Russell Simins – Tracks From The Van

Series of songs with annotations by Russell Simins posted on The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion facebook page.

01. Dyke and The Blazers – Let a Woman Be a Woman – Let a Man Be a Man

02. Bill Parker – Gonna Put My Foot Down

Cool lowdown funk straight out of louisiana… originally on the cajun anla/goldband label… has swamp written all over it with parker’s low laid back racy vcls and repeated …phrases, wicked fuzzed out guitar and heavy organs throughout, and a loose but relentlessly funky ass beat.. all pretty crudely recorded… track also just cuts off during the fade out.
raw and funky.

03. Larry Ellis and The Black Hammer – Funky Thing Pt. I & II

It’s so good when this super heavy funk monster fades back in again for Pt II, stripped down to just open hats and pastor Larry Ellis’ blaring b3 organ… and slowly gtr, bass, drums come back in for their own wild version of ‘soul stew.’

Story is this was recorded in all of 30 minutes after the band car got in a wreck on way to the recording session and when they finally arrived there was only a half an hour left for them to record something.

Originally released as a double sided 7″ on Al King Records…. get your hands on one if you can cause unlike PT I, which was sampled for Jay Z/Nas’s 2007 Success, Pt II is pretty much impossible to find on cd or anywhere for download…. then if you also want to you can at least rip it from your turntable to your computer.

04. The Bad Boys – Black Olives

This one regularly makes it onto my playlists. Obscure funky garage instrumental from 1966.

Charlie Daniels plays bass on this(dig the crazy bass solo), apparently named it too as garage’s answer to Green Onions… and was also arranger and producer, pulling it together as a last minute B side recorded in just one take.

There’s the great standout distorted fuzz guitar!!… for which according to guitarist Demetri Callas, Daniels also played a part, by running the guitarist’s bassman amp speaker out directly into a channel in the studio’s mixing console… no fuzztone pedals here… “the guitar distortion/ overload was a natural occurrence!”
Funky drummer Danny Conway is the one doing all the shouts in the bkgrnd.

With the more straight up fast garage punk ‘Love’ on the A side, this single on Paula records(note the producer credits) is all this band from Frederick Maryland recorded under this name. They later changed their name to Flavor and recorded for Columbia records.

05. Honey Jug – For Your Love

Not your Sun or soul Stax Memphis this Ardent studios recorded song by Honey Jug is one of a batch of rare recordings to come out of the much less well known psychedelic music underbe…lly of Memphis in the late 60’s and in my mind is by far the best and wildest of them all. They’re all brilliantly compiled on the 2012 Ace/ Big Beat CD Feeling High – the psychedelic sounds of Memphis.
Trippy, echoing, cavernous-on-cough-syrup sounding, full of fuzz guitar freak out and creeping organ, this brilliantly chaotic version of the Yardbirds “For Your Love” is also a treasure because of Jim Dickinson’s shameless crazed screaming coming in halfway through pretty much til the end.
Aside from everything you probably already know about Dickinson as an icon of the Memphis music scene, it’s revealed here that he was also a producer/ engineer at ardent studios during this time and appropriately responsible for all the wildest freakiest things coming through, notably this track, making way for his unique don’t give a fuck non conformist style and inspired psychedelic lunacy. “The whole time I was cutting For Your Love, Dickinson said, it sped up too much… probably my own damned idea.”

H.I.P. Records, which this originally came out on, was briefly an imprint of Stax, making this officially probably the weirdest record ever on Stax

06. Martha Bass – Since I’ve Been Born Again

Gospel singer Martha Bass, mom to Fontella who’s famous for the original hit version of ‘Rescue Me’, gets seriously down and funky here with this blast of gospel soul… soul claps and all. one of my fave soul sister tracks. originally on the 1968 checker Lp, Rescue Me.

