Any Major Bob Dylan Covers Vol. 2

December 1st, 2016 10 comments

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Only a few weeks after I posted the Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 1 Mix, the Nobel committee announced the Bobster as this year’s literature laureate. Coincidence? I doubt it. The only logical conclusion we can draw is that the folks at Nobel HQ is Stockholm are keen readers of Any Major Dude With Half A Heart, and that my mix persuaded them to give Dylan the gong. Bob, it seems, does not really want the award, and he is unlikely to thank me for my part in his Nobel Prize award. If only I could please everybody…

Anyhow, the first mix attracted a fair number of comments. Some of them addressed one of the great debates in pop history: is Bob Dylan’s voice an instrument of art or is it a punishing aural assault? It’s the kind of question that provokes internecine warfare even between Dylan fans.

My view? I think Dylan’s voice is, in itself, quite unpleasant. In most other artists, that nasal whine might be considered objectively offensive — even Trump supporters, who enthusiastically embrace the objectively offensive, would find it offensive. His lower register on the country-flavoured albums — on songs like Lay Lady Lay and Just Like A Woman — is more tolerable, but you’d be hard-pressed call it beautiful.

But the tone of his voice, however you perceive it, is not really important. Indeed, one can acquire a taste for it, just as people acquire a taste for things as revolting as tequila, broccoli or mayonnaise. What is important is how Bob Dylan uses that voice. At his best, Dylan doesn’t so much sing his songs as he inhabits them — and that is the mark of a great singer. In so many of his songs, his vocals not only drive the narrative, but they are a character in it.

That works best when Dylan has a stake in the songs he sings. There are very few singers who can spit venom quite as Dylan. In Hurricane, that anger is on the verge of boiling over; but this is not just anger. With his delivery, with the encunciation of single syllables, he also communicates an utter contempt for the system which he is singing about. The effect is devastating; no other singer could do Hurricane to such great effect as Dylan does it. What does it matter that his voice isn’t lovely? Likewise, the menacing derision for the subjects of his contempt which he conveys in his vocals on mean-spirited songs like Positively 4th Street, Ballad of A Thin Man or Like A Rolling Stone hits you in the gut. Not many singers can do that.

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Dylan might have an ugly voice, but he has an extraordinary way of delivery — especially, as I’ve said, when he is invested in the words he is singing (which might explain why few of his covers of other people’s music are particularly outstanding). To be sure, there are also many Dylan songs which are immeasurably improved by cover versions.

One such song is All I Really Want To Do, from Dylan’s 1964 LP Another Side of Bob Dylan. I really like Dylan’s version, especially the idea of a songwriter laughing at his own lyrics. But in The Byrds’ version, a comprehensive reinvention, the song becomes a thing of special beauty. As does the lovely Every Grain Of Sand, which is okay when sung by Dylan, but sublime in Emmylou Harris’ treatment.

And this is the genius of Bob Dylan’s music: as it is with Beatles songs, they can be interpreted and reinvented them to good effect in so many ways. This second collection of Dylan covers testifies to this.

Incidentally, in the first post of Dylan covers I promised three mixes. Clearly, that is not enough. I’m up to five mixes now.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-strummed covers. PW in comments.

1. The Band – When I Paint My Masterpiece (1971)
2. The Byrds – All I Really Want To Do (1965)
3. Simon & Garfunkel – The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964)
4. Nina Simone – Ballad of Hollis Brown (1965)
5. Sam Cooke – Blowin’ In The Wind (1964)
6. Solomon Burke – Maggie’s Farm (1965)
7. Billy Preston – She Belongs To Me (1969)
8. The Flying Burrito Brothers – To Ramona (1971)
9. The Hollies – I Want You (1969)
10. The Piccadilly Line – Visions Of Johanna (1967)
11. Arlo Guthrie – When The Ship Comes In (1972)
12. New Riders Of The Purple Sage – You Angel You (1974)
13. Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson – Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (2015)
14. John Mellencamp – Farewell, Angelina (1999)
15. Steve Earle & Lucia Micarelli – One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) (2012)
16. Everly Brothers – Abandoned Love (1985)
17. Thea Gilmore – I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine (2003)
18. Jennifer Warnes – Sign On The Window (1979)
19. Leon Russell – It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (1971)
20. Joan Baez – One Too Many Mornings (1968)
21. Caravelli Orchestra – Wigwam (1977)

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Any Major Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2016 14 comments

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A long-time friend of this place recently contacted me about ideas for a radio playlist of songs for Thanksgiving. Well, even if that holiday is American, and therefore not one I celebrate, I thought that there could be a good mix of songs about being thankful.

And this is such a mix. It kicks off with two songs that riff happily about Thanksgiving (well, one is an instrumental but you’ll know why it’s the opener), and it closes with a couple of tracks that take a more nuanced approach to the holiday.

In between, there are lots of songs about being grateful about all manner of things other than white people in funny hats coming to take land that didn’t belong to them. And I didn’t consider songs about the epicurean side of things, so no songs about pumpkin or apple pie, nor about cold turkey.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-cooked covers. PW in comments. And if you are thankful for this mix, leave a comment there.

1. Vince Guaraldi Trio – Thanksgiving Theme (1973)
2. Johnny Cash – Thanksgiving Prayer (1994)
3. Big Star – Thank You Friends (1975)
4. Sly & the Family Stone – Thankful n’ Thoughtful (1973)
5. Sam & Dave – I Thank You (1968)
6. Bobby Womack – Thank You (1969)
7. Earth, Wind & Fire – Gratitude (1975)
8. William DeVaughn – Be Thankful For What You Got (1974)
9. Ronnie McNeir – I’m So Thankful (1972)
10. Bobby Powell – Thank You (1973)
11. Pat Lundy – Friend Of Mine (I Wanna Thank You So Much) (1973)
12. Donny Hathaway – Thank You Master (For My Soul) (1970)
13. Maze feat. Frankie Beverley – I Wanna Thank You (1983)
14. Crusaders feat. Joe Cocker – I’m So Glad I’m Standing Here Today (1981)
15. Andrew Gold – Thank You For Being A Friend (1978)
16. Statler Brothers – Thank You World (1974)
17. Kris Kristofferson – Thank You For A Life (2006)
18. Charlotte Kendrick – Thank You (2007)
19. Drive-By Truckers – The Thanksgiving Filter (2011)
20. The National – Thanksgiving Song (2012)

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Any Major Cohen Covers

November 17th, 2016 18 comments

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At this year’s Emmy awards in September, some breathy, note-swallowing songstress sang Leonard Cohen’s magnificent though now overcooked Hallelujah over the section listing the year’s departed TV people. I don’t know why she sang that particular song, but it didn’t cross my mind that within a couple of months, Cohen himself would find inclusion on In Memoriam lists.

Cohen himself knew, though. And he checked out the day before Americans rejected notions of respect and decency. His death on November 7 was made public only four days later.

