences at John Hammond's Spirituals to Swing concert in Carnegie Hall. It was his first record and he re-recorded it many times over the years; I have no idea which version this is. You can pick it up cheap on emusic.
Big Joe Turner with Pete Johnson -- Roll 'Em Pete

[McVoutie's Central Avenue Blues]
Monday, June 12, 2006:

punches, two by fours, & inconsiderate elephants

Bob Marley -- Mr. Brown
Zap Mama -- Mr. Brown
Orchestra Baobab -- Hommage À Tonton Ferrer
Ibrahim Ferrer -- Buenos Hermanos
Paul Simon -- Gone At Last
rapidshare download
-- or --
sendspace download

Ever have one of those weekends where you're walking down the sidewalk minding your own business and someone punches you in the face, and then when you stand up someone else hits you in the knee with a two by four, and then when you get back up and lean against the nearest light post--hand to forehead, eyes closed, concentrating on summer breezes and chocolate mint and "Elvira Madigan"--a passing elephant stops just long enough to piss on your foot?

If you have, take a few of these and post in the comments if it doesn't help.
[Complete Upsetter Singles 1970-1972]
[Sabsylma ]
[Specialist in All Styles]
[Buenos Hermanos]
[Still Crazy After All These Years]

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006:

The Roots Canal: Voot Detective

Update: In the interest of promoting all things voot, I'm going to leave links to all the old voot songs live permanently -- or at least until someone complains, which seems unlikely.

Nelson Alexander Trio — Rock That Voot

I first encountered this word in a terrific jump blues by the Nelson Alexander Trio, a little-known band I know little about. Smashing song. It was released in 1948, the first year of the rock’n’roll revolution (see How Rock Really Began), but it’s not a rock'n'roll song. There’s no back beat. It’s pretty much a straight-ahead boogie woogie with a Texas-style blues guitar and a jumpin’ vocal.

But I kept wondering about that word voot. The lyrics are suggestive but vague: “It’s cool in the kitchen, it’s warm in the hall, it’s hot in the bedroom and that ain’t all. I’m gonna rock that voot, baby, all night long.” Sure, it’s about sex; that’s obvious.* But where’d it come from? Why haven’t I heard it anywhere else? So I started looking around the Internet. Eventually it became a bit of an obsession.

Here, for the first time anywhere, is your ultimate voot encyclopedia. I've tracked down every voot reference I could find. I've even included a complete MP3 discography of a dozen original voot songs, never before collected in one place (as far as I can tell). Rarely in history has so much effort been expended on something so insignificant. But it's been fun.

Click on the permalink to see what I found out, including a complete voot discography with rare MP3’s.

[*Actually, the only dictionary definition I can find is from The Internet Guide to Jazz Age Slang, which defines voot as "money." Uh, better try again, folks.]

* * * * * * * * * * *

Duke Henderson — Let’s Get Vootin’
Duke Henderson was a popular blues shouter until he found religion and became a gospel deejay calling himself Brother Henderson. This is a great jump blues he wrote himself with plenty of voot in the lyrics: "I’ve been looking for a women to fall in love with me. You’re my kind, baby, suit me to a tee. So let’s get vootin’. Please let’s get vootin’. Yes let's get vootin'."

Ivie Anderson — The Voot Is Here to Stay
For more than a decade, Ivie Anderson was Duke Ellington's featured singer until asthma forced her to quit in 1942. She opened a restaurant called Ivie's Chicken Shack in Los Angeles, occasionally performing and recording. For Ivie Anderson, her voot was a man: “Baby I’m so glad, I thought I’d almost die. ‘Cause my voot came home, you know the reason why. The way you love me, baby, I sure was satisfied.”

Dinah Washington — No Voot, No Boot
Before Dinah Washington became the queen of over-orchestrated easy listening ballads, she was a huge R&B star. Here’s a real find, from her early days. This song uses voot in its title, although not in the song itself. But when she sings, she gets right to the voot with these lyrics by Duke Henderson: "Some things you can’t buy, some things you can’t give away, and if I can’t get what I want, I’m gonna sit on it the rest of my days."

