The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 1

November 26th, 2015 3 comments

The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 1

There are many session drummers who are valid contenders for the label “greatest ever” or “most influential”, if one is into these absolutes. Some have featured in this series: Hal Blaine, Jim Keltner and Bernard Purdie might make it into a four-way final with Steve Gadd (and that’s not to mention Earl Palmer).

Gadd is responsible for one of my all-time favourite single drum hits, on Grover Washington’s Be Mine Tonight (with vocals by another fine drummer, Grady Tate). At 5:44 minutes into the song, as Grover is climaxing his sax solo, he hits the cymbals with such exquisite and eloquent timing. The song would be masterful without it; this easily missed moment elevates it to the sublime.

You’ll have heard Gadd on many famous records, and perhaps even seen him in action: he backed Simon & Garfunkel in the famous Concert in Central Park. He also appeared in the Paul Simon movie One Trick Pony (and drummed on the album of that name, including Late In The Evening). If you caught Eric Clapton in concert between 1994 and 2004, or in 2009, chances are you saw Gadd playing live.

Inspired by his uncle, Gadd took up drumming as a seven-year-old. By the time he was 11, in 1956, he reputedly sat in with Dizzy Gillespie. He made his first recording in 1968, backing Gap Mangione.

Apart from the artists that will feature over the three Steve Gadd Collections I have queued up, he has also backed — deep breath now —Bette Middler, Bob James, Joe Farrell, Rusty Bryant, Ellie Greenwhich, Jackie DeShannon, O’Donel Levy, Chet Baker, Hubert Laws, Herbie Mann, Deodato, Stanley Clarke, Hank Crawford, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Merry Clayton, David Sanborn, Leon Redbone, Kenny Vance, Chick Corea, Maynard Ferguson, The Brecker Brothers, Jon Lucien, Alessi Brothers, Freddie Hubbard, Ashford & Simpson, Eric Gale, Phoebe Snow, Lou Courtney, Al Di Meola, Harry Chapin, Earl Klugh, Sergio Mendes, Garland Jeffreys, Ringo Starr, Frankie Valli, Lolleatta Holloway, Manhattan Transfer, Weather Report, The Sylvers, Mongo Santamaria, Sadao Watanbabe, Richard Tee, Charles Mingus, Yusef Latif, Meco, Larry Carlton, Herb Alpert, Joe Sample, Jennifer Holliday, Diana Ross, Tania Maria, Paul Shaffer, Laurie Anderson, John Sebastian, Mark Cohn, Edie Brickell, Buddy Rich, Angela Bofill, Stephen Bishop, Eric Clapton, Tracy Chapman, Joss Stone, Randy Crawford, Nils Landgren, Kate Bush — and many others…

And, yes, the Steely Dan track he drummed on will feature in a future mix!

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

1. Steve Gadd – My Little Brother (1984)
2. Paul Simn – 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover (1975)
3. Bill LaBounty – Livin’ It Up (1982)
4. George Benson – Love Ballad (1981)
5. Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony – The Hustle (1975)
6. David Ruffin – Walk Away From Love (1975)
7. Al Jarreau – Love Is Waiting (1983)
8. Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – Guilty (1980)
9. Grover Washington Jr. – Be Mine (Tonight) (1981)
10. Michael Franks – When The Cookie Jar Is Empty (1978)
11. Dave Grusin – Anthem Internationale (1982)
12. Diane Schuur – Talkin’ ’Bout You (1988)
13. Kate Taylor – A Fool In Love (1978)
14. Dr. John – Dance The Night Away With You (1978)
15. Bonnie Raitt – What Is Success (1974)
16. Art Garfunkel – Since I Don’t Have You (1993)
17. Aztec Camera – Paradise (1987)
18. Carol Townes and Fifth Avenue – Number One (1976)


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
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 2
The Ringo Starr Collection

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Any Major Paris In Black & White

November 17th, 2015 7 comments

Any Major Paris In Black & White

Here is my tribute to Paris, a city that will not be defeated by terrorists. I wish my music collection would allow me to likewise compile collections in tribute to the people of Beirut, Baghdad, Ankara, Gaza or whichever city the genocidal bastards of Boko Haram are blowing up this week — or, indeed, whichever Afghan hospital the US destroys in a case of couldn’t-give-a-damn.

And on that cheerful note, to the music. Unlike the first Any Major Paris mix, which I posted last year, this one trades bilingually in nostalgia: there are tracks by great French singers such as the majestic Edith Piaf, her ex-lover and protégé Yves Montand, the great entertainers Charles Trénet and Maurice Chevalier, the powerful Gilbert Bécaud, and the godmother of them all, Mistinguett.

Among the English tracks, Petula Clark’s song is a cover of a French chanson which is best heard in Piaf’s version.

A couple of the American artists who sing here in French once scandalised prim Parisian society. Josephine Baker’s story is well known, that of Joan Warner less so. The tall blonde used to dance in Parisian joints in various stages of nudity. For that she was tried in 1935. Found guilty she fined, just a nominal sum, even though she contended that she had been painted all in white make-up and was partly covered with a transparent silk cloth which served as a “fig leaf” — without that, the judge said, her fine would have been fined eight times as much. Warner is still alive, it seems, at the age of 102.

And speaking of Piaf, should you go to Paris and want a guided tour of Edith Piaf’s life, I know someone who does that. Message me for contact details (ideally via Facebook; become my friend here).

