Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 2

July 31st, 2014 21 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 2

(Time to recycle thus post from 2009. Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 1 re-ran in March. A new, third mix will come soonish.)

The first Not Feeling Guilty mix went down well, and if comments to the post, by e-mail and Facebook (click here to become my friend) are an indication, my rant against the false notion of “guilty pleasures” expressed what many felt.

So here is the second mix. I can’t see much to feel guilty about here. Anyone who might be ashamed of secretly enjoying the sounds of Boz Scaggs does not deserve to hear music. Anyone who dismisses Christopher Cross as a cheesy two-hit wonder self-evidently hates music (yes, VH-1, I mean you). Anyone who fails to funk along, even just a little bit, to the Larsen-Feiten Band, Pablo Cruise or the Climax Blues Band has no ryhthm in their soul. Not that I ought to make anyone feel guilty about not liking music.

The inclusion of Todd Rundgren might raise some eyebrows. Well, I consider his 1970 track a progenitor of the whole soft rock genre. See whether you agree or not.

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

1. Doobie Brothers – Listen To The Music (1972)
2. Boz Scaggs - JoJo (1980)
3. Larsen-Feiten Band - Who Will Be The Fool Tonight (1980)
4. Pablo Cruise – Watcha Gonna Do (1977)
5. Climax Blues Band – Couldn’t Get It Right (1976)
6. Atlanta Rhythm Section - So Into You (1976)
7. JD Souther - You’re Only Lonely (1979)
8. James Taylor – Your Smiling Face (1977)
9. Rickie Lee Jones – Chuck E’s In Love (1979)
10. Andrew Gold – Never Let Her Slip Away (1978)
11. Jay Ferguson – Thunder Island (1977)
12. Boston - Amanda (1986)
13. Kansas - Dust In The Wind (1977)
14. Poco - A Good Feelin’ To Know (1972)
15. King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight (1972)
16. Sutherlands Brothers & Quiver – Arms Of Mary (1975)
17. Albert Hammond - The Peacemaker (1973)
18. Loggins & Messina – Watching the River Run (1977)
19. Christopher Cross – All Right (1983)
20. Todd Rundgren – We Gotta Get You A Woman 1970)
21. Little River Band – The Night Owls (1981)

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Any Major Summer Vol. 3

July 24th, 2014 9 comments

Any Major Summer Vol. 3

First I gave you a summer mix when the northern hemisphere was freezing its collective ass off.

When things became milder, I offered a second summer mix to build up the anticipation.

And here, as the north has its toes (socked or not) peeping through sandals and the south puts another log on the fire, is the third mix. I dare say it is fairly eclectic fare, taking us from Nat King Cole to Hüsker Dü in about an hour.

Of course there’ll be another summer mix, when the seasons change again.

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

1. Nat ‘King’ Cole – Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer (1963)
2. Sammy Davis Jr. & Count Basie – The Girl From Ipanema (1965)
3. The Beach Boys – The Warmth Of The Sun (1964)
4. Mungo Jerry – In The Summertime (1970)
5. First Class – Beach Baby (1974)
6. DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince – Summertime (1991)
7. J.T. Taylor – Long Hot Summer Night (1991)
8. Enchantment – Sunny Shine Feeling (1977)
9. Jon Lucien – A Sunny Day (1974)
10. The Manhattans – Summertime In The City (1974)
11. Sly and the Family Stone – Hot Fun In The Summertime (1969)
12. Scott Walker – Joanna (1968)
13. Gene Watson – Love In The Hot Afternoon (1975)
14. Bob Dylan – In The Summertime (1981)
15. Sheryl Crow – Soak Up The Sun (2002)
16. Hüsker Dü – Celebrated Summer (1985)
17. Nick Heyward – The Queen Of Summertime (1996)
18. The Smiths – Cemetry Gates (1986)
19. Josh Rouse – Summertime (2006)
20. Herman Düne – This Summer (2006)
21. Jens Lekman – A Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill (2005)

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Any Major Summer Vol. 1
Any Major Summer Vol. 2
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Any Major Soul 1972 – Vol. 1

July 17th, 2014 7 comments

Any Major Soul 1972 - Vol.1

Was 1972 the greatest year in soul music? I don’t know, but I have two full mixes for the year with enough good stuff to easily fill a third without having to duplicate an artist or compromise quality (but let’s not get stuck on one year). So here goes the first gorgeous compilation.

I might have included almost any song from Lyn CollinsThink (About It) album, produced by James Brown, with the JBs backing. In memory of DJ EZ Rock, who died in April, I went with the title track, from which he and Rob Base — and loads of others — sampled for their big 1988 hit, “It Takes Two”, borrowing the line of their title and, more importantly the “Yeah! Woo!” (voices by Bobby Byrd and James Brown).

Possibly the best song ever about alcohol abuse — and by that I mean songs that note the destructive sides of it, not its celebration — is “So Many Ways To Die” by Barbara Jean English. The song, featured on Any Major Soul 1972/73, is heartbreaking. The track featured here sounds a lot more upbeat, though its subject matter is not very upbeat either. English sang with a number of vocal groups, most notably the Clickettes. Sadly she released only two solo albums in the 1970s, plus another in 1989.

Ernie Hines also did not have much mainstream success in soul music, which is a shame, because his one major album, Electrified, was quite excellent. From the album, issued by Stax-subsidiary We Produce, the track “Our Generation” was covered by John Legend & The Roots in 2010. To me the highlight is the gospel groove “A Better World (For Everyone)”. Hines is still performing and recording as a gospel singer.

Also coming from a gospel background was… well, virtually everybody in this series. One of them was the relatively obscure but rather wonderful Debbie Taylor, who released eight singles and one album between 1967 and 1975. The featured track comes from the album, Comin’ Down On You. After 1975 she disappeared, apparently after refusing to sign a record deal which would have meant severing ties with her long-time producer and arranger. Taylor’s name was actually a pseudonym:  born Maydie Myles, she changed it because her religious parents disapproved of secular music. After retiring the Taylor persona she sang on several dance tracks. In 2011 she released a CD, as Maydie Myles, and at the same time revealed that she was Debbie Taylor, getting many soul fans very excited.

EDIT: It seems that the Millie Jackson track in the mix is corrupted. I have upped it separately. Just overwrite it in the folder with THIS FILE.

