Prentiss Riddle: Music

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Don't try to lay no boogie woogie

Another long Language Hat thread, this time on a William Safire column about bogeyman vs. boogeyman, reminded me of a vaguely remembered song from my childhood with the lyric "Don't try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock & roll".

Google turns up a fellow named Long John Baldry. His website includes a page of full-length MP3s of "The King of Rock & Roll" and several other songs, complete with LP surface noise for the full nostalgic experience. It's 1971-1972 folk- and blues-rock with typical influences of the day, from Professor Longhair to California acid. At least a couple of tracks there worth a download.

music 2004.02.08 link

Comments

My cousin, Jeff Thomas, actually wrote that song, back in the sixties. It appeared briefly on the flip side of some other hit. It was his one claim to fame.

Doug Pinkston [dougpinkston cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2004.08.04
Can you direct me to the lyrics for "Don't Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll"? It's hard to understand all of Baldry's words.
Thanks!

Azala [azalaksh cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2004.09.28
I will be forever in your debt and send you an e mail christmas card if you can please find the words to don't try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock and roll. the one recorded by the group crow back in the seventies. Please help me.

michaelangelo [qwayzar9000 cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2005.01.28
I believe I heard a group called the Crow's do that song around the same time as Baldry's version. I have the Baldry album, 'Everything Stops for Tea.', but can't find the hard drivin' Crow's version. Anyone with any info on this?

S.Bilbee [s punkto bilbee cxe worldnet punkto att punkto net] • 2005.02.08
The original version was done by Gator Creek, on their one and only album in 1970; I haven't been able to find any MP3's of this. It was covered by Crow on their album "Mosaic" (also on a 45 on the Amaret label) and by Long John Baldry on "It Ain't Easy".

Crow's version of the lyric was as follows:

Don't you tell me n-n-n-no lies woman 'cause all you know I've told
Don't sell me no alibi sister 'cause all you've got I've sold
You better leave that midnight sneakin' to the one who worked it out
I don't wanna hear no back talk speakin' go on and shut yer mouth
And everything's gonna work out tight if you act like you been told
So don't try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock and roll.

Don't you feed me no TV dinners when you know I'm used to steak
I don't need no rank beginners when it's time to shake that shake
You better pull your Thing together, reach in and dust it out
And if ya feel that yer ass can't dig it then I guess you know the route
It ain't a matter of pork 'n beans gonna justify your soul
Just don't try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock and roll.

You weren't alive when I started to drive, so don't put none on me
You didn't arrive 'til late '45 but your head's in '53.
You got what it takes to keep the heads a-spinnin' down by the old rim shack
And you come across just like a fool grinnin' in the back of a red Cadillac.
You can't come across the [inaudible] bridge until you pay the toll
So don't try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock and roll.

--
The inaudible word sounds like "Apsfail", I don't know what it was supposed to be and can't find any lyric online. Baldry made a few changes here and there to the words; the inaudible bridge was "Astro" in his version. Also "I guess you know the route" became "You know you don't know what it's all about" (and "yer ass" became "you just" as well).

Shalom [druggist punkto a cxe pobox punkto com] • 2005.04.08
Great song by a great artist! Sadly, he's too little known in the USA. Rod Stewart credits Long John with jumpstarting his career. The version of the song that I'm familiar with begins with a long spoken intro. John talks about being arrested for panhandling in London (circa 1956) because he was playing guitar on the street for change. At the hearing, the policeman describes to the judge how Long John was playing "a sort of boogie-woogie music...popular among American Negroes" (pronounced boohjee woohjee). The term "rock'n'roll" apparently hadn't yet made it into mainstream language in Britain yet. That's what motivated John to go into his tirade - "Don't try to lay no Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock'n'Roll". I've adopted it as a personal catchphrase, & for the last 35 years or so whenever someone is trying to BS me I say, "Don't try to..." etc. etc.

JUGL11 [JUGL11 cxe aol punkto com] • 2005.04.12
I am seriously gratefull to whomever it was that found these lyrics for me. If I can find out who it was, I will send you an emailed Christmas card. Thank you very much. :}

michaelangelo milamiano [qwayzar9000 cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2005.06.25
Say, I just listened to this with the text in front of me for the first time and it sounds to me like Baldry made remarkably few changes in Crow's lyrics as provided above by Shalom. The only change of substance I heard was the substitution of "And if you feel that you just can't dig it you know you don't know what it's all about" for "And if ya feel that yer ass can't dig it then I guess you know the route". Crow's line is more colorful but couldn't have been played on the radio in 1972. (Baldry and Donald Rumsfeld both share an appreciation for known unknowns -- who knew?!)

