The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

May 21st, 2015 3 comments

Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

One could call session drummer Jim Keltner the fifth ex-Beatles Beatle: he drummed for John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, for all three in the studio and live on stage. He was in Lennon’s circle during the famous “lost weekend”, and partnered Ringo behind drums during Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh.

Keltner might be best remembered for his association with three Beatles, but the list of artists with whom he has played is staggering. Apart from the artists featured on this mix and the second volume, those he drummed for on record include:

like Joe Cocker, James Taylor, Seals & Croft, Carl Tjader, Bonnie & Delaney, Leon Russell, Freddie King, Boots Randolph, Yoko Ono, Sergio Mendes, Don Everley, Earl Scruggs, Donovan, Andy Williams, Van Dyke Parks, Frankie Valli, Dion, Keith Moon, The Steve Miller Band, Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Rick Springfield, Shankar Family, José Feliciano, Harry Chapin, Chuck Girard, Bette Middler, Mr Big, Ian McLagan, Neil Diamind, Bill Wyman, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Chi Coltrane, Lowell George, Carol Bayer Sager, Leonard Cohen, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Jimmy Cliff, Melissa Manchester, Lalo Schifrin, Alice Cooper, Rickie Lee Jones, Manhattan Transfer, Roberta Flack, Leo Kottke, Captain Beefheart, Rod Stewart, Don Henley, Irene Cara, Duane Eddy, Maria McKee, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnett, JD Souther, Aaron Neville, Gillian Welch, Richard Thompson, Johnny Winter, Toto, Toni Childs, Marc Cohn, Lionel Richie, Nick Lowe, Aimee Mann, Mick Jagger, The Waterboys, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Al Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Sheryl Crow, The Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, Chris Isaak, Buddy Guy, Traveling Wilburys, Jack Bruce, Crosby Still, Nash & Young, Rufus Wainwright, Boz Scaggs, Dan Fogelberg, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pink Floyd, Matthew Sweet, Ray Charles, Melissa Etheridge, The Charlatans, Lucinda Williams, The Pretenders, Fiona Apple, Ryan Adams, Robbie Robertson, Dhani Harrison, Sean Lennon, Cassandra Wilson, She & Him, Joseph Arthur, Michael Bublé, Lyle Lovett, Mavis Staples, Alexi Murdoch, John Mayer…

And that list isn’t even complete.

He played on classics such as Nilsson’s Without You and Ringo Starr’s Photograph, though he didn’t play on Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, as some people say. According to the man himself, he observed Al Jackson play drums on that song; Keltner did play on Better Off Dead, a song with just about the most devastating end to an album.

Keltner appeared on many albums which also featured past Collection subject Jim Gordon, and a few which also included work by Hal Blaine or Bernard Purdie (for links take a look at the end of this post).

On several records he played alongside saxophone session man Bobby Keys (another close Lost Weekend Lennon friend), who died last December, and who is the only non-drumming session man so far to have had a mix in this series. Of the tracks featured here, he and Keys play together on two: on BB King’s Ain’t Nobody Home and on Nilsson’s version of Many Rivers To Cross (arranged by John Lennon and with Ringo Starr co-drumming). On the Keys collection, Keltner also appeared on Carly Simon’s Night Owl and Martha Reeves’ Storm In My Soul (Keltner also drums on Reeves’ version of Dixie Highway on the Any Major Roads mix).

Jim Keltner and John Lennon in 1974

Jim Keltner and John Lennon in 1974

Jim Keltner was born in 1942 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His early interest was in jazz, and although his first outing as a session man was backing a pop group (Gary Lewis and the Playboys on She’s Just My Style), most of his early credited work was for jazz artists like Gabor Szabo and Cal Tjader.

It was his involvement with Delaney & Bonnie and Leon Russell that broke him in the world of rock. First Joe Cocker, always astute in appointing session players, engaged him. Very soon almost everybody else did, from Booker T Jones to Carly Simon to BB King to Barbra Streisand — the latter for her version of Lennon’s Mother.

While Keltner had played on several covers of Lennon’s Beatles songs, he didn’t drum for Lennon until the Imagine LP in 1971 (on Jealous Guy and I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier). On Lennon’s next three albums of original material (Mind Games, Some Time In New York and Walls And Bridges), Keltner did all the drumming duties, as he did on several Yoko Ono outings. He also played drums in the 1975 New York concert which was released a few years after Lennon’s death.

As always, CD-R length, covers, PW in comments.

1. John Lennon – #9 Dream (1975)
2. Art Garfunkel – Break Away (1975)
3. Jackson Browne – Ready Or Not (1973)
4. Rita Coolidge – That Man Is My Weakness (1971)
5. Bobby Womack – Superstar (1975)
6. Bob Dylan – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (1973)
7. Harry Nilsson – Many Rivers To Cross (1974)
8. Dave Mason – If You’ve Got Love (1973)
9. Jim Price – You Got The Power (1971)
10. Carly Simon – Waited So Long (1972)
11. Randy Newman – Short People (1977)
12. Steely Dan – Josie (1977)
13. Roger Tillison – Old Cracked Lookin Glass (1971)
14. BB King – Ain’t Nobody Home (1971)
15. Bobby Lester – Freedom (1972)
16. Bill Withers – Better Off Dead (1971)
17. Claudia Lennear – Goin’ Down (1973)
18. Hoyt Axton – Good Lookin’ Child (1974)
19. Ringo Starr – Goodnight Vienna (1974)
20. George Harrison – Try Some Buy Some (1973)
21. Warren Zevon – Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1991)
22. Roy Orbison – She’s A Mystery To Me (1989)

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Previous session musicians’ collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection
The Bobby Graham Collection

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Any Major Roads Vol. 1

May 14th, 2015 12 comments

Any Major Road Vol.1

Here’s the first of what I think will be two mixes on the subject of driving. Not “driving songs” – no Bon Jovi, no Bohemian Rhapsody – but songs about people in cars, or who are planning to be in one, or being on the long road. Having said that, I have test-driven this mix in my car, and found it a most agreeable companion on (mostly congested) roads.

The king of car songs is, of course, Bruce Springsteen. I could have chosen so many; just coming to mind as I write are Racing In The Streets, Born To Run, Sherry Darling, Cadillac Ranch, Wreck On A Highway, Stolen Car, Working On The Highway… If you have perused the tracklisting before reading this, as I would, you might either be troubled by the absence of Thunder Road, or delighted by my lack obviousness. The song is, in fact, included by way of prototype.

Before the song was Thunder Road and Bruce planned to take Mary out of this town of losers (the same Mary whom he gets pregnant in The River?), it was called Wings for Wheels, and the girl was Angelina. The recording here is, I think, the only one of Wings for Wheels, put down live in February 1975 at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Just over six months later, Springsteen recorded Thunder Road for the Born To Run album.

Also coming from a bootleg is Simon & Garfunkel’s America, in which the featured motor vehicle is a Greyhound bus. The recording is from the duo’s 1968 concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It is one of the best bootlegs I’ve heard, in terms of sound and performance. Well worth tracking down.

Rocket 88 is regarded by some as “the first rock & roll record”, as if such a thing exists (though Sam Philips, who recorded it, made that pronouncement, and who am I to argue with him?). The recording will usually be attributed to Ike Turner, and the credited performer tends to be forgotten. Jackie Brenston was Ike’s saxophonist, and his Delta Cats were really Turner’s Kings of Rhythm. Branston got the writing credit, though it was written by 19-year-old Ike. On the saxophone is Raymond Hill, who’d later father the future Tina Turner’s first child.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-combusted covers, PW in comments (where you are invited to leave a note).

