Any Major Springsteen Covers

April 27th, 2017 3 comments

 

When I was 14 I heard Hungry Heart on the radio. It was familiar and yet unlike any other sound I had heard. Looking back, I think it was the keyboards, which I still think are key to giving the E Street Band that distinctive sound (along with Max Weinstein’s booming drumming and, of course, Clarence’s sax). So I heard Hungry Heart and straight after school on a snowy day in February 1981 I rushed to town to find the new LP by this guy Springsteen. On my way home on the bus I could hardly wait to play it. As I held my new purchase, I liked the look of the face that filled the cover. This guy looked like a rock ‘n’ roll Al Pacino. Justice for all!

But before I could play the The River, I had an afternoon appointment with the optician who proceeded to shine a light into my eyes that virtually blinded me for a few hours. How auspicious that on the day my relationship with Bruce Springsteen began, I was blinded by the light.

I played sides 1 and 2 of The River to death. I rarely played the second disc. That first disc was perfect. With time I would become familiar with Bruce’s four previous albums, and come to regard Darkness On The Edge Of Town as one of the greatest LPs ever made. My loyalty to Springsteen began to waver in the 1990s, in as far as I didn’t rush out to buy every new album. But I have most of them.

So I was excited to read Springsteen’s autobiography. My biggest problem with it was the title. Could nobody come up with something less predictable than Born To Run? I like to think the title “Cars And Girls” would have been a great, even if very belated, riposte to the cutting Prefab Sprout song of that title from 1988. But that is my biggest gripe.

True, Bruce at times exceeds the waxing lyrical, and when he goes fan boy with CAPS LOCK switched on he sounds more like his fawning friend Bono than the poet laureate of a generation. But that’s minor quibbling. Born To Run is a welcome extension of the long prologues to songs in his concerts (usually The River). He is at once fully aware of his genius as he is also genuinely self-deprecating. Here is a man who knows his strengths and his limitations, and how to balance them. He knows his value and has no need for false modesty, even when he explains why he took the decision to be the boss of his backing band, the E Street Band. Incidentally, he says that he doesn’t like the nickname “The Boss”, much as Sinatra hated being called “Chairman of the Board”. I wonder what Bono calls Springsteen…

Born To Run mostly confirms that with Bruce, what you see is indeed what you get…mostly. I didn’t know about his battles with depression, and commend him for speaking about them with such honesty. I did know that Springsteen is a funny guy. Some of his songs are good comedy; take, for example, Sherry Darling. The book has some laugh-out-loud moments, such as when he describes his moves with Courtney Cox in the Dancing In The Dark video as “white-man boogaloo” and “dad dancing”.

Springsteen mentions a few memorable concerts he has played. To my delight, all three Springsteen gigs I have attended are included. His Wembley concert on 4 July 1985 might be the best of any act I have seen.

But I don’t want to write a book report on Born To Run, much as I recommend it. It rather serves as an intro to the mix I am presenting here: of covers of Springsteen songs. And it might seem easy to cover Springsteen. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band did so with Blinded By The Light. Patti Smith had a hit with Because The Night, and The Pointer Sisters with Fire. But Mann had his hit before Springsteen was famous, and our man hadn’t yet recorded the Smith or Pointer Sisters hits (the latter itself a cover of a record by Springsteen pal Robert Gordon, who sang it like Elvis might have).

It’s quite different covering Springsteen songs after Springsteen has recorded them, almost invariably producing the definitive version (differently to Bob Dylan). That is, I suppose, why so few dare to do that. It’s a risk, and it doesn’t always pay off. So, in absence of an abundance of any more quality choices, there most certainly will be no second mix of Springsteen covers.

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

1. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Born To Run (1984)
2. Nils Lofgren – Wreck On The Highway (1997)
3. The Band – Atlantic City (1993)
4. The Hollies – 4th Of July Asbury Park (Sandy) (1975)
5. Everything But The Girl – Tougher Than The Rest (1992)
6. Emmylou Harris – The Price You Pay (1981)
7. Cowboy Junkies – Thunder Road (2004)
8. Justin Townes Earle – Glory Days (2014)
9. John Wesley Harding – Jackson Cage (1997)
10. Raul Malo – Downbound Train (2000)
11. Patty Griffin – Stolen Car (2001)
12. Townes Van Zandt – Racing In The Streets (1992)
13. Richie Havens – Streets Of Philadelphia (1997)
14. Minnie Driver – Hungry Heart (2004)
15. Greg Kihn – For You (1977)
16. David Bowie – It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City (1989)
17. PJ Proby – I’m On Fire (1990)
18. Natalie Cole – Pink Cadillac (1987)
19. Big Daddy – Dancing In The Dark (1985)
20. The Flying Pickets – Factory (1984)

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Any Major American Road Trip – 6

April 20th, 2017 4 comments

 

It is high time we move on from beautiful St Louis, where we have been stuck since September (!) and begin our penultimate stage in the American Road Trip by going to Memphis. And we manage to do so without hitching a lift from Marc Cohn, much as I like his song.

To many, Memphis means Elvis, but I’ll leave him on the sidelines, too (other than by lyrical reference in the opening track). And still I was left with a broad choice of songs about Memphis — I should make a mix of Memphis songs at some point —which is only right, since Memphis is central to so many musical genres. One day I want to go there in real life…

Most of the songs here speak for themselves and have my endorsement. One, however, requires an explanation by way of caveat: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ I Care About Detroit was a civic exercise to calm racial tension a year after the 1967 riots and following the uprising that followed the murder of Martin Luther King (in the city where this mix kicks off).

Written by Jimmy Clark and Jack Combs — the former presumably was the Detroit soul singer; I have no idea who Combs was — the lyrics might as well have been written by Governor George Romney. Smokey was a bit of a stooge for agreeing to this exercise. Much as he declares his loyalty to his home city, Smokey soon joined Berry Gordy in upping sticks for sunny LA. The single had only one side — maybe the city was still waiting for Gil Scott-Heron’s song; maybe it was Gordy’s silent protest at the awfulness of the record.

One song here featured on the Right-Wing Pop for Bullshit Mountain mix I posted in happier times. The Pretender’s My City Was Gone, here to represent Akron, is not a right-wing song, of course. Quite the opposite. But it was hijacked, without permission, by the demagogue Rush Limbaugh (who, as it turns out, was not as harmless as those who tolerated his hate-filled propaganda claimed) for the theme of his radio show. In the end, Chrissie Hynde allowed its use because Limbaugh backed an animal rights cause. As I noted in the notes for the right-wing rock mix, Limbaugh has bragged about subverting the liberal Pretenders song, much like a misogynist who brags about having had sex with a woman he despises with the sole objective of defiling her.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes covers and a route-map (more detailed than the one above). PW in comments.
1. Bobby Charles with Delbert McClinton – Last Train To Memphis (2003 – Memphis, TN)
2. Nat ‘King’ Cole – Beale Street Blues (1963 – Memphis, TN)
3. Little Feat – Dixie Chicken (1973 – Memphis, TN)
4. Justin Townes Earle – Memphis In The Rain (2012 – Memphis, TN)
5. Johnny Cash & June Carter – Jackson (1967 – Jackson, TN)
6. Kris Kristofferson – To Beat The Devil (1970 – Nashville, TN)
7. Waylon Jennings – Nashville Bum (1966 – Nashville, TN)
8. Louis Armstrong & Bessie Smith – Nashville Women’s Blues (1925 – Nashville, TN)
9. The Andrews Sisters – Chattanooga Choo Choo (1942 – Chattanooga, TN)
10. Shel Silverstein – Boy Named Sue (1968 – Gatlinburg, TN)
11. The Louvin Brothers – Knoxville Girl (1956 – Knoxville, TN)
12. Leon Redbone – Big Bad Bill (1978 – Louisville, KY)
13. Aimee Mann – Ballantines (2007 – Lexington, KY)
14. Steve Carlisle – WKRP In Cincinnati (1978 – Cincinnati, OH)
15. Randy Newman – Dayton, Ohio 1903 (1978 – Dayton, OH)
16. Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – We Almost Lost Detroit (1977 – Detroit, MI)
17. The Kane Gang – Motortown (1987 – Detroit, MI)
18. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – I Care About Detroit (1968 – Detroit, MI)
19. Simon & Garfunkel – America (1968 – Saginaw, MI)
20. Sufjan Stevens – Flint (For The Unemployed And Underpaid) (2003 – Flint, MI)
21. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Prison Song (1974 – Ann Arbor, MI)
22. Ian Hunter – Cleveland Rocks (1979 – Cleveland, OH)
23. The Pretenders – My City Was Gone (1982 – Akron, OH)