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

1. Dean Martin – I Love Paris (1961)
2. Patachou – Sous le Ciel de Paris (1956)
3. Edith Piaf – Notre-Dame de Paris (1952)
4. Petula Clark – Mademoiselle de Paris (1963)
5. Gilbert Bécaud – Dimanche à Orly (1963)
6. Jacques Dutronc – Il est cinq heures, Paris s’éveille (1968)
7. Mel Tormé – Paris Smiles (1967)
8. Sammy Davis Jr. – April In Paris (1965)
9. Francis Lemarque – Lair de Paris (1957)
10. Mouloudji – Le Mal De Paris (1954)
11. Charles Trénet – Le Coeur de Paris (1946)
12. Maurice Chevalier – Place Pigalle (1946)
13. Yves Montand – À Paris (1948)
14. Kate Smith – The Last Time I Saw Paris (1940)
15. Joan Warner – Etre Parisienne (1936)
16. Mistinguett – La tour Eiffel est toujours là (1942)
17. Django Reinhardt et le Quintette Du Hot Club De France – Belleville (1942)
18. Josephine Baker – Paris Paris Paris (1949)
19. Eartha Kitt – Under The Bridges Of Paris (1953)
20. Les Baxter – The Clown On The Eiffel Tower (1957)
21. Catherine Sauvage – L’Île Saint-Louis (1954)
22. Pierre Dudan – Ciel de Paris (1957)
23. Georgette Plana – Le Dimanche à Paris (1953)
24. Quincy Jones – Evening In Paris (1957)
25. Judy Garland – Paris Is A Lonely Town (1962)
26. Max Steiner – Casablanca: Paris Montage (1942)


Any Major Paris
Any Major London Vol. 1
Any Major London Vol. 2
Any Major London Vol. 3
More Mix-CD-Rs


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Any Major Teen Dreams

November 12th, 2015 27 comments

Any Major Teen Dream

I first posted the stuff below almost eight years ago. The stuff of teenager-oriented pop has occupied me lately with the birth of the Bravo Posters site, on which I post a few posters a day from editions of Germany’s Bravo magazine between 1975 and 1982, a time period that precedes and then covers part of my teenager days. I think it’s fair to say that when we look back on our teenage obsessions with pop music, the questions that will evoke the most nostalgic vibes are what your first record was, and which posters you had hanging on your wall.

Your first record most probably was not cool. But ask your music-loving friends about the first record they bought, chances are that everybody else bought something really sophisticated. They were eight and bought, depending on their generation, Kind Of Blue, Sly & the Family Stone, Big Star, Too Drunk To Fuck by the Dead Kennedys of NWA’s F*ck Da Police. They might even tell the truth, so you feel like a bit of a chump if you first record was “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window”, “Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool” or “Ice Ice Baby”. I confess: for years I did not acknowledge that the first record I bought was a German Schlager hit by Roy Black (not his real name) teaming up with a nine-year-old Norwegian girl named Anita. The single, it must be said, was aimed squarely at my demographic at the time, the five-year-old, and at grandmothers, like mine, who financed my debut vinyl purchase.Couldn’t you have guided me to buy Black Sabbath instead of Roy Black, grandmother?

For a long time I was also embarrassed to admit that my first English-language record was by the Bay City Rollers. Today I feel no more embarrassment at that than if my first single had been an obscure Northern Soul classic. While the late Roy Black may still lack cool, the passage of time has forgiven the Bay City Rollers for their droll tartan outfits and for being adored by barely pubescent girls. The Ramones admitted a long time ago that they took inspiration from the teen-orientated bubble-gum pop promulgated by Leslie, Woody, Alan, Eric and Derek. The rest of us have taken a little longer to appreciate that BCR weren’t as awful as their trousers led us to believe. And so I’ll pronounce while flinching only slightly: I was a BCR fan, even though I was a boy. And I liked Woody the best.

The phenomenon of teen idols precedes the advent of Rock & Roll. There was Bing Crosby, who charmed the girls and their Moms in the 1930s. Then came the Bobbysoxers who screamed for young Frank Sinatra from Hoboken, NJ. Then came rock. Elvis provided many a young girl with her first experience of celebrity-inspired wet knickers. But these were singularities, quite extraordinary performers. True, the combination of Rock ‘n Roll’s ascent and the Bobbysoxer legacy (among other social events) created a wave of singers marketed directly to the teen market: the likes of Troy Donahue, Fabian, Frankie Avalon or Paul Anka in the US, Marty Wilde in Britain, or Peter Kraus in Germany.

But arguably the real teen revolution came with the ‘60s and Beatlemania. It was a whole new deal which inspired a new culture of teen idolatry; some accidental, some manufactured to cash in on the Beatles.

teen dream gallery 1Early teen idol prodigies of the1960s included Billy J Kramer (whose “Bad To Me” was written by Lennon & McCartney) in Britain, The Monkees in the US, and Herman’s Hermits in both countries. Like the Backsteeet Boys or the Spice Girls and their ilk 30 years later, The Monkees were an assembled group calculated to appeal to diverse constituencies within the projected fanbase. The Beatles provided the template: Paul, the cute happy one; John, the tough cynical one; George, the quiet serious one; Ringo, the pet. And the calculation obviously worked; the Monkees were huge, thanks to their image, and their records were great, thanks to brilliant song selection and the seasoned session musicians of the Wrecking Crew.

In the early 1970s, the pretense of musical authenticity evaporated in the US. The Archies had a worldwide hit in 1969/70 with “Sugar Sugar”. Based on the comic, they weren’t even the group. Where The Monkees were a the literary equivalent of a photo novel, The Archies were actually a cartoon. The fiction wouldn’t stop there. The Partridge Family was a TV band, backed by the flair of, again, the Wrecking Crew, and the beauty of the talented David Cassidy and, for the boys, Susan Dey. Things would become charmingly peculiar when the Brady Bunch, whose kids weren’t musicians even in the fiction of the show, started releasing records. At the same time, some groups didn’t bother with instruments, even if one or the other minor Jackson 5 did parade with a guitar occasionally, if that could be choreographed into the dance routine.