1. Doobie Brothers – Rockin’ Down The Highway (1972)
2. War – Low Rider (1975)
3. Golden Earring – Radar Love (1973)
4. Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway (1977)
5. It’s Immaterial – Driving Away Form Home (Jim’s Tune) (1986)
6. Gabe Dixon Band – Five More Hours (2005)
7. Wilco – Passenger Side (1995)
8. Stephen Duffy & The Lilac Time – Driving Somewhere (2007)
9. John Prine – Automobile (1979)
10. Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band – Wings For Wheels (1975)
11. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Hollywood Nights (1978)
12. Edgar Winter Group – Free Ride (1972)
13. Eagles – Take It Easy (1972)
14. Little Feat – Truck Stop Girl (1970)
15. Martha Reeves – Dixie Highway (1974)
16. Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Hello Sunday! Hello Road! (1977)
17. Simon & Garfunkel – America (live) (1968)
18. Dionne Warwick – Do You Know The Way To San José (1968)
19. Lovin’ Spoonful – On The Road Again (1965)
20. Lee Dorsey – My Old Car (1967)
21. Chuck Berry – No Particular Place To Go (1964)
22. Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats – Rocket 88 (1951)
23. The King Cole Trio – (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 (1946)

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In Memoriam – April 2015

May 7th, 2015 11 comments

gallery1The only soul legend whose hand I’ve ever shaken has died. Percy Sledge enjoyed the privilege of my handshake in London in 1987. Sledge is of course best remembered for his soaring performance of When A Man Loves A Woman, and perhaps for Warm And Tender Love. In South Africa he enjoyed legendary status thanks to several tours there in the 1970s, especially in 1970/71, when he played to segregated audiences. There were of course those who objected, but even a good number of anti-apartheid activists went because, well, it was Percy Sledge. This was a time when the cultural boycott had not got traction yet — even The Byrds toured South Africa; the reason Gram Parsons gave for leaving the group. Of the featured tracks, two relate to that time: the opening of a 1970 concert for mixed-race audiences at the Luxurama in Cape Town, and the very rare Swazi Lady which appeared only on the soundtrack album of a documentary on his South Africa tour, Percy Sledge In Soul Africa.

Just a fortnight later, Ben E. King left us. Coincidentally, both Sledge and King had UK hits in 1987 with their classic songs on strength of commercials for Levi 501s. King, then still known by his birth name Benjamin Nelson, got his break in the late ‘50s as the frontman of The Drifters. That group’s whole line-up was fired by their manager (who owned the rights to the name) in 1958 and replaced by King’s doo wop group The Five Crowns. Due to a contract dispute King didn’t stay long with the group, recording just 13 songs (11 of them as the lead) before going solo. But what a line-up of songs that was, including There Goes My Baby (which he co-wrote), Save the Last Dance for Me, This Magic Moment and I Count the Tears (on TV King’s vocals were lip synched by Drifters member Charlie Tomas).

As a solo artist King enjoyed several hits, some later covered by others with commercial success, such as Spanish Harlem, Don’t Play That Song (You Lied), So Much Loved and I (Who Have Nothing). But his biggest hit was, of course, Stand By Me, which he wrote with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, based on a gospel song, Lord Stand By Me. King used the royalties for the song for the Stand By Me Foundation, which provides education to disadvantaged youths.

Anybody who has ever played Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird loudly while driving will have banged out the song’s drum rolls on the steering wheel. The drummer who created these is now gone, at the age of 64. Bob Burns joined Lynyrd Skynyrd’s in 1966 and played on the first two albums, which yielded hits such as Free Bird, Simple Man, Gimme Three Steps, Tuesday’s Gone, Don’t Ask Me No Questions and Sweet Home Alabama. He left the band in 1974 on account of the stress of touring. He died after hitting a tree on the way home from a gig in Bartow County, Georgia.

It is unusual to feature people in this series who never recorded or in some way helped to record music, but in the case of Suzanne Crough I must make an exception. Suzanne played little Tracy on The Partridge Family, a TV show which is still very watchable and the music of which (recorded by members the Wrecking Crew with David Cassidy) is much better than it is given credit for. On the show, Tracy’s job on stage was to play the tambourine, which was rather more believable than Danny playing like Larry Knechtel or either of the Chrises drumming like Hal Blaine. Crough left acting in 1980; she later owned a bookshop and managed an office supply store.

gallery2Jack Ely was responsible for one of the great iconic rock vocals of the 1960s. As a co-founder of The Kingsmen, he slurred the lyrics of their 1963 cover of Richard Berry’s Louie Louie in one take; not helped by wearing braces at the time. The good times hadn’t arrived when Ely got screwed over. The single had just been released, far from being a hit, when drummer Lynn Easton ordered that he’d front the group forthwith, with Ely tasking over drumming duties. Ely refused and left The Kingsmen. Once Louie Louie became a hit, Easton would mime the words to Ely’s recorded voice. Legal action put a stop to that, and secured Ely a slice of royalties, a rather paltry $6,000.

Nobody wrote more songs for Elvis Presley than Sid Tepper, who has died at 94. Tepper wrote 45 songs for Elvis, all of them for his movies; other than GI Blues none of them are very well known (though Tepper said Elvis had particular affection for the featured song). Tepper, a WW2 veteran, got his break in 1948 when he wrote Red Roses For A Blue Lady, with which Guy Lombardo scored a big hit. It was covered many times after, including a version by Frank Sinatra, for whom Tepper later wrote the hit A Long Way From Your House to My House. He also wrote the Cliff Richard hit The Young Ones, which inspired the title of the 1980s British cult comedy of that name.

Few will know the name, but in Bill Arhos the world lost a man who helped boost many careers and brought great joy to many music lovers. He was the founder of the TV programme Austin City Limits, which has showcased a huge number of great artists since 1974, when the pilot was shot — a gig by Willie Nelson (see a track from the show at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qn8A72wnOZM). In 2010 the show was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Ray Charles has died. And if you are slightly bemused at my failure to keep up with the news, let me hasten to point out that I mean the sighted, white Ray Charles who has died at 96. You’ll have heard his voice, perhaps even sang along to it: “Come and knock on our door….”. This Other Ray Charles, as he self-deprecatingly called himself, sang on the theme song of the sitcom Three’s Company. American readers of a certain age may remember him as the leader of the Ray Charles Singers, who backed Perry Como on his TV show for 35 years. And US school kids may have sung, or still sing, his Fifty Nifty United States, which lists the union’s states in alphabetical order.