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Any Major Decade: Best of Saved!

April 13th, 2017 9 comments

Over the past years it has become a tradition to for me to post a mix of songs about the Christian faith in the week before Easter. Predictably, they tend to be the least popular of mixes, by number of downloads (those who DL them tend to give great feedback).

I don’t now know whether it is because the subject matter is of no interest to some people, or because readers think I’m going all-born Christian Rock on their sorry asses. If it’s a case of the former: it’s about the music, not about conversion! Some of the best music has been about religious faith, from Bach to Mary Lou Williams to the Carter Family. And if it’s a case of the latter, you might not have followed this blog carefully. The music on the SAVED! mixes is great.

Unlike a lot of Christian Rock, what we get when artists in popular music address religious themes is absolute authenticity. That is true for the gospel singers of the 1940s and 1950s, who were as sure influential on the rise of rock & roll, as a musical form, as was R&B and country. Take Sister Rosetta Tharpe or Brother Joe May out of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard, and you remove an essential ingredient in their music.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Take away gospel, and rock & roll is a different thing.

 

The same goes for soul. The soul singers who modelled themselves after Sam Cooke drew their inspiration not from the crossover crooning in the mould of Twisting The Night Away of You Send Me. They modelled themselves on Gospel Sam. And perhaps the terminology of gospel needs to be redefined, if by that term most people think of massed choirs in flowing robes.

We have no flowing robes here, though there is a place for that too. We have soul singers, though. There was a time when soul singers recorded songs about their faith as a matter of course. They did so, the sequencing of these songs on the LPs suggests, not as a calculated nod to the folks who like that kind of thing, but because it was naturally part of their lives.

Then you get the surprise performances. Nick Cave has sung a few songs of religious content; The Mercy Seat, so incredibly covered by Johnny Cash, is one such song. Here we have Cave singing almost hymn-like about Jesus Christ in a most unexpected way. Cave is not a religious man of the traditional sort, unlike Alison Krauss, who has the voice of an angel (in as far as I am competent to make such comparisons, given my absence of exposure to choirs of cloud-sitting, winged angels). Oh, but when she sings A Living Prayer, even the most hardened atheist must get an idea of what it must be like to be in the presence of God. The same goes for the wonderful Mindy Smith.

 

Angels, plotting their next massacre.

 

Talking of angels, in the 1942 Nazi propaganda film Die große Liebe (The Great Love), the big Swedish star Zarah Leander had a showstopper song called Ich weiß es wird einmal ein Wunder gescheh’n (I know one day there will be a miracle), the video of which is HERE. The big production required a choir of angels, stacked together like a big cake. Trouble was, the producers could not get together a plausible cast of angels that could match Leander’s extraordinary height. So they turned to casting agency Stormtroopers, dressed up a group of elite SS soldiers in ways that the producers of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert would reject as being too camp, and stacked them up like a singing cake before they were let loose again in their day job of killing for the hell of it, using guns and, unlike their colleagues in occupied Poland, not poison gas. Sean Spicer, the SS of the media room, would approve. Read more about it HERE.

This mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Alas, the folder that contained the home-made covers was on an external (as opposed to eternal) harddrive that has suddenly died; so the devil was in the works…  PW in comments.

Happy Easter, and, if that is not your thing, Happy Chocolate Day.

1. Rance Allen Group – There’s Gonna Be A Showdown (1972)
2. The Relatives – Leave Something Worthwhile (1970s)
3. Honey Cone – Sunday Morning People (1971)
4. Soul Children – All Day Preachin’ (1972)
5. Elvis Presley – Run On (1967)
6. Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers – Wonderful (1959)
7. Brother Joe May – When The Lord Gets Ready (1959)
8. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – This Train (1943)
9. Marie Knight – What Could I Do (1947)
10. Spirit Of Memphis – Atomic Telephone (1952)
11. Lula Reed – Just Whisper (1954)
12. Deep River Boys – I’m Tramping (1946)
13. Carter Family – Can The Circle Be Unbroken (Bye And Bye) (1935)
14. Natalie Merchant with Karen Paris – When They Ring The Golden Bells (1998)
15. Wilco – Airline To Heaven (2005)
16. Tom Waits – Come Up To The House (1999)
17. Pops Staples – Hope In A Hopeless World (1994)
18. Steve Earle – God Is God (2011)
19. Mindy Smith – Come To Jesus (2004)
20. Alison Krauss – A Living Prayer (2004)
21. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Bless His Ever Loving Heart (2005)
22. The Chambers Brothers – Travel On My Way (1970)
23. The Glass House – Touch Me Jesus (1971)
24. Loleatta Holloway – H.E.L.P. M.E. M.Y. L.O.R.D. (1975)

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Previous SAVED! mixes
Saved! Vol. 1 (Elvis Presley, Carter Family, LaVern Baker, Marvin Gaye…)
Saved! Vol. 2: Soul edition (Curtis Mayfield, The Supremes, The Trammps,  Jerry Butler…)
Saved! Vol. 3 (Prefab Sprout,  Wilco, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Lyle Lovett…)
Saved! Vol. 4 (Sam Cooke, Dixie Hummingbirds, Dinah Washington, Jerry Lee Lewis…)
Saved! Vol. 5 (Donny Hathaway, Holmes Brothers,  Steve Earle, The Bar-Kays…)
Saved! Vol. 6: Angels edition (Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Rilo Kiley, Kris Kristofferson…)
Saved! Vol. 7: Soul edition (Earth, Wind & Fire, Billy Preston, Al Jarreau, Marlena Shaw, Al Green….)

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Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 2

April 6th, 2017 2 comments

The first Protest Soul mix, posted to coincide with the inauguration of Honest Donald in January, seems to have been quite popular. More than that, I hope it brought some kind of relief from the anguish of seeing that sphinctermouthed spluttermachine being heaved into the presidency — and seeing him wreaking his revenge on common decency without having received a clear mandate.

More should be made of this: Trump lost the popular vote, so his mandate is not unambiguous. He won the presidency legitimately, and therefore occupies his office and nominally exercises its authority legitimately — but his mandate is tainted by having been invested in him against the will of the people. So when he drains the swamp and fills it with sewerage, he is doing so without a clear mandate. The question, again and again and again, should be: “What mandate do you have to do what you do without a majority of the popular vote?” Trump has no answer to that; he knows his mandate is mandate is tainted. That’s why he lies about the supposed voter fraud. So say it loud and say it clear: “President Trump, on whose mandate are you acting?”