Dinah Washington — My Voot Is Really Vout
This song is notable because it uses voot and vout as two different words. Vout is a jive language invented by jazzman Slim Gaillard (see below). At first, I thought voot might be a variant spelling of vout. But this song makes it clear they’re two different things.

My Voot Is Really Vout has the most straight-ahead voot lyrics of all: “One thing I’m sure, I could really knock you out. ‘Cause all the men have told me that my voot is really vout.” Or, “We can come up to my pad, we’ll really twist and turn about, and when you leave, pretty daddy, you’ll know my voot is vout.” Another verse makes it clear that voot was self-conscious hipster talk whose purpose is to mark insider from outsider: “Do you dig this jive, baby, or are you another square?”

[On one Dinah Washington album, this song is mistakenly listed as No Voot Is Really You. At first, I thought it was a new voot song. Nope. Same one.]

Slim Gaillard -- Voot Boogie
Slim Gaillard was a comic jazz singer/guitarist who is best known for Flat Foot Floogie, which he created with the great humming bass player Slam Stewart as the duo Slim & Slam. (I have a soft spot for Slam Stewart because he retired near my college and used to come play informally, often bringing friends like Dizzy Gillespie.) Gaillard sang jive nonsense syllables in a language he called vout and recorded a bunch of songs with names like They Call It the Vout, Minuet in Vout and Vout Orenee along with albums like The Legendary McVouty, Opera in Vout and The Absolute Voutest.

The people who re-release old recordings (whoever they are) seem to confuse voot and vout. Slim Gaillard's Vout Orenee is misspelled on several records as Voot Orenee -- and on one CD as Voot Greene! Bob Mosley's Voot Rhythm (see below) was re-released as Vout Rhythm. And Louis Prima even cut a Gaillard-inspired novelty called Vout Cowboy which is mistakenly called Voot Cowboy on several CDs. The big difference is that vout is a nonsense syllable (rhymes with "about") while voot is -- or was -- a word (rhymes with "boot"). As far as I can tell, Voot Boogie is Gaillard's only genuine voot song. It's mostly an instrumental; the only word is voot -- still used as a sound or exclamation, not as an actual word that means something.

Basin Street Boys -- Voot Nay on the Vot Nay
The Basin Street Boys sang mostly romantic ballads in the style of the Ink Spots, along with a few up-tempo numbers like this one. Voot Nay on the Vot Nay was the flip side of their biggest hit, Sold My Heart to the Junkman. Even more than Dinah's My Voot Is Really Vout, this song is about the jive itself, with lyrics like:
It's a new hip slang that everyone should speak
Every day in the week
It's a frantic phrase, the Harlem rage,
Come on, it's really unique

Voot nay on the vot nay
Voot is really blase
Voot nay on the vot nay
Man, it's hear to stay
When they start scatting, it's clear they're using voot more as a nonsense syllable (like Slim Gaillard) than as a word, as some of the other songs do.

King Perry -- Voot Rock
King Perry was a midwestern bandleader stranded in Los Angeles after a tour promoter ran off without paying him in 1945. He stayed and quickly gained a following with his mix of swing and jump blues. His career lasted a good decade, into the R&B and early rock'n'roll eras. He recorded some hot jump blues and a lot of novelty songs like Kilroy Was Here, but Voot Rock unfortunately isn't either of those. It's an instrumental that sounds kind of old-fashioned to my ears, more swing than jump, which is a shame because Perry had some great jumpin' songs like Keep a Dollar in Your Pocket and Everything's Gonna Be Alright, an early rocker.

