Prince is your DJ

April 28th, 2016 5 comments

Prince is your DJ

Dig, if you will, a party… with Prince as the DJ.  This playlist was compiled by Prince himself — and seeing as I had most of the songs on it already, I put it together in one mix.

The background to this playlist is the TV sitcom New Girl. According to Steve Welch, an editor on the show, “[w]hen Prince was on New Girl the storyline was that our characters got to attend a party at his house. To that end, he sent us a playlist of songs he would actually play at his parties.”

It would have been a great party; Prince was channeling the 1970s, the period of his formative influences — and in some tracks one can hear the influences on his music. There’s some serious funkin’ going on, but that sequence of slow jams…ooh, babymaking music!

Prince DJ playlist

One must assume that Prince was adept at turning records over at one hell of a speed: the two Spinners songs on his list are from the same album, but are on different sides. Unless Prince was working from MP3s, the side-flipping would have required some dexterity.

The playlist exists also somewhere on Spotify, a service I’ve never used.

Because Prince’s party goes on longer than a standard 80 minutes — he’s giving us 97 minutes of joy — the mix won’t fit on as standard CD-R (and therefore no home-grooved covers). PW in comments.

If you didn’t come to party, don’t bother knockin’ on my door.

1. The Staple Singers – City In The Sky (1974)
2. Allen Toussaint – Country John (1975)
3. Ohio Players – Fire (1974)
4. Shuggie Otis – Happy House (1974)
5. Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground (1973)
6. Chaka Khan – I Was Made To Love Him (1978)
7. The Isley Brothers – Listen To The Music (1973)
8. Eugene McDaniels – The Lord Is Back (1971)
9. Sister Sledge – Lost In Music (1979)
10. Bootsy Collins – The Pinocchio Theory (1977)
11. Bootsy Collins – Rubber Duckie (1977)
12. Parliament – Rumpofsteelskin (1978)
13. Ohio Players – Skin Tight (1974)
14. The Soul Children – We’re Gettin’ Too Close (1974)
15. Curtis Mayfield – Wild And Free (1970)
16. Earth, Wind & Fire – After The Love Has Gone (1979)
17. Allen Toussaint – Back In Baby’s Arms (1975)
18. The Isley Brothers – Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight (1973)
19. The Soul Children – Don’t Take My Sunshine (1972)
20. The Spinners – How Could I Let You Get Away (1973)
21. The Spinners – I’ll Be Around (1973)
22. The Jacksons – Push Me Away (1978)
23. Shirley Brown – Stay With Me Baby (1974)
24. Aretha Franklin – The Thrill Is Gone (From Yesterday’s Kiss) (1970)

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Thriller vs Purple Rain

April 22nd, 2016 4 comments

Tonight I’ve had Thriller square up to Purple Rain, track vs track. The best-selling album of all time versus the most perfect pop album of the decade. It’s an unfair contest.

 

thriller

 

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ vs Let’s Go Crazy
Great opener by Michael is blown out of the water by a work of great innovation and energy. There are a couple of songs on Purple Rain which Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ might have beaten, but not Let’s Go Crazy. 0-1

 

purple rain

 

Baby Be Mine vs Take Me With U
MJ delivers a decent filler track that is competently produced. Prince wins this already in the intro with those great drums; and then those strings later in the song. No contest. 0-2

 

thriller-back

 

The Girl Is Mine vs The Beautiful Ones
Michael sings this like a nursery rhyme and climaxes with the “I’m a lover not a fighter” line while he “argues” with Macca. Prince goes falsetto on our asses and then climaxes with that explosion of emotion. Emphatically Prince’s point. 0-3

 

purple rain-back

 

Thriller vs Computer Blue
Jackson’s excellent title track meets Purple Rain‘s least strong track (still, Computer Blue’s guitars!). Point Jacko. 1-3

 

thriller-label

 

Beat It vs Darling Nikki
I love Darling Nikki (and how it sent Tipper Gore over the edge), but Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo… With a heavy heart, I give it to Beat It. 2-3

 

purple rain-label1

 

Billie Jean vs When Doves Cry
The heavyweight clash, and it’s a no brainer. Billie Jean gives us dancability; When Doves Cry gives us layers and layers of genius. 2-4

 

thriller-label2

 

Human Nature vs I Would Die 4 U
I love Human Nature dearly, but I Would Die 4 U is so utterly joyous. Plus, I have the mental image of Prince’s hand actions and that beatific smile when he performs the song in the film. 2-5

 

purple rain-label1

 

P.Y.T. vs Baby I’m A Star
Oh so easy. If Baby I’m A Star doesn’t get you moving, you might as well check yourself into a mortuary. 2-6

 

purple rain-inner sleeve

 

The Lady In My Life vs Purple Rain
It’s like Brazil against Germany in a World Cup semi-final. Almost fittingly, the final score is 2-7

In fairness, I expect Off The Wall would beat Dirty Mind or Controversy handily. But then, Sign ‘O The Times would utterly destroy Bad

And as we are thinking of Prince, may I direct you to the warmest tribute I’ve read, by the British music journalist Simon Price on The Quietus.

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Any Major Soul 1974 – Vol. 2

April 21st, 2016 5 comments

ams1974-2

The second volume of Any Major Soul 1974 is long overdue; Volume 1 ran in September. I still enjoy listening to the first part, and think that the second mix is very much its equal.