But this mix is not about Sphinctermouth. I’m posting it to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. The songs here were released in a range of within a year of MLK’s murder to eight years after.

As with the first mix, this is collection of soul songs that make an appeal for social justice, for racial equality and harmony, for black consciousness, or for political activism — some deal with one or two of these issues, some with all of them. There is no party-line, and the sentiments of some songs may clash with those of others. Together, they reflect a conversation in the black politics of the time, even if not comprehensively so — the Black Panthers don’t have an equal voice. These mixes are good companion pieces to the Songs About The Ghetto Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 mixes.

Some of the artists here are well-known for having articulated voices in that conversation — Gil Scott-Heron, Curtis Mayfield, Staple Singers, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye (featuring here with a performance from 1973’s Save The Children concert) — but one who is not widely-known is Bama The Village Poet. Seek out his songs — one, the astonishing I Got Soul, featured on the Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1.

As far as I know, his 1972 Ghettoes Of The Mind album on Chess was his only release. It featured Purdie on drums, Richard Tee on keyboards, Gordon Edwards on bass and Cornell Dupree on guitar. All I know of him is that he was born as George McCord in Birmingham, Alabama (hence, I suspect, the name Bama). Bama’s incisive poetry deals with issues that remain relevant today, but even if one doesn’t dig the black consciousness vibe, the music is magnificent.

I’m adding a bonus track, a funky and much-sampled groove from 1973 by The Honey Drippers who are calling to “Impeach The President”. I’d love to see Trump impeached and, if there is justice, jailed for whatever huckster stuff it is that will get him impeached. But as a pragmatist, I’m not so sure that it is such as good idea. Mike Pence is pretty bad news in his own right. Impeach them both — and clear out the Democratic Party of their lobbyist-beholden, strategy-bereft, courage-eschewing, compromise-making, backbone-lacking deadwood so that the sewerage that holds control of the White House, Senate and Congress can be flushed out.

Fight the Power!

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-fist-raised covers. PW in comments. And feel free to comment, even Trump supporters who provided us with some good laughs in the comments to the last mix.

1. Eddie Floyd – People, Get It Together (1969)
2. Segments Of Time – Song To The System (1972)
3. Marlena Shaw – Woman Of The Ghetto (1969)
4. The Staple Singers – This Old Town (People In This Town) (1971)
5. Brothers Unlimited – A Change Is Gonna Come (1970)
6. The Four Tops – Right On Brother (1974)
7. Funkadelic – If You Don’t Like The Effects, Don’t Produce The Cause (1972)
8. Candi Staton – Clean Up America (1974)
9. Lyn Collins – People Make The World A Better Place (1975)
10. Change Of Pace – People (1971)
11. The Dells – Freedom Means (1971)
12. Bama The Village Poet – Welfare Slave (1972)
13. Lim Taylor – The World’s In A Bad Situation (1974)
14. Johnny Taylor – I Am Somebody (1970)
15. Brother To Brother – Hey, What’s That You Say (1974)
16. Gil Scott-Heron – Whitey On The Moon (1974)
17. Stevie Wonder – You Haven’t Done Nothin’ (1974)
18. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (live) (1973)
19. Curtis Mayfield – Miss Black America (1970)
20. Sounds Of The City Experience – Babylon (1976)
Bonus Track: The Honey Drippers – Impeach The President (1973)

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Any Major Soul: 1960s
Any Major Soul: 1970s
Covered With Soul
Mix CD-R

 

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In Memoriam – March 2017

April 4th, 2017 4 comments

The headline death of the month was, obviously, that of Chuck Berry, who died at the age of 90 years. I’ve had my say on his musical legacy in the Any Major Chuck Berry Covers post. I could write about how Berry’s character was on the side of those you’d be best advised to avoid. One could have long discussion about the point at which one ceases to separate a man’s dark personality from his musical genius — is Chuck Berry a better man than, say, Gary Glitter? But let’s leave all that with just one observation: To celebrate an artist’s music and its impact must not mean that we lionise a deeply flawed man.

I felt one other death this month more than that of Berry’s. If I was to reduce the production style of Tommy LiPuma to one word, it would be “warmth”. Or, as in the title of an Al Jarreau album he produced, “glow”. There is such enormous intimacy in the recordings LiPuma produced for acts like George Benson, Michael Franks, Randy Crawford and Jarreau. It found perfect expression in that spectacular a-side of the 1982 Casino Lights album, of Jarreau and Crawford singing four cover songs live at the Montreaux festival. I post songs from it at every opportunity, as I did last month to mark Jarreau’s death (in fact, the first three of the songs posted in tribute to the singer were LiPuma productions). Before all that, in the 1960s, LiPuma produced on A&M records, including The Sandpipers’ megahit Guantanamera and records for the likes of Claudine Longet and Chris Montez. In 1968 he founded a record company, Blue Thump, which would have on its roster such acts as Hugh Masekela, Ike & Tina Turner, The Crusaders, The Pointer Sisters, Phil Upchurch, Gerry Rafferty, Dave Mason and Gabor Szabo.

As a freelancer he produced the soundtrack for Barbra Streisand’s The Way We Were, including the title song, and soon after signed on as staff producer for Warner Bros. He won his first Grammy for George Benson’s version of This Masquerade, from the Breezin’ album, the title track of which he had first produced with Gabor Szabo and Bobby Womack. In 1977 he became Warner’s vice-president for jazz and progressive music. He produced almost everything by Benson (other than the Quincy Jones-produced Give Me The Night), most of Randy Crawford’s and Al Jarreau’s output. Others he produced in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s included Michael Franks, Brenda Russell, Anita Baker, Peabo Bryson, Patti Austin, Joe Sample, David Sanborn, Bob James, Miles Davis, Earl Klugh, Yellowjackets, Deodato, Larsen-Feiten Band (including Who’ll Be The Fool Tonight), Randy Newman, Rubén Blades, Stephen Bishop, and Dr. John, as well as tracks for British bands Aztec Camera and Everything But The Girl. Later, working for GPR/Verve, he nurtured the career of Diane Krall while also producing for Natalie Cole, Michael Bublé, Queen Latifah, Willie Nelson, Paul McCartney, Gladys Knight and, again, Streisand.

Of the four Sledge sisters, youngest Kathy stood out as the most charismatic, and Debbie as the most distinctive-looking. Joni Sledge, the first of the four to pass away, turned out to be the creative one: she earned a Grammy nomination for her production of the band’s 1997 album African Eyes. With Kathy leaving in 1989 and Kim, an ordained minister, dropping in and out, Joni and Debbie were the only constant members of Sister Sledge, who started their career in 1971. They first earned international notice in the mid-1970s, and exploded huge in the disco era with Nile Rodgers-produced hits like We Are Family, The Greatest Dancer and, best of them, Thinking Of You.

You may have heard the voice of Valerie Carter, who has died at 64, backing up acts like James Taylor, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, Christopher Cross, Little Feat, Nicolette Larsson, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Aaron Neville, Outlaws, Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Lyle Lovett or Shawn Colvin. You might have heard her compositions for Judy Collins, Jackson Browne, Brothers Johnson or Earth, Wind & Fire. Or you might have heard songs from her albums with Howdy Moon or her three solo studio and one live albums. A couple of times she also featured in the Not Feeling Guilty series.

