Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

December 18th, 2014 7 comments

Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

I posted much of this mix six years ago, and several people have asked me to re-post the 2008 compilation. This isn’t the exact same mix, but what I hope is an improved version. Some tracks on the old mix have been used on others since, and a few songs included now are much better than those they replace.

The Beatles song comes from a 1968 recording for their fan club. It’s not quite in the class of, say, Strawberry Fields, but it is The Beatles, singing an original Christmas song most people have not heard.

Six years ago I suggested that Rosie Thomas’ Why Can’t It Be Christmas All Year, then newly released, should become a Christmas pop standard. That hasn’t happened, though it still should. In fact, she has released only one album since her lovely A Very Rosie Christmas, partly owing to illness. Spresad the word about the song; it really is great.

Neil Diamond’s Christmas song is a bit unusual: it riffs on titles from his songs, from Cherry Cherry to the wonderful Amazing Grace in 2005.

This is the 17th Christmas mix I’ve posted. Here are the previous 16 in one pic. Find them all HERE or look at the end of the post for the individual links.

Xmas gallery

As always, CD-R length, home-wrapped covers, PW the same as every time.

Here’s wishing you a merry Christmas; see you in the New Year. I will be out of here until January 8.

1. Twisted Sister – Deck The Halls (2006)
2. Smashing Pumpkins – Christmastime (1997)
3. Manic Street Preachers – Last Christmas (live) (2003)
4. Rosie Thomas – Why Can’t It Be Christmas All Year? (2008)
5. The Temptations – This Christmas (1980)
6. The Jackson Five – Give Love On Christmas Day (1968)
7. Take 6 – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1999)
8. Carpenters – Merry Christmas Darling (1970)
9. She & Him – I’ll Be Home For Christmas (2011)
10. Ron Sexsmith – Maybe This Christmas (2002)
11. The Weepies – All That I Want (2003)
12. Neil Diamond – Cherry Cherry Christmas (2009)
13. Chris Isaak – Christmas On TV (2004)
14. El Vez – Santa Claus Is Sometimes Brown (2000)
15. Bruce Springsteen – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1985)
16. Dana – It’s Gonna Be A Cold Christmas (1975)
17. B.B. Jeans & the Bobby Sox – Here Comes Santa Claus (1963)
18. Koko Taylor – Merry, Merry Christmas (1992)
19. Nicole Atkins – Blue Christmas (2008)
20. Chris Rea – I’m Driving Home (1985)
21. They Might Be Giants – Santa’s Beard (1988)
22. Weezer – Christmas Celebration (2000)
23. Sufjan Stevens – Come On! Let’s Boogey To The Elf Dance! (2003)
24. The Beatles – Christmas Time (Is Here Again) (1968)



The Christmas Originals
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3

Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Song Swarm: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer


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In Memoriam – December 2014 – Part 1

December 15th, 2014 4 comments

In Memoriam - December 2014I will be unable to post a complete In Memoriam for December until late in January. But the Grim Reaper has wreaked havoc in the first half of this month (five listed deaths on December 3 alone!), so the first half of the month will be covered now; the second half, hopefully less lethal, will go with the January round-up.

As December began, the Rolling Stones received a double shock with the deaths first of long-time saxophonist Bobby Keys, and next day of ex-Small Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, who also recorded with them. McLagan played on the 1978 hit Miss You, but the saxophone is played not by Keys but by Mel Collins.

With Ian McLagan’s death, only one of the Small Faces is still alive; drummer Kenney Jones is the last man standing. McLagan was active in the music industry till the end, most lately playing on Lucinda Williams’ new album. In the interim he appeared on albums by old Faces pals like Rod Stewart (starting with Gasoline Alley) and Ronnie Wood, as well as on albums by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and John Mayer.

Adding to the overlap, Bobby Keys also played for McLagan’s Faces, and on McLagan’s 1979 Troublemaker and 1981 Bump Into The Night albums. Bobby Keys’ story is covered by last Monday’s post with a collection of songs he played on.

Quick: how many of the big soul groups of the 1960s or ’70s can you think of who can still come together in their classic line-up? With the death of Sonny Bivins of The Manhattans on December 3 and Winfred ‘Blue’ Lovett a week later (FFS, The Grim Reaper, FFS!), I can think only of The Stylistics and Sly & the Family Stone.  Between them, Bivins and Lovett were responsible for two of the band’s greatest hits: the former wrote There’s No Me Without You, Lovett wrote Kiss And Say Goodbye (his is the spoken intro), which was originally intended for Glen Campbell. The featured song It’s That Time Of Year is a seasonal Christmas offering.

A few weeks before her sudden death at 35, the hugely talented South African singer Lulu Dikana had supported John Legend on his tour of her country. Dikana’s death must have been hard on her 15-year-old son, but spare a thought also for her sister, Zonke Dikana, perhaps the bigger star in South Africa: last year her older sister died, now her other sister. Their father, Viva Dikana, was a well-known drummer. He died in 2009.

Few deaths can be more satisfying for a performer than to die on stage. So it was for 60-year-old Italian singer Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Mango, widely known only by his surname. On December 7 he was on stage in the southern Italian town of Policoro when he sang the opening bars of his 1984 hit Oro. Suddenly he raised his arm, said “excuse me” and collapsed. He died of a heart attack shortly after in hospital. The next day his 75-year-old brother Giovanni died as well.