This mix has Stevie Wonder’s handprints all over it: he features with a track from his Fulfillingness First Finale album, and he wrote the tracks by Syreeta (by then his ex-wife) and Minnie Riperton.

You might remember The Soul Survivors as a ’60s soul band, especially for their excellent 1969 hit Expressway To Your Heart (Gamble & Huff’s first hit), but here we find the Philly outfit in 1974. Their self-titled LP that year was also their swanswong, other than two singles that followed in 1975 and ’76, which is a shame because one feels they still had something to offer. The founder members later reformed to perform, but never released another record.

Also holding out from the 1960s in this mix is Lou Courtney, who featured on Any Major Soul 1967. And that is exactly the gap between his first two albums, though Courtney released several singles along the way. Only one more LP would follow, in 1976. From 1978-79 he was a member of The 5th Dimension, but his greater success has been in songwriting, arranging and production — fields in which he worked before, during and after his recording career — collaborating with the likes of The Main Ingredient, Ben E King and Bonnie Raitt. His most famous writing credit probably is the hit Do The Freddie for Freddie and the Dreamers, which he co-wrote with the songwriter-producer Dennis Lambert.

The most obscure act here is The Street People about whom I’ve been unable to unearth any useful information. The second-most obscure singer must be Louise Freeman. A couple of singles in 1974, the second of which provided the b-side featured here, another single in 1977, and a couple of sides in the 1980s — and that’s it.

Sandra Wright also should be more famous. A gifted singer, and cousin of the blues great Memphis Slim, she had the misfortune of recording her opus just as the record company which was going to market it, Stax (through the Truth subsidiary, which had just made a hit of Shirley Brown’s Woman To Woman album), went bust. That 1974 album, Wounded Woman, is one of the finest soul LPs of 1974 — but nobody heard it. A couple of singles were released before Stax folded, and with that the yet to be released album sunk into obscurity. It was finally released in 1989 by the British Demon label and finally found an appreciative audience. Wright continued to perform, mostly as a blues singer, but never attained the stardom that Wounded Woman should have brought her. She died in 2010 at the young age of 61.

The soul experts might raise their hand at the inclusion of the Sam Dees song, pointing out that his The Show Must Go On LP came out only in 1975. But the song Worn Out Broken Heart came out first as a single in 1974.

As ever, CD-R timed, covers, PW in comments.

1. The Blackbyrds – Walking In Rhythm
2. The Persuaders – Hold On (Just A Little Bit Longer)
3. Moments & Whatnauts – Girls
4. The Street People – Baby You Got It All
5. Syreeta – I’m Goin’ Left
6. New York City – I’ve Had Enough
7. The Hues Corporation – How I Wish We Could Do It Again
8. Willie Hutch – Try It, You’ll Like It
9. Sandra Wright – I’ll See You Through (I’ll Be Your Shelter)
10. Bobby Bland – Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City
11. Laura Lee – We’ve Come Too Far Too Walk Away
12. Millie Jackson – It’s All Over But The Shouting
13. Lou Courtney – I Don’t Need Nobody Else
14. The Soul Survivors – What It Takes
15. The Tymes – Someway, Somehow I’m Keepin’ You
16. The Delfonics – I Don’t Want To Make You Wait
17. Sam Dees – Worn Out Broken Heart
18. Minnie Riperton – Take A Little Trip
19. LaBelle – Nightbird
20. Louise Freeman – How Could You Run Away
21. Stevie Wonder – It Ain’t No Use
22. The Natural Four – Can This Be Real
23. Chairmen Of The Board – Finders Keepers

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Any Major American Road Trip – 2

April 14th, 2016 8 comments

Any Major American Road Trip 2

We are now starting the second leg of our road trip: a musical journey that takes us from the East Coast to the West Coast and back east, beginning in Boston and ending in Miami. The itinerary may be zig-zagging a bit, but the rules are that it must be at least notionally plausible.

The first leg took us from Boston via New York State south to North Carolina, leaving us in Charlotte. We now make our way to Atlanta with a song by the blues great Freddie King.

After visiting Birmingham (a city still famous for all the wrong reasons) we stop over, by way of a detour, in Tuscaloosa. The town is not mentioned by name in the Steely Dan song, but it is home to the University of Alabama, whose American football team is the Crimson Tide, “the name for the winners in the world” that stands in contrast to the name for losers which the Dan are proposing: Deacon Blues. (Tuscaloosa does get a name-check in the Randy Newman song though).

Musically significant cities get more than one song, and here it is New Orleans getting some extra love with songs by two of the Big Easy’s favourite sons: Fats Domino and Dr John. From there we go to Baton Rouge — a city I associate more with Kennedy O’Toole’s great novel The Confederacy of Dunces than with music — in a Tom Petty song.

Any Major American Road Trip - Stage 2 map

After a trip to Lafayette, we leave Louisiana for Texas, where we will stay for the rest of this leg. Texas is pretty big, but still I was surprised to find so many songs there. Most of the titles are self-evident, though not all. Patty Loveless’ The Night’s Too Long is set in Beaumont, but not for long, for the waitress of the song wants to get out. Ben Kweller in his song refers to Dallas, but it seems he got out of there already (I might have gone with Kweller to the hideously named Commerce, Tx, if I wanted to go there. But I did not.).