In April this year, Marianne Ihlen (née Jensen), Cohen’s muse who was immortalised in his song So Long Marianne, died. As Marianne lay dying of leukemia, Cohen wrote her a letter. In it he said: “Well, Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom … but now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

Now dab dry those most eyes, and take delight in this mix of covers of Leonard Cohen’s songs. It is a strange thing, but Cohen is not really widely covered, a few select songs aside. Often the same artists would return to the Cohen songbook. And yet, I think his songs are very coverable indeed, as this mix shows.

The most covered song in the Cohen canon is 1984’s Hallelujah. Jeff Buckley’s version is the standard, of course, but I also like the two Shrek versions, John Cale’s in the film, and Rufus Wainwright’s on the soundtrack. Some versions are awful (apparently even Michael F. Bolton has molested the song). Here I’ve gone for Brandi Carlile’s lovely version — she is one of the finest contemporary singers — which was recorded live with The Seattle Symphony (the live album, Live at Benaroya Hall, is superb). Newsweek ranked it at #7 in its entertaining list of Top 60 versions of Hallelujah.

A few singers here are people with whom Cohen had close relationships. He was a mentor to Anjani Thomas and to some extent to Jennifer Warnes (they also wrote some songs together).  Judy Collins was his mentor. When Cohen was still a struggling poet-songwriter with no plans to become a singer, his fellow Canadian folkie recorded a couple of his compositions — and had a hit with Suzanne. I wrote about it in The Originals.

Cohen had some success with his latter albums, stepping in the gerontophile path smoothed by Johnny Cash. There is something about the wisdom of songs being delivered by a worn voice. Three Cohen songs are covered here by such worn voices; those of Johnny Cash, Marianne Faithful and Tom Jones. The latter nails his song especially.

I was going to run the second volume of the Bob Dylan covers this week, to follow up on the first mix. That will now have to wait.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-poetried covers. PW in comments.

1. Nick Cave – I’m Your Man (2006)
2. Pixies – I Can’t Forget (1991)
3. Joe Cocker – First We Take Manhattan (1999)
4. Lloyd Cole – Chelsea Hotel (1991)
5. Johnny Cash – Bird On A Wire (1994)
6. Roberta Flack – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (1969)
7. Françoise Hardy – Suzanne (1970)
8. Bell + Arc – So Long, Marianne (1971)
9. Judy Collins – Famous Blue Raincoat (1971)
10. Pearls Before Swine – Seems So Long Ago, Nancy (1971)
11. Esther Ofarim – You Know Who I Am (1969)
12. Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris – Sisters Of Mercy (1999)
13. Brandi Carlile – Hallelujah (2011)
14. Harvey Milk – One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong (1996)
15. Anjani Thomas – Blue Alert (2006)
16. Tom Jones – Tower Of Song (2012)
17. Marianne Faithfull – Going Home (2014)
18. Jennifer Warnes – A Singer Must Die (1986)
Bonus track: Madeleine Peyroux – Dance Me To The End Of Love (2004)

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Any Major Radio Vol. 2

November 10th, 2016 16 comments

Any Major Radio Vol. 2

The second edition of Any Major Radio has a real radio feel: these songs aren’t just about radio, but sound like they ought to be on the radio.

I never really got the difference between FM and AM types of music on US radio, but I suppose some of these songs could be on the FM movie soundtrack. I particularly like the sequence from Track 5 to 12 on this mix; the whole thing is rather good to drive to.

Some of these songs here were requests from readers in comments to Any Major Radio Vol. 1 — I have a few more suggestions in hand in case the response to this mix indicates interest in a third volume.

As always, CD-R length, covers, PW in comments. (As I was posting this I spotted that the cover says “Vol. 1”. Oops.)

1. Theme – News Radio (1995)
2. The Smiths – Panic (1986)
3. Elvis Costello and The Attractions – Radio Radio (1978)
4. Talking Heads – Radio Head (1986)
5. The Ravyns – Raised On Radio (1984)
6. Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere (2007)
7. Steve Earle – Satellite Radio (2007)
8. Dillard & Clark – The Radio Song (1968)
9. Don Williams – Listen To The Radio (1982)
10. Helen Reddy – Angie Baby (1975)
11. Dr. Hook – The Radio (1976)
12. The Velvet Underground – Rock & Roll (1970)
13. The Clash – Capital Radio One (1980)
14. Cheap Trick – On The Radio (1978)
15. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Roadrunner (1977)
16. Tom Petty – The Last DJ (2002)
17. Rick Mathews – Playin’ On The Radio (1991)
18. The Sports – Who Listens To The Radio (1979)
19. The Blasters – Border Radio (1981)
20. Larry Graham and Graham Central Station – My Radio Sure Sounds Good To Me (1979)
21. Edwin Starr – H.A.P.P.Y. Radio (1979)
22. Donna Summer – On The Radio (1979)
23. Zhané – Request Line (1997)

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In Memoriam – October 2016

November 3rd, 2016 5 comments

im1610-gallery_1With the death at 95 of Phil Chess, a giant in the history of rock & roll, soul and blues has gone. With his more animated younger brother Leonard, who died in 1969, the Jewish migrant from Poland founded the Chess label in Chicago. The label produced and released the records of the likes of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, The Moonglows, The Flamingos and Buddy Guy, and in the 1960s by acts like Ramsey Lewis, Fontella Bass, Billy Stewart, and The Dells. The young label in 1951 released what is often called the “first rock & roll record”, Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats, another name for Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm. In a bit of rock & roll synergy, it was recorded by Sam Philips at his Memphis studio. Many other rock & roll and soul classics were co-produced by the Chess brothers, notably the Chuck Berry output. In the film about Chess records, Cadillac Records, Phil Chess was played by Shiloh Fernandez; in Who Do You Love?, also from 2008, he was portrayed by Jon Abrams.

Bobby Vee, who has died at 73, had an impressive string of hits between 1960 and 1962, before he was even out of his teens, with songs like Run To Him, Rubber Ball, Take Good Care Of My Baby, The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, and More Than I Can Say (later a hit for Leo Sayer). He remained a performer but never had much recording success again. But before he was famous, he had links with two legends in popular music. With his band in Fargo, The Shadows, 15-year-old Vee (then known by his full name, Bobby Velline) took Buddy Holly’s spot on the bill at the Winter Dance concert in Moorhead, Minnesota, the event Holly, Big Bopper and Richie Valens were flying to that ill-fated February 3, 1959. Soon after, Vee had in his touring band a fellow calling himself, with a bizarre turn in spelling, Elston Gunnn. That chap later found fame as Bob Dylan. Dylan always spoke admiringly of Bobby Vee.

