Paul McCartney And Carl Perkins, My Old Friend (Documentary)

Posted in Carl Perkins, Paul McCartney on March 22nd, 2013 by Willie

Every once in a while I stumble across something really beautiful and rare. This is one of those finds. Zod bless YouTube users for cataloging practically everything in filmed existence that would otherwise be lost or inaccessible to mass audiences. This 45 minute documentary features guitar legend Carl Perkins and Beatle legend Paul McCartney just hanging out, strumming, picking and singing the time away. The video also has some interesting Carl Perkins history tucked away between the performances. I particularly loved the history of “Blue Suede Shoes” and how Carl always thought ‘suede’ was spelled ‘swade.’ The closing song, “My Old Friend,” was also touching, especially the revelation of Carl playing it for Paul right after John had died. It is a beautiful song and its remarkable how Paul has the ability to just create wonderful vocal harmonies and backing melodies on the spot. This is a nice companion piece to the Carl Perkins and Friends Rockabilly School (where George Harrison got to sit in as Carl’s best friend), and it is well worth your time.

PS- If you are wondering where I have been, take comfort in the fact that I pretty much do blog style reporting for a living. Check out my work at Sheepshead Bites and Bensonhurst Bean, covering all the ins and outs of Southern Brooklyn.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Making More Rock And Roll, Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper

Posted in The Beatles, Willie Simpson's Original Music on December 1st, 2012 by Willie

Well, I haven’t updated the ole’ website in a good while, and the reason is because I’m still making more rock and roll. The intention of this humble little corner of internet space was never to be a daily rock and roll blog, that happened more or less organically. The site was created to feature my music, and to that end, my album, which I’ve previewed extensively on this site, is nearly finished. The album in question, which I’ve named Funeral Business, is something I’m growing increasingly proud of. The album art, which the ever lovely Sonia Rapaport created, is the thing you’re looking at right above. Right now I’m collaborating on one last tune with Andrew Lee, and from there, the future promises to reflect the glimmering wonderfulness to be entailed within it. I’m planning a mini documentary movie in the coming weeks about the creation of the record, and a further reflection on my thoughts on rock and roll and what it means to me. Its a flourish of self centered activity that I find rather distasteful, but necessary to further spread the joy this music has brought to me. I want to thank all my friends and family who have helped me along the way here, and I also want to post this incredibly cool video someone made deconstructing the “Sgt. Pepper” song, because it goes against everything in my nature to provide an update without some music. This little video is really fascinating, breaking the song down into its component parts, giving you a sense of how the Beatles created their masterpieces. You will also be hypnotized by those groovy multicolored lines of sonic goodness. Enjoy.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Big Mama Thorton, Budddy Guy, Hound Dog

Posted in Big Mama Thorton, Buddy Guy on October 25th, 2012 by Willie

“Hound Dog” is one of the greatest blues rock songs of all time, so it should come as no surprise that this is the third instance of me posting a version of it. The other two occasions involved the King Elvis Presley, but for this time, I have the superior version. Its Big Mama Thorton and Buddy Guy teaming up to play the song that Mama made a hit 4 years before Elvis. Her version just roasts with perfection. The way Big Mama just growls and bites into the verses, singing like no one else could sing it, even the King of Rock and Roll. This performance is almost too hip for this galaxy, proof of human artistic perfection, and America couldn’t help but agree as Willie Mae Thorton sold 2 million copies of it in 1952 and 1953, spending 7 weeks at #1; an ultra smash for the early era of rock and roll. I’ve played this video about eight times this week and I can’t get enough, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Up Ahead My Head, and Documentary

Posted in Sister Rosetta Tharpe on September 27th, 2012 by Willie

Since my last post on the insanely great Sister Rosetta Tharpe, I’ve come to learn a great deal about her thanks to a wonderful hour long documentary on her produced by the BBC. The documentary tracks her sensational life and career in complete loving detail. The main thing you take away from the film is that Rosetta was light years ahead of her time. Not only was she a ferocious electric blues guitar player, an anomaly if there ever was one for a female black singer, she was a lesbian in a time and place where such a reality was of the utmost secrecy. Like many women of her time, she had several marriages to men, most notably holding one in a huge ceremony held in a raucous Washington DC baseball stadium. These were basically sham marriages though, with her various male partners abusing or controlling her in some way, either out of cruelty, or robbing her money. Her real heart belonged to other women, and if her secret got out, it would have spelled doom for her career as a gospel singer. The documentary, which I’m presenting below, does a fantastic job of going into the details of Rosetta’s incredible life and her incredible music. I’ve also included one last full clip of Rosetta shredding guitar for the gospel stomper, “Up Above My Head.” All great stuff, all well worth your time.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Unparelled Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Posted in Sister Rosetta Tharpe on September 23rd, 2012 by Willie