 

Ralph Sharon, 91, long-time pianist with Tony Bennett, on March 31
Tony Bennett – Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe (1961)

Billy Butler, 69, soul singer, on April 1
Billy Butler – Play My Music (1977)

Cynthia Lennon, 75, first wife of John Lennon, on April 1

Dave Ball, 65, English guitarist (Procol Harum 1971-72; Bedlam), on April 1
Procol Harum – Conquistador (live, 1972)

Bob Burns, 64, drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd (1966-74), car crash on April 3
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man (1973)

Julie Wilson, 90, singer and actress, on April 5
Julie Wilson with Ellis Larkins Trio – The Party’s Over

Ray Charles, 96, singer, songwriter, conductor and arranger, on April 6
The Ray Charles Singers – Love Me With All Your Heart (1964)
Ray Charles & Julia Rinker Miller – Theme of Three’s Company (1977)

Milton Delugg, 96, composer, conductor (Tonight Show), musical director, on April 6
Nat King Cole with Stan Kenton – Orange Colored Sky (1950, as co-writer)

Stan Freberg, 88, comedian, voice actor, novelty hit singer, on April 8
Stan Freberg – Yankee Doodle Go Home (1961)

Tut Taylor, 91, American bluegrass dobro player, on April 9
Tut Taylor – The Old Post Office

Anne Tkach, 48, bassist of alt.country band Hazeldine, in a fire on April 9
Hazeldine – When You Sleep

Keith McCormack, 74, singer and songwriter, on April 10
The String-A-Longs – Wheels (1960, as member)
Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs – Sugar Shack (1963, as writer)

Bill Arhos, 80, musician and founder of Austin City Limits, on April 11
Lost Gonzo Band – London Homesick Blues (1977, original theme)

Ronnie Carroll, 80, Northern Irish singer, on April 13

Chuck Sagle, 87, arranger and composer, on April 13
Gene Pitney – Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962, as arranger)

Percy Sledge, 74, soul legend, on April 14
Percy Sledge – What Am I Living For (1967)
Percy Sledge – Cover Me/Knock On Wood (live, 1970)
Percy Sledge – Swazi Lady (1971)

Margo Reed, 73, jazz musician, on April 15

Johnny Kemp, 55, Bahamian singer, body found after drowning on April 16
Johnny Kemp – Just Got Paid (1988)

Eric Allen Doney, 62, musician, musical director (Bob Hope), jazz label founder, on April 17

Richard Anthony, 77, French singer, on April 20

Wally Lester, 73, tenor with doo wop group The Skyliners, on April 21
The Skyliners – Pennies From Heaven (1960)

Pete Phillips, 50, guitarist of synth band Six Finger Satellite, on April 23

Sid Tepper, 96, songwriter, on April 24
Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians – Red Roses For A Blue Lady (1948)

Marty Napoleon, 93, jazz pianist, on April 27
Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra – Kiss Of Fire (1952, on piano)

Jack Ely, 71, co-founder and original lead singer of The Kingsmen, on April 27
The Kingsmen – Louie Louie (1963)

Guy LeBlanc, 54, Canadian keyboard player with prog rock band Nathan Mahl, on April 27

Suzanne Crough, 52, tambourine shaker in The Partridge Family, on April 27
The Partridge Family – Brown Eyes (1971)

Keith Harris, 67, British ventriloquist who had a UK hit with puppet Orville, on April 28

Patachou, 96, French singer and actress, on April 30
Patachou – Mon homme (1951)

Ben E. King, 76, soul legend, on April 30
The Drifters – There Goes My Baby (1958, on lead vocals)
Ben E. King – Don’t Play That Song For Me (1962)
Ben E. King – Cry No More (1965)

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The Originals – Elvis Presley Vol. 2

April 30th, 2015 7 comments

The first part of the Elvis Originals covered (as it were) the Rock & Roll years and early post-GI period. Here we have the originals of songs Elvis covered in the 1960s and ’70s.

Elvis Presley’s artistic decline in the1960s is symbolised by the coincidence of his most derided movie, Clambake, which opened at about the same time as The Beatles released their groundbreaking Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP. A year later, in 1968, Elvis’ live TV special marked the comeback of Elvis the Entertainer. Elvis the Recording Artist, however, had not had a #1 hit in seven years when in January 1969 he entered the famous American Sound Studios in Memphis.

suspicious-mind

At first the old soul music veterans at the studio were dubious about working with the washed-up ex-king of rock ‘n’ roll. Elvis soon had them convinced otherwise. Eight days into the session, on January 20, he recorded the Mac Davis-penned In The Ghetto; two days later Suspicious Minds, which by the end of 1969 would top the US charts.

Suspicious Minds was written by American Sound Studios in-house writer Mark James (whose real name was Francis Zambon), who also wrote hits such as It’s Only Love and Hooked On A Feeling for his friend, country singer BJ Thomas. And it was BJ Thomas was in line to record Suspicious Minds, which James had already released on record to no commercial success, before the song was given to Presley. Elvis insisted on recording the song even when his manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, threatened that he wouldn’t over the question of publishing rights (always an issue with Parker).

Elvis would record four more songs written or co-written by James: Always On My Mind, Raised On A Rock, Moody Blue (which James released in 1975) and It’s Only Love. Chips Moman produced James’ 1968 version of Suspicious Minds, thereby creating a handy template which he returned to when producing Elvis’ version.

 

brenda-lee

Depending on where you live and how old you are, Always On My Mind may be Elvis’ song or Willie Nelson’s, or perhaps the Pet Shop Boys’ (who had a hit with it in late 1987 after earlier performing it on a TV special to mark the 10th anniversary of Elvis’ death). Originally it was Brenda Lee’s, released in May 1972. It was not a big hit for her, reaching only #45 in the country charts. Somehow Elvis heard it and found the lyrics expressed his emotions at a time when the marriage to Priscilla was collapsing. He recorded it later in 1972. Released as the b-side to the top 20 hit Separate Ways, Always On My Mind was a #16 hit in the country charts. In the UK, however it was a top 10 hit, and became better know in Europe than in the US.

 

jerry-reed

Another artist whose songs Elvis loved to cover was Jerry Reed, featured here with Guitar Man and US Male, originally released by Reed in 1966 and covered by Elvis two years later. Jerry Reed was a country singer who toiled for a dozen years before scoring a hit in 1967 with Tupelo Mississippi Flash — a song about Elvis. The same year Elvis chose to record Reed’s Guitar Man (the composer is listed as Jerry Hubbard, the singer’s real surname), and Reed played guitar on it. For Elvis, Guitar Man was a redemption of sorts after the degradation of Clambake. His performance of the song at the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special is one of the best moments of the show.

 

bossa-nova-baby

The writers most associated with Elvis are Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller. Their Bossa Nova Baby has been unjustly regarded by some as a novelty number from an Elvis movie (1963’s Fun In Acapulco). Even Elvis is said to have been embarrassed by it. If so, he had no cause: it may not be a bossa nova — it’s too fast for that — but it has an infectious tune and a genius keyboard riff which begs to be sampled widely. Perhaps it was the lyrics which had Elvis allegedly shamefaced, but the lines “she said, ‘Drink, drink, drink/Oh, fiddle-de-dink/I can dance with a drink in my hand’” are not much worse than some of the doggerel our man was forced to croon in his movie career as singing racing driver/pineapple heir/bus conductor. Or perhaps Elvis was embarrassed by the idea of including a notional bossa nova number in a movie set in Mexico.

Tippie & the Clovers, who were signed to Leiber and Stoller’s Tiger label, recorded it first in 1962 to cash in on the bossa nova craze. Apparently the composer’s preferred the Clovers’ version over Elvis’. These were the same Clovers, incidentally, who had scored a #23 hit with Love Potion No. 9 (also written by Leiber & Stoller and later covered to greater chart effect by the Searchers) on Atlantic in 1959.

 

crying-in-the-chapel

Elvis was greatly influenced by the sounds of Rhythm & Blues on the one hand and country music on the other — Arthur Crudup and Hank Snow. A third profound influence was gospel. Here, too, Elvis drew from across the colour line. Often he was one of the few white faces at black church services (as a youth in Tupelo, he lived in a house designated for white families but located at the edge of a black township), but he also loved the white gospel-country sounds created by the likes of the Louvin Brothers, whom he once regarded as his favourite act.

