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 allmusic.com 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]

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Comments:
These writeups always seem better right after they're published than, oh, later on. Funny that.

I just saw Fitzcarraldo for the first time and, holy shit. If all films were this good the police would be kicking down doors and arresting people for watching them--carting the discs off and burning them in big bonfires.

I just got around to listening to this, and realized I had this pretty good cover from an album on eMusic called Music: The Language of New Orleans, at http://www.emusic.com/album/10589/10589053.html

Thanks, I'll have to look into that.

Funny how emusic has changed my priorities for which albums to get--from "is this a good album" to "is this a good album that, in combination with one or two other good albums, will equal exactly forty tracks?"

No Stones fan?! Heresy! Great track, though. The Stones version is garbage.

If you loved Fitzcarraldo, you need to see the documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo.

Thank, Jon. I've heard of it before but haven't found it in town yet. I definitely want to see it, though; I love documentaries and Herzog is completely, wonderfully insane.

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