Bobby Keys, 70, rock saxophonist , on Dec. 2
The Rolling Stones – Live With Me (1969)
The Jim Carroll Band – City Drops Into The Night (1980)
Sheryl Crow – There Goes The Neighborhood (2003)

Ian McLagan, 69, keyboardist of the Small Faces, on Dec. 3
Small Faces – Sorry She’s Mine (1966)
Rolling Stones – Miss You (1978)
Ian McLagan – La De La (1979)

Sonny Bivins, 78, singer with The Manhattans, on Dec. 3
The Manhattans – It’s That Time Of Year (1966)
The Manhattans – It’s Gonna Take A Lot To Bring Me Back (1970)
The Manhattans – There’s No Me Without You (1973, also as writer)

Graeme Godall, 82, co-founder of Island Records, on Dec. 3

Lulu Dikana, 35, South African soul singer, on December 3
Lulu Dikana – Falling Deeper (2014)

Paul Ferrara, 76, jazz drummer, on Dec. 3
Louis Prima – Felicia No Capicia (1959, on drums)

Nick Talbot aka Gravenhurst, 37, British singer-songwriter and writer, announced on Dec. 4

Bob Montgomery, 77, songwriter, on Dec. 4
Buddy Holly – Heartbeat (1958, as writer)
Eddy Arnold – Misty Blue (1967, as writer)

Brian Goble, 57, member of Canadian punk band Subhumans, on Dec. 7

Mango, 60, Italian singer-songwriter and musician, on Dec. 7
Mango – Oro (1984)

Earl Hayes, 34, American rapper, suicide on Dec. 8

Sheila  Stewart, 77, Scottish singer and author, on Dec. 9

Winfred ‘Blue’ Lovett, 74, bass singer of The Manhattans, on Dec. 10
The Manhattans – Kiss And Say Goodbye (1976)
The Manhattans – Hurt (1976)

Dawn Sears, 53, country singer, on Dec. 11
Dawn Sears – Close Up The Honky Tonks (1994)

John Hampton, 61, engineer and producer (White Stripes, Gin Blossoms), on Dec. 12


Previous In Memoriams
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Any Major Christmas Carols

December 11th, 2014 10 comments

Any Major Christmas Carols

This year a new Christmas mix: pop artists (using the term broadly) doing traditional  Christmas carols. There’s not much by way of irony going on here, though the levels of sincere religious sentiment obviously vary. I suppose the Staple Singers, who were primarily a gospel act, are more sincere than the Crash Test Dummies, whose vocals might startle grandmother a little.

Many of the artists, of course, give the carols some interpretation that relate to their genre. I have avoided the insufferable wispy songbirds who breathe through their sensitive versions of Silent Night. What songbirds are featured here do not breathe their carols, and Silent Night is covered by The Temptations, who are not wispy at all. As far as interpretative chops go, I particularly love The Gaylads’ delightful soul version of We Three Kings from 1970.

One might be pedantic and question whether Go Tell It On The Mountain is really a Christmas carol, in the traditional sense of the word. It is really a spiritual, but I see no reason why these should not also form part of the canon of carols. So should Mary’s Boy Child, written in the 1950s, What Child Is This, from 1962, and arguably even When A Child Is Born, from the 1970s. If it refers to the religious element of the feast of the Nativity, then it’s a Christmas carol. If it doesn’t, then it isn’t. But where would that rule leave the traditional English carol from 1850, Here We Come A-Wassailing, which makes no reference to the birth of Christ?

As always, this mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-baked covers. Password in comments. Feel free to add to the comments! Next Thursday: a Christmas pop mix.

1. The Bird And The Bee – Carol Of The Bells (2007)
2. Musiq Soulchild – Deck The Halls (2008)
3. Earth, Wind & Fire – Away In A Manger (2014)
4. Luther Vandross – O Come All Ye Faithful (1995)
5. Aaron Neville – O Little Town of Bethlehem (1993)
6. Harry Belafonte – The Son Of Mary (What Child Is This) (1958)
7. Ella Fitzgerald – The First Noel (1967)
8. Nat King Cole – O Holy Night (1963)
9. Bobby Darin – While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (1960)
10. Johnny Cash – It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (1980)
11. Jewel – Hark, The Herald Angels Sing (1999)
12. Etta James – Joy To The World (1998)
13. Mel Tormé – Good King Wenceslas (1992)
14. Crash Test Dummies – God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (2002)
15. Don Grusin – Angels We Have Heard On High (2005)
16. Nils Landgren – Ding Dong Merrily On High (2012)
17. Vanessa Williams – The Holly And The Ivy (2004)
18. Kate Rusby – Here We Come A-Wassailing (2008)
19. Sufjan Stevens – Lo How A Rose E’er Blooming (2002)
20. Robin Gibb – Once In Royal David’s City (2007)
21. The Gaylads – We Three Kings (1970)
22. The Staple Singers – Go Tell It On The Mountain (1962)
23. The Temptations – Silent Night (1980)



The Christmas Originals
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3

Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Song Swarm: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

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The Bobby Keys Collection

December 8th, 2014 8 comments

Bobby Keys Collection

Saxophonist Bobby Keys, who died on 2 December just a couple of weeks short of his 71st birthday, may be best remembered for his contributions with the Rolling Stones, but he also appeared on hundreds of records by others, including some of the biggest names in rock.

His death came a day before that of Ian McLagan, the keyboard player of the Small Faces, with whom Keys collaborated on Faces records, on McLagan solo LPS, and on occasion with both serving on session duty on records by others.

