This week’s theme was all about sex and drugs, but not just rock n roll. In fact it was a lot of early blues. I just love those early (30s, 40s, 50s) gutsy hot mamas, like Barrel House Annie and Julia and Her Boyfriends who shed their inhibitions and sang about their desires. I also played some C.W. Stoneking, who with his wife Kirsty Fraser, know how to evoke and extend the highly provocative ditty – listen to ‘You Took My Thing’ to find out what I mean. And, of course, there was rock ‘n’ roll with Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis as well as the great r&b/soul singers Etta James and Marvin Gaye. And that was just in the first hour!
One of my favourites from the show was Tina Turner singing Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”. Here’s a clip lifted from her ‘Simply the Best’ VCR for you to enjoy. Little wonder that I followed this with Tom Jones singing ‘Sexbomb’.
In the second hour I played a piece of Janis Joplin that clearly showed the influence of the great Bessie Smith. “Mary Jane” is a live performance, recorded in 1965 with the Dick Oxtot Jazz Band. If you want to track it down, look for the 1975 compilation album Janis or the 2007 compilation The Very Best of Janis Joplin. Did you know that Joplin so idolised Bessie Smith that she remedied the scandal of her unmarked grave by organising the appropriate carved inscription: “The greatest blues singer in the world will never stop singing”?
Another discovery for me, thanks to the Bob Dylan Theme Time compilation, is Mary Gauthier. Her song, “I Drink” cuts straight to the bone. What a potent and powerful song, both in its lyrics and its delivery. Apparently Gauthier is a recovered alcoholic who grew up in an abusive and alcoholic household. As Bob Dylan so eloquently puts it, “the song plays like a bittersweet farewell to a dangerous lover.”
Long before she carved out her hugely successful pop career with sensual versions of great love songs, the gorgeous voice of Dinah Washington was used to belt out some very suggestive blues numbers. I included the blatantly lascivious ‘Big Slidin’ Thing’ in this week’s show. It finds Washington pining for her absent man who’s apparently proficient with his extraordinary instrument – a trombone people, a trombone! Such a tragedy that Washington would die at 39, after an accidental overdose of prescription diet pills mixed with alcohol.
My Roy Orbison song this week was ‘Mean Woman Blues’, initially recorded by Elvis as part of the soundtrack for his 1957 motion picture, Loving You. Roy recorded it with ‘Blue Bayou’ in 1963, as a 45rpm single and it went to #5 on the Billboard Hot 1oo music charts. I love the line: ‘Well I ain’t braggin’, it’s understood. Everything I do, well I sure do good’. Oh yeah.
Finished the show with Verve’s ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ which, although most listeners might assume is an anti-drugs song, is, in fact, about the father of one of the band members. He was being treated for cancer, the drugs stopped working and he died. Aaargh.
Sorry to end on a bit of a downer. So, let’s get cheerful next week. I overlooked the fact that January 12th (my birthday as well!) was the birthday of Motown. So next week its all things soulful on Theme Park. Hope to have you all listening in. Streaming details at end of this week’s playlist which follows.
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll – Ian Dury
Minnie The Moocher – Cab Calloway
Dynamite – Cheech and Chong (Comedy clip)
The Old Dope Peddler – Tom Lehrer
Monkey On My Back – Ross Hannaford Trio
Gotta Gimme Whatcha Got – Julia Lee & Her Boy Friends
If it don’t fit – Barrell House Annie
You Took My Thing – C.W. Stoneking
The Girl Can’t Help It – Little Richard
Great Balls Of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis
You Can Leave Your Hat On – Joe Cocker
Addicted To Love (with Brian Adams Live) – Tina Turner
Sexbomb – Tom Jones
I Just Want To Make Love To You – Etta James
Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Drug Lists (Movie Clip)
Rehab – Amy Winehouse
Cocaine Habit – Captain Matchbox
Mary Jane – Janis Joplin
I Drink – Mary Gauthier
Rocket – Connie Lee
Big Long Slidin’ Thing – Dinah Washington
Afternoon Delight – Starlight Vocal Band
Itchycoo Park – Small Faces
Mean Woman Blues – Roy Orbison
Burning Love – Elvis Presley
Take a Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – The Beatles
Mother’s Little Helper – The Rolling Stones
Cold Turkey – John Lennon
The Drugs Dont Work – The Verve
Next week: The History of Motown!
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at ‘Theme Park’ on Bay FM 99.9, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time. Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org