On the other hand, Lee Hazlewood is going back to Houston, while Waylon Jennings is proposing to go to Luckenbach with himself and Willie and the boys, and George Hamilton IV wishes to return to Abilene, the town with the prettiest name in this mix. And the closing song is called Texas In My Rear View Mirror, a song about getting out of Lubbock, whose only, but not unsubstantial, claim to fame is being Buddy Holly’s home town. But, Lubbock fans, take heart: Mac Davis does not really mean it when he says he wants escape Texas.

There is an obvious bonus track here: All My Ex’s Live In Texas, sung here not by George Strait, who is already representing Fort Worth (the Texan city which became famous due to the frequent references of Clayton visiting it in the TV soap Dallas) but in the original version by Whitey Shafer.

The final song might promise that we’re leaving Texas in our rear view mirror, but the third leg of our road trip will begin still in Texas, and we will return one more time after doing New Mexico before we travel via Arizona to California.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R (without the bonus track) and includes home-pardnered covers. PW in comments.

1. Freddie King – I’m On My Way To Atlanta (1962 – Atlanta, GA)
2. Randy Newman – Birmingham (1973, Birmingham – AL)
3. Steely Dan – Deacon Blues (1977 – Tuscaloosa, AL)
4. John Prine – Angel From Montgomery (1971 – Montgomery, AL)
5. Mickey Newbury – Mobile Blue (1973 – Mobile, AL)
6. Jesse Winchester – Biloxi (1970 – Biloxi, MS)
7. Fats Domino – I’m Walking To New Orleans (1960 – New Orleans, LA)
8. Dr. John & Chris Barber – Big Bass Drum (On A Mardi Gras Day) (1990 – New Orleans, LA)
9. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – Louisiana Rain (1979 – Baton Rouge, LA)
10. Lucinda Williams – Lafayette (1980 – Lafayette, LA)
11. Patty Loveless – The Night’s Too Long (1990 – Beaumont, TX)
12. Lee Hazlewood – Houston (1967 – Houston, TX)
13. Glen Campbell – Galveston (1969 – Galveston, TX)
14. Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys – New San Antonio Rose (1940 – San Antonio, TX)
15. Waylon Jennings – Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love) (1977 – Luckenbach, TX)
16. Stevie Ray Vaughan – Texas Flood (1983 – Austin, TX)
17. Ben Kweller – Falling (2002 – Dallas, TX)
18. George Strait – Does Forth Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (1984 – Dallas/Fort Worth, TX)
19. George Hamilton IV – Abilene (1963 – Abilene, TX)
20. Mac Davis – Texas In My Rear View Mirror (1980 – Lubbock, TX)
Bonus: Whitey Shafer – All My Ex’s Live In Texas (1987 – Abilene, Galveston, Texarkana, TX)

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Previously on American Road Trip

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Any Major Flute Vol. 1

April 6th, 2016 33 comments

A reader asked nicely whether I might re-up the Any Major Flute series. Over the next couple of months, I will do just that, leaving the format unchanged from when I first posted it seven years ago. But now I’m including home-blown covers. Like this one:

Any Major Flute-1

I may have mentioned once or twice that if a song features a bit of flute, I’ll like it. So it seems to me that mix celebrating the flute in pop is necessary and desirable. I know that some people hate the idea of flute in rock — perhaps this mix will disabuse them of such odd notions. Should one or the song feature a piccolo or recorder instead of the flute, please enjoy the respite and don’t shout at me. If this mix is popular enough, I’ll put together a second mix of songs I’ve held back. And, look Ma, no Jethro Tull!
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1. Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Winter in America (1974)
Flute Moment: 3:57 – Gil goes “stick”, and Brian lets rip with his flute.

2. Baby Huey – California Dreamin’ (1971)
Flute Moment: 2:10 – After the flute does it alone for the long intro, the instrumental party kicks off.

3. Josh Rouse – James (2003)
Flute Moment: 2:47 – Rouse captures the sound of 1972, as the album title promises, when the flute goes into a conversation with the guitar.

4. Bobby Bland – Ain’t No Love In the Heart Of The City (1974)
Flute Moment: 2:06 & 3:22 – Listen closely or you’ll miss it.

5. Eddie Rabbitt – Suspicions (1979)
Flute Moment: 2:14 – Hail the flute solo

6. Carpenters – Road One (1972)
Flute Moment: 2:14 – Spookily, the flute solo here commences at the same time as that in Suspicion.

7. MJ – I Wanna Be Where You Are (1972)
Flute Moment: 1:47 – The flute backs young Michael funkily, and then gets its solo spot.

8. Blackbyrds – Walking In Rhythm (1974)
Flute Moment: 1:55 – Flute solo in rhythm.

9. The Mamas & the Papas – Creeque Alley (1967)
Flute Moment: 2:23 – Like the Carpenters, The Mamas & The Papas liked a bit of flute.

10. Frank Sinatra with Count Basie – Fly Me To The Moon (1966)
Flute Moment:0:35 – You don’t really expect to hear the flute in Sinatra’s music. In this live recording, Count Basie gives this standard a flute signature.