It sounds like "Apsfall bridge", not "Astro bridge" to my ears (not that I know what or where Apsfall could be).

And surely that's "the old rib shack", not "the old rim shack". A rib shack is a barbecue joint, an appropriate cultural reference for a blues song; I've never heard of a rim shack and I'm not sure I'd want to. :-)

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2005.06.25
You bet that's 'down by the old rib shack'...and I always thought it was "you can't come across the ASTRAL bridge until you pay the toll" in keeping with those times heavily surrealistic lyrics. And, it's "you come on just like a fool with women in the back of a red Cadillac.."

I saw him down at the Tchoupitoulas Warehouse in New Orleans in 1972, along with Atomic Rooster. A vision in white tux and tails, and a tall white top hat. I wish my memory was better...cause I'd never heard of the man before that night, but was sold on his talent.

I always liked the album he released on Casablanca in the late 70's...can't remember the name of it..but it had a great array of polished tunes.

I'll miss Long John...but will pop in his CD as we cross the bayous outside New Orleans as we make our way for our 9th Mardi Gras.

God Bless him, and all that loved him.

Don [ltjohnsnipe cxe hotmail punkto com] • 2005.07.23
My brother Jeff wrote the song and I have a copy of the original demo with the Ray-Lettes singing background. Jeff says its "you just can't dig it" and the "Atsville Bridge," based on the slang of the time, like "where it's at." Also it is the old rib shack.

W.C. Thomas [guillocek cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2005.07.27
W.C.

THANKS for clarification of that...gotta admit, since I've been singing 'Astral Bridge' since It Ain't Easy was released, it's gonna be a damned hard habit to break.

Just like that Cream song...Badge, where Eric Clapton sang "Now he's met a tomato..." (Now he's married to Mabel) the combination of youth, great visions that came in little precious packages often distorted our consciousness beyond reckoning.

Tell your brother I LOVE that song. IT ROCKS...Wish I had that kinda talent!

Any other tunes by your bro I should know about?

Don [ltjohnsnipe cxe hotmail punkto com] • 2005.07.30
I am looking for the version of this song that I believe was popular in the mid-70's. There was dialogue about being arrested and going before the judge and the song kicks in...is this the song I am remembering? Thanks for any help.

Rick [rmapes cxe lmsdesign punkto com] • 2005.09.16
Can anyone direct me to a place where I could get the song to download? Thanks.

Rick [rmapes cxe lmsdesign punkto com] • 2005.09.19
At one time the "full-length MP3s" link above led to a page with the Boogie-Woogie song. Now that page appears to have been removed. There are still some MP3s on the Baldry site under the label "CD Rooms", but that song isn't among them. Too bad.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2005.09.19
Rick - yes, the version that I listened to frequently in the early 70s when I was but a youngster included about 3-4 minutes of monologue of Baldry telling his story of being a street guitar player, in this case, "down Waldorf street". In the background of this monologue one can hear a beautiful piano playing - rumor has it that this was Elton John (Reggie Dwight)! After all, part of Elton John's new name was taken from Baldry's first. Baldry makes it very clear that there is indeed a difference between "boojie-woojie" and true rock and roll by abruptly going from a friendly story teller to rock star belting out his true feelings almost instantaneously! Unfortunately, this song is very hard to find - it may not even be in print. The only way I was to able to obtain it was from a download many, many years ago - it meant so much to me that I would've gladly paid big money for it - but can't because it's just not there, especially here in the States. I believe it was originally on the album "It Ain't Easy", produced by both Elton John and Rod Stewart. Good luck googling - it may still be out there somewhere...

Z-man [dlo2642259 cxe aol punkto com] • 2005.10.09
And one more thing - I was very lucky indeed to stumble across Baldry's version of the Door's "Love Me Two Times" - this has got to be one of the most impressive remakes in rock history! Even the backing band in this version is incredible. It's short and sweet at only just over 3-minutes, but what an amazing tune. All this from the same guy who gave us his version of "Winnie the Pooh"...Long John Baldry, we hardly knew ye! Rest in peace, my friend.