Keys also crossed paths in the studio with the two Wrecking Crew drummers featured in this series, Hal Blaine and Jim Gordon, especially the latter.

Bobby Keys was born on 18 December 1943 in Slaton, Texas, and began his music career as a teenager, hanging out with neighbour Buddy Holly and touring with the likes of Bobby Vee and Little Eva. He claimed to have played the saxophone solo on Elvis’ Return To Sender, but that story is unlikely. Certainly, RCA has no record of his participation (with that in mind this mix includes only songs that specifically credit Keys).

bobby keys gallery

In the 1960s he worked in the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, where some of the greatest soul was produced. It’s also where the Rolling Stones recorded their Sticky Fingers album in 1970, which features Keys on Brown Sugar (recorded in one take), Bitch, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, and I Got The Blues. The year before he made his debut for the Stones on Live With Me, from Let It Bleed.

He had first met the band in 1964, but it was an encounter with Mick Jagger at a Delaney and Bonnie session in the late 1960s that initiated the long relationship with the band, with whom he’d be touring till the end of his life.

He got on well with the Stones personally; Keef and he were born on the same day and had a close bond, which included meeting rock & roll clichés like throwing TV’s out of hotel windows. This month Richards called Keys “greatest pal in the world… We were thick as thieves.” Read his appreciation HERE.

Jagger and Keys also had a close personal friendship. But in the mid-‘70s Keys was fired from the Stones backing band for missing gigs after Richards found him with a bathtub filled with Dom Perignon champagne, a French lady of uncertain virtue and a stash of hash. Still, he maintained a loose relationship with the Stones over the years until he rejoined their roster of backing players in 1982. He toured with them on every tour  until this year.

Keys was also close to the ex-Beatles, especially with John Lennon, in whose famous “lost weekend” Keys played his partying part, having previously played with the Plastic Ono Band on tracks like Power To The People. He also played for Ringo Starr (on whose Ring O’ label he released the funky Gimmie The Key) and George Harrison.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes covers. PW in comments (you are invited to leave a comment there).

1. Bobby Keys – Gimmie The Key (1975)
2. Martha Reeves – Storm In My Soul (1974)
3. The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar (1971)
4. Warren Zevon – Poor, Poor Pitiful Me (1976)
5. Ringo Starr – Photograph (1973)
6. Barbra Streisand – Space Captain (1971)
7. Carly Simon – Night Owl (1972)
8. Graham Nash – There’s Only One (1971)
9. Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Kiss And Say Goodbye (1975)
10. Delaney & Bonnie – When The Battle Is Over (1969)
11. Faces – Had Me A Real Good Time (1970)
12. Humble Pie – Big George (1971)
13. John Lennon – Whatever Gets You Thru The Night (1975)
14. Harry Nilsson – Down (1971)
15. Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane – Tonight’s Number (1976)
16. Keith Moon – Back Door Sally (1975)
17. Third World War – Working Class Man (1971)
18. B.B.King – Caldonia (1971)
19. Eric Clapton – Lonesome And A Long Way From Home (1971)
20. Audience – Seven Sore Bruises (1972)
21. George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (1970)



Previous session musicians’ collection (all drummers, so far):
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

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

In Memoriam – November 2014

December 4th, 2014 7 comments

Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn… Big Bank Hank has died (say what?). The first member of the Sugarhill Gang, whose Rapper’s Delight was the first ever rap hit, to go. Big Bank Hank, or Henry Lee Jackson, had studied oceanography and sought a career in that field. When that didn’t pan out, he became a bouncer, a pizzeria manager and a rap act manager. It was in the latter function that he was discovered by singer and producer Sylvia Robinson (of Pillow Talk fame), who was trying to get a hip hop thing going. Not being an MC himself, Hank got some rhymes from his friend and client Grandmaster Caz, who said he received neither credit nor royalties, and not even a thank you for his troubles. So it was really Caz (as in CASA-NOVA) who “got more clothes than Muhammad Ali” and dressed “so viciously”.

In Memoriam - Nov14This Christmas you may well hear the classic 1973 hit “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” by Roy Woods’ Wizzard. When you do, remember the saxophonist on the song, Mike Burney, who has died at 70. Burney was not only a member of Wizzard but also a session musician, playing on stage or in the studio for the likes of Chaka Khan, The Beach Boys, Sammy Davis Jr., Petula Clark, Steve Winwood, Cliff Richard, Dionne Warwick and Matt Monro.

Jimmy Ruffin’s mercurial younger brother David might have had grabbed all the headlines, but Jimmy was a great soul singer in his own right. His great hit, What Becomes Of The Broken-Hearted, is a highlight among all those outstanding songs produced by Motown in 1966, in no small measure due to Ruffin’s vocals. Jimmy almost joined The Temptations before they hit the big time, but when Motown’s bosses heard the younger brother, David got the gig instead. It must have been vexing when Jimmy’s Beauty Is Only Skin Deep was covered by The Temptations, who had a hit with it. In the 1970s Jimmy decamped to Britain where he collaborated with Heaven 17 and Paul Weller, and also hosted a radio show.

Flamenco musicians don’t really get much attention outside their genre. Manitas de Plata, who was born in 1921 as Ricardo Baliardo to what was then called a gipsy community, was different. And so it should be when your champions included Picasso, Dali and Jean Cocteau. The great photographer Lucien Clergue brought him to the attention of US audiences. Three of his sons and a bunch of nephews are members of the Gipsy Kings.