Indeed, gospel was the genre Elvis loved the most. In recording studios, he would warm up with gospel numbers. When he jammed with Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in the Sun studio (Johnny Cash left before any of the misnamed Million Dollar Quartet session was recorded), much of the material consisted of sacred music. At the height of his hip-gyrating greatness, he recorded an EP of spirituals titled Peace In The Valley. And let’s not forget that the only three Grammies Elvis ever received were for gospel recordings.

Elvis’ biggest gospel hit was Crying In The Chapel, which had been written in 1953 by Artie Glenn for his son Darrell, who performed it in the country genre. The same year, the R&B band Sonny Til & the Orioles — progenitors of the doo wop style of the late ’50s and the first of a succession of bird-themed bandnames — scored a #11 hit with the song (around the same time, a pop version by June Valli reached #4). It was the Orioles’ recording from which Elvis drew inspiration in his version, recorded shortly after he returned from the army in 1960. It was not released, at Tom Parker’s command, because Artie Glenn refused to share the rights to the song with the cut-throat publishing company of Elvis repertoire, Hill & Range. And with good reason, for the song continued to be a hit by several artists. Eventually Hill & Range secured the ownership. When Crying In The Chapel was eventually released in 1965, it was not only a US hit (his first top 10 single in two years), but also topped the UK charts.

 

wonder-of-you

Apparently written for Perry Como, The Wonder Of You was first recorded by Ray Peterson (he of Tell Laura I Love Her notoriety) in 1959, scoring a moderate hit with it. Peterson, who died in 2005, later liked to recount the story of how Elvis sought his permission to record the song. “He asked me if I would mind if he recorded The Wonder Of You. I said: ‘You don’t have to ask permission; you’re Elvis Presley.’ He said: ‘Yes, I do. You’re Ray Peterson.’” Not that Peterson owned the rights to the song, or was particularly famous for singing it.

Elvis recorded the song live on stage in Las Vegas on February 18, 1970. It was released as a single a couple of months later and was a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic, topping the UK charts for six weeks. It was also his last UK #1 during his lifetime.

 

burning-love

Elvis did not particularly like Burning Love; if he didn’t record it under protest, he certainly was not going to spend much time on it. Where 16 years earlier he’d spend 30-odd takes on the spontaneous sounding Hound Dog, he recorded Burning Love in only six takes. The production values were pretty poor: Elvis’ voice sounds tinny, but not for lack of trying. But listen to the drumming! Strange then that this slack recording scored big in the US (#2 on Billboard; the final top 10 hit in his lifetime) and UK (#7).

A year previously, in 1971, the soul singer Arthur Alexander (whom we will meet again when we turn to originals of Beatles songs) recorded Burning Love, releasing it in January 1972, two months before Elvis recorded it. A fine recording in the southern soul tradition, it made no impact. The song’s writer, Dennis Linde, recorded it in 1973 — his version, included here, recalls the sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

 

shannon-runaway

With its Bo Diddley-inspired guitar riff and flamenco-meets-rock ‘n’ roll feel, 1961’s (Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame served as a welcome, albeit temporary, break from Elvis’ succession of easy listening fare such as It’s Now Or Never, Surrender and Are You Lonesome Tonight (though within a few months, he’d top the charts with another standard ballad, Can’t Help Falling In Love). Like all these songs, His Latest Flame was not an original.

The song was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, who wrote some 20 Elvis songs — including Viva Las Vegas, their demo of which is included here — as well as hits for acts such as The Drifters (Save The Last Dance For Me) and Dion (Teenager In Love). Although reportedly written specifically for Elvis, His Latest Flame was first offered to Bobby Vee, who turned it down. Instead Del Shannon recorded the song in May 1961, with a view to releasing it as a follow-up single for his big hit Runaway. In the event, he decided to run with the non-classic Hats Off To Larry instead. His Latest Flame was released on the Runaway With Del Shannon LP in June ’61. The same month Elvis recorded his version, which was released in the US in August. Due to the arcane method of compiling the US charts, the His Latest Flame peaked at #4 and its flip side, Little Sister (another Pomus/Shuman composition) at #5. It topped the charts in Britain.

Shuman tended to tout his co-composition by way of demos on which he sang himself. The demo for His Latest Name is much closer to Elvis’version than Shannon’s, a less smooth, more soulful interpretation which has something of a mariachi band feel, using brass to accentuate the Diddley-style riff (which the Smiths famously sampled 24 years later on Rusholme Ruffians).

 

rockahulababy

It’s Now Or Never and Surender were based on old Italian songs; Can’t Help Falling In Love on an old French melody. This is the song which ignorant callers to radio stations tend to request by the title “Wise Man Say”. The fictitious title is not entirely off the mark: the lyrics were co-written by a pair of alleged mafia associates, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, with George David Weiss. Peretti and Creatore were partners with mafioso Mo Levy in the Roulette record label (named after the game that “Colonel” Tom Parker was addicted to), which the FBI identified as a source of revenue for the Genovese crime family. The trio also wrote the lyrics for The Lion Sleeps Tonight, a song stolen from South African musician Solomon Linda.

The melody of Can’t Help Falling In Love borrows from the old French love song Plaisir d’amour, composed in 1785 by Johann Paul Aegidius Martini. It was first recorded in 1902 by Monsieur Fernand (real name Emilio de Gogorza), and subsequently by a zillion others, including in 1908 by the baritone Charles Gilibert (1866-1910). It may be a little more accurate to describe Can’t Help Falling In Love as an adaptation rather than as a cover. While the similarities are sufficiently evident to mark Plaisir d’amour as the basis for the song, it certainly has been innovated on.

The song was adapted in 1961 for Elvis’ Blue Hawaii movie (the title track was a cover of a Bing Crosby song, of all things). Reportedly, neither the film’s producers nor Elvis’ label, RCA, liked the song much. Elvis, however, insisted on recording it. Elvis often was his best A&R man, and so it was here. The song was initially released as the b-side of Rock-A-Hula Baby (you do know how that one goes, no?). In the event, Can’t Help became the big hit, reaching #2 in the US and #1 in the UK. It also became a signature song for Elvis who would invariably include it in his concerts. Indeed, it was the last song he performed live on stage in Indianapolis on 26 June 1977, Elvis’ final concert.

 

The last five tracks in the mix are demo versions recorded by the songs’ composers. And in the case of A Little Less Conversation, Elvis was the progenitor for the later version which became a hit in 2002 under the Elvis vs JXL moniker.

