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The Late Movies: Jump Blues

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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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Animals
Australian Charity Releases Album of Cat-Themed Ballads to Promote Feline Welfare
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An Australian animal charity is helping save the nation’s kitties one torch song at a time, releasing a feline-focused musical album that educates pet owners about how to properly care for their cats.

Around 35,000 cats end up in pounds, shelters, and rescue programs every year in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Microchipping and fixing cats, along with keeping closer tabs on them, could help reduce this number. To get this message out, the RSPCA’s New South Wales chapter created Cat Ballads: Music To Improve The Lives Of Cats.

The five-track recording is campy and fur-filled, with titles like "Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy" and "Meow Meow." But songs like “I Need You” might tug the heartstrings of ailurophiles with lyrics like “I guess that’s goodbye then/but you’ve done this before/the window's wide open/and so’s the back door/you might think I’m independent/but you’d be wrong.” There's also a special version of the song that's specifically designed for cats’ ears, featuring purring, bird tweets, and other feline-friendly noises.

Together, the tunes remind us how vulnerable our kitties really are, and provide a timely reminder for cat owners to be responsible parents to their furry friends.

“The Cat Ballads campaign coincides with kitten season, which is when our shelters receive a significantly higher number of unwanted kittens as the seasons change,” Dr. Jade Norris, a veterinary scientist with the RSPCA, tells Mental Floss. “Desexing cats is a critical strategy to reduce unwanted kittens.”

Listen to a song from Cat Ballads below, and visit the project’s website for the full rundown.

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technology
ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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