Sunday, August 23, 2009

Heads or tails, here and there

I have learnt to accept that the majority of vinyl hunting visits to charity shops will yield nothing as an end result. There is enjoyment to be gained nevertheless - both in the anticipation of what may be found next time, and from the buzz that occurs when actually riffling through the records in the shop (yes, that’s an addict talking). In my case that buzz, of course, momentarily goes off the scale when amongst all the Mantovani, Jim Reeves, Paul Young, and Top Of The Pops comps I actually find a proper soul - or funk, or reggae, or jazz - record. (I’m sure diggers in the USA will come across such genres more regularly, but from my experience I can say that UK charity shops too often are a metaphorical Sahara as far as “black music” is concerned).

The other day looking through the records in one of my favourite haunts (not a lot of vinyl, but all the albums seem to be only 49p, and I’ve had some good finds in the past) I experienced that special frisson of excitement as my eyes alighted on the name Wilson Pickett. Then I studied the front cover and had second thoughts – this looks like a late seventies album, years after Pickett’s hey day, late seventies = disco, this has all the makings of a mundane affair. Then I turned it over to study the back cover. The buzz returned: I read the magic words “recorded at Fame Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals, Alabama”, and I noticed side one track three was entitled “The Night We Called It A Day” – with a title like that the track just had to be good.

So, head or tails? A definite tails. (You may well ask - at 49p what was my dilemma anyway?!)

And what is the album like? Well it is late seventies (1978) and some tracks do have a distinct disco leaning. But Wilson Pickett is in fine form, his voice undimmed, and the quality of the musicianship and arrangements shine through. And what about “The Night We Called It A Day”? Well, listen for yourself, I think I was right.

Wilson Pickett – The Night We Called It A Day 1978
(from the album “A Funky Situation”)

As an aside, whilst I was searching the Internet for more info on this album and the writers of the “Night” track (Feldman & Grazier) I came across another song with the same title and these lyrics:

There was a moon out in space
But a cloud drifted over its face
You kissed me and went on your way
The night we called it a day

I heard the song of the spheres
Like a minor lament in my ears
I hadn't the heart left to pray
The night we called it a day

Soft through the dark
The hoot of an owl in the sky
Sad though his song
No bluer was he than I

The moon went down stars were gone
But the sun didn't rise with the dawn
There wasn't a thing left to say
The night we called it a day

There wasn't a thing left to say

The night we called it a day

Written by Tom Adair that is something special, isn’t it? The song was originally performed by Jo Stafford and The Pied Pipers with the Dorsey Band in 1942. More recently Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford(solo) and Diana Krall have also recorded versions. I thought I might find it on YouTube, but no. There are plenty of other Jo Stafford tracks on YouTube though. She was famous before my time but I knew the name, and maybe I have heard some of her songs before (most probably on Parky’s old Radio 2 show). I think I need to hear more now, she had a beautiful voice.

From Wilson Pickett to Jo Stafford – just another average day in the life of a committed vinyl hunter and internet trawler.


Raggedy said...

Yessss! You were absolutely right. This is Wilson Pickett as he's supposed to be. I love the track... thanks for posting.
Absolutely wonderful guitar, too.

Davy H said...

That's my Aged Ps' era of music, Jo Stafford and all. They had this in their collection and I used to play her version of 'Blues In The Night' with Tommy Dorsey over and over.

Top find on the Wilson there Darce! I've downloaded but haven't listened to it yet because it doesn't seem right to play such a thing at ten past five with a cup of tea: I'll shove it on later when it's dark and I've got myself outside of a bottle of wine ;)

Davy H said...

*Writes later, outside of bottle, mug of coffee to right*

Ooh, that's good isn't it? Bit 80s Womack actually. Nice.

*slurps coffee*