BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Big Blue Diamonds”

BATTLE OF THE BANDS! (BOTB Top Photo)

A few weeks ago, I did a Monday’s Music Moves Me where I featured songs that have the word “diamond” in the title, and as usual asked if anyone had any others. That Friday, I featured your songs on The Friday Five, one of which was “Big Blue Diamond” by Jerry Lee Lewis, suggested by the lovely Calen. As I said then, a substantial number of covers of this song had been done, and promised that I would do a BotB around it today.

“Big Blue Diamonds” (also called “Big Blue Diamond” and “Blue Diamond”) was written in 1950 by Earl J. (Kit) Carson. The first recording of it was a 78 RPM single by Red Perkins. Here it is, and please note it isn’t in the running; I offer it only for comparison, and because there’s a killer pedal steel guitar solo in the middle.

The Blogger’s Best Friend tells us that, while this was written as a country song, it’s been recorded as an R&B and a rock song. Give a listen to the next two songs and let me know in the comments which you like better.

CONTESTANT #1: Van Morrison From Van’s 2006 album Pay The Devil, where he gave us twelve covers of country tunes.

CONTESTANT #2: Percy Sledge One of the comments on YouTube tells us that Percy recorded this one on his 2004 album Shining Through The Rain.

So, give these two covers a listen and let me know by next Thursday (June 22) which you prefer, and maybe a few words why you prefer it. Then, hie thee over to Stephen T. McCarthy Presents Battle of The Bands, where he has a list (in the right-hand column) of other blogs which might also be having a Battle today, visit them, and make your voice be heard.

The lines are now open. Best of luck to Van and Percy!

Two for Tuesday: Them (featuring Van Morrison)

Begad and begorrah, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of the day, I found an Irish band that was part of the British Invasion (and yes, they celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in Northern Ireland).

Them was a band from Belfast, Northern Ireland that formed in 1964. They’re probably best known for launching the career of Van Morrison, who left the group in 1966 and has had a very successful solo career, and for the song “Gloria,” which, if you’re a guitar player, you have to know. (Really, it’s Federal Law.)

Like many bands of the British Invasion, they were inspired by American blues and R&B. Their first album included Bo Diddley’s “You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover,” Bobby Blue Bland’s “Turn On Your Love Light,” and Big Joe Williams’ “Baby Please Don’t Go,” their second single and first in the US. It reached #10 in the UK but only rose as high as #102 in the US. That’s today’s first number.

The B-side of the single was the aforementioned “Gloria.” Decca, their record company, decided to re-issue the previous single with “Gloria” as the A-side, and the record did better the second time around in the US, although it only reached #71. The song was considered controversial because it featured the line, “she comes to my room, then she made me feel alright.” Because of that line, WLS radio in Chicago refused to play Them’s version of the song; instead, The Big 89 played a cover by Mt. Prospect, Illinois’ The Shadows of Knight. Their version changed the line to “she called out my name, that made me feel alright.” Their version hit #1 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey on April 1, 1966. Here’s the original.

Them broke up while on tour in the US in late 1966, and Van Morrison went on to have a lengthy career as a solo artist. The rest of the band, meanwhile, continued on until 1972, when the band dissolved.

Them, your Two for Tuesday, March 17, 2015.