Same day Gary Lane, the bass player of 1960s rock band The Standells, died. He was the band’s second member in a year to pass away; last December drummer and vocalist Dick Dodd went. The Standells were not a big name; they had a US #11 hit with Dirty Water (featured HERE), and three more Top 100 hits in 1966/67, including the song featured here, Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White. More interesting is that two of their members went on to greater things: drummer Gary Leeds left to become Gary Walker in the Walker Brothers, and in 1968 — by then Lane and Dodds had left the band — future Little Feat frontman Lowell George joined the band.

Dave Appell, who has died at 92, started his career as a musician and arranger in the 1940s with jazz greats like Jimmie Lunceford, Benny Carter and Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines. In the 1950s he was a figure on the rock & roll scene, appearing in the 1956 Alan Freed film Don’t Knock the Rock and scoring a few hits as Dave Appell and the Applejacks. In the early 1960s he was the house band leader at Cameo-Parkway records, where he had played on hit records in the ’50s. As bandleader he arranged records for Chubby  Checker (for whom he co-wrote Let’s Twist Again), The Dovells (he co-wrote their hit Bristol Stomp) and Bobby Rydell. And in the early 1970s he produced Tony Orlando’s megaghits Knock Three Times and Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree.

The next In Memoriam will run very late because I’ll be travelling until mid-January. PW in comments (feel free to leave a comment while you are there).


Wayne Static, 48, singer of metal band Static-X, on Nov. 1

Acker Bilk, 85, British jazz clarinetist, on Nov. 2
Mr. Acker Bilk – Stranger On The Shore (1961)

Michael Coleman, 58, blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, on Nov. 2

Augusto Martelli, 74, Italian composer, conductor and arranger, on Nov. 3
Augusto Martelli – Djamballà (1971)

Manitas de Plata, 93, French flamenco guitarist, on Nov. 5
Manitas de Plata – Larmes Gitanes (1976)

Gary Lane, 76, bass player of garage rock band The Standells, on Nov. 5
The Standells – Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White (1966)

Big Paybacc, 38, rapper, shot dead on Nov. 6

Rick Rosas, 65, session bass player (Neil Young, Joe Walsh), on Nov. 6
Neil Young – Don’t Cry (1989, on bass)

Maggie Boyle, 57, English folk singer and musician, on Nov. 6
Maggie Boyle – Lady Margaret (1998)

Hugo Duarte, 59, folk and country singer and guitarist, on Nov. 7

Jonathan Athon, 32, bassist of metal band Black Tusk, after motorbike accident on Nov. 9

Carlos Emilio Morales, 75, Cuban jazz guitarist, on Nov. 11
Grupo Irakere – Taka-Taka-Ta (1974)

Big Bank Hank, 58, rapper with The Sugarhill Gang, on Nov. 11
The Sugarhill Gang – Apache (Jump On It) (1981)

Buddy Catlett, 81, jazz multi-instrumentalist, on Nov. 12
Ella Fitzgerald with the Count Basie Orchestra  - Shiny Stockings (1966, on bass)

Mike Burney, 70, saxophonist for English glam group Wizzard, on Nov. 12
Wizzard – Rob Roy’s Nightmare (A Bit More H.A.) (1973, also as writer)

Johnny Toobad (Johnny Elichaoff), 55, drummer, producer and manager, on Nov. 13
The League Of Gentlemen – Heptaparaparshinokh (1981, on drums)

Little Joe Washington, 75, blues singer, on Nov. 13
Little Joe Washington – The Ghetto (2004)

Jimmy Ruffin, 78, soul singer, on Nov. 17
Jimmy Ruffin – Se Decidi Cosi (What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted) (1966)
Jimmy Ruffin – It’s Wonderful (To Be Loved By You) (1970)
Jimmy Ruffin – Hold On (To My Love) (1980)

Dave Appell, 92, musician, arranger and record producer, on Nov. 18
Dave Appell and the Applejacks – Ooh, Baby, Ooh (1956)
The Dovells – Bristol Stomp (1961, as co-writer)

Claire Barry, 94, half of jazz and klezmer duo The Barry Sisters, on Nov. 22
The Barry Sisters – Bay mir bistu sheyn (1960s)

Clive Palmer, 71, banjo player with British psychedelic folk group Incredible String Band, on Nov. 23
The Incredible String Band – Empty Pocket Blues (1966, also as writer)

Agustín Briolini, 22, Argentinian rock singer, by electrocution on Nov. 23

Sabah, 87, Lebanese singer and actress; Diva of Arab Music, on Nov. 24

Frances Nero, 71, soul and jazz singer, on Nov. 28
Frances Nero – Keep On Lovin’ Me (1966)
Frances Nero – Footsteps Following Me (1991)

Luc De Vos, 52, singer and guitarist of Belgian rock group Gorki, on Nov. 29


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Beatles For Sale – Recovered

November 27th, 2014 5 comments

BFS Recovered - front

On 4 December 1964 The Beatles released their second LP of the year, just in time for the Christmas. Sandwiched between the masterpieces A Hard Day’s Night (released just six months earlier) and Help!, and released just a year before the game-changer Rubber Soul,  the album — titled perhaps not unironically Beatles For Sale — looks like the runt of the litter.

The cover image is emblemic. The guys look tired and irritated. It was a busy year. In 1964 they had recorded A Hard Day’s Night, for which Paul and John had written all the songs, filmed the movie of that name, promoted both, and toured extensively in Europe, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, and the USA, where they had broken big with their appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show (which is recalled HERE, with a great jazz mix of Beatles covers).