1. Del Shannon – His Latest Flame (1961)
2. Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters – Such A Night (1956)
3. The Coasters – Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962)
4. Tippie & the Clovers – Bossa Nova Baby (1962)
5. Jerry Reed – Guitar Man (1967)
6. Mark James – Suspicious Minds (1968)
7. Arthur Alexander – Burning Love (1972)
8. Tony Joe White – I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby (1972)
9. Jerry Reed – U.S. Male (1966)
10. Wynn Stewart – Long Black Limousine (1958)
11. Brenda Lee – Always On My Mind (1972)
12. Ferlin Husky – There Goes My Everything (1966)
13. Ray Peterson – The Wonder Of You (1959)
14. Micky Newbury – An American Trilogy (1971)
15. Tony Joe White – Polk Salad Annie (1968)
16. Mark James – Moody Blue (1975)
17. Buffy Sainte-Marie – Until It’s Time For You To Go (1965)
18. Les Paul & Mary Ford – I Really Don’t Want To Know (1954)
19. Darrell Glenn – Crying In The Chapel (1953)
20. Bing Crosby – Blue Hawaii (1937)
21. Charles Gilibert – Plaisir d’amour (1908)
22. Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation (1968)
23. Laying Maetine Jr. – Way Down (1976)
24. Mort Shuman – His Latest Flame
25. Mort Shuman – Viva Las Vegas
26. Bill Giant – Devil In Disguise
27. Dennis Linde – Burning Love

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The Bobby Graham Collection

April 23rd, 2015 11 comments

Bobby Graham Collection

Some session drummers build up a colossal body of work over many years of tireless slog, but English drummer Bobby Graham did so in the space of three or so years before going away to do his own thing. In that time he drummed on pop classics such as You Really Got Me, Downtown, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, Gloria, The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, Tossin’ And Turnin’, I Only Want To Be With You, Green Green Grass Of Home and loads more.

As part of the British equivalent of The Wrecking Crew — which also included the likes of Jimmy Page (yes, that one), Big Jim Sullivan, Vic Flick, Andy White — Graham played on 13 UK chart-toppers and 40 more Top 5 hits, all within a couple of years of one another. He claimed to have played on 15,000 tracks — many of those presumably in the genre that was his first love, jazz — and nobody has challenged that number. It is not without cause that the producer Shel Talmy described Graham as “the greatest drummer the UK has ever produced”.

His reputation, built up as part of producer Joe Meek’s set-up, was such that by 1962 Brian Epstein reportedly asked Graham to replace Pete Best in The Beatles, probably without John, Paul and George’s knowledge. The North Londoner, then just 22, turned Epstein down since he was a member of a group that was more famous than The Beatles, Joe Brown and The Bruvvers.

label_collection_2As a session drummer, Graham took over Mick Avery’s part when The Kinks recorded their double whammy of 1964 hits, You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night. (Avery played the tambourine.) His drumming at the end of Them’s Gloria — Morrison was not happy about the presence of session musicians — was something quite new.

Graham might also have played on the Dave Clark Five’s Glad All Over, although Clark denied that. According to Graham, Clark didn’t want to produce and drum at the same time, and so roped in Graham, telling him to keep his drumming simple, so that Clark could reproduce it in concerts.

After 1966, Graham first worked in France, without great success, and then moved to the Netherlands, where he stayed until 1971. By then he had acquired a debilitating alcohol addiction. Having beaten that, he produced Christian music bands, then opened a North London record shop named The Trading Post, produced training videos and gigged in a jazz band. He died on 14 September 2009 of stomach cancer, aged 69.

Read more about Bobby Graham.

label_collection_1As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes banged-together covers. PW in comments.

1. The Outlaws/Joe Meek – Crazy Drums (1961)
2. The Ivy League – Tossin’ and Turnin’ (1965)
3. Herman’s Hermits – Silhouettes (1965)
4. The Walker Brothers – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (1966)
5. Petula Clark – I Know A Place (1965)
6. Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (1966)
7. Françoise Hardy – Je n’attends plus personne (1966)
8. Lulu – Here Comes The Night (1964)
9. Them – Gloria (1964)
10. The Kinks – All Day And All Of The Night (1964)
11. Jimmy Page – She Just Satisfies (1965)
12. The First Gear – A Certain Girl (1964)
13. The Pretty Things – Don’t Bring Me Down (1964)
14. The Sneekers – Bald Headed Woman (1964)
15. The Animals – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (1964)
16. Rod Stewart – Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl (1964)
17. Brian Poole & The Tremeloes – Candy Man (1964)
18. Joe Cocker – I’ll Cry Instead (1964)
19. Chad & Jeremy – Yesterday’s Gone (1963)
20. Marianne Faithfull – Come And Stay With Me (1965)
21. The Fortunes – Here It Comes Again (1965)
22. Dave Berry – The Crying Game(1964)
23. David & Jonathan – Lovers Of The World Unite (1966)
24. The John Barry Seven – Zulu Stamp (1964)
25. Antoinette – Jenny Let Him Go (1964)
26. Brenda Lee – What’d I Say (1964)
27. Adriene Poster – Shang A Doo Lang (1965)
28. The Bachelors – No Arms Can Ever Hold You (1964)
29. The Brook Brothers – Trouble Is My Middle Name (1963)
30. Billy Fury – In Summer (1963)
31. Bobby Graham – Zoom Widge And Wag  (1965)

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Previous session musicians’ collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection

 

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

Any Major Soul 1973 – Vol. 2

April 16th, 2015 4 comments

Any Major Soul 1973_2

What a great reception the first volume of Any Major Soul 1973 received! Such nice comments. Be assured that your comments — here and on Facebook (become my friend) — keep this blogging gig going.

I think I’ve mentioned most of the artists featured here before, and I’ve got other deadlines to take care off, so here’s part 2 of the 1973 soul mix, which I think might be even better than the first. Plus, there are two bonus tracks I could not squeeze into the CD-R timed playlist. Enjoy! (PW in comments)

1. Joe Simon – Power Of Love
2. Lamont Dozier – Breaking Out All Over
3. Al Wilson – For Cryin’ Out Loud
4. The Intruders – To Be Happy Is The Real Thing
5. The Dells – My Pretending Days Are Over
6. The Ebonys – You’re The Reason Why
7. Tommie Young – You Came Just In Time
8. William Bell – Gettin’ What You Want (Losin’ What You Got)
9. Bobby Powell – I’m Going To Try You One More Try
10. The Sweet Inspirations – Sweet Inspiration
11. 8th Day – I Gotta Get Home (Can’t Let My Baby Get Lonely)
12. First Choice – Newsy Neighbors
13. Kim Tolliver – Learn To Get Along Without You
14. Jackie Moore – Willpower
15. Claudia Lennear – Goin’ Down
16. Gloria Jones – Tin Can People
17. The Temptations – Law Of The Land
18. The Dynamics – She’s For Real (Bless You)
19. The Main Ingredient – I Am Yours
20. Willie Hutch – I Just Wanted To Make Her Happy
21. The Majestic Arrows – Another Day
22. Marlena Shaw – Waterfall
23. Gladys Knight & The Pips – It’s Gotta Be That Way

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Should Have Been A UK Top 10 Hit – Vol. 1

April 9th, 2015 9 comments

Should Have Been A Top 10 Hit

Every year an American radio DJ invites the public to vote for songs that should have been Top 10 hits in the US. Billing the vote as It Really Shoulda been a Top 10 hit!”, Rich Appel releases the annual list to coincide with 15 April, the big tax day in the US (hence the initials IRS).

Borrowing the concept, here’s the first lot of UK hits that missed the Top 10. More will follow, for UK chart outrages are many. But to keep the number of tracks in check, I instituted certain rules. The songs must have had a shot at the Top 10, so only songs that reached the Top 40 qualified (though on my shortlist there are a couple of exceptions) . If songs were Top 10 hits in the US, they were usually disqualified, so were songs that are now bona fide classics, else the Motown catalogue alone would flood my already long shortlist. And I used the year 1990 as a cut-off, since after that the UK charts gradually lost any meaning, even if the Oasis vs Blur battle for #1 was big news a few years after.

gallery-2

While promotion strategies and pure chance often decided whether a song would become a Top 10 hit or not, it is inexplicable why some of those included here failed to climb such heights. How did The Whole Of The Moon, a real classic, stagnate at #26, when in the week the song peaked the Top 10 included such garbage as Elton John’s Nikita and Jennifer Rush’s The Power Of Love? How did The Undertones’ utterly glorious Teenage Kicks get stuck at #31 when awfulness such as Frankie Miller’s Darlin’, Smokie’s Mexican Girl and, have mercy, Father Abraham & The Smurfs’ Dippety Day ranked above it?