Z-man [dlo2642259 cxe aol punkto com] • 2005.10.09
My apologies for the triple entry, but here it is:

http://www.longjohnbaldry.com/recordings/itainteasy.asp

Enjoy!

Z-man [dlo2642259 cxe aol punkto com] • 2005.10.09
The "Upsalquitch" is a long narrow Canadian River where Long John Baldry often went canoeing. It's famous in Canada, and is used to mean (in slang)( MicMac ) any river.
So " You can't come across the Upsalquitch until you pay the toll."

George Barber [vegacolony1 cxe hotmail punkto com] • 2005.12.05
The CD (It Ain't Easy) that this song is on is availble from http://www.stonyplainrecords.com/Web/home.asp. There are other Long John Baldry CD's available there too.

Smokey [lthurber cxe compusmart punkto ab punkto ca] • 2005.12.07
To: W.C. Thomas

Any chance of getting the sheet music for this song? I'd love to learn to play the piano portion but no good enough to do it by ear.

Smokey [lthurber cxe compusmart punkto ab punkto ca] • 2005.12.07
Glad I found this thread cuz it clears up a few questions for me (though my roomie swears it's 'shake the snake'). For the heckuvit I'm transcribing lyrics of Baldry's songs for aforesaid roomie (6'7", plays guitar, sings... *g*) and would appreciate being pointed in the direction of any tabs you may know of, thanks.

Mags [whytewytch_ cxe hotmail punkto com] • 2005.12.13
Try the wayback machine http://www.archive.org/ with the link referenced in the first post to find the spoken intro version.

Anonymous • 2005.12.17
it's "axle bridge" larger than a footbridge an axle bridge can accomodate a wheeled vehicle with an axle. cost more to build ergo the toll.

wm. d. \ [wdrew173 cxe bellsouth punkto net] • 2006.01.25
Wow. Sounds like there's alot of different versions of the lyrics. I think the most convincing was the guy who said his brother, Jeff Thomas, wrote the song. I think he'd know best. I'd like to know more about this. I'd also like to hear an origional version of that, since I think the Long John Baldry version is one of the greatest rock songs of all time.

Ben [naturalbornworldshaker cxe hotmail punkto com] • 2006.03.11
Oh man! I have loved reading all of these comments. The Baldry album "It Ain't Easy" is an absolute classic. Not only does it have "Don't Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The Kind Of Rock 'n' Roll," it also has "I'm Ready," a Muddy Waters gem. It has Long John singing with Maggie Bell on "Black Girl." It has "Flying" with a gorgeous female chorus behind Long John. It has "It Ain't Easy," the jam by The Kinks. The musicians on the album were the same who toured with Joe Cocker on the Mad Dogs And Englishmen tour. Look hard for the album. I promise you, you will not be sorry you got it. Thanks for the lyrics, too. Good luck to one and all.

Larry [nothingelse_98_1999 cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2006.04.29
I was searching for some info on Crow's Don't Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock and Roll trying to find some more info on it when I came across this site.
I was just listening to it from a compilation of MP3s that I made from 45 I got for audition when I was an MD at a radio station.
It's a tranfer from an almost new 45. I someone really needs a copy let me know.
As to Long John Baldry's comments - if you have the Baldry's Out album, you should find my name in very tiny print on the original LP jacket.
Long John cut this in Toronto as I recall. And he did the overdubs at BeeJay in Oralndo.
I remember a guitar player flew in from England - on one of the first Crate amps I saw, and I seem to recall that Cathy McDonald flew in for some overdubs with Long John.
That was a truly fun recording session

Bill Vermillion [bv cxe wjv punkto com] • 2006.06.06
No sheet music available, unfortunately. I'll to provide an mp3 of the original demo. Jeff wrote the song for Elvis but Elvis didn't want to call himself the King of Rock and Roll. If you get the reissue of It Ain't Easy, you should also get the reissue of Everything Stops For Tea, which is also great and really is more of the same recording sessions.

w.c. thomas [wcthomas cxe wcthomas punkto net] • 2006.06.27
To Bill Vermillion:

Ironically, Jeff Thomas, who wrote the song, also operated a puppet named Weird Beard on a kids tv show on KOIN TV in Portland, Oregon in the early '60s.

w.c. thomas [wcthomas2001 cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2006.07.13
I got some good laughs reading the speculations on the "Bridge". It is the "astral bridge", like a right of passage, with "until you've paid the toll" akin to until you've paid your dues.