11. David Bowie – Moonage Daydream (1972)
Flute Moment: 1:54 – Bowie goes all Jethro Tull on us for a minute.

12. Cardigans – Sick & Tired (1994)
Flute Moment: 0:02 – The background flute never leaves us.

13. Van M. – Everyone (1970)
Flute Moment: 1:48 – After being with us throughout, the flute gets a 30-second solo.

14. Traffic – John Barleycorn (1970)
Flute Moment: 1:07 – The prog rock flute classic that’s not by Jethro Tull.

15. Carole King – So Far Away (1971)
Flute Moment: 3:16 – Carole gamely resisted the urge to include the flute for much of the song.

16. Simon & Garfunkel – So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright (1970)
Flute Moment: 1:18 – The flute takes the lead, accompanied by acoustic guitar, strings and percussion.

17. The Beatles – You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (1965)
Flute Moment:1:47 – The flute sees out my favourite Beatles song.

18. The Beach Boys – Feel Flows (1971)
Flute Moment: 1:44 – Aah, there’s the flute.

19. Beastie Boys – Sure Shot (1994)
Flute Moment: 0:01 – The cool flute hook stays with us through almost all of the song.

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In Memoriam – March 2016

April 4th, 2016 5 comments

After a little respite in February, the Grim Reaper was very busy in March. Sadly, a full third of the 42 listed deaths were of people under the age of 60.

IM0316-gallery1Everything important has been said of George Martin, who has died at 90. It might merit emphasising that Martin was to The Beatles as a good professor is to the student whom he (or, indeed, she) guides from freshman  to doctorate. At first he was instructive, exercising his authority to have Pete Best dismissed; though The Beatles rightly baulked at his insistence that they should release How Do You Do It, a song they didn’t write, as a single. They did record it (halfheartedly, as we can hear on the featured track), but it instead became a UK #1 for Gerry and the Pacemakers—and was knocked off the top spot by the much bigger Beatles hit, From Me To You. From being the teacher figure Martin grew to be the facilitator and guide in the group’s rapid development from very good pop combo to genius innovators. Without Martin, the story of The Beatles, and that of pop music, might have been quite different.

George Martin will always be associated with The Beatles, of course, but he had his hand in many other pop classics. He produced a string of 1960s hits for the other Liverpudlian legends, Gerry & the Pacemakers and Cilla Black, as well as for Matt Munro and Billy J. Kramer. Later he produced such hits as Wings’ Live And Let Die, America’s Sister Golden Hair, Tin Man and Lonely People, Little River Band’s The Night Owls, Kenny Rogers’ Morning Desire, as well as many 1980s McCartney tracks (Say Say Say, Ebony and Ivory, No More Lonely Nights, Pipes Of Peace, We All Stand Together etc). Others whom he produced included Jeff Beck, Shirley Bassey, Stan Getz, Cleo Laine, Neil Sedaka, Jimmy Webb, Cheap Trick, Billy Preston, Mahavishnu Orchestra, José Carreras, Celine Dion, and Kate Bush. Alas, he was also co-responsible for that mawkish abomination that was Elton John’s Candle In The Wind 1997.

In the early 1990s, before hip hop became dominated by blinging, car-bouncing, Hennessy-quaffing, cap-in-yo-ass-bustin’ gangsta misogyny (at least at its platinum-selling levels), rappers had success talking about actual social issues, carrying the mantle of Gil Scott-Heron. One such group was A Tribe Called Quest, whose “Five Foot Assassin”, Phyfe Dawg, has died at 45 from complications relating to diabetes, which had previously required two kidney transplants.  With acts like De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest exercised a profound influence on hip hop artists like Common, The Roots and, when he does have something to say that isn’t mad or self-aggrandising, Kanye West.

You’ll probably know Thunderclap Newman’s 1969 hit Something In The Air, a call for revolution when that ship had already sailed. But do you remember that glorious piano break that kicks in at 2:00 minutes and goes on for close to a minute. That was played by Andy Newman, who has died at 73. It was his nickname and surname that gave the band its name after it was founded as a side project by The Who’s Pete Townshend (who under a pseudonym played bass on that mega hit). Townshend’s game was kindness: he wanted to give Newman and singer-guitarist Speedy Keen a showcase for their talents. Also in the band was Jimmy McCulloch, who went on to join Paul McCartney’s Wings before his death in 1979. Keen died in 2002. Besides the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Thunderclap Newman is the only classic ‘60s rock act I can think of whose official line-up is now all dead.  Thunderclap Newman recorded one album; Newman released a solo album in 1971.

Children of famous people have it easier to get through a door than random hopefuls, but few manage to emulate the success of their famous parent. So it was with Frank Sinatra Jr, who has died suddenly at 72. There is no doubt that Frank Jr had talent, but if you are going to have as Sinatra, you’ll go for Senior, or older sister Nancy, who followed her own musical path. Frank Jr acquired some fame by being a victim of a kidnapping in December 1963 (Frank Sr paid up to have his son released).

IM0316-gallery2Another pioneer of the Outlaw movement in country music — the sub-genre that counted among its heroes the likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr, Kris Kristofferson and Tompall Glaser — has fallen in the form of Steve Young, who is probably best known as the writer and original performer of the Eagles hit Seven Bridges Road. He also wrote and first performed the Waylon Jennings hit Lonesome On’ry and Mean and Montgomery In the Rain by Hank Williams Jr.

