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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Take the A Train (BOTB)


        My fascination with trains goes back to my childhood in the Fifties.  My grandfather had worked for the railroad for a while and often talked to me about trains.   The electric train set that my parents got me for Christmas in 1957 became a yearly tradition as the layout was set up around the Christmas tree.   Each year my parents added new trains and accessories to that layout.  If there had been enough room in our house, I would have loved to have kept my trains in operation throughout the year.   I loved trains then and I remain transfixed by trains.

Postcard of the "New Olympian" passe...
Postcard of the "New Olympian" passenger train. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         When the metaphorical motto about "getting on the Trump train" came into use, it was something that I easily related to.   The campaign was a wild ride, but a well organized ride with more people getting on board at each station stop.  With the inauguration before us at the end of this week the real train ride begins.  There's still time for more of us to get on board.  I'm hoping for a pleasant ride over the next four years.  I'm sure the opposition will continue to try to obstruct the progress of the journey, but this is a powerful train that is not likely to be easily deterred.

         Still, many of you are not ready or at all interested on hoping aboard the Trump Train.   So let's forget about that train for a while and ride a different train to a different place.   Let's take the A Train down to Harlem...


Battle of the Bands


         Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.


Take the A Train

      This is one of the signature tunes of the Duke Ellington Orchestra.  "Take the A Train" was composed by Billy Strayhorn and Duke's son Mercer Ellington in order to circumvent high ASCAP broadcasting royalty fees.  The title is a reference to taking the new A train rather than the D train as the best way get to Harlem and Sugar Hill from Brooklyn. A popular account says that the title was inspired by instructions that Duke gave to Strayhorn in order to get to his house.

      Strayhorn claimed to have written lyrics for the song, but the first recorded vocal version had lyrics composed by (or for) The Delta Rhythm Boys, whose version I'm using as the first offering in my second Band Battle of 2017.   For reference purposes, I've offered for your listening pleasure a 1943 version of Duke Ellington and his Orchestra performing the song in the film Reveille with Beverly.

Don't Vote on this version, please!!!   For reference only...





Here are the versions to vote on...

The Delta Rhythm Boys  "Take the A Train"  (1942?)

        I love this video!  This version of "A Train" is a step back in time.  Great harmonies done with style, "The A Train" doesn't get much better than this.  Seeing as I can't hop on a time machine I'm happy to let this video take me back   These guys are the real deal.  What do you think?

       





Chicago  "Take the A Train" (1995)

      On Night and Day, their acclaimed album collection of big band standards, Chicago reached back into the past with updated recordings of classic jazz tunes. Chicago pays tribute to the big band sound while pushing into the realm of psychedelia as it goes into territory the "A Train" never went before.  See if you think this is as cool as I think it is.





Time To Vote!

        The song versions in this Battle were recorded over 50 years apart providing very different musical takes on the same song.  Which version do you like the best?   


        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.


Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:


 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ 

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 
  
J. A. Scott  



Winner Announced on Monday January 23rd

      There will be another couple of posts in my President Trump Acclimation Series in the upcoming week. They will continue to be harsh as have been the preceding two entries, though those posts generated some excellent discussion. My wish is not to condemn anyone or any group, but to inform and raise what I think are some important points that are often ignored by most people. Then on January 23rd it will be back to my more important concern, Battle of the Bands. At that time we'll see what you readers have opined about the two song versions to be voted on in the above post. Please vote!

        Do you like trains?   Have you ever taken a train trip or do you commute via train?  Would you like to see a resurgence in affordable efficient passenger train travel?  



53 comments:

  1. How trains have changed over the years Lee?
    I choose "Take The A Train" by
    Chicago.
    Great choice to choose from.

    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yvonne, I've heard that Europe still has a decent train system. The U.S. should do the same.

      First vote goes to Chicago

      Lee

      Delete
  2. Great battle! Just this week, Joseph and I were talking about a variety of topics for the blog, and out of the blue, he tells me he wants to do a post about train songs. And now, both you and Stephen have train songs in your battles. The planets must be aligning!

    I liked Chicago's version best. I felt it was a nicely done updated version of the original (Duke Ellington) and I love how they incorporated the big band feeling into the song.

