An intoxicated and bleary-eyed Jayne Mansfield parties with Mamie van Doren (check out Mamie's outrageously fake wighat). Jayne looks the way I feel
This might be a bit of a rush job: I fly to Vegas for the annual Easter rockabilly weekender Viva Las Vegas early morning on 20 April and want to blog this set list while it's still fresh in my mind.
I’m the first to admit this night wasn’t one of my better ones: lots of technical glitches to feel anxious about (i.e. with the microphone, the decks themselves, and will I ever work out how the stage lights at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern work?!). Plus the RVT is synonymous with still-agonising romantic disappointment for me (don’t worry, I’ll spare you the details) and as a result I drink one helluva lot more there while DJ’ing, which probably impacts on things. Hopefully the music didn’t come across as too disjointed and erratic.
Musically what I’m really feeling at the moment is moody, atmospheric 1950s heartbreak ballads, the kind with lots of echo on the singer’s voice and ghostly rockabilly guitar: think Eddie Cochran’s "Half Loved", “The Strangeness in Me” by The Runabouts and the eerie “Flower of My Heart” by Sparkle Moore. (I’m kicking myself for not packing “The Fire of Love” by Jody Reynolds – something I’ll rectify next time). "Mess of Blues" is one of my favourite Elvis ballads. “Nobody Knows” by The Earls of Suave packs a boozy sense of regret I can certainly relate to these days.
I wrote recently about my love for the turbulent Turners, but I didn’t realise Ike and Tina ever did a version of “Love Letters” until recently. The song is something of a pop standard, covered by everyone from Elvis, Peggy Lee, Julie London and of course Kitty Lester, whose hushed, gospel-inflected version was used so hauntingly by David Lynch in Blue Velvet. Ike and Tina's rendition couldn't sound less like a typical Ike and Tina number: it opens with a swirl of sugary strings and the Ikettes sound almost angelic, contrasting nicely with the sandpaper rasp of Tina's voice. Her delivery initially starts quite measured but within no time she’s in full roar, tearing the song apart with her bare hands – you’ll never hear a more urgent version of “Love Letters!”
The inimitable Ophelia Bitz was the emcee again this time. This night featured a burlesque performer (Lady Cave, who’s Australian and sports a black patent leather Louise Brooks bob) and the model Tiffany Chin-Sim. For her pose Tiffany wore a spangled belly dancer costume, so needless to say I played Eartha Kitt’s “Uska Dara” and exotica like “Camel Walk” by The Saxons and “Lust” by Les Baxter, featuring the Yma Sumac-like wails, growls and screams of Bas Sheva.
Nobody Knows - The Earls of Suave The Flower of My Heart - Sparkle Moore Mess of Blues - Elvis Presley Reconsider Me - Margaret Lewis Love Letters - Ike and Tina Turner Love Oh Love - Little Esther Two-Timing Loser - Johnny Thunders and Patti Paladin The Strangeness in Me - The Runabouts Harbour Lights - Dinah Washington Sea of Love - The Earls of Suave Stop and Listen - Mickey and Ludella Fury's Tune - Billy Fury Tiger - Sparkle Moore Half-Loved - Eddie Cochran Willow Weep for Me - Lizabeth Scott Ebb Tide - Al Anthony Solitude - Eartha Kitt Les Amours Perdue - Serge Gainsbourg If I Should Lose You - George Shearing The Thrill is Gone - Chet Baker I'm Through with Love - Marilyn Monroe I Almost Lost My Mind - Bill Black Combo Night Scene - The Rumblers The Beast - Milt Buckner Monkey Bird - The Revels Fever - Nancy Sit Comin' Home - The Delmonas No Good Lover - Mickey and Sylvia Mondo Moodo - The Earls of Suave Aged & Mellow - Little Esther Jungle Walk - The Dyna-Sores Makin' Out - Jody Reynolds I Wanna See You Dance - Hank Stirrup and Chet Tendon Gizmo - Jimmy Heaps Suey - Jayne Mansfield Baby Doll Mambo - Belmonte and His Afro-American Music Catwalk - Jack Constanzo Uska Dara - Eartha Kitt Camel Walk - The Saxons Frenzy - The Hindus Lust - Les Baxter You Know I'm No Good - Wanda Jackson That's Why I'm Askin' - Carl Dobkins Jr Salamander - Mamie van Doren Wait a Minute, Baby - Esquerita Snow Surfin' Matador - Jan Davis Nicotine - The Vikings Tu veux ou tu veux pas - Brigitte Bardot Fever - Timi Yuro Teach Me Tonight - Dinah Washington Harlem Nocturne - Martin Denny I Feel So Mmmm - Diana Dors Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - Mallet Men C'est si Bon - April Stevens Bachelor's Paradise - Ann-Margret Crawlin' - The Untouchables Torture Rock - The Rockin' Belmarx One Night of Sin - Elvis Presley Shangri-la - Spike Jones New Band Beat Girl - Adam Faith (Beat Girl soundtrack) Like a Baby - Wanda Jackson Mack the Knife - Hildegard Knef Jealousy - Billy Fury Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - Nina Simone