Today’s Music to Keep me IiiinnnNssSSAaaNNNnnEe – Ry Cooder – How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?

Ry sums it up. Under Tory Britain, we’re living in poverty while the rich get richer!

Elmore James – Shake Your Moneymaker – Lyrics of sexual liberation.

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Elmore was a genius on the slide guitar. This song ‘Shake Your Money Maker’ has all the exuberance of great Chicago Blues.

While Britain was prim and proper the black Americans had a lively, free sexuality. It fuelled the sixties liberalisation!

“Shake Your Moneymaker”
Shake your moneymaker
Shake your moneymaker
You got to shake your moneymaker, yeah
Shake your moneymaker
You got to shake your moneymaker
And then…

I got a gal that lives up on a hill
I got a gal that lives up on a hill
Says she’ll let me roll her
But I don’t believe she will

She won’t shake her moneymaker
Won’t shake her moneymaker
I want to roll her I keep beggin’
She won’t shake her moneymaker
Won’t shake her money maker
She won’t…


I got a girl, but she just won’t be true
I got a girl, but she just won’t be true
Won’t let me do the one good thing I tell her to

She won’t shake her moneymaker
Won’t shake her moneymaker
Won’t shake her moneymaker
She won’t shake her moneymaker
Won’t shake her moneymaker
She won’t…


Heroes – Zoot Horn Rollo – the most amazing slide guitarist for Captain Beefheart!

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I only saw him play twice but he blew my mind. That guitar sound was from a different planet.

I wish Zoot would come and play that long lunar note for me one more time. I’d die happy!

Captain Beefheart was the best band on the planet and Zoot the best guitarist (apart from Jimi). I saw them at the Rainbow in 1973 and they were amazing. So exciting!

You’re a genius Bill – where-ever you are!

Son House – Opher’s World pays tribute to a genius.

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History is littered with fulcrum points that turned things in different directions; it is littered with question marks and chance discoveries; it is full of moments of inspiration.

Son House is all of those. He met up with and taught Robert Johnson to play guitar. Robert Johnson was one of those pivotal points in the mid nineteen thirties which elevated Blues to a different level. That Blues fed into Rock ‘n’ Roll and Rock Music. So many Rock Bands owed a debt to Robert Johnson and Robert Johnson might not have been a musician if not for Son House.

Funny world isn’t it?

I’ve lived through the whole era of Rock Music and loved it from its inception to its present labouring death. I was lucky enough to witness Son House play and I can report that the experience was uplifting and amazing. I didn’t know who he was when he came on. He was someone special by the end of his performance but even I did not appreciate quite how significant the man was. I had witnessed the very beginning. It was like a scientist discovering the historic wisps of the Big Bang. He may have been in his seventies but the power still shone and lit up the universe. For me he was the primordial force in Blues music.

Son playing bottle-neck guitar on a magnificent National Steel. That was the guitar to play before amplification came along. It provided the power you needed to get over the noise in a crowded room or to draw the attention of a crowd when busking. Some say his style was crude but what it lacked in sophistication it certainly made up for in clout. Son’s crucial riffs took no prisoners; they rang out and assaulted your ears. He pounded and clawed at those strings eliciting the most glorious sounds. There is nothing quite like the force of the squealing strings of a well-played bottle-neck guitar. Son mainly used a copper tube to get the shrill effects but was not adverse to other means. His gravelly voice growled over the top of those riffs and told stories and tales. It was a rich voice full of the truth of a life well-lived.

Son had alternating between preaching and playing the devil’s music. The heavy drinking seems to have been an accompaniment to both. He also liked the ladies, gambling and had served a prison sentence in Parchman Farm for murder. As a young man he had roamed around with the other Mississippi great Charlie Patton. They must have been formidable.

Son’s songs told of the life he led and his most famous one ‘Death Letter Blues’, covered by hundreds from the Blues Band to the White Stripes, was concerned with the death of his young wife.

I was fortunate. Son was rediscovered in 1964 and paraded out in front of an admiring white audience. I was one of those fortunate enough to get a glimpse of history. I tell you it was awesome.