Few songs give me as much joy to croon along to as The Foundations’ Baby Now That I’ve Found You, the vocalist of which, Clem Curtis, has died. Born in Trinidad, Curtis came to London and followed an usual career path: from interior designer to boxer to singer in a mixed-race soul group. He sang on one of the band’s two big hit; by the time The Foundations had a hit with Build Me Up Buttercup, Curtis had left the band because of frustration with what he saw as lax commitment by his bandmates. He went to the US to play on the club circuit, and with the Righteous Brothers in Vegas. Despite good reviews the move didn’t work out and he returned to Britain to relaunch The Foundations.

Last month we lost the jazz musician and producer David Axelrod; this month we lost the trumpeter on many of the records made and produced by Axelrod, Tony Terran. But Terran’s career preceded those collaborations. Just 20 years old, he joined Desi Arnaz’s band in 1946, and was the last surviving member of the incarnation that featured on the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy. Later Terran was sought after as a session man on many jazz and big band records, and was also a member of the Wrecking Crew, the informal band of LA session musicians that played on countless pop classics in the 1960s and ‘70s. He backed he likes of Sam Cooke, Elvis (on Fun In Acapulco), Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, The Monkees, Bob Dylan (on Self-Portrait), Neil Diamond (on Jonathan Livingston Seagull), Bonnie Raitt, Maxine Weldon, The Sandpipers, PJ Proby, Four Tops, Fifth Dimension, Randy Newman, Tina Turner, Nilsson, Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, Linda Ronstadt, Madonna and many others. He was also present on many TV and film scores and themes including, on TV, The Brady Bunch, I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart, Happy Days, The Carol Burnett Show, Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Cheers, L.A. Law, The Simpsons, and on film the first three Rocky The Karate Kid movies, Dirty Harry, All the President’s Men, Saturday Night Fever, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Grease, The Right Stuff, An Officer and a Gentleman, Ghostbusters and Field of Dreams.

One moment you’re the bass player on some of pop’s greatest hits; the next you change track to be a ukelele player with special emphasis on Hawaiian music. That’s how it went with Lyle Ritz. Another Wrecking Crew alumni, like Tony Terran he played on many of the hits produced by Phil Spector, for the Beach Boys (including most of Pet Sounds), Sonny & Cher, The Monkees, Ray Charles, Herb Alpert, Randy Newman (who worked with at least three of this month’s dead), Linda Ronstadt, Nilsson, Warren Zevon, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and others. He also played bass on the theme tunes for Kojak, The Rockford Files and Name That Tune. Then he chucked all that in to return to his first love: the ukulele. Before becoming a legendary bass player, he had recorded some ukulele jazz albums on Verve. And the ukulele Steve Martin plays in 1979’s The Jerk? That was Ritz. But he went full-ukelele jacket in 1984. In 2007 he was inducted into the Ukulele Hall of Fame.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has lost his quasi-father-in-law with the death of ex-Boston drummer Sib Hashian, who died at 67 while performing on a cruise ship (Johnson’s partner is Sib’s daughter, the musician Lauren Hashian). Sib played on the first two Boston albums, having replaced Jim Masdea, for whom he had to clear his stool in 1986 during the recording of Third Stage. Apparently Epic Records had forced Masdea’s departure after he had played on the demos for the first album, on which Hashian played the arrangement of the man he had replaced, including that of More Than A Feeling. I’ve been unable to confirm whether it was Hashian or Masdea playing on 1986’s Amanda, which was first laid down in 1980.Currently running on TV is a pretty decent drama series on the early days of Sun Records. Alas it makes no reference to blues singer and harmonica player James Cotton, who as a teenager cut a couple of records with Sam Philips’ label (I think it’s the great blues guitarist Pat Hare playing the solo on the featured song). Before that he had been backing Howlin’ Wolf on harmonica; later he did the same for other blues legends such as Muddy Waters (including his legendary 1977 album Hard Again), Little Walter, Otis Spann, Big Mama Thornton and Koko Taylor (let’s not mention his bills-paying gig with Steven Seagal). He also recorded for rock acts such as the Steve Miller Band and Johnny Winters, and toured with Janis Joplin. And all the while he kept releasing his own records, solo or as part of the James Cotton Blues Band. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006.

Japanese musicians who enjoy international success tend to come from the world of jazz, but briefly in the 1960s, beat group The Spiders gained enough attention to merit tours of Europe and the USA. In Japan they were massive, having a string of hit singles in the 1960s and early ‘70s, and following in the footsteps of The Beatles by appearing in films. Founder, singer and guitarist Hiroshi ‘Monsieur’ Kamayatsu died on the first day of the month at 78 from pancreatic cancer.

As John Lennon’s childhood friend and bandmate in The Quarrymen, Pete Shotton remained on The Beatles scene, occasionally adding moments that have become part of pop history. One might wonder whether the other Quarrymen — Lennon’s group which McCartney would join — ever thought about what might have been had Lennon stuck with them to form The Beatles. Not Shotton, the washboard player who had his instrument smashed over his head by Lennon when he announced that he didn’t want to play music anymore. As part of the broader Beatles encourage, Shotton ended up working for Apple but left when Yoko arrived on the scene. He went on to become a successful businessman, starting the Fatty Arbuckle’s chain of restaurants in Britain.

It’s not normal to feature photographers in this music In Memoriam, but Don Hunstein merits an exception, alone for his photographs of Bob Dylan with his then-girlfriend Suze Rotolo that became immortal on the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Hunstein had joined Columbia Records as in-house photographer in 1955 and stayed with the label until 1986, which have him access to many jazz, rock and soul legends, for cover shoots and candid shots of greats such as Johnny Cash, Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis (including the cover of his Nefertiti album), Billie Holiday, Dave Brubeck, Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Theolonius Monk, Tony Bennett, Glenn Gould, Aretha Franklin, Simon & Garfunkel, Loretta Lynn, Janis Joplin, Billy Joel and Stevie Ray Vaughan working on their craft. He became so friendly with his subjects that some invited him to spend time with them privately. One of them was Dylan: the photos of Bob and Suze were more spontaneous observations rather than carefully planned staged shoots. See some of Hunstein’s photos at www.donhunstein.com

Ric Marlow, 91, songwriter and actor, on Feb. 28
Billy Dee Williams – A Taste Of Honey (1960, as co-writer)
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – A Taste Of Honey (1965, as co-writer)

Leone di Lernia, 78, Italian singer, composer and radio personality, on Feb. 28

Hiroshi ‘Monsieur’ Kamayatsu, 78, singer-guitarist for Japanese rock band The Spiders, on March 1
The Spiders – Kaze Ga Naiteriru (1967)

Wally Pikal, 90, one-man vaudeville musician, on March 1

Lyle Ritz, 87, bassist and ukulelist, on March 3
Beach Boys – Caroline No (1966, on ukulele)
Harry Nilsson – Without Her (1967, on bass)
Lyle Ritz – I’m Old Fashioned (2006)

Misha Mengelberg, 81, Dutch jazz pianist, composer, on March 3

Tommy Page, 46, singer-songwriter, record label executive, on March 3
Tommy Page – I’ll Be Your Everything (1990)

Valerie Carter, 64, singer-songwriter, on March 4
Little Feat – Long Distance Love (1975, on backing vocals)
Valerie Carter – Ooh Child (1977)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Turn It Into Something Good (1980, as writer)