In Britain, the teen-oriented acts were more credible. T Rex, the Sweet or Slade played their own instruments and produced some fantastic pop whose appeal conquered the precincts of age. Other acts were clearly manipulated or manufactured for marketing purposes. Questions remain about how much Woody, Eric, Alan and Derek contributed to the Bay City Rollers on record (we do know that Leslie did sing, and Alan, Eric and Woody write a good number of songs). Based on the template of the early ‘70s, UK record label bosses tried to cash in on presenting acts like Hello and Slik (featuring future Ultravox frontman Midge Ure) as the teen dreams they did not aspire to be. The calculation bombed. Hello and Slik were one hit wonders, groups like the Dead End Kids and Buster never took off, BCR disintegrated slowly after Leslie McKeown left (to be replaced by Duncan Fauré of South African teeny giants Rabbit), Sweet grew beards and dabbled with prog rock, Dave Hill of Slade shaved his head, and punk happened. The teen dream was dead. Out of punk grew the New Romantic movement, and with it Smash Hits, giving rise to a new generation of organically grown teen idols: Duran Duran, Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet.

In the US, the family idols gig – Jacksons, Osmonds, “Partridge” – slowly lost its lustre. As the late ‘70s neared, the pursuit was on for the next pretty boy in the mould of David Cassidy. And so teens were introduced the charms of David’s half-brother Shaun (whose 1977 song provides the title for this mix), Leif Garrett (like David, a child TV star), Andy Gibb and, of course, John Travolta. The time would come for the rise of the boy band, in the US and Britain, with The Monkees and the Bay City Rollers providing a template, but minus the pretense of members playing instruments in terms of personnel selection, and the Jackson 5 inspiring the idea of four or five chaps harmonising their choreography.

teen dream gallery 2With all that in mind, here is the Any Major Teen Dreams mix, featuring acts that featured on the postered walls of pre-and freshly-pubescent kids, and were marketed as such, between 1963 and 1978.  As ever, the lot is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-lipsynched covers.

Now my question to you: what was the first single you bought?

1. The Beatles – Do You Want To Know A Secret (1963)
2. Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas – Bad To Me (1963)
3. Herman’s Hermits – No Milk Today (1966)
4. The Monkees – Last Train To Clarksville (1966)
5. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – The Legend Of Xanadu (1968)
6. Tommy Roe – Dizzy (1969)
7. The Archies – Sugar Sugar (1969)
8. Bobby Sherman – Little Woman (1969)
9. The Jackson 5 – The Love You Save (1970)
10. The Partridge Family – I Woke Up In Love This Morning (1971)
11. Sweet – Co-Co (1971)
12. T. Rex – Metal Guru (1972)
13. David Cassidy – Daydreamer (1973)
14. The Osmonds – Love Me For A Reason (1974)
15. David Essex – Gonna Make You A Star-old (1974)
16. Hello – Tell Him (1974)
17. Bay City Rollers – Rock & Roll Love Letter (1975)
18. Slik – Forever And Ever (1976)
19. John Travolta – Let Her In (1976)
20. Andy Gibb – I Just Wanna Be Your Everything (1977)
21. Leif Garrett – Surfin’ USA (1977)
22. Buster – Love Rules (1977)
23. Shaun Cassidy – Teen Dream (1977)


And don’t forget to check out Bravo Posters!

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In Memoriam – October 2015

November 5th, 2015 9 comments

In Memoriam_1Best-known for his hit Down In The Boondocks and the original versions of Deep Purple’s Hush and The Osmonds’ Yo-Yo (all written by Joe South), Billy Joe Royal comfortably straddled genres. He was at home in both pop and, as of the 1980s, in country, but his song Heart’s Desire was a popular staple in England’s Northern Soul scene. Royal performed his last concert on September 24 and at the time of his death at 73 had a tour lined up.

In the world of jazz-fusion and of the Internet, Larry Rosen was a pioneer. Starting off as a drummer in the 1960s, Rosen soon moved into production and engineering before setting up a record label with the great musician and composer Dave Grusin, calling it Grusin/Rosen Productions (now better known by its acronym GRP). The label discovered many of big names in fusion, such as Earl Klugh, Tom Browne (whose crossover hit Funkin’ For Jamaica Rosen produced), Patti Austin, Lee Ritenour and many others. GRP’s roster grew to include many notable artists, such as Spyro Gyra, Diane Schuur, Ramsey Lewis, Tom Scott, B.B. King, Larry Carlton, Yellowjackets and Diana Krall. Rosen engineered and co-produced Dave Grusin’s 1981 Mountain Dance album, the first ever digitally recorded non-classical album, from which the featured track comes. He left GRP in 1995 to launch, within a year, one of the first Internet e-commerce and content companies, N2K, which pioneered digital downloads long before iTunes.

With the death at 93 of folk singer Leon Bibb, another once blacklisted voice has fallen silent. Bibb said he had never spoken to a white person while growing up in Kentucky. That changed when he moved to New York City in 1941 at the age of 19. A talented baritone, he was a cast member of the first stage performance of the musical Annie Get Your Gun in 1946. He went on to become a star on Broadway in the 1950s, but his left-wing politics, especially in the area of fighting racial discrimination, saw him blacklisted (alongside his idol Paul Robeson). At that time he became a folk singer, keeping the company of the likes of Pete Seeger, and performed at the first Newport Folk Festival. With the blacklist abolished, he appeared many times on American TV, including return engagements of the Ed Sullivan Show. In 1969 he moved to Vancouver. He continued a fruitful career in Canada, but also initiated anti-bullying/discrimination programmes in schools. His son Eric Bibb is a prominent Finland-based blues musician, and his grandson Rennie Mirro is a well-known dancer in Sweden.

In 1982, one of the songs I despised the most was PhD’s I Won’t Let You Down. In 1984, it was the UK #1 hit I Should Have Known Better, by erstwhile PhD member Jim Diamond, which I hated almost as much as I Just Called To Say I Love You. My militant views on two of these songs have not changed, though I take a more tolerant line with I Should Have Known Better. I might not have been an advocate for the music of Jim Diamond, who has died at 64, but he seems to have been a decent sort of guy. With his big 1984 hit still riding high in the charts, he asked British record buyers not to buy his record but Band Aid’s charity single Do They Know It’s Christmas instead.