For those who have never heard of, or seen Sister Rosetta Tharpe, welcome to your baptism by fire. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is the first superstar of gospel, known as “the original soul sister,” and ever since her life was tragically cut short at the too young age of 58, her feats and persona have never been topped, let alone repeated. Rosetta was a landmark figure in the history of gospel, blues, and popular music, as she was the first person to dare and combine secular music styles of rhythm and blues with gospel music and lyrics. She was a mean guitar player too, one of the most overlooked pioneers of rock guitar, peeling off dozens of incredible Chuck Berry like licks before there was a Chuck Berry. Her influence was powerful, extending to legends like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. For Little Richard, who is often referred to as the Father of Rock and Roll, Sister Rosetta was a childhood favorite. He saw her perform at the Macon City Auditorium in 1945, and the 15 year old Little Richard was lucky enough to be invited on stage to sing with her. According to legend, she paid him after the show. Johnny Cash also identified Rosetta as his favorite singer, and made a point of mentioning her as a childhood favorite in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction speech. For all her acclaim an notoriety, she died in obscurity, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia. Her lost reputation was later rectified by people who never forgot her thunderous ability and unforgettable stage presence. Below I have a video of Rosetta performing “Didn’t it Rain,” and “Joshua.” I first heard “Didn’t it Rain” off the Bob Dylan radio show. The recorded version is a spectacular thing featuring dueling Rosetta vocal takes harmonizing and flying all over the place and just incredible guitar overdubs. The live version is understandably more raw, but just as good. I’ll let you judge for yourself.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Black Keys, She Said She Said

Posted in The Beatles, The Black Keys, Youtube Favs on November 28th, 2011 by Willie

The Black Keys are guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney.  Together they have forged a highly successful blues rock revivalist band that are the darlings of the upper tiers of the indie rock world.  I’ve always like them, but have not extensively combed through their catalog.  Perhaps I’ve finally found a reason to.  The reason comes in the form of their cover of the Beatles “She Said, She Said,” from their debut album The Big Come Up.  The original Beatles song, from Revolver, is about one of John’s most infamous LSD trips.  In 1966, he was tripping in LA with the rest of the Beatles, the Byrds, and Peter Fonda.  Fonda, tweaking out, began to obsessively tell a story about how he nearly died as a boy, and couldn’t stop saying, “I know what its like to be dead.”  John, understandably freaked out by Fonda’s dark ramblings, promptly wrote a song, and changed Fonda into a girl to fit the Beatle songwriting mold.  Though, by 1966, the Beatle mold now included feedback, acid drenched distorted guitars, and glorious swirling psychedelic harmonies.  The song was a progressive leap forward for the Beatles, and for rock and roll as a whole.  36 years later, the Black Keys took that song, a song that was still in mid leap mind you, and gave it a real throwback treatment, turning it into a hip 60s blues club rocker.  I love the Black Keys version, as it gives the song a grungy and gritty makeover and reveals the essence of the song’s fantastic pop melody.  Because it is so fantastic, I’m giving you two versions, the unofficial music video, and a cool live performance.  Check em out.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Eric Clapton, Have You Ever Loved a Woman

Posted in Eric Clapton, Youtube Favs on November 14th, 2011 by Willie

The incredible and sweaty bluesman you see in the beginning is Freddie King.  Don’t be confused, this is a Clapton video, but its culled from a never released Martin Scorsese PBS documentary on Clapton’s heroes called, “Nothing But the Blues.”  Well, it was shown, but never released on DVD, one of the mysteries of modern media.  Anyway, this is Clapton at perhaps his most fiery and demonically possessed.  His bends at the 5 minute mark practically bend the whole world, and its the highlight of an absolute rip roaring moment in Clapton’s later career.  The nice thing about Eric Clapton was that the older he got, the more confident he became playing blues, a notion he explains at the end of the video.  To paraphrase George Harrison, when Eric is in the moment, he is so in tune with the music and himself, that he just shines in such a way that’s impossible to deny.  It’s no wonder people compare this guy to God.  Check it out.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jimi Hendrix, Hear My Train A Comin'

