Saturday, September 6, 2014

Audio Rumble List - Top 10 Songs Covered by Tommy Conwell

          DJ Caterina is a list girl – and once again, she’s gone too far! A list of Audio Rumble's favorite songs covered by Tommy Conwell with the Young Rumblers, Little Kings, solo, etc. Compiled by my iTunes playlist and some from memory. I'll also post a source of the artist version that may have inspired each song (just a guess, really)…and if you think I’m choosing the obvious, you might be surprised.
          And because I couldn’t keep the number to just 10, check out the honorable mentions, too. If you have your own faves, let’s hear about them on Facebook!
10. You Can't Sit Down - David Uosikkinen's In the Pocket

Source: The Dovells

          Look. I'm going to be honest. Tommy Conwell is my favorite part of seeing In the Pocket live. 

*audience gasp*
          Yes, yes...but this is a great song, Tommy makes it his own, and we can enjoy the other great Philly musicians, right?

9. Little Sister - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Elvis Presley
          …hey, Tommy called that little sister a what? Well, Hall and Oates also used that word in “Rich Girl” -- but maybe Elvis Presley himself should have included the b-word into this Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman-penned classic. It really works!
          Recorded l
ive at Gatsby's (Penn State) on April 10, 1987, this performance has the energy of what encompasses a lot of the five-piece band as they toured that year supporting Walkin' on the Water – a little bit rebellious, a whole lot of talent, a lot of fun – and a great band!

8. Make Believe - Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings

Source: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
           This 1999 release from LList Records is an Audio Rumble favorite and even inspired DJ Caterina to leave a review of one her favorite tracks on iTunes.

          "Conwell’s version of Joan Jett and the BlackHearts 'Make Believe' is more feminine and sweet at the chorus than the comparatively masculine original from Joan's 1981 debut album."

          But some of that sweetness may have also been inspired by a 1969 recording of 'Make Believe' - sung by Tony Orlando in a band called Wind.

7. Downtown Train - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Tom Waite
          Yes, Patty Smyth sings it beautifully and Rod Stewart released it more successfully than all the others. But this Tom Waite song has been a TCYR go-to ballad in concert for years. Also, if you were one of the lucky ones to hear the Young Rumblers perform “Downtown Train” back in May at the Ardmore Music Hall, you know this band always makes it their very own.

6. Sweet Home Chicago - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Buddy Guy
          Recorded live at NYC’s The Bottom Line on October 4, 1988, this blues classic really finds it’s rock edge – performed when the Young Rumblers were just hitting their stride and touring America with full force in support of the album Rumble in the fall of 1988.

5. Route 66 - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Chuck Berry
          Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers perform this music standard (written by American songwriter Bobby Troup in 1946) live at the historic Bayou in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 1987. 'Route 66' was also covered many times over the years by the 3-piece band, Tommy Conwell’s Young Rumblers. 

4. Big Big Love - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Nick Lowe

          As mentioned before on Audio Rumble, Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers perform "Big Big Love" live at Market St. Station in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Sept. 8, 1988.
          Plus, this concert gives you some great audio off the audience. Yeah, I think that girl is saying, "It's hot in here!" and then a guy says "How the hell are ya?"...this leads DJ Caterina to ask the rhetorical age-old concert question:

"Why are these people talking when Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers are playing live in front of them?"

*steps daintily off soap box*
          "Big Big Love" was written in 1961 by Ray Carroll and Wynn Stewart, the latter one of the originators of the Bakersfield sound. The track was also covered by Waylon Jennings in 1973, and released by Nick Lowe on the LP, Pinker and Prouder Than Previous, in 1988. The Young Rumblers add a rock-blues vibe with this performance, another great example of the band coming together so cohesively.

3. Back in the USA - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Chuck Berry
          Are we seeing a theme here? Tommy doing what Tommy does best
– Chuck Berry! Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers performing a cover of Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA" at the Pennsylvania State Fair, in Bensalem, PA, Memorial Day 1989.

2. King of the Road - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers

Source: Roger Miller
          Another cover from Tommy Conwell that does justice to the Roger Miller original. Since Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers concert at the Electric Factory in 2012, this song has been in the setlist, performed just as it was in this live 1987 version, as a number during Tommy’s acoustic set.
          Sidebar: 'King of the Road' was also notably covered by Joe Strummer in live performances.

1. (TIE) Space Cowboy | Time Has Come Today - TCYR

Yes, it’s a tie! How else could an Audio Rumble list end?

Space Cowboy

Source: Steve Miller Band

          This version of Space Cowboy was originally sent to me by mail in the early 2000's via Marc in Kennett Square. In what he dubbed The Rumble Mix, it's our Young Rumblers kicking up the groove on this Steve Miller song. So much of this track is a real treat to hear - you have Chris Day on guitar going full-out metal on that guitar riff and Tommy singing in a lower vocal register – who told him to stop singing that way? 

 Time Has Come Today

Source: The Ramones

          There is a history of Tommy Conwell performing this Chambers Brothers  classic all the way back to the TCYR three-piece days. It's a reflection of Tommy’s love of good roots rock, roll and soul. However, this song was also covered by The Ramones, and even in concert to this day, every so often you can hear Tommy somewhat mimic Joey Ramones cool vocal.
          You’ll not find another band that covers this song so great. As Adrian Hickman so eloquently states, “More cowbell!”

Honorable Mentions:

* Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings - Poor Me 
Source: Fats Domino
* Tommy Conwell and the Dipsomaniacs - Long Live Rock  
Source: The Who

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