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

1. The Whispers – Here Comes Tomorrow
2. Michael Jackson – I Wanna Be Where You Are
3. The O’Jays – This Air I Breathe
4. Lyn Collins – Think (About It)
5. Laura Lee – Wedlock Is A Padlock
6. Ernie Hines – A Better World (For Everyone)
7. Billy Preston – Will It Go Round in Circles
8. Labelle – Sunday’s News
9. Patti & The Lovelites – Is That Loving In Your Heart
10. Betty Wright – Don’t Let It End This Way
11. Debbie Taylor – (I Just Can’t Believe I’m) Touching You
12. The Chi-Lites – Living In The Footsteps Of Another Man
13. The Delfonics – Walk Right Up To The Sun
14. Cornelius Brothers And Sister Rose – Too Late To Turn Back Now
15. Ronnie McNeir – I’m So Thankful
16. Millie Jackson – Ask Me What You Want
17. Barbara Jean English – I’m Living A Lie
18. The Ovations – One In A Million
19. Brighter Side Of Darkness – Oh Baby
20. Kimberley Briggs – Give A Man An Inch
21. The Staple Singers – We The People
22. Curtis Mayfield – No Thing On Me
23. Luther Ingram – Oh Baby, You Can Depend On Me
24. Timmy Thomas – Rainbow Power

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A Hard Day’s Night – Recovered

July 10th, 2014 12 comments

A Hard Day's Night Recovered- front

Today, July 10, it is 50 years since The Beatles released their A Hard Day’s Night LP in the UK (the US version, with a different tracklisting, followed two weeks later). It was a landmark event for pop music, not because the music was especially innovative, but because here a pop group released an album including only own compositions. In 1964, this was very unusual indeed.

And this even more remarkable when one considers just how busy the group was at the time, with all the touring and US television appearances (as documented here), filming the movie and recording even more music that didn’t make it on to the album. In their writing, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were so prolific that they could give away pretty good songs to other artists, such a Peter & Gordon, Cilla Black and Billy J Kramer. The creative pressure showed on the follow-up, Beatles For Sale, which was released later in 1964 and included several covers (and also a few stone-cold Beatles classics).

A Hard Day’s Night was very much Lennon’s work. He wrote the title track, I Should Have Known Better, Tell Me Why, Any Time At All, I’ll Cry Instead, When I Get Home and You Can’t Do That, most of If I Fell and I’ll Be Back, and contributed to McCartney’s I’m Happy Just To Dance With You. But Paul’s three other contributions are probably the strongest: And I Love Her, Things We Said Today and Can’t Buy Me Love.

A Hard Day's Night Recovered- back

A Hard Day’s Night was also the first Beatles album to rely on the Beatles’ unique sound. Where the previous two LPs included several covers of rock & roul and R&B songs, and many songs recalled the various influences from which the group drew, this was the first album on which The Beatles totally owned their sound. Nobody sounded like them.

And yet, this is not down to the compositions themselves, but the arrangements they benefited from. Listen to this set of covers, sequenced in the original chronology of the album, to hear just how flexible these songs are. Some of them sound nothing like a Beatles song. I believe that if a song can be covered well in any genre in ways that do not sound like a cover (never mind a pastiche), then it’s a great song. So Ella Fitzgerald can turn Can’t Buy Me Love into a big band number without it sounding like a novelty number, and John Mayall can turn A Hard Day’s Night into a true blues song, no matter how familiar we are with these Beatles standards.

My favourite here, however, is the Holmes Brothers’ bluesy version of And I Love Her. Vanilla Fudge’s psychedelic rock take on You Can’t Do That from 1968 is a trip, too.

The covers featured in this post are included in higher resolution. PW in comments.

1. John Mayall – A Hard Day’s Night (1975)
2. Beach Boys – I Should Have Known Better (1965)
3. Keely Smith – If I Fell (1965)
4. Anne Murray – I’m Happy Just To Dance With You (1980)
5. The Holmes Brothers – And I Love Her (1997)
6. April Wine – Tell Me Why (1982)
7. Ella Fitzgerald – Can’t Buy Me Love (1964)
8. Nils Lofgren – Anytime At All (1981)
9. Johnny Rivers – I’ll Cry Instead (1965)
10. Bobby Fuller Four – Things We Said Today (1960s)
11. Yellow Matter Custard – When I Get Home (2003)
12. Vanilla Fudge – You Can’t Do That (1968)
13. Elliott Smith – I’ll Be Back (released 2011)

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More Beatles stuff:
Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Any Bizarre Beatles
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 1
Beatles – Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 2

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In Memoriam – June 2014

July 3rd, 2014 5 comments

In_Memoriam_1406The exciting, eventful and not always edifying life of Bobby Womack has ended at 70, putting an end to the singer’s battles with cancer and Alzheimer’s. Womack was, of course, one of the great soul voices and writers in soul music. He was a wonderful interpreter of covers (his cover of “Come Fly With Me” is quite impressive) and the originator of influential music, starting with the original of the Rolling Stones’ hit “It’s All Over Now”.

Less known was his work as a session musician, a consequence of the ostracism that followed his marriage to the widow of his mentor and close friend Sam Cooke, just three months after Cooke’s killing. Womack always maintained that he did so to protect Cooke’s widow; Cooke’s family and friends in the industry saw it as an opportunistic betrayal (the marriage failed when he had an affair with his step-daughter Linda, who would go on to marry Bobby’s brother Cecil, with whom she had a career as Womack & Womack).

As a session guitarist, Bobby played with the likes of Wilson Pickett (including “I’m In Love” and “I’m A Midnight Mover”, which Womack also wrote), Aretha Franklin (including “Chain Of Fools”), Dusty Springfield (including “Son Of The Preacher Man”), Elvis Presley (apparently also on “Suspicious Minds”), The Box Tops (on “The Letter”), Rita Coolidge, Ron Wood, Johnny Nash and others. And the wah-wah guitars on Sly & the Family Stone’s There’s A Riot Going On album, including those on “Family Affair”, was all Womack’s work. He also co-wrote “Breezin’” with Gabor Szabo, later a hit for George Benson.

 

One of the great hitmakers of the 1970s has left the Brill Building (well, 1650 Broadway, really). Gerry Goffin penned many timeless classics with his then-wife Carole King, from “The Loco-Motion”, “Take Good Care Of My Baby”, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, “One Fine Day”, “Up On The Roof” to “I’m Into Something Good”,  “That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho)”, “Smackwater Jack” and “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman”.