In Memoriam_2If you have been to the New Orleans Mardi Gras, you might have heard a brass band striking up the tune It Ain’t My Fault. A Mardi Gras standard, it was written and first recorded by the drummer Smokey Johnson, who has died at 78, and had a great influence on the growing genre of funk music. Johnson had backed Fats Domino in the 1950s and ’60s when he moved to Detroit. There he drummed for Motown. Though he never became a Funk Brother — the name of the collective of regular Motown backing musicians — he had a great influence on them, and with it on the Motown sound. After suffering a stroke in 1993, Johnson had to give up drumming. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina left him homeless. He spent his last days at Musicians’ Village, a Habitat for Humanity project in New Orleans.

Normally the In Memoriam lists don’t include backroom staff, such as PR people. But if they had a particular impact on music history, they must be included. So it is with Al Abrams, the first publicist of Motown who was employed by Berry Gordy before the company even existed. First he promoted the label’s singles to Detroit radio DJs, but soon he went into publicity, creating a public image for a black record label that helped it to cross over. The slogan “The Sound of Young America” was coined by Abrams. He left Motown in 1967 to pursue his PR career further.

Nor do TV show producers get namechecked in this series. But Peter Dougherty merits a mention for bringing black music to the hitherto white-dominated MTV. Dougherty, who has died at 59, introduced with Ted Demme the influential show “Yo! MTV Raps” in 1988. It proved wildly popular and changed MTV playlists forever. Dougherty also directed a few music videos, including that of the great hit for The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, Fairytale Of New York.

Nor do album cover designers normally get a mention, though a couple have in the past. John Berg, who has died at 83, accumulated a rich portfolio of cover art. He won Grammys for the covers of The Barbra Streisand Album (1964), Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits (1967), Thelonious Monk’s Underground (1968) and Chicago X by, you guessed it, Chicago in 1976. He also designed the covers of Springsteen’s Born To Run, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, several Blood Sweat Tears albums, Leonard Cohen’s Songs Of Love And Hate, Billy Joel’s 52nd Street, Santana’s Greatest Hits, and Sly and the Family Stone’s Fresh. See the gallery below I’ve made for just some of Berg’s artworks (open the image in a new window for a bigger view).

John Berg LP cover collection

Finally a paragraph to note the death of two members of the Romanian metalcore band Goodbye To Gravity, along with 30 others, in a fire at the launch gig for their new album in the Bucharest nightclub Colectiv on October 30. The fire was started by the band’s pyrotechnics, aggravated by polyurethane, an acoustic foam which the club used to dampen sound. The members who died were guitarists Mihai Alexandru and Vlad Țelea. Romania’s government declared three days of mourning for the victims, and Halloween parties were cancelled throughout the country. There was a solidarity march of 12,000 in central Bucharest, and another of 13,000 to demand the resignation of city officials for granting the club a licence without insisting on a permit from the fire department. The outrage managed to bring down Romania’s corrupt Prime Minister Victor Ponta.


Hugh Wright, 63, drummer and co-founder of country band Boy Howdy, in September
Boy Howdy – A Cowboy’s Born With A Broken Heart (1993)

Simon Cowe, guitarist of English folk-rock group Lindisfarne, on Sept 30
Lindisfarne – Meet Me On The Corner (1971)

Willie Akins, 76, jazz saxophonist and academic, on Oct. 2

Coleridge Goode, 100, Jamaican-born jazz bassist, on Oct. 2
Joe Harriott Quintet – Calypso Sketches (1961)

Al Abrams, 74, Motown’s first publicist, on Oct. 3

Rodolfo Maltese, 68, guitarist, trumpeter with Italian band Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, on Oct. 3

Dave Pike, 77, jazz vibraphone and marimba player, on Oct. 4
Dave Pike – You’ve Got Your Trouble (1966)

Billy Joe Royal, 73, pop and country singer, on Oct. 6
Billy Joe Royal – I Knew You When (1965)
Billy Joe Royal – Hush (1967)
Billy Joe Royal – Pin A Note On Your Pillow (1987)

Smokey Johnson, 78, influential funk drummer, on Oct. 6
Smokey Johnson – It Ain’t My Fault (1964)
Labelle – It Took A Long Time (1974, on drums)

Ray Appleton, 74, jazz drummer, on Oct. 7

Jim Diamond, 64, Scottish singer-songwriter, on Oct. 8
Jim Diamond – I Should Have Known Better (1984)

James Cruickshank, 53, keyboardist, guitarist with Australian indie group The Cruel Sea, on Oct. 8
The Cruel Sea – Better Get A Lawyer (1995)

Larry Rosen, 75, jazz engineer, producer, record executive; digital downloading pioneer, on Oct. 9
Dave Grusin – Friends And Strangers (1980, as engineer, and co-producer)
Diane Schuur & José Feliciano – By Design (1985, as co-producer)

Bruce Nazarian, 66, funk and rock musician, producer and digital-recording pioneer, on Oct. 9
Brownsville Station – Lady (Put The Light On Me) (1977)

Koopsta Knicca, 40, rapper with Three 6 Mafia, on Oct. 9

Leny Escudero, 82, Spanish-born French singer and actor, on Oct. 9
Leny Escudero – Pour une amourette (1963)

Steve Mackay, 66, saxophonist with The Stooges, on Oct. 10

Robbin Thompson, 66, singer-songwriter, on Oct. 10
The Robbin Thompson Band – Sweet Virginia Breeze (1980)

John Berg, 83, art director and LP cover designer, on Oct. 11

Smokin’ Joe Kubek, 58, blues guitarist, on Oct. 11

Carey Lander, 33, keyboardist and singer with British Indie group Camera Obscura, on Oct. 11
Camera Obscura – Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken (2006)