Beatles For Sale was recorded over seven days between August and October. For the last time on a Beatles LP, it included covers of songs by the band’s rock ‘n’ roll heroes: Chuck Berry (Rock and Roll Music), Buddy Holly (Words Of Love), Carl Perkins (Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby), Little Richard (Hey Hey Hey Hey), Wilbert Harrison (Kansas City, also recorded by Little Richard), and Dr. Feelgood and the Interns (the much-maligned Mr Moonlight).

The covers were obvious fillers, but it would be wrong to dismiss Beatles For Sale on their account. There are several underrated gems among the Lennon/McCartney compositions. The opening trio is as good as almost any on Beatles album: No Reply, I’m A Loser and Baby’s In Black. Eight Days A Week, I’ll Follow the Sun and Every Little Thing are stone-cold Beatles classics. The latter is a rare thing: John singing lead on a McCartney song.

The compilation of cover songs of tracks from the album, presented here in the original order, is great fun. I don’t know if I really like the version of Every Little Thing by Yes, but if I approve of Isaac Hayes totally reworking a sing in psychedelic style, then I should at least express my admiration for this 1969 version, recording of which might have involved the use of drugs.

1. Les Lionceaux – Ne Ris Pas (No Reply) (1965)
2. Eels – I’m A Loser (2003)
3. John Doe – Baby’s In Black (2004)
4. Humble Pie – Rock And Roll Music (1975)
5. The Brothers Four – I’ll Follow The Sun (1966)
6. The Hollies – Mr. Moonlight (1964)
7. Little Richard – Kansas City Hey Hey Hey (1959)
8. Alma Cogan – Eight Days A Week (1965)
9. Jeff Lynne – Words Of Love (2011)
10. Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band – Honey Don’t (1990)
11. Yes – Every Little Thing (1969)
12. The Savoys – I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party (1970)
13. The Fantastic Dee Jays – What You’re Doing (1965)
14. Johnny Cash feat. Carl Perkins – Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby (2003)


More great Beatles stuff:
A Hard Day’s Night – Recovered
Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Any Bizarre Beatles
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

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

More Mix-CD-Rs

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Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 2

November 20th, 2014 4 comments

Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 2

Here’s the second of three mixes of full versions of well-known TV themes, including the highly-rated one for True Detective, and two of the all-time greats, Dragnet and Hawaii Five-O. Especially the latter is fantastic in its full length. And listen out for the theme of S.W.A.T..

Most are well-known, but two themes here are from German TV: from the detective series Derrick, which ran from the 1970s to the ’90s, and the music show Musikladen (née Beat Club), footage of which regularly turns up on VH-1 type shows and on YouTube. Both themes are excellent; the latter was a single from 1966 which was borrowed as a TV theme. The theme of Derrick was written and arranged by Les Humphries, who also was the leader of the Les Humphries Singers, a multi-national, multi-racial bunch of hippie-looking people who were phenomenally successful in Germany in the early 1970s.

A good number of themes here have scored sitcoms, going back to I Love Jeannie. Not all of them were good, and some pretty bad (Growing Pains!). But it occurs to me that even as people are talking about US television experiencing a golden age, it doesn’t really apply to sitcoms, animated shows aside. Some of the current sitcoms were very good when they started, but have outlived their welcome (Big Bang Theory) or have fallen into a rut (Modern Family); some are just awful (Two And A Half Men, for pity’s sake), some are just overrated (Girls). I had hopes for Blackish, alas… So, we’re left with the genuinely good Brooklyn Nine-Nine and… what else?

No, the golden age of the sitcom was the 1990s: Seinfeld, Friends, Murphy Brown, Frasier, Larry Sanders, the first few seasons of Mad About You, or  Married With Children stood out above much of the crap we watched anyway on TV, because we had no broadband Internet and DVD box-sets.

The first mix of full TV themes is HERE.

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

1. Family Guy – Full Theme Song
2. Valley Lodge – Go (Last Week Tonight With John Oliver)
3. Aloe Blacc – I Need A Dollar (How To Make It In America)
4. Regina Spektor – You’ve Got Time (Orange Is The New Black)
5. Dave Porter – Breaking Bad Theme
6. The Handsome Family – Far From Any Road (True Detective)
7. Ryan Bingham – Until I’m One With You (The Bridge)
8. Dandy Warhols – We Used To Be Friends (Veronica Mars)
9. Lazlo Bane – Superman (Scrubs)
10. Malvina Reynolds – Little Boxes (Weeds)
11. Frank Sinatra – Love And Marriage (Married With Children)
12. Ray Anthony – Theme from Dragnet
13. Hugo Montenegro – Jeannie (I Dream Of Jeannie)
14. The Monkees – (Theme From) The Monkees
15. Mood Mosaic – A Touch Of Velvet-A Sting Of Brass (Musikladen/Beat Club)
16. Orchester Les Humphries – Derrick
17. Morton Stevens – Theme from Hawaii Five-O
18. Ja’net DuBois & Oren Waters – Movin’ On Up (The Jeffersons)
19. Waylon Jennings – Good Ol’ Boys (Dukes Of Hazzard)
20. Andrew Gold – Final Frontier (Mad About You)
21. B.J. Thomas & Dusty Springfield – As Long As We Got Each Other (Growing Pains)
22. Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams – Without Us (Family Ties)
23. Dave Grusin – St Elsewhere
24. Jack Elliott – Theme from Night Court
25. Rhythm Heritage – Theme from S.W.A.T.