If you played at the age of 18 with Gene Krupa, you probably had some talent. Jazz trumpeter and later bandleader Joe Cabot made his mark with Krupa in 1939. He went on to play in the orchestras of people like Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw, and played with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz and his close friend Harry James. He backed artists such as Bobby Darrin (including on Mack The Knife and Beyond The Sea), Anita O’Day, Tony Bennett, Ruth Brown, Chris Connor and Eartha Kitt. (Alas, I could find no photo of the man.)

Patty Duke is obviously remembered as an actress of some skill who as a teenager won an Oscar for The Miracle Worker and later played identical twins on the TV sitcom named after her (I could never understand how TV execs expected viewers to suspend disbelief when they titled sitcoms after the lead actor, but obviously the ploy worked). What is not widely known is that Duke released four LPs in the mid-1960s, charting in the US with Don’t Just Stand There” (#8) and Say Something Funny (#22). In 1982 Duke was diagnosed as a bipolar depressive, and went on to become an activist around mental health issues — an matter that still needs further activism.

Every suicide is a tragedy; most of them are the result of an illness. Much as people die involuntarily of cancer, some people die involuntarily of mental illness. So, while it is shocking when a famous person, especially a rock legend, “commits” suicide, we should not state our head-shaking disbelief but use that as an occasion to understand the nature of mental illness and suicide, and to raise awareness about it in order to destigmatise it. Apparently Keith Emerson’s suicide was triggered by depression, brought on by health concerns and exacerbated by alcohol. May he be at rest now. In the meantime we remember Emerson as a supremely talented and influential keyboardist, and by all accounts a very nice man. Emerson, Lake & Palmer were hate figures for the prog-rock hating punks, led by the polemic of Johnny Rotten, who’d single out EPL for his spleen-venting. Later Emerson and John Lydon (the erstwhile Rotten) became neighbours in Hollywood — and good friends.

 graveyard at night

Gayle McCormick, 67, singer of blues-rock band Smith, on March 1
Smith – Baby, It’s You (1969, on lead vocals)

John Thomas, 63, guitarist with Welsh hard rock band Budgie, on March 3
Budgie – I Turned To Stone (1981, also as co-writer)

Brian Gallagher, 52, multi-instrumentalist with Greazy Meal and Prince, on March 3
Enthusiastic invoker of DMCA – Sexy MF (1990, on guitar)

Joey Feek, 40, singer with country duo Joey + Rory, on March 4
Joey + Rory – To Say Goodbye (2008)

Bankroll Fresh, 28, rapper, shot on March 4

Aaron Huffman, 43, bassist with rock band Harvey Danger, on March 6
Harvey Danger – Flagpole Sitta (1997)

Timothy Makaya, 67, Nigerian jazz guitarist, on March 7

Joe Cabot, 94, jazz musician and band leader, on March 7
Bobby Darin – Beyond The Sea (1959, on trumpet)
Chris Connor – Come Rain Or Come Shine (1959, on trumpet)

Bruce Geduldig, 63, experimental synth musician and filmmaker, on March 7

George Martin, 90, English record producer, composer, arranger and engineer, on March 8
Peter Sellers & Sophia Loren – Goodness Gracious Me (1960)
The Beatles – How Do You Do It (1963)
David & Jonathan – Softly Whispering I Love You (1967)
America – Sister Golden Hair (1975)
Ultravox – Hymn (1983)
Hayley Westenra – Beat Of Your Heart (2003)

Ross Hannaford, 65, guitarist of Australian rock band Daddy Cool, on March 8
Daddy Cool – Eagle Rock (1971)

Andrew Loomis, 54, drummer of rock band Dead Moon, on March 8
Dead Moon – Black September (1989)

Naná Vasconcelos, 71, Brazilian jazz percussionist and singer, on March 9
Talking Heads – Perfect World (1985, on water drum)
Naná Vasconcelos – Futebol (2002)

Léon Francioli, 69, Swiss jazz bassist, on March 9

Ray Griff, 75, Canadian country singer and songwriter, on March 9
George Hamilton IV – Canadian Pacific (1969, as writer)

Jon English, 66, English-born Australian singer and actor, on March 9

Keith Emerson, 71, English rock keyboardist (The Nice; Emerson, Lake & Palmer), of suicide on March 10
The Nice – Diary Of An Empty Day (1969)
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Fanfare For The Common Man (1974)

Gogi Grant, 91, pop and musicals singer, on March 10
Gogi Grant – The Wayward Wind (1956)

Ernestine Anderson, 87, American jazz singer, on March 10
Ernestine Anderson – Welcome To The Club (1959)

Louis Meyers, 60, co-founder of South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, on March 11

Shawn Elliott, 79, singer and actor, on March 11
Shawn Elliott – Shame And Scandal In The Family (1965)

Joe Ascione, 54, jazz drummer, on March 11

Tommy Brown, 84, R&B singer, on March 12
The Griffin Brothers Orchestra feat. Tommy Brown – Tra-La-La (1951)

Conor Walsh, 36, Irish indie pianist and composer, on March 12

Daryl Coley, 60, gospel singer, on March 15
Vanessa Bell Armstrong & Daryl Coley – Comfort Ye My People (1992)

Ryo Fukui, 67, Japanese jazz pianist, on March 15

Frank Sinatra Jr., 72, singer and actor, on March 15
Frank Sinatra Jr. – Shadows On A Foggy Day (1967)