At a time when we count how many members of 1960s groups are still alive, it comes as a bit of a surprise these days when a band records its first death. So it is with Joan Marie Johnson, one of the three original Dixie Cups (actually, there were four initially, but one left before they became famous).  The R&B vocal group from New Orleans had hits in 1964/65 with Leiber/Stoller-produced songs like Chapel Of Love, Iko Iko, You Should Have Seen The Way He Looked At Me, and People Say. But in 1966 their recording career suddenly stopped; still, the trio continued touring. Johnson left in 1974 after becoming a Jehovah’s Witness (a year later, The Intruders’ Robert Edwards, who also died this month, did the same). In 2005 all three original members were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Sisters Barbara and Rosa Hawkins moved to Florida, Johnson to Texas, where she died on October 3 at the age of 72.

im1610-gallery_2Fans of ’60s soul will have heard a lot of Sonny Sanders’ work, either as an arranger, producer, writer or backing singer. As an arranger, Sanders’ most famous songs are the two Jackie Wilson classics, Higher And Higher and The Sweetest Feeling, The Platters’ With This Ring, and Young-Holt Unlimited’s Soulful Strut (or, indeed, Barbara Acklin’s Am I The Same Girl), which he also co-wrote with the Chi-Lites’ Eugene Record. Other co-written songs include Acklin’s Love Makes A Woman (featured on Any Major Soul 1968, and later a hit for Joyce Sims), and Solomon Burke’s If You Need Me, later covered by the Rolling Stones. He worked with virtually any act that recorded on the Brunswick label in the 1960s (from Gene Chandler and Barbara Acklin to the Chi-Lites and Erma Franklin). Before all that, his band The Satintones were the first vocal group to be signed to Motown. Sanders sang backing vocals on early Motown hits such as Marv Johnson’s You Got What It Takes and Barrett Strong’s Money.

On the very same day Sanders died, early-era Motown songwriter and producer Robert Bateman also departed. The two were both members of the above-mentioned Satintones and remained occasional songwriting partners: for example, they co-wrote Solomon Burke’s If You Need Me, mentioned above, with Wilson Picket. Earlier they co-wrote The Marvelletes’ song Angel, which they originally recorded for The Satintones. Bateman’s biggest hit was another Marvellettes’ song: Please Mr Postman, which he co-wrote and then produced with Brian Holland. He also wrote their hit Playboy, as well as songs for acts like Mary Wells, The Miracles and Marv Johnson. He was the recording engineer on tracks like Money (on which Sanders did backing vocals). By 1964 he had left Motown, and worked with acts like Burke, Wilson Picket and The Shangri-La’s.

Three of the biggest crossover hits in country music feature Curly Putnam on their writing credit: Green Green Grass Of Home (a hit for Porter Wagoner in 1965 and again the following year for Tom Jones), Tammy Wynette’s D-I-V-O-R-C-E in 1968, and George Jones’ He Stopped Loving Her Today (the latter two co-written with Bobby Braddock). In addition, he wrote many country chart-toppers. His song Dumb Blonde provided Dolly Parton with a breakthrough hit. Putman kept friends also outside country circles. One of them was Paul McCartney, who stayed at Putman’s farm when he was recording in Nashville in 1974; he wrote the song Junior’s Farm about that. I trust they put a wreath up on Curly’s door…im1610-gallery_3The question Dead or Alive has become rhetorical with the sudden passing of the short-lived group’s frontman Pete Burns at the young age of 56. When Dead or Alive burst on to the scene in early 1985 with the Stock-Aitken-Waterman-produced UK #1 hit You Spin Me Round, Burns’ appearance was quite striking. Later it became extraordinary.  Always a media figure with an eccentric reputation in some way, he augmented his androgynous appearance with liberal cosmetic surgery. A botched lip injection gave him a disfiguring look; he planned to sue the cosmetic surgeon for it. He spent his life-savings on reconstructive surgery, and was declared bankrupt in 2014. Burns died suddenly of cardiac arrest.

German actor, author and singer Manfred Krug was a star in East and West Germany, transcending the intellectual space which he occupied in his artistic endeavours. Born in the West a couple of years before the war, his working-class parents moved to the new German Democratic Republic (or East-Germany) in 1949. In the late ’50s, Krug began his acting career, later also making a name for himself as a singer of jazz, chanson and pop. In the 1976 he fell out with the communist regime over the exiling of protest singer Wolf Biermann. Banned from performing, Krug successfully applied to leave for the West, a difficult process which he detailed in two books written 20 years later. Although already in his 40s, he soon became popular TV and film actor, gaining a fan base on Sesame Street and the crime series Tatort alike. All the while he released a string of albums. The featured track, which is really worth checking out, is from his East-German time, released on single in 1972.

I have already covered the death of Rod Temperton with a tribute mix (which turned out to be less popular than I had hoped for). Still, his passing merits special mention here, for very few who ever danced at parties in the 1980s would have failed to at least tap a toe to songs written by (and often arranged and/or produced) by the funkiest man to ever come out of Grimsby. Tracks like Rock With You, Off The Wall, Thriller, Stomp, Love X Love, Give Me The Night, Yah Mo Be There, Sweet Freedom, Boogie Nights, The Groove Line and so on.

 

Toni Williams, 77, New Zealand pop singer, on Oct. 1

Steve Byrd, 61, English guitarist, on Oct. 2
Kim Wilde – Love Blonde (1983, on guitar)

Joan Marie Johnson, 72, singer with R&B trio The Dixie Cups, on Oct. 3
Dixie Cups – Chapel Of Love (1964)
Dixie Cups – People Say (1964)

Caroline Crawley, 53, English singer with Shelleyan Orphan, This Mortal Coil, on Oct. 4
Shelleyan Orphan – Little Death (1992)

Rod Temperton, 66, English keyboardist, songwriter, producer, on Oct. 5

Don Ciccone, 70, American singer-songwriter and musician, on Oct. 8
The Critters – Mr. Dieingly Sad (1966, also as writer)
Four Seasons – December ’63 (Oh What A Night) (1975, as member, also on bass)

Angus R. Grant, 49, fiddler with Scottish folk-fusion bands Shooglenifty, Swamptrash, on Oct. 9
Shooglenifty – Johnny Cope (2009)

Guy Nadon, 82, Canadian jazz drummer, on Oct. 9

Bored Nothing (Fergus Miller), 26, Australian indie musician, suicide on Oct. 9
Bored Nothing – Why Were You Dancing With All Those Guys (2014)

Quique Lucca, 103, Puerto Rican salsa musician, on Oct. 9

Sonny Sanders, 77, soul songwriter, arranger, producer, on Oct. 12
Jackie Wilson – (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher (1967, as arranger)
Barbara Acklin – Am I The Same Girl (1969, as co-writer and arranger)
Sidney Joe Qualls – How Can You Say Goodbye (1974, as arranger)

Robert Bateman, 80, soul songwriter, arranger, producer, on Oct. 12
The Satintones – My Beloved (1960, also with Sony Sanders)
The Marvelettes – Angel (1961, as co-writer, also with Sonny Sanders, and co-producer)
Solomon Burke – If You Need Me (1963, as co-writer, also with Sonny Sanders)

Werner Lämmerhirt, 67, German folk singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Oct. 14
Werner Lämmerhirt – Nine Hundred Miles (1974)

Robert ‘Big Sonny’ Edwards, 74, singer with soul band The Intruders, on Oct. 15
The Intruders – Cowboys To Girls (1968)
The Intruders – (Win Place Or Show ) She’s A Winner (1972)