07. Dion – Daddy Rollin’ (In Your Arms)

first heard this off a cd that was given to us by david holmes. great lesser known Dion song from 1968 with Dion down and out, raw, and intense sounding like never before… most likely partly due to the fact that he recorded it just after kicking his heroin addiction he’d developed in the years after his super stardom as a doo wop street punk with the belmonts. a great B side to his then comeback hit Abraham, Martin and John… it’s dark and swampy sounding with cool clanging guitars, Dion’s edgy, agitated vcl, and driving primal drums… at times almost even sounds like Dion backed by the Velvets. “That song,” said Dion “is kinda multi dimensional. it could be a love song or could be a song about drugs…. I recorded it in the back of a bowling alley with a bunch of Jamaicans. We were banging on cardboard boxes. I had my Gibson Birdland guitar and we just let it roll.” Dion also said about Laurie Records, who released it, that when he approached them about recording it they agreed only if he also did abraham, martin and john.

just a super cool track..

Tracks From The Van Bonus Feature: Noise/Electronic Favorites Pt. 1:

Neu – Negativeland:

Dinger, Rother and Co. at their noisy best!

08. Bo Diddley – Elephant Man

Great wild hard funk jam from ‘The Originator’
From his 1970 Lp The Black Gladiator, a later funkier and freakier Bo Diddley in line with the times with still very much of his earlier defining raunch and swagger intact.
Some of his most raucous guitar and a blistering main riff with verses marked by Bo’s to the hilt vcls hollering and screaming through some of his craziest lyrics about building an elephant and naming its various body parts. Hyper-riffing wailing organ, incessant rattling tambourine, and solid funky drumming by bo’s longtime “bo diddley beat” drummer clifton james help keep things together, yet still very loose, and it sounds like Bo is having a funky good time with his new sound. The Black Galdiator was his first album of all new material since 1965’s, ‘500% More Man,’ and this “Gunslinger” wasn’t about to be left behind with the changing times – “I just decided to do somethin’ different,” said Bo “Everybody was wearin’ funny lookin’ crap—Isaac Hayes had come out with chains an’ stuff on, an’ it was kinda flowin’ in that area at that particular time—so I got me some belts an’ stuff, an’ said I was The Black Gladiator.”

09. Black On White Affair – Bold Soul Sister, Bold Soul Brother

Such a hot track from basically unknowns out of Seattle save for local crate digger/ DJ Mr Supreme discovering this on a Topaz singlee in a .99 cent bin with others like it at a Seattle record show sometime in the early 2000’s. This led to the further discovery of what once was a thriving funk/soul scene happening in Seattle in the late 60’s/ early 70’s…. eventually compiled on Light in the Attic’s 2004 “Wheedle’s Groove: Seattle’s Finest In Funk & Soul 1965-75.”

Part of Seattle’s rich music history – Hendrix, Sonics, Sir Mix A Lot, etc. “Black on White Affair” started out in seattle as “The Black And White Affair”… had some success with it’s first single, “Sweet Soul Lady,” getting the attention of Quincy Jones’ Gula Matari LA label where they relocated to not much success ending up back in seattle and undergoing a few successful derivations from the “Black On White Affair” to “Black On Black Affair” to “Family Affair.” Also changing drummers frequently, they ended with the great Wayne Bibb on this track. One constant was Hammond C3 player and vocalist Calvin Hall who you hear all over this track and who’s energy, powerful vocals, and his leading the band often with live impromtu arranging of the songs were a big part of the band’s electrifying sound. One cant help but think of Ike and Tina’s different but similarly titled more well known also great 1969 “Bold Soul Sister”( haven’t actually nailed down an exact date for BOWA’s track) and i gotta say from this track’s first opening machine gun snare hits, crunching drums, screeching organ and super tight and funky syncopated cymbal to the laid back swagger of the main guitar tag line and balls out soulful vocals.. it’s one of the only things i’ve heard that at least comes close to approximating the bad ass funky intensity of Ike and Tina. Blazing.

10. Hal Blaine – Love In

Known as arguably the most recorded drummer ever. a key member of the legendary Wrecking Crew and Brian Wilson’s go to drummer!.

As if that isn’t cool enough, his less known foray into making solo records produced one of the coolest things he did – Psychedelic Percussiion – raw beats with psychedelic spacey sound effects by Paul Beaver of famed electronics duo Beaver and Krause who introduced the Moog to many in the 60’s.

11. Swell Maps – Vertical Slum

Another sonic punk gem from out of the mess of uniquely charming lofi postpunk that could only be Swell Maps.

Topped off by guitarist Nikki Sudden’s matter of fact vcl and lyric “got a space between my eyes and i never knew about it” and brother drummer Epic Soundtrack’s wild beats bashing away.