Bob Mosley and His All Stars -- Voot Rhythm
This is another instrumental but more fun than Voot Rock. This song features Lucky Thompson on tenor sax and was later included on a compilation album, Lucky Thompson: The Beginning Years, under the misspelled name Vout Rhythm even though the original record was released as Voot Rhythm.

The Blues Woman (Marion Abernathy) — Voo-it! Voo-it!
This is by far the best known of the voot songs, although it doesn’t exactly use the word voot. The whole song is built around the sound “voot” or “voo-it” — more as an exclamation than an actual word, as in Gaillard's Voot Boogie. The lyrics are a lot like No Voot No Boot: “Throw away all my troubles and all my worries are gone. I’ve got a man that can boogie all night long.”

This song was first recorded in 1945 by Marion Abernathy under the name “The Blues Woman,” just the second record ever released by Specialty Records. It was covered before the end of the year by Helen Humes. The Flamingos rewrote the lyrics and released it as a doo-wop song called Jump Children in 1954; theirs was later re-released as Vooit Vooit (without the hyphens). More recently, it was recorded by the British R&B revival group King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys in 1988, Paula Lockheart on her album The Incomplete Paula Lockheart in 1991, and the neo-swing singer Lavay Smith in 2000 [thanks, Nathan]. Vicki Tafoya & The Big Beat covered the Flamingos' version in 2004. There are probably some others I've missed.

I nearly fell off my camp chair last month when I heard Springsteen's Seeger Sessions Band sing Voo-it! Voo-it! at Jazzfest in New Orleans. (It’s not on their new album, though.)

Clinic -- Voot
I suppose in the interest of completeness I also have to include the 1997 song Voot by Clinic, a British band, even though it has nothing to do with the 1940s jive voot we're talking about here. Unless, perhaps, somehow, maybe, possibly, they heard some of this old jive voot and were paying a subtle hommage. I doubt it.

Johnny Mercer — G.I. Jive
Finally, here’s another song that uses voot more as a sound than a word. Johnny Mercer was one of the great Tin Pan Alley songwriters, who wrote this parody of military jargon: “Rootle-y toot, jump in your suit, make a salute, voot!” (For some reason, when Louis Jordan covered this song he changed “voot” to “arrivoot.”) I'm not sure whether this song really belongs on the voot list, but here it is.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Those are the songs. Now here’s where the detective work starts to get interesting....

It turns out that all these voot songs (not including Clinic's Voot, of course) were recorded in Los Angeles in a very short span of time. In fact, all but two were cut in 1945 or 1946, and most of those in a three-month period from November through January, often using many of the same musicians. (G.I. Jive was recorded in 1943 and Rock That Voot in 1948.)

Dinah Washington recorded both her voot songs with backing by Lucky Thompson’s All Stars, which was virtually the same band as Bob Mosley and His All Stars and Ivie Anderson and Her All Stars. (A young Charles Mingus played bass on all these sessions.) All four of their voot songs were recorded in November/December 1945 and January 1946.

Lucky Thompson also played with the Basin Street Boys on Voot Nay on the Vot Nay. And he played some sessions with Slim Gaillard in the same month (the previous September) that Gaillard recorded Voot Boogie, although he didn't play on that song.

Dinah's No Voot No Boot was composed by Duke Henderson, who also wrote and recorded Let's Get Vootin'. Guess who often played sax with Henderson? Lucky Thompson, of course (although not on this song).

Marion Abernathy sang with Mosley in the same session when he recorded Voot Rhythm, but not on that song (an instrumental).

Duke Henderson recorded Let's Get Vootin' that December, using the same guitarist as Mosley and the same pianist as Thompson and Anderson. (Henderson's sax player on that song was "Wild" Bill Moore who later cut the original We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll in 1948.)

King Perry recorded Voot Rock the following April, using the same trombonist as Henderson on Let's Get Vootin'.