Bobby Ellis, 84, Jamaican trumpeter, on Oct. 18

Phil Chess, 95, producer and co-founder of Chess Records, on Oct. 19
Gene Ammons – My Foolish Heart (1950, first Chess Records release)
Chuck Berry – Maybellene (1955, as co-producer)
Etta James – At Last (1960, as co-producer)
Howlin’ Wolf – Little Red Rooster (1961, as co-producer)
Ramsey Lewis Trio – The ‘In’ Crowd (1965, as co-producer)

Chris Porter, 34, alt.country musician, in car crash on Oct. 19
Chris Porter – This Red Mountain (2015)

Mitchell Vandenburg, alt.country musician, in car crash on Oct. 19

Achieng Abura, Kenyan jazz-fusion musician, Oct. 20

Mieke Telkamp, 82, Dutch singer, on Oct. 20

Manfred Krug, 79, German actor and singer, on Oct. 21
Manfred Krug – Morgen (1972)

Pete Burns, 57, English singer and songwriter (Dead or Alive), on Oct. 23
Dead Or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (1984)

Go Go Lorenzo, 53, go-go musician, hit by car on Oct. 23
Go Go Lorenzo & The Davis Pinckney Project – You Can Dance (If You Want To) (1986)

Bobby Vee, 73, pop singer, on Oct. 24
Bobby Vee – Take Good Care Of My Baby (1961)
Bobby Vee – More Than I Can Say (1961)

Eddy Christiani, 98, Dutch musician and songwriter, on Oct. 24

John Zacherle, 98, TV presenter and novelty song singer, on Oct. 27
John Zacherle – Dinner With Drac (1958)

Bobby Wellins, 80, Scottish jazz saxophonist, on Oct. 27
Bobby Wellins – You Don’t Know What Love Is (1997)

Ron Grant, 72, TV & film score composer and software developer for composers, on Oct. 28

Paul Demers, 60, Canadian singer-songwriter, on Oct. 29

Curly Putman, 85, country songwriter, on Oct. 30
Curly Putman -Green Green Grass Of Home (1967, also as writer)
Tammy Wynette – D-I-V-O-R-C-E  (1968, as co-writer)
George Jones – He Stopped Loving Her Today (1980, as co-writer)

Bill Kyle, Scottish jazz fusion drummer, on Oct. 30

Jimmy Williams, lead singer of ’70s soul-disco band Double Exposure, on Oct. 31
Double Exposure – Ten Percent (1976)

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Any Major Mexico

October 27th, 2016 14 comments

Any Major Mexico

On Tuesday, November 8, US citizens will have the option to elect as their president a spittle-spewing sphincter-mouthed polemicist who peddles the delusion the USA can build a wall across the long Mexican border — and make Mexico pay for it.

At least a third of Americans think that the streams of excrement that is being pumped into the US political discourse (and not only by old sphincter-mouth) is reasonable, aside from all the other poisonous stench which that bluster-bully has emitted from the putrid cesspool inside his corroded cranial cavity.

I have no idea whether former Mexican President Vicente Fox has any other redeeming features, but I enjoyed that particular Bad Hombre’s response to the crazy clown’s idea: “We’re not paying for that fucking wall.” This angered the bankrupt billionaire so much that he demanded an apology!

So this seems like a good time to observe the US-Mexico relationship via the medium of song, through which no demagogic dickhead can build a barrier.

Mexico has always fascinated songwriters. In Germany’s Schlager scene of the 1960s and ’70s, Mexico was the big thing. The biggest hit of them all was Rex Gildo’s rousing Fiesta Mexicana, which remains a cult hit in Germany, despite (or perhaps because) its cheesy arrangement. Still, Gildo’s exclamations of “Hossa!” rank among the most-inspired moments in ’70s pop, in any language. I include it as a bonus track.

In other songs the dreaded Heino sang about Tampico, Tony Marshall had Adios Amigos, Freddy Quinn chipped in with some Mexico song, Caterina Valente with another, and others with yet more songs about tequila and fiestas and senoritas. The Germany-based Les Humphries Singers sang their 1972 Schlager about Mexico in English (shamelessly ripping off Jimmy Driftwood’s The Battle Of New Orleans), and that is included here.

Old Sphincter mouth.

Old Sphincter mouth.

And Cuban singer Roberto Blanco made a German version of Tom Jones’ The Young New Mexican Puppeteer — and that takes us back to the US elections and the bigotry and fear-mongering and lack of kindness exhibited by the narcissistic nutter and the freak show that is doing his bidding. The song, by Jones or Blanco, isn’t set in Mexico but in a town near Albuquerque (which, of course, was annexed from Mexico), so it doesn’t qualify for inclusion in this mix. But listen to its lyrics HERE; they reference Lincoln, King and Twain. “The young New Mexican puppeteer, he saw the people all lived in fear. He thought that maybe they would listen to a puppet telling them what to do.” Hell, if the US doesn’t need a New Mexican puppeteer right now to bring peace and joy and civil rights, rather than Putin’s or Wall Street’s puppet.

One act German Schlager singers didn’t tend to cover was The Grateful Dead. They feature here in the guise of Bob Weir, from his 1972 Ace LP, which basically was a Dead album. Indeed, Mexicali Blues was a staple of the Deads’ live shows and was included on their 1974 greatest hits collection.

Frank Sinatra confuses matters a little. His 1956 cover of the 1930 hit It Happened In Monterrey takes the spelling of the California town, but the lyrics indicate that the song is still set in the city in Nuevo León state.

To be sure: This set is not intended to showcase Mexican music or Mexican acts, though the set closes with a tejano-fusion act, the Texas Tornados, whose members included Sir Douglas Quintet founders Doug Sahm and Augie Meyers, swamp rocker Freddy Fender, and accordionist Flaco Jiménez, one of those artists who have worked with some of the greatest acts in rock (such as like Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder and the Rolling Stones, who open this set) but whose name isn’t widely known.

Indeed, much of the mix is pretty relaxed, with few sounds of mariachi and no Speedy Gonzalez clichés abounding.

Above I disqualify Tom Jones’ song for being set in Albuquerque, not in Mexico. I also excluded Christopher Cross’ Ride Like The Wind for stopping at the border to Mexico. But at least two songs are not located in Mexico either: James Taylor is singing about his desire to go to Mexico, but he certainly is there already in his mind.

Dave Alvin’s sublime Rio Grande takes various stops in places in Texas and New Mexico, but from there he observes the storm clouds above Juarez and stares at the lights of Mexico before walking to the border bridge where the eponymous river forms the border. The song is wonderful; it also featured on Any Major Country Vol. 20.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R (so there were a few good songs I had to exclude) and includes home-fiestad covers. PW in comments.

