Tuesday, January 08, 2013

THE PLOT THICKENS


OK folks, there's been a few new developments here since I did that big update on Case One last Summer...

Our man out on the coast, Nick Danger (Third Eye), wrote in with this; "I’m in the middle of reading your piece on Joe Haywood, and had to take a stab at your question about 'Warm & Tender Love' co-writer Clara Thompson. In my database, the authors of this song are listed as Bobby Robinson and Irral Ida Berger. No Clara Thompson..." The database Nick is referring to is the one at Universal, which is where he works. I'd say it's a pretty reliable one! Nevertheless, here is how the song is listed at BMI:


"It looks like Berger & Thompson co-wrote a few Joe Simon numbers and the Irral label’s releases were almost entirely limited to Joe’s singles...

"Anyway, I look into Joe Simon... and Joe’s first recordings were for Hush Records – owned by Garrie and Clara Thompson! Does this answer questions or just pose new ones? Who is Irral Ida Berger??" Who, indeed! As it turns out, Garrie and Clara Thompson started out as talent scouts and promoters in a town called Sunnyvale, California, which is just outside of San Jose. Their pet project was a kid by the name of Benn Joe Zeppa, who was kind of a teen sensation in and around the Bay Area in the late fifties. In 1958, they started up the Hush label, originally as an outlet for Zeppa's recordings. In 1959, they signed a vocal group named The Golden Tones, a group which included a young kid named Joe Simon. Impressed with his talent, the Thompsons soon recorded him as a solo act, releasing four singles on him for the label.

Like Nick said, I'm not sure who Irral Ida Berger was, but at this point he joined forces with Clara Thompson as a songwriter, and Simon's next release would be the one on Irral. Our man Sir Shambling has an excellent page over at Deep Soul Heaven on Joe, and I lifted the scan at left of Simon's subsequent release from him. I don't know anything about the Gee Bee label, but I'm guessing that our man Irral Ida was behind it. This is the 45 that essentially launched Joe Simon's career and, as you'll soon see dear detectives, one that would cause all kinds of problems later on!


The above is from the liner notes to a 1995 Charly R&B Masters release. The first mention of the single in Billboard is on September 12, 1964, and within a month the Vee-Jay release had 'peaked' at 102.



VEE-JAY 609

My Adorable One

Sir Shambling himself got in touch last month with this; "Further to our recent discussions on this topic, I came across something of relevance in the notes to the Joe Simon Ace CD Mr Shout which were written by Alec Palao. He says: 'An immediate postscript to Joe leaving (Garrie) Thompson was the appearance of Percy Sledge's Warm And Tender Love, as much a blatant copy of My Adorable One as Simon's own When I'm Gone, and a Top 20 hit in August 1966. Duane Music pursued the publisher, who at first denied any plagiarism, but eventually settled out of court for a 50% split in the early 70s'

VEE-JAY 663

When I'm Gone

"Well When I'm Gone is indeed a dead ringer for My Adorable One, but I'm not so sure about their resemblance to Warm And Tender Love. I certainly wouldn't describe either tune as a 'blatant copy'. In fact listening to the whole of the Mr Shout CD last night I was still in the dark about which, if any, Joe Simon cut could have been the source of the dispute. I definitely didn't get My Adorable One as the source, but that's all probably an issue with my ears..."


Be that as it may, there is no mention in either set of liner notes of our man Joe Haywood's original December 1964 version of Warm And Tender Love, and I certainly wouldn't call the Sledge August 1966 version an 'immediate postscript' to Joe Simon being picked up by Vee-Jay two years before... but here's the part that really kind of blows my mind:

from ATLANTIC SD8125

My Adorable One

Percy Sledge actually cut his own version of My Adorable One for the When a Man Loves A Woman LP, which was released in June of 1966! This would certainly seem to indicate that everyone involved, from Jerry Wexler to Percy to Bobby Robinson had to have noticed the 'blatant' similarity of the song to Warm And Tender Love, which Atlantic would release as a single within a month, sending it straight into the top five on the R&B charts! What gives?



Interestingly, when Joe Simon appeared on The!!!!Beat around the same time, he chose to lip-sync (rather badly) to My Adorable One, rather than to his own recent hits, Let's Do It Over and Teenager's Prayer, no doubt in an attempt to get in on Sledge's recent recording of it, and to point out its similarity to his current hit.

So, my friends, regardless of the fact that Irral Ida and Clara settled out of court with Bobby Robinson 'in the early 70s' for half of the songwriting and publishing on it, how does one account for the claim that it was Joe Haywood who wrote Warm And Tender Love in the first place?

Well, although we'll never know for sure at this point, here's my theory; We know that John Richbourg was a big Joe Simon man, and was instrumental in getting Vee-Jay to cut him at Fame before the collapse of the label, and John's resultant signing of him to Sound Stage 7. I'm sure John R 'stayed on' My Adorable One, and played the hell out of When I'm Gone as well. It's not much of a stretch to imagine the young Haywood in Spartanburg hearing both songs on clear-channel WLAC, picking up some elements of the melody, adding the lyrics he had written years earlier, and presenting the song to Bobby Robinson once he arrived in New York in late 1964. Robinson, for his part, had probably never heard the obscure Joe Simon records, and made whatever deal he made with Haywood that allowed him to claim the composer's credit as his own. I imagine he figured he didn't have much to lose a year and a half later when he offered it to Wexler, probably giving him a better deal on the publishing than Atlantic could have wrangled with Berger and Thompson.