It seems that voot was briefly -- very briefly -- jive slang among a group of R&B musicians in Los Angeles that never caught on in the wider world. If there's one person at the nexus of all these songs, it seems to have been tenor sax player Lucky Thompson, whose career spanned several genres. Thompson started out with NYC swing bands in the early 40s, was part of the mid-40s LA scene that played such a big role in creating R&B, and went on to a successful career as a bebop saxophonist. He retired (twice) in the late 60s and early 70s, briefly taught at Dartmouth, and then fell off the musical radar. It turned out he was homeless for as long as 20 years and spent his last decade in an assisted living center in Seattle where he died last August.

Did Lucky Thompson create the word voot? Could be. Maybe he was inspired by Slim Gaillard. Or even Johnny Mercer. At this point, that's my best guess. But I'm open to other ideas.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Oh, yeah. Let's get back to the Nelson Alexander Trio. All I know is they recorded four tracks with Alexander on piano and vocals in two sessions for Specialty Records in 1948. In addition to Rock That Voot, there were Drink Up - Light Up, Well Well Baby and Doin' the Boogie Woogie. If anyone knows anything else, even the other members of his trio, I'd love to hear it.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The songs in this post are available on these albums:
Rock That Voot: Specialty Legends of Boogie Woogie. (Also on emusic.)
Let's Get Vootin': Get Your Kicks.
My Voot Is Here to Stay: I Got It Good & That Ain't Bad.
No Voot, No Boot and My Voot Is Really Vout: Collection.
Voot Boogie: 1945.
Voot Nay on the Vot Nay: Satchelmouth Baby.
Voot Rock: 1945 - 1949.
Voot Rhythm: The Beginning Years.
Voo-it! Voo-it!: The Specialty Story. (Also on emusic.)
G.I. Jive: Capitol Collectors Series.
Voot: Voot/Cement Mixer/Monkey on Your Back (3 EPs).
Monday, June 05, 2006:

Lightnin' Hopkins: Another Fool in Town / Baby Please Don't Go

Lightnin' Hopkins -- Another Fool in Town
Lightnin' Hopkins -- Baby Please Don't Go
I'm not sure how it is that I haven't posted anything by Lightnin' Hopkins, but Google assures me that that's the case. Hopkins was a Texas bluesman with over a 40-year career; he played on both acoustic and electric and had a sort of loping, spontaneous sense of timing made more palatable by his voice and his guitarwork.

"Another Fool in Town" has Hopkins telling the story of a man whose school burned down, leaving him with no education. He moans that he can't write his name or say his ABCs. It's a simple story and a simple song, but that sound just makes it: the guitar rings out and the voice is pure blues rattling the mic. Excellent.

And then in "Baby Please Don't Go" the guitar flits about weaving melodies, harmonizing with itself, and occasionally dropping the funk, expecting you to pay attention and keep up. And you do, because it's both engaging and enjoyable.
[Blues Kingpins ]
[American Folk Blues Festival, 1962-1965] ($60 boxed set, or pick it up year by year from Hopkins' other track on the '64 disc is also quite good, a somber tune about being away from his wife.)


Friday, June 02, 2006:

The Melodians -- In Our Time / I'll Get Along Without You

The Melodians -- In Our Time
The Melodians -- I'll Get Along Without You
The Melodians were a Jamaican group that formed in 1965, when ska was losing ground in favor of the mellower rocksteady sound. The group consisted of Tony Brevett, Brent Dowe, and Trevor McNaughton and recorded for a number of different people--starting out recording on some sessions for Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, then recording some hits for Arthur "Duke" Reid until 1968, then leaving Reid and Studio One to record with Sonia Pottinger at Tip Top Record Shop.

The members of the group wrote most of their own songs, either on their own or as a collaboration, with some co-writing by Renford Cogle. "In Our Time" is one of those; the Trojan disc liner notes credit it to Brevett, Cogle, Dowe, and McNaughton. I think the song might be the sweetest-sounding calling out and call to arms I've heard, painting a picture of injustice and going on to state that indifference is a crime.

