A Life in Vinyl: 1978

September 18th, 2014 4 comments

Life In Vinyl 1978

In 1978 I made it my business to become a respectable buyer of pop music — at least, to be more respectable than my fellow 12-year-olds. My benchmark in such things was my older brother, who had a broad record collection. He introduced me to things like Jethro Tull’s Aqualung LP (which I’d buy two years later). So in April I bought a bunch of singles: Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”, Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” and, yes, something by Jethro Tull. My brother never indicated whether he was impressed; happily I liked my purchases.

A little later I discovered punk. My best friend at the time and I bought records by the Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, Sham 69, The Damned, Boomtown Rats and, erm, Plastic Bertrand (who, it later turned out was the Milli Vanilli of punk).

I was aware of disco, of course, and bought the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, though I didn’t play it much. I liked Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven” though.


But the records I’m most proud of are the singles I bought in January 1978, just weeks after I had still bought a single by Harpo: The Runaways’ “School Days”, Tom Robinson’s “2-4-6-8 Motorway” and Blondie’s “X-Offender”. All are still favourites, though the Blondie track featured here is the single I bought on a trip to Amsterdam.

Which brings me to the illustrations for these posts: of the records I actually owned, I include the cover of the format in which I bought them — single or LP. In the case of the Blondie record, I naturally use the Dutch cover.

And of this lot, I had all the records except those of John Paul Young (who would lend his name to two popes later that year), El Pasador, Brian & Michael, Marshall Hain and Exile — those I include because they recreate the smells and sounds of my 1978.

1978_2As always, CD-R length, covers, PW in comments.

1. The Runaways – School Days
2. Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway
3. Status Quo – Rockin All Over The World
4. Uriah Heep – Free Me
5. Wings – With A Little Luck
6. John Paul Young – Love Is In The Air
7. Darts – Come Back My Love
8. Genesis – Follow You, Follow Me
9. Brian & Michael – Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats And Dogs
10. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – Davy’s On The Road Again
11. Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street
12. Jethro Tull – Moths
13. Goldie – Making Up Again
14. Blondie – (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear
15. Sham 69 – Angels With Dirty Faces
16. The Stranglers – Nice ‘n’ Sleazy
17. The Motors – Airport
18. Sex Pistols – My Way
19. Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plane Pour Moi
20. Boomtown Rats – Like Clockwork
21. Marshall Hain – Dancing In The City
22. Clout – Substitute
23. Exile – Kiss You All Over


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Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 1

September 11th, 2014 12 comments

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 1

TV themes: the great ones are over all too soon. So here’s a mix of full versions of 23 well-known TV themes, stretching from the 1970s to the present —extended versions of many TV themes which I posted exactly a year ago.

It seems that whereas in the past themes used to be written specifically for a show, modern series adopt songs previously released by often obscure artists. Which is great news for the artists, especially commercially. Examples of TV shows whose themes were derived by that method include The Wire (first recorded by Gravelly-Voiced Grinch whose name rhymes with Wom Taite in 1978), The Sopranos (by an English band in 1997),Mad Men (2006), True Blood (2005), Suits (2010) and Shameless (US version, 2005), as well as, I think, that of the great Justified.

This used to be much rarer in the past. One example of a song that was repurposed as a TV theme was Andrew Gold’s 1978 song “Thank You For Being A Friend”, which was re-recorded by Cynthia Fee to score the title credits for The Golden Girls. For more on that, and how Gold’s became to be the first voice to be broadcast on Mars, go to my post on The Golden Girls.

Another song that existed before the series it scores is that of How I Met Your Mother, an initially very funny show which outlived its welcome by about four years. Its theme is very brief. It is, in fact, a 11-second snatch from a song by a garage band called The Solids called “Hey, Beautiful”, written by band members Carter Bays and Craig Thomas — who are also the originators of the show which, what’s more, was based on them and their friends. I’ve written about How I Met Your Mother HERE.

Another show I’ve written about is Welcome Back, Kotter. Its theme is a 1970s archetype, in a way that’s better than it sounds. It was written and performed by John Sebastian, formerly of The Loving Spoonful and an alumnus of the crowd which The Mamas and the Papas sang about in “Creeque Alley”.

I also like the theme of WKRP In Cincinnati, much more than the show itself. The theme doesn’t really reveal the excellent musicianship of the track, so hearing Steve Carlisle’s full version, with its jazzy instrumental break is quite surprising.

I think I have enough good stuff for another two mixes, so there’s the answer to the question: “And where, may I ask, is the best-theme-ever, Dragnet/Hawaii-Five-O/Magnum P.I./Barney Miller/Twin Peaks?”

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

1. Pratt & McClain – Happy Days
2. Gary Portnoy – Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Cheers)
3. Mike Post feat. Larry Carlton – Theme from Hill Street Blues
4. Big George Webley – Handbags And Gladrags (The Office UK)
5. Wom Taits – Way Down In The Hole (The Wire)
6. Alabama 3 – Woke Up This Morning (The Sopranos)
7. Gangstagrass – Long Hard Times To Come (Justified)
8. Jace Everett – Bad Things (True Blood)
9. RJD2 – A Beautiful Mine (Mad Men)
10. Ima Robot – Greenback Boogie (Suits)
11. Jane’s Addiction – Superhero (Entourage)
12. The High Strung – The Luck You Got (Shameless US)
13. The Solids – Hey, Beautiful (How I Met Your Mother)
14. They Might Be Giants – Dog On Fire (The Dailly Show)
15. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Bad Reputation (Freaks & Geeks)
16. Hepburn – I Quit (Buffy The Vampyre Slayer)
17. Barenaked Ladies – Big Bang Theory
18. Steve Carlisle – WKRP In Cincinnati
19. John Sebastian – Welcome Back (Kotter)
20. Bob James – Angela (Taxi)
21. Andrew Gold – Thank You For Being A Friend (re-recorded for The Golden Girls)
22. Al Jarreau – Moonlighting
23. Henry Mancini & His Orchestra – Theme from Charlie’s Angels



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In Memoriam – August 2014

September 4th, 2014 4 comments


Last week I switched on our local talk radio station, one that never plays music during weekdays. And there it was, playing George Michael’s “Kissing A Fool”. My first thought was: “Shit, did George Michael die?”, which would explain the music.

My second, rather cynical, thought was: “Oh well, that means we’ll have a headline death for In Memoriam”. When “Kissing A Fool” was over, a Billy Joel song came on, alerting me to the fact that George Michael was still happily alive. It seems the radio station merely had transmitter problems and was filling, ahem, dead air. All this is to say that this month, the Reaper was easy on the superstars and legends of music, presumably having had his fill in the world of cinema. But two August music-related deaths merit particular mention.

The producer and record company co-owner Henry Stone helped start the careers of Ray Charles in 1952, James Brown a few years later, Betty Wright in the ’60s, and a host of disco artists, such as George McCrae, Gwen McCrae and KC and the Sunshine Band ion the TK label, which he co-owned. As a distributor in the 1960s he helped bring the records from labels such as Atlantic, Stax and Motown to the public.

For people living in Britain in the 1980s, Mike Smith was a household name, as a DJ on BBC’s Radio 1 and as a presenter on Top of the Pops. He was largely inoffensive, even vaguely likeable. But in 1986 our lad fancied himself a bit of a censor. Two years earlier Radio 1’ priggish DJ Mike Read decided to be a guardian of public morality when he abruptly stopped playing Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” and banned it from his show. It’s the only significant thing anyone will ever remember of Mike Read.

So in the summer of 1986, Mike Smith decided to follow his namesake’s example by banning the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Some Candy Talking”. The BBC, perhaps burnt by their experience of helping to turn a minor hit into a mega-seller, declined to follow Smith’s moralising lead.  The song peaked at number 13 on the UK charts. Say what you like, but Mike Smith was a bitter foe of tooth decay.


Rod de’Ath, 64, Welsh drummer for Rory Gallagher, on August 1
Rory Gallagher – Cross Me Off Your List (1976)

Michael Johns, 35, Australian singer-songwriter & American Idols contestant, on August 1

Mike Smith, 59, English radio DJ and Top off the Pops presenter, on August 1
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Some Candy Talking (1986)

Olga Voronets, 88, Russian folk singer, on August 2

Kenny Drew Jr, 56, jazz pianist and composer, on August 3
Kenny Drew Jr – Waltz In A Minor (1999)

Val Eddy, 88, jazz musician and singer, on August 4

Jake Hooker, 61, Israeli-born guitarist of Arrows and songwriter, on August 4
Arrows – I Love Rock ‘n Roll (1975, also as co-writer)

Richie Taylor, 61, Irish rock musician and music journalist, on August 4

Henry Stone, 93, record company executive (TK Records) and soul/disco producer, on August 8
Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together (1971, as record executive)

Andre Bush, 45, jazz guitarist, on August 8
Nnenna Freelon – Them There Eyes (2005, on guitar)

Robert ‘Bo’ Boehm, 55, Australian alt-rock musician, on August 8

Johnny Ray Allen, 56, ex-bassist with roots rock band The Subdudes, on August 8
The Subdudes – Any Cure (1989, also as co-writer)

Rick Parashar, 50, record producer (Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains), on August 15
Pearl Jam – Even Flow (1991, as producer)

John Blake Jr, 67, jazz violinist, on August 15

Billy Rath, 66, bassist with Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, on August 16
Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers – I Wanna Be Loved (1977)

Ralph Morman, 65, singer with The Joe Perry Project, Savoy Brown, on August 17
Savoy Brown – Cold Hearted Woman (1981)

Pierre Vassiliu, 76, Swiss-born French singer, on August 17
Pierre Vassiliu – Qui C’est Celui-Là (1973)

Derek Rieth, 43, percussionist with Pink Martini, body found after suicide on August 20
Pink Martini – Amado Mio (1997)

Joseph ‘Powda’ Bennett, 76, Jamaican folk musician (Jolly Boys), on August 20

Jean Redpath, 77, Scottish folk singer-songwriter, on August 21
Jean Redpath – Lady Mary Ann (1976)

Aldo Donato, 66, Italian singer and composer, on August 24
Aldo Donati – Venezia A Decembre (1982)

Jason Curley, 42, bassist of Australian rock band Tumbleweed, on August 25
Tumbleweed – Acid Rain (1992)

Uziah ‘Sticky’ Thompson, 78, reggae singer and percussionist, on August 25
Peter Tosh – Apartheid (1977, on percussions)

Tim Williams, ca 30, bassist of thrash band Suicidal Tendencies, on August 26

Peret, 79, Spanish singer, guitarist and composer, on August 27
Peret – Borriquito (1971)

Jan Groth, 68, singer of Norwegian rock bands Aunt Mary, Just 4 Fun, on August 27

Joe Bethancourt, 68, folk musician, on August 28
Joe Bethancourt – Nine Yards Of Other Cloth (2004)

Glenn Cornick, 67, bassist of Jethro Tull (1968-70), on August 28
Jethro Tull – Nothing To Say (1970)

Stuart Gordon, violinist and guitarist with British pop band The Korgis, on August 28
The Korgis – Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime (1980)

Jimi Jamison, 63, singer (Survivor, Cobra) and songwriter, on August 31
Survivor – Burning Heart (1985)
Jim Jamison – I’ll Be Ready (Baywatch Theme, also as songwriter)

(PW in comments)


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Any Major Soul 1972 – Vol. 2

August 28th, 2014 9 comments

Any Major Soul 1972 - Vol.2

The second volume of Any Major Soul 1972 features a number of well-known acts, but few of them doing their better-known songs. This compilation demonstrates the sheer quality from which labels could choose singles.

Aretha Franklin, for example, covers Dusty Springfield’s “A Brand New Me” (though I prefer the original). A composition by Philly soul giants Thom Bell, Jerry Butler and Kenneth Gamble, Aretha departs from the early Philly soul to give it a southern soul vibe which turns into an extended jazzy outro.

One famous name missing on both volumes is Stevie Wonder, who released two soul classics in 1972, Music Of My Mind and Talking Book. Like the two Donny Hathaway classics also issued that year, these should be in every good record collection. Stevie is represented here by his ex-wife Syreeta, whose eponymous album he produced and wrote seven out of nine songs for, including the featured “Keep Him Like He Is”.

Few soul songs have give rise to a documentary. Billy Paul’s “Am I Black Enough For You” provided the context for a 2009 documentary by Swedish director Göran Hugo Olsson, which examines the career of Billy Paul, Philly soul, money in the record business and black politics. The song was Paul’s follow-up single to the crossover mega-hit “Me And Mrs Jones”. Needless to say that it did not provide another crossover hit. An expression of Paul’s political activism, its choice as a single did much to undermine the career of Billy Paul, even as it appeared at the same time of soul singers making statements of African-American assertiveness — it was the year, after all, in which Aretha Franklin, universally admired Queen of Soul, titled her LP Young, Gifted and Black.

Between The Blossoms and The Glass House there was some controversy. The latter were on Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Invictus Records; the former were ready to sign for the label. The Blossoms — Darlene Love, Fanita James and Jean King — had been one of the great backing bands of the 1960s. Some great Phil Spector productions, such as The Crystal’s “He’s A Rebel”, were recorded by the trio but were credited to others.  By 1972 they were recording with the Dozier and the Holland brothers.

The trouble came when they apparently released The Blossoms’ recording of a great gospel-soul song titled “Touch Me Jesus” (which featured on Saved! Vol. 2) under the Glass House moniker, even though Glass House singer Scherrie Payne (Freda’s sister) sounded nothing like the very recognisable Darlene Love. The Blossoms didn’t sign with Invictus, and — probably still pissed off at the betrayals of Spector — sued H-D-H instead. Don’t let that put you off The Glass House, though — they were excellent.

Jazz fans might be surprised to encounter Leon Thomas here, and, indeed, Thomas was a jazz singer, even singing with Count Basie’s band in the 1960s. But he also dabbled in soul, as he did on 1972’s Blues And The Soulful Truth, which has some soul songs, a few funk numbers, a bit of blues, and some jazz, including a ten-minute avant-garde piece titled “Gypsy Queen”.

Followers of 1990s soul will be interested to learn that the lead singer of The Montclairs was Phil Perry, who in 1991 had a hit with a cover of Aretha’s “Call Me”. Perry was scheduled to play a set of lunchtime jazz at the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. Luckily he had not yet arrived when the towers came down, but for years after he was in an artistic depression. With The Montclairs he recorded only one album, 1972’s Dreaming Out Of Season.

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

1. The Temptations – What It Is
2. Billy Paul – Am I Black Enough For You?
3. Ann Peebles – How Strong Is A Woman
4. Earth, Wind & Fire – They Don’t See
5. The Dramatics – Thank You For Your Love
6. The Glass House – V.I.P.
7. The Montclairs – Dreaming’s Out Of Season
8. Al Green – What Is This Feeling
9. Aretha Franklin – A Brand New Me
10. Bobby Womack – Woman’s Gotta Have It
11. Bill Withers – Lonely Town, Lonely Street
12. Syreeta – Keep Him Like He Is
13. Leon Thomas – Love Each Other
14. Grady Tate – I Just Wanna Be There
15. Eddie Kendricks – Someday We’ll Have A Better World
16. The Soul Children – Hearsay
17. The Bar Kays – Be Yourself
18. Bobby Patterson – I Get My Groove From You
19. Ollie Nightengale – Here I Am Again
20. The Blossoms – Cherish What Is Dear To You
21. The Supremes – Your Wonderful Sweet Sweet Love
22. Ruby Andrews – You Made A Believer Out Of Me


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Any Major Morning Vol. 2

August 21st, 2014 6 comments

Any Major Morning_2

Last October ago I posted what has turned out to be my favourite mix of 2013, one I have listened to more than any other collection of music, on the theme of mornings. Likewise, I have played the present, second morning mix practically on loop over the past few months. It’s that good, and it is high time I share it with you.

The previous mix simply featured songs with the word “morning” in the title, provided the lyrics were set in the morning. The titles in this lot don’t all include the word “morning”, but they abide broadly by the latter rule. So I disqualify songs like “Touch Me In The Morning” or “Angel Of The Morning” wherein the singer is anticipating behaviours that still lie ahead. I’ve not been steadfast with that rule; the Crash Test Dummies survived it, as did Hall & Oates.

Obviously I have tried to avoid songs that use the idea of “morning” as a metaphor, so no “It’s Morning Britain” by Aztec Camera. And, Faron Young: 4 am is hardly “morning”, chum.

I’m surprised by how few songs there are about that great morning activity: breakfasts. The songs included here are not exactly about croissants and flapjacks (unless those can be applied as euphemisms), though the cute and amusing K’s Choice song sort of is.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-yawned covers (with graphics sourced from the fine morguefile.com site). PW in comments.

1. The Beatles – Good Morning Good Morning (1967)
2. The Pretty Things – She Says Good Morning (1968)
3. Big Star – Watch The Sunrise (1972)
4. Richie Havens – Morning, Morning (1968)
5. Badfinger – Sweet Tuesday Morning (1971)
6. Daryl Hall & John Oates – When The Morning Comes (1973)
7. Neil Diamond – Deep In The Morning (1969)
8. Jimmy James & The Vagabonds – Good Day Sunshine (1968)
9. Chuck Jackson – I Wake Up Crying (1961)
10. The Rascals – A Beautiful Morning (1968)
11. The Monkees – Sometime In The Morning (1967)
12. Dusty Springfield – Breakfast in Bed (1969)
13. Gil Scott-Heron – I Think I’ll Call It Morning (1971)
14. The Bar Kays – Memphis At Sunrise (1972)
15. Bill Withers – Lovely Day (1977)
16. The Partridge Family – I Woke Up In Love This Morning (1971)
17. Glen Campbell – Sunflower (1977)
18. George Strait – Amarillo By Morning (1982)
19. Cowboy Junkies – Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning (1990)
20. Crash Test Dummies – Get You In The Morning (1999)
21. The Boo Radleys – Wake Up Boo! (1995)
22. Eels – Saturday Morning (2003)
23. Richard Hawley – As The Dawn Breaks (2009)
24. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Someday Some Morning Sometime (2000)
25. K’s Choice – Breakfast (1993)
26. Norah Jones – Sunrise (2004)


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A Life In Vinyl: 1977

August 14th, 2014 12 comments

Life In Vinyl 1977

Here’s a new series in which I follow my life as a music-consumer, from the time I became a serious buyer. It sort of follows the “Stepping Back” series which I abandoned a few years ago at 1981 because it was just too labour-intensive.

1977 was the year I turned 11. It was a pivotal year in my life, perhaps more than any other. My family was torn apart by my father’s sudden death, I discovered love, I began to take learning English seriously, and I became a serious fan of pop music. My love for the cute girl from a different suburb was short-lived, my family remained broken, but music was my big passion, alongside football.

Reviewing the music I listened to in 1977 and after that, I made some rapid leaps: in October 1977 I bought a record by teen idol Leif Garrett and in December still two by Swedish popster Harpo; by April 1978 I bought singles by Kate Bush and Jethro Tull, then by The Stranglers and Sham 69.

I didn’t have most of what is featured on the present mix on record, but these songs recreate the year for me. When I hear “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” I hear my mother’s grief. When I hear Kenny Roger’s “Lucille”, I can smell the leather of my new black shoes I received that autumn. “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” prompted me to become serious about learning English when I looked up a four-syllable word (“esitayshon”). Raffaella Carrà’s “A Far L’Amore Comincia Tu” became the first song for which I developed an active hatred; I feel slightly more generous towards it now.

Since the mix is timed to fit on a CD, I had to omit some songs which would tell a fuller story of my year in music. So you are deprived of Rosetta Stone’s cover of “Sunshine Of Your Love”, songs by The Rubettes, Tina Rainford and La Belle Epoque, Lonzo’s German version of “No Milk Today”, and Hoffmann & Hoffmann’s German cover of the Bellamy Brother’s “Crossfire” (and, indeed, the original). You might consider yourself lucky.covers-77-a I might well have duplicated some artists, especially Harpo, who had three other songs I had on record (“Rock ‘n’ Roll Clown”, “Television” and “With A Girl Like You”), Baccara (“Sorry, I’m A Lady”), Boney M (“Sunny” and “Ma Baker”) and the Bay City Rollers (“Yesterday’s Hero” and “It’s A Game”) . The BCR track included is a great pop song, incidentally.

The opening track by Marianne Rosenberg is now a cult hit, especially popular with Germany’s drag queens. It’s a slice of wonderful  Schlager-disco, with a lyrical concept which simulates that of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”.

Since this mix reflects the listening pleasures and experiences of an 11-year-old, I don’t necessarily endorse any of the featured tracks, but I’d describe the ABBA song as my favourite by that great group.covers-77-bAs always, CD-R length, covers, PW in comments.

1. Marianne Rosenberg – Marleen
2. Smokie – Lay Back In The Arms Of Someone
3. Manhattan Transfer – Chanson d’Amour
4. Bonnie Tyler – Lost In France
5. Julie Covington – Don’t Cry For Me Argentina
6. Lynsey de Paul & Mike Moran – Rock Bottom
7. Oliver Onions – Orzowei
8. Space – Magic Fly
9. David Soul – Silver Lady
10. Amanda Lear – Queen Of Chinatown
11. Harpo – In The Zum-Zum-Zummernight
12. Baccara – Yes Sir, I Can Boogie
13. Boney M. – Belfast
14. Bay City Rollers – You Made Me Believe In Magic
15. Leif Garrett – Surfin’ USA
16. Umberto Tozzi – Ti Amo
17. Kenny Rogers – Lucille
18. Carole King – Hard Rock Cafe
19. Glen Campbell – Southern Nights
20. Raffaella Carrà – A far l’amore comincia tu (Liebelei)
21. Abba – The Name Of The Game
22. Santa Esmeralda – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood


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Songs about Vietnam Vol. 1

August 7th, 2014 7 comments


August 9 will be the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon showing the country called Godblessamerica the Victory sign — because leaving the presidency in disgrace apparently was a moment of triumph — before climbing into the helicopter that would take him to a place called Ignominy. It was still better than being thrown out of it over the Atlantic, as was the wont of the regimes which Nixon, Kissinger and pals helped install in South America.

Two years earlier Nixon had ended the war (sort of) which he didn’t start but nonetheless cheerfully perpetuated, having sabotaged a peace in order to win the 1968 election. It was Johnson’s war, and it was Nixon’s war. The Vietnam War gave cause to many protest songs, and some of them will be covered here over at least two mixes (perhaps the second mix will run in November, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of LBJ being elected).

All these songs are in protest against the war; there were, of course, pro-war songs, but I’m quite glad to leave these well alone. Where the pro-war songs focussed on misplaced patriotism, jingoistic promises to kick Charlie’s ass and revulsion at treacherous hippies too cowardly to fight for America’s freedom, man, the anti-war songs took many different approaches.

Many were concerned with the soldiers. The most famous of these was Freda Payne’s “Bring The Boys Home”, a hit on which Change of Pace riffed with their “Bring My Buddies Back”, sung from the perspective of a soldier who has escaped the hell of combat. William Bell’s “Marching Off To War” (written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper) is also from the POV of a soldier about to depart for Vietnam, as is Archie Bell & the Drells’ “A Soldier’s Prayer, 1967”, while the narrator of Mike Williams’ “I’m A Lonely Soldier” speaks as a combatant in a war that “they said would set me free”.

The human interest angle was apparent also in songs about people who had loved ones in Vietnam, or leaving for the wear, with the distinct possibility that they will not return. The three tracks closing this set cover that beat. The Charmels’ track was written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.

In the powerful “Hymn No. 5”, The Mighty Hannibal (who died earlier this year) describes the effect of war on the soldier.


Of course, things also had to be political. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” attacked the exemptions from combat which the scions of the elites enjoyed. It was inspired by David Eisenhower, grandson of Ike, who married Julie Nixon, daughter of the crook, and git out of seeing combat duty by enrolling into military academia. It also could have been about George W Bush and Dick Cheney, draft dodgers by patronage who nonetheless felt equipped to send young people to their deaths in wars which have caused much harm, to the regions they invaded and to the US itself.

Steppenwolf, who provided hairy bikers with their anthem, made their conscientious objection clear, preferring to be called a draft resistor and, unlike Dick and Dubya, avoid combat not because they were privileged dodgers, but because they held on to values.

Richie Havens’ “Handsome Johnny” (co-written by actor Louis Gossett Jr) references war in general, but also mentions the Vietnam War, during which it was released. It juxtaposes a series of wars and the weapons that were used with the non-violent battle for civil rights. The final verse, with its reference to guided missiles, has application even today, when that great disappointment of a president cheerfully applies drones and defends the indefensible in the bombing of Gaza.

Some songs took a soft approach. Jay and the Americans issued their appeal to Nixon to make peace through his daughter, because apparently he was everybody’s daddy for a while. It might be soft-pedalling, but the message is critical of Nixon’s war policy, and therefore of Nixon himself.

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

1. William Bell – Marching Off To War (1966)
2. Change Of Pace – Bring My Buddies Back (1971)
3. Jay & the Americans – Tricia Tell Your Daddy (1970)
4. Richie Havens – Handsome Johnny (1967)
5. Lou Rawls – The Politician (1972)
6. Nina Simone – The Backlash Blues (1967)
7. John Lee Hooker – I Don’t Wanna Go To Vietnam (1968)
8. The Mighty Hannibal – Hymn No. 5 (1966)
9. Archie Bell & the Drells – A Soldier’s Prayer, 1967 (1968)
10. Ernie Hines – Our Generation (1972)
11. Sammy Brown – Vietnam (You Sun Of A Gun) (1973)
12. Edwin Starr – War (1970)
13. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Fortunate Son (1969)
14. Steppenwolf – Draft Resister (1969)
15. Deep Purple – Child In Time (1970)
16. The Byrds – Draft Morning (1968)
17. Johnny Cash – Roll Call (1967)
18. John Prine – Sam Stone (1971)
19. Eugene McDaniels – Silent Majority (1970)
20. Mike Williams – Lonely Soldier (1966)
21. The Charmels – Please Uncle Sam (Send Back My Man) (1966)
22. Melverine Thomas – A Letter From My Son (1970)
23. Thelma Houston – Don’t Cry My Soldier Boy (1967)



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In Memoriam – July 2014

August 4th, 2014 7 comments

In Memoriam - July 2014When The Ramones were inducted into the Hall of Fame, drummer Marky Ramone paid tribute to his predecessor Tommy Ramone for inventing the drumming style which Marky had to keep up with.

Tommy, who was born Thomas Erdelyi to Hungarian Holocaust survivors and died on July 11, was supposed to be the band’s manager. But when it turned out that Dee Dee couldn’t play bass and sing at the same time, Joey was moved from the drums to the mic, and Tommy, who couldn’t even play the drums, took up the sticks. It was a master stroke: Joey was a natural frontman, Dee Dee looked cool with his mouth shut, and Tommy’s machine-gun drumming drove a sound which inspired the punk movement, even in England where The Clash sought to emulate the guys from Queens.

Most musicians who feature in this series have been retired from recording music, or otherwise have faded from public view. Not so blues-rock legend Johnny Winter, who died in a hotel room in Switzerland while on tour in Europe. He had just recorded an album, Step Back, with people like Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons and Joe Perry guest-starring (it will be released in September), and was about to tour the US. Winter, who shared the trademark long blonde mane with his keyboardist brother Edgar, was rated highly as a guitar-great. He also produced a trio of Grammy-winning albums for Muddy Waters, the commercial peak for the blues legend.

Times were when a 16-year-old session drummer could be involved in making a stone cold rock & roll classic. So it as with drummer Idris Muhammad, who as a teenager named Leo Morris drummed on Fats Domino’s megahit “Blueberry Hill”. He subsequently became an acclaimed jazz drummer, beating the skins for the likes of (deep breath) Ahmad Jamal, Gene Ammons, Nat Adderley, George Benson, Pharaoh Sanders, Shirley Scott, Lonnie Smith, Charles Earland, Lou Donaldson, Gábor Szabó, Horace Silver, Stanley Turrentine, Paul Desmond, Houston Person, Freddie Hubbard and many others, as well as releasing 13 albums himself. He converted to Islam in the 1960s.

Cafe Wha?

Café Wah? in Manhattan in the 1960s. It’s still going today.

Normally a nightclub owner would not make the cut for this series, but Manny Roth (David Lee Roth’s uncle) merits an exception to the rule as the owner of the long-running Café Wha? Nightclub at 115 Macdougal Street in Manhattan, which provided a stage for unknowns such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, The Velvet Underground, Kool and the Gang, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers, Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor.

Last year we lost George Jones; now his long-time sideman George Riddle has departed at the age of 78. Riddle was the founder of the country legend’s backing band, The Jones Boys, but often it was just Jones and Riddle on stage. Riddle was a fixture on the country circuit: as a musician and songwriter (he wrote 13 hits for Jones), as a regular on the Grand Ole Opry, and as a trusted companion — he was in the car with the Louvain Brothers when they decided to break up. One of two songs in tribute to Riddle anticipates the mix I’ll post on Thursday.

Until this month, there lived a man in New Orleans who had played with Mamie Smith. Lionel Ferbos died on July 19, two days after his 103rd birthday. Ferbos didn’t record much, but was an active part of the New Orleans jazz and history scene for most of his long life. As things stand right now and as far as I can ascertain, only two other centenarians would qualify for inclusion in this series when their day comes: gospel singer Elder Roma Wilson, who is 103, and French chanteuse Léo Marjane, 101. It seems the oldest music person alive is British classical composer Roy Douglas, who is 106.


Betty Cody, 92, country singer, on July 1
Hank Snow & Betty Cody – It’s You Only You That I Love (1953)

Nick Charles, blues bassist and saxophonist, on July 1
Eddie Burns – Snake Eyes (2002, on bass)

Kathy Stobart, 89, British jazz saxophonist, on July 5

Castro, 32, Ghanaian musician, drowned on July 6
Castro feat. Kofi Kinaata & Asamoah Gyan – Odo Pa (2013)

Lois Johnson, 72, country singer, on July 7
Lois Johnson – From Warm To Cool To Cold (1971)

Ken Thorne, 90, British film score composer (Help!, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), on July 9

John Spinks, 60, guitarist and singer of British pop band The Outfield, on July 9
The Outfield – Your Love (1985)

Chris Grier, member of avant garde ensemble To Live and Shave in L.A., on July 10

Tommy Ramone, 65, original drummer of the Ramones and producer, on July 11
Ramones -  I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (1976, also as writer)
Ramones – Here Today, Gone Tomorrow (1977)
Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated (1978, as producer)

Charlie Haden, 76, jazz bassist and bandleader, On July 11
Charlie Haden – At The End Of The World (2002)

Vange Leonel, 51, Brazilian singer-songwriter, on July 14

Johnny Winter, 70, blues guitarist and singer, producer, on July 16
Johnny Winter – Rock Me Baby (1973)
Muddy Waters – 33 Years (1978, as producer)
Johnny Winter – White Line Blues (1992)

Lionel Ferbos, 103, jazz trumpeter, on July 19

George Riddle, 78, country musician and songwriter, on July 20
Melba Montgomery – Hall Of Shame (1963, as songwriter)
George Riddle – Lonesome Vietnam

Manfred Sexauer, 83, presenter of German music shows Beat Club and Musikladen, on July 20
Mood-Mosaic – A Touch Of Velvet-A Sting Of Brass (1966, theme of Beat Club and Musikladen)

Gene Walker, 76, jazz and rock saxophonist, on July 21
Gene Walker and his Combo – Empire City (1963)

Saado Ali Warsame, Somali singer-songwriter and politician, assassinated on July 23

Christian Falk, 52, singer and bassist of Swedish punk band Imperiet, announced on July 24

Idris Muhammad, 74, jazz drummer, on July 29
Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill (1956, on drums)
Lou Donaldson – Dapper Dan (1968, on drums)
Idris Muhammad – Hard To Face The Music (1976)

Dick Wagner, 71, guitarist with Ursa Major, sideman for Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, on July 30
Ursa Major – In My Darkest Hour (1972)
Alice Cooper – Only Women Bleed (1975, on guitar and as co-writer)

Manny Roth, 95, owner of the Cafe Wha? Nightclub, on July 30

(PW in comments)


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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 2

July 31st, 2014 27 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)



Any Major Summer Vol. 3

July 24th, 2014 10 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
More Mix CD-Rs


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