Lee Andrews, 79, doo-wop singer, on March 16
Lee Andrews & The Hearts – Try The Impossible (1958)

Steve Young, 73, country singer–songwriter, on March 17
Steve Young – Seven Bridges Road (1969)

David Egan, 61, Cajun rock musician, on March 18
David Egan – Bourbon In My Cup (2008)

Scabs, 41, drummer with punk outfit Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13, on March 19

Phife Dawg, 45, member of hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, on March 22
A Tribe Called Quest – Oh My God (1994)

James Jamerson Jr, 58, session bass player, member of funk band Chanson, on March 23
Chanson – Don’t Hold Back (1978)
The Crusaders – Carnival Of The Night (1979, on bass)

Jimmy Riley, 61, Jamaican reggae singer, on March 23
The Sensations – Everyday Is Like A Holiday (1969)

Roger Cicero, 45, German jazz and pop singer, on March 24
Roger Cicero – Schieß mich doch zum Mond (2006)

Peter Andreoli (Anders), 74, doo wop singer, songwriter, producer, on March 24
The Videls – Mr Lonely (1960)
The Ronettes – The Best Part Of Breaking Up (1964, as co-writer)

Joe Skyward, 57, bassist with Sunny Day Real Estate, The Posies, on March 26

Ross Shapiro, singer-guitarist of Indie band The Glands, announced on March 26
The Glands – Livin’ Was Easy (2000)

David Baker, 84, jazz musician, composer and academic, on March 26

Patty Duke, 69, American actress and singer, on March 29
Patty Duke – Don’t Just Stand There (1965)

Andy Newman, 73, pianist of British band Thunderclap Newman, announced on March 30
Thunderclap Newman – Something In The Air (1969)

Larry Payton, drummer of funk group Brass Construction, announced on March 30
Brass Construction – Changin’ (1975)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 6

March 31st, 2016 4 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 6

Six mixes in, and still not feeling guilty. This kind of music has an inexhaustible well.

Most of the artists here have featured before or are well-known, such as Carole King who is making her series debut here.

I’m not quite sure whether Donnie Iris really belongs here; his Do You Compute sounds sufficiently like it might be a Toto song, albeit with a touch of American New Wave. Anyway, I think it fits. The song was used to promote the game console and computer company Atari.

Dave Mason was, of course, a member of Traffic, for whom he wrote the iconic Hole In My Shoe and Feelin’ Alright. As a solo artist he previously featured on The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1. We Just Disagree, the 1977 track featured here, was Mason’s biggest solo hit, peaking at #12 in the US.

Jess Roden also had a Traffic connection: he collaborated with both Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood. Apart from fronting several bands, Roden was a songwriter and backing singer, doing vocals in the late 1960s/early 1970s on albums by the likes of The Who, Jim Capaldi, Sandy Denny and Mott the Hoople, and also backed Grace Jones on her 1981hit Pull Up To My Bumper.

Larry John McNally released very little music himself: three LPs and a clutch of singles. He was more of a songwriter, providing songs for the likes of Bonnie Raitt (Nobody’s Girl; Slow Ride), Rod Stewart (The Motown Song), Joe Cocker (Long Drag Off A Cigarette), Chaka Khan (Sleep On It; A Woman In A Man’s World), Mavis Staples (I Don’t Want To Lose My Real Good Thing), Aaron Neville (Struttin’ On Sunday; Somewhere, Somebody), the Eagles (I Love To Watch A Woman Dance), among others.

The excellent female vocals on Boz Scaggs’ Miss Sun are by Lisa Dal Bello, who had previously sung it on a demo for Toto. When Toto passed the song on to Scaggs, the Canadian singer was invited to repeat her vocals.

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

1. Little River Band – It’s A Long Way There (1975)
2. Player – Silver Lining (1978)
3. Donnie Iris – Do You Compute (1982)
4. Carole King – Lookin’ Out For Number One (1982)
5. Santana – Hold On (1981)
6. Boz Scaggs – Miss Sun (1980)
7. Eric Tagg – Promises Promises (1982)
8. The Doobie Brothers – Real Love (1980)
9. Bobby Caldwell – Coming Down From Love (1980)
10. Dave Mason – We Just Disagree (1977)
11. Chicago – Take Me Back To Chicago (1977)
12. Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg – The Power Of Gold (1978)
13. Pablo Cruise – Love Will Find A Way (1978)
14. Nicolette Larson – Dancin’ Jones (1979)
15. Robbie Dupree – I’ll Be The Fool Again (1981)
16. Gino Vannelli – Living Inside Myself (1980)
17. Larry John McNally – Just Like Paradise (1981)
18. Jess Roden – Brand New Start (1980)
19. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Just A Song Before I Go (1977)
20. Jay Ferguson – Shakedown Cruise (1979)

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

Saved! Vol. 7 – Soul edition

March 24th, 2016 10 comments

Saved Vol 7

Some years ago I presented a militantly atheist friend with a collection of gospel songs. I thought I was being mischievous, for my friend regarded people with religion as mentally disturbed and their intellect unworthy of his respect. Blaise Pascal? An idiot! Martin Luther King? A fool!

