Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sid King & The Five Strings

Sid King & The Five Strings -- Let 'Er Roll

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rose Maddox on Milk Cows & Matrimony

Rose Maddox in a detail from Joe Coleman painting "A Doorway to Joe".

On some old hillbilly records, use of the word matrimony underscores the sexual dimension in that “union of man and woman in marriage.” Wayne Raney’s 1949 hit “Haul Off & Love Me,” which went to #1 on the Country charts before crossing over to the Top 40, suggests with a leer that that union is sealed by love, law, and genitals. The singer, lookin’ to score in the only way that good Christian values allow, pursues his object of desire through a proper courtship—about two verses in duration—before reaching that promised land at the altar, and in between her thighs. At that point he proclaims Now I can feel your warm lips on me, hear you breathin’ soft & fine/ I can feel the matrimony crawlin’ up & down my spine!  
And this from the same guy who’d later record “We Need a Whole Lot More of Jesus (And a Lot Less Rock and Roll)”!
           But, in “Haul Off & Love Me,” Raney still tows the Christian line, and towing the line never generated much good material for Country & Western songs. For that you need sin, or at least a more hard-bitten realism. Maybe the two go hand in hand.
           Enter “America’s Most Colorful Hillbilly Band,” aka The Maddox Brothers and Rose. Who better to bite hard on reality than a band of Dustbowl Okies? From the late 40s through the mid-50s, brothers Fred, Cal, Henry, Don and sister Rose Maddox cut a slew of sides for the 4-Star and Columbia labels, several of which treat the subject at hand with swing, humor, and occasionally, a big helping of milk & butter. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011


What’s this? A random, non-topical post on The Cramps? That’s right. Maintaining non-topical irrelevance is the very raison d’etre of Gemini Spacecraft. Besides, some pretty ace footage has recently surfaced catching Lux & Ivy and their various cohorts in their prime, back before they trafficked in sorta hokey self-parody, that stuff of middle-aged rock 'n' roll. 


The first clip originally ran as a wrap-up story for a local Memphis news show, circa 1977, when the band was there in Bluff City cutting those first sessions at Phillips Recording with Alex Chilton. I first saw it sometime in the mid-90s, when author/documentarian Robert Gordon included it in his collection of Memphis music shorts he called “Banned, Burned, & Forgotten” (or something like that), which he showed during his book tour for It Came From Memphis. Yes, I know the footage is kinda rough. But the band rocks! And check out Bryan Gregory! Dig Axl Chitlin’s effete, southern stoner accent. Then of course, there’s the story's end, when you get to hear the Memphis tv journalist announce The Cramps' show at the Orpheum, all those year ago.  Of particular interest is that moment when the news guy mentions the other bands on the bill that night. How often to ya get to here a “The Clits” on TeeVee?  Is it just me, or did journalism have more integrity back then?

The second clip catches the band in ’81, with Kid Congo Powers in tow, playing a smokin’ version of their “hit” version of the Ronnie Cook & the Gaylads tune “Goo Goo Muck.”