1. The Rolling Stones – I’m Going Down (1975)
2. John Prine – Mexican Home (1973)
3. Delbert McClinton – Down Into Mexico (2005)
4. Carbon Leaf – Mexico (2009)
5. Blake Shelton – Playboys Of The Southwestern World (2003)
6. Dave Alvin – Rio Grande (2004)
7. Chris Isaak – South Of The Border (1996)
8. Merle Haggard – Mexican Bands (2010)
9. Steve Earle – Goodbye (1995)
10. Warren Zevon – Veracruz (1978)
11. Hoyt Axton – Evangelina (1975)
12. Emmylou Harris – Spanish Is A Loving Tongue (1981)
13. James Taylor – Mexico (1975)
14. Townes Van Zandt – Pancho And Lefty (1993)
15. Donovan – Sand And Foam (1967)
16. Bob Weir – Mexicali Blues (1972)
17. The Kingston Trio – Tijuana Jail (1959)
18. Long John Baldry – Mexico (1968)
19. Frank Sinatra – It Happened In Monterey (1956)
20. Stan Kenton and His Orchestra feat. June Christy – Tampico (1945)
21. Herb Alpert – Tijuana Taxi (1966)
22. Les Humphries Singers – Mexico (1972)
23. Texas Tornados – Adios Mexico (1990)
Bonus: Rex Gildo – Fiesta Mexicana (1972)

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 3

October 20th, 2016 5 comments

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Being nothing if not seasonal, I have put together a third Halloween mix. This one covers the black & white era of rock & roll, from the mid-’50s to the mid-’60s — which also happened to be the golden era for Halloween novelty songs. Some of these are utter gems; the value of others resides in their novelty.

Billy Lee Riley was a big influence on Bob Dylan Dylan influence. Like Warren Smith, another Dylan favourite, he was on Sun Records at a time when Sam Philips diverted all his promotional resources to Jerry Lee Lewis’ career. Dylan reckons Riley might have been a bigger star than Lewis. Like Smith, Riley left Sun and went west. He had a few minor hits, and worked as a session musician. In the early 1970 Riley quit music and moved into construction. He made a comeback in the 1990s, even earning a Grammy nomination for his 1997 blues album Hot Damn!. Billy Lee Riley died in 2009 at the age of 75.

Another Sun Records alumnus features here: Jumpin’ Gene Simmons who used to open for the young Elvis. He had only one single on Sun. His only hit, Haunted House, was released by Hi Records, future home to soul legends such as Al Green. One of the singer’s fans was young Israeli-American musician named Chaim Witz. When Witz — a name that, quite suitably, means “joke” — needed a cool name, he took that of Gene Simmons. The real Gene Simmons died in 2006 at the age of 73. The long-tongued douchebag is still around.

Not all acts here are rock & roll and R&B acts; some are garage rock bands. The Kingsmen are represented here with the instrumental Haunted Castle, the song that was the flip-side to their massive hit Louie Louie.

The Castle Kings released only two singles, including the track featured here. The writers of the 1961 song did rather better: Atlantic boss Ahmed Ertugun and future Halloween story Phil Spector.

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The Five Blobs were not even a band, but a collection of session musicians assembled by musician Bernie Knee to record the title song for the 1958 Steve McQueen movie The Blob, an early collaboration by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. In the 1970s, Knee recorded a song in support of Richard Nixon as the crook was fighting impeachment charges.

Round Robin does/do some impressive growling on his/their song — except it is not really clear who Round Robin was. Wikipedia suggests it was the songwriter Baker Thomas (who wrote The Wonder Of You); and in absence of any better info, I’ll go with that.

Music wasn’t really Bob McFadden’s claim to fame. He was rather better known as a voice actor on animated shows: his credits include Milton the Monster, Cool McCool and Snarf from the ThunderCats. His appearance here owes to an album he recorded in 1959 with folk-poet Rod McKuen. His background as a cartoon voice shows on the song. McFadden died in 2000 at the age of 76.

If producer/comedian Dickie Goodman sounds like an early version of a white rapper on his 1961 song, consider this: Goodman was the inventor of the “break-in” technique, an early type of sampling.

Of all the weird tracks here, the most bizarre must be Jimmy Cross’ 1964 song. It is a parody of the road death songs that were popular at the time — Dead Man’s Curve, Leader Of The Pack, Tell Laura I Love Her, Teen Angel or Last Kiss by J. Frank Wilson, whose similarly bizarre song in this mix precedes that by Cross. I Want MY Baby Back moves swiftly from the ridiculous to pure WTF. You have to love lines like this: “Well, when I come to I looked around, and there was the leader, and there was the pack, and over there was my baby.” But the denouement… well, it’s the reason the song features on a Halloween mix.halloween-labels_2Some people may think that I have yielded to cliché by including The Monster Mash. But in this collection, the song is placed within its context and very much belongs here.What is striking is how little it actually stand out from the rest of the crowd.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-spooked covers. PW in comments.

1. Jackie Morningstar – Rockin’ In The Graveyard (1959)
2. Billy Lee Riley – Nightmare Mash (1963)
3. Johnny Fuller – Haunted House (1959)
4. The Duponts – Screamin’ Ball (At Dracula Hall) (1958)
5. Bo Diddley – Bo Meets The Monster (1956)
6. Johnny Otis Show with Marci Lee – Castin’ My Spell (1969)
7. Kip Tyler – She’s My Witch (1958)
8. Little Richard – Heeby Jeebies (1956)
9. David Seville – Witch Doctor (1958)
10. The Monotones – Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958)
11. Round Robin – I’m The Wolfman (1965)
12. The Kingsmen – Haunted Castle (1963)
13. The Diamonds – Batman, Wolfman, Frankenstein Or Dracula (1959)
14. Ronnie Cook and The Gaylads – Goo Goo Muck (1965)
15. The Castle Kings – You Can Get Him – Frankenstein (1961)
16. Dickie Goodman – Horror Movies (1961)
17. Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers – Monster Mash (1962)
18. Jumpin’ Gene Simmons – Haunted House (1964)
19. Lloyd Price – Under Your Spell Again (1962)
20. Lee Ross – The Mummy’s Bracelet (1958)
21. Leroy Bowman – Graveyard (1958)
22. Allen Sherman – I See Bones (1963)
23. Bobby Rydell – That Old Black Magic (1960)
24. The Five Blobs – The Blob (1958)
25. Big Bee Kornegay – At The House Of Frankenstein (1958)
26. The Moontrekkers – Night Of The Vampire (1961)
27. Hollywood Flames – Frankenstein’s Den (1958)
28. J. Frank Wilson – Unmarked And Covered With Sand (1964)
29. Jimmy Cross – I Want My Baby Back (1965)
30. Bob McFadden – The Mummy (1959)
31. Gary ‘Spider’ Webb – The Cave (Part 1) (1961)

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 1
Any Major Halloween Vol. 2

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 7

October 13th, 2016 6 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 7

Man, how I enjoy this mix, the seventh in the Not Feeling Guilty series of songs one might call soft rock, or smooth rock, or the dreadful term “yacht rock”. I’ve played it so much in my car, the bitrate is deteriorating!

