Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Black and White Lifestyles

That's the title of an old Richard Pryor routine I love, featured on That Nigger's Crazy, the Grammy Award-winning (!!) standup album of 1974. It's a cheap hook but I need a reason to rope together Elmore James and Gene Pitney today and it'll serve. Continuing in the theme of amazing crap I picked up for a quarter from the by-now legendary Dude On the Next Block Over Who Was Selling His Entire Record Collection For Some Fucking Reason, I bring you this knockout track from The Legend of Elmore James, a 1970 compilation from Kent Records. It's a raw, bombastic, shabbily-recorded, flat-out savage jam called "Hand in Hand" from a Canton, Mississippi night club show in 1954. And guess who's pounding on the piano? Ike Turner.

Hand in Hand - Elmore James

Now for the whiteness. So cheap! But the fey, lily-white minor chord grandiosity of Gene Pitney is just a different sort of greatness. Shinier penny loafers. As R. Pryor says, "White folks fuck quiet, too. I seen you all in the movies." This is the sound of an epically self-involved sap enabled by expensive, big league production values. Early attempts at Wilson's teenage symphony to God. From Pitney's Big Sixteen, a compilation issued in 1964 by the Musicor label. A big, fat hat tip to Mr. Poncho, who gave this to me for my birthday.

Half Heaven, Half Heartache - Gene Pitney

And why not:

Black and White Lifestyles - Richard Pryor

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