Original and an influence on everything postpunk since.

Still underrated and lovin it.

12. Devo – Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA Live ’77 at Max’s Kansas City

This early live unbeatable version of “DutyNow’s’ great medley “Smart Patrol/Mr DNA” is Devo at their best… raw and intense at their earliest, wildest, most carefree sounding pounding out noise on their synths and guitars… m mothersbaugh going off, vcls more maniacal than ever fucking with the crowd and you know they’re blown away by it.

From “Devo Live at Max’s Kansas City ’77” when they’d still only been doing the great early songs live, originally released as the first nine tracks on Rykodisks great rarities collection “Devo Live The Mongoloid Years.” which now harder to find than ever these days set the stage for this years heavily coveted exclusive record store day limited release of this show on vinyl for the first time.
Extra hyped too for it including recovered audio of david bowie introducing them this night as “the band of the future!'” … he also offered to produce their first record. Enter Eno!!!

Cool how the great footage of these early max’s gigs that got them signed shows their developing show – sometimes the yellow hazmat suits, or sometimes just jumpsuits, but no real choreography yet and hard hats instead of energy domes – and just them at their most crazed frenetic earliest…. rock journalist Byron Coley who was at one of these shows wrote, “what made the show so special for me was the moment when Bob Mothersbaugh got so carried away with his solo on ‘Smart Patrol’ that he jabbed his guitar into my ear and actually drew blood.
Go Bob 1!

13. Mac Rebennack – Storm Warning

Before Dr. John The Night Tripper and Mac’s Boogie there was Mac Rebennack, in demand session guitarist in the 50’s who was eventually doing sessions for the likes of Professor Longh…air and Joe Tex, producing and arranging sessions by the 60’s and eventually recording his own.

This super cool funky instrumental with its pulsating Bo Diddley inspired beat and Mac’s blistering over driven tremolo guitar was his first record under his own name.. recorded for Cosimo Matassa’s REX label in 1959, and was actually a minor regional hit. Also with the great Lee Allen’s super funky sax runs, Allen Toussaint’s pumpin’ piano, and legendary New Orleans drummer Charles Hungry Williams’ machine gun left hand in effect, who also was the only drummer qualified to fill in for the one and only Earl Palmer when he left for LA at that time.

It was only after suffering a gunshot wound to his left ring finger did Rebennack, unable to play guitar, start taking organ lessons from one James Booker, pickup from his having mastered piano as a kid, and concentrate on keyboards.

14. Miles Davis – On The Corner (Take 4) (From The Complete On the Corner Sessions)

Most bad ass Miles from what’s now rightfully regarded as an influence on everything from Eno to hip hop… the quietly cool groundbreaking On The Corner. This from the complete sessions, the most stripped down and minimal of all Miles’ rock influenced electric period… less the earlier jazz hard psych rock jams of Bitches Brew more lowdown repetitive freaky… hypnotic drum and bass grooves defined by minimally played tight riffs.. no chord changes… solos that are just bursts…. sinister sounding stuff.

Miles and his usual top notch band,. all the best modern jazz players around consistently played with just the right amount of edge toughness balls taste that is only miles and company Cool. Add to that Miles’ admitted obsession with the “black music” of Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix and Stockhausen’s experiments with tone and noise through tape manipulation.
Standout is it all held together by drummer Jack Dejohnette’s heavy hitting groove.

15. Bettye Lavette – He Made A Woman Out of Me

The better version (vs Bobbie Gentry’s Fame recorded w/strings) in my opinion and the 1st from 1969, with crack Memphis session band, the renowned Dixie Flyers, led by J…im Dickinson and former Jerry Lee Lewis saxophonist, Charlie Freeman, who early on backed Billy Lee Riley and Hank Ballard eventually becoming the resident band for Atlantic”s Criteria Recording Studio in Miami Fla., Later they were the backup band for Kris and Rita.

16. Ramones – In honor of the late great Tommy Ramone (Ederlyi).

IT’S ALIVE is not only the greatest live document of the Ramones, it is a great document of Tommy Ramone – great drummer, punk rocker, Ramone. i have played the entirety of this record in the van many times and it never gets old.