Particularly noteworthy was his ability to write lyrics from a female point of view. The words of “Natural Woman” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” — but also of the controversial “He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)”, a song intended as a protest against spousal abuse and the justification some women use to defend their abusive partners, but quickly and lazily misinterpreted as some form of endorsement.

Carole King, Paul Simon and Gerry Goffin in 1957.

Carole King, Paul Simon and Gerry Goffin in 1957.

Later Goffin co-wrote with different partners, scoring hits with Diana Ross’ “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)”, “Saving All My Love For You” (originally for Marilyn McCoo) and “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You (originally for George Benson).

Included here are three original versions of later hits, including “That Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Hi) by The City, a short-lived band comprising Goffin’s ex-wife King, her future husband Charles Larkey and Danny Kortchmar.

 

Casey Kasem has dropped out of the Top 40. Kasem’s Top 40 radio countdown helped change pop music, not only in the US but around the world. He was known internationally — and not only as the voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo — so his death was noted by many outside the United States.

What was rarely noted in the US was Kasem’s background: one of the union’s most beloved celebrity was an Arab, in a country which tends to take a caricatured view of Arabs. Kasem, who was born in Detroit of Lebanese background as Kemal Amen Kasem, said in 1991 that warped stereotypes in the US had “demonised and dehumanised Arabs. We think of them, to quote an Israeli general, as ‘cockroaches to be kept in bottles’. That’s not the kind of mind-set that is healthy for the world.” Indeed.

 

Horace Silver on the piano.

Horace Silver on the piano.

Steely Dan didn’t forget his number: Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father” gave the Dan the bass riff for “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and the melody’s influence can be heard on their song “FM”. The horn riff might also have inspired Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ’Bout A Thing”. Born of a father from Cape-Verde and an Irish-African mother, Silver was a headliner in his own right, but before that collaborated with jazz greats such as Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Nat Adderley, Art Blakey, Milt Jackson, Donald Byrd, Coleman Hawkins, Kenny Burrell, Lou Donaldson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sonny Rollins and Lester Young.

 

TV viewers will know Jimmy Scott from his performance of “Sycamore Tree” on Twin Peaks, but he had an unusual career before that. Scott had Kallmann’s syndrome, a very rare genetic condition which prevents normal growth. It means that Scott never went through puberty, and so retained his contralto voice. In the late 1940s he began recording with Lionel Hampton and later with Charlie Parker. He had hits with both, but neither have him a vocalist credit (Parker actually credited another singer!).

In the 1960s what looked like a break, thanks to Ray Charles, fell through because the repulsive record executive Hermann Lubinsky, founder of Savoy Records, insisted that Scott had a life-time contract with him and had Scott’s well-received LP pilled from the record shelves. His career thoroughly screwed up by Lubinsky, Scott returned to Cleveland and worked as hospital orderly, shipping clerk and elevator operator.

He was rediscovered in 1991 when he sang at the funeral of the great songwriter Doc Pomus in 1991. Seymour Stein, founder of Sire Records, signed Scott to record the Grammy-nominated All The Way (1992), which was followed by a series of well-received albums. Lou Reed also roped him in to sing backing vocals, and in 1993 he sang at President Bill Clinton’s inaugurations, singing the same song he performed at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration almost exactly 40 years earlier, “Why Was I Born?”.

 

Sourth African band Mango Groove was one of the country's first racially integrated hit groups in the late 1980s and early '90s. Their sound was a fine fusion of township jazz and pop.

Sourh African band Mango Groove was one of the country’s first racially integrated hit groups in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Their sound was a fine fusion of township jazz and pop.

If pop music was fair, Mango Groove’s 1989 song “Special Star” would have been a worldwide hit. In the event it has become a South African classic, not least because of the pennywhistle solos by Kelley Petlane, which served as a tribute to the greatest pennywhistler of all, Spokes Mashiane. Petlane is now gone as well, at the age of 64, of kidney failure.

 

Unless you follow the work of session musicians in country with some care, you likely don’t know Weldon Myrick, a steel guitar player. But you probably have heard him play on such songs as Connie Smith’s “Once A Day”, Jerry Jeff Walker’s original of “Mr. Bojangles”, Donna Fargo’s “Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.,” Delbert McClinton’s “Victim of Life’s Circumstances”, Linda Ronstadt’s “Long Long Time”, Bill Anderson’s “Bright Lights and Country Music”, Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee”, George Strait’s “Let’s Fall to Pieces Together” or Ronnie Milsap’s “Houston Solution”. From 1966 to 1998 he was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry’s staff band, and was inducted into the Country Hall of Fame.

 

Don Davis had a respectable career as a banker, setting up the first African-American band in Michigan. But his real jam was soul music. As a young guitarist he played on Motown tracks such as Barret Strong’s “Money” and Mary Wells’ “Bye Bye Baby”. He then moved to Stax and struck up a long relationship with Johnnie Taylor, writing and producing his 1968 hit “Who’s Making Love”, on which he also played guitar, with Steve Cropper. Eight years he wrote and produced Taylor’s global hit “Disco Lady”, and a year later produced Davis produced Billy Davis Jr. & Marilyn McCoo’s mega hit “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)”. He owned the United Sound studio in Detroit and a record company, Tortoise International.

 

Few producers have attracted as much ire as Alan Douglas, but that’s what you get when you mess with Jimi Hendrix tracks. In the 1980s and ‘90s, Douglas, as curator of the Hendrix catalogue, remastered the posthumous Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning albums. In doing so, he replaced the original drum and bass tracks, added guitar overdubs and, one track, female backing singers. Fir his troubles he claimed co-composer credit on some songs. Before all that, in the 1960s, Douglas was a respected jazz producer for the likes of Art Blakey, The Jazz Messengers, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Herbie Mann, Ken McIntyre, Betty Carter and Vi Red, and later for proto rap outfit The Last Poets and Bo Diddley.