John Murphy, 56, Australian session drummer, percussionist, on Oct. 11

Hal Hackady, 93, lyricist, on Oct. 12
The Lennon Sisters – Shake Me I Rattle (Squeeze Me I Cry) (1957)

Peter Dougherty, 59, TV and video producer, on Oct. 12

Skatemaster Tate, 56, musician and TV presenter, on Oct. 13

John Jennings, 61, musician and music producer, on Oct. 16
Mary Chapin Carpenter- Quittin’ Time (1989)

Frank Watkins, 47, bassist of heavy metal bands Obituary and Gorgoroth, on Oct. 18

Cory Wells, 74, singer with Three Dog Night, on Oct. 20
Three Dog Night – Mama Told Me Not To Come (1970, on lead vocals)

Don Rendell, 89, English jazz musician and educator, on Oct. 20

Mark Murphy, 83, jazz singer, on Oct. 22
Mark Murphy – Angel Eyes (1961)

Leon Bibb, 93, American folk singer, on Oct. 23
Leon Bibb – Sinnerman (1959)
Leon & Eric Bibb – Five Hundred Miles (2002)

Bill Keith, 75, banjo player and innovator, on Oct. 23

Nat Peck, 90, jazz trombonist, on Oct. 24
James Moody Quintet – Oh! Well (1949, on trombone)

Lee Shaw, 89, jazz pianist, on Oct. 25
Lee Shaw Trio – Restless Wind (2007)

David Rodriguez, 63, singer-songwriter, on Oct. 26

Sya Styles, 37, DJ with French Hip Hop collective Psy 4, on Oct. 26

Herbie Goins, 76, R&B singer, on Oct. 27
Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers-No. 1 In Your Heart (1966)

Diane Charlemagne, 51, singer with Urban Cookie Collective; 52nd Street, on Oct. 28
Urban Cookie Collective – Feels Like Heaven (1993)

Tony Van Frater, 51, member of British punk band Red Alert, on Oct. 29

(PW in comments)

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 2

October 29th, 2015 6 comments

Any Major Halloween Vol. 2

Another year, another Halloween mix. As with Any Major Halloween Vol. 1, this one is not for fans of novelty monster mashes. If you take a step to the left, it will be because you’re spooked by the music or by unnerving lyrics — not because a fun but rather overplayed showtune instructs you to do so.

The Eels track used to scare my son’s teenage friend, back in 2006, a demonstration in how music doesn’t need lyrics to be frighten. Conversely, lyrics can be all the more petrifying if they are set to pretty melodies, such as two of the murder ballads included here, Down In The Willow Garden and Where The Wild Roses Grow.

If I’m still doing this blog next Halloween, I promise to lighten the mood.

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

1. The Simpsons – Halloween Theme (1990)
2. Alan Price Set – I Put A Spell On You (1966)
3. Godley + Creme – Under Your Thumb (1981)
4. Eels – Marie Floating Over The Backyard (2005)
5. Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians – My Wife And My Dead Wife (1985)
6. October Country – My Girlfriend Is A Witch (1968)
7. Medeski, Martin & Wood – End Of The World Party (2004)
8. Mazzy Star – Taste Of Blood (1990)
9. Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue – Where The Wild Roses Grow (1995)
10. Violent Femmes – Country Death Song (1984)
11. The Never – The Witch (2006)
12. Eddi Reader – Bell, Book And Candle (1998)
13. Ryan Adams – Halloweenhead (2007)
14. The Alan Parsons Project – Raven (1976)
15. Five Man Electrical Band – Werewolf (1974)
16. Alice Cooper – Feed My Frankenstein (1991)
17. Ramones – Pet Sematary (1989)
18. Red Sovine – Phantom 309 (1967)
19. The Everly Brothers – Down In The Willow Garden (1958)
20. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Feast Of The Mau Mau (1969)
21. Howlin’ Wolf – Evil (Is Going On) (1954)
22. The Tarantulas – Black Widow (1961)


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Any Major Glam Vol. 2

October 22nd, 2015 12 comments

Any Major Glam Vol. 2

Two years ago I ran the first Glam Rock mix, the playlist of which was subject to strict criteria to ensure a certain glam purity. I think it was on Facebook that somebody said that the genre could be interpreted more loosely, that even the Bay City Rollers could have a home on such a mix.

So the second volume is stretching the concept of glam to such limits that the purists’ mascara might run from angry exasperation. I mean, Kenny??? What was I thinking? A manufactured teeny group whose musicianship duties might or might not have been assumed by session musicians! And still, The Bump has a definite glam vibe. So in it goes, along with ABBA’s very glam So Long.

Of course, in my generous application of the glam concept, the Bay City Rollers had to feature as well. They do so with their most glam song, Saturday Night. But this is not the hit version from 1976 with Leslie McKeown on vocals, but the slightly rougher 1973 original with Nobby Clark on lead vocals and John Devine on guitar, which failed to bother the charts. Shortly after Clark and Dvine left the group and were replaced by teen dream boys McKeown and Stuart “Woody” Wood.

But take courage, the staples of glam rock are still represented: Slade, Sweet, Suzi Quatro, T. Rex (with the song used as the theme of the hit-and-miss Lip Synch Battle), Wizzard and so on — and Gary Glitter. I had exiled the sex criminal from the first mix, but that was a controversial decision. So here he is; if you can’t stand to listen to him, skip him.

British readers who lived through the 1970s will recognise the template that inspired the covers I made for this set, which is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Password in comments.

