Today, we celebrate Chuck Berry‘s 90th birthday, who’s still rockin’ live for fans all over the world!
For the record, Chuck Berry is definitely NOT related to Richard Berry, author of the song “LOUIE LOUIE.” That being said, there was one particular song that Chuck wrote and released in 1956 that may have had an influence on Richard’s most famous composition, which was written the year before (1955), but released the year after after (1957).
Here’s the original recording of Chuck’s song, which shall be categorized as a “Pre-LOUIE,” one of a handful of songs released before LOUIE, which may or may not have had an impact on Richard’s creative process.
Richard did actually record his own version of this song, produced by Steve Douglas, featuring Leon Russell, but we’ll save that as-yet unreleased recording for another day….
This week, The Blues Poets get the LOUIE spotlight with their special version of the song.
Here’s their band statement, shared via their YouTube page:
The band in one, two – hey are survivors, musicians who are still performing what they choose to perform; a mix of blues, soul and r ‘n’ b music. The only guarantee is harassment, that and an interminable succession of the most minor, most petty inconveniences imaginable – all designed to do your head in, destroying the very discipline you’ve had to grab and cling onto in order to survive, not just as an artist but as a human being. Here we have The Blues Poets and guests, live on stage, playing out a day-in-the-life of people who aren’t themselves, not anywhere near it, not on any personal level, although art is always personal – it’s what the plays about.
“I’m not saying that every play about musicians must have musicians in the parts. But in this particular play the qualitative and genuine nature of the performance of music is structural. Obviously there is a difference between performing music and acting a performance of music. A similar distinction exists between the creation of art and a simulation of the creation of art. In one, two – hey it is necessary that the art of music-in-performance is created.” (James Kelman)
The Blues Poets George Gallacher – vocals/harmonica Fraser Watson – guitar Jackson Clarkin – bass/piano Scott McGowan – guitar Dougie Henderson – drums
A couple of weeks ago, I visited the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, where I saw, among other things, the Otis Redding exhibit.
At this exhibit I saw Otis items I’ve never seen anywhere else – rare family photographs, the original painted marquee for the Whisky-a-Go-Go show, his red jacket worn on the “Live in Europe” album cover, his personal Super8 film camera and the suitcase he carried onboard the airplane for his final flight, among other things.
In the museum there was a lot of media kiosks, showing various video clips of his performances. A great tribute to an unforgettable musician who created some very powerful music during his all-too brief existence.
At this exhibit, details were shared on each of his albums, which of course, acknowledged his debut album “Pain in My Heart,” which was released on January 1, 1964, and peaked at number 20 on the R&B chart and at number 85 on the Billboard Hot 100.
That was the album that featured Otis Redding’s recording of LOUIE LOUIE. It’s interesting to note that his recording came out less than one month after the Kingsmen‘s version of the song entered the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for December 7, and peaked at number two the following week, a spot which it held for six weeks.
Otis was definitely hip to the good stuff! On that album, he also covered “The Dog”, by Rufus Thomas; “Lucille”, by Little Richard; and “Stand by Me”, by Ben E. King. The musicians for this album included Booker T. Jones (keyboards, organ, piano), Isaac Hayes (keyboards, piano), Steve Cropper (guitar, keyboards, piano), Donald Dunn (bass), Al Jackson, Jr. (drums), Johnny Jenkins (guitar), Lewis Steinberg (bass), Wayne Jackson (trumpet), Charles Axton (tenor sax) and Floyd Newman (baritone sax)
I wish I could tell you that the Otis Redding exhibit was still up at the Grammy Museum, but unfortunately, the run ended about a week or so after I saw it.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the official OtisRedding.com webpage, which provides a wealth of material about the man, as well as details about the Otis Redding Foundation, which was created to “empower, enrich, and motivate young people through programs involving music, writing and instrumentation.”
This week’s LOUIE comes from Livorno, Italy, courtesy of my friend Caterina Di Biase at Orme Radio:
After the very 1st LL marathon here in a web radio called #OrmeRadio (only 24 hours ~ April 11 2015) one of the “new” versions we got from Italian musicians, a band called Stella Burns and The Lonesome Rabbits, is now a video and part of their new upcoming album called Jukebox Songs.
Louie Louie is the first single from the new album by Stella Burns and The Lonesome Rabbits, Jukebox Song, released September 13, 2016. A cover album that embraces Leonard Cohen, Calexico, Radiohead and Mino Reitano, revisited through the typical style of the Livorno cowboy.
The attached press release says “Louie Louie (Richard Berry song of 1957) is a song so well known and covered that it required, perhaps most of the other songs on the disc, a signbificant dose of courage and adventure”….”The version is unusual because lazy and listless and the video fully respects this attitude. Shot in the main entrance of Ex Aurora, a theater in Livorno, which for the musicians has become a family house, in the video we see a playback connecting Stella Burns indolence and, conversely, the enthusiasm of the Lonesome Rabbits. The deliberately simple animations created by Sara Cimarosti emphasize the playful atmosphere.
This version was unveiled this week – September 13th 2016 by Love & Thunder Records.
This week, the LOUIE spotlight is pointed at the 1968 (?) recording of LOUIE LOUIE by Ike and Tina Turner. It’s a powerful version of the song, and one that I’d consider one of the Essential LOUIE LOUIE recordings!
I’m not sure whether this version was first released as a 45 single or an album cut, but it can be found on the Ike & Tina Turner: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 album, as well as the out-of-print Best of LOUIE LOUIE, Volume 2.
Back in 1988, Bloom Country, the brilliant comic strip by Berke Breathed, provided some special LOUIE LOUIE lyrics to celebrate the Presidential Election of United States, imagining different sets of LOUIE lyrics for each of the candidates – Mike Dukakis, George H.W. Bush, and Bill the Cat!
The Bloom County comic strip originally ran from 1980 until 1989, but was recently restarted after a 25 year hiatus, currently available via Facebook and GoComics.com.