Here’s the latest batch of Music Musings and Miscellany’s unapologetically subjective selection of the twentieth century’s best 1000 singles. Continuing the Ds.
BLIND BLAKE – Diddie Wa Diddie / Police Dog Blues (Paramount 12888 1929)
Ragtime and blues guitarist Blind Blake wrote many songs more serious than this, but it’s an engaging little piece of nonsense. “I went around and walked around, somebody yelled, said, “Look who’s in town” / Mister Diddie Wa Diddie / Mister Diddie Wa Diddie / I wish somebody would tell me what Diddie Wa Diddie means!”
DELFONICS – Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) / Down Is up, Up Is Down (Philly Groove 161 1970)
This classic sweet soul ballad gained a new lease of life when it was heavily featured in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. It’s an uplifting tale of escape from an emotionally abusive relationship.
JOHN LEE HOOKER – Dimples / Bay Lee (Vee-Jay 205 1956)
Hooker’s best uptempo songs had a swagger of machismo that no blues band acolytes could ever hope to match. You wouldn’t have thought a song called “Dimples” (which sounds like somebody’s pet bunny rabbit) could be so full of testosterone.
KING OLIVER’S CREOLE JAZZ BAND – Dippermouth Blues / Weatherbird Rag (Gennett 5132 1923)
The Original Dixieland Jazz Band may have been the first to record a jazz record in 1917, but this was probably the first true masterpiece of the genre. Though hailing from New Orleans, the band were actually based in Chicago when they made these recordings, away from the stifling grip of the Jim Crow laws. “Dippermouth Blues” features Joe Oliver on cornet, future husband and wife team Louis and Lil Armstrong (then Hardin) on second cornet and piano and brothers Baby and Johnny Dodds on drums and clarinet: a collection of some of the finest talent of the pre-bop era.
UNDERWORLD – Dirty Epic / various mixes (Intercord Tonträger 893019 1994)
OK, I’m cheating a bit here. “Dirty Epic” was never actually released in the UK as a single, except in remixed white label bootleg form. And the US issue (which I wrote about here) is a sprawling 70 minute plus collection that’s an EP in name only. So I’ve plumped for an obscure German issue of the track to fit it into my criteria. Why? Because it’s just a wonderful, hypnotic, melancholy AND euphoric stream of consciousness.
STANDELLS – Dirty Water / Rari (Tower 185 1965)
The Standells were one of the best garage bands to emerge in the mid sixties. The “Dirty Water” in question is the Charles River in Boston. But despite their snotty, punk, east coast attitude, the band were from Los Angeles, and the song was written by record producer Ed Cobb. To undermine authenticity further, they had a former Mouseketeer amongst their number. They still sound like a gang of street ruffians, though, so there’s no harm in pretending.
FRANK WILSON – Do I Love You? / same (Soul 35019 1966)
THE CONTOURS – Do You Love Me? / Move Mr Man (Gordy 7005 1962)
For more on Frank Wilson’s little piece of history, go here. Four years previously, the Contours gave Motown an early smash with the raucous “Do You Love Me?”. The song was almost a throwback to early rock and roll acts like The Treniers. It quickly became a beat group standard over here.
STEELY DAN – Do It Again / Fire in the Hole (ABC 11338 1972)
“Do It Again” was the band’s first hit, but already it contained their trademark snooty misanthropy. A cautionary tale about folk who never learn from their mistakes.
PULP – Do You Remember The First Time? / Street Lites (Island 574 1994)
A lot of Pulp songs seem to concern themselves with reminiscences of teenage affairs and adolescent sexual awakenings. “Babies” and “Disco 2000” mine a similar field. Like those two (and others) “Do You Remember The First Time?” is a mini play about working class life topped off with a veneer of glamour and a glorious pop chorus.
OTIS REDDING – (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay / Sweet Lorene (Volt 157 1968)
Soul? Country? Rock? Pop? “Dock of the Bay” ties them all together with string, leaving a genre-defying piece of hazy idleness. No song conveys that supreme satisfaction of just sitting, contemplating and smelling the sweet salt air as well as this. It’s a cruel irony that such a life-affirming song should be a posthumous release. Best whistling on a record, too. No debate.
JELLY ROLL MORTON’S RED HOT PEPPERS – Doctor Jazz / Memphis Shake (Victor 20415 1926)
Ferdinand Morton was one of the pioneers of New Orleans jazz, but came relatively late to the recording studio. “Doctor Jazz” became something of a theme tune for Morton, even though it was written by Joe ‘King’ Oliver. Whether it’s talking about jazz using drug metaphors or the other way around is a moot point. “The more I get, the more I want it soon / I see Doctor Jazz in all my dreams / When I’m in trouble bounds are mixed / He’s the guy who gets me fixed / Hello central give me Doctor Jazz”.
HOLE – Doll Parts / The Void (Geffen 91 1995)
Courtney Love is such a controversial figure that the music gets forgotten. Live Through This is a great album, and “Doll Parts” one of the very best songs on it.
FRED NEIL – Dolphins / Badi-Da (Capitol 5786 1966)
Greenwich Village folk legend spent only around a decade making records, before spending the rest of his life working with dolphins in Florida. This song may partly explain why. It’s a weary tune, resigned to the fact that the ways of the world – violence, war and suffering – are never likely to change. A cheery note on which to end this latest installment.