Edi Fitzroy, 62, Jamaican reggae singer, on March 4
Edi Fitzroy – Princess Black (1982)

Lars Diedricson, 55, Swedish singer-songwriter, on March 6
Take Me To Your Heaven – Charlotte Nilsson (1999, as co-writer; winner of Eurovision 1999)

Robbie Hoddinott, 62, guitarist of country-rock band Kingfish, on March 6
Kingfish – Feels So Good (1978)

Dave Valentin, 64, Puerto Rican jazz flautist, on March 8
Lee Ritenour – Etude (1978, on flute with Ray Beckenstein & Eddie Daniels)
Dave Valentin – I Want To Be Where You Are (1978)

Tony Lorenzo, 30, guitarist with death metal band Sons of Azrael, on March 9

Joni Sledge, 60, singer with Sister Sledge, on March 10
Sister Sledge – Love Don’t You Go Through No Changes On Me (1974)
Sister Sledge – Thinking Of You (1979)
Sister Sledge – Walking In The Light (1997, also as producer)

Don Warden, 87, country steel guitarist, manager of Dolly Parton, on March 11
Moe Bandy – Here I Am, I’m Drunk Again (1976, as co-writer)

Evan Johns, 60, singer-guitarist of H-Bombs, LeRoi Brothers, on March 11
LeRoi Brothers – Ballad Of LeRoi Brothers (1986)

Robert ‘P-Nut’ Johnson, 70, singer with Paliament-Funkadelic, on March 12
Bootsy’s Rubber Band – The Pinocchio Theory (1977, on tenor/falsetto vocals)

Joey Alves, 63, lead guitarist of hard rock band Y&T, on March 12
Y&T – Lipstick And Leather (1984)

John Lever, 55, drummer of British rock band The Chameleons, on March 13
The Chameleons – Singing Rule Britannia (While The Walls Close In) (1985)

Maxx Kidd, 75, pioneering go-go singer and producer, on March 13

Tommy LiPuma, 80, legendary record producer, on March 13
Claudine Longet – Walk In The Park (1968; as producer and as “Harold”)
George Benson – This Masquerade (1976, as producer)
Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford – Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong (1982, as producer)
Bob James & David Sanborn – Maputo (1986, as producer)
Aztec Camera – How Men Are (1988)

Phil Garland, 75, New Zealand folk musician, on March 14

James Cotton, 81, blues singer, harmonica player, on March 15
James Cotton – My Baby (1954)
Muddy Waters – The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock And Roll (1977, on harp)
James Cotton feat. Ruthie Foster – Wrapped Around My Heart (2013)

Chuck Berry, 90, rock ‘n’ roll legend, on March 18
Chuck Berry – Maybellene (1955)
Chuck Berry – Brown Eyed Handsome Man (1956)
Chuck Berry – Come On (1963)
Chuck Berry – Night Beat (1965)

Don Hunstein, 88, photographer, on March 18

Tony Terran, 90, trumpeter and session musician, on March 20
Sam Cooke – Shake (1965)
Tony Terran – Over The Rainbow (1968)
Tony Terran – Theme of ‘The Magician’ (1973, on piccolo trumpet)

Roy Fisher, 86, English poet and jazz pianist, on March 21

Chuck Barris, 87, TV personality and songwriter, on March 21
Freddy Cannon – Palisades Park (1962, as writer)

Sib Hashian, 67, drummer of rock band Boston, on March 22
Boston – More Than A Feeling (1976)
Boston – Feelin’ Satisfied (1978)

Sven-Erik Magnusson, 74, singer of Swedish danc e band Sven-Ingvars, on March 22

Peter Shotton, 75, washboardist with The Quarrymen, on March 22
The Quarrymen – That’ll Be The Day (1958)

Vincent Falcone, 79, pianist, conductor (also for Frank Sinatra), on March 24

Avo Uvezian, 91, Lebanese-born jazz pianist, on March 24
Avo Uvezian – Armenia (2004)

Jimmy Dotson, 82, blues musician, on March 26

Alessandro Alessandroni, 92, Italian composer, conductor and guitarist, on March 26
Ennio Morricone – For A Few Dollars More (1965, on guitar, whistling, conductor of chorus)

Clem Curtis, 76, Trinidadian-born singer of British soul group The Foundations, on March 27
The Foundations – Baby, Now That I’ve Found You (1967, on lead vocals)
Clem Curtis – Point Of No Return (1972)

Edward Grimes, 43, drummer of rock groups Rachel’s, Shipping News, on March 27

Arthur Blythe, 76, jazz saxophonist and composer, on March 27
Arthur Blythe – Caravan (1978)

Aldo Guibovich, 64, singer with Peruvian Latin pop band Los Pasteles Verdes, on March 28
Los Pasteles Verdes – Fumando Espero (1973)

Terry Fischer Siegel , 70, pop and jazz singer, on March 28
The Murmaids – Popsicles And Icicle (1963)

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Any Major Decade: Favourites Vol. 2

March 30th, 2017 11 comments

 

Thank you, all you lovely people, for your kind comments on the first Any Major Decade mix, which marked this site’s 10th birthday. It was so good to read how this site has made a difference to a number of people— some in ways that are incidental, a few more profoundly.

covers-gallery-2

One bit of feedback that I treasure precedes that post by quite a while. Regular commenter Johnny Diego reported back to me that he had made CDs the mixes of the Germany’s Hitparade 1930-37 and Germany’s Hitparade 1938-45 to surprise his aged German mother, who came to the US in 1949, with these compilations of songs from her young days. She received these waves of nostalgia with tears — of joy and, I’m sure, also of memories. Johnny’s feedback, and his words of appreciation, touched me deeply as well.

I must say, I think the posts that came with those mixes — the extensive linernotes, so to speak — are among the best I have produced.

I was pleased to learn from the more recent comments that there are people who appreciate the CD-R length of the mixes and that some actually print out the covers. I play these mixes off my smartphone, so I have no use for the covers. I make them for the fun of it, in the hope that one or the other reader has use for them. So knowing that they are being used is great.

I will post more of these Any Major Decade mixes over the next few months. The songs included in the first two come from what I have selected as my Top 40 Any Major Mixes; thereafter I’ll compile them more randomly, as the mood grabs me.

Thank you all for sticking around. And please keep the comments coming.

This mix is, as always, timed to fit on a standard CD-R. I’ve not made covers for it. PW in comments.