IT’S ALIVE is the Ramones show at their earliest best and at their simplest most raw punk and in huge part because of the consistently hard most basic and FASTEST of all Ramones drumming of Tommy (just check out that right hand playing hi hat or riding the cymbal).

Tommy was straight up punk cool with his bad ass look and signature ever present shades. There was also something about his last name being the only one we ever knew cause of his producer alias (real) name on the records, and the fact that HE WAS the Ramones producer (and often writer) for those first classic groundbreaking records, and that after some time away from the Ramones and a few sub par Ramones records he came back in 1984 and produced the best Ramones record in years, Too Tough To Die. I’d seen the Ramones early on but not early enough to have seen Tommy playing with them. Some of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen nonetheless but IT’S ALIVE was my chance to hear them at their fastest hardest straight up best. Nothing they ever did after Tommy sounds so Ramones punk.


17. Teenie Hodges R.I.P.

Here another of many hit records Teenie Hodges co wrote with Al Green featuring Teenie’s incredible one of a kind guitar playing style and touch as part of the great Hi Rhythm Section… that defined the sound of Memphis soul at the time.

Green and the band in peak form and according to Al that’s Teenie’s counting off with his foot on a cardboard box for the take that nailed it.

“Love and Happiness” was like mixing explosive chemicals — everything had to be added at just the right time and at just the right dose. The tempo was the most important thing to Willie, and, if you listen close, you can hear Teenie counting off with his foot on a cardboard box for the take that nailed it. Al Green

18. Bernard Purdie – Soul Drums

Bernard “Pretty” Purdie doin his thing. Recorded with everyone on his own record here. The baddest groove and the best feel… as he characteristically yells out to confirm …that throughout. One of the hottest drum tracks ever.

19. Shadow Mann – Shadow Mann

Artie Wayne… record producer, all around mogul, prolific award winning songwriter – many a big name have covered his songs including Ricky Nelson, Aretha Franklin, even Michael… Jackson. Here Wayne cooly assumes the Shadow Mann persona for this riot of funky hybrid psychedelic soul and rock and roll. And here we again have “the world’s most recorded drummer” Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on one of his more obscure outings doing a variation on his inimitable “Purdie Shuffle” throughout.

20. The Sparkles – Hipsville 29 B.C. (I Need Help)

Around from the late 50’s thru early 70’s the Sparkles from West Texas are best known for this classic garage punk single along with their other great garage …rocker “No Friend of Mine”. Both songs were recorded with their same mid 60’s lineup which featured dual drummers with Lucky Floyd, one of the drummers, also totally killing it on lead vocals.

And that opening drum break!!!

Known also for being one of the “songs The Cramps taught us” and covered by The Cramps.

21. Betty Davis – F.U.N.K

The great flamboyant funk diva still with few equals. Wildest most flamboyant dresser.. either glam style ala Bowie or hot pants w/ outer space go go boots or sexy straight up lingerie as outerwear before you know who like on the album, Nasty Gal, this track is from. Down and dirty real and gritty like Tina, shamelessly sexual and nasty in a provocatively self empowering cool way like no other. On this song her turn ons are every great funk musician who she’s either come across who’s inspired her or who she turned hubby miles davis onto( she turned him onto Sly, Hendrix, psychedelic rock, and the list goes on..) or whose band members ie: Larry Graham, Gregg Errico, etc she got to play on either of her 3 bad ass super funky female power LPs from the early 70’s.

22. Richard Hell And The Voidoids – The Kid Wtih the Replaceable Head

As good as any of the best material from the brilliant debut Blank Generation with the brilliant Robert Quine in as good if not better form. From the follow up lp Destiny Street, 5 years later in 1982, though it makes sense this first appeared as an A side to a single in 1979.

23. Screamers – In A Better World

Wildest synth punk from LA’s legendary THE SCREAMERS and their crazy mix of blaring Arp odyssey synth and Fender Rhodes electric piano, KK Barret’s furious drumming (a kit w/2 kick’s, one as floor tom), and spazzed out manic vocals of Tomata Du Plenty.

This one from the usual bootleged only demos available in lieu of never releasing a single official recording. A huge influence on hardcore’s Dead Kennedy’s and Bad Brains among others and a slew of synth punk bands including ever influencial The Units.