Elmore James – opher’s World pays tribute to a genius.

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After my friend Dick Brunning had introduced me to the Blues through the wonders of Lightnin’ Hopkins. John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf I made my own discovery. Back then Blues records were like gold-dust. You had to hunt for them in the right places. You stumbled across one and played it to death. It was so special. Thus it was with Elmore James. I miraculously found his album sixteen greatest hits. From the moment I put in on my old Dansette and the first glorious notes of Dust My Broom seared out through those tinny speakers I was hooked. He was mine. I had discovered him and not only that, he was the best.

Nobody before or since has made a guitar sound quite like that. I later discovered that he used to work in an electrical shop and created his own original amps and guitar pick-ups. He designed that unique earthy sound and it’s probably died with him. I went to see where that shop had been on Hickory Street in Canton. It was just a derelict street now with empty plots. There was no sign that one of the greatest Blues singers of all time had ever worked there.

Elmore played electric slide-guitar. He took the old slide style from Robert Johnson and Kokomo Arnold and electrified it to suit the noisy Chicago Blues clubs of the 1950s. He turned the amp up and that hollow bodied guitar seared with raw energy. His band – The Broomdusters’ – laid down a solid heavy beat that was a driving platform for Elmore to lay his red hot notes on. The band chugged along and the harp wailed but it was Elmore’s guitar was seared into your ears and set you on your feet. Then, incredibly, that voice came into play, so anguished, colourful and mournful. I thought that Dust My Broom was the best thing I’d ever heard but then Shake your Money Maker was even better and revelation after revelation emerged as each new track came up. It never left my turntable.

Somehow a Blackman from the depths of Mississippi had produced songs to suit black audiences in Chicago clubs had come up with a sound that connected with a young fourteen year old kid from the deep South of the Thames Delta in England. There was something so real and powerful about his music. It was a million miles from Herman’s Hermits who was gracing the charts at that time. There was nothing sanitised or ‘produced’ about it. It was real. The lyrics were also stark and more poetic and inspired than anything the Pop charts could offer. When Elmore sang about not wanting any woman who wanted every downtown man she meet, she’s a no good doney, they shouldn’t allowed her on the street, he was singing about a real world of grown up black America not some teenage love fantasy. I didn’t know what a doney was but I could pick up on the sex and depth of emotion. I could imagine what that woman might be shaking when she was shaking her moneymaker. I could picture those hot clubs with everyone up on their feet shaking and grinding to Elmore’s raw power. I could see those dusty Mississippi towns with all those strange alien names when he sang about the sky is crying look at the tears run down the street. There was a rich mysteriousness to it that you did not get in Beat music. This was straight out of the hot sweaty cotton fields of Mississippi via the hotter, sweatier clubs of Chicago and I was turned on to it. Yeah – ‘I believe my time ain’t long’ as well. You have to wring all your fun and pleasure out of what you had. There was intensity to the Blues of Elmore’s that spoke of some more primordial urges. Life was short and brutal. You took your pleasures and lived it to the full. This wasn’t Walton on Thames high street. This was the whiskey slugging black underworld of Chicago with its gangsters, guns and knives. It was more vivid.

A few years later I was passing Dobell’s Record shop on Charing Cross Road on my motorbike and spied two Elmore James albums in the window. It was the middle of the night and the shop was shut. I had to make a special trip all the way back to London to get those albums. They were so special.

Every one of Elmore’s albums resonates with me. I would have travelled the planet to see him play. Unfortunately at about the same time I was busy discovering him he was busy dying. He died of a heart attack. The mythology was that it was in the middle of a recording session. I don’t know about that but I do know that it was just prior to him coming over to England. He had been booked on one of the Blues Festivals that had been finding ecstatic audiences in Britain. He never made it. I would probably not have made it to see him anyway. I was only fourteen and not up for trips to London. That might have been even more tantalising. But there would have been some recorded evidence and perhaps even some film. He never played in front of a white audience.

Elmore James was not only the King of the Slide Guitar; he was the outstanding Blues Singer of all time.