Richard Kandler [rlkandler cxe msn punkto com] • 2006.07.14
Question regarding "Don't try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock & roll".

On occasion, I've heard this song with a lead in where Long John talks about playing on the street and running into the constable. I can't find this anywhere!!! I'd really love to pick this up as an mp3 to turn on my friends... CAN ANYONE SHED SOME LIGHT ON THIS TUNE!!!!

Brad Peek [jbpeek cxe sbcglobal punkto net] • 2006.09.28
Question regarding "Don't try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock & roll".

On occasion, I've heard this song with a lead in where Long John talks about playing on the street and running into the constable. I can't find this anywhere!!! I'd really love to pick this up as an mp3 to turn on my friends... CAN ANYONE SHED SOME LIGHT ON THIS TUNE!!!!

Brad Peek [jbpeek cxe sbcglobal punkto net] • 2006.09.28
Question regarding "Don't try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of rock & roll".

On occasion, I've heard this song with a lead in where Long John talks about playing on the street and running into the constable. I can't find this anywhere!!! I'd really love to pick this up as an mp3 to turn on my friends... CAN ANYONE SHED SOME LIGHT ON THIS TUNE!!!!

Brad Peek [jbpeek cxe sbcglobal punkto net] • 2006.09.28
Ok, I'm in too. Can someone provide the words to the monologe in the middle of the song, about being in court and having to explain "Booji Wooji" to the magestrate? I love it and would love to have it.
Thanks;Tedd Denver.

Tedd Perry [peteslad cxe hotmail punkto com] • 2006.11.28
All right, here it is...

"Conditional Discharge"
by John Baldry

Y'know, I remember, a few years ago, some funny things used to happen to me.

About 1956, '57, at that time there was no "blues scene", or not really any kind of scene in London.

And I used to go out and play my guitar, in the streets, and sing things, and with passing the hat round.

I remember one particular night, I was playing my guitar in a little alley just off of Wardour St in Soho, and I got busted by the police... and this policeman came up and dragged me and my guitar, and my hat full of pennies, off to the police station.

Anyway, the next day I had to appear in Marlborough St police court, and it was quite a day.

Police officer, giving his evidence: "Oi was proceedin' in a southerly direction m'lord, when I heard strange sounds, comin' from Wardour Place, m'lord. A sort of boo-jee-woo-jee music was bein' played. On further investigation, Oi saw the defendant, standin' there, with a guitar, and an old 'at on the floor, collectin' pennies. Well I decided he was contravenin' a breach of the peace there, as there was a traffic jam about five miles long beyond Wardour St, wonderin' what all the fuss was about, so then I arrested the defendent."

"Er, just one moment, officer, what is this boo-jee-woo-jee music you were talking about?"

"Oh, well, m'lord," said the officer getting out his notebook, obviously he'd been doing up his homework. "It's a kind of a jazz rhythm music, peculiar to the American Negro."

"Oh! And what was the defendant doing, playing this kind of music there in Wardour St?"

Anyway, I got off with a caution, a year's conditional discharge. But I'll always remember that policeman, and his "boo-jee-woo-jee". So don't try to lay no boo-jee-woo-jee on the King of Rock and Roll...

----

I was going to arrange the above in individual lines, as a sort of blank verse, the way he spoke it on the record, but it took up way too much room.

Incidentally, it wasn't Elton John on piano: he produced (and played on?) the second side of the LP, but the first side was Rod Stewart's project, and the pianist was Baldry's regular accompanist, Ian Armitt.