24. George “Thumper” Jones – Rock It

Wild early George Jones, on his first label Starday for which he already had a hit with “Why Baby Why” in 1954, even though he’s going as alias “Thumper” having been less than thrilled about being pressured to do more rockabilly type material in light of Elvis’s then explosion of popularity as a rockabilly sensation. Possum in rare rockabilly form though rockin in a way you don’t normally get to hear him and still with both that incomparable voice and phrasing as always coming through. I even love George circa 70’s with Billy Sherrill’s trademark overproduction and strings cause again that voice and that phrasing slaying like no other singer can and in my opinion as good as any time in his career… even comparable to his arguably best mercury years when he was writing and singing at his peak power.

As Waylon said “if we could all sound like we wanted we’d sound like George Jones.”

25. ALex Chilton – Walking Dead

Chilton’s always a fave in the BX van in all his various guises… this, the poignant shaky mess that is the great “Walking Dead,” an outtake, was recorded at the same time as his solo Bach’s Bottom record in 1975 at Ardent studios, shortly following Big Star’s chaotic and moody classic “Third” record aka “Sister Lovers.” Like a lot of the aptly tiled Bach’s Bottom, but even more so this track, it reflects a time that was dark and turbulent for Chilton in the wake of “Sister Lovers” but still manages to be brilliantly haunting and inspired. Soon looser times in his late 70’s cbgb new york punk days led to meeting the Cramps and producing their two arguably best records and eventually reuniting with his fellow “Sister Lovers” mad conspirator and genius kindred spirit, Jim Dickinson, for lo fi masterpiece Like Flies on Sherbert.

26. John Cage – 4’33”

Sometimes we prefer NO music in the van.

27. Paul Stanley Banter – Rock Won’t Stop Global Warming

…. or we’re listening to comedy! this, one of the best bits of between song banter ever, we play often as we’re pulling up too the club after a long ass drive. gives us all the perspective we need.

dig the drum accents!

“Russell’s Tracks From The Van #28 − #30

Some more to leave you with from this most recent tour. I’ll be continuing to post but somewhat less regularly until the next time when we’re back in the van. -R.S.”

28. Karlheinz Stockhausen – Elektronische Musik Studie I

“One of Stockhausen’s earliest electronic music experiments manipulating and repeating tape recorded sounds – in this case sine tones – which basically paved the way for electronic music as we know it. Forbidden Planet’s “electronic tonalities” came just a few years after this soon followed by Stockhausen’s even more groundbreaking Gesange Der Junglinge and Kontakte.
Still as contemporary sounding as any electronic, experimental music or noise rock out there today and a huge influence on it all. Kraftwerk, Eno, Pere Ubu’s synth/ noise man Alan Ravenstine and countless others call Stockhausen one of their biggest inspirations. He has influenced everything from so much great experimental music – minimalists Cage, Riley, and Reich to Throbbing Gristle to Miles Davis. Members of Can studied directly under him.
Always edgy, always unconventional, sometimes controversial…
This earliest work of his still remains one of my favorites”

29. Black Devil – Timing, Forget the Timing

“One of the great electro disco tracks from French musician Bernard Fevre’s 1978 Black Devil Lp “Disco Club.” With other great track, “H” Friend.

Way cool synths, tape loops and that dark and wicked drum beat from the get go.

Great cover art too!

The story of this obscure ” Disco Club” 6 track Lp originally released in 1978 as well as the history of this cool french synth composer is the subject of the new movie – “Time Traveler, The Strange World of Bernard Fevre.””

30. Johnny Paycheck – I’m Barely Hanging On To Me

“Layin it out there on this track like only Johnny Paycheck can… “the presence of your absence is gettin through to me”… with a knack to turn a country phrase “since i let go of you i’m barely hangin on to me” typical of his earliest songs on his own Little Darlin records he formed with producer Aubrey Mahew in the mid to late 60’s after much hard living and hell raising and being booted as a side man on tours with Charley Pride, Porter Wagoner, and even George Jones!
Many of the Little Darlin recordings with their uniquely dark and real subject matter of suicide, murder, madness, depression, hatred, apocalyptic doom, are some of the most menacing, spookiest, honest, deep and poignant honky tonk you’ll ever hear with Paycheck”s songwriting on another level (check out The Cave or It Wont Be Long And I’ll Be Hating You) and again turning a country phrase like no other – ‘He’s in a hurry… to get home to my wife” or “(Pardon me) i’ve got someone to kill.” With the one and only Lloyd Green killin it on pedal steel guitar, Paycheck”s genuinely agony ridden vcl so similar sometimes to The Possum’s, and the swingy,hard drivin honky tonk feel with an edge that only johnny can deliver, there’s no denying these tracks originality, influence, and greatness even though they may not have had the chart topping success of his later Take this Job And Shove It.

