Tuesday, May 31, 2016

40 Year Itch : Irene Good Night

James Booker : Good Night Irene

Ry Cooder : Goodnight Irene

Sensational Alex Harvey Band : Goodnight Irene

   There were three major recordings of the Leadbelly classic, "Goodnight Irene", in 1976. Made famous by The Weavers, who hit #1 in 1950 with a sanitized version, the song is full of suicidal fantasies like"sometimes I take a great notion/ to jump in the river and drown". Leadbelly performed the original version while incarcerated at Angola ( Louisiana State Prison). 

   The first version is from James Booker's classic Junco Partner, which is mostly recorded by Booker alone in a New Orleans studio with the legendary Joe Boyd producing.

  On his terrific 1976 album, Chicken Skin Music, Ry Cooder delivers  "Goodnight Irene" in the more traditional 3/4 time with San Antonio's Flaco Jimenez on accordion. 

   Our final version comes from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band's Penthouse Tapes, a collection of hard partying covers ( including The Osmonds' "Crazy Horses") performed mostly tongue-in-cheek. Harvey scratched out some thoughts on each song for the liner notes. 
     Of "Goodnight Irene" he wrote "written by the immortal Huddy Ledbetter--wrote it he did in jail for the Governor's daughter- gave him an immediate pardon-don't believe me ask your history teacher- if he don't know find another school".


Keith Moon in rare form on this date in 1976.

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