Posted in Jimi Hendrix, Youtube Favs on November 10th, 2011 by Willie

You’d suspect on a site like mine, there would be no shortage of Jimi Hendrix material to peruse through, but alas, this is the first one I’ve got.  It’s not for lack of love for the man, as in fact, I possess great quantities of the emotion for the guy.  I sit firmly in the camp of considering him the greatest rock and roll guitarist ever, a controversial position I know, (wink) and one that requires a bit of elucidation.  When Chuck Berry laid down his signature riff for Johnny B. Goode, he showed the world how electric guitar was all that was really needed for rock and roll.  No offense to Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard’s patented piano lead attack, but the sound and image of the electric guitar would define the genre of music, truly giving the style its rock more than anything else.  Jimi proved this thesis by taking the electric guitar to its logical end point through his experimental rocking.  It’s not like Jimi was technically the best guitar player ever, he was simply the most innovative, and the most in tune with its possibilities.  His insights transformed him into something the world had never seen before, a sort of improvisational Mozart, creating manic symphonies on the spot, all with just one instrument.  Now, with all that said about Jimi changing the world of music with his electric guitar, I present to you quiet acoustic Jimi on 12 string acoustic…Hah!  Don’t worry, electric monster Jimi is coming tomorrow, but no proper introduction of the man would be complete without a thorough discussion on his pioneering efforts in the field of electricity.  This performance of his original, “Hear My Train A Comin,'” is an awesome stunning and intimate look at the man just playing his guitar in a white room, singing the blues.  It’s among the best moments in music history, and luckily its here for all of us to enjoy, so please do.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Skip James, Devil Got My Woman

Posted in Skip James, Youtube Favs on September 13th, 2011 by Willie

Skip James was one of the original Delta Bluesmen.  Like many of these original pioneers, he disappeared into obscurity after his rather obscure debut in the 1930s.  The blues rock renaissance in the 1960s rescued him from oblivion, and allowed him one last chance to shine.  One of the songs that emerged from his exile was “Devil Got My Woman,” a haunted country blues ballad about love and Satan.  It’s a perfect Robert Johnson like tune with a ghostly vibe that just might send shivers down your spine.  Here are the lyrics, steeped in blue.

I’d rather be the devil, to be that woman man
I’d rather be the devil, to be that woman man
Aw, nothin’ but the devil, changed my baby’s mind
Was nothin’ but the devil, changed my baby’s mind
I laid down last night, laid down last night
I laid down last night, tried to take my rest
My mind got to ramblin’, like a wild geese
From the west, from the west
The woman I love, woman that I loved
Woman I loved, took her from my best friend
But he got lucky, stoled her back again
But he got lucky, stoled her back again

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Blues Brothers, Ray Charles, Twist it (Shake Your Tail Feather)

Posted in Ray Charles, The Blues Brothers, Youtube Favs on July 27th, 2011 by Willie

How about that keyboard reflecting in Ray Charles’s sunglasses?  That’s rock and roll, or more specifically, the blues.  This legendary scene, from the “Blues Brothers” movie, is and irreplaceable document of blues rock awesomeness.  The Blues Brothers were a group formed by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, two SNL geniuses who loved the blues and came up with this brilliant concept for a Chicago based blues group.  The dark suits, hats, and shades are icons of TV and movie magic.  It’s just another example of the insane role that the likes of Aykroyd and Belushi were on in the late 70s/early 80s when it came to dominating the coolest ideas of global comedy.  The original Blues Brothers band consists mostly of the first SNL band, and they really cook.  It’s a reminder of how huge SNL was in the late 70s that even the band members got starring roles in a blockbuster feature film.  The movie, directed by hot 80s director John Landis, is a crazy car crashing romp of great music and fantastic dance sequences, evidenced below.  Check it out.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,