I can listen to these all day.”

31. Randoms – Let’s Get Rid of New York (1977)

“Let Nas and Jay Z battle it out for whose ‘New York’ or ‘Empire State of Mind’ is the gold standard for representing the greatest city on earth. This short lived LA punk band featuring X’s John Doe on bass and Screamers drummer KK Barrett just wants to do away with the Big Apple all together let alone think about it. Fast, fiery and angry, this B side of the ABCD 7 inch was the band’s only official release.”

32. Junior Wells – (I’ve Got A) Stomach Ache

“A definite standout track from the Vanguard recordings that followed Harp master Wells’ 2 classic Delmark releases, Hoodoo Man Blues and Southside Jam.

The great Buddy Guy brilliantly accompanied Wells on both the Delmark recordings and came with him when he moved to Vanguard. And as usual Guy’s unique adventurous guitar style couldn’t be more evident than on this track with his furiously cool picking and way out leads perfectly complimenting Wells’s wildly manic vocals highlighted by his playfully expressive oooches, ahhhs, mmms and ows. With the one and only Fred Below’s energetic driving beat and colorful minimal fills adding to all the soulful intensity of this very funky track.”

33. James Brown – Soul Pride Pt. 1 & 2

“The link below’s a really good read on some of the cooler details of how James Brown and company pretty much singlehandedly defined Funk.

It doesn’t get much better than this. Jimmy Nolen and usual suspects Maceo, Pee Wee Ellis, St Clair Pinckney, “Country” Kellum and the original funky drummer Clyde Stubblefield bringin the funk like none other!”

34. Messe Pour Le Temps Present Pierre Henry/Michel Colombier


Recently picked up another not so easy to find vinyl copy of the album that this is from when we recently did Amoeba Records LA “What’s In My Bag.”

Some of the best musique concrete from one of its pioneers, French composer Pierre Henry, generally overshadowing here the accompanying always groovin if sometimes underwhelming psychedelic instrumentals. With some very cool electronics thrown in, some additionally by collaborator Michel Columbier.

Originally scored in 1967 for a Maurice Bejart ballet.

With the original version of the better known Psyche Rock still tops.”

35. Jody’s Walk – Mighty Imperials


Comprised of some of the players that eventually became Daptone’s great Dap-Kings, this obviously very meters influenced funk is still very much unmistakably it’s own thing. Tastefully raucous and minimal, these kids(they were all of 16 at the time of recording this) sound classic yet current, capturing the sound completely while still being genuine. There’s not a track on the whole record that isn’t just straight up Greazy funky chickn!”

36. Ennio Morricone – Svolta Definitiva


From the master film composer comes this slice of monster psych funk.”

37. Billy Swan – Don’t Be Cruel

“Super cool hauntingly funky swamped out version of ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ by songwriter producer sideman Billy Swan. Swan started out writing songs for the great Bill Black, worked for a time at Graceland, eventually produced Tony Joe White records including single Pork Salad Annie and wrote hits for the likes of Waylon and Conway Twitty all before eventually writing his huge rockabilly inspired hit “I Can Help” for which he’s most well known.

The track’s highlighted by an almost Suicide like sounding opening of Swan’s ghostly echoey vcl and a soul stirring droning organ, a cool lazy funky drum beat throughout care of Nashville session regular Hayward Bishop, and some way out guitars( check em out leading into the 2nd verse) featuring legendary Nashville players Reggie young and Bobby Emmons. That organ, the same one prominently featured on hit “I Can Help,” is an RMI Farfisa type that fellow charter member of the Nashville underground, Kris Kristofferson, bought for Swan (both were assistants together at Nashville’s Columbia Music Row Studio when Bob Dylan was recording Blonde on Blonde there).

Add to it all the way out video for the song you see here and you got one crazy cool track.”