Tres Songs

Wherein I play a couple, two three songs for your (one hopes) pleasure. Just a random assortment of tunes that were rattling around in my brain lately. (Pictured – Ry Cooder)

Chris Isaak is a rocker with a rockabilly bent. Unlike your traditional misfit loner rock and roller, Isaak was class president in his high school and “head of the all-male cheer squad.” I find that amusing. Isaak had a pretty big hit with the song “Wicked Game,” especially after it showed up in David Lynch’s film Wild at Heart. (He’s a Lynch favorite, with some tunes in Blue Velvet too.)

That’s a good tune but the one I really dig is his 1995 number, “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing.” According to Wikipedia, “the song got most of its mainstream recognition after being featured in the 1999 Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut. Kubrick heard the song as Nicole Kidman listened to Isaak’s music to liven up during rehearsals.”

Yeah, baby. It’s sultry, it’s smoky, it’s  … naughty. Baby did a really bad thing:

Spotify link

Ry Cooder has a been an ace guitarist in rock and roots music since at least 1967 when he played with Captain Beefheart. After that, he became well-known for his work with the Stones, especially his slide guitar. In an earlier post, I mentioned his great playing on Jagger’s “Memo From Turner.”

Cooder traveled to his own internal drummer, releasing a series of albums that traveled the highways and byways of America looking for its blues and folk roots. In 1979, Ry released what was to be the first digitally recorded major label album in popular music, Bop Till You Drop. This release occurred several years before compact discs were available. (I don’t recall buying one till about 1987 or so.)

From Bop is the song “The Very Thing That Makes You Rich (Makes Me Poor.)” It’s got a soulful gospel feel to it. Interestingly, Cooder got a bunch of songs from a cab driver in Memphis named Sidney Bailey, one of which is this tune:

Spotify link

Doyle Bramhall was a drummer and singer/songwriter who grew out of the Austin, TX blues scene. He first joined up with Jimmie Vaughan in a band called The Chessmen. He later played with Jimmie’s brother, Stevie and co-wrote a few songs with him. Bramhall is also the father of guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, who has played with everyone from Eric Clapton to Roger Waters.

Bramhall senior released an album in 1994 called Bird Nest On the Ground. (Interestingly, it came out on the now-defunct Antone’s label. This is the same Antone that has an Austin club that helped launch both the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughan.)

There’s some nice stuff on this album but I’ve been getting into the tune “The Hunter” lately. This is a number Albert King did with the MG’s on his Born Under a Bad Sign album.

It ain’t no use to hide
Whoa it ain’t no need to run
Cause I’ve got you in the sights
Of my love, love, love, love gun

Spotify link

If the lyrics sound familiar, you’re probably recognizing them from Zep’s song “How Many More Times.” Robert Plant launches into it about six minutes or so into the tune. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “Tres Songs

  1. Good choices. I didn’t know this edgier side of Chris Isaak. “Bop Till You Drop”, which I happen to own on vinyl, is a nice album. I think my favorite on that record is the opener “Little Sister.” I’ll give it another spin. Unfortunately, I know very little about Cooder’s music. I also like the last tune!

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    1. I have “Bop” on vinyl too. I hadn’t heard it in a while. I confess I had fonder memories of his “Little Sister.” Now I find it a little too laid back, preferring Elvis’ nastier version. Cooder’s been around forever. I’ll do a piece on him one day. And yeah, I love the swagger of Bramhall’s voice on the last tune and how it nicely matches the music. The songs seemed to go together nicely.

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  2. Isaak does have some pretty great stuff in his catalogue, though Wicked Game is the one that people generally think of. Good choice.

    As for Cooder, he has a rich catalogue, doesn’t he? His first bunch of albums are some of my favourites and he picks some really exceptional tunes to revisit and shed light on. Nice choice from Bop Till You Drop also. An album that I’m fond of and while it doesn’t always work (sometimes the energy and delivery doesn’t quite fit), there’s great stuff here, too.

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    1. I’m not sure what Isaak is up to these days. Seems to have disappeared from the scene. As to the Cooder album, that song has always been a favorite. Actually haven’t heard it in years. You’re right about the energy. Ry says that the then-new medium he was working in sucked some of the life out of it. As mentioned in another comment, I’ll do a piece on Ry at some point. The Cuban Buena Vista album was his high point of fame.

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      1. Not sure I like it but it’s fascinating. The soundtrack is worth checking out. There’s also Brad Mehldau. It’s actually the only movie soundtrack I ever bought (with the exception of Monty Pyhon’s greatest hits).

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  3. Thanks for sharing these three gems. I don’t watch a lot of TV but when I do, it is usually the BBC so no adverts. The other day I was watching a commercial channel (something cerebral like American Ninja Warrior or Robot Wars) and a car advert came on. I must find out what the music is, it sounds like a great song, i thought. Turns out, you thought so to – Chris Isaak, Baby did a bad bad thing. No idea what relevance the song may have with the car, but there we are.

    The thing I have against Ry Cooder is that every time I hear him, I just want to give up playing guitar and enter American Ninja Warrior, as I have more chance of getting through that than playing with the effortless talent of Mr Cooder!

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    1. I’ve never seen that commercial but I’ve known of that song for quite some time. It gets used on soundtracks here and there. Isaak’s music lends itself well to visuals. As to Mr. Cooder, yes he is on a long list of people whose playing I can only aspire to. I’ll have more to say about him down the road. Thanks for commenting and feel free to do so whenever the mood strikes you.

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  4. Tres songs.
    Tres biens.

    There is a line in a Tragically Hip song that goes
    ” Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy.”

    I have to get out my Ry Cooder and get listening, but it will have to wait for the AC/DC

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    1. Tres chansons. Ry is the guy. He’s got some good stuff. As to Malcolm, yeah it sucks. Not totally unexpected I guess. AC/DC. The band whose idea of a ballad is “Back in Black.” Saw your post on that. Great band for sure.

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