And what injustice befell The Cure’s Inbetween Days to get stuck behind such horrors as Baltimora’s Tarzan Boy, Opus’ Life Is Live, Amazulu’s Excitable and Tina Turner’s We Don’t Need Another Hero?

One song here that failed to even crack the Top 30 did make it to #1, in a way, when Dexys Midnight Runners hit the top with Geno, a song dedicated to soul singer Geno Washington which references his #39 hit Michael (The Lover) from 1967.

And for the UK election in May, let’s have The Redskins’ song as the anthem, even as the return of the ghastly David Cameron seems inevitable.gallery-1As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-charted covers. PW in comments.

1. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks (#31 1978)
2. Aztec Camera – Oblivious (# 18 1983)
3. Big Sound Authority – This House (Is Where Your Love Stands) (#21 1985)
4. The Blow Monkeys – Diggin’ Your Scene (#12 1986)
5. Hipsway – The Honeythief (#17 1986)
6. The Waterboys – The Whole Of The Moon (#26 1985)
7. The Redskins – Bring It Down (This Insane Thing) (#33 1985)
8. The Jesus And Mary Chain – Darklands (#33 1987)
9. China Crisis – Black Man Ray (#14 1985)
10. Prefab Sprout – When Love Breaks Down (#25 1985)
11. The Colourfield – Thinking Of You (#12 1985)
12. ABC – When Smokey Sings (#11 1987)
13. Geno Washington – Michael (#39 1967)
14. The Foundations – Back On My Feet Again (#18 1968)
15. The Young Rascals – A Girl Like You (#37 1967)
16. Jesse Green – Nice And Slow (#17 1976)
17. The Beginning Of The End – Funky Nassau (Part 1) (#31 1974)
18. Osibisa – Sunshine Day (#17 1976)
19. Kiki Dee – Star (#13 1981)
20. Susan Fassbender – Twilight Cafe (#21 1981)
21. The Alarm – Sixty-Eight Guns (#17 1983)
22. The Cure – In Between Days (#15 1985)

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In Memoriam – March 2015

April 2nd, 2015 3 comments

The mind that co-wrote one of the great rock classics is no more: Andy Fraser, bass player of Free, has died at 62. He was a founding member of Free at 15, having had a previous (!) stint with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. He was not yet 18 when he wrote All Right Now, with the help of Paul Rodgers (himself barely 20 years old). His career after Free couldn’t reach the heights of his time with Free.

Something similar can be said of Michael Brown of the Left Banke, who co-wrote the classic Walk Renee and follow-up hit Pretty Ballerina at the age of 16 and 17. By 18 he left the group and never really had notable success again. It is said that Brown wrote the lyrics of both songs about Renée Fladen, the platinum blonde girlfriend of The Left Banke’s guitarist Tom Finn, on whom he had a crush. Tony Sansone, who co-wrote the lyrics for Walk Away Renée, claimed that the titular name was just a random riff on French names in the aftermath of the Beatles’ Michelle, which had come out a year before Renee was released in 1966.

gallery1It was no shock to learn of the death at 59 of Mike Porcaro, the bassist in the Porcaro family dynasty that also included brothers Steve on keyboards, the late drummer Jeff, and percussionist/drummer father Joe. Mike had been ill with Lou Gehrig’s disease for many years. He began his career as a young session bassist for acts like Seals & Croft, Lee Ritenour, Christopher Cross, Donna Summer and Michael McDonald (including on That’s Why, which I nearly featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 4, posted three days before Porcaro’s death). He also played on the Grease soundtrack. In 1982 he finally appeared with Jeff, Steve and Joe on a Toto album — on one track, playing the cello. But after that hit album, Toto IV, came out, bassist David Hungate left the group, and Mike finally joined his brothers’ band. He stayed with Toto until illness forced his retirement in 2007, while still continuing his session work.

British singer and songwriter Jackie Trent was a fine interpreter of songs by the likes of Jimmy Webb and Burt Bacharach, but she also co-wrote with Tony Hatch a string of hit songs, much in the vein of Burt and Webb, for herself and others. These include her UK #1 hit Where Are You Now (My Love) and the masterpiece that is Scott Walker’s Joanna. Trent and Hatch wrote prolifically for Petula Clark — including Don’t Sleep in the Subway and I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love (about Hatch and Trent’s affair before they got married in 1966)— as well as for the likes of including Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Bassey and Dean Martin. In the 1970s Trent and Hatch turned to writing musicals, as well as Stoke City’s run-out song We’ll Be With You. Having emigrated to Australia in 1980, they composed the theme for the soap opera Neighbours.

The trouble with trumpeters is that they rarely work alone, and therefore don’t get much attention as soloists, the way a saxophone player might. One way of determining how good they are is by looking at their catalogue: who worked with them, and on what. By that standard, Lew Soloff must rank among the greats. He was a member of Blood, Sweat & Tears’ great brass section in the group’s heyday. As a session man he played on hits such as Chaka Khan’s What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me, Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al and Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero. He backed artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Boz Scaggs, George Benson, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Art Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, The Four Tops, Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Eric Clapton, Herbie Mann, Mongo Santamaria, Bob James, Stanley Clarke, Chuck Mangione, Spyro Gyra, Roy Ayers, O’Donnel Levy, Frankie Valli, Odyssey, Ian Hunter, John Mayall, Angela Bofill, Marlena Shaw, Peter Tosh, Marianne Faithfull, Michael Franks and especially Gil Evans, with whom he released a number of albums.

The list of Jewish soul singers is fairly short, more so those who recorded at Stax with Booker T & The MG’s and Isaac Hayed backing them. But so it was with Sharon Tandy, who was born in Johannesburg as Sharon Finkelstein. She had early success in South Africa, including an appearance in the country’s first beat movie , Africa Shakes. In 1964 she moved to England, where she released several singles, none of which charted. In 1966 she became the first white singer and first non-American to record for Stax, a gig arranged by her connected manager and husband, Frank Fenter. Only one song from that session was ever released. In 1967 she opened for the 1967 Stax/Volt Tour of Europe. Fenter then hooked her up with another one his acts, the British psychedelic rock outfit The Fleur de Lys. In 1970, frustrated by lack of a commercial breakthrough and having split with Fenter, Tandy returned to South Africa, where she had sporadic hits in the 1970s. In the 1990s her work was rediscovered in Britain, and Tandy was delighted to be performing again.

For a rock musician, checking out while touring might be second best only to checking out while playing. So it was with AJ Pero, drummer of Twisted Sister in their heyday, who was touring with his latest band, Adrenaline Mob, when his bandmates couldn’t wake him. While driving, he had died in his sleep, at only 55.

gallery2Country musician Billy Block, who has died of skin cancer at 59, might not have hit the big times as a recording artist, but as a mentor and patron to many musicians, he helped form the alt.country scene that is often referred to as Americana. His long-running live radio show was alt.country’s equivalent to the Grand Ole Opry. Artists such as Buddy Miller, Lucinda Williams, Elizabeth Cook were showcased by Block who also helped mainstream stars such as Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves on their road to success.