1. T. Rex – 20th Century Boy (1973)
2. Slade – Mama Weer All Crazee Now (1972)
3. David Bowie – Sufragette City (1972)
4. Suzi Quatro – Too Big (1974)
5. Sweet – Fox On The Run (1975)
6. Bay City Rollers – Saturday Night (1973)
7. Wizzard – Ball Park Incident (1972)
8. Gary Glitter – I Love You Love Me Love (1973)
9. Abba – So Long (1974)
10. Rubettes – Juke Box Jive (1974)
11. Hello – New York Groove (1975)
12. Kenny – The Bump (1974)
13. The Glitter Band – The Tears I Cried (1975)
14. Alvin Stardust – Red Dress (1974)
15. Chicory Tip – Son Of My Father (1972)
16. Alice Cooper – No More Mr Nice Guy (1973)
17. The Arrows – Touch Too Much (1974)
18. Hound Dog – Rock’n’Roll Show (1973)
19. Mott The Hoople – Roll Away The Stone (1973)
20. Roxy Music – Virginia Plain (1972)
21. Mud – Hypnosis (1973)
22. Iron Virgin – Rebels Rule (1974)
23. The Troggs – Strange Movies (1973)
24. Cozy Powell – Dance With The Devil (1973)


And while we’re here, please take a look at my new sister blog of posters from Germany’s Bravo magazine from 1975-82, with new posters added every day. Today’s posters are of two acts featured on this mix. Find it at

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Any Major Disco Vol. 2 – Pop Edition

October 15th, 2015 11 comments

Any Major Disco Vol. 2

Following the first Any Major Disco, here is a mix of non-disco acts dabbling to good effect in the genre. That is an important distinction: with the disco tsunami in the late 1970s there was a lot of cynical cashing-in, with all manner of decidedly undisco folks — Ethel Merman! — making artificial disco records, polluting the genre already poisoned by rampant exploitation.

Many established acts jumped on the bandwagon. Some did so with credibility, such as The Rolling Stones with Miss You, Blondie with Heart of Gold, or Queen with Another One Bites The Dust; others with ostentatious cynicism, such as Rod Stewart’s Da Ya Think I’m Sexy. Some were decidedly controversial: I believe most Grateful Dead fans resent their band’s foray into funky basslines and that strange rhythm thing of which people speak.

I hope most of the songs here fall more in the former camp than into Rod’s domain of ridiculousness.

Not everything here is disco. Some of the songs here borrow just some elements from disco — a bassline here, a funky guitar there, maybe some disco strings or horns or falsetto, certainly a four-to-the-floor beat. Others are unabashedly disco: Barbra Steisand’s The Main Event, Demis Roussos’ Midnight Is The Time I Need You or Janis Ian’s Fly Tool High (produced by Giorgio Moroder) are disco tracks performed to good effect by singers who wouldn’t have been thought of as natural exponents of the genre.

In some instances, a producer might inspire a visit to discoland. So it was with Mud in 1976. The English group had enjoyed hits with glam songs and rode on the retro rock & roll wave. Produced by Pip Williams, whose work producing the Moody Blues and Status Quo is probably better known than his efforts with the Biddhu Orchestra and Edwin Starr, they then turned out a very good disco single, Shake It Down.

The mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. PW in comments.

1. Barbra Streisand – The Main Event (1979)
2. Electric Light Orchestra – Shine A Little Love (1979)
3. Blondie – Atomic (1979)
4. Janis Ian – Fly Too High (1980)
5. Olivia Newton-John – Totally Hot (1978)
6. Boz Scaggs – Hollywood (1977)
7. Seals & Croft – You’re The Love (1979)
8. Grateful Dead – Shakedown Street (1978)
9. The Hollies – Draggin’ My Heels (1976)
10. Orleans – What I Need (1976)
11. Carly Simon – Tranquillo (Melt My Heart) (1978)
12. Sweet – Funk It Up (David’s Song) (3:27)
13. Mud – Shake It Down (1976)
14. Chicago – Street Player (1979)
15. Alice Cooper – (No More) Love At Your Convenience (1977)
16. Bay City Rollers – Don’t Stop The Music (1977)
17. Leo Sayer – Easy To Love (1977)
18. Santana – One Chain (Don’t Make No Prison) (1978)
19. Demis Roussos – Midnight Is The Time I Need You (1975)


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Beatles Reunited – Everest (1971)

October 8th, 2015 10 comments

Beatles - Everest

On Friday John Lennon would have turned 75; a rather frightening thought, since John has stayed forever young, (no) thanks to Mark Chapman.

So this is a good occasion to begin the alternative history of Beatles album as they might have been had the band not split in 1970. I did something like that a few years ago, but not very well. In revisiting the idea I was inspired by Peter Lee’s marvelous alternative history The Death and Life of Mal Evans: A Novel, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, with a Beatles concert “from 1972”.

In his book, Lee recreates Beatles albums through the 1970s, employing rather stricter criteria than I do (his selection process alone is worth getting the book for). The title of this first imaginary Beatles album, set in 1971, is borrowed from Lee’s book. The Beatles actually considered the title Everest for the LP they’d call Abbey Road, on account of the brand of cigarettes smoked by sound engineer Geoff Emerick (whose 2006 book Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles is a classic in the Beatles canon).

Such was the wealth of quality which the four produced between 1970 and 1972, that this set is a double LP. The “next album” will be released in “1972” (with hold-overs from George’s All Things Must Pass and John’s Imagine albums).

Some of these tracks might have been Beatles tracks. Jealous Guy was demoed under a different title during the White Album sessions; the version of All Things Must Pass featured here is, in fact, a Beatles demo; Apple Scruffs was another Beatles reject.

In Peter Lee’s book, the first imaginary Beatles album included Lennon’s scathing attack on McCartney, How Do You Sleep. To even things out, I’ll let John have that for his solo album but include Paul’s veiled stab at John, Too Many People.

Ringo released two albums in 1970, both comprising cover versions of standards and country songs respectively. The Beatles didn’t do covers after 1965, but we’ll indulge Ringo with one song, Stardust, which was arranged by McCartney. There was one other contender, the Ringo-penned Coochy Coochy. It didn’t make the cut on account of it not being very good.