    ~Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary, there's a lot of train songs from which to choose. When Stephen and I are on the same track then something indeed must be going on.

      Again it's Chicago

      Lee

      Delete
  3. I love trains. My mom refused to fly anywhere so we had no choice but to travel by train when I was a kid. I grew up across the street from RR tracks. I love the sound of the whistle too. I was able to hear it from my house in WA, down in the valley and I can hear it in town from my house here. We have a RR bridge that lowers to let them cross the Canal. I love watching that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JoJo, I never took an actual commercial passenger train until I was in my twenties and that was a real treat when I rode one that first time as well as the later trips I took. Now I guess we hear mostly the sound of diesel horns coming from the trains, but the whistle sound brings back another time and place when trains were the kings of transportation.

      Lee

      Delete
  4. Not hopping on that Trump train, but I did enjoy both renditions of the "A Train" song. When I lived in Europe, travelling by train was a favourite form of transportation. There's something romantic about. ☺ The Delta Rhythm Boys had that typical 1940s feel and sound, but Chicago turned it into something more jazzy and contemporary. Very cool! Please give my vote to Chicago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie D, Europe has an upper hand on passenger train travel. I'd love to take a train from L.A. to somewhere like New York, but when I researched it last the ride was mostly unavailable. I guess there's just not the demand in the U.S.

      Preference for the updated sound of Chicago.

      Lee

      Delete
  5. My vote goes to the Delta Rhythm Boys.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pop Tart, noted...

      A needed vote for Delta Rhythm Boys.

      Lee

      Delete
  6. I'll take DRB. Sounded much more natural to the song.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CW, gotta admit that the fellas have got style.

      A vote for Delta Rhythm Boys

      Lee

      Delete
  7. I have always liked Chicago and I like their version of this song but I really enjoyed the Delta Rhythm Boys version. It was fun and the video is fantastic! I don't know how much the video influenced my vote. It may have. but I just enjoyed their version of the song as it takes me on a time-travel trip. So I'm giving my vote to Delta Rhythm Boys.
    Fun battle! I too love trains. I love the sound of trains, especially hearing them in the wee hours of the morning, traveling the tracks. I've only been on a train once, taking it from Washington DC to Atlantic City. Of course I've been on subways a lot but I don't consider them traditional trains, like long-distance trains.
    Interesting how I am so fond of hearing trains now because when I was a child, I could hear a train in the middle of the night and for some reason it always scared me. I don't know why. I just remember being scared of that sound. Now I love it! Weird.

    Michele at Angels Bark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michele, I've taken a number of rides here in Los Angeles on the light rail which becomes a subway as it gets in the downtown area. I enjoy taking that ride, though I'm glad I don't have to commute on it everyday.

      There is an eerieness to hearing a train at night. Sometimes in summer when we have our windows open I'm awakened by the sound of the train that passes a few blocks from our house and I might remain awake for awhile just lying in bed and thinking.

      The old video of the Rhythm Boys is a lot of fun.

      A vote for Delta Rhythm Boys.

      Lee

      Delete
  8. LEE ~
    Yep, I like trains, too. But I never had an electric train set running around my Christmas tree. That is so cool and paints such a traditional mental picture.

    I'm all but certain I have 'Take The A Train' on my list of 'FUTURE BOTB SONGS' as well. But I have other artists lined up for it, so I'll probably still do it someday further on down the track.

    These were great selections and I really liked them both. But... as much as I love group vocals and harmonizing, I gotta cast my vote for CHICAGO. Man, those horns! The power in that instrumental really did seem to symbolize the indestructible force and energy of a train roaring down its track. That was great!

    I listened to both versions a second time (even though I already knew Chicago had my vote) just because I enjoyed them both so much. And I really dug the contrast between the two in how they were arranged and approached the tune. Excellent, excellent Battle, Lee!

    ~ D-FensDogG
    Check out my new blog @
    (Link:] Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews...



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. STMcC, I'm surprised that "A Train" hasn't been used yet, but there are so many great versions tht one could keep this song cycling in Battles for many months. I lined up a lot of potential versions to use before settling on these two. Glad you enjoyed them.