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A Life In Vinyl: 1980

November 13th, 2014 7 comments

A Life In Vinyl 1980

In 1980 I turned 14, and shortly before that I bought my 100th single — that is, the 100th single in my collection since I had dumped all my old Schlager platters and started accumulating proper pop records. The honour of providing my century went to Peter Gabriel’s Games Without Frontiers, a song he also recorded in very broken German. I preferred the English version. Within a year I would almost stop buying singles in favour of albums (though I’d rediscover the joy of the single when I lived in London in the mid-’80s).

A couple of months later I bought in short order a quartet of singles which, along with New Musik’s Living By Numbers, define my year 1980: Tim Curry’s I Do The Rock, The Pretenders’ Brass In Pocket (to this day I have no idea what Chrissie Hynde is singing much of the time), the Ramones’ version of Baby I Love You, produced by Phil Spector, and Dexys Midnight Runners’ Geno.

If forced to choose, I’d call Geno my favourite single ever. It’s not the best single ever, of course, nor is it even my favourite song to be released as a single. It is my favourite single because never before or after have I loved a single — as an item and a song at a particular place and time – as much as Geno. I remember vividly buying it and sitting on the bus home, staring at its stark cover, anxious not so much to play it, but to own it, to place it in my collection of singles, as if this new acquisition was going to complete it.

The song may be somewhat derivative, but it sounded like nothing I had ever heard before: the urgent chants of the titular name, the minor notes of the stirring brass, and then Kevin Rowland’s distinctive style of staccato singing. It caused a weird sensation in my guts. I’ve heard Geno many, many times since then, and I can still feel that sensation of hearing it 34 years ago.

New Musik’s Living By Numbers is perfectly situated in 1980: the paranoia of the 1970s anticipating the computer age of the 1980s. Towards the end, there is a series of different English-accented individuals proclaiming: “They don’t want your name” (they want “just your numbah”, apparently). I derived much fun, and still do, from imitating the different voices as I sang along; correctly locating the strangely shrill and nasal women’s moment at 2:46 being a moment of particular personal triumph. I associate the song with another new innovation: it was one of the songs I recorded off a music show on our new video recorder, a machine using a format that was already obsolete in 1980!


1980 was indeed an exciting time for music. Lots of new sounds emerged from Britain. The lyrics, to me as German-speaking teen, were secondary.  And so it was only a couple of years ago that I discovered that The Vapors’ Turning Japanese is not an ode to acquiring a taste for sushi and saki, nor  a narrative about the notoriously difficult act of assimilating to life in Tokyo, Osaka or Fukuoka. Turning Japanese apparently refers to the narrowing of the male’s eyes as he reaches the point of orgasm, in the case of the song brought about by masturbation. It might not be true, but I’ll accept that interpretation as fact.

It seems Germany in general didn’t care much about lyrics. How Frank Zappa’s Bobby Brown received wide airplay, to the point of turning this 1979 song into a big hit in 1980, is something I shall never understand.

1980 was, of course, also a year bookended by the deaths of two favourite singers. In February AC/DC’s Bon Scott died in London. Not long before that I had bought the Highway To Hell LP. On 9 December the radio alarm clock went off with more terrible news. I was just rising when the announcer said that John Lennon had been shot dead while we were sleeping. On my turntable was the second LP from The Beatles 1967-70 collection, which I had listened to, for the first time in a long time, the night before, when John was still alive.


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

1. Status Quo – Living On An Island
2. Electric Light Orchestra – Confusion
3. Cheap Trick – Dream Police
4. Cherie & Marie Currie – Since You’ve Been Gone
5. AC/DC – Touch Too Much
6. Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers
7. New Musik – Living By Numbers
8. The Vapors – Turning Japanese
9. Tim Curry – I Do The Rock
10. Marianne Faithful – The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan
11. Pretenders – Brass In Pocket
12. Dexys Midnight Runners – Geno
13. Ramones – Baby, I Love You
14. Frank Zappa – Bobby Brown
15. Randy Newman – The Story Of A Rock And Roll Band
16. Joan Armatrading – Me, Myself, I
17. The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me
18. Robert Palmer – Johnny & Mary
19. David Bowie – Fashion
20. Kate Bush – Army Dreamers
21. John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over


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NYC in black & white

November 10th, 2014 12 comments

New York in Black & White

A reader asked me to re-up the broken link to this mix, first posted in early 2010. So here I post the whole shebang again, this time with covers, since I suspect some thoughtful children and grandchildren of people who witnessed the time this compilation recalls might want to give the mix as a Christmas present. As always, the thing is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. PW in comments.

I hope that this collection of songs about or set in New York, spanning 30 years, will find an audience. And I hope that some of these songs will inspire the listener to seek out more music by some of the artists who are largely forgotten now.

Here I think of the great Anita O’Day, featured here twice, an extraordinary vocalist whose lifestory would mirror any sordid rock & roll tale. Or Red Nichols, the innovative jazzman who is said to have recorded 4,000 songs before he turned 25. Danny Kaye played him in the 1959 biopic The Five Pennies, which also starred Bob Crosby, the younger brother of Bing, who was a vocalist and bandleader in his own right, though here he appears as a guest of The Dorsey Brothers, both of who feature in this mix heading their own bands.

Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey played with Sam Lanin as did two other future bandleaders included here: Red Nichols on the cornet and saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer. Lanin was more an arranger than he was a musician, but a 1920s hit factory nonetheless (Bing Crosby got his break with Lanin’s orchestra). By the late 1930s, Lanin had retired from the music business.