Don Robertson, who has died at 92, will best remembered for the impossibly catchy The Happy Whistler, a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic. His greater contribution was his songwriting, which included Hummingbird (Les Paul & Mary Ford, Frankie Laine), Help Me I’m Falling (Hank Locklin), Ringo (Lorne Greene), and several songs Elvis recorded, including I Really Don’t Want to Know, Anything That’s Part Of You, No More and There’s Always Me.

In Britain, the great guitar instrumental Apache belongs to its original interpreters, The Shadows. In North America, however, it was a big hit in the version by Danish guitar virtuoso Jørgen Ingmann, who has died at 89. Ingmann was quite a star in Europe as well, especially in Germany, where he had a string of hits. In 1963 he won the Eurovision Song Contest for Denmark with his then-wife Grethe.

 

Brian Carman, 69, guitarist of surf rock band The Chantays, on March 1
The Chantays – Pipeline (1963)

Orrin Keepnews, 91, jazz producer and writer, co-founder of Riverside Records, on March 1
Bill Evans Trio – My Man’s Gone Now (1961, as producer)

Ryan Stanek, 42, drummer of death-metal band Broken Hope (1988-97), on March 1

Ted Reinhardt, 62, jazz and prog-rock drummer, in a plane crash on March 4
Spyro Gyra – Morning Dance (1979)

Jim McCann, 70, Irish folk musician (The Dubliners 1974-79), on March 5
Jim McCann – Clare To Here (1979)

Jimmy Sacca, 85, member of vocal group The Hilltoppers, on March 7
The Hilltoppers – Trying (1952)

Lew Soloff, 71, jazz trumpeter (Blood, Sweat & Tears 1968-73), on March 8
Blood, Sweat & Tears – Spinning Wheel (1969)
Bataan – Laughing And Crying (1975)
Chaka Khan – What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me (1981)

Wayne Kemp, 73, country singer and songwriter, on March 9
Johnny Cash – One Piece At A Time (1976, as writer)

Jerry Brightman, 61, pedal steel guitarist (Buck Owens), on March 9
Arlo Guthrie – This Troubled Mind Of Mine (1973, on pedal steel guitar)

Flabba, 38, South African rapper, stabbed to death by his lover on March 9

Jimmy Greenspoon, 67, keyboardist with Three Dog Night, on March 11
Three Dog Night – Shambala (1973)

Billy Block, 59, alt.country musician, showcase host and mentor, on March 11

Daevid Allen, 77, Australian guitarist and singer (Soft Machine, 1966-67), on March 13
The Soft Machine – Hope For Happiness (1968)

Mike Porcaro, 59, session bassist, member of Toto, on March 15
Seals & Crofts – Castles In The Sand (1975, on bass)
Toto – Good For You (1982, on cello)
Natalie Cole – Starting Over Again (1989, on bass)

Don Robertson, 92, country performer and songwriter, on March 16
Don Robertson – The Happy Whistler (1956)
Lorne Greene – Ringo (1964, as co-writer)

Andy Fraser, 62, bassist of Free and songwriter, on March 16
Free – All Right Now (1970, also as co-writer)
Robert Palmer – Every Kinda People (1977, as writer)
Andy Fraser – Obama (Yes We Can) (2008, vocals and as writer)

Bruce Crump, 57, drummer of rock band Molly Hatchet, on March 16
Molly Hatchet – Flirting’ With Disaster (1980)

Michael Brown, 65, keyboardist of The Left Banke and songwriter, on March 19
Left Banke – Walk Away Renee (1966, also as songwriter)

A. J. Pero, 55, drummer of Twisted Sister, on March 20
Twisted Sister – I Wanna Rock (1984)

Paul Jeffrey, 81, jazz saxophonist, on March 20

Sharon Tandy, 71, South African-born soul singer, on March 21
Sharon Tandy – You’ve Gotta Believe It (1968)

Jackie Trent, 74, English singer-songwriter and actress, on March 21
Jackie Trent – Where Are You Now (My Love) (1965)
Scott Walker – Joanna (1968, as co-writer)

Jørgen Ingmann, 89, Danish guitarist, on March 21
Jørgen Ingmann and His Guitar – Echo Boogie (1961)

Lil’ Chris, 24, British singer-songwriter, TV personality and actor, on March 23

Gabriela Maumus, 28, bassist of Argentine rock band Asalto Al Parque Zoológico, in Germanwings crash on March 24
Asalto al Parque Zoologico – Sonnen (2014)

Scott Clendenin, 47, bassist with death metal bands Death and Control Denied, on March 24

John Renbourn, 70, guitarist of British folk-jazz band Pentangle, on March 26
Bert Jansch & John Renbourn – East Wind (1966)

B.J. Crosby, 63, singer, stage and TV actress, on March 27
B.J. Crosby – Hound Dog (1995)

Josie Jones, 57, English singer (The Mighty Wah!), announced March 28
Big Hard Excellent Fish – Imperfect List (1990)

Preston Ritter, 65, drummer, on March 30
The Electric Prunes – I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (1966)

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Saved! Vol. 6 – The Angels edition

March 30th, 2015 8 comments

Angels cover

Easter is coming and, as tradition demands, this means I’ll post another SAVED! mix. But this lot is not particularly riffing on religious themes, even though angels are very much part of religious (and pagan) dogma.

So this mix of songs addresses the subject of angels from different perspectives: as those ethereal beings with wings, of course, but also as good-hearted people, love interests and metaphors. Unless the angels in heavy metal, who must either bleed or fall or are evil, those represented here mostly are doing saving through acts of love — and that suits the theme of Easter.

And I managed to cobble together this mix without resort to Robbie Williams, U2, The Eurythmics or Sarah MacLachlan, nor songs about one-night stands. I even had to leave some good songs out.

What is remarkable, though, is that three songs about angels here were released posthumously: those by Jimi Hendrix, Gram Parsons and Hank Williams.

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

Happy Easter, all.

1. Jimi Hendrix – Angel (1970)
2. The Black Crowes – She Talks To Angels (1990)
3. Delbert McClinton – Sending Me Angels (1997)
4. Aretha Franklin – Angel (1973)
5. Abba – Like An Angel Passing Through My Room (1981)
6. Martina McBride – Wild Angels (1995)
7. Glen Campbell – Angel Dream (2008)
8. Rilo Kiley – The Angels Hung Around (2007)
9. Jordan Trotter – Angels By My Side (2008)
10. Mindy Smith – Angel Doves (2004)
11. Cry Cry Cry – Speaking With The Angel (1998)
12. Jack Johnson – Angel (2008)
13. Chris Rea – God Gave Me An Angel (2000)
14. David Sylvian – When Poets Dreamed Of Angels (1987)
15. Emmylou Harris – Angel Band (1987)
16. Bob Dylan – Three Angels (1970)
17. Kris Kristofferson – Hall Of Angels (2009)
18. The Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys – Angel Band (1955)
19. Hank Williams – Angel Of Death (rel. 1954)
20. Edna Gallmon Cooke – Angels, Angels, Angels (c. 1950)
21. The Crew-Cuts – Angels In The Sky (1955)
22. Bobby Helms – You Are My Special Angel (1958)
23. The Louvin Brothers – The Angels Rejoiced Last Night (1959)

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Copy Borrow Steal – The Collection

March 26th, 2015 20 comments

Copy Borrow Steal

 

Like many people, I’m conflicted about the jury’s decision that the inspiration Pharrell and Stripey Rapey Guy took from Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up for their hit Blurred Lines constitutes plagiarism. Much has been said on the subject, and I still don’t know where I stand. The precedent the verdict has set disturbs me.

