Other people’s songs: Step it up and Go

Songs selected By Aaron Galbraith; commentary by Tony Attwood

Aaron: Bob Dylan recorded “Step It Up and Go” for his 1992 album “Good as I Been to You”. His interpretation has been described as being similar to Blind Boy Fuller’s version, although writer Brian Hinton believes “he probably knew it via the Everly Brothers”.

Tony:  The introductory guitar part was taught to me as “Boogie Woogie” and was the first piano music beside that from the classical romantic repertoire (that I learned because I came from a musical family, although my dad was a dance band musician as well as knowing the classical repertoire).  It is a the accompaniment to millions of songs.

Now as it happens just as I had written that little paragraph above my phone rang and in passing I mentioned what I was currently writing and to my surprise my pal didn’t fully know what the boogie woogie style was, and actually accused me of making the phrase up!  As if I would!!

But anyway, here’s some piano work that I would call boogie  Incidentally once they get going around the 2 minut mark, the two guys clapping their hands are actually doing it properly on the off beats – the second and fourth beat of the bar.  Many people wrongly clap on beats 1 and 3.

Anyway back to Bob,….

Aaron: Originally the song was called Bottle It Up and Go – I was going to include a very early version however some of the lyrics are a little bit unsavory.

Tony: That’s never stopped us before unless they are racist, in which case I’m with you Aaron – and besides this column is your show, so I follow your lead…

Aaron: Here is Blind Boy Fuller’s version

Tony: Oh I love this – it really takes me back to my early days trying to make a living in music.    I love the accompaniment too – is that a washboard and spoons?

Aaron: The Everly Brothers recorded an uptempo version of the song, which is the opening track on their 1962 album Instant Party!

Tony: I do still adore the Everley’s harmonies, but so often I feel that sometimes they could have done with a better arranger who just let them do their thing.   The drumming is fine, but the guitar is a bit too plinky plonk for my taste.  And the seemingly obligatory key jerk upwards seems unnecessary.   All a bit of a rush.

Aaron: Leon Redbone released it on two albums in a row in the early 80s… I couldn’t decide which one was best so I included both! (Tony- feel free to just include the one you like best!).  From Branch To Branch in 1981

Tony: Aaron – I’d never dare remove one of your choices, unless it was because it is only available for you in the US and not for me in the UK.

From Branch To Branch in 1981

This really has an authentic sound even though the style of the arrangement is not something you would have found in the earlier days.  Love the clarinet: what a clever idea.

Aaron: From Mystery Man in 1982

Tony: That’s a surprise at the start, when we have got so used to everything moving at hyper speed.  But then we get going and it sounds to me as if they even speed up a bit – but my time keeping has become notoriously awful as the years advance, so maybe not.

This has been great fun – one of the best.  It is such a simple song, but it really challenges the musicians to show that they can keep up the pace while making it entertaining throughout.  It is much harder than it sounds.

Actually I just went back and played the Dylan version again – in the light of what we have heard here, it sounds positively sedate – if you have a moment having got this far, do go back and listen again.  It really does show the song from a different point of view.

And that’s a thought Aaron: maybe we ought to look at the Dylan song last, so we hear the antecedents that Bob would have heard and which drove him to his version.

I’ll leave that with you – you’re the boss on this series.

Footnote:Aside from this blog, Untold Dylan also has a very active (and excellently moderated) Facebook page.  If you don’t know it just go to your search engine and type in Facebook Untold Dylan.

Previously in this series…

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