Copy Borrow Steal – The Collection

March 26th, 2015 15 comments

Copy Borrow Steal

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 3

March 19th, 2015 5 comments

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 3

Here’s a third mix of the full versions of TV themes, some the original songs that were picked up as the title melody, and others extended versions of the short themes.

In the case of the former, there sometimes are incongruities. For example, what does a 1990s grunge song, great though it is, have to do with a TV series set in the 1920s, as we have with The Brian Jonestown Massacre providing the theme for Boardwalk Empire?

I have seen at least one episode of 16 of the featured 24 shows, and of these I have faithfully watched (or, in the case of Better Call Saul, will watch) at least one season in nine cases. How about you?

There will still be a fourth and final mix.

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

1. Mike Post – Theme from Magnum P.I. (1982)
2. Bill Conti – Theme from Cagney And Lacey (1982)
3. Sammy Davis Jr – Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow (Baretta) (1976)
4. Heinz Kiessling – Temptation Sensation (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) (1970s)
5. Jeff Beal – Main Theme of House Of Cards (2013)
6. Dave Porter – Theme from Better Call Saul (2015)
7. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Straight Up And Down (Boardwalk Empire)(1996)
8. Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers – This Life (Sons Of Anarchy) (2011)
9. Washed Out – Feel It All Around (Portlandia) (2009)
10. The Scrantones – Theme of The Office (2005)
11. Mike Post – Main Theme of Quantum Leap (1989)
12. Jack Elliott & Allyn Ferguson – Theme from Barney Miller (1975)
13. Tom Scott – Gotcha (Starsky & Hutch) (1977)
14. Lalo Schifrin – Theme from Mission Impossible (1967)
15. Quincy Jones – The Streetbeater (Sanford & Son) (1973)
16. Sonny Curtis – Love Is All Around (The Mary Tyler More Show) (1970)
17. W.G. Snuffy Walden & Stewart Levin – Main Theme from thirtysomething (1991)
18. Angelo Badalamenti – Theme from Twin Peaks (1990)
19. James Newton Howard – Theme from E.R. (1994)
20. Triple X – The Truth (X-Files Theme) (1995)
21. PSAPP – Cosy In The Rocket (Grey’s Anatomy) (2005)
22. Bear McCreary – Main Theme from The Walking Dead (2013)
23. The Presidents of the United States of America – Cleveland Rocks (The Drew Carey Show) (1998)
24. Morning Runner – Gone Up In Flames (The Inbetweeners) (2005)

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Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 1
Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 2
84 Original Length TV Themes
More TV themes stuff

 

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 4

March 12th, 2015 9 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 4

And we’re still not feeling guilty. This is the fourth mix in the series, and I think there are still one or two good ones to come.

Kenny Loggins’ Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong has been done much better by Randy Crawford and Al Jarreau on the wonderful Casino Lights album, but this version is notable for the backing singer: Michael Jackson.

Bill LaBounty has featured on previous mixes — his Living It Up is one of the best tracks on any of these mixes — and he returns here with a 1979 re-recording of a song he had previously released in 1975. Incidentally, LaBounty released what might well be my favourite album of 2014, Into Something Blue.

Very few who’ll hear this mix will have any idea of Karl Kikillus is, and that isn’t surprising. Kikillus was a radio DJ in South Africa, and then the presenter of the country’s first pop video show in 1983, the year his jazzily grooving Another Shore was released, as a b-side to a song called Fallen Angel. As far as I know, that’s all Kikillus released.

Greg Guidry’s story had a sad ending. He wrote for the likes of Climax Blues Band, Robbie Dupree, Exile, Johnny Taylor, Sawyer Brown and Reba McEntire, but his 1982 album Over The Line was his only one for 18 years. In 2003 his charred body was found in his garage in an apparent suicide. He was 53.

Another singer featured here who died relatively young is Paul Davis, who is perhaps most famous for his hit I Go Crazy (covered to superior effect by Lou Rawls). In 1986 he survived being shot in the abdomen in a robbery in Nashville. He died from a heart attack in 2008, a day after his 60th birthday.

Eric Tagg featured before in this series, on Volume 3 with Is It You, though the credit went to jazz-fusion guitarist Lee Ritenour, with whom Tagg recorded several songs (and who produced the Dreamwalking album on which No One There, with a Rit solo, appears).. Indeed, he is probably best known for these, even though he released three LPs between 1975 and ’82, and a fourth in 1997.

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

1. Average White Band – Atlantic Avenue (1979)
2. Steve Winwood – Valerie (1982)
3. Greg Guidry – (I’m) Givin’ It Up (1982)
4. Karl Kikillus – Another Shore (1983)
5. Bobby Caldwell – Can’t Say Goodbye (1978)
6. Bill LaBounty – Lie To Me (1978)
7. Valerie Carter – What’s Become Of Us (1978)
8. Christopher Cross – Never Be The Same (1979)
9. Kenny Loggins – Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong (1979)
10. Firefall – Just Remember I Love You (1977)
11. Paul Davis – Cool Night (1981)
12. Sweet Comfort Band – Don’t Tell Me You Love Me (1979)
13. Michael McDonald – I Gotta Try (1982)
14. Adrian Gurvitz – Untouchable And Free (1979)
15. Eric Tagg – No One There (1982)
16. James Vincent – You’ll Be Right There (1980)
17. Elkie Brooks – Fool If You Think It’s Over (1981)
18. Little River Band – Reminiscing (1978)
19. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Fallin’ In Love (1975)
20. Stephen Bishop – On And On (1976)
21. Deliverance – Leaving L.A. (1979)

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

 

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In Memoriam – February 2015

March 5th, 2015 4 comments

Now only one of Buddy Holly’s Crickets is still alive, following the death of John B. Mauldin this month. Buddy, of course, died the day the music died; guitarist Niki Sullivan in 2004. The last survivor is drummer Jerry Allison, now 75 years old. In 2012 the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame corrected a huge clanger which they had dropped in 1986 when they inducted Buddy Holly but not the other Crickets; by special committee decision Allison (who, after all, co-wrote hits like Peggy Sue and That’ll Be The Day), Mauldin and Sullivan were included, as was Holly successor Sonny Curtis. Alas, Mauldin was too ill to attend. After the Crickets, Mauldin worked as an engineer in LA’s Gold Star studios, where Phil Spector made all those great records.

gallery-1The curse of AMDWHAH struck again: one moment I was playing music by Visage, in preparation for the Life in Vinyl 1981 post, next moment Steve Strange, the frontman of Visage, was dead, of a heart attack at only 55. Strange, who was born Steven John Harrington, was a pioneer in the New Romantic movement which would shape 1980s pop music, especially in Britain. Before he donned the make-up, he was active in the punk scene, booking The Sex Pistols’ first gig in his native Wales, and playing in a punk band, The Moors Murderers, that also included Chrissie Hynde, future Psychedelic Furs drummer Vince Ely, and future Clash drummer Topper Headon. Before his breakthrough with Visage, Strange and fellow Visage member Rusty Egan ran the legendary Blitz club in London’s Covent Garden, the cradle of the nascent New Romantic movement.

In early December, all members of the classic four-member line-up of The Manhattans were alive. With the deaths of two members in December and now that of Kenny ‘Wally’ Kelley, only lead singer Gerald Alston is still alive. The other two founding members of the group are also dead, George ‘Smitty’ Smith, whom Alston replaced, died 1970, Richard Taylor, who left in 1976, in 1987. Kelley left The Manhattans in 1990 to pursue his Ph.D. studies. He became a high school biology teacher.

The obituaries for Lesley Gore tended to focus on her string of classic 1960s hits, from It’s My Party to You Don’t Own Me to Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows. But what is also noteworthy is Gore’s activism for the LBGT community, among which she counted herself, including hosting a TV show aimed at LBGT communities. Gore received an Oscar nomination as co-composer, with her brother Michael, of the ballad Out Here on My Own from the film Fame.

Clark Terry, the trumpeter and flugelhornist who has died at the age of 94, is said to be one of the most recorded jazz artists of all time. After serving in a US Navy band during World War 2, he played with Charlie Barnet (1947), Count Basie (1948–1951), Duke Ellington (1951–1959), Quincy Jones (1960) and Oscar Peterson (1964-1996). Giants like Miles Davis and Quincy Jones have acknowledged his influence. And when he wasn’t blowing his trumpet, Terry was known for his scat singing, especially as a member of the Tonight Show house band in the 1960s, which led to a hit record with Oscar Peterson titled after his nickname, Mumbles. He played for eight US presidents and received many awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Another great session musician went with keyboardist Bobby Emmons. You’ll have heard him on many recordings from Memphis’ American Studios, including Elvis’ Suspicious Minds, In The Ghetto and Kentucky Rain, Dusty Springfield’s Son Of A Preacher Man, Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and B.J. Thomas’; Hooked On A Feeling. He backed musicians like Bobby Womack, Waylon Jennings (for whom he wrote the hit Luckenbach, Texas), Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Wilson Pickett, King Curtis, Joe Tex, Dionne Warwick, Roy Orbison, Willie Mitchell, Herbie Mann, Hubert Laws, Billy Swan, J.J. Cale, Crystal Gayle, Willie Nelson, George Strait, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Highwaymen, Shirley Caesar and many more.

The most shocking death of the month probably was that of Charmayne ‘Maxee’ Maxwell, a member of 1990s soul trio Brownstone, whose 1994 hit If You Love Me is one of my favourites in the genre of that decade. Her death at 46 is shocking because of its freakishness: apparently she cut her throat with a wine glass after accidentally falling down a flight of stairs. This being the age of the Internet and Twitter idiocy, a rumour quickly made the rounds Maxwell died as a result of suicide. Where is the decency and compassion in spreading such rumours? And who would believe that anyone would kill themselves by such a method?

Only the most devoted Motown fans will have known the name Marlene Judy Barrow-Tate, who has died at 73. More probably knew of the Motown backing band The Andantes. But everybody will have heard the voices of Barrow and co-Andantes Louvain Demps and Jacqueline Hicks. It was them, not the other Supremes, who sang with Diana Ross on Someday We’ll Be Together. And they sang on a galaxy of Motown classics. To keep things short, here gallery-2are just some of them: My Guy, Jimmy Mack, Love Child, Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), I’ll Be Doggone, Ain’t That Peculiar, Too Busy Thinking About My Baby and That’s The Way Love, as well as The Four Tops’ hits Reach Out, I’ll Be There, I Can’t Help Myself, Baby I Need Your Loving, It’s the Same Old Song, Bernadette, and Standing In The Shadow Of Love. They also appeared on non-Motown hits such as Jackie Wilson’s Higher And Higher and The Dells’ Stay In My Corner, and released a few singles under their own name. Listen to the backing-vocals-only version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine.

Anita Darian was a much admired soprano in the fields of opera, on stage in musicals and even in jazz. But most of us know little of that. Almost all of us, however, will know her voice from a hit record that didn’t even credit her: Darian’s soprano provides the high-pitched counter-melody in the saxophone solo of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, The Tokens’ bowdlerised version of Solomon Linda’s South African classic Mbube.

In South African pop, Zayne Adams was for a time a superstar, as the singer with the jazz-funk-soul outfit Pacific Express in the late 1970s and as a solo artist in the 1980s. He gigged till the end of his 67 years, whenever gigs would come his way, which was not always. This monyth he weas supposed t be appear at the famous jazz festival in Cape Town, for the first time, but death killed that dream. While he even played in Australia in his latter years — the South African expat community is big there — show business, the only business he knew, could not afford him a good living. At one point he was broke and homeless; eventually he died a man without means. And the life and death of Zayne Adams, a man few readers of this blog would know, raises a universal question: how well do your communities take care of their musicians, their writers and poets, their playwrights, their painters and sculptors, and all those who enrich through their art?

 

Danny McCulloch, 69, bassist of Eric Burdon & The Animals, on Jan. 29
Eric Burdon and the New Animals – When I Was Young (1967)

Anita Darian, 87, soprano, on Feb. 1
The Tokens – The Lion Sleeps Tonight (1961)

The Jacka, 37, rapper, shot dead on Feb. 2

Zane Musa, 36, saxophonist of The Nikhil Korula Band, on Feb. 2
Nikhil Korula Band – Stay For A While (2007)

Mary Healy, 96, actress and singer, on Feb. 3

William Thomas McKinley, 76, jazz composer, on Feb. 3

Celina González, 85, Cuban singer and songwriter, on Feb. 4

Joe B. Mauldin, 74, bassist of The Crickets, recording engineer, on Feb. 7
Buddy Holly – Well…All Right (1958, also as co-writer)

Martin O’Connor, 36, drummer of country group Declan Nerny Band, in a hit & run on Feb. 7

Mosie Lister, 93, gospel singer-songwriter, original member of Statesmen Quartet, on Feb. 12
Elvis Presley – Where No One Stands Alone (1967, as writer)

Steve Strange, 55, Welsh New Wave musician (Visage), on Feb. 12
Visage – Visage (1981)
Visage – Lost In Static (2013)

Sam Andrew, 73, guitarist of Big Brother and the Holding Company, on Feb. 12
Big Brother & the Holding Company – Combination Of The Two (1968)

Richie Pratt, 71, jazz drummer, on Feb. 12

Louis Jourdan, 93, French actor and singer, on Feb. 14
Louis Jourdan – Gigi (1958)

Hulon Crayton, 58, smooth jazz saxophonist, on Feb. 14
Hulon – Sax Machine (2010)

Sergio Blanco, 66, singer with Spanish duo Sergio y Estíbaliz, on Feb. 15

Melvan Whittington, rock guitarist, on Feb. 15-16
Love – Time Is Like A River (1974, on guitar)

Lesley Gore, 68, pop singer, on Feb. 16
Lesley Gore – Maybe I Know (1964)
Lesley Gore – Coca Cola commercial (1967)

Gavin Clark, British folk singer-songwriter (Clayhill, Unkle), on Feb. 16

Kenneth ‘Wally’ Kelley, 72, founding member of The Manhattans, on Feb. 17
The Manhattans – The Day The Robin Sang To Me (1973, also as writer)

Dave Cloud, 58, rock musician, on Feb. 18
Dave Cloud & The Gospel Of Power – You Don’t Need Sex (2008)

Mats Olausson, 54, Swedish keyboard player with Yngwie Malmsteen, on Feb. 18

Gérard Calvi, 92, French film score composer, on Feb. 20
Gérard Calvi – Theme d’Asterix le Gauloise (1968)

Francisco ‘Paco’ Carreno, 49, drummer of punk bands Conflict and Inner Terrestrials, on Feb. 20

Clark Terry, 94, jazz trumpeter and flugelhornist, on Feb. 21
Count Basie Orchestra – Blee Blop Blues (1949, on trumpet)
Dinah Washington – My Song (1952, on trumpet)
Oscar Peterson Trio and Clark Terry – Mumbles (1964)

Zayne Adams, 67, South African soul and jazz singer, on Feb. 22
Pacific Express – Give A Little Love (1978)

Bobby Emmons, 72, keyboardist and songwriter, on Feb. 23
Bobby Womack – Moonlight In Vermont (1968, on organ)
John Prine – Angel From Montgomery (1971, on organ)
The Crusaders – Luckenbach, Texas (1980, as co-writer)

Marlene Judy Barrow-Tate, 73, member of Motown backing singer band The Andantes, on Feb. 23
The Andantes – Like A Nightmare (1964)
Mary Wells – My Guy (1964)
Jackie Wilson – (Your Love Is Lifting Me) Higher And Higher (1968)

Robert Belfour, 74, American blues musician, on Feb. 24

Chris Rainbow, 68, Scottish singer (The Alan Parsons Project), on Feb. 25
Chris Rainbow – Give Me What I Cry For (1978)

Leonard Nimoy, 83, actor, director and singer, on Feb. 27
Leonard Nimoy – Highly Illogical (1968)
Leonard Nimoy – I Walk The Line (1969)

Charmayne ‘Maxee’ Maxwell, 46, singer with R&B trio Brownstone, in a fall on Feb. 27
Brownstone – If You Love Me (1994)

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Any Major Soul 1973 – Vol. 1

February 26th, 2015 9 comments

Any.Major.Soul.1973_1

Is 1972 the greatest year in soul music, or is it 1973? We have had two mixes covering 1972 (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), and now we have the first volume of 1973. Either way, it was the golden age in which utter gems like Leroy Hutson’s Love Oh Love went by quite unnoticed. To have these two years concentrated in one mix, check out Any Major Soul 1972/73, perhaps one of the greatest soul mixes ever compiled — and the credit for that goes not in any way to the compiler, but to the great people who made that music.

And here’s the mindblowing thing: when you hear the fine music on this mix, remember that just a few of them were hits; most of them were not, many were even just album tracks. Hutson’s Love Oh Love was released as a single: it reached #75 on the “Black Charts”.

One of the album tracks was the Isley Brothers’ If You Were There from the outstanding 3+3 LP. Eleven years later it was covered by Wham!, on their Make It Big album, introducing this fine song to a teenage audience.

On the Undisputed Truth’s Law Of The Land album Girl You’re Alright (spelled on the label incorrectly as “your”, anticipating Facebook grammar by almost four decades) is Track 3. It’s a fine song, but the track of greater interest is the one that precedes it: the original version of Papa Was A Rolling Stone. One day I’ll make a mix of original recordings of songs that became big Motown for others, and the Undisputed Truth will feature with that.

Margie Joseph’s Touch Your Woman might also feature in the “Covered With Soul” series — it was a hit the previous year for Dolly Parton. Dolly sang it in a way that suggests that a nice embrace will get her over the present spat (apart from one knowing inflection in the delivery of the title), but there is no doubt what Margie is talking: passionate make-up sex.

Letta Mbulu’s 1973 Naturally LP was an eclectic affair, with the sounds of her native South Africa, Afro-soul and straight soul. The featured track was written by the late, lamented Joe Sample.

Finally, I assure you that the sequencing of Darondo’s Didn’t I followed by Sylvia Robinson’s song of the same title is purely coincidental. They just went well together.


1. The Three Degrees – Year Of Decision
2. Freda Payne – Right Back Where I Started From
3. Bobby Womack – Lookin’ For A Love
4. Margie Joseph – Touch Your Woman
5. Denise LaSalle – There Ain’t Enough Hate Around (To Make Me Turn Around)
6. Irma Thomas – She’ll Never Be Your Wife
7. Four Tops – It Won’t Be The First Time
8. Leroy Hutson – Love, Oh Love
9. Baby Washington & Don Gardner – Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me
10. The Isley Brothers – If You Were There
11. John Edwards – Spread The News
12. The Spinners – One Of A Kind (Love Affair)
13. Bloodstone – Outside Woman
14. Al Green – Have You Been Making Out O.K.
15. Darondo – Didn’t I
16. Sylvia – Didn’t I
17. Terry Callier – Just As Long As We’re In Love
18. Inez Foxx – You’re Saving Me For A Rainy Day
19. Pat Lundy – He’s The Father Of My Children
20. Letta Mbulu – Now We May Begin
21. The Undisputed Truth – Girl You’re Alright
22. Sly & the Family Stone – Skin I’m In
23. Lyn Collins – Take Me Just As I Am

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A Life In Vinyl: 1981

February 19th, 2015 3 comments

A Life In Vinyl - 1981

With violent death of John Lennon just as 1980 drew to a close, the first few months of 1981, the year I turned 15, was spent on Beatles binging. I had been a fan before, but the only way to honour John Lennon was to go into manic overdrive. I even liked Yoko Ono’s single — and Walking On Thin Ice is a indeed a fine song on its own merit. It was the song John and Yoko were working on that 8 December, before Chapman shot Lennon dead outside the Dakota, apparently while John was holding the master tape of the song.

In February I bought Bruce Springsteen’s The River double album. On that day I had an eye test which for a few hours almost blinded me — I lacked the sense of knowledge or irony that might have prompted me to crack a “Blinded By The Light” joke. The second side of the album — starting with Hungry Heart and ending with the title track — and in between the glorious You Can Look (You Better Not Touch) — turned me into a Springsteen fan. Or was it simply the first track, the very underrated The Ties That Bind, which did the trick? It helped that Springsteen looked very cool, much like Al Pacino, on the cover.

From Springsteen it was a short jump to Garland JeffreysEscape Artist, a hit-and-miss affair that came with an EP, on which the E-Street Band’s keyboardist Roy Bittan and organist Danny Federici played. Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg also appeared on Jim Steinman’s Bad For Good album, a ridiculous and thoroughly entertaining affair which had been intended for Meat Loaf. The cover and the spoken track, Love And Death And An American Guitar, are so magnificently mad that Bad For Good should reside in every serious record collection.

Later I bought Nils Lofgren’s Night Fades Away; Lofgren would, of course, later join the E-Street Band. I listened to the LP again not so long ago. It’s not great, though Lofgren’s version of Peter & Gordon’s I Go To Pieces (written by Del Shannon) is pretty good. Around the time, or maybe a bit earlier, I also bought Neil Young’s Re-ac-tor LP, with its red and black sleeve. I listened to it again a while ago. I was reminded why I never listened to it back then. It’s awful. Even Opera Star, which prompted me to buy that LP.

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I didn’t own Kids In America on record, and I didn’t really like it very much (though I did like Kim Wilde), but the song was so ubiquitous that hearing it beams me back to 1981. I rather enjoy it now. I also didn’t own Kim Carnes’ Bette Davis Eyes on record, though I taped it off the radio. It was a hit when my sister’s boyfriend returned from a visit to Colorado. For a German boy who had been around a fair bit in Europe, the USA was nevertheless terribly exotic. I expected that all of America sounded like Kim Carnes’ song and Juice Newton’s Angel Of The Morning. Which in 1981 much of the USA possibly did.

The year was also the time when the New Wave broke big. Visage’s double whammy of great singles with great videos — Fade To Grey and Mind Of A Toy — as well as Duran Duran’s Girls On Film and the OMD songs provided a whole new sound. Best of them was Ultravox’s Vienna. One of the great songs of the 1980s, and still it was held off the British #1 spot (when that still meant a great deal) by the ghastly novelty song Shaddap Your Face. Well, that nation re-elected Thatcher, so it had — and evidently still has — a surplus of idiots. Alas, last week, shortly after I had prepared this mix, Visage’s Steve Strange passed away at 55.

I bought the Rolling StonesTattoo You album, freshly released, on the day we were making a trip to East Germany. I taped it as we packed the car for our driving entertainment. At the border I hid the tape in my jacket pocket. I left the tape (and other contraband we smuggled over, at some risk) with our friends in the GDR. I wonder whether they knew to capitalise on having the brand-new Stones album. I have been told that my act of smuggling tapes and Bravo magazines (West Germany’s big pop and sex education publication) was greatly appreciated.

As autumn broke I bought Billy Joel’s Songs In The Attic LP, an album of songs recorded in concert which in their studio versions had been considered unsatisfactory by Joel. It is a near-perfect album, to this day an all-time favourite. In 1981 I played it to death. This and the older Turnstiles, The Stranger and 52nd Street LPs (I always hated Glass Houses) provided the soundtrack for and solace in many dark teenage days.

My quartet of acts that I was obsessed with in 1981 — Beatles, Springsteen, Joel — was completed at the end of the year by the German band BAP. Their story is remarkable: they sung only in Kölsch, a dialect unique to the city of Cologne, yet they went on to become Germany’s biggest act for several years. Their rock sound was catchy and their live performances incendiary. In 1984/85 I saw both BAP and Springsteen in concert within eight months or so of one another. The energy was comparable, though the quality of the music not so much.

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

1. John Lennon – Watching The Wheels
2. The Look – I Am The Beat
3. Yoko Ono – Walking On Thin Ice
4. Bruce Springsteen – The Ties That Bind
5. Garland Jeffreys – R.O.C.K.
6. Jim Steinman – Bad For Good
7. Kim Wilde – Kids In America
8. Ultravox – Vienna
9. Visage – Mind Of A Toy
10. The Specials – Ghost Town
11. Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes
12. Rolling Stones – Waiting For A Friend
13. Nils Lofgren – I Go To Pieces
14. Billy Joel – Summer, Highland Falls
15. Stray Cats – Stray Cat Strut
16. Foreigner – Juke Box Hero
17. Fischer-Z – Marliese
18. Hazel O’Connor – (Cover Plus) We’re All Grown Up
19. Bap – Verdamp lang her

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Any Major Love

February 12th, 2015 8 comments

Any Major Love

We all may have attended weddings during which the happy couple chose the most inappropriate tune for “Our Song”. Stalker theme Every Breath You Take, perhaps, “because every breath she takes I will be watching her”, or James Blunt’s psycho anthem You’re Beautiful “because, you know, she is beautiful”. The potential for awful choices is endless.

Relief is at hand with this compilation, bang on time for Valentine’s Day. This mix is useful for weddings, but I’ve tried not to make it an obvious wedding theme — The Dixie Cups can stay at home, as can Billy Idol.

It can work as a wedding proposal mix, even though it lacks the insistence of Beyoncé (or the cheery bounciness of the rather good Bruno Mars). And even though some songs speak of getting hitched — Springsteen is pretty clear about his intentions; clearly his little girl of the song is not the pregnant Mary nor the mother-in-law wielding Sherry, nor the unnamed wife with kid in Baltimore Jack, who feature on the same double LP — it is not exclusive to that purpose.

It might work best as a collection of love songs: some celebrating just being in love, some expressing hope for a nuptial future, some expressing love within marriage. I didn’t necessarily make this mix to get you laid, but if Peter Mayer’s or Deb Talan’s beautiful songs (based on poems by William Jay Smith and Pablo Neruda respectively) doesn’t make your beloved go all doe-eyed , you might have a problem. Ben Fold’s The Luckiest, meanwhile, might be the greatest love song in pop. Pity that the woman he wrote it for is now his ex-wife… In everything, I’ve tried to avoid the most obvious songs. If you are so fortunate as to have a loved one, perhaps some of the songs on this mix will help articulate how you feel.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-romanced covers. The front cover photo is by Prawny; the gorgeous back cover photo by Dedulo Photos (both morguefile.com).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

1. Dinah Washington – Come Rain Or Come Shine (1954)
2. The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You (1959)
3. The Association – Never My Love (1967)
4. The Platters – With This Ring (1967)
5. Honey Cone – Blessed Be Our Love (1971)
6. Minnie Riperton – Never Existed Before (1979)
7. Al Green – Let’s Stay Together (1972)
8. Ambrosia – Biggest Part Of Me (1980)
9. Alan Price – Groovy Times (1978)
10. Ron Sexsmith – Never Give Up (2006)
11. Ben Folds – The Luckiest (2001)
12. Deb Talan – Cherry Trees (2001)
13. Peter Mayer – Now Touch The Air Softly (1999)
14. Loggins & Messina – Danny’s Song (1972)
15. Bruce Springsteen – I Wanna Marry You (1980)
16. Indigo Girls – Power Of Two (1995)
17. Ben Harper – By My Side (1995)
18. Neil Young – Harvest Moon (1992)
19. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Grow Old With Me (1999)

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In Memoriam – January 2015

February 5th, 2015 6 comments

It was carnage in January! The headline death in January surely was that of Demis Roussos, the hirsute yet balding crooner of housewife-friendly ballads who hid his substantial girth beneath flowing kaftans. The look gave him an iconic image, but he was not considered very cool. Yet, as a member of Aphrodite’s Child, the Egypt-born Greek had plenty cool quotient with some pretty trippy music. The trio, which also included Vangelis on keyboards, were on the vanguard of prog-rock.

Gallery 1Vangelis lost another past musical partner three days later with the death at 72 of Italian musician Maurizio Arcieri, with whom he collaborated in the late-1970s project Chrisma (later renamed Krisma), an electronic music group founded by Arcieri with his wife Christina Moser in 1976 which enjoyed some success throughout Europe. Arcieri already had been a star in the 1960s as the founder and leader of the beat group The New Dada, who supported The Beatles on their 1965 tour of Italy.

Soul singer Don Covay, who has died at 76, is mostly remembered for the ‘60s soul standard See-Saw, but it is as a writer that he received the greater recognition from the soul community. Chief among the songs Covay wrote was Aretha Franklin’s glorious Chain Of Fools, originally written for Otis Redding who never recorded it. Earlier, Chubby Checker took Covay’s Pony Time to the US #1. Other well-known Covay compositions include Solomon Burke’s I’m Hanging Up My Heart For You, Gladys Knight & The Pips’ Letter Full Of Tears, Wilson Pickett’s I’m Gonna Cry , and his own Sookie Sookie and the much-covered Mercy Mercy (on which a still unknown Jimi Hendrix played guitar). And his Long Tall Shorty featured as the b-side to The Kinks’ All Day And All Of The Night.

The rise of the pedal steel guitar in country music can be in part be credited to an act by Little Jimmy Dickens, who died on the second day of the new year at the age of 94. It was Dickens who had brought steel guitar player Bud Isaacs to Nashville. In 1954 Isaacs went on to play his novel pedal steel guitar on Webb Pierce’s big hit “Slowly”. The whiny sound immediately caught on, with every steel guitar player quickly fitting pedals. Little Jimmy Dickens, who measured 4’11 (or 1,50m) was something of a country legend himself when he scored his biggest hit in 1965, the marvelously titled May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose. By then he had been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 17 years (he’d rack up 66 years on the Opry). Among his pals was Hank Williams, who once wrote a song for Dickens in 20 minutes while on a flight, calling it Hey Good Lookin’. A week later Williams recorded the song himself, telling Dickens jokingly: “That song’s too good for you!”

In the world of gospel music, Andraé Crouch was the giant. The good pastor was the godfather of contemporary gospel, and brought the genre into secular music. The choirs on Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror, Earth Song, Keep The Faith and Will You Be There, and on Madonna’s Like A Prayer were conducted by Crouch. He did arrangements for soundtracks that scored movies like The Color Purple and The Lion King. Conversely, and crucially, he also brought secular influences into gospel music. Stars such as Stevie Wonder, Phillip Bailey, Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, David Paich, and El DeBarge appeared on his records.

Last month, one alumnus of The Lawrence Welk Show, Dick Dale, died. This month another one went with the plucker and strummer of different kind of strings, Neil Levang. The guitar, mandolin and banjo player had a rich CV: He played on Frank Zappa’s 1966 breakthrough album, Freak Out, as well as for the likes of Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley, Carpenters (on their Christmas album), Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Glen Campbell, Bobbi Gentry, Herb Alpert, Lou Rawls, Frank Sinatra, Fifth Dimension, Jackson Five (apparently on “I’ll Be There”), Harry Nilsson, David Clayton Thomas, Bing Crosby, and Frankie Valli. He also played on the music for many TV series, including the themes of Batman and Green Acres as well as on the music for all those Hanna-Barbera cartoons and The Beverly Hillbillies (whose Donna Douglas died on New Year’s Day) . He also worked on film scores, including those for The Godfather, All The President’s Men, Good Morning Vietnam, Rosemary’s Baby and Smokey and the Bandit. On top of all that, he helped Leo Fender develop the Bass VI.

Poet Rod McKuen is said to have written some 1,500 songs which have sold 100 million records worldwide. Most famous of these is Terry Jacks’ mega-hit Seasons In The Sun, a cover of McKuen’s version of Jacques Brel’s Le Moribond. In 1969 Frank Sinatra recorded an entire album of McKuen songs, including the hit Love’s Been Good to Me.

Gallery 2A pioneer of rock & roll departed with the death at 92 of Rose Marie McCoy. She recorded some proto rock & roll tunes in the early 1950s before the concept was invented, and wrote for the likes of Big Maybelle (including her great Gabbin’ Blues, on which McCoy provided the spoken bits) and Louis Jordan. In the 1960s she contributed to the canon of soul music with songs recorded by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Jerry Butler, Brook Benton, Solomon Burke and others. But she could also write for jazz vocalists, Sarah Vaughn being a particular fan. Other vocalists who recorded McCoy’s songs included Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, Billy Eckstine, Al Hibbler and Peggy Lee. A biography, titled Thought We Were Writing the Blues: But They Called It Rock ‘n’ Roll, by Arlene Corsano was published last year.

With the death of Popsy Dixon and the illness of Wendell Holmes, 2013’s excellent Brotherhood album might have been The Holmes Brothers’ last. The remarkable trio’s long struggle to break big in music — they formed in 1979 after making music since the early 1960s — came to fruition in the 1990s, mainly thanks to the patronage of Peter Gabriel.

Last month we lost Elvis Presley’s long-time guitarist Chip Young; now the King’s musical director from 1970 till his death in 1977 has passed on. Among Joe Guercio’s triumphs in that role was his conducting of the orchestra on Elvi’s Aloah From Hawaii concert, which was broadcast worldwide, at a time when such things were a sensation. He also served as musical director for the likes of Patti Page, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme, Diahann Carroll and Diana Ross, and arranged for people like Barbra Streisand and Gladys Knight.

It is tempting to view the names on the monthly In Memoriam lists with a sense of unquestioning affection. Usually that is merited. But at least one name this month will inspire little of such sentiment, unless you are a friend or family member. Kim Fowley did not strive to present an attractive public image, and reports of his private life did little to redeem that image. It’s the way Fowley wanted it: the man prided himself on being an obnoxious character. His contribution to music, as a producer or writer or manager, is significant. His most famous legacy, perhaps, is his formation of The Runaways, an all-girl rock band when such a thing was unknown. Or it might be his idea to instruct the Toronto audience at a Plastic Ono Band gig to welcome a nervous John Lennon with matchers or lighters aflame — the first recorded instance of what would become a concert cliché.

Only a few months after the publication of David Stubbs’ definitive history of Krautrock, Future Days, one of its protagonists has died. Edgar Froese was the founder and only constant in the electronic rock group Tangerine Dream. Stubbs was wise to interview Froese for his narrative, even though Tangerine Dream don’t quite fit the Krautrock profile. Froese’s art transcended it. As did his success: Tangerine Dream might not have set the charts flame, but earned much international acclaim and exerted wide influence with a synth-based sound that in its day was quite revolutionary.

He might not have been a household name, but Ray McFall, who has died at 88, wrote a crucial chapter in the history of pop music: he was the owner of the Cavern Club in Liverpool, in which The Beatles and other Merseybeat bands got their start. Having bought the club in Matthew Street in 1959, he slowly turned it from a jazz venue — his first headliner was the recently late Acker Bilk — into a showcase for pop bands, albeit still with a “no jeans” rule when The Beatles made their first appearance there on 9 February 1961.

They’d play 292 dates at the Cavern till August 1963, including the gig in November 1961 at which Brian Epstein discovered them. Even before Epstein put the Fab Four into suits, McFall ordered them to dress smartly. Other bands which later played The Cavern included The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Yardbirds. The Cavern Club closed in 1966, due to McFall’s financial problems. After the Cavern adventure, McFall sold insurance and worked for an office furnishings business.

Ray McFall in front of the Cavern

Ray McFall in front of the Cavern

 

Leslie Felton, 72, baritone for doo wop group The Showmen, on Dec. 16
The Showmen – It Will Stand (1961, with General Johnson on lead vocals)

Donna Douglas, actress (Beverly Hillbillies) and country singer, on Jan. 1
Donna Douglas – All The Other Girls (1962)

Matthew Cogley, 30, guitarist and singer of British rock group Failsafe, on Jan. 1
Failsafe – Only If We Learn (2008)

Jeff Golub, 59, jazz and pop guitarist, on Jan. 1
Avenue Blue featuring Jeff Golub – Funky Is As Funky Does (1996)

Little Jimmy Dickens, 94, country singer, on Jan. 2
Little Jimmy Dickens – May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose (1965)

Joe Guercio, 87, musical director and songwriter, on Jan. 4
Chad & Jeremy – Distant Shores (1966, also as writer)
Elvis Presley – American Trilogy (Aloha From Hawaii version, 1973, as conductor)

Lance Diamond, 72, lounge singer and radio DJ, on Jan. 4
Goo Goo Dolls (with Lance Diamond) – Down On The Corner (1989)

Pino Daniele, 59, Italian singer and songwriter, on Jan. 4
Pino Daniele – Quanno Chiove (1981)

King Sporty, 71, Jamaican-American reggae musician and songwriter), on Jan. 5
King Sporty & The Ex Tras – Do You Wanna Dance? (1983)
Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldier (released 1983, as writer)

Lance Percival, 81, English actor and singer, on Jan. 6
Lance Percival – Shame And Scandal In The Family (1965)

Curtis Lee, 75, rock & roll singer, on Jan. 8
Curtis Lee – Pretty Little Angel Eyes (1961)
Curtis Lee – Under The Moon Of Love (1961)

Ray McFall, 88, owner of Liverpool’s Cavern Club, on Jan. 8
The Beatles – One After 909 (Cavern Club, 1962)

Andraé Crouch, 72, gospel singer, songwriter and producer, on Jan. 8
Andraé Crouch & The Disciples – Soon And Very Soon (1976)

Popsy Dixon, 72, drummer and singer with The Holmes Brothers, on Jan. 9
The Holmes Brothers – Walk In The Light (1993)
The Holmes Brothers – I Want You To Want Me (2007)

Tim Drummond, 74, session bassist (James Brown, Joe Cocker, Neil Young) and songwriter, on Jan. 10
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Just A Song Before I Go (1977, as bassist)
Bob Dylan – Saved (1980, also as co-writer)

George Probert, 87, jazz musician and music editor, on Jan. 10

Clifford Adams, 62, trombonist for Kool & The Gang, on Jan. 12
Kool & The Gang – Big Fun (1982)

J. Masters, 64, country singer and songwriter, on Jan. 12
The Oak Ridge Boys – Change My Mind (1991, as writer)

Trevor ‘Dozy’ Ward-Davies, 70, bassist of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, on Jan. 13
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – The Legend Of Xanadu (1968)

Ronnie Ronalde, 91, British music hall singer and whistler, on Jan. 13
Ronnie Ronalde – Hair Of Gold, Eyes Of Blue (1948)

Ervin Drake, 95, songwriter (I Believe), on Jan. 15
Frank Sinatra – It Was A Very Good Year (live 1966, as writer)

Kim Fowley, 75, producer, manager, impresario and musician, on Jan. 15
Kim Fowley – Bubble Gum (1967)

Dixie Hall, 80, country songwriter (wife of Tom T Hall), on Jan 16
Johnny Cash – Troublesome Waters (1970, as co-writer with Maybelle Carter)

Cynthia Layne, 51, jazz singer, on Jan. 18

Dallas Taylor, 66, session drummer, on Jan. 18
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Almost Cut My Hair (1970, as drummer)

ASAP Yams, 26, rapper, announced on Jan. 18

Ward Swingle, 87, musician with The Swingle Singers, Les Double Six, on Jan. 19
The Swingle Singers – He’s Gone Away (1969)

Rose Marie McCoy, 92, R&B and soul singer and songwriter, on Jan. 20
Big Maybelle & Rose Marie McCoy – Gabbin’ Blues (1952)
Rose Marie McCoy – Dippin’ In My Business (1954)
Elvis Presley – Trying To Get To You (1956, as co-writer)

Canserbero, 26, Venezuelan rapper, suicide on Jan. 20

Edgar Froese, 70, leader of German electro-rock band Tangerine Dream, on Jan. 20
Tangerine Dream – Dr. Destructo (1980)

Joan Hinde, 81, English trumpeter and entertainer, on Jan. 22

Demis Roussos, 68, Greek/Egyptian singer, on Jan. 25
Aphrodite’s Child – It’s Five O’Clock (1969)
Demis Roussos – Forever And Ever (1973)

Neil Levang, 83, guitar, violin and banjo player, on Jan. 26
Theme of Green Acres (1965, on first guitar)
Gloria Jones – Oh Baby (1973, on mandolin)

Margot Moir, 55, member of Australian pop trio The Moir Sisters, on Jan. 27
The Moir Sisters – Good Morning (How Are You) (1974)

Maurizio Arcieri, 72, founder of Italian pop bands New Dada, Krisma, on Jan. 28
Chrisma – Lola (1978)

Rod McKuen, 81, poet, singer and songwriter, on Jan. 29
Rod McKuen – Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes (1971)

Don Covay, 76, soul singer and songwriter, on Jan. 30
Don Covay – Mercy Mercy (1966)
Don Covay – Somebody’s Been Enjoying My Home (1973)

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Covered With Soul Vol. 20

January 29th, 2015 8 comments

Covered With Soul Vol. 20

Twenty Covered With Soul mixes, and still there are some mindblowing tracks. Just check out Thelma Houston doing to Jumpin’ Jack Flash what Mick could only dream of.

Bobby Womack recorded his take on All Along The Watchtower for the 1973 Facts of Life LP, which it closes. About half of the tracks on it are cover versions, which is actually an improvement on previous albums — unless you love, as I do, Womack’s ability to cover any song, be it a crooner’s standard or a psychedelic rock song, and make it his own.

Motown fans are liable to argue the relative merits of Diana Ross vs fellow Supreme Florence Ballard. Diana became a diva megastar, and deservedly so. It takes nothing away from Ross to say that the tragic Florence was the more talented soul singer. After her acrimonious break with Motown, Ballard recorded an album for ABC, which the label did not release (it never has been issued, as far as I know). Instead two singles were issued, both failing to chart. Ballard’s excellent version of Little Anthony & the Imperials ‘s 1964 hit Going Out Of My Head was the b-side to the first of these, the unimpressively produced and not at all promoted It Doesn’t Matter How I Say It (It’s What I Say That Matters).

I love the instrumental break in Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ version of Everybody’s Talkin’, with Teddy Pendergrass on vocals. It appeared on a compilation charity album released by Philadelphia International Records titled Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto, produced by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. It also features The Intruders, represented here with a fine interpretation of the Carpenters’ Rainy Days And Mondays.

Also covering the Carpenters is Al Wilson, doing I Won’t Last A Day Without You in a medley with Let Me Be The One. It’s very lovely, though it also makes me want to hear Karen sing the original.

Two songs here have been covered to death: Yesterday and Bridge Over Troubled Water. But the two featured here are worth hearing. Carla Thomas’ version of Yesterday was recorded live on a revue with Booker T & The MG’s, Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave, The Mar-Keys, Eddie Floyd and Otis Redding.

I must confess to not being very enthusiastic about Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s cover of Something Stupid. It is included here for the sake of interest rather than on the merit of quality.

I’ve updated links to previous Covered With Soul mixes recently.

As always, this mix will fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-covered covers. PW in comments.

1. Thelma Houston – Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1969)
2. Bobby Womack – All Along The Watchtower (1973)
3. Brothers Unlimited – Spoonful (1970)
4. Bobby Powell – Crazy Love (1973)
5. Randy Crawford – Desperado (1977)
6. Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – Everybody’s Talkin’ (1977)
7. The Main Ingredient – By The Time I Get To Phoenix/Wichita Lineman (1970)
8. Florence Ballard – Goin’ Out Of My Head (1968)
9. The Dells – One Less Bell To Answer (1971)
10. The Ovations – Hooked On A Feeling (1972)
11. The Intruders – Rainy Days And Mondays (1974)
12. Major Harris – Like A Rolling Stone (1969)
13. Roberta Flack – To Love Somebody (1971)
14. Carla Thomas – Yesterday (Live) (1967)
15. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Somethin’ Stupid (1967)
16. Al Wilson – I Won’t Last A Day Without You/Let Me Be The One (1974)
17. Nancy Wilson – Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
18. Maxine Weldon – I (Who Have Nothing) (1971)
19. Sharon Cash – Nature Boy (1970)
20. The Deidre Wilson Tabac – Get Back (1970)

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Any Major Winter

January 22nd, 2015 7 comments

Any Major Winter

Having recently returned from the wintry climes of the northern hemisphere, I felt inspired to create a mix of songs about winter, to complement the four summer mixes posted over the past year (Vol 1   Vol. 2    Vol. 3   Vol. 4)

The selection required ground rules. Firstly, the songs must be about actual winter, not just use the notion of winter as a metaphor. It is Winter in America even during the heatwaves of July, so Gil Scott-Heron is out. If the song has it snowing outside by way of establishing a metaphor for the bleakness of life, it qualifies. Just let it snow.

Which brings me to the second category for disqualification. If the meteorologically inspired song is used in the popular canon of Christmas songs, it’s out, no matter how frightful the weather outside is said to be. But there is one exception: Baby It’s Cold Outside. I do not understand by what asinine process a song about seduction has wormed itself onto Christmas compilations, but a song about trying to get laid adds little to the true meaning of Christmas, elusive as that concept is.

In order to keep this mix down to the customary CD-R length I had to sacrifice a couple of contenders, such as Joni Mitchell’s River (another questionable addition to the Christmas catalogue; in any case, Joni already features), Frank Zappa’s Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, Windjammer’s Winter Love, Cliff Bruner’s Snow Flakes, Jens Lekman’s The Cold Swedish Winter or Bob Dylan’s Girl From The North Country.

Instead there are some of the most joyful songs about winter, led by Aztec Camera’s exuberant Walk Out To Winter, one of the happiest songs I know.

As always, the mix includes home-frozen covers (the beautiful front cover image is from butkovicdub at morguefile.com, the back pic is mine). PW in comments.

1. Aztec Camera – Walk Out To Winter (1983)
2. Blood, Sweat & Tears – Sometimes In Winter (1969)
3. Rolling Stones – Winter (1973)
4. Lee Moses – California Dreaming (1971)
5. Love Unlimited – It May Be Winter Outside (1973)
6. The Impressions – Long Long Winter (1964)
7. Ray Charles & Betty Carter – Baby It’s Cold Outside (1961)
8. Dean Martin – June In January (live, 1963)
9. Tommy Roe – It’s Now Winter’s Day (1967)
10. Don McLean – Winter Has Me In Its Grip (1974)
11. Ron Sexsmith – Snow Angel (2006)
12. Tracey Thorn – Snow In The Sun (2012)
13. Josh Rouse – Winter In The Hamptons (2005)
14. The Weepies – Hope Tomorrow (2010)
15. Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal (2008)
16. Steve Miller Band – Winter Time (1977)
17. Merle Haggard – If We Make It Through December (1973)
18. Jim Reeves – The Blizzard (1961)
19. Gordon Lightfoot – Song For A Winter’s Night (1967)
20. Joni Mitchell – Urge For Going (1968)
21. Simon & Garfunkel – A Hazy Shade Of Winter (1968)
22. The Doors – Wintertime Love (1968)
23. Donald Fagen – Snowbound (1993)

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