It seems that the real credit for Got To Give It Up resides not with Marvin Gaye. On his blog David Hepworth writes: “It was recorded from various jams, often surreptitiously, by Marvin Gaye’s engineer Art Stewart, who is quoted in David Ritz’s Marvin Gaye biography Divided Soul saying, ‘Marvin wasn’t sure of what I was doing but he left me alone to piece the song together.’”

The Marvin Gaye family seemed to be reaching points of hubris in the wake of their courtroom triumph, making the claim that Pharrell also ripped of Marvin’s Ain’t That Peculiar for Happy. Apart from the fact that the songs sound nothing alike, the battle would not be the Gayes’ to fight, but for Smokey Robinson, who produced it and co-wrote it with the other Miracles.

So, with all that mind, here’s a collection of songs from which later artists borrowed, copied or stole, or which otherwise bear strong resemblance. Some led to courtcases that found in favour of the original artist or were settled out of court. Others might have inspired the later writer, and some might be purely coincidental, taking into account that there are only so many chord progressions.

Some artists were pretty honest about where they borrowed from, especially The Beatles — George Harrison cheerfully admitted that he nicked from The Byrds for If I Needed Someone. Likewise, Chuck Berry was quite open about it that his breakthrough hit Maybelline was a reworking of Bob Willis’ 1938 song Ida Red.

Of course there are loads more examples that might have been included. I’ve tried to include tracks that are lesser known.

The most famous plagiarism case, at least before the one involving Pharrell & Thicke, is George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord, which supposedly ripped off The Chiffons’ He’s So Fine. In his defence, Harrison said that he took inspiration rather from the Edwin Hawkins Singers hit Oh Happy Day, though more in vibe than in melody. And if one listens to Billy Preston’s version of My Sweet Lord, recorded and released before Harrison’s, then one might be open to giving Harrison the benefit of doubt.

The most involved story here is that of the Rolling Stones’ The Last Time, which Jagger and Keef quite evidently ripped off from the Staple Singers song, which in turn has been said to have borrowed from the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama’s 1953 song of almost the same title.

The Last Time (Stones version) was adapted in 1966 as an instrumental by their manager Andrew Loog Oldham. He sold his contract to the cut-throat Allen Klein. By 1997, Klein controlled the Stones’ 1960s back catalogue. At that time British band The Verve secured permission from Klein to use Oldham’s string loop as a sample for Bitter Sweet Symphony. When Klein heard an advance copy of the song, he threatened to sue, claiming that the use of the sample exceeded what had been agreed on. The band and publishers settled on a 50/50 royalties split.

As the album hit the shops, Klein reneged on the agreement and demanded 100%, successfully so, because by now the album could not be pulled from the shelves. The out-of-court settlement was a defeat for the Verve – and, to some extent, for Oldham. All royalties were ceded, and the songwriting credit went to Jagger & Richards, even though their version of The Last Time had no significant influence on Bitter Sweet Symphony. And they picked up a Grammy for Ashcroft’s song…

The progression from Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness, from crooner song to soul classic, goes back to 1951: his take was only the fourth (and final) stage of the tune’s evolution as a soul classic.

Before Otis, Sam Cooke had recorded a fragment of the song as part of a rather lovely medley on his 1964 Sam Cooke At The Copa album. It was in fact that fragment which gave Stax executives the idea that Redding should cover it in 1966. Otis did so with great reluctance, not because he hated the song, but because he felt he could not measure up to his by now deceased hero Cooke. Produced by Isaac Hayes and backed by Booker T & the MGs, Redding did all he could to mess up the song so that it could not be released. He failed, and the song is now irrevocably his.

Redding apparently knew only Cooke’s version (hence the abridged lyrics). Cooke in turn had decided to include Tenderness in his medley after having heard the song on Aretha Franklin’s 1962 album The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging Aretha Franklin. As fine an interpreter of songs as Franklin would become (and already was at the age of 20), her version — soul-inflected vocals backed with an easy listening string arrangement — seems to have drawn from that by the forgotten Little Miss Cornshucks, whose 1951 recording was the first to Try A Little Tenderness the R&B treatment.

Some of these songs featured in the Copy Borrow Steal series, with backstories. The series was inspired Tim English’ fine book Sounds Like Teen Spirit.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-copied covers. Songs in blue are NOT included, but are the songs that copyborrowedstole or otherwise have intentional or coincidental similarities with or were inspired by the older songs. PW in comments.

  1. Edwin Hawkins Singers – Oh Happy Day (1968)
    CBS: George Harrison – My Sweet Lord
  2. Jorge Ben – Taj Mahal (1976)
    CBS: Rod Stewart: Da Ya Think I’m Sexy
  3. Bobby Womack – (If You Want My Love) Put Something Down On It (1975)
    CBS: Rod Stewart: Da Ya Think I’m Sexy
  4. The Javells & Nosmo King – Goodbye Nothing To Say (1974)
    CBS: Maxine Nightingale: Right Back To Where We Started From
  5. William Bell – I Forgot To Be Your Lover (1971)
    CBS: Van Morrison – Have I Told You Lately
  6. Natalie Cole – Our Love (1977)
    CBS: Seal – Kiss From A Rose
  7. Badfinger – Day After Day (1971)
    CBS: Joe Jackson – Breaking Us In Two
  8. The Byrds – Bells Of Rhymney (1965)
    CBS: The Beatles – If I Needed Someone
  9. Johnny Ace – Pledging My Love (1954)
    CBS: John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)
  10. Spirit – Taurus (1968)
    CBS: Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven
  11. Robert Johnson – Terraplane Blues (1937)
    CBS: Led Zeppelin – Trampled Underfoot
  12. Rex Griffin – Everybody’s Tryin’ To Be My Baby (1936)
    CBS: Carl Perkins – Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby
  13. Bob Wills – Ida Red (1938)
    CBS: Chuck Berry – Maybelline
  14. Hank Williams – Move It On Over (1947)
    CBS: Bill Haley & The Comets – Rock Around The Clock
  15. Little Miss Cornshucks – Try A Little Tenderness (1951)
    CBS: Otis Redding – Try A Little Tenderness
  16. Sam Cooke – Try A Little Tenderness/(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons/You Send Me (1964)
    CBS: Otis Redding – Try A Little Tenderness
  17. Horace Silver – Song For My Father (1964)
    CBS: Steely Dan – Rikki Don’t Lose That Number
  18. Ringo Starr – Back Off Boogaloo (1972)
    CBS: Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
  19. The Banana Splits – The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana) (1969)
    CBS: Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldier
  20. Humphrey Lyttleton – Bad Penny Blues (1956)
    CBS: The Beatles – Lady Madonna
  21. Staple Singers – This May Be The Last Time (1961)
    CBS: The Rolling Stones – The Last Time
  22. Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama – This May Be The Last Time (1953)
    CBS: Staple Singers – This May Be The Last Time
  23. Paul Robeson – No More Auction Block (1962, folksong)
    CBS: Bob Dylan – Blowin’ In The Wind
  24. Burl Ives – Lord Randall (1960, folksong)
    CBS: Bob Dylan – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

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