The Mills Brothers may be most widely remembered better for their 1952 proto-doo wop hit Glow Worm, but by then they were veterans in the music game, having started in 1928, paving the way for the similar Ink Spots. The brothers stopped performing 61 years later, in 1989 (by then having been decimated to two by death).

Dolly Dawn, known to her mother by the more demure name Theresa Maria Stabile, was a massive singing star in the 1930s and early ’40s. She was one of the very first female singers to lead her own band, the Dawn Patrol. Her career was cut short when many members of her band were drafted to serve Uncle Sam in WW2.

The 1920s and ’30s were the golden age of African-American vaudeville acts of the age of the tap dance and the soft-shoe, silver-capped canes and gleaming cufflinks, the Bojangles scene. Jimmy Lunceford, whose orchestra began as a high school band which Lunceford taught in Memphis, is perhaps the best example here of that influence on jazz, incorporating humour in the music (in much the some way the Italian Louis Prima would). Rumour has it that Lunceford died in 1947 after being poisoned by a restaurateur in Oregon who resented the presence of a black patron in his establishment. More extreme things happened in the sorry history of 20th century US racism.

1. Anita O’Day – Take The ‘A’ Train (1958)
2. Tommy Dorsey & Jo Stafford – Manhattan Serenade (1943)
3. Dolly Dawn and her Dawn Patrol – Blossoms On Broadway (1937)
4. Mound City Blue Blowers – She’s A Latin From Manhattan (1935)
5. Louis Prima and his Orchestra – Brooklyn Bridge (1945)
6. The Dorsey Brothers feat. Bob Crosby – Lullaby Of Broadway (1935)
7. The Quintones – Harmony In Harlem (1940)
8. The Mills Brothers – Coney Island Washboard (1932)
9. Tempo King’s Kings Of Tempo – Bojangles Of Harlem (1936)
10. Albert Ammons & Pete Johnson – Sixth Avenue Express (1941)
11. Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra – Cowboy From Brooklyn (1938)
12. Judy Garland & Fred Astaire – A Couple Of Swells (1948)
13. Lee Wiley & Ellis Larkins – Give It Back To The Indians (1954)
14. Dinah Washington – Manhattan (1959)
15. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Autumn In New York (1956)
16. Gene Krupa feat. Anita O’ Day – Let Me Off Uptown (1941)
17. Cab Calloway Cotton Club Orchestra – Manhattan Jam (1937)
18. Mills Blue Rhythm Band – There’s Rhythm In Harlem (1935)
19. Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra – Slumming On Park Avenue (1937)
20. Artie Shaw and his Orchestra – To A Broadway Rose (1941)
21. Red Nichols and his Orchestra – The New Yorkers (1929)
22. Sam Lanin’s Orchestra with Jack Hart – The Broadway Melody (1929)
23. Frankie Trumbauer – Manhattan Rag (1929)
24. Leadbelly – New York City (1940)


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In Memoriam – October 2014

November 6th, 2014 6 comments

I fear this blog is becoming a death trap: Of the songs featured on the first two Life in Vinyl compilations, covering the years 1977 and 1978, three musicians died in October. First there was Lynsey de Paul (Rock Bottom, 1977), then Tim Hauser of The Manhattan Transfer (Chanson d’Amour, 1977), and a few days later Raphael Ravenscroft, the man who played that great saxophone on Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street.

in_memoriam_1410Raphael  Ravenscroft was not only a session sax man who tried his hand, unsuccessfully, as a solo recording artist, but also wrote books on saxophione technique. Other than on Baker Street and other Rafferty tracks, you might have heart him on Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut and Roger Waters’ The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, or Marvin Gaye’s Heavy Love Affair.

Among the great 1960s rock trios, two stood out: Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And while the members of the latter was all dead by 2008 (the only big rock act I can think of whose members are now all dead), Cream lost its first member in October: bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce (his were the vocals on hits like Sunshine Of Your Love, Crossroads, I Feel Free etc). I think it’s fair to say that Bruce pioneered the electric bass as a central element in rock.

Before Cream, Bruce had played with Ginger Baker in the Graham Bond Organisation (apparently they hated each other) and with Eric Clapton in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, with whom he later joined a trio named Powerhouse, featuring Steve Winwood. In between he played on UK #1 hits such as Manfred Mann’s Pretty Flamingo and The Scaffold’s Lily the Pink. After Cream he recorded solo and played with artists such as Frank Zappa, Lou Reed, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Gary Moore and others.

Reggae legend John Holt led the way in what was to be called lovers rock, with his reggae ballads which often drew from the word of pop and soul. He had hits with songs such as Help Me Make It Through The Night, Just The Way You Are and Touch Me In The Morning — but he also wrote a pop classic with The Tide Is High, which he first recorded with his band The Paragons in 1967 and became a global hit for Blondie in 1980.

For those who complain about the artificiality in pop today, the answer is Alvin Stardust, who had success under two made-up personae, none of his own making. Born Bernard Jewry in London in 1942, he was a roadie for The Fentones in the early 1960s. Its leader was Shane Fenton, whose real name was Johnny Theakston. Just aged 17, Johnny died just before The Fentones made their breakthrough. Bernard stepped in as Shane Fenton, keeping the stage name at the request of Mrs Theakston. Shane Fenton & the Fentones had a handful of UK hits and then disbanded. Bernard was at loose ends for the next decade.