If you share my view that no such mix is complete without the sound of Michael McDonald’s distinctive baritone but are puzzled by his omission upon perusal of the tracklisting — assuming that this is what you do before you read my blurbs, if you remember to read them — take heart. The half-man, half-beard appears on two songs here: singing with Lauren Wood and helping out former Ambrosia frontman David Pack, alongside his pal James Ingram.

David Pack has featured previously in this series as lead singer of Ambrosia’s great soft rock hits The Biggest Part Of Me (Vol. 3), How Much I Feel (Vol. 1)and You’re The Only Woman (Vol. 5). Pack has since become a successful  producer, and was the music director for the 1993 and 1997 presidential inaugurations of Bill Clinton.

Lauren Wood is perhaps best known for her hit from the 1990 film Pretty Woman, Fallen. Her 1979 debut album featured McDonald, drummers Jim Keltner, Alvin Taylor and Jeff Porcaro (and his Toto mates Lukather and Hungate), bassist Abraham Laboriel, saxophonist Andrew Love (half of the Memphis Horns) and Little Feat’s Fred Tackett  and Bill Payne, the latter of whom contributes a synth solo on Please Don’t Go.

And then there is Pages, a group that sounds like Michael McDonald should be singing backing vocals with. Pages’ two regular members, lead singer-bassist Richard Page and keyboardist Steve George, who would have greater success later in the 1980s as founder members of Mr Mister. Before Pages, the two and other future collaborators backed Andy Gibb on his big 1977 hit I Want To Be Your Everything. Their song Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong was later covered by both Kenny Loggins (on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 4) and to wonderful effect by Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford. That original version might yet appear in a future Not Feeling Guilty mix.

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You might wonder whether I’ve lost my sequencing mind, putting Alice Cooper and Seals & Crofts after one another. Isn’t Alice Cooper more liable to bite off Crofts’ head and then proceed to bash Seals? Well, here we catch Cooper in a smooth rock mood, and Seals & Crofts are waking grandma with some relatively loud guitars. But fear not for Cooper, who on his live album of the same year, 1977, sandwiched his soft You And Me between songs titled Devil’s Food, The Black Widow, I Love The Dead and Go To Hell.

Really serious movie buffs may recognise the name Chris Montan. Once a soft-rock singer, Montan is now president of Walt Disney Music, which means that the music in Disney and Pixar movies from Pocahontas and Toy Story in 1995 to more recently Frozen are ultimately Montan’s responsibility.

Richard Clapton is not always a soft-rock kind of guy. The versatile Australian can rock hard, and even dabbled with the sounds of new wave. His The Great Escape LP was a favourite of mine when it came out in 1982. Not all of it has aged well, but The Best Years Of Our Lives, featured here, and the slow-burning Walk On Water are still very good tracks.

You don’t often get a marimba solo in rock music, but there it is on Starbuck’s 1976 hit Moonlight Feels Right. I am glad to know that the corporate coffeehouse chain of similar moniker did not take their name from this Mississippi group (it was borrowed from a minor character in Moby Dick). I trust you downloaded the Any Major Coffee mixes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) and agree with my plea to use independent coffee places instead of McStarbucks.

The coolest name here must be Jim Photoglo, which sounds like the sort of name the bassist of A Flock of Seagulls should have (disappointingly, his name was the rather glamourless Frank Maudsley). Very pleasingly, Photoglo is the singer’s real name. After his career as a soft-rock singer he became the bass player for Dan Fogelberg — another artist whose real name sounds made-up and who features here — and a country songwriter for an impressive list of stars. He still releases records as a folk singer.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes covers. PW in comments. Feel free to leave a comment in that section; even if you have nothing important to say, a hello and thanks is always appreciated.

1. Kenny Loggins & Stevie Nicks – Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’ (1978)
2. Boz Scaggs – Lowdown (1976)
3. James Walsh Gypsy Band – Cuz It’s You Girl (1978)
4. Jim Photoglo – Fool In Love With You (1981)
5. Bobby Caldwell – Carry On (1982)
6. Pages – You Need A Hero (1981)
7. Nicolette Larson – Isn’t It Always Love (1979)
8. David Pack – I Just Can’t Let Go (1985)
9. Dan Fogelberg – Heart Hotels (1979)
10. David Roberts – Anywhere You Run To (1982)
11. Alice Cooper – You And Me (1977)
12. Seals & Crofts – Nobody Gets Over Loving You (1979)
13. America – You Can Do Magic (1982)
14. Starbuck – Moonlight Feels Right (1976)
15. Lauren Wood – Please Don’t Leave (1979)
16. Walter Egan – Magnet And Steel (1978)
17. Chris Montan – Intentions (1980)
18. Richard Clapton – The Best Years Of Our Lives (1982)
19. Bill Champlin – Fly With Me (1978)
20. Bertie Higgins – Just Another Day In Paradise (1982)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 3
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 4
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 5
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 6

 

The Rod Temperton Collection

October 5th, 2016 6 comments

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The man who gave us such classics as Thriller, Rock With You, Off The Wall and Stomp has died, and I won’t wait till the next In Memoriam to pay tribute.

Rod Temperton died of cancer some time last week, about a week short of his 69th birthday, which would have been on Sunday. His death was announced only today (October 5).

English-born Temperton got his start as keyboardist and main songwriter of the British funk and soul group Heatwave. As the writer of hits like the dancefloor burners Groove Line and Boogie Nights, and soul burners like Always And Forever and Mindblowing Decisions, Temperton came to the attention of Quincy Jones.

Quincy quickly collaborated with Temperton on songs for Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall LP, for which the Brit wrote the title track, Rock With You and Burn This Disco Out. And not only did Temperton come up with music and lyrics, but also did the arrangements. On many of the songs he wrote, Temperton would arrange and often also produce.

He co-wrote the Brothers Johnson classic Stomp!, as well as a few other songs for the duo. Bassist Louis Johnson and Temperton often worked together on other projects; it is no coincidence that the Louis Johnson Collection which I put together on Johnson’s death in May 2015 and the present Rod Temperton Collection share many artists and even a few songs.

Temperton wrote the three best tracks on George Benson’s Give Me The Night album (the title track, Love X Love, and Off Broadway), and in 1982 contributed another title track to a classic LP: Michael Jackson’s Thriller, for which he also wrote Baby Be Mine and the frequently forgotten but surprisingly often covered (and sampled) The Lady In My Life.

Later he wrote songs like Yah Mo Be There and Sweet Freedom for Michael McDonald, and Baby Come To Me for Patti Austin. The former McDonald song and the Austin track are duets with James Ingram, who also turns up on Quincy Jones’ The Secret Garden (which surely must have been intended originally for Michael Jackson).

And so to this tribute to Rod Temperton of songs he wrote, or in some instances co-wrote. As always, it is timed to fit on a standard CD-R (without the bonus tracks), and includes hastily home-arranged covers. PW in comments.