To my surprise, he loved the gospel music. In fact, he said, he prefers listening to singers deliver their lyrics, even if these are misguided, with the authenticity of their convictions. It adds to the listening experience to hear singers express the words they wholeheartedly believe, he said.

My atheist friend would like this seventh part in the Saved! series — which by dint of its subject matter seems to be the least popular of my series of mixes — in which soul singers sing about their faith. As a companion piece to Saved! Volume 2 – The Soul Edition, it is indeed a great listen. Just check out the slow-burning funk of the Bohannon track!

With George Martin’s death this month, the old debate of who the “Fifth Beatle” was resurfaced. There is a really obvious answer: it is Billy Preston, the only non-Beatle ever credited as having played on Beatles records. Preston was a good friend of George Harrison, whose My Sweet Lord he was the first to record. Harrison also produced and played on Preston’s 1969 LP, That’s The Way God Planned It. The title track features here, with Eric Clapton and Harrison doing guitar duties, Ginger Baker on drums, and Keith Richard on bass. Preston obviously does his own organ work. What a supergroup!

Kay Robinson is not famous, though she had a great vocal range and a belting voice. Her 1970 album We Need Time, from where we get This Old World, was produced by James Brown. Also benefitting from a great producer were The Emotions, who Blessed (like many of their sings) was co-written by the late Maurice White, who also features on the opening track by Earth, Wind & Fire.

And if you think all this is getting a bit to pious, look at the title of Marlena Shaw’s track that closes this collection: Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?.

So, for those who believe Happy Easter, and for those who don’t, Happy Feast of the Easter Bunny.

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

1.  Earth, Wind & Fire – Open Our Eyes (1974)
2.  The Glass House – Heaven Is There To Guide Us (1971)
3.  The Rance Allen Group – God Is Where It’s At (1972)
4.  Bohannon – Save Their Souls (1973)
5.  Billy Preston – That’s The Way God Planned It (1969)
6.  Dorothy Morrison – All God’s Children Got Soul (1970)
7.  The Chambers Brothers – Travel On My Way (1970)
8.  Mitty Collier – I Had A Talk With God Last Night (1972)
9.  Al Green – Glory Glory (1977)
10. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Come Ye Disconsolate (1972)
11. The O’Jays – Prayer (1976)
12. The Emotions – Blessed (1977)
13. The New Birth – We Are All God’s Children (1976)
14. Stevie Wonder – Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away (1974)
15. Kay Robinson – This Old World (1970)
16. Leon Ware – The Spirit Never Dies (1972)
17. Al Jarreau – Could You Believe? (1977)
18. Marlena Shaw – The Lord Giveth and The Lord Taketh Away (1974)

GET IT!

Edit: Track 15 was missing from the originally-uploaded mix. If it isn’t in your mix, here is the single file:
Kay Robinson – This Old World (1970)

Previous SAVED! mixes
Saved! Vol. 1 (Elvis Presley, Carter Family, LaVern Baker, Marvin Gaye and more…)
Saved! Vol. 2: Soul edition (Curtis Mayfield, The Supremes, The Trammps,  Jerry Butler and more…)
Saved! Vol. 3 (Prefab Sprout,  Wilco, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Lyle Lovett and more…)
Saved! Vol. 4 (Sam Cooke, Dixie Hummingbirds, Dinah Washington, Brother Joe May,  Jerry Lee Lewis and more…)
Saved! Vol. 5 (Donny Hathaway, Holmes Brothers,  Steve Earle, The Bar-Kays and more…)
Saved! Vol. 6: Angels edition (Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Rilo Kiley, Kris Kristofferson and more…)

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Any Major Radio

March 17th, 2016 12 comments

Any Major Radio Vol. 1

Every music fan at some point has had a relationship with radio. The sound of a transistor radio playing at the beach or in the park in summer. Tuning the car radio to find a station that plays good music. Home-taping songs off the radio, hoping the DJ would not talk into the song. The excitement of hearing a new favourite song for the first time on radio. Listening to appointment radio shows, such as the chart countdown, or live sports broadcasts. A song coming on that reminds you of an old love just as you are getting romantic with a new flame.

What are your radio memories?

I know that some readers of this blog present on radio. I also have tried my hand at that. So this mix is for all listeners of radio and all presenters on the airwaves — in short, for all of us.

Most songs here are about actual radio, not as a metaphor but as a part of life. The Joni Mitchell track uses radio as a metaphor, as does the Dévics song, but the rest is all about radio as a concept or object, about listening to the radio, or being or not being on the radio.

If you like this mix — you can tell me in the comments — I will make another one, as ever to fit on a standard CD-R and to include covers.

