Kenny G.'s Revenge

Smooth-jazz fans blast Racket

You kind of have to wonder about the editorial staff of the Press -- they yearn for Houston to be a world-class city. Your paper criticizes the Chron (rightly) for their faux pas and then your lead music columnist (you) is someone who listens to 40-year-old C&W 78 rpm records? Not exactly what I would call cutting edge.

I'm not saying that contemporary jazz is everyone's bill of fare, but I can observe that the Houston "music" scene is nothing but country, hard rock and Tejano. Where's the balance in this?

I think that you belong somewhere out in Montgomery County heights, tucked in with all the other 'necks. Perhaps you can start a paper out there. Then I would never have to suffer the fate of reading your hackneyed journalism again.

Well, I better let you go. It's time for you and Miz Ellie to go slop the hogs. Perhaps you can try your new jackboots out on the sheep in a couple of hours… -- Jim Smith

And hello to you, too, Jim. Guess KTSU's "Jazz in All its Colors" slogan is just another example of false advertising. As for yearning to be a "world-class city," that's the folks over at the Chron, not us. And a smooth-jazz station is just the sort of mock-sophisticated claptrap they would think brings us that much closer to that pitifully insecure goal. Oh, well, off to Montgomery County. The Victrola needs winding, the cows need stump-breaking, and there's a pile of Dave Koz records I need to break my jackboots in on.

Scuttlebutt Caboose

Last month Austin Chronicle scribe Greg Beets conducted a poll to attempt to quantify the Top 40 Texas singles from 1955 to 2001. Surveys were dispatched to 22 folks in the know, including Texas and national music writers and two Austin musicians who have cracked the Billboard Top 40 (Butthole Surfer King Coffey and Fastball's Tony Scalzo). Beets stipulated that the song had to have made the actual Billboard Pop Top 40, which disqualified, among many, many others, the 13th Floor Elevators' ever-popular psycho rave-up "You're Gonna Miss Me." Houston natives did just middlin' well: Baytown-born, El Paso-bred Bobby Fuller came at No. 4 with "I Fought the Law," which was followed by Archie Bell & the Drells' "Tighten Up" at No. 5. Brookshire-bred Dobie Gray's "Drift Away" was 30th, one slot ahead of the Geto Boys' "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me" and three above Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now." "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers came in at No. 39, while ZZ Top's "Tush" brought up the, ahem, rear.

Houston's Sugar Hill Studios did better: Sir Douglas Quintet's "She's About a Mover" (No. 3) was recorded there, as were the Freddy Fender smashes "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" (No. 7) and "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" (No. 23), not to mention longtime Houston resident Roy Head's "Treat Her Right" (No. 13), the Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace" (No. 19), Bubble Puppy's "Hot Smoke & Sassafras" (No. 29) and Sonny & the Sunglows' "Talk to Me" (No. 34). Other tunes affiliated with H-town through their labels were Bobby Bland's "Turn On Your Love Light" (No. 16), Barbara Lynn's "You'll Lose a Good Thing" (No. 15), and SDQ's "Mendocino" (No. 26).

Clearly, the chart skewed old, a flaw Beets acknowledged in his November 8 article. The rankings also skewed pretty Caucasian. Left off and eligible were Johnny Ace's "Pledging My Love," Charles Brown's "Merry Christmas Baby," King Curtis's "Memphis Soul Stew," Esther Phillips's "Release Me," Sly & The Family Stone's "Everyday People" and "Family Affair," and Joe Tex's "Hold What You've Got," "Show Me" and "Skinny Legs and All." And anything by Destiny's Child. Other surprises: the omissions of Johnny Horton's "Battle of New Orleans" and Delbert McClinton's "Giving It Up for Your Love." Not so surprising, the works of Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Martin Murphey, Seals & Crofts, Christopher Cross, Vanilla Ice, B.J. Thomas and Mac Davis didn't make the cut. And neither did Don Henley. As much as it racks Racket to say this, "The Boys of Summer" should be on there somewhere. And did you know that Stevie Ray Vaughan never cracked the Top 100, much less the Top 40? And oh, yeah, in case you were wondering about the No. 1 song (drum roll, please): "96 Tears" by ? & the Mysterians, which beat out "That'll Be the Day" by Buddy Holly & the Crickets.

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