1. Michael Jackson – Rock With You (1979)
2. Heatwave – Boogie Nights (1976)
3. Brothers Johnson – Light Up the Night (1979)
4. Herbie Hancock – Gettin’ To The Good Part (1982)
5. George Benson – Love X Love (1980)
6. Patti Austin & James Ingram – Baby Come To Me (1981)
7. Luther Vandross – Always And Forever (1994)
8. Anita Baker – Mystery (1986)
9. Lou Rawls – The Lady In My Life (1984)
10. Karen Carpenter – If We Try (1979/80)
11. Bob James – Sign Of The Times (1981)
12. Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom (1986)
13. Mica Paris – You Put A Move On My Heart (1992)
14. Quincy Jones feat. Barry White, Al B. Sure, James Ingram, El Debarge – The Secret Garden (1989)
15. Randy Crawford – Give Me The Night (Chill Night Mix) (1995)
16. Geno Jordan – Thriller (1983)
17. Marcia Hines – Stomp (2006)
Bonus Tracks:
Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (1979)
Heatwave – Mind Blowing Decisions (1978)
Quincy Jones – Razzamatazz (1980)
Klymaxx – Man Size Love (1986)
Diane Schuur – Nobody Does Me (1991)

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In Memoriam – September 2016

October 4th, 2016 2 comments

im_gallery_1609_1Fans of ska, and the ska revival of the late 1970s in Britain and Europe, will have been particularly saddened by the passing at the age of 78 of the king of the genre. Prince Buster, as the Jamaican musician Cecil Campbell called himself, didn’t have huge commercial success in Britain — a Top 20 hit in 1967 with Al Capone is the extent of his residency in the charts — but his influence was felt keenly. When the Two Tone label revived ska, Prince Buster was a revered godfather to the genre. The group Madness named themselves after a Prince Buster song, recorded their debut single The Prince as a tribute to him, and broke through with their sophomore single, a cover of Prince Buster’s One Step Beyond (the b-side of that solitary UK hit, Al Capone).

Before the 1950s there were very few successful women in country music, as explained in A History of Country Music  (get the free eBook of the series). That changed in 1952 with Kitty Wells’ huge hit It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels. Jean Shepard, who has died at 82, was the first female singer to follow in Wells’ slipstream in 1953 when she had a hit with Dear John, her duet with fellow Bakersfielder Ferlin Husky (both breakthrough hits, Wells’ and Shepard’s, were covers, incidentally). At  19 years old, Shepard set a record as youngest female country chart-topper until 14-year-old Tanya Tucker eclipsed her almost two decades later. Along with comedian-singer Minnie Pearl, Shepard joined Wells as one of only three female regular on the Grand Ole Opry in 1955. Last year she became the second person to have been a member of the Opry for 60 consecutive years. Shepard married twice: her first husband, fellow country singer Hawkshaw Hawkins, died in the 1963 plane crash that also killed Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas. She remained with second husband Benny Birchfield till the end.

In the late 1970s, two soul producers were pioneers in the use of the synthesizer in their productions: Stevie Wonder and Michael Jones, the latter a former keyboard player with funk group BT Express who on his conversion to Islam took the name Kashif. A multi-instrumentalist, Kashif wrote and produced Evelyn “Champagne” King’s hit I’m In Love, produced the more soul-oriented songs on Whitney Houston’s debut LP, You Give Good Love and Thinking About You (he co-wrote the latter and sang on it, too). Along the way, he also released his own albums, scoring a sizable hit in 1987 with Love Changes, his duet with Meli’sa Morgan. Privately, Kashif set up an organization to help kids get into suitable foster care.

A couple of years ago, three of the four original members of The Weavers, the pioneers of the folk scene, were still alive. Then Pete Seeger died in 2014; followed by Ronnie Gilbert last year, and with the death on September 1 of Fred Hellerman at 89, all the Weavers are now gone (Lee Hays died in 1981; latter members Bernie Krause and Frank Hamilton ate still alive). The group’s name was the idea of Hellerman—who had been investigated already in the 1930s for his left-wing activities—after Gerhart Hauptmann’ 1892 play Die Weber (“The Weavers” ) about an uprising of weavers in 1844. After the McCarthyist persecution of Seeger and Hays in the early ‘50s, The Weavers were blacklisted from performing for a few years. In the mid-’50s they made a comeback by the expedient of becoming mostly apolitical (though their continued existence was a political statement itself). The group split in 1964. Hellerman became a full-time producer; among his credits is Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant.

im_gallery_1609_2Fred Hellerman died on the first day of September. Another pivotal figure in the folk scene departed in singer-songwriter and radio presenter Oscar Brand, who died on the last day of September at the age of 96. Brand holds the world-record for hosting a radio show uninterrupted for the longest period of time: 70 consecutive years. His Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival show from New York first aired on 10 December 1945. It was instrumental in introducing successive generations of folk singers to the public, from The Weavers and The Kingston Trio in the 1950s to the likes of Dylan, Baez, Judy Collins, Phil Ochs, Arlo Guthrie and Peter Paul & Mary in the ‘60s. Having been born in Canada, Brand helped break Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot in the US. Like Hellerman, his engagement in the folk scene and liberal politics earned him the attention of the McCarthyist persecution. Apart from his radio show, he recorded hundreds of songs of great variety, from modern folk and children’s songs to 19th century ballads. Brand was a co-founder of the Newport Festival. Brand was also involved in the development of Sesame Street; one story claims that Oscar the Grouch was named after him.

Van Morrison’s Moondance is one of my go-to albums, the type of LP which I know I will enjoy in any mood. In September its producer, Lewis Merenstein, died at the age of 81. He also produced Morrison’s Astral Weeks. Having come from jazz production, Merenstein had a flexibility that allowed Morrison to take his time with a song and to improvise. He went on to produce acts as diverse as Cass Elliott, The Main Ingredient, The Association, Miriam Makeba, Spencer Davis Group,  John Cale, Glass Harp, Curtis Mayfield, Charlie Daniels, Gladys Knight & the Pips,  and Phyllis Hyman. He also produced the wonderful Black California by Dorothy Morrison, a highlight on Any Major Road Trip – Stage 3.

South African kwaito musician Mandoza created one of his country’s great dance anthems with 2001’s Nkalakatha (Zulu for “Big Boss”), a track with an instantly recognisable, iconic riff. It’s a song he came to resent, because it came to define him for the rest of his career. Before he made his breakthrough with the song at the age of 23, Mandoza (or Mduduzi Tshabalala, as his mom knew him) spent 18 months in jail for car theft. Just a few days before his death, Mandoza was still performing on stage, by now blind from nasopharyngeal cancer. His end was sad: desperately ill in his Soweto home, he waited three hours for an ambulance to transport him to hospital. Eventually his manager took him; Mandoza died in the car on the way to the clinic.

im_gallery_1609_3As a recording artist, country/folk artist John D. Loudermilk had limited success, but as a songwriter, he made his mark. Best known for his songs Indian Reservation and Tobacco Road — both big hits for others — his music was also recorded by the likes of Johnny Cochran, Everly Brothers, George Hamilton IV, Linda Ronstadt, Stonewall Jackson, Johnny Cash, Skeeter Davis, Marianne Faithfull, James Brown and Glen Campbell. He was a cousin to the Louvain Brothers, whose real surname was Loudermilk.