      A vote for Chicago.

      Lee

      Delete
  9. I need a more modern sound - Chicago gets my vote.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alex, your pick was the modern one for sure...

      Chicago.

      Lee

      Delete
  10. We live a block away from the train station, which they elevated a few years ago so now we see and hear every train that goes by. I do like riding the train. We usually take that way in to SF to see the Giants play. Not yet hopping on that Trump train, but appreciate your efforts to try and make it less frightening. I vote for Delta Rhythm Boys.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janet, if I lived in walking distance of a station, I'd be taking the train far more often than I do now.

      Delta Rhythm Boys.

      Lee

      Delete
  11. These were both excellent and I loved the contrast in their renditions. I'm a vocals gal 95% of the time. This is no different. The DRB had me right from the beginning. Great harmonies. Great energy. Great sound. They get my vote.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robin, Those vocals really get me going too.

      Delta Rhythm Boys.

      Lee

      Delete
  12. I've always like Chicago, so I have to vote for them.

    I wouldn't mind taking a train ride, but I've never liked the sound of a train in the distance. I think I had nightmares about that sound as a kid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. L.Diane, I'm glad Chicago has kept that great sound that first brought them into the limelight.

      Chicago.

      Lee

      Delete
  13. I liked both but Chicago definitely wins it for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat, I'm having a difficult time deciding.

      For you it's Chicago

      Lee

      Delete
  14. My brother had a hobby train and a circus wagon growing up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shelly, not sure exactly what a "hobby train" means or what a "circus wagon" like a child might own is, but they sound good to me.

      lee

      Delete
  15. I vote for Chicago. Still each version had their own unique sound.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sheena-kay, these two versions are worlds apart stylistically, but both are excellent.

      Chicago.

      Lee

      Delete
  16. From Facebook, my cousin Tom casts a vote for...

    Delta Rhythm Boys

    lee

    ReplyDelete
  17. Lee,

    What an excellent cover song for this BoTB round! I didn't know this song even the one performed by my favorite 70s group, Chicago. I like their cover. They do an excellent bringing an oldie forward with a lot of class with their horns and modern sound. I could almost hear the train choo-chooing down the track. The Delta Rhythm Boys have superior harmonies. Their cover made me feel happy listening to it and I can see myself just dancing right onto that "A Train". So, I reckon as much as I love Chicago on this song I have to go with The Delta Rhythm Boys. Please give my vote to them!

    Now allow me to answer your questions....

    Do you like trains? Oh definitely!

    Have you ever taken a train trip or do you commute via train? No, but sometimes I daydream about traveling by train that has private sleeping compartments.

    Would you like to see a resurgence in affordable efficient passenger train travel? Oh sure, especially if we got serious about taking a train trip like I mentioned in the previous question.

    Thanks for sharing your fun battle cover song and questions today. Also, thanks for stopping by to vote in my BoTB! Have a good day!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Cathy, bringing back efficiency to train travel along with affordability might encourage more people to take train trips. I once looked into traveling to Tennessee from L.A. via train, but, alas, there was nothing.

    A vote for Delta Rhythm Boys.

    lee

    ReplyDelete

  19. Sheboyganboy VI, whose comment apparently did not go through properly, emailed it to me:

    Lee, this is a wonderful musical treat! I would not have sought out or listened to these on my own. Not because I don't like ALL three of 'em... just that I'd not have thought to do it.

    What a truly great song. The original by Duke is just top notch, classic, all-time great. And both the other versions have something excellent going for them.

    The Delta Rhythm dudes have a smooth and nostalgic sound that always appeals to me. I am a sucker for originals, generally, and while not THE original, it is period-correct and hence close to original.

    I've always loved Chicago. I went to a drummer’s workshop a few years ago that featured a clinic by original drummer Danny Seraphine (the drummer on this album was Tris Imboden; he was awesome, as was their music. Their version of the A Train has a very funky feel to it, and as far as the arrangement and musicianship goes, I love it! Where they fall behind slightly is with the vocals. This song - to me - simply requires a better voice than Chicago has to offer, so my vote goes to the Delta Rhythm Boys.