 

Victor Agnello, 50, drummer of thrash metal band Lääz Rockit, on June 1

Weldon Myrick, 76, steel guitar player, on June 2
Connie Smith – Once A Day (1964)
Jerry Jeff Walker – Mr Bojangles (1968)

James Alan Shelton, 53, bluegrass guitarist, on June 3

Ralph Pruitt, 74, singer with soul band The Fantastic Four, on June 3
The Fantastic Four – The Whole World Is A Stage (1967)

Virginia Luque, 86, Argentine tango singer and actress, on June 3

Doc Neeson, 67, lead singer of Australian hard-rock band The Angels, on June 4
The Angels – Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again? (rock version, 1976)

Don Davis, 75, soul musician, songwriter and producer, on June 5
Johnnie Taylor – Who’s Making Love (1968, as writer, guitarist and producer)

JayAre, 25, rapper with Cali Swag District, on June 6

Alan Douglas, 81, producer and sound engineer, on June 7
Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Max Roach – Money Jungle (1963, as producer)

Bambi Fossati, 65, singer and guitarist of Italian bands Gleemen and Garybaldi, on June 7

Jesus Perales, 78, Chicano rock guitarist, on June 8
Mando & The Chili Peppers – Baby I Can’t Believe (1958)

Rik Mayall, 56, English comedian with a #1 hit, on June 9
Cliff Richard & The Young Ones – Living Doll (1986)

Molefe ‘Kelley’ Petlane, 64, pennywhistler with South African pop group Mango Groove, on June 9
Mango Groove – Special Star (1989)

Ruby Dee, 91, actress, civil rights activist, spoken record Grammy winner, on June 11

Jimmy Scott, 88, jazz singer, on June 12
Little Jimmy Scott – Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool (1950)
Jimmy Scott – Sycamore Trees (from Twin Peaks) (1992)

Jim Keays, 67, singer of Australian rock band The Masters Apprentices, on June 13
The Masters Apprentices – Undecided (1967)

Horace Silver, 85, jazz pianist, on June 18
Horace Silver – Song For My Father (1965)
Horace Silver – Liberated Brother (1973)

Muskan, 38, Pakistani singer, murdered on June 18

Johnny Mann, 85, American composer, arranger and singer, on June 18
Johnny Mann Singers – Up Up And Away (1967)

Don Light, 77, Gospel musician and record executive, on June 18

Gerry Goffin, 75, songwriter of many hits, on June 19
Steve Lawrence – Go Away Little Girl (1962, as lyricist)
The City – That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho) (1968, as lyricist)
George Benson – Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You (1985, as lyricist)

Jimmy C. Newman, 86, country singer, on June 21
Jimmy C. Newman – A Fallen Star (1957)

Teenie Hodges, 68, session guitarist at Hi Records and songwriter (“Take Me To The River”), on June 22
Al Green – Love And Happiness  (1972, as co-writer)
Denise LaSalle -  There Ain’t Enough Hate Around (1973, on rhythm guitar)
Cat Power – The Greatest (2006, on rhythm guitar)

Clifton Dunn, baritone of doo wop group The Dreamlovers, on June 22
The Dreamlovers – When We Get Married (1961)

John Mast, 81, jazz and classical pianist, on May 22

Lee McBee, 63, American blues musician, on June 24
Lee McBee – It’s Your Voodoo Working (2002)

Patrik Karlsson, 53, bassist of Swedish pop band Sven-Ingvars, on June 25

Bobby Womack, 70, soul singer, guitarist, songwriter, producer and arranger, on June 27
The Valentinos – It’s All Over Now (1964)
Wilson Pickett – I’m A Midnight Mover (1968)
Bobby Womack – I’m In Love (1969)
Gabor Szabo & Bobby Womack – Breezin’ (1971, also as co-composer)
Sly & the Family Stone – Poet (1971, on guitar)
Bobby Womack – If You Think You’re Lonely Now (1981)

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(PW in comments)

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Song Swarm – Hound Dog

June 26th, 2014 8 comments

Hound Dog gallery_1RCA Studios, New York. Monday, 2 July 1956. Elvis turned up for his third and final recording session there to lay down the tracks for “Hound Dog”, the song’s eventual b-side, “Don’t Be Cruel”, and the ballad “Any Way You Want Me”.

By now, Elvis had become confident enough to take charge of the session, for all intents and purposes acting as the producer. He had decided which songs to record, and would run through as many takes as necessary for the perfect recording. Occasionally, when a backing musician would make a mistake, he would sing a note out of key or commit another error, forcing another take. In the seven-hour session, 31 takes of Hound Dog were recorded (and 28 of Don’t Be Cruel). Elvis listened to them all, narrowed down the choices. Eventually, he settled for take 18 of Hound Dog (some sources say it was number 28, others yet suggest the final one).

Before the session, the story goes, RCA had procured the first recording of the Leiber/Stoller composition, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton’s blues rendition from 1953, to know their star was planning to record. Everybody was aghast: they thought it was horrible, and were unable to comprehend why Elvis would want to record that, as Gordon Stoker of the vocal backing group The Jordanaires later recalled. Stoker and the other puzzled people in the studio obviously did not watch TV.

Almost a month before the recording session, on 5 June, Elvis had performed the song, hip-swivellingly, on The Milton Berle Show, more or less the way he was going to record it on 2 July. DJ Fontana had already introduced the drum roll between the verses, and Scotty Moore the guitar solo. He performed the song again on TV the day before the recording session: the performance on The Steve Allen Show when, wearing a tuxedo, Presley had to sing the song to a bemused, top-hatted basset hound. Elvis was a good sport about it, at one point even laughing at the absurd set-up. He later recalled it as the most peculiar experience of his career—and that presumably includes all those bizarre movies. The Berle performance, seen by a reported 40 million people, had created a storm of protest by the guardians of morality at Elvis’ “vulgarity”. Could anybody really have been so oblivious as to regard Rainey’s record as a blueprint, as if Elvis had no idea what to do with the song?

elvis

The truth is that Elvis didn’t base his version on Big Mama Thornton at all. In fact, the song had crossed the tracks within weeks of Thornton’s record, with versions by country acts such as Eddie Hazelwood, Betsy Gay, Bob Wills, Jack Turner and Billy Starr. But it was a 1955 cover by Freddie Bell and the Bellboys which provided the template for Elvis’ interpretation. Elvis had seen the Italo-American band during his discouraging concert engagement in Vegas in April/May 1956. Having ascertained that Bell wouldn’t mind, Elvis quickly included their reworked “Hound Dog” in his setlist.

Elvis probably was aware of Thornton’s version, and perhaps heard some of the country covers that had been released; one source says Elvis was familiar with in 1953. But Elvis’ “Hound Dog” is entirely a cover of the Bellboys’ template, incorporating their sound and modified lyrics (“Cryin’ all the time” for “Snoopin’ round my door”, “You ain’t never caught a rabbit, and you ain’t no friend of mine” for “You can wag your tail, but I ain’t gonna feed you no more” and so on). Happily Elvis dispensed with the lupine howls. What he produced was arguably the first ever punk song.

