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The Late Movies: Jump Blues

Jump blues is a type of up-tempo blues that first gained popularity in the 1940s and experienced a renewal in interest during the (dreaded) 1990s swing revival. Billboard has described jump tunes as having a “bright bounce in the medium tempo and a steady drive maintained.” I usually think of it as Big Band pared down to a few horns and a rhythm section, rolled around in the dirt a little bit and then given some uppers.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

You’re probably more familiar with the Bill Haley & His Comets version of this song, and for that I’ll forgive you, but Big Joe Turner's original is the real deal. Recorded the day after Valentine’s Day in 1954, the original featured Turner, songwriter Jesse Stone, and record-company execs Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegün doing the shout chorus, as well as a number of double entendres and sexual innuendos (some of which aren’t in this video). “I've been holdin' it in, way down underneath / You make me roll my eyes, baby, make me grit my teeth,” and “I'm like a one-eyed cat peepin' in a seafood store,” are both sort of self-explanatory, but subtle enough that you might not have noticed them on the first listen.

Rocket 88

Jackie Brenston was learned to play saxophone after coming home from the army in 1947, and hooked up with Ike Turner’s band a few years later. B.B. King liked the band and recommended them to Sam Phillips, who owned a studio in Memphis. There, the band recorded a few songs, including this one, on which Brenston sang lead and was credited with writing. The recordings found their way to Chess Records which released the song under "Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats", rather than Turner's name. The song went to #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and Philips used the success of the tune to jumpstart Sun Records.

Hoy Hoy

Little Johnny Jones mantra may as well have been “have instrument, will travel.” Beginning in 1945, he played piano in Tampa Red's band, harmonica in Muddy Waters’ band, and played and recorded piano and vocals for Elmore James, Howling Wolf, Billy Boy Arnold and Magic Sam. among others. This one-off release, put out under his own name, features a role reversal for Jones and James, with sideman Jones taking over vocals and usual band leader James handling slide guitar.

Voo Doo

Delores LaVern Baker had the blues in her blood. She was related to both Merline Johnson and Memphis Minnie. She also had a great sense of humor. When Georgia Gibbs had the bigger hit with her cover of Baker’s “Tweedle Dee” Baker took out flight insurance at the airport and sent it to Gibbs with a note reading “You need this more than I do because if anything happens to me, you're out of business.”

Jump Jive and Wail

Louis Prima was, like David Bowie, a musical chameleon. He led, at one time or another in his career, a New Orleans style jazz band, a swing combo, a big band a Vegas lounge act and a pop-rock band. You’re likely familiar with Brian Setzer’s version of this song, which gets points for a flashier video but lacks the late Prima’s legendary exuberance.

Good Rockin’ Tonight

Written by Roy Brown in the late 40’s, this song was originally offered to Wynonie Harris, who turned it down and only decided to cover it later after the Brown had some success with his own recording of it. Brown's original recording hit #13 on the the Billboard R&B chart, but Harris' went all the way to #1.

Juicy Fruit

Rudolph Spencer Greene was neither prolific nor famous, and today most people, myself included, only find out about him from compilations of blues, R&B and early rock songs and there is only one known photo of him (which depicts him playing the guitar behind his head). He is, in fact, so un-famous that I can’t find any sort of video for this song. Even though this is “The Late Movies,” I can’t pass up the chance to share Greene’s fantastic, surreal “Juicy Fruit,” wherein he brags about his $50 flattop, cashmere clothes and a car so long that he is forced to park it in the air. Listen to it here.

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Scientists Analyze the Moods of 90,000 Songs Based on Music and Lyrics
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Based on the first few seconds of a song, the part before the vocalist starts singing, you can judge whether the lyrics are more likely to detail a night of partying or a devastating breakup. The fact that musical structures can evoke certain emotions just as strongly as words can isn't a secret. But scientists now have a better idea of which language gets paired with which chords, according to their paper published in Royal Society Open Science.

For their study, researchers from Indiana University downloaded 90,000 songs from Ultimate Guitar, a site that allows users to upload the lyrics and chords from popular songs for musicians to reference. Next, they pulled data from labMT, which crowd-sources the emotional valence (positive and negative connotations) of words. They referred to the music recognition site Gracenote to determine where and when each song was produced.