In the early 1970s, Pete Shelley, co-founder of Magnet Records, was performing under the moniker Alvin Stardust.  But when he recorded a Spirit In The Sky rip-off titled My Coo Ca Choo, it unexpectedly entered the charts. Unwilling to become Alvin Stardust himself, he knew he had to find somebody else to take that role. Step forward Bernard Jewry/Shane Fenton II. With his slightly creepy rock & roller in glam clothes image, he went on to have a string of hits.

There is always something especially tragic about a musician dying while working. So it was with the keyboardist Isaiah ‘Ikey’ Owens, who died at 38 of a heart attack in his hotel room in Puebla, Mexico, while touring with Jack White. The night before he had played in Mexico City. Owens had previously worked with indie acts like The Mars Volta and toured or recorded with TV On The Radio, Shuggie Otis, Blowfly, Barrington Levy, Mastodon and others. He also recorded with Free Moral Agents, a fusion group he founded.

If you’re American, you’ve probably heard English conductor Ian Fraser’s work somewhere along the way. If not, you’ll still know his composition: David Bowie’s Peace On Earth counter-melody to Bing Crosby’s Little Drummer Boy, from the 1977 Bing Crosby TV special, which Fraser conducted. In his career he received eleven Emmy Awards out of 32 total nominations, the first 25 of which were in consecutive years. He was the most-honored musician in television history, getting awards for things like the 1993 Presidential Inaugural Gala, Julie Andrews TV specials and the Christmas in Washington shows which he conducted for many years. Much of his work was on stage, arranging the scores of musicals such as Stop the World – I Want to Get Off and Victor/Victoria. He also arranged movie scores, including Scrooge with Albert Finney.


George Roberts, 86, jazz trombonist, on Sept. 28
Harry James and his Orchestra  - Autumn Serenade (1945)
Ella Fitzgerald – All Of You (1956)

Lynsey de Paul, 64, English singer and songwriter, on Oct. 1
Lynsey de Paul – Sugar Me (1972)

Rob Skipper, 28, member of British indie band The Holloways, announced on Oct. 2
The Holloways – Sinners ’n’ Winners (2009)

The Spaceape (Stephen Gordon), 44, British dubstep MC and vocalist, on Oct. 2

Paul Revere, 76, American musician, on Oct.4
Paul Revere and The Raiders – Louie, Louie (1964)
Paul Revere and The Raiders – Song Seller (1973)

Leonard Delaney, 71, drummer with The Tornadoes, on Oct. 5
The Tornadoes – Bustin’ Surfboards (1962)

Andrew Kerr, 80, co-founder of the Glastonbury Festival, on Oct. 6

Lou Whitney, 72, rock musician, producer and studio owner, on Oct. 7
Jonathan Richman – Since She Started To Ride (1990, as producer)

Lincoln ‘Style’ Scott, 58, Jamaican reggae drummer, apparently murdered on Oct. 9
Gregory Isaacs – Permanent Lover (1981, on drums)

Olav Dale, 55, Norwegian composer and jazz saxophonist, on Oct. 10

Brian Lemon, 77, British jazz pianist and arranger, on Oct. 11
Brian Lemon – Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You (1995)

Geoff Nugent, 71, rhythm guitarist of beat group The Undertakers, on Oct. 12
The Undertakers – Just A Little Bit (1964)

Mark Bell, 43, member of British electronic music group LFO, producer (Bjork), on Oct. 13
LFO – We Are Back (1991)

Isaiah ‘Ikey’ Owens, 38, keyboardist (Jack White), on Oct. 14
The Mars Volta – The Widow (2005, on keyboard)
Free Moral Agents – Six Degrees (2007)

Tim Hauser, 72, member of Manhattan Transfer, on Oct. 16
The Manhattan Transfer – Birdland (1979)

Clive Jones, 65, saxophonist-flautist of British rock band Black Widow, on Oct. 16

Paul Craft, 76, musician and songwriter, on Oct. 18
Don Everly – Brother Jukebox (1977, as writer)

Mick Burt, drummer for English duo Chas & Dave, on Oct. 18

Raphael Ravenscroft, 60, British saxophonist and author, on Oct. 19
Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street (1978, on saxophone)

John Holt, 67, singer of Jamaican reggae band The Paragons and songwriter, on Oct. 19
The Paragons – The Tide Is High (1967, also as writer)
John Holt – Stick By Me (1971)

Ronny Spears, outlaw-country singer, on Oct. 20

Tyson Stevens, 29, singer of rock band Scary Kids Scaring Kids, on Oct. 21

Marcia Strassman, 66, singer and actress (Welcome Back, Kotter), on Oct. 23
Marcia Strassman – Out Of The Picture (1967)

Alvin Stardust, 72, English singer, on Oct. 23
Shane Fenton & The Fentones  – I’m A Moody Guy (1961)
Alvin Stardust – My Coo Ca Choo (1973)
Alvin Stardust – I Feel Like Buddy Holly (1984)

Jack Bruce, 71, Scottish-born bassist and singer of Cream, on Oct. 25
Cream – I Feel Free (1966)
Jack Bruce Band – Lost Inside A Song (1977)

Shin Hae-chul, 46, singer with South Korean pop group N.EX.T, on Oct. 27

Renato Sellani, 88, Italian jazz pianist and composer, on Oct. 30

Ian Fraser, 81, English composer and conductor, on Oct. 30
Bing Crosby & David Bowie – Little Drummer Boy-Peace On Earth (1977, as co-writer)

(PW in comments)

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