Bell and his band enjoyed a mostly undistinguished recording career, with only one real hit, “Giddy Up A Ding Dong”, which was much bigger in Europe than it was in the US, in 1956. Adapted lyrics notwithstanding, Bell received no writing credit for Elvis’ “Hound Dog”. The writing credit remained entirely with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who were still R&B-obsessed teenagers when in 1952 they were commissioned by the producer Johnny Otis to write a song for Big Mama Thornton. They did so in 15 minutes. Otis claimed co-authorship, and his co-credit appeared on the label of the Thornton single. Leiber & Stoller fought him in court, and won. Thornton’s recording became a #1 hit on the R&B charts in 1953. Her 12-bar blues inspired a plagiarised response song, which turned out to be the first ever record released by Sun Records, Sam Phillips’ label which would go on to discover Elvis.

freddie bell

Three years after Thornton’s hit, Stoller honeymooned on board of the sinking Andrea Doria. His life was spared. Returning to New York, he was greeted at the pier by Leiber with the news that “Hound Dog” had become a smash hit. “Mama Thornton?” Stoller asked. “No, some white kid named Elvis Presley,” replied Leiber.

The songwriters, R&B purists both, resented Elvis’ version. When, inevitably, they were commissioned to write for Elvis a year later, for the Jailhouse Rock film, they were not particularly happy. As a form of revenge, Leiber wrote for Elvis to sing this line in the title track: “You’re the cutest little jailbird I ever did see.” The prison in Jailhouse Rock was not co-ed. When they finally met Elvis, the songwriters realised that Elvis was a kindred spirit who genuinely shared their love for R&B, and they became good friends. Stoller even appeared in the film, as a piano player.

thornton_hound_dog

There have been many cover versions of “Hound Dog”, drawing from both Thornton’s and Presley’s templates (but not from the country versions that came after the former and before the latter). The division is fairly predictably between those who are ejecting a freeloader and those who note in the titular canine an Elmer Fuddian rate of failure in hunting down rabbits.

Blues aficionadoes like Eric Clapton will opt for the Big Mama original, with its coherent lyrics in which the term “hound dog” serves as a euphemism for something quite rude — “something like motherfucker”, according to Leiber. The Elvis fans tend to pay tribute to his doggerel version — and to him. In his live version John Lennon drawls “Elvis, I love ya”. The Rolling Stones in their horrible 1978 live version from Memphis provide an example of when a tribute is exactly the opposite.

Jerry Lee Lewis borrows from Elvis’ sound but goes with Thornton’s lyrics. Conversely, blues master Albert King’s version is melodically closer to Thornton, but uses the Presley lyrics. And the Everly Brothers employ a martial beat.

Pat Boone, on an Elvis tribute album whose cover references the gold suit sleeve, croons to a pseudo baroque backing before shifting gear into what might be called an easy listening rock & roll groove which even by 1963 would have sounded hopelessly dated. At one point Patrick sings one of the aggressively ungrammatical lines of the Presley version, and then “corrects” it: “You have not never caught a rabbit and you aren’t no friend of mine.” One suspects that Boone did not cherish the song. Rockin’ Rocky Rockwell also betrayed no fondness for the song in what appears to be a mocking take on the Lawrence Welk Show in 1956. Chubby Checker’s Hound Dog is, obviously, “twisting all the time”.

If the twisting and surfing versions provide a time capsule, then so might the 1977 version by the Puhdys, East Germany’s leading rock band at the time. One might imagine Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev boogying along to it after a hard day of watching goose-stepping soldiers and interminable processions of tanks on the International Day of Glorious Proletarian Combine Harvester Soviet Friendship Parade.

Obviously Shakin’ Stevens did a version, and does well with a rough-vocaled uptempo boogie treatment, also from 1977. T. Rex’s outtake came out only in 1993; I don’t know when it was recorded, but it regrettably defies all glam expectations as Bolan comes across all whiney folk singer with “Hound Dog”.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik did their version in 2001, performing it in the way their 1980s incarnation might have expected music to sound like in the year 2000, while Tom Jones’ take sounds exactly as you’d think it would, as do both Jimi Hendrix versions sound as you might imagine them to, even if they are very different from one another (1969’s “Hound Dog Blues” features Traffic’s Chris Woods on sax).

Among the best re-imaging is, surprisingly, James Taylor’s 2009 take. I rather like Betty Everett’s soul cover (like Taylor’s, using Thornton lyrics) from 1964’s It’s In His Kiss LP, or the burning southern soul track by Ruby Andrews, whose invitation to “wag your tail” might mean exactly what we think it does. But the best version of “Hound Dog” is the one which Elvis Presley recorded that summer’s day in 1956 in New York, take number 18.

And count the number of versions in which some barking, woofing or howling takes place — starting with the original.

Hound Dog gallery_2

Big Mama Thornton (1953) • Billy Starr (1953) • Eddie Hazelwood (1953) • Betsy Gay (1953) • Jack Turner (1953) • Little Esther (Phillips, 1953) • Freddie Bell & the Bellboys (1956) • Elvis Presley (Milton Berle Show, June 5, 1956) •  Elvis Presley (Steve Allen Show, July 1, 1956) • Elvis Presley (1956) • Rockin’ Rocky Rockwell (1956) • Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps (1956) • Jimmy Breedlove (1958) • Chubby Checker (1960) • Sammy Davis Jr (as part of a medley with “What’d I Say, 1961) • Don Lang & The Twisters (1962) •  Pat Boone (1963) • Betty Everett (1964) • The Surfaris (1964) • Little Richard (1964) • Big Mama Thornton with Buddy Guy (1965) • The Easybeats (1966) • Chuck Jackson (1966) • Duffy’s Nucleus (1967) • Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967) • Jimi Hendrix (as Hound Dog Blues, 1969) • Albert King (1969) • Ruby Andrews (1972) • Conway Twitty (1972) • John Lennon (live 1972) • John Entwistle (1973) • Jerry Lee Lewis (1974) • Elvis Presley (live in Chicago, November 1976) • Puhdys (1977) • Shakin’ Stevens (1977) • The Rolling Stones (live in Memphis, 1978) • Sha-Na-Na (1978) • Scorpions (1978)• James Booker (1982) • Link Wray (1982) • Junior Wells (1983) • Tales Of Terror (1984) • Hugo Strasser und sein Tanzorchester (1978) • Lonnie Mack (as Hound Dog Man, with Stevie Ray Vaughan Man, 1985) • The Delmonas (1986) • Arthur Brown (1988) • Eric Clapton (1989) • Jeff Beck (1992) • Eddy Clearwater (1992) • Koko Taylor (1993) • T.Rex (released 1993) • Carl Perkins (1994) • Bryan Adams (1994) • Susan Tedeschi (1995) • Tom Jones (1999) • The Residents (2000) • Etta James (2000) • Status Quo (2002) • Sigue Sigue Sputnik (2002) • Robert Palmer (2003) • The Stray Cats (2004) • Macy Gray (2004) • James Taylor (2009)

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(PW in comments)

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Own Goal – The Singing Footballers

June 19th, 2014 9 comments

own_goal_1

Their goals might cause you distress, if they are scored against your team. But no torment the stars of football (or soccer, as you might call it) might inflict upon you can compare to the furious torture I am unleashing with this mix of unmitigated crap. And yet, if you are football fan, you might actually want to hear it.

In fact, you should. Art consists not only of beauty, but also expresses the dissonant dystopian future/present in which we are caught. And few do so more eloquently than football legend Johan Cruyff in his oompah-band stomper “Oei Oei Oei (Dat was me weer een loei)”, for in no language can you locate greater dystopian dissonance than in Dutch. Be careful, you might sing along with the honey-voiced Johan.

On July 7 the world will observe the 40th anniversary of West Germany beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the World Cup final (and let’s put to rest the legend of lucky Germany: in the second half they had a clear goal disallowed and an obvious penalty denied. So, 4-1). The winner was scored in the 43rd minute by Gerd Müller, the greatest goal scorer ever, who anticipated his subsequential  valiance in flat monotone in the same year of Cruyff’s aural assault.

The captain in 1974 was Franz Beckenbauer, who stayed clear from footballing sentiment in his heavy-accented 1966 Schlager hit, which nevertheless kicks off with the rhythmic clapping which seems to begin every football song of the era, just in case we mistake Franz for a serious singer. Which, it must be said, is fair enough.

More lately, players have turned to hip hop and dance music, usually with the help of some friends. France’s Karim Benzema did so to best effect in 2010, using the platform with French rapper Rohff to slag off previous France coach Raymond Domenech and express his dislike for Barcelona.

Not everybody shares Benzema’s bad-minding ways. On his record with something called Brings, Germany’s Lukas Podolski is asked whether he can sing. Podi responds, bright as a flash, by asking whether Brings can play football. It’s a relevant point to raise,in the event that Brings ever try to enter the world of professional football. The song is quite deplorable, so perhaps Brings might indeed be urged to seek a different career.

own_goal_2Unbelievably, some footballers genuinely thought that they had the talent to contribute to the world of pop in ways beyond the disposable aena of novelty. Kevin Keegan, with his Smokie-produced effort comes closest, but there is a reason why the whole world didn’t luvv it, just luvved it.

The contributions by Ruud Gullit (that cover!),  Andy Cole (doing bad things to the Gap Band) and Ian Wright are pretty dismal, but none was as appalling as Glenn Hoddle & Chris Waddle’s UK #12 hit “Diamond Lights”, a mulletted horror so offensive I felt compelled to exclude it from this CD-R timed mix for reasons of lacking in quality, for crying out loud (it’s there as a “bonus”, as the worthy anti-apartheid “South Africa”, which Gullit recorded with reggae outfit Revelation Time).

Cameroon legend Roger Milla does a straight song, about fatherhood. He has no discernable musical talent, however; the whole debacle is mitigated by the vocals of the talented Senegalese singer Julia Sarr. This was a single from Milla’s album Saga Africa. Imagine what the rest is like!

In the late 1980s, John Barnes was British football’s King of Rap. To this day, British hip hop fans whisper in hushed tones: “Before Dre, before Pac, before Snoop, before MC Hammer, there was Liverpool attacking midfield sensation John Barnes.” Barnes rapped on the notorious “Anfield Rap”, which reached #3 in the UK charts, in anticipation of Liverpool’s defeat to AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup final. Britain remembered, and in 1990 he was allowed to rap on New Order’s World Cup song “World In Motion”. He gave us what one night describe as a sing-song accumulation of words which is a lot worse than the middle-age white dudes’ conception of the musical form of rap as perpetrated in the box-office hit Three Men and A Little Lady of the same year.

What John Barnes could do, Paul Gascoigne thought he could do better. So he ventured into the street  as rapping icon Gazza, and enriched the body of hip hop with the incisive social commentary of “Gazza’s Rap”. The backing track exploits every cliché of early 1990s dance music; Gazza’s rapping draws its influence from Kenny Everett’s “Snot Rap” from 1983.

One can laugh at almost every vocally-disoriented, good-sense-deprived footballer featured here, but Clint Dempsey’s rap gets a bye —he sounds even scarier than John Barnes and might find me to bust a cap in my ass, to employ the jargon of the circles in which Dempsey moves. There is no cause for mirth in Pelé’s bossa nova number; dude can’t sing, but it is quite nice.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Your moms want to bang him.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Your moms want to bang him.

 

The biggest laugh must be reserved for Cristiano Ronaldo’s bid at usurping Julio Iglesias’ crooner crown. It might have been for a TV commercial, but if Portugal’s Banco Espírito Santo in their best judgment thought it was okay to unleash the crooning talents of young Ron upon the world, I don’t think I’d trust them with my hard-earned cash.

This whole catastrophe is timed to fit on a CD-R, though I cannot conceive of circumstances which might drive you to committing this on to a disc. So I have not bothered to make home-scored covers. PW in comments.

1. New Order feat. John Barnes – World In Motion (1990)
2. Edcity & Ronaldinho – Vai Na Fé (2014)
3. Pelé & Gracinha – Meu Mundo é Uma Bola (1977)
4. Cristiano Ronaldo – Amor mio (2009)
5. Canelita feat Sergio Ramos – A Quien Le Voy A Contar Mis Penas (2012)
6. Castro feat. Asamoah Gyan – African Girls (2011)
7. Youri (Djourkaeff) – Vivre dans ta lumière (2000)
8. Andy Cole – Outstanding (1999)
9. Kevin Keegan – Head Over Heels In Love (1979)
10. Ruud Gullit – Not The Dancing Kind (1984)
11. Ian Wright – Do The Right Thing (1993)
12. Brings feat. Lukas Podolski – Halleluja (2012)
13. Rohff feat. Karim Benzema – Fais moi la passe (2010)
14. Clint Dempsey – Don’t Tread On This (2011)
15. Jay Jay Okocha – I I Am Am J J (1994)
16. TKZee & Benni McCarthy – Shibobo (1998)
17. Roger Milla – Sandy (1991)
18. Gazza (Paul Gascoigne) – Geordie Boys (1990)
19. Johan Cruyff – Oei Oei Oei (Dat was me weer een loei) (1969)
20. Franz Beckenbauer – Gute Freunde kann niemand trennen (1966)
21. Gerd Müller – Dann macht es bumm (1969)
Bonus: Glenn (Hoddle & Chris (Waddle) – Diamond Lights (1987)
Bonus: Revelation Time & Ruud Gullit – South Africa (1988)

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Any Major Fathers Vol. 1

June 12th, 2014 6 comments

Any Major FathersSunday is Father’s Day in many countries. There are a lot of songs that are about fatherhood, or about being the children of fathers. This mix includes just a few of them.