Their new method for analyzing the relationship between music and lyrics confirmed long-held knowledge: that minor chords are associated with sad feelings and major chords with happy ones. Words with a negative valence, like "pain," "die," and "lost," are all more likely to fall on the minor side of the spectrum.

But outside of major chords, the researchers found that high-valence words tend to show up in a surprising place: seventh chords. These chords contain four notes at a time and can be played in both the major and minor keys. The lyrics associated with these chords are positive all around, but their mood varies slightly depending on the type of seventh. Dominant seventh chords, for example, are often paired with terms of endearment, like "baby", or "sweet." With minor seventh chords, the words "life" and "god" are overrepresented.

Using their data, the researchers also looked at how lyric and chord valence differs between genres, regions, and eras. Sixties rock ranks highest in terms of positivity while punk and metal occupy the bottom slots. As for geography, Scandinavia (think Norwegian death metal) produces the dreariest music while songs from Asia (like K-Pop) are the happiest. So if you're looking for a song to boost your mood, we suggest digging up some Asian rock music from the 1960s, and make sure it's heavy on the seventh chords.

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Take a Sneak Peek at the Brooklyn Museum's Upcoming David Bowie Exhibition
Photograph by John Robert Rowlands. © John Robert Rowlands
Photograph by John Robert Rowlands. © John Robert Rowlands

David Bowie was born in London, and spent his final years in New York. Which makes it fitting that an acclaimed traveling retrospective of the rocker’s career will end at the Brooklyn Museum in 2018, five years after it first kicked off at London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

Following a whirlwind global tour, “David Bowie is” will debut at the Brooklyn Museum on March 2, 2018, and run until July 15, 2018. Curated by the V&A, it features around 400 objects from the singer’s archives, including stage costumes, handwritten lyrics, photographs, set designs, and Bowie’s very own instruments.

Together, these items trace Bowie’s evolution as a performer, and provide new insights into “the creative process of an artist whose sustained reinventions, innovative collaborations, and bold characterizations revolutionized the way we see music, inspiring people to shape their own identities while challenging social traditions,” according to the Brooklyn Museum.

“David Bowie is” has received nearly 2 million visitors since it left the V&A in 2013. Due to its overwhelming popularity, the show is a timed ticketed exhibition, with priority access reserved for Brooklyn Museum members and certain ticket holders.

Tickets are on sale now, but you can take a sneak peek at some artifacts from "David Bowie is" below.

Photograph from the David Bowie album cover shoot for "Aladdin Sane, 1973

Photograph from the album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane, 1973

Photograph by Brian Duffy. Photo Duffy © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie Archive

Striped body suit worn by David Bowie during his "Aladdin Sane" tour in 1973

Striped bodysuit for the Aladdin Sane tour, 1973. Design by Kansai Yamamoto 

Photograph by Masayoshi Sukita © Sukita/The David Bowie Archive

Cut up lyrics for "Blackout" from David Bowie's album Heroes, 1977

Cut up lyrics for "Blackout" from Heroes, 1977

Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

Original lyrics for “Ziggy Stardust,” by David Bowie, 1972
Original lyrics for “Ziggy Stardust,” by David Bowie, 1972
Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

A 1974 Terry O'Neill photograph of musician David Bowie with William Burroughs.
David Bowie with William Burroughs, February 1974. Photograph by Terry O'Neill with color by David Bowie.
Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

Original photography for David Bowie's 1997 "Earthling" album cover

Original photography for the Earthling album cover, 1997

Photograph by Frank W Ockenfels 3. © Frank W Ockenfels 3

Print after a self-portrait by David Bowie, 1978
Print after a self-portrait by David Bowie, 1978
Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

One of David Bowie's acoustic guitars from the “Space Oddity” era, 1969

Acoustic guitar from the Space Oddity era, 1969

Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

An asymmetric knitted bodysuit designed by Kansai Yamamoto for musician David Bowie's 1973 "Aladdin Sane" tour.

Asymmetric knitted bodysuit, 1973. Designed by Kansai Yamamoto for the Aladdin Sane tour.

Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum

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