    Although it did not sway my vote, I dig that one skinny guy’s wide-brimmed, tall-peaked fedora; also the four girls with short skirts and pointy party hats that start dancing at about 1:18.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SBB6, that video is stylistic and fun. I like those same things that you like. I mean that these cats are so cool in their dress, singing, and movements.

      Sorry about the trouble you had with commenting. Seems to happen now and then and I'm not sure what goes on with that. Thanks for forwarding the comment via email.

      A vote for Delta Rhythm Boys.

      Lee

      Delete
  20. I liked the smoothness of the Chicago version, but my vote goes to The Delta Rhythm Boys. Their version was just so fun, upbeat, and happy.

    My father has an old model train (I think Lionel) which his great-uncle George got him as a boy. There's still a little bottle of pills to put in the smokestack to produce smoke. My great-great-uncle George, who died when I was about nine and a half, was a very interesting character, and gave great presents to his nieces and nephews in place of the kids he never had.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carrie-Anne, back in my youth the main model train sets were Lionel, American Flyer (which is what I had), and HO. The Lionel was the biggest in size and ran on a track with 3 rails. Some of my toy locomotives also used the capsules for creating "smoke".

      I hear what you're saying about the difference in the versions.

      A vote for Delta Rhythm Boys.

      Lee

      Delete
  21. I once mistakenly got on the Coors Light Party Train and ended up in a catastrophic crash that claimed hundreds of lives. Someone should have told the conductor he was not supposed to be partying as hard as the passengers.

    Kidding aside, I love a good train song. My favorite is Paul Simon's Train in the Distance, but this one is pretty great as well.

    Admittedly, I don't like Chicago's sound, so The Delta Rhythm Boys get my vote by a slam dunk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beer, I'm not familiar with "Train in the Distance", but if it's by Paul Simon I'd think it would be good.

      Solid vote for Delta Rhythm Boys.

      Lee

      Delete
  22. Chicago's version was okay until the end, when it devolved into noise, something veteran Chicago listeners (like me) expect about once an album, but this wasn't where they should have put it. The Delta Rhythm Boys, on the other hand... pure magic and had me smiling and grooving on it from the first note. The Delta Rhythm Boys get the vote here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, the psychedelic breakdown at the end of the Chicago version is something like would have been on the first two albums. I kind of agree with you, but I also kind of like it.

      Another vote for Delta Rhythm Boys.

      Lee

      Delete
  23. I have to say I like the Delata Rhythm Boys better because, although I like Chicago, it went wonky at the end and was too harsh for my ears so the oldies get my vote:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Birgit, that ending of the Chicago version does get pretty wild...

      Another vote for Delta Rhythm Boys.

      Lee

      Delete
  24. I love trains, so this is especially enjoyable! I generally like Chicago tunes, but the Delta Rhythm Boys ran away with the train ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diedre, this great train race is getting heated.

      Another vote for Delta Rhythm Boys.

      Lee

      Delete
  25. Lee,
    First, thank you for posting the original version with the Duke. I sat here and loved it. It was and still is beautiful. So now to the versions to vote on.
    The first version is great. You're right. To me it has that be-bop sounds that makes you want to hop on the A Train.
    However, the Chicago version has my vote because I like the way they experiment with the psychedelic sounds in this version. I remember when this version came out in 1995. I thought then Chicago did a fantastic job covering it and I still think that.
    So Chicago gets my vote.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat, I like to offer the original when it is the most iconic, but there would probably be no contest in pitting the Duke against any other version.

      The psychedelia is not everyone's cup of tea, but I like it as well.

      A vote for Chicago.

      Lee

      Delete
  26. Chicago gets my vote on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I vote for The Delta Rhythm Boys "Take the A Train". I don't know why, exactly. It's catchier I suppose. I like the beat more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. J, sometimes there is no discernible reason why we like something other than we just do.

      You like Delta Rhythm Boys

      Lee

      Delete
  28. This time, its gonna be brief: CHICAGO!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cherdo, brief is sometimes best.

      Chicago

      Lee

      Delete

Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee