The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 2

June 25th, 2015 6 comments

Jim Keltner Collection Vol.2

Here is the second part of the Jim Keltner Collection, featuring more songs on which one of the great session drummers hit the skins, following Volume 1 a few weeks ago.

One of the most surprising of these is the song that opens this compilation, a Crowded House song. The antipodean group, of course, had a fine drummer: the late, lamented Paul Hester. Now We’re Getting Somewhere was the one track on the debut album that didn’t feature Hester — nor bassist Nick Seymour; the bass on the song was played by Jerry Scheff. The session musicians were brought in by producer Mitchell Froom.

The day after recording Now We’re Getting Somewhere, Hester and Seymour were allowed to play; the track they put down was Don’t Dream It’s Over. Hester might have been unhappy about Keltner taking his place, but apparently he learned a lot from observing the drumming legend. Still, Now We’re Getting Somewhere is the one single that didn’t make it on to Crowded House’s greatest hits album, Recurring Dream.

In a few weeks’ time we’ll have reason to remember that Jim Keltner backed John Lennon at his 1972 concert at New York’s Madison Square Gardens and drummed, along with Ringo (from whom he learned by watching), at George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh. He also toured in the late 1980s with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. Around the same time he teamed up with old mates Harrison and Dylan to drum for the Travelin’ Wilburys, taking the name Buster Sidebury. After Harrison’s death, he played at the Concert For George.

Jim Keltner was the punchline to a dig by George and Ringo on Paul McCartney, the only Beatle who hadn’t used Keltner’s services. On the back cover of his Red Rose Speedway LP in 1973, Paul invited fans to join the “Wings Fun Club” by sending in a stamped addressed envelope. The same year both Harrison’s Living In The Material World and Starr’s Ringo albums had spoof notes asking fans to join the “Jim Keltner Fan Club” by sending a “stamped undressed elephant”.

Check out this video interview with Keltner, and listen to this fantastic podcast interview with Keltner on John and his famous Lost Weekend, and the other Beatles (including the story of Paul breaking Ringo’s drum):

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

1. Crowded House – Now We’re Getting Somewhere (1986)
2. Gary Wright – Dream Weaver (1975)
3. Ry Cooder – Boomer’s Story (1972)
4. The Bee Gees – Saw A New Morning (1973)
5. Johnny Rivers – Rock Me On The Water (1971)
6. Martha Reeves – Power Of Love (1974)
7. Roberta Flack – Making Love (1982)
8. Yvonne Elliman – Savannah (1979)
9. Gabor Szabo – Dear Prudence (1969)
10. Shawn Phillips – Golden Flower (1975)
11. Alison Krauss – Forget About It (1999)
12. Maria McKee – I Forgive You (1993)
13. Melissa Manchester – Don’t Cry Out Loud (1978)
14. Dolly Parton – It’s Too Late To Love Me Now (1978)
15. Buckingham Nicks – Lola (My Love) (1973)
16. Leon Russell – Out In The Woods (1972)
17. Pops Staples – Down In Mississippi (1992)
18. John Mayer – Something Like Olivia (2012)
19. John Hiatt – Thank You Girl (1987)
20. Joe Cocker – Long Drag Off A Cigarette (1984)
21. J.J. Cale – Pack My Jack (1980)


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

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Any Major Summer Vol. 5

June 18th, 2015 5 comments

Any Major Summer Vol. 5

As the northern hemisphere is enjoying (or perhaps not) the onset of the summer season, here is the fifth and final summer mix.

I have stuck by the rule of using only one song per artist in this series. The exception was The Beach Boys, the official spokespeople for summer. They featured on the four previous mixes; here they are represented by a gorgeous Brian Wilson track from 1998 and a cover version of the equally lovely Warmth Of The Sun, by Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs. Plus: Bruce & Terry’s Summer Means Fun is very obviously a Beach Boys knock-off.

Few mixes on the Internet are likely to include songs by the Bay City Rollers and Partridge Family (well, the Wrecking Crew, really) on the one hand and Pink Floyd and The Doors on the other. That’s the benefit/penance of riding with a halfhearted dude. There are three songs separating the Partridge Family and Pink Floyd tracks. Does it work out? I think it does, but what do you think?

One track here is brand new: I debated whether to include Matt Nathanson’s joyous Gold In The Summertime, the lead single of his forthcoming new album. In the end, it was too good to exclude, but in fairness to Nathanson, the version here is at a low bitrate. If you like it, buy it. Visit

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

1. Percy Faith Orchestra – Theme from ‘A Summer Place’ (1960)
2. Martha and the Vandellas – Dancing In The Streets (1964)
3. Bruce and Terry – Summer Means Fun (1964)
4. The Happenings – See You In September (1966)
5. Billy Idol – HotIn The City (1982)
6. Aerosmith – Girls In Summer (2002)
7. Brian Wilson – Keep An Eye On Summer (1998)
8. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – The Warmth Of The Sun (2006)
9. Matt Nathanson – Gold In The Summertime (2015)
10. Corinne Bailey Rae – Put Your Records On (2006)
11. Michael Franks – Summer In New York (2011)
12. The Blackbyrds – Summer Love (1974)
13. Traffic – Paper Sun (1967)
14. Graham Gouldman – Sunburn (1979)
15. Bay City Rollers – Summerlove Sensation (1974)
16. The Partridge Family – Summer Days (1971)
17. The Sunrays – I Live For The Sun (1965)
18. Peter and Gordon – Green Leaves of Summer (1066)
19. Larry Jon Wilson – July The 12th, 1939 (1977)
20. Pink Floyd – Summer ‘68 (1970)
21. The Doors – Summer’s Almost Gone (1968)
22. The Cure – The Last Day Of Summer (2000)


Previously in Any Major Summer
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Any Major Funk Vol. 8

June 11th, 2015 6 comments

Any Major Funk Vol. 8

It is now more than seven years ago since I posted the first Any Major Funk mix (using the word “funk” loosely); here is what I think will be the concluding mix in the series.

Some songs in this series are probably as easily classified as disco — even on this mix, the tracks by Earth, Wind & Fire or Diana Ross or Donna Summer are not foreign to the disco genre.

All the previous Any Major Funk mixes are up again, with funky covers. Of course, all of them are timed to fit on a standard CD-R. PW in comments.

1. Brothers Johnson – Ain’t We Funkin’ Now (1978)
2. Skyy – Show Me The Way (1983)
3. Earth, Wind & Fire with The Emotions – Boogie Wonderland (1979)
4. George Benson – Give Me The Night (1980)
5. Diana Ross – The Boss (1979)
6. Shalamar – The Second Time Around (1979)
7. Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne – You Get Me Hot (1979)
8. Cheryl Lynn – Shake It Up Tonight (1981)
9. René & Angela – Free And Easy (1980)
10. Leon Haywood – Strokin’ (1976)
11. Linda Clifford – Runaway Love (1979)
12. Gap Band – Outstanding (1982)
13. Slave – Watching You (1980)
14. Side Effect – Take A Chance ‘n’ Dance (1980)
15. Gary Toms Empire – Walk On By (1978)
16. Donna Summer – Last Dance (1978)


More Any Major Funk
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In Memoriam – May 2015

June 4th, 2015 6 comments

IM0515aThere isn’t much more to say about B.B. King that the obits haven’t covered. Except this: For years King didn’t receive the respect he merited in some quarters because he was seen as having sold out from the blues genre. These purists regarded King as inauthentic, even if the only delta they’d ever seen was an airline. These were the snobs who resented King and players like Muddy Waters for updating the blues, without having any claim to the blues in the first place, and instead played their obscure blues records from the 1930s and celebrated Dylan’s famous (and probably misunderstood) words, “Just don’t play me any of that B.B. King shit”. Thankfully the “authenticity” debate has been lost by the snobs, and everybody can in good conscience and without qualification celebrate the accomplishments of Blues Boy King.

I paid tribute to Brothers Johnson bass player Louis Johnson last week with a collection of songs he played on. But it is right that I do mark his passing at 60 in this post. Thank you, Louis, for playing the basslines I danced to, grooved to and smooched to, from Stomp and Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough and Wanna Be Starting Something, from I Keep Forgetting to Strawberry Letter 21, from One Hundred Ways to Human Nature.

Few people in the 1970s sported a shaven bald head and got away with it. For Telly Savalas is was the gimmick that brought him stardom; Isaac Hayes was to cool for hair anyway, and then there was Hot Chocolate’s Errol Brown, who pulled the bald look off with elegance. Hot Chocolate was an early example of a multi-racial group that enjoyed big mainstream success, at least in Britain and Europe. What is not so well known is that Brown and pals started out on The Beatles’ Apple records after adapting Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance in reggae style.

English singer Lynn Ripley, who performed under the moniker Twinkle, caused a big stir briefly in 1964 with her song Terry, in which the eponymous character is a killed in a motorcycle accident. Although there was a whole genre dedicated to death songs in the US, the BBC was scandalised by the song’s supposed bad taste and banned it. The overreaction, of course, helped the sales of a song that wasn’t very good, reaching #4 in November 1964. The also self-penned follow-up single, Golden Lights, was much better, but stalled at #21 (it later was covered by The Smiths). It was Twinkle’s second and last hit; she was just 17. On Terry, Twinkle was backed by Jimmy Page on guitar and Bobby Graham on drums (he, of course, was the subject of The Bobby Graham Collection in April). I suspct they might have played on Golden Lights as well.

IM0515bThe man who brought the anthemic We Shall Overcome to the civil rights movement has followed his close collaborator Pete Seeger into the great peace rally in the sky. Guy Carawan, who has died at 87, was among those who loosely adapted Louise Shropshire’s gospel song If My Jesus Wills to become We Shall Overcome. As song leader of the of the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, an adult education programme for trade union organisers which was engaged in the civil rights movement, Carawan introduced We Shall Overcome first to the unionist and then to the struggle for equal rights.

The key to the success of ABBA’s songs arguably was in their carefully crafted arrangements which framed Agnetha and Annifrid’s vocals (and occasionally Björn’s). One man who appeared on all of these arrangements — at least those that required the use of the bass guitar — was Rutger Gunnarsson, who has died at 69. He played on all ABBA’s albums as well as on their tours. From 1977 he arranged for the group (especially strings), and occasionally played percussions and guitar for them. After ABBA he worked in various roles with artists as diverse as Elton John , Adam Ant, Mireille Matthieu and Gwen Stefani, and also worked on stage productions such as Chess, Les Misérables and, of course, Mamma Mia.

He could have been the drummer of Led Zeppelin. At least, Mac Poole was asked by his friend Robert Plant to join the band which he was putting together with Jimmy Page. Poole didn’t take Plant up on the offer since he already had a band (and how many times haven’t we heard that story). Instead Poole found some success with early-’70s prog-rock band Warhorse, future Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman.

Unless you followed the music scene in Detroit closely or have a wide knowledge of jazz, the name Marcus Belgrave might mean little to you. You’ll have heard him blow his trumpet, though (albeit, as is the lot of trumpeters, in concert with others). Most famously, his trumpet was among those who issue that elephant cry in Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine. He played on several other Gaye hits; before that he had accompanied Ray Charles, including on his early live album, At Newport. He also played with Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Dizzy Gillespie and John Sinclair. He was a professor of trumpet at Stanford and the Oberlin Conservatory, and tutored many successful jazz musicians.

John Tout, keyboardist of British prog-rock group Renaissance, on May 1
John Lennon – Crippled Inside (1971, on piano)
Renaissance – Closer Than Yesterday (1978)

Guy Carawan, 87, folk singer, musicologist and activist, on May 2
Guy Carawan – We Shall Overcome (live)

Craig Gruber, 63, bassist with Rainbow, Bible Black, Raven Lord, on May 5
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow – Man On The Silver Mountain (1975)

Errol Brown, 71, singer of Hot Chocolate, on May 6
Hot Chocolate Band – Give Peace A Chance (1969)
Hot Chocolate – Brother Louie (1973)
Hot Chocolate – No Doubt About It (1980)

Jerome Cooper, 68, free jazz drummer and percussionist, on May 6

Rutger Gunnarsson, 69, bassist for ABBA, on May 8
Harpo – Rock & Roll Clown (1976, on bass)
Abba – The Name Of The Game (1977, on bass)
Abba – Dancing Queen (live) (released 1986, on bass)

Johnny Gimble, 88, country fiddler, on May 9
Marty Robbins – I’ll Go On Alone (1952, on fiddle)
Johnny Gimble – Fiddlin’ Around (1980)

Bobby Jameson, 70, rock singer and songwriter, on May 10
Bobby Jameson – Vietnam (1966)

Lucy Fabery, 84, Puerto Rican jazz singer, on May 11

B.B. King, 89, blues legend, on May 14
B.B. King – Miss Martha King (1949)
B.B.King – Save A Seat For Me (1959)
B.B. King – Ghetto Woman (1970)
B.B. King – My Guitar Sings The Blues (1985)

Ortheia Barnes, 70, American R&B and jazz singer, on May 15
Ortheia Barnes – I’ve Never Loved Nobody (Like I Love You) (1967)

Flora MacNeil, 86, Scottish Gaelic singer, on May 16

Chinx, 31, rapper, shot dead on May 17

Elbert West, 47, country singer-songwriter, on May 18
Tracy Lawrence – Sticks And Stones (1991, as co-writer)

Bruce Lundvall, 79, former head of Blue Note, Elektra and Manhattan labels, on May 19

Bob Belden, 58, jazz saxophonist, composer, arranger, producer, on May 20
Bob Belden – The Black Daliah (2006)

Louis Johnson, 60, legendary bassist, on May 21
Brothers Johnson – I’ll Be Good To You (1976)
Brothers Johnson – Strawberrry Letter (1977)
Stanley Clarke & Louis Johnson – We Supply (1980)
Michael Jackson – Wanna Be Startin’ Something (1983)

Mac Poole, 69, British drummer (Warhorse), on May 21
Warhorse – No Chance (1970)

Darius Minwalla, 39, drummer of The Posies, on May 21
The Posies – Second Time Around (2005)

Twinkle, 66, British singer-songwriter, on May 21
Twinkle – Golden Lights (1965)

Liv Marit Wedvik, 45, Norwegian country singer, drowned on May 23

Marcus Belgrave, 78, jazz trumpeter, on May 24
Ray Charles – What’d I Say (Parts 1 & 2) (1959, on trumpet)
Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1968, on trumpet)

Rocky Frisco, 77, American pianist (J.J. Cale Band), on May 26
J.J. Cale – One Step (2004, on keyboard)

Art Thieme, 73, folk musician, on May 26

Mel Waiters, 58, soul singer, on May 28
Mel Waiters – How Can I Get Next To You? (2001)

Christer Jansson, 51, drummer of Swedish pop band Roxette, announced on May 28

Johnny Keating, 87, British musician, on May 28
Johnny Keating & his Orchestra – Theme from Z-Cars (1962)

(PW in comments)

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The Louis Johnson Collection

May 28th, 2015 8 comments

Louis Johnson Collection

We interrupt this series of collections of songs of session drummers to pay tribute to Louis Johnson, the great bassist and half of the Johnson Brothers who died last week at the age of 60.

Louis Johnson, nicknamed “Thunder Thumbs”, gave us basslines to dance to — Stomp and Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough — and to groove to — I Keep Forgettin’ and Baby Come To Me — and to smooch to — One Hundred Ways and Love All The Hurt Away. And he played on the charity behemoth We Are The World.

He is probably best known as one of the Brothers Johnson, whose repertoire included such classics as Stomp, I’ll Be Good To You, Get The Funk Out Ma Face, and a fine cover of Shuggie Otis’ Strawberry Letter 23 (check out the isolated bass of the latter).

Much of the Brothers Johnson material was produced by Quincy Jones, their manager and mentor, who kept returning to Louis for some bass work.

You’ll have heard Louis’ basslines on Quincy productions such as Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall album, on which Louis did bass duty on all but one song (Rock With You; that was Bobby Watson).

On Thriller, where several tracks are driven by synth-based basslines, Louis Johnson featured on Billy Jean, Wanna Be Startin’ Something, Human Nature and P.Y.T.

He played on Quincy’s solo albums, such as Mellow Madness, I Heard That and Live At Budokan, as well as on two star-studded affairs released under the Quincy Jones banner: The Dude and Back On The Block (on the latter he appeared on the Ray Charles & Chaka Khan cover of the Brothers Johnson’s I’ll Be Good To You”) .

Many hip hop artists have sampled Johnson’s basslines, most famously perhaps that of Michael McDonald’s I Keep Forgettin’ for Warren G.’s Regulate.

Apart from those featured on this collection, acts for whom Johnson played include: Gabor Sabo, Grover Washington Jr, Side Effects, Leon Haywood, Sergio Mendes, Harvey Mason, Letta Mbulu, Pointer Sisters, Herb Alpert, Hugh Masekela, Joe Tex, Rufus & Chaka Khan, René & Anngela, Stanley Clarke, Andraé Crouch, Passage, Donna Summer (on State Of Independence), John Cougar Mellencamp, Herbie Hancock, George Duke, The Jacksons, Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson, Paul McCartney, Charlene, Rodney Franklin, Johnny Gill, Dennis Edwards, Angela Bofill, DeBarge, Irena Cara, Angela Winbush, Barbra Streisand, Brian McKnight and more.

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

1. Brothers Johnson – Stomp (1979)
2. Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (1979)
3. George Benson – Love X Love (1980)
4. Quincy Jones – Ai No Corrida (1980)
5. Patti Austin & James Ingram – Baby Come To Me (1981)
6. Karen Carpenter – Lovelines (1879/80)
7. Lee Ritenour feat Bill Champlin – You Caught Me Smilin’ (1981)
8. The Crusaders feat Joe Cocker – This Old World’s Too Funky For Me (1980)
9. Bobby Womack – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (1975)
10. Bill Withers – Sometimes A Song (1975)
11. Billy Preston – Will It Go Round In Circles (1972)
12. Herbie Hancock – Lite Me Up! (1982)
13. Aretha Franklin – What A Fool Believes (1980)
14. Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) (1982)
15. Sweet Comfort Band – Feel Like Singin’ (1981)
16. Sister Sledge – Smile (1983)
17. Earl Klugh – Slippin’ In The Back Door (1976)
18. Quincy Jones feat. Ray Charles & Chaka Khan – I’ll Be Good To You (1989)


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

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The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

May 21st, 2015 7 comments

Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

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

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

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

And that list isn’t even complete.

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

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

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

Jim Keltner and John Lennon in 1974

Jim Keltner and John Lennon in 1974

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Any Major Roads Vol. 1

May 14th, 2015 15 comments

Any Major Road Vol.1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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In Memoriam – April 2015

May 7th, 2015 11 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margo Reed, 73, jazz musician, on April 15

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

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

Richard Anthony, 77, French singer, on April 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Originals – Elvis Presley Vol. 2

April 30th, 2015 7 comments

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

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


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

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

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



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



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



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

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



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

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

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



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

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



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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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


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The Bobby Graham Collection

April 23rd, 2015 11 comments

Bobby Graham Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more about Bobby Graham.

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

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


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


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