With the death of 1930s male counterpart to Shirley Temple, Bobby Breen, only five of the 61 people pictured on the cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are still alive (according to film historian  Rhett Bartlett): Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Dion and sculptor Larry Bell. Breen’s is the small head wedged between the shoulders of George Harrison and Marlene Dietrich. Canadian-born Breen was something of a sensation as the boy soprano in a series of popular movies, but his thespian stardom was cut short when his voice broke. He remained an entertainer, including a stint of entertaining troops during World War 2 and later recording with Motown. He died at 88 — only three days after his wife of 54 years passed away.

In the mid 1960s, the Record Plant studios changed the way rock music was recorded in studios, from the sterile, fluorescent-lit booths of old to the relaxed hang-out joints. The first record to be cut at a Record Plant studio, in New York, was the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Electric Ladyland. Lots of classics would follow, recorded in the New York studio (Imagine, American Pie, School’s Out, Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Parallel Lines, among many others), in LA (such as the Isley Brothers’ 3+3, Rumours, Piano Man, Eagles’ On The Border, Cheap Trick’s Dream Police, Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique), and in Sausalito (Sly & the Family Stone’s Fresh, Songs in the Key of Life, Maze’s Joy and Pain, Huey Lewis and the News’ Sports, Metallica’s Load). John Lennon recorded at the NYC Record Plant the night he was murdered; legendary drummer Jim Keltner held his legendary star-studded jam sessions there. The creative brain behind the Record Plant was Gary Kellgren, who died in 1977. Some 39 years later, his co-founder and business brain Chris Stone has joined him in the Big Studio in the Sky, aged 81.

Fred Hellerman, 89, folk singer-songwriter, guitarist with The Weavers; producer, on Sept. 1
The Weavers – Rock Island Line (1957)
Arlo Guthrie – The Motorcycle Song (1968, as producer)
Roberta Flack – Business Goes On As Usual (1970, as co-writer)

Kacey Jones, 66, singer-songwriter and humorist, on Sept. 1
Kacey Jones – Donald Trump’s Hair (2009)

Jerry Heller, 75, manager of N.W.A., on Sept. 2

Joe Jeffrey, 80, soul singer, on Sept. 4
Joe Jeffrey Group – My Pledge of Love (1969)

Byron “BJ” Jackson, 52, Go-Go/funk/hip-hop musician, on Sept. 4
Rare Essence – Work The Walls (1992, on lead vocals and bass)

Fred McFarlane, songwriter and producer, on Sept. 5
Jocelyn Brown – Somebody Else’s Guy (1984, as co-producer)

Lewis Merenstein, 81, producer, on Sept. 6
Van Morrison – Caravan (1970, as producer)
Miriam Makeba – Measure The Valley (1970, as producer)

Clifford Curry, 79, R&B singer, on Sept. 7
Clifford Curry – She Shot A Hole In My Soul (1967)

Graham Wiggins, 53, multi-instrumentalist, on Sept. 7

Prince Buster, 78, Jamaican ska musician, on Sept. 8
Prince Buster – Madness (1963)
Prince Buster – One Step Beyond (1965)

Rex Thompson, 47, lead singer and bassist of lo-fi band The Summer Hits, on Sept. 8

Chris Stone, 81, co- owner of the Record Plant studio, on Sept. 10
Yoko Ono – Walking On Thin Ice (1981, as studio owner)

Leonard Haze, 61, drummer of hard rock band Y&T, on Sept. 11
Y&T – Alcohol (1977)

Tavin Pumarejo, 84, Puerto Rican comedian and singer, on Sept. 12

Don Buchla, 79, pioneering synthesizer designer, on Sept. 14

Jerry Corbetta, 68, singer of rock band Sugarloaf, on Sept. 16
Sugarloaf – Green-Eyed Lady (1970)
Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack – You’re Lookin’ Like Love To Me (1983, as co-writer)

James ‘Jimi’ Macon, guitarist of The Gap Band, on Sept. 16
Gap Band – Outstanding (1983)

Trisco Pearson, singer with soul group Force M.D.’s, on Sept. 16
Force M.D.’s – Tender Love (1985)

Charmian Carr, 73, actress (Liesl in Sound of Music) and singer, on Sept. 17
Sound Of Music – Sixteen Going On Seventeen (1965)

Mandoza, 38, South African kwaito musician, on Sept. 18
Mandoza – Nkalakatha (2000)

Bobby Breen, 88, child-actor and singer, on Sept. 19
Bobby Breen – Rainbow On The River (1936)
Bobby Breen – Better Late Than Never (1964, on Motown)

Micki Marlo, 88, singer and model, on Sept. 20
Micki Marlo – Little By Little (1956)

Ernie Cruz Jr, 56, member of Hawaiian band Ka’au Crater Boys, on Sept. 20

John D. Loudermilk, 82, singer and songwriter, on Sept. 21
John D. Loudermilk – Tobacco Road (1960)
John D. Loudermilk – Road Hog (1962)

DJ Spank Spank, member of acid house group Phuture, on Sept. 21
Phuture – Acid Tracks (1987)

Shawty Lo, 40, rapper and record label founder (DL4), in car crash on Sept. 21

Buckwheat Zydeco, 68, accordionist and bandleader, on Sept. 24
Buckwheat Zydeco Ils Sont Partis Band – Zydeco La Louisianne (1984)
Buckwheat Zydeco – Hey, Good Lookin’ (1990)

Jean Shepard, 82, country singer and songwriter, on Sept. 25
Jean Shepard & Ferlin Husky – A Dear John Letter (1953)
Jean Shepard – Second Fiddle To An Old Guitar (1964)

Kashif (née Michael Jones), 56, soul singer, songwriter and producer, on Sept. 25
B.T. Express –  Do It (Til You’re Satisfied) (1974, on keyboards)
Whitney Houston – Thinking About You (1985, as producer, co-writer and co-singer)
Kashif – Bed You Down (1998)

Hagen Liebing, 55, bassist with German punk group Die Ärzte, on Sept. 25

Joe Clay, 78, rockabilly singer and guitarist, on Sept. 26
Joe Clay – Ducktail (1956)

Karel Růžička, 76, Czech jazz pianist, on Sept. 26

Mike Taylor, singer of British hard rock group Quartz, on Sept. 27
Quartz – Circles (1980, featuring Brian May and Ozzy Osbourne)

Royal Torrence, 82, singer of soul group Little Royal and The Swingmasters, on Sept. 29
Little Royal and The Swingmasters – Razor Blade (1972)

Lecresia Campbell, 53, gospel singer, on Sept. 29

Nora Dean, 72, Jamaican reggae and gospel singer, on Sept. 29
Nora Dean – Barbwire (1970)

Oscar Brand, 96, folk singer-songwriter, author and radio personality, on Sept. 30
Doris Day – A Guy Is A Guy (1954, as writer)
Oscar Brand – Jackson And Kentucky (1964)

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