So, this is your host Halfhearteded Dude on AMD-WHAH, and your listening to Any Major Radio…

1. Ramones – Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio? (1980)
2. Steely Dan – FM (1978)
3. Warren Zevon – Mohammed’s Radio (1981)
4. Darryl Hall & John Oates – Portable Radio (1979)
5. Tom Robinson – Atmospherics: Listen To The Radio (1984)
6. Al Stewart – Song On The Radio (1978)
7. Roxy Music – Oh Yeah (1980)
8. Charlie Dore – Pilot Of The Airwaves (1979)
9. Steve Carlisle – WKRP In Cincinnati (1978)
10. Carpenters – Yesterday Once More (1973)
11. The Everly Brothers – Radio And TV (1965)
12. Harry Nilsson – Turn On Your Radio (1972)
13. Joni Mitchell – You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio (1972)
14. Fairground Attraction – Find My Love (1988)
15. Marc Cohn – Listening To Levon (2007)
16. Kathleen Edwards – One More Song The Radio Won’t Like (2003)
17. Dévics – Distant Radio (2006)
18. Hedwig and the Angry Inch – Midnight Radio (2001)
19. Regina Spektor – On The Radio (2006)
20. Monty Python – I Bet They Won’t Play This Song On The Radio (1980)

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A Life In Vinyl: 1983

March 10th, 2016 11 comments

Life In Vinyl 1983

One benefit of living in South Africa in the 1980s — an ugly decade in the country’s history — was access to places where one could hire LPs. At the very well-stocked Disque “record libraries” one would hire LPs for, I think, three days. You might sample them for possible purchase at a record shop, or tape them, or listen to them and decide that they were useless.

Popular new releases were usually out (though you could book them), but the joy was to try out less popular new releases as a way of discovering hitherto unknown music and to delve into music history with the classics. It was through the record libraries that I learned about bands like Little Feat and Poco, and about the Motown catalogue. It was through Disque that I became a Van Morrison fan (the title track of his Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart album would feature in this mix if Morrison wasn’t trawling the music blogosphere for his songs). Sadly the record libraries were banned in 1990 because home-taping apparently killed music.

So for much of 1983 I taped or bought many classic albums, and kept up with new pop music through video-recording from the Pop Shop music programme or taping hits off the radio. Perusing this list of songs here, it seems that until September I bought among new releases only the Bob Seger and Pink Floyd albums, and Heaven 17’s majestic Temptation on 12”. I also recall buying the An Officer And A Gentleman soundtrack. A new job I took up must have provided me with the means to purchase albums, because as of October I began buying many LPs. Of the songs listed here, I had the albums of all the artists as of track 15 (the Human League track I bought on 12”).

All of the songs here bring back 1983 to me. Kool & the Gang’s Big Fun reminds me of my workplace; Stephen Bishop’s song from Tootsie stirs up my yearnings for romance, which due to my working hours were impossible to pursue; the Madness song brings up the anxiety I felt when I spilled a bottle of red wine on to the carpet (hot tip: don’t try to vacuum up spilled red wine); the Pink Floyd LP recalls of my abiding hatred of Thatcher and the apartheid regime; the Billy Joel song reminds me of a girl called Pearl (and that line about “feeding the girl a comical line” has particular relevance to me); the Human League and Depeche Mode songs take me back of a New Wave club that I went to but which rarely was full…

1983 gallery 1Two songs here are South African. éVoid fused African musical styles with New Wave sounds; they had another hit in early 1984 and then faded from the scene when members left South Africa to avoid conscription into the apartheid army (since you ask, I too avoided the draft).

PJ Powers was a white singing star with her band Hotline who in late 1982 did the quite unthinkable of recording duets with one of the biggest African-language singers, the blind Steve Kekana. Those were the days when the charts in South Africa were segregated. African-language artists like Kekana or The Soul Brothers or Mahlatini easily outsold most US and UK artists, but the “official” charts would not reflect them, and the white radio stations wouldn’t play them. So when Powers and Kekana had a hit with Feels So Strong, and it received airplay, it was quite a revolution in apartheid South Africa. It helped that the song was catchy.

A song that should have featured South African artists was Malcolm McLaren’s Double Dutch, which more than borrows from the mbaqanga sounds of the townships. Indeed, McLaren and co-“writer” Trevor Horn were sued for plagiarism by South African group The Boyoyo Boys. An out-of-court settlement allowed McLaren and Horn to retain the copyright. It was not the first time South African act got screwed over by Western musicians.

Finally, an apology to Joan Armatrading. In 1985 I sat in the middle of row 2 in the Hammersmith Odeon in London for her concert. I might have eaten something off before the concert, which I really had been looking forward to. I felt ill, and kept falling asleep. When Armatrading announced Drop The Pilot, which features here, she called the crowed to come forward to the stage. That was highly irregular, indeed a security risk after Bay City Rollers fans had torn the place part a decade earlier. It is said that from the stage, performers can see the first three rows. With that strange chap sleeping through her performance, what choice did she have? So, Joan, if you’re reading this, I am sorry.

1983 gallery 2So, what did your 1983 look like?

1. Kool & The Gang – Big Fun
2. Hotline With P.J. Powers & Steve Kekana – Feel So Strong
3. Bob Seger – Shame On The Moon
4. Joan Armatrading – Drop The Pilot
5. Tears For Fears – Mad World
6. Blancmange – Waves
7. Madness – Tomorrow’s Just Another Day
8. Nick Heyward – Whistle Down The Wind
9. Stephen Bishop – It Might Be You
10. Pink Floyd – The Final Cut
11. Heaven 17 – Temptation
12. Bananarama – Cruel Summer
13. JoBoxers – Just Got Lucky
14. Malcolm McLaren – Double Dutch
15. éVoid – Shadows
16. Billy Joel – Leave A Tender Moment Alone
17. Randy Newman – I Love L.A.
18. Depeche Mode – Everything Counts
19. Human League – Keep Feeling Fascination
20. Style Council – Speak Like A Child

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