I tried to keep Yoko and Linda out of these proceedings, which wasn’t entirely possible, since McCartney’s Ram album was credited to him and Linda (so her voice on, say, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, is unavoidable. But imagine all that with John’s harmonies!). But no Oh Yoko, and no Long Haired Lady. However, seeing I let Linda sing, I let John’s song to Yoko, Hold On, pass. It sounds like a Beatles song, and includes the most unexpected Sesame Street reference ever.

The whole thing fits on a standard CD-R. Covers included; PW in comments.

Side 1
1   Instant Karma (We All Shine On) (John)
2   What Is Life (George)
3   Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul)
4   Every Night (Paul)
5   Apple Scruffs (George)
Side 2
7   Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (Paul)
8   Stardust (Ringo)
9   All Things Must Pass (George)
10  Isolation (John)
11  Ram On (Paul)
12  Jealous Guy (John)
Side 3
12  Mother (John)
13  Wah-Wah (George)
14  The Back Seat Of My Car (Paul)
15  Hold On (John)
16  Love (John)
Side 4
17  Too Many People (Paul)
18  Working Class Hero (John)
19  Isn’t It A Pity (George)
20  Junk (Paul)
21  How? (John)


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In Memoriam – September 2015

October 2nd, 2015 7 comments

In memoriam 091With the death of Wilton Felder, only one original Crusader is left standing, Stix Hooper. As the saxophonist of The Crusaders, Felder was responsible for one of my favourite moments in music: the one-minute note he held in the live version of So Far Away. It’s an impressive feat, made greater by how the band falls in at the end of that note. Felder was not only a gifted sax player, but also a sought-after bassist. In that capacity he played on Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On (the song and the LP), Joan Baez’s Diamonds And Rust (also song and album), Billy Joel’s Piano Man and Michael Franks’ Monkey See-Monkey Do, as well as for Randy Newman, Seals & Croft, Shuggie Otis, Jackson Browne, The Four Tops, Steely Dan (Pretzel Logic and Katy Lied), Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell, Anne Murray, Al Jarreau, Minnie Riperton, Millie Jackson, Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr, John Cale, Bobby Womack, Tina Turner (whose version of Help he also produced), James Ingram and many others. He also played on several Motown tracks, including (according to Wikipedia, so caveat emptor) the Jackson 5’s I Want You Back and The Love You Save.

The sole survivor of the plane crash that killed Otis Redding has passed away at the age of 67. Trumpeter Ben Cauley, founding member of The Bar-Kays, also lost four bandmates in the crash on December 10, 1967. The account of his survival is dramatic: he awoke as bandmate Phalon Jones looked out of the window and exclaimed, “Oh no”, realising the impending disaster. Cauley unbuckled himself, freeing him from his seat as the plane crashed into the icy Lake Monona. Clutching his seat pillow, he survived 20 minutes in the water — longer than was deemed possible even for insulated divers. After the crash he and fellow co-founder James Alexander (who is still alive, in large part due to it having been his turn to miss out on the Otis flight) refounded the group, continuing their backing work at Stax and recording in their own right. Cauley left the Bar-Kays in 1971, going on to back acts such as Isaac Hayes, Dobie Gray, Candi Staton, Denise LaSalle, Joe Tex, Bobby Womack, The Doobie Brothers, Donovan, Al Green, Millie Jackson, BB King, Boz Scaggs and more.

Peggy Jones, who has died at 75, was the mother of all rock women with guitars. As rhythm guitarist in Bo Diddley’s band, the affectionately called Lady Bo blazed a trail at a time when women musicians in rock & roll were rare, never mind black teenage girls. Trained in tap, ballet and opera, Jones was also a bandleader, and later backed acts such as and later backed James Brown and Sam & Dave.

In memoriam 092Few pop stars go from a successful career in pop and TV to one in academia teaching law. But so it was with Frederick Greene, who was a singer with Sha Na Na and best known as the brainy “Denny” in the group’s TV show. In the movie Grease, it was Greene who sang Tears On My Pillow at the school dance. He also appeared with his group at Woodstock. In 1971 he had obtained a BA in law from Columbia. After Sha Na Na, he obtained his masters at Harvard and a JD from Yale. For a while he worked as a movie executive. At the time of his death from cancer at 66, Greene was a professor of law at the University of Dayton, Ohio.

Ska fans will have mourned the death of Rico Rodriguez, the Cuban trombonist who played on many records which fed the genre’s revival in Britain in the early 1980s, and played on records of the Two Tone movement’s main purveyors, the Specials and Selecter. A Rastafarian who had moved from Cuba to Jamaica in the 1950s, Rodriguez also played on many reggae records, including by Bob Marley, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Toots & The Maytals, Burning Spear, Prince Buster and Junior English. He also played on pop and rock records, backing among others Joan Armatrading, Godley & Creme, Ian Dury, Jim Capaldi, John Martyn, Paul Young (including the hit Love Of The Common People), Peter Gabriel, Ocean Colour Scene, Super Furry Animals, Amy Winehouse (on Teach Me Tonight), and Tom Jones & Jools Holland

It was a star of the jazz scene who played one of the great sax solos in 1970s pop. Phil Woods had already been an established figure in jazz since the 1950s, as a sideman to some of the biggest names ijn the genre (including the likes of Gillespie and Monk) as well as in his own right. In the 1950s he was seen as a successor to Charlie Parker, whose widow he later married. In the 1970s Woods began to guest on soul and pop songs, backing acts such as Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Phoebe Snow and his old collaborator Quincy Jones on the Sanford & Son theme. But his most famous bit of playing is that marvellous sax solo on Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are in 1977. He also played on Steely Dan’s Doctor Wu, on which fellow sax man Wilton Felder played the bass. So two session musicians on the same song died within a couple of days of one another…


Boomer Castleman, 70, singer-songwriter, guitarist, inventor of the palm pedal, on Sep. 1
Boomer Castleman – Judy Mae (1975)

Brianna Lea Pruett, 32, singer and songwriter, suicide on Sep. 2
Brianna Lea Pruett – Shine For You (2014)