Shalom [druggist cxe pobox punkto com] • 2006.12.06
All this is very interesting & informing.
My question to W.C.(or anybody):
Is there a 45 record in existence of this song by Jeff Thomas?
If so, where could it be found?
Many thanks for any info,
Greg

Greg [nhcastle cxe metrocast punkto net] • 2006.12.17
I am quite flattered by the attention given to my song. I thought it was good enough to record by myself. The late, great, and dear John Baldry claimed the hit version, although Crow's version was charted. Another great version was done by 'Gator Creek (Kenny Loggins sang the vocal). An unreleased version was recorded (produced by close friend Jimmy Bowen) live in Las Vegas by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (with exceptional vocal by friend and fellow Georgian Kin Vassey). While I'm here, I'd like to say hello to my cousin Buddy, and exceptional brother W.C. (aka Billy, to me), who are both great musicians. To Billy: I was both Ralph the Robot, and Weird Beard on KPTV (ABC) in Portland, OR.
Later, Weird Beard worked at KCOP TV in Los Angeles, with the multi-talented Addie Bobkins (Bob Adkins). I am saddened, however, that you failed to mention my "best supporting" role as Dolly Parton's husband in "9 to 5."
Attn: Greg--send address an I will send you my 45.

Jeff Thomas [xoxjeffxox cxe tx punkto rr punkto com] • 2007.03.25
P.S. --Music and lyrics can be obtained (no charge if you tell them you're interested in recording) through Hasting Music, BMI. Google to find. Also, hello to my cousin Doug.

Jeff Thomas [xoxjeffxox cxe tx punkto rr punkto com] • 2007.03.25
Sorry but I must correct my earlier statement. The "Upsalquitch" is a very long deep narrow Canadian River with few crossing points,all of which charge a toll. So (in slang)( MicMac )"crossing the Upsalquitch" means overcoming an obsticle.

George Barber [vegacolony1 cxe hotmail punkto com] • 2007.05.14
Jeff Thomas,

1) Is it safe to assume you recorded your version of "Don't Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll" in 1970 with the b-side "Bad Day This Year" on Bell #942

2) Assume assumption #1 is correct, did Bell also release another single of yours that same year "Satisfied / Bad Day This Year" on catalog #948

3) I assume you also recorded Douglas Dane's song "Where Do They Come From?" on Bell #354

4) Long Shots - May have been different person with same name:

4a. Did you release "I Keep It Hid / Happy Just to be With You" on Warner-Seven Arts #7227

4b. What about the soul-sounding "Put Your Love On Me / Dream of Me" on Charter Records #1016.

5) I was trying to compile your discography & write a small bio on you here -> http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/jeff_thomas

But internet info on you is scarce.

Lastly, but most self serving with regards my own curiosity: If you own the rights to your old recordings (namely the track that's the topic of this thread), have you ever considered self-releasing a CD - Perhaps on an artist friendly site like http://cdbaby.com/search

John [JohnBuckWLD cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2007.06.05
Jeff Thomas,

1) Is it safe to assume you recorded your version of "Don't Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll" in 1970 with the b-side "Bad Day This Year" on Bell #942

2) Assume assumption #1 is correct, did Bell also release another single of yours that same year "Satisfied / Bad Day This Year" on catalog #948

3) I assume you also recorded Douglas Dane's song "Where Do They Come From?" on Bell #354

4) Long Shots - May have been different person with same name:

4a. Did you release "I Keep It Hid / Happy Just to be With You" on Warner-Seven Arts #7227

4b. What about the soul-sounding "Put Your Love On Me / Dream of Me" on Charter Records #1016.

5) I was trying to compile your discography & write a small bio on you here -> http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/jeff_thomas

But internet info on you is scarce.

Lastly, but most self serving with regards my own curiosity: If you own the rights to your old recordings (namely the track that's the topic of this thread), have you ever considered self-releasing a CD - Perhaps on an artist friendly site like http://cdbaby.com/search

John [JohnBuckWLD cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2007.06.05
Thanks for the background on this GREAT song! I saw Long John perform this in the early 70's in San Bernardino Calif. (Swing Auditorium), and he absolutely kicked ass. He had injured his ankle and was in a cast up to his knee, but it did nothing to slow him down! He was alll over that stage and though he wasn't headlining, he stole the show. I used to play the 'It Ain't Easy' cassette on my way to work in the mornings. 'Conditiona;l Discharge' leading into 'Don't try to lay no Boogie Woogie..." alwys got me pumped up for the day. I've since rec'd my CD of It Ain't Easy, and it's tops on my ipod. Thanks Jeff Thomas, Great song!! Thanks to Andrew Myers for arranging this Long John performance and producing & posting the video on youtube!!

dmartens [dmartens2 cxe mac punkto com] • 2007.08.07
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