Some are obvious (“Father And Son”), others not immediately so, such as Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”, which Stevie Nicks has said is about her dad. Some of the songs are about fathers, others are from the perspective of fathers. As a father myself, I have a particular fondness for the latter category, songs like Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy”, and especially Gil Scott-Heron’s wonderful “Your Daddy Loves You”.

Not all songs speak of love and respect; some acknowledge tension between fathers and their children. For example, Springsteen declares his independence from his dad. But the biggest fuck-you to a father is in The Cardigan’s quite brutal song. Clearly their father was nothing like that of The Winstons or George Strait. Loudon Wainwright III, whose daughter Martha has in a song called him pretty much every bad word, nails the difficult type of father-child relationships with this line: “maybe it’s hate, but probably it’s love”.

Even though I lost my father many years ago, I’m still always deeply moved by Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father”.  But the sentiment isn’t only for my loss, but also for the emotion my eventual passing might provoke (especially since I actually was a dancing father).

And then there is the tale of divorced dad, O.C. Smith’s touching “Daddy’s Little Man”. Bet he wishes that he had married Gladys Knight instead of his ex.

The mix ends on a light note, with Shel Silverstein’s follow-up to his hit song “A Boy Named Sue”. Here the story is presented from the perspective of Sue’s father. Be assured that the father of a boy named Sue deserves no “Dad of the Year” beer mugs.

I have plenty left-overs for another mix next year. In the interim: Happy Father’s Day to all us dads.

As always: CD-R, covers etc. PW in comments.

1. Ben Folds – Still Fighting It (2001)
2. Ron Sexsmith – Michael And His Dad (2011)
3. The Cardigans – Don’t Blame Your Daughter (Diamond) (2005)
4. Conner Reeves – My Father’s Son (1997)
5. Luther Vandross – Dance With My Father (2003)
6. John Lennon – Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) (1980)
7. Bruce Springsteen – Independence Day (1980)
8. Loudon Wainwright III – A Father And A Son (1992)
9. Emmylou Harris – To Daddy (1978)
10. George Strait – Love Without End, Amen (1990)
11. Dan Fogelberg – Leader Of The Band (1981)
12. Gil Scott-Heron/Brian Jackson – Your Daddy Loves You (1973)
13. The Winstons – Color Him Father (1969)
14. O.C. Smith – Daddy’s Little Man (1969)
15. Clarence Carter – Patches (1970)
16. Gladys Knight & The Pips – This Child Needs Its Father (1973)
17. Bobbie Gentry – Papa, Won’t You Let Me Go To Town With You (1967)
18. Fleetwood Mac – Landslide (1975)
19. Everything But The Girl – The Night I Heard Caruso Sing (1988)
20. Kristin Chenoweth – Fathers And Daughters (2011)
21. Cat Stevens – Father And Son (1970)
22. Shel Silverstein – Father Of A Boy Named Sue (1978)

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In Memoriam – May 2014

June 5th, 2014 6 comments

In Memoriam - May 2014Drummer Bobby Gregg, who has died at 78, played on such classics as Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rollin’ Stone” — the famous snare drum shot that opens the song is his timeless contribution to rock music lore — and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound Of Silence”. Briefly a member of The Hawks, who would become The Band, he was also a producer.

Jazz trumpeter Joe Wilder, dead at 92, boasted an impressive resumé, having played with the likes of Count Basie, Jimmy Lunceford, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Benny Goodman, Shirley Scott and Houston Person, and backing such vocalists as Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Dinah Washington, Johnny Mathis, Etta Jones, Harry Belafonte, Chris Connor and Tony Bennett. Many times he was Quincy Jones’ go-to man, and in 1986 he played in the Malcolm X Orchestra for the Spike Lee film on the slain activist. And he was among the first thousand African-Americans to serve in the US marines in World War 2.

Jessica Cleaves  was an early member of Earth, Wind & Fire, but departed before the Chicago group hit the big time. Before that she was the female lead of the Friends of Distinction, and later performed with Parliament/Funkadelic. Blessed with a gorgeous, rich voice, not dissimilar to later stars such as Cheryl Lynn and Anita Baker, Cleaves never had a solo career, which is a pity.

He was one of the most popular crooners in the 1950s and ’60s, but I suspect most people would recognise Jerry Vale from countless mafia movies in which he appeared in singing roles, including GoodFellas, Casino and Donnie Brasco, and apparently in several episodes of The Sopranos (though I don’t remember that at all).

French composer, arranger and screenwriter André Popp wrote several entries for the Eurovision Song Contest, long before the advent of bearded ladies or even glittery platform boots. Among these compositions was “L’amour Est Bleu”, performed by Greek singer Vicky Leandros in 1967 for Luxembourg. Vicky and the song finished fourth — France’s entry won — but the song became a massive hit in Paul Mauriat’s instrumental version which we know as “Love Is Blue”.  A Popp composition was also famous in the Soviet Union, where an instrumental version of his “Manchester et Liverpool”, written for Marie Laforêt, was used as the theme tune for the nightly weather forecast.

I normally don’t include producers of music videos, but there must be an exception for Tessa Watts, who was responsible for many iconic 1980s videos, including that for Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”. Before populating the MTV playlist, Watts was a press officer with the fledgling Virgin record label — the story goes that the idea for the name of what would become Richard Branson’s behemoth was hers (Branson was thinking of going for the unsexy Slipped Disc). In that position she was responsible for the media the Sex Pistols received after signing for the label, having been dismissed by EMI.

