Song of the day: Anita O’Day with Gene Krupa – "Watch The Birdie"

April 6, 2013

Somebody* posted this on Facebook the other day. I’m glad they did.

Anita O’Day with Gene Krupa – “Watch The Birdie” (1941)

One of my favourite drummers with one of my favourite singers, playing one of my favourite styles of 20th-century popular music. As teenagers where I live used to say about five years ago: “Score!”

And from 4:51-8:09 in this video is one of the most amazing vocal performances I’ve ever heard:

Anita O’Day – “Sweet Georgia Brown” / “Tea For Two (1958)

(*That somebody was Chuck. Thanks, Chuck!)

Song of the day: Columbus Short – "My Babe"

November 15, 2012

I’m a semi-fan of the blues – i.e., I have to be in the mood for it, otherwise I find it a bit dull.

But when I am in the mood I love it, even when it’s a remake of an old blues song recorded for a movie:

Columbus Short – “My Babe (2008)


Here’s the original:

Little Walter – “My Babe (1955)


Thanks to Stephen for letting me know about “My Babe”. Thanks, Stephenita!

By the way, the drumming in Columbus Short’s version of “My Babe” reminds me of a Squeeze song:

Squeeze – “Messed Around (1981)



Commenter Duncan (Hi, Duncan!) mentioned that “My Babe” was based upon an old spiritual called “This Train” that was recorded by Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Thanks to Duncan’s comment I’ll present you with “This Train”. Sister Rosetta Tharpe recorded it four times in her career: in 1939, 1943, and twice in 1947.


Being the completist I am, here’s the first recorded version of “This Train”:

Wood’s Famous Blind Jubilee Singers – “This Train Is Bound For Glory” (1925)


Musical coincidences # 273

July 7, 2012

I was cheerfully humming to myself the opening vocal melody of Pugwash‘s “It’s Nice To Be Nice“, and was doing so repeatedly until it morphed into something else. I was a bit surprised…

Pugwash – “It’s Nice To Be Nice (2005) (excerpt)

Glenn Miller and his Orchestra – “Chattanooga Choo Choo (1941) (excerpt)


Here are the full versions:

Pugwash – “It’s Nice To Be Nice (2005)

Glenn Miller and his Orchestra – “Chattanooga Choo Choo (1941)


Musical coincidence # 223

April 22, 2012

I was listening a “rock’n’roll” radio program the other day (i.e., “We play all the hits from the 50’s, the 50’s, and the 50’s!”) when a song called “Pistol Packin’ Mama” came on. I’d never heard it before, but as soon as it started…

Gene Vincent and The Beat Boys – “Pistol Packin’ Mama (1960) (excerpt)


…I thought, “Hmm – it looks like a rather famous drummer may have unconsciously lifted that for a rather famous rock song“:

Led Zeppelin – “Rock And Roll (1971) (excerpt)


I sauntered on over to Wikipedia’s entry for the Led Zeppelin song to see if anyone noticed that coincidence / theft / homage (pick one), and was surprised to read this:

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has said that this song came to be written as a spontaneous jam session, whilst the band were trying (and failing) to finish the track “Four Sticks“. Drummer John Bonham played the introduction to Little Richard‘s “Keep a Knockin’” and Page added a guitar riff. The tapes were rolling and fifteen minutes later the basis of the song was down.

Here’s the start of “Keep A-Knockin'”:

Little Richard – “Keep A-Knockin’ (1957) (excerpt)


Even knowing what I know now (I didn’t know any of that stuff before), I reckon the start of “Rock And Roll” still sounds more like “Pistol Packin’ Mama” than “Keep A-Knockin'”.

Update: Commenter Frank (Hi, Frank!) said this:

You can add one more to the list – Eddie Cochran’s “Somethin’ Else”

I certainly can, young man.

Eddie Cochran – “Somethin’ Else (1959) (excerpt)


Here are the full versions:

Led Zeppelin – “Rock And Roll (1971)


Gene Vincent and The Beat Boys – “Pistol Packin’ Mama (1960)


Little Richard – “Keep A-Knockin’ (1957)


Eddie Cochran – “Somethin’ Else (1959)


In the interests of completeness (and because I like it a lot), here’s the original version of “Pistol Packin’ Mama”:

Al Dexter and His Troopers – “Pistol Packin’ Mama (1943)


And I don’t know if this brings this post round full circle, but Led Zeppelin recorded a version of Eddie Cochran’s “Somethin’ Else”:

Led Zeppelin – “Somethin’ Else (1969)


Musical coincidences # 31

October 16, 2009

Believe it or not, this musical coincidence was the very reason I started Musical coincidences in the first place.* I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to let you know about it.

This coincidence involves, yet again, musical magpie Jimmy Page.

Here’s the opening vocal line of Led Zeppelin‘s “Immigrant Song,” with singer Robert Plant wailing away:


Please store those four notes (“Ah, ah, aaaaah, ah!“) in your memory banks.

That’s some great wailing. I must admit that “Immigrant Song” is one of my favourite Led Zeppelin tracks, as it contains one of the great rock guitar riffs (dunt, du-du-du-dunt / da-dunt, du-du-du-dunt etc). And, like all good heavy metal songs, the lyrics are wonderfully silly (they’re about Vikings).

Now, here are the first four notes of the theme to the TV comedy Get Smart:


They’re the same four notes. They’re in a slightly different key, and with a slightly different rhythm, but they’re the same four notes. If you have trouble recognising the similarity, try playing one then the other, over and over again. However, if you do that, there is the possibility that you may end up mad – or a Viking.

Anyway, “Immigrant Song” was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. I’m presuming that Robert wrote the words and Jimmy supplied the music. According to Wikipedia, the song was written whilst Led Zeppelin was on tour in Iceland. Explaining the lyrics, Robert Plant said this:

“We weren’t being pompous … We did come from the land of the ice and snow.”

Yes, but that doesn’t make you a Viking, Robert.

As for the originality (or otherwise) of the music in “Immigrant Song,” I was going to give young Jimmy the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was just a coincidence, and he didn’t actually ‘borrow’ the Get Smart theme tune, but Wikipedia has other ideas. Wikipedia’s “Immigrant Song” article mentions that the song’s melody is “reminiscent of “Bali Ha’i“”. “Bali Ha’i” is a tune from the musical South Pacific.

If you’re not a fan of musicals (like me), you may now be wondering what “Bali Ha’i” sounds like. It sounds like this:

South Pacific – “Bali Ha’i


And crooner Perry Como had a hit with his version of it in 1949. If you’re wondering what that sounds like, wonder no more:

Perry Como – “Bali Ha’i (1949)


Yes, I’d go along with Wikipedia about the similarity between “Immigrant Song” and “Bali Ha’i.”

So now we have a musical coincidence involving a rock song, a TV theme tune, and now a show tune. And at the centre of it all is… Jimmy Page.

It seems to me that whenever the name of Jimmy Page is mentioned, musical coincidences fly thick and fast.

Anyway, here are the full versions of both “Immigrant Song” and the Get Smart theme:

Led Zeppelin – “Immigrant Song (1970)


Get Smart theme (1965)


(*That sounds like a tautology to me. For example, since when do people start things in the second place…?)