Don Griffin, 60, guitarist of The Miracles (1974-78), in traffic accident on Sep. 3
The Miracles – Love Machine (Part 1) (1975)
Anita Baker – Been So Long (1986, on guitar)

Rico Rodriguez, 80, Cuban-born trombonist of British ska band The Specials, on Sep. 4
Rico Rodriguez – Ska Wars (1977)
Specials – A Message To You Rudy (1979)
Godley & Creme – Englishmen In New York (1981)

Graham Brazier, 63, singer of New Zealand group Hello Sailor, on Sep. 4
Hello Sailor – Blue Lady (1977)

Hal Willis, 82, Canadian country singer, on Sep. 4
Hal Willis – My Pink Cadillac (1956)

Frederick ‘Denny’ Greene, 66, singer with Sha-Na-Na, on Sep. 5
Sha Na Na – Tears On My Pillow (1978)

Guillermo Rubalcaba, 88, Cuban pianist, bandleader and composer, on Sep. 7

Augusta Lee Collins, 69, blues musician, in traffic accident on Sep. 7

Bryn Merrick, 56, bassist of British punk band The Damned (1983-88), on Sep. 12
The Damned – Grimly Fiendish (1985)

Gary Richrath, 65, guitarist and songwriter with REO Speedwagon, on Sep. 13
REO Speedwagon – Only The Strong Survive (1979)

Martin Kearns, 38, drummer of British death metal group Bolt Thrower, on Sep. 14

Peggy ‘Lady Bo’ Jones, 75, American guitarist, on Sep. 16
Bo Diddley – Hey! Bo Diddley (1957, on rhythm guitar and backing vocals)
Eric Burdon & The Animals – San Franciscan Nights (1967, on percussions)

Guy Béart, 85, French singer-songwriter, on Sep. 16
Guy Béart – L’eau vive (1958)

Daniel Kyre, 21, member of Internet music-comedy phenomenon Cyndago, suicide on Sep. 18

Ben Cauley, 67, trumpet player and singer with The Bar-Kays, on Sep. 21
The Bar-Kays – Soul Finger (1967)
Doobie Brothers – Here To Love You (1978)

Victor Démé, 53, Burkinabé singer-songwriter, on Sep. 21
Victor Démé – Djôn’maya (2008)

Ray Warleigh, 76, Australian-born saxophonist and flautist, on Sep. 21
Nick Drake – At The Chime Of A City Clock (1970, on alto sax)

Jamie ‘Brooklyn’ Prefontaine, 30, member of Canadian hip-hop group Winnipeg’s Most, on Sep. 22

Wilton Felder, 75, saxophonist of The Crusaders and session bass player, on Sep. 27
The Crusaders – So Far Away (live, 1974)
Steely Dan – Doctor Wu (1975, on bass; Phil Woods on sax)
Wilton Felder feat. Bobby Womack – (No Matter How High I Get) I’ll Still Be Looking Up To You (1984)

Denise Lor, 86, singer and actress, on Sep. 27
Denise Lor – If I Give My Heart To You (1954)

Frankie Ford, 76, pop singer, on Sep. 28
Frankie Ford – Sea Cruise (1959)

Phil Woods, 83, jazz and session saxophonist and clarinetist, on Sep. 29
Phil Woods – How’s Your Mama (1991)
Billy Joel – Just The Way You Are (1977)

(PW in comments)

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Any Major Soul 1974 – Vol. 1

September 24th, 2015 7 comments


If 1972 and ’73 were the zenith years of soul music, then 1974 was not that far behind in quality. This collection has some marvellous songs, as will the second volume. I think only two songs here are well-known, those by Ann Peebles (covered in the 1980s by Paul Young) and Betty Wright’s anthem to virginity-losing Tonight Is The Night, which now is better known in its glorious live version.

It always is a bit of a gamble starting off a mix with a track by an obscure group; here it is justified with Executive Suite’s delicious slice of Philly Soul. There’s not much to tell about this band which never made a breakthrough after having a bit of a disco hit with the featured track, When the Fuel Runs Out, written and produced by Philly Soul notables Norman Harris, Alan Felder and Bunny Sigler. Their lack of success is a pity; the self-titled LP was pretty great. In the early 1970s the group, then still called The Millionaires, had occasional vocal contributions from a young white singer by the name of Darryl Hall, who actually suggested the name-change to Executive Suite.

If the song Goodbye Nothing To Say by The Javells featuring Nosmo King sounds familiar, it is because Maxine Nightingale’s big 1976 hit Right Back To Where We Started From “sampled” heavily from it. Arguably it shouldn’t be on a soul mix: it appeared on the b-side of an English pop record titled Teenage Love by Nosmo King (the name is a wordplay), a pseudonym for one Stephen Jameson, who now plies his trade as a comedian. Apparently Jameson introduced his song to DJs on England’s Northern Soul circuit, which picked it up. So it does belong here.

New York band The Ace Spectrum released only three albums, of which 1974’s Inner Spectrum was the first. It was produced by songwriter, arranger and producer Patrick Adams whom you may know for his co-composition When You Wake Up Tomorrow for Candi Staton or Cathy Dennis’ 1991 hit Touch Me (All Night Long).

If you have not heard her before, you may well find Bettye Crutcher to be one of the discoveries of this set. Her Long As You Love Me album, released on Stax (for whom she was a staff composer), might have felt two years behind the times in 1974, when much of soul was breathed on by the upbeat vibes of disco. That might explain its lack of success, but, my, what an album it is!

Crutcher co-produced and co-wrote most of the songs with Mack Rice (him of Mustang Sally fame). It was her only album, and received barely any promotion from Stax. When Stax collapsed, Crutcher moved to England and became an antiques dealer. Her songwriting credits, alone or with others, include tracks such as Johnny Taylor’s much-covered Who’s Making Love and Somