Thursday, March 27, 2014


Of all the records that I ever dragged to a DJ gig, there is but one that has the distinction of having the title deliberately scratched out, a practice common among DJs who want to hide the source of their sacred jams. Back then there wasn't a preponderance of DJs doing that, at least locally, with the nuts I knew. But then, this was before the DJ craze, which begat DJ Everybodyandtheirmother. We were just knuckleheads with archaic skills, but good records; records of all types. It was not unusual to hear the Slits back to back with Harry Belafonte, or George Jones followed by Motorhead, or U Roy. It was fun, cheap, and rowdy. And usually drunk. And not just me. 

I had scratched out the title of the record for a couple reasons, but neither were because the song was particularly rare. It wasn't all. In part, I did it as a sort of homage to the Jamaican sound systems of the early sixties, where the scratching out of titles was commonplace. I picked this particular record because it would baffle anyone who insisted they hear the record I had scrawled "secret weapon" on it. I only brought it with me a few times, but it always happened. This was before DJs became so precious that you couldn't browse through their crates. The more I insisted that I had to save it for later, the more the browser would insist that I play it. They were expecting the heaviest thing I might have. Instead they got the least heavy. But you know what? It is a damn good song, it's catchy, and it features a trumpet of all instruments. If you're of a certain age, even if your family didn't have a record player, if you heard any music at all, you likely heard this one. Which is another draw for me. I have very few memories from that early in my life, but this sucker is ingrained.

The song is "Java" by Al Hirt. Because I scratched out the title, I never knew the writer of the song. It never occurred to me to look into it, because it was Al Hirt. I mean, how square can it get? (Although, I doubt any of us could make Ann Margaret swoon as she does in the photo above, if that is indeed swooning). Earlier tonight, I saw it in post of songs written by Allen Toussaint, at Boogaloo Time. (Slap thyself.) Check the post, there's seven songs in all, if you include the passable "Southern Lights" by Glen Campbell. But there's the Yardbirds, Benny Spellman, Lee Dorsey and the stoney groove that is "Get Out of My Life Woman" by Grassella Oliphant. You really need to hear that one.

Al Hirt - Java mp3 at Boogaloo Time
Grassella Oliphant - Get Out My Life Woman mp3
at Boogaloo Time
Five more Toussaint songs
at Boogaloo Time
Al Hirt - Green Hornet Theme mp3 at  Todd Kolbuck


missjulied said...

Have you heard the Allen Toussaint version of Southern Nights? It's lovely:

Tom G. said...

Wow, Julie! Totally different, from Campbell's version and from any Allen Toussaint I've ever heard. Thanks for the tip!