HOT CHOCOLATE FOR CHRISTMAS (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #126)

I spent a good bit of last week listening to Hot Chocolate’s eight-album collection that gathers all those albums that used to be hard to find in one place. I’ve listened all the way through before a time or two. I haven’t come anywhere near plumbing the depths. What stood out this time was an Elvis Costello cover….not exactly what you expect to find in the deep cuts of a Hot Chocolate collection.

But it’s a revelation. Costello’s first three albums helped define a certain aspect of my life, but I can’t say I ever thought of him having an emotional core. Paranoia worn as a suit of armor doesn’t really invite that style of intimacy.

Errol Brown got under the armor….to the real paranoia. Listening now, I realize it’s something a West Indian migrant who made great records for a solid decade, and fought his way to the top of the charts Elvis Costello affected to disdain, without ever touching the lionization Costello received (including rapid induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while Hot Chocolate, like all the other great interracial funk bands who weren’t Sly and the Family Stone remain ignored as the years turn to decades) might have understood a bit better than the song’s author.

Who did put those fingerprints on my imagination?

Merry Christmas ya’ll….

“DEATH I PRAY, OH LORD, REMEMBER ME…” (B.B. KING, PERCY SLEDGE, JACK ELY, ERROL BROWN, R.I.P.)

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Let me tell you how big a deal B.B. King was.

CNN managed to write several hundred words to commemorate his passing and post it on their website without any obvious howlers.

Oh, they managed to emphasize his “influence” (mostly on famous white people) over his art. They neglected to mention that the reason he’s way more famous than, say, Freddie King, or Albert King (or Buddy Guy or Johnny Watson or Peter Green or Johnny Winter or a dozen or so other ace blues guitarists and/or showmen not named King) is because, unlike them, he was also a truly great singer.

But those are just the usual errors of omission.

Nothing like calling this guy an “R&B belter,” which must have been cut and pasted from the Wilson Pickett obit because wasn’t he also a black guy who recorded southern soul back in the sixties?

….Or calling this a “garage rock song”, evidently unaware that it was an R&B song, that “garage rock” describes a sound and an attitude (not a style of song, R&B or otherwise), and that, without the sound and attitude Jack Ely gave this particular R&B song, there probably would have been no need to call it something else.

…All of which makes saying this is “these days…better known as the theme song from the Louis C.K. series ‘Louie,'” merely a euphemism for “God help us all.”

Add Ben E. King to the roll call and since I’ve been doing this blog I don’t think there has been any month when rock and roll took such a hard hit. It’s getting late I guess.

And how does the world remember?

By mis-remembering.

Or reducing it to this:

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…And no doubt convening a panel of experts and having Wolf Blitzer quiz them about why the past keeps slipping down the memory hole. (“Hey, don’t you think Wolf can fill a fifteen minute slot with that? Don’t you? Sure he can!”)

Well, the man who dreamed “ain’t no difference if you’re black or white, brothers you know what I mean,” saw it coming…The prophets always do.

(For additional thoughts on Percy Sledge, you can go here or here. For Ben E. King’s recent obit, here.)