The fact that Bobby rolled over so easily, and gave up half his rights later on, may indeed indicate that he saw it as some kind of Karma - and half is more than Joe Haywood ever got...

Thank You Nick and John for your continued interest and support!

1/13/13:

Well, folks, Detective Ray left this in the comments...

"I quote from Alec Palao's liner notes to Ace CDCHD 663: '. . Joe's next record appeared on the Irral imprint, a vanity label set up by the Thompsons for a songwriting friend of theirs, Irral "Swingin' Granny" Berger, about eighty years old at the time. With money to spare, Berger agreed to pay for the session if Simon would record her collaborations with Clara Thompson' and later on he refers to 'another Berger-financed subsidiary Gee Bee'"

Now, how about that? You know, the fact that 'Ida' was Berger's middle name should have tipped me off! 'Our man Irall Ida' was actually a woman! If she was 'about eighty years old' forty years ago, I imagine she's no longer with us...

Great work, Ray, thanks! ...and thank you Swingin' Granny Berger for everything!

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Nick G. said...

Fascinating as always, Red! It's amazing how pulling on a little thread seven years ago started all of this. I still want to know who Irral Ida might be but I think that's a job for another detective.

I can't believe I'm going to say this but I have to disagree with Sir Shambling. I do hear the through-line from "My Adorable One" to "When I'm Gone" to "Warm & Tender Love." Maybe my copyright antennae are hypersensitive from years of working for The Man.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Ray Astbury said...

I quote from Alec Palao's liner notes to Ace CDCHD 663: ". . Joe's next record appeared on the Irral imprint, a vanity label set up by the Thompson's for a songwriting friend of theirs, Irral "Swingin' Granny" Berger, about eighty years old at the time. With money to spare, Berger agreed to pay for the session if Simon would record her collaborations with Clara Thompson" and later on he refers to "another Berger-financed subsidiary Gee Bee"

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Nick G. said...

Thanks for solving the Irral mystery, Ray. Now I want to hear "Little Gypsy Mine" by the Swingin' Granny!

5:07 PM  
Blogger Private Beach said...

After I read all this, YouTube led me to James Carr's magnificent version of "My Adorable One'. Wonderful stuff.

7:01 AM  
Anonymous Brian Phillips said...

Dear Soul Detective,
I never, EVER thought I would post to this forum, but here is more information on Irral Berger.

Not surprisingly, she recorded for her own label.

Always of You Alone/Mother's Old Rocking Chair is Irral 800 and it is credited to "Swingin' Granny" and the Skyliners Band. Both sides are written by Berger.

The above is on eBay and there are sound samples. Listen at your own risk.

Picture sleeve here:
http://www.45cat.com/record/nc528807us

Lovely Moon of my Dreams/Little Gypsy Mine is Irral 801 and it is credited to Hugh the Drummer Boy and the Galaunts.

There is a picture (a small one, if you don't have a subscription) to be had of Irral Berger here:
http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/36478969/

The article shows her at a piano. The text says, "Practicing for Prison Debut Mrs. Irral Berger, better known as "Swingin' Granny," practices in her log cabin home near Snoqualmie, Wash., for New Year's Eve appearance at San Quentin Prison.

The boys at San Quentin Prison are in for a New Year's treat with an old-fangled beat.

"Swingin' Granny" has been booked for their New Year's Eve show. as the headliner "Granny, or off-stage, Mrs. Irral Berger, 80, may give them a little "Hard Day's Night" or flip into some of her originals, "Mother's Old Rocking Chair" and "Always of You Alone."

"I don't really like to go on the road, but I keep getting all these bookings," Mrs. Berger explains.

The gently-smiling great-grandmother would seem an unlikely entertainer for prison inmates, but her piano ditties and tinkling voice are a favorite in the Northwest and have already drawn two television appearances.

Mrs. Berger was brought here from Wisconsin when she was 14. She began having unlikely experiences right away.

"My parents moved to Issaquah (Washington) before the turn of the century. We were here only a few days when some gypsies stole me."

The gypsies returned her a year later, Mrs. Berger says, leaving her with a wandering spirit.

She and her husband settled near here and built a log cabin, in which she still lives. She tried her hand at nursing, switched to teaching music and, when her husband died 16 years ago, began doing road shows.

"One day my daughters asked me to record some of my songs for my great-grandchildren," she says. The record was played for some show-business producers "and before long I was touring the country."

What are the inmates likely to hear as the old year fades?

The little, white-haired lady pulled her crocheted shawl over her shoulders and began beating out her newest tune, "Do Dipty".

It's going to be a real hit, she said."

Another picture and article here:
http://www.heritageimages.com/archive/Mrs%20Irral%20Berger%20-%20Song%20writer-2CKNU0A9CEDXZ.html

Incomplete discography here:
http://nwmusicarchives.com/label/irral-records/

According to this article:
http://newspaperarchive.com/us/california/oakland/oakland-tribune/1970/09-22/page-20


Berger was born in Wisconsin and her kidnapping by the gypsies sparked her love of music.

Berger had written 300 songs and released, "When You Are Near and My Yiddish Annabelle", as well as the "Irral Waltz" and "Da-Dippty" (is THAT the right spelling?)

6:05 AM  
Anonymous Brian Phillips said...

...and I see a post stating that she passed in 1978.

6:10 AM  
Blogger Red Kelly said...

Wow, Brian, great!!

Who knew?

One question, though, why didn't you think you would EVER post on Soul D?? We're gald to have you, brother!

6:11 AM  

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