Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mose Allison

I knew Mose Allison the same way I knew Willie Dixon; his name was on umpteen songs. Well it seemed to be. Really it was just a few. But I never heard a note he sang or played until I picked up Allison Wonderland at the HMV store in Garden City Shopping Centre. And all the Mose Allison I’ve ever heard is on that. I have the CD, actually own it. The songs here are the ones that fit on cassette, so there is one or two missing.

He plays piano, and the majority of these tracks he is accompanied by bass and drum and that's it. Later he got a horn section going on. And Mose Allison? Well, he’s a phenomenon, He has style, he has attitude, he has personality – sardonic, cynical, slightly misanthropic. How can you not love him…

Mose Allison

Lost Mind – Percy Mayfield wrote this; he wrote Hit The Road Jack, but it suits Allison’s style exactly – a wry commentary on his own broken heart. “Words would fail me if I tried to describe her, though I know that she’s not all that she should have been.” Rare pop music acknowledgment of the imperfection of one’s love interest.
Back Country Suite: Blues (aka Young Man Blues) – A bit of whining about how hard it is to be young. The Who covered this on Live At Leeds.
Parchman Farm – Probably the most covered Allison song, with versions by Cactus, Blue Cheer etc. It’s about a guy who shoots his wife and does time.
If You Live – All the tracks so far were recorded in 1957.
The Seventh Son – A Willie Dixon song that came up now and then. A hit for Johnny Rivers in 1965. From 1959.
Eyesight To The Blind – Written by one of the Sonny Boy Williamsons. The Who used this on Tommy. From 1961
Baby, Please Don’t Go – By Joe Williams. Them had a hit with this in 1965 (the A side of Gloria) and The Amboy Dukes did a kind of garage band freak-out with it. It is also on a Dylan bootleg.
Fool’s Paradise – About a guy who thinks he’s having a good time, ha ha.
V-8 Ford Blues – Driving as a metaphor for life itself.
Ask Me Nice – Let me be who I am, basically.
Hey Good Lookin’ – Mose Allison does Hank Williams. Doesn’t sound much like Hank Williams when he gets through with it.
Back On The Corner – Everything comes full circle. We are into 1962 by now.
Your Mind Is On Vacation – “And your mouth is working overtime.” Nuff said.
• Meet Me At No Special Place – One of the most unique songs about relationship discord you are likely to hear. He did not write this, though it is so completely in his style.
• I Don’t Worry About A Thing – Not because everything will be fine, but because nothing will be fine. Interesting
I Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues – A Duke Ellington song.
Swingin’ Machine – Automated groovin’…
I’m Not Talking – “I’m not talkin’, it just don’t pay” sings Allison. Just causes confusion…
I’m The Wild Man – A song about the wayward life…
Stop This World – Theme for a misanthrope.
Your Red Wagon – It’s your bed, kind of thing.
Foolkiller – We’re up to 1964. Johnny Rivers did a cover of this.
Wildman On The Loose – As always he is half serious and half sarcastic. About the guy who goes nuts on Saturday night and he’s back to work on Monday morning. Some wild man, eh?
You Can Count On Me To Do My Part
Smashed – A live track recorded in 1965 and released in 1966. Mose waxes poetic about the vagaries of inebriation.
I Love The Life I Live – Another live track, this one written by Willie Dixon, recorded by Muddy Waters.
That’s Alright – The third live track. You wouldn’t think that Mose Allison would write a song called “That’s Alright” and you’d be right; this is by Jimmie Rogers.
If You’re Going To The City – Get back honky cat, sang Elton John – similar idea. This is from 1968, and his style had changed remarkably little in 11 years.
Everybody Cryin’ Mercy – How bad can things get. A song about disingenuousness
Feel So Good
Your Molecular Structure – Undoubtedly the best ode to a good looker ever…
Monsters of The Id – The sound here is fleshed out, horns added to the basic lineup of bass, drums, and Allison’s piano.
Hello There, Universe – A man looks at his place in the cosmos.
I Don’t Want Much – Self-effacement, one of the themes underlying so much of his music.
You Call It Jogging – How can one thing mean such different things to different people…
How Much Truth – More philosophical insight. We are into the 70s now.
I’m Just A Lucky So And So – Another Duke Ellington song. Chuck Berry covered this, and so did Ella Fitzgerald.
The Tennessee Waltz – Now we are into the 80s. Odd that he would do this song. A huge hit for Patti Page in the early 50s.
Ever Since The World Ended – Another bit of philosophy, putting everything in a certain perspective.
Top Forty – For someone who never had a top forty hit, Mose has much to say about it…
Josephine – Not the same song that Les Paul & Mary Ford did. A typical song of adulation, rare for Allison.
Gettin’ There – Autobiography. The irony, if it is irony, is that the title related to his being downhearted.
Big Brother – Not all that different from Rare Earth’s Hey Big Brother.
The Getting’ Paid Waltz – A song about getting paid – or, actually, not getting paid.
Fool’s Paradise – Live version.

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