They promised us our freedom of choice in our time
They promised us that we would have a voice in our time
But when we raised that voice in doubt
They shot us down and count us out
And tell us they know more about it all in our time

"I'll Get Along Without You," from another Trojan comp of the Melodians' work (this one with poorer liner notes, all SHOUTING IN A SMALL FONT). The song is a cheerful breakup tune with horns and harmonizing indicating the kind of relationship that's gleefully ended.

I found someone who loves me more than you do
And she'll never break my heart, no
So don't you ever try to change my mind
Because I won't take you back
Ya gotta tell her again 'ah-ha, m-hm,
I will get along without you now'

Yet, around the 2:40 mark, the lyrics get a changeup hinting at a bit of doubt: "I will get along without you now / I'm gonna get along somehow." Yes. This seems right: the thought "thank God that's over" followed shortly by "now what?"
[Sweet Sensation: The Best of The Melodians]
[Rivers of Babylon]

dot-mac bandwidth has reset and the mix-CD songs are back up now. The first post from it will be coming down soon.

I signed up for an emusic account recently, and I like the pricing but miss the liner notes.... Do you use emusic? What do you think of it? Advantages, disadvantages, gems you've found?


Thursday, June 01, 2006:

The Roots Canal: Goin' to Kansas City

Little Willie Littlefield -- K.C. Loving
Wilbert Harrison -- Kansas City
Little Richard -- Kansas City
Bill Haley -- Kansas City
The Beatles -- Kansas City
Now let's move from one of the least-known Leiber & Stoller songs (see I'm a Woman, below) to what might be their best-loved -- although one of the slowest to become a hit.

Have you ever heard the original Kansas City? Actually, it was first released as K.C. Loving by an R&B singer named Little Wille Littlefield in 1952. It went nowhere fast. In fact, it went nowhere at all until it was covered in 1959 -- actually, it was covered three times that year, first by Wilbert Harrison whose record shot up to #1 and was re-covered by Little Richard and Bill Haley before the end of the year. It's been covered endlessly ever since (allmusic's list goes on for six pages), perhaps most famously by the early Beatles.

I love the Leiber and Stoller story: two white kids from Baltimore and New York who became friends after school in LA and discovered a shared love of black music. They had their first song recorded (Real Ugly Woman by Jimmy Witherspoon) when they were just 17 years old. By the time they were 20 they had written Hard Times for Charles Brown, K.C. Loving for Little Willie Littlefield and Hound Dog for Big Mama Thornton. They went on to write a string of hits including Stand by Me, Jailhouse Rock, Charlie Brown, Love Potion #9, On Broadway, Yakety Yak, Searchin' and Dancin' Jones. There's a complete list of their songs and who sang them here. You could certainly criticize Leiber & Stoller for their role in bowdlerizing R&B from a bawdy adult music to the insipid teenage drivel of so much late-50s/early-60s rock'n'roll, but they didn't do it alone. Besides, you'd be too busy singing along to criticize them for long.

One of the interesting twists to Kansas City is there are two versions of one of the most famous lines in the song. In the original, Little Willie sings:
They got a crazy way of lovin' there and I'm gonna get me some.
Wilbert Harrison changed that line to:
They got some crazy little women there and I'm gonna get me one.
Sign of the changing times, I guess. It's interesting to listen to the different versions and see which lyric each artist chooses to use. Little Richard went with the original, Bill Haley with the rewrite (changing it to "they got lots of purty women there..."). The Beatles made up their own lyrics altogether.

Bonus track: Jerry Leiber's been quoted as saying that his favorite version of Kansas City was this recording by Joe Williams with the Count Basie Band. I can understand why. It's a great jazzy blues, much more in keeping with the jazz-oriented R&B that Leiber & Stoller grew up with than the teenage rock' n'roll they became famous for. I think it's my favorite, too (except he goes with the Wilbert Harrison rewrite).
Joe Williams -- Kansas City