 

Juan Formell, 71, bassist and leader of Cuban band Los Van Van, on May 1

Jessica Cleaves, 65, singer with soul band The Friends of Distinction, on May 2
The Friends Of Distinction – I Really Hope You Do (1969)
Earth Wind & Fire – I’d Rather Have You (1972)

Lester Armistead, 71, bluegrass musician, on May 2

Chino Montero, 52, Hawaiian singer and guitarist, on May 2

Bobby Gregg, 78, session drummer and producer, on May 3
Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues (1965)

Jair Rodrigues, 75, Brazilian musician and singer, on May 8

Joe Wilder, 92, jazz trumpeter, on May 9
Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra – Don’t Let The Landlord Gyp You (1946)
Dinah Washington – You Let My Love Get Cold (1956)

André Popp, 90, French keyboardist, arranger and composer, on May 10
Marie Laforêt – Manchester et Liverpool (1966, as composer)
Vicky Leandros – L’amour est bleu (1967, as composer)

Marlow Tackett, 69, country singer, on May 10

Ed Gagliardi, 62, bass guitarist with Foreigner, on May 11
Foreigner – Hot Blooded (1978)

Alan Wills, 52, ex-drummer of English band Shack, founder of Deltasonic label, on May 11

Ernie Chataway, 62, guitarist of first incarnation of Judas Priest, on May 12

Nash the Slash, 66, masked musician with Canadian prog-rock band FM, on May 12

Tessa Watts, 68, British music video producer, on May 13
Human League – Don’t You Want Me (1981, as video producer)

Akihiro Yokoyama, 49, bassist of Japanese metal band United, on May 13

Bongani Masuku, 50, South African singer with Johnny Clegg, shot dead on May 17

Jerry Vale, 83, crooner, on May 18
Jerry Vale – You Don’t Know Me (1956)

Randy Coven, 54, bassist for Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, on May 20

Martin Lister, 51, keyboardist of German pop band Alphaville (1995-2014), on May 21

Herb Jeffries, 100, jazz/pop singer and actor, on May 25
Herb Jeffries – When I Write My Song (1947)

Tommy Blom, 67, member of influential Swedish rock band The Tages, on May 25
The Tages – I Read You Like An Open Book (1968)

DJ Father Shaheed, 45, DJ and rapper with Poor Righteous Teachers, on May 26
Poor Righteous Teachers – Rock Dis Funky Joint (1990)

Janice Scroggins, 58, jazz pianist, on May 27

Ruth Flowers, 74, septuagenarian British house DJ, on May 27

Gustavo Lezcano, 59, member of Miami Sound Machine, on May 28
Miami Sound Machine – Dr Beat (1984, on harmonica)

Christine Charbonneau, 70, Canadian singer and songwriter, on May 30

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(PW in comments)

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The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2

May 29th, 2014 7 comments

Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2

This is the second part of the Hal Blaine collection.

Blaine obviously was a polished and imaginative drummer. He appeared on countless songs we now regard as classics, from The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” to Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You, Babe” to The Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreaming” and The Byrds’ “Mr Tambourine Man” to The Association’s “Never My Love” to The Supremes’ “The Happening” to Dean Martin’s “Everybody Loves Somebody” and the two Sinatras’ “Something Stupid” to the Carpenters’ “Close To You” to Neil Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue” to Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were” and so on. He drummed for artists as diverse as Count Basie, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Steely Dan and, er, The Partridge Family.

 

Wrecking the Partridge Crew: (from left) Larry Knechtel, Tracy Partridge, Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, Joe Osborne and Mike Melvoin.

Wrecking the Partridge Crew: (from left) Larry Knechtel, Tracy Partridge, Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, Joe Osborne and Mike Melvoin.

 

Blaine was also an innovator in percussive sound effects. That big banging sound in Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”, after the “ley-la-ley”, is Blaine sitting at the bottom of an elevator shaft hitting a snare drum (a better story has it that it’s the sound of a refrigerator landing at the bottom the elevator shaft). To “Bridge Over Troubled Water” — as much the opus of Wrecking Crew keyboard man Larry Knechtel as it is for Art Garfunkel — Blaine contributed not only the beautifully judged drums but also the distant percussion sounds by slamming snow chains on to the cement floor of a microphone storage room (coming in at 3:05).

On Dean Martin’s “Houston”, featured on Volume 1, Blaine spontaneously used a glass ashtray, its content of old cigarette butts hurriedly emptied, for a drum to create the sound of a hammer hitting an anvil.

Herb Alpert’s “A Taste Of Honey” was saved by the drummer, at least in Blaine’s version. Apparently the recording just didn’t want to come right until Blaine’s bass drum beats after the slow intro signaled the introduction of the horns.

Incidentally, Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco’s son Denny has produced an excellent documentary on the session collective his father was part of. It was completed, but could not be released because there were not enough funds for the licensing of the music. A kickstarter.com appeal was successful, so it can now be seen on very limited release. More money is needed for a DVD release; US citizens can make tax-deductable contributions. Read more about the film and upcoming screenings, and how to make a donation or buy merchandise HERE.

 

cover gallery

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

1. Meat Loaf – Whatever Happened To Saturday Night (1974)
2. Mama Cass – It’s Getting Better (1969)
3. Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – A Taste Of Honey (1965)
4. Jackie Lomax – Baby You’re A Lover (1969)
5. Harpers Bizarre – Come To The Sunshine (1967)
6. Tommy Roe – Dizzy (1969)
7. The Crystals – He’s Sure The Boy I Love (1962)
8. Sam Cooke – Another Saturday Night (1963)
9. Connie Francis – Where The Boys Are (1960)
10. Lorne Greene – Ringo (1964)
11. Mason Williams – Baroque-A-Nova (1968)
12. The Monkees – A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You (1967)
13. Paul Revere & the Raiders – Hungry (1965)
14. Love – Andmoreagain (1968)
15. Neil Diamond – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (1970)
16. America – Don’t Cross The River (1975)
17. Harry Nilsson – Foolish Clock (1977)
18. Steely Dan – Any World (That I’m Welcome To) (1975)
19. Tanya Tucker – Lizzie & The Rainman (1975)
20. Rosanne Cash – Baby, Better Start Turnin’ Em Down (1979)
21. Leonard Cohen & Ronee Blakley – True Love Leaves No Traces (1977)
22. Albert Hammond – Down By The River (1975)
23. Captain & Tenille – Honey Come Love Me (1975)
24. Ray Charles – A Girl I Used To Know (1966)
25. Gerry Mulligan – The Lonely Night (1965)

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Previous drummer 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

 

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