1. The Chi-Lites – Give More Power To The People (1970)
Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 1
2. Honey Cone – Stick-Up (1971)
Any Major Soul 1970/71
3. Young Rascals – Groovin’ (1967)
Any Major Summer Vol. 1
4. The Byrds – All I Really Want To Do (1065)
Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 2
5. Peggy Lipton – Red Clay Country Line (1969)
Any Major Jimmy Webb Collection Vol. 2
6. Richie Havens – Handsome Johnny (1967)
Songs About Vietnam Vol. 1
7. Big Star – Watch The Sunrise (1972)
Any Major Morning Vol. 2
8. Steve Earle – N.Y.C. (1997)
Any Major Road Vol. 2
9. Counting Crows – Richard Manuel Is Dead (live, 2006)
Any Major American Road Trip – Stage 4 (California)
10. Aloe Blacc – I Need A Dollar (2010)
Any Major TV Themes Vol. 2
11. Marlena Shaw – So Far Away (1972)
Covered With Tapestry
12. Carolyn Franklin – Soul Man (1976)
Saved Vol. 2
13. Kenny Loggins – Heart To Heart (1982)
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 3
14. Little River Band – Home On Monday (1977)
Any Major Telephone Vol. 1
15. Kris Kristofferson – Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again) (1971)
Any Major Flute Vol. 3
16. Deb Talan – Cherry Trees (2001)
Any Major Love Vol. 1
17. Ben Folds – Gracie (2004)
Any Major Fathers Vol. 1
18. Bobby Darin – Sunday In New York (1964)
NYC – Any Major Mix Vol. 1
19. Mel Tormé – All Of You (1956)
Any Major Cole Porter
20. Edith Piaf – Notre-Dame de Paris (1952)
Any Major Paris in Black & White

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Any Major Chuck Berry Covers

March 23rd, 2017 26 comments

Rock ‘n’ roll was invented when Marty McFly’s 1980s guitar solo of Johnny B Goode compels Marvin Berry to phone his cousin Chuck for inspiration for the new sound the latter was seeking. The obituaries for Chuck Berry noted his huge contribution to the rise of rock ‘n’ roll. Along with Ike Turner — another nasty individual who, like Berry, is best remembered only for his music — Chuck Berry is often cited as Exhibit A in the claim that rock ‘n’ roll is the white man having stolen the music of the black man.

The argument has merit in some ways — the many hit cover versions by white artists of tracks first recorded by black artists or the exploitation of black musicians by record companies in the ’50s being cases in point. But it doesn’t hold true for the development of rock ‘n’ roll as a musical genre, which from the start was subject to a broad sweep of influences and served as a broad church of musical styles.

And that finds concrete expression in Chuck Berry’s debut hit Maybelline, the record some regard as the birth of rock ‘n’ roll as a thing. And in a way it was: Maybelline was the first rock ‘n’ roll record performed by a black musician to break into the Billboard Top 10. Berry himself said that he had based Maybellene on country legend Bob Wills’ vocal version of the traditional fiddle number Ida Red, recorded in 1938. The foundation of Maybelline was country, but the building was rhythm and blues. In varying formulas, that was the architecture of rock ‘n’ roll. Of course, Wills’ Western Swing sound was itself a fusion — the white music we now call country incorporating black musical forms — which led Wills to claim that he did rock ‘n’ roll two decades before anyone, but that’s another story.

The idea that rock ‘n’ roll started as a “big bang”, ascribable to individuals, or a select groups of individuals, or even a particular point in time, is absurd. The genre, which itself is so diffuse, was the result of a relatively slow evolution. Music that sounded like rock ‘n’ roll was already made more than a decade before Maybelline or Rocket 88. Just listen to Buddy Jones’ Rockin’ Rollin’ Mama from 1939 on A History of Country Vol. 3: Pre-war years – 1937-41.

My proposition is that rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t so much a musical genre than a social movement. And for that a series of big, small and tiny bangs were needed. Chuck Berry being the first black R&B musician to cross over into the Billboard charts was one such seismic moment. Rock Around The Clock and The Blackboard Jungle, Tutti Frutti, Elvis on Ed Sullivan, perhaps even the death of James Dean were others.

Chuck Berry, influencing some white kid in England…or Hill Valley.

So Chuck Berry of course does occupy a central place in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. And other than Elvis, a good case can be made that Berry most influenced the post-war kids who would lead the British invasion in the 1960s — though he was by no means the only one, so the equation that without Berry there’d have been no Beatles or Stones is poor arithmetic.

Unlike Elvis, Berry wrote his own songs, and this is the subject of this mix: 26 covers of tracks written by Chuck Berry between 1954 and 1970 (the mix is a result of me taking the bait from regular reader and radio presenter Martin). What is striking is how few black artists covered Chuck Berry. On this mix I count three. Three other shortlisted covers by black artists — Wilson Picket, Robert Cray and Aaron Neville — didn’t make the cut. Similarly, very few women covered Berry (which the old misogynist might have been pleased about). Which raises the question: Is Chuck Berry music the soundtrack of white maleness? Answers on a postcard, please.

Of my joint-favourite Berry songs, one is covered as one would expect it and as it has to be by the Beach Boys. The other, however, sounds nothing like the original. Taj Mahal does interesting things to Brown-Eyed Handsome Man, though I still prefer the original. I never had much of an opinion either way of Too Much Monkey Business, but Leon Russell’s version here is exquisite — one of the few instances where the cover of a Chuck Berry song is much better than the original.

My choice for the cover of Memphis, Tennessee was obvious — even if I still like Johnny Rivers’ take the best — and there was only ever one choice for Rock And Roll Music. I expect that here and there somebody will regret that I left out some song or other (I’m adding on four bonus tracks that very narrowly didn’t make it on to the CD-R), but one song that I was not going to leave out was the b-side for Maybelline, covered here by Trini Lopez — on the title of which Chuck is declaring his future intent.

Alas, I found no suitable cover of a Chuck Berry song by his lyrical heir, Bruce Springsteen. But I can recommend that, if you are Springsteen fan, you join in the fun with the crowd in Leipzig, Germany, in 2013 on You Can Never Tell, the Berry song that seems to have been written for Springsteen and his E Street Band.

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

1. Electric Light Orchestra – Roll Over Beethoven (1972)
2. The Beatles – Rock And Roll Music (1964)
3. The Rolling Stones – Come On (1963)
4. Elvis Presley – Memphis, Tennessee (1963)
5. Trini Lopez – Wee Wee Hours (1965)
6. Marty Robbins – Maybelline (1955)
7. Ernest Tubb – Thirty Days (To Come Back Home) (1955)
8. Linda Ronstadt – Back In The USA (1978)
9. Emmylou Harris – (You Can Never Tell) C’est La Vie (1977)
10. George Thorogood & The Destroyers – You Can’t Catch Me (1988)
11. Dave Edmunds – Dear Dad (1982)
12. The Animals – Around And Around (1964)
13. The Troggs – The Jaguar And The Thunderbird (1966)
14. The Beach Boys – School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell) (1980)
15. Slade – I’m A Rocker (1981)
16. Status Quo – Carol (1981)
17. Rod Stewart – Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller (1974)
18. David Bowie – Almost Grown (1972)
19. Juicy Lucy – Nadine (1969)
20. Humble Pie – No Money Down (1974)
21. Taj Mahal – Brown-Eyed Handsome Man (1975)
22. Leon Russell – Too Much Monkey Business (1992)
23. Dr. Feelgood – I’m Talking About You (1976)
24. Luther Johnson – Little Queenie (1975)
25. Jimi Hendrix – Johnny B. Goode (1970)
26. Redwing – Bye Bye Johnny (1972)
Bonus Tracks: Conway Twitty – Reelin’ And A Rockin’ (1961)
Ray Manzarek – Downbound Train (1974)
Carlos Santana – Havana Moon (1983)
Levon Helm – Back To Memphis (2011)

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Life In Vinyl 1985 – Vol. 1

March 16th, 2017 5 comments

life-in-vinyl-1985-vol-1

What a year in music 1985 was for me! And what a pity that in terms of quality and excitement in British pop, it was nowhere as great as that incredible stretch from 1979 to 1981. In fact, by 1985, the corporatisation of pop music had already set in, and it was going to get a boost from Live Aid, an event from which every single act that took part in it enjoyed increased record sales — except for poor Adam Ant.

And still, it was a great music year for me. I had just arrived in London the previous November, and took full advantage of the range of concerts on offer. In four weeks between January and February at the Hammersmith Odeon alone, I saw acts as diverse as Chaka Khan, Leonard Cohen and Meat Loaf. In summer I saw U2 (of whom I was a fan then, believe it or not) in three countries, and Bruce Springsteen at Wembley. The culmination was Live Aid, which, for all criticisms one may legitimately level at the event, was nevertheless a magical day. I made a mix of the best Live Aid moments a couple of years ago. It’s still available here.

But it wasn’t just the access to live shows that was so special, but also my engagement with the charts. Previously I would consume records that usually had already been made hits by people in other markets. Now I was one of the hit-making market. I’d study the charts, I’d look out for new acts and champion them. I’d study their chart progress. And when they had a hit, I’d delight in my utterly useless status of having been an early adopter. If they became mainstream eventually, I might superciliously pull the “I like their early stuff” line.covers-gallery_1Some of these early adopted singles became hits — such as Since Yesterday or Black Man Ray — and others didn’t. For example, I bought Prefab Sprout’s sublime When Love Comes Down in spring; it became a Top 30 only after it was re-released in November. The Blow Monkeys’ Wildflower, a song I adored, didn’t even hit the Top 75. Irish band In Tua Nua also didn’t have a UK hit, though they were quite big in Dublin, where they supported U2. I was going through a bit of an Irish phase at the time, what with U2 and having a big crush on a cute Dublin girl.

Needless to say, I spent idiotic amounts of money on music. I bought some pretty bad music in 1985/86, and lots of great music. And, as ever, some music might have been bad but still occupy a special place in my musical heart because they remind me of good times. And 1985 was good times.

This mix covers the first eight months of the year. My arbitrary division of the year is governed by the time I started a new job, which also signalled a new chapter in my life.covers-gallery_2As always, CD-R length, covers, PW in comments. What are your 1985 memories?

1. Amii Stewart – Friends
2. Blow Monkeys – Wildflower
3. Killing Joke – Love Like Blood
4. Strawberry Switchblade – Since Yesterday
5. Colourfield – Thinking Of You
6. Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels
7. China Crisis – Black Man Ray
8. The Alarm – Absolute Reality
9. Prefab Sprout – When Love Breaks Down
10. Marillion – Kayleigh
11. Madonna – Crazy For You
12. Depeche Mode – Shake The Disease
13. U2 – Bad (Live)
14. Ramones – Bonzo Goes To Bitburg
15. Style Council – Walls Come Tumbling Down
16. In Tua Nua – Somebody To Love
17. Redskins – Bring It Down (This Insane Thing)
18. Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire
19. Eurythmics – There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)

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Any Major Bob Dylan Covers Vol. 3

March 9th, 2017 9 comments

It has taken a while for Volume 3 of the Dylan covers to appear — longer than it took for Dylan to respond to the Nobel Literature committee. As it stands, there will be two more Dylan cover mixes after this.

The fun thing about compilations of Dylan covers is to play off the featured versions against the originals: which one is better than the other? In some cases it’s a difficult exercise because the respective versions have their own merits. How do you compare Dylan with Tina Turner?

But for me the surprise winner in this game is Mike Stanley, who turns one of my least favourite Dylan arrangements (and I know I’ll make many eternal enemies and absolutely no friends for thinking so), Subterranean Homesick Blues, into the great song it is. Stanley’s eponymous 1972 album featured the likes of Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, Joe Vitale and Patti Austin, but somehow he failed to make it really big in the mainstream. He is still recording, but is also a popular DJ in Ohio, and appeared as himself on The Drew Carey Show.

Of course, many Dylan songs are so quintessentially Dylan that they cannot be bettered, no matter how good the cover is. Like A Rolling Stone, covered here with imagination by Major Harris, is one such song. Check out the Song Swarm of it; there are many good attempts, but Dylan inhabits the song so much that everything else is just a copy. Frankie Valli doesn’t even try to give Queen Jane Approximately his own voice: he sings it like a Dylan parody.

Dylan recorded Queen Jane Approximately on the same day as Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, which features here in Gordon Lightfoot’s version (a face-off Dylan wins handily). Lightfoot scored a #3 hit with it Canada in 1965, shortly after the song appeared on Highway 61 Revisited. Bob Dylan is a great Lightfoot fan, having once said that when he heard a Lightfoot song, he wished “it would last forever”.

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

1. Randy Crawford – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (1989)
2. Major Harris – Like A Rolling Stone (1969)
3. Freddie King – Meet Me In The Morning (1975)
4. Blood, Sweat & Tears – Down In The Flood (1972)
5. Michael Stanley – Subterranean Homesick Blues (1972)
6. Indigo Girls – Tangled Up In Blue (1995)
7. Townes Van Zandt – Man Gave Names To All The Animals (1992)
8. Chris Whitley – Spanish Harlem Incident (2000)
9. Mary Lou Lord – You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (2002)
10. Cowboy Junkies – If You Gotta Go, Go Now (1992)
11. Moon Martin – Stuck Inside Of Mobile (With The Memphis Blues Again) (1993)
12. George Harrison – If Not For You (1970)
13. The Youngbloods – I Shall Be Released (1972)
14. Waylon Jennings – I Don’t Believe You (1970)
15. The Four Seasons – Queen Jane Approximately (1965)
16. Staple Singers – Masters Of War (1964)
17. Gordon Lightfoot – Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (1965)
18. Tina Turner – Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (1974)
19. The O’Jays – Emotionally Yours (Gospel Version) (1981)
20. The Angels Of Light – I Pity The Poor Immigrant (2005)

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In Memoriam – February 2017

March 2nd, 2017 4 comments

When the 2017 In Memoriam round-up is written in December, I will record the death of Al Jarreau as one of the more cheerless of the year. I admit it: the man recorded some really bland stuff in his time. But when he was good… oh, how sublime he was! Plus, he was a genuinely nice man when I briefly met him during my short stint as an entertainment journalist. A couple of weeks before his death, Al Jarreau featured on the Any Major Favourites 2016 Vol. 2 mix; in 2016, he appeared on five mixes. Jarreau’s end came quite suddenly: he had been booked to tour when he fell ill recently, forcing him to announce his retirement. A couple of days later, the great voice was silenced forever.

I wonder how David Axelrod will be better remembered: as an innovative jazz musician who wrote a jazz Mass (as did fellow jazz greats Mary Lou Williams and Dave Brubeck) performed by The Electric Prunes, or as the producer in the 1960s of acts like Lou Rawls, Cannonball Adderley, Letta Mbulu and Kay Starr, or as the creator of countless samples used in hip-hop tracks? Either way, the man had a genius for fusing jazz, soul, funk, rock, classical, religious and avant garde influences, sometimes in ways that produced great hits, and at other times in ways that were too eccentric for popular consumption. On the featured track, 1968’s Holy Thursday, check out Earl Palmer’s masterful drumming.

And talking of which: the Funky Drummer is dead. As one of James Brown’s two drummer, with Jab’o Starks, Clyde Stubblefield was the gold standard in funk drumming, on tracks like Sex Machine, Say It Loud – I’m Black And Proud, Hot Popcorn and, of course, the endlessly sampled  Funky Drummer. He left the J.B.s in 1971 and continued to play on the club circuit in Madison, releasing his solo debut only in 1997. In his latter years, Stubblefield suffered from kidney disease; since he had no health insurance in those pre-Obamacare days, fan Prince supported him in paying his medical bills. In the end, kidney failure killed Stubblefield, ten months after the death of Prince.

Another funk legend fell, in January, though his death was reported only in February: Ohio Players keyboardist, vocalist and producer Walter “Junie” Morrison. In his short tenure in the Ohio Players, from 1970-74, Morrison was involved in the group’s greatest hits, including the much-sampled Funky Worm, which he mostly wrote and arranged. After a brief spell as a solo artist, Junie joined the Parliament-Funkadelic collective as musical director, shaping the P-Funk sound at the height of its popularity (De La Soul fans will know the sample from the featured track). He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame as part of Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997.

Last Thursday I was listening to the Playboy mix as I re-upped it by request. One of the songs playing was Leon Ware’s 1976 song Body Heat. A couple of hours later I saw that Ware had died that day. Ware was less known as a soul singer than he was for his writing and, to a lesser extent, producing (Marvin Gaye, Al Wilson, G.C. Cameron, Syreeta, Melissa Manchester, Con Funk Shon, Mica Paris, Maxwell among others). Just look at some of the great tracks he (co-) wrote: Marvin Gaye’s I Want You and After The Dance, Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Were You Are, Minnie Riperton’s Inside My Love, Jermaine Jackson’s If I Were Your Woman, The Main Ingredient’s Rolling Down A Mountainside, The Four Tops’ Just Seven Numbers, Isley Brothers’ Got To Have You Back, Odyssey’s I Can’t Keep Holding Back My Love, Average White Band’s If I Ever Lose This Heaven (which he originally sang with Minnie Riperton, with Al Jarreau backing them, for Quincy Jones), Bobby Womack’s Git It, Parliament’s Fantasy Is Reality… and later Zhané’s grooving Hey Mr DJ, Maxwell’s Sumthin’ Sumthin’, Lulu’s Independence, John Legend’s So High, and El DeBarge’s Heart, Mind & Soul. On last year’s Saved! Vol. 7 mix, the Leon Ware track precedes Al Jarreau’s. Do we have to worry about Marlena Shaw now?

From Cliff Richard, The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons and The Mamas & the Papas to John Lennon, T. Rex, Bette Middler and the Ramones, the 1958 hit Do You Wanna Dance has been covered prodigiously. The song’s writer and original singer, Bobby Freeman, died on January 28. He had a Top 5 US hit with it, but follow-up singles charted only moderately. He returned briefly to the higher reaches of the charts in 1964 with C’mon And Swim, which was co-written by the 20-year-old Sly Stone.

As Australia’s first wild “rock chick”, at a time when “chicks” weren’t supposed to be rock, Carol Lloyd blazed a trail for the likes of The Divinyls’ Chrissy Amphlett to touch herself. Lloyd was not only a pioneer in the field of music, but also in the area of LGBQT rights. In 2013 she was given a few months to live after being diagnosed with interstitial pulmonary fibrosis. Defiantly, she lived on for more than three years until death caught up with her at the age of 68.

Carol Lloyd was never destined to become a woman of the cloth, unlike British singer-songwriter Peter Skellern, who died four days after her. Skellern had one big hit, 1972’s You’re A Lady, which was covered throughout Europe. It remained his biggest hit, though British TV audiences also got to know his voice from the series the 1973 series Billy Liar. More lately, Skellern had written choral music. In October last year he was ordained a priest in the Church of England, just after it became known that he was suffering from a terminal brain tumor.

 

Walter ‘Junie’ Morrison, 62, musician with Ohio Players, Parliament-Funkadelic, on Jan. 21
Ohio Players – Funky Worm (1972)
Funkadelic – (Not Just) Knee Deep (1979)

Bobby Freeman, 76, R&B singer and songwriter, on Jan. 28
Bobby Freeman – Do You Wanna Dance (1958)
Bobby Freeman – C’mon And Swim (1964)

Deke Leonard, 72, guitarist with Welsh prog rock band Man, on Jan. 31
Man – Daughter Of The Fireplace (live, 1972, also as writer)

Carsten ‘Beethoven’ Mohren, 54, keyboardist of East-German rock band Rockhaus, on Jan. 31
Rockhaus – Bleib cool (1987)

Robert Dahlqvist, 40, Swedish rock singer and guitarist with The Hellacopters, on Feb. 3

Steve Lang, 67, bassist of Canadian rock band April Wine, on Feb. 4
April Wine – I Like To Rock (1979)

Noel Simms, 82, Jamaican reggae percussionist and singer, on Feb. 4

David Axelrod, 83, Jazz and R&B arranger, composer and producer, on Feb. 5
Cannonball Adderley – Mercy,Mercy,Mercy (1966, as producer)
Lou Rawls – Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing (1966, as producer)
David Axelrod – Holy Thursday (1968)

Sonny Geraci, 70, singer with rock bands The Outsiders, Climax, on Feb. 5
Climax – Precious And Few (1971)

Svend Asmussen, 100, Danish jazz violinist, on Feb. 7
Svend Asmussen Quartet – A Pretty Girl (1978)

Tony Davis, 86, singer with British folk group The Spinners, on Feb. 10
The Spinners – In My Liverpool Home (1964)

Al Jarreau, 76, jazz and soul singer, on Feb. 12
Al Jarreau – Your Song (1976)
Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford – Sure Enough (1982)
Al Jarreau – Teach Me Tonight (1985)
Al Jarreau – So Good (1988)

Barbara Carroll, 92, American jazz pianist, on Feb. 12
Barbara Carroll – Mame (live, 1967)

Damian, 52, British pop singer, on Feb. 12

Robert Fisher, 59, leader of Americana collective Willard Grant Conspiracy, on Feb. 12
Willard Grant Conspiracy – Fare Thee Well (2003)

Carol Lloyd, 68, Australian rock singer, on Feb. 13
Railroad Gin – A Matter Of Time (1974)

E-Dubble, 34, rapper and record label founder, on Feb. 15

Peter Skellern, 69, English singer-songwriter, on Feb. 17
Peter Skellern – You’re A Lady (1972)

David Yorko, 73, guitarist for Johnny & the Hurricanes, on Feb. 17
Johnny & The Hurricanes – Red River Rock (1959)

Clyde Stubblefield, 73, drummer with James Brown, on Feb. 18
James Brown – Say It Loud – I’m Black And Proud (1968)
James Brown – Funky Drummer (1970, on drums)
Clyde Stubblefield – The Revenge Of The Funky Drummer (1997)

Larry Coryell, 73, jazz-fusion guitarist, on Feb. 19
Larry Coryell – Yesterdays (1990)

Ilene Berns, 73, record label executive, widow of Bert Berns, on Feb. 20

Leon Ware, 77, soul singer, songwriter, producer, on Feb. 23
Leon Ware – I Know How It Feels (1972)
Michael Jackson – I Wanna Be Where You Are (1972, as writer)
Quincy Jones feat. Leon Ware & Minnie Riperton- If I Ever Lose This Heaven (1974, also as writer)
Minnie Riperton – Inside My Love (1975, as writer)
El DeBarge – Heart, Mind & Soul (1994)
Zhané – Hey Mister DJ (1994, as writer)

Horace Parlan, 86, jazz pianist, on Feb. 23
Horace Parlan – On Green Dolphin Street (1960)

Fumio Karashima, 68, Japanese jazz pianist, on Feb. 24

Don Markham, 85, saxophonist/trumpeter of Merle Haggard’s  Strangers, on Feb. 24

Rick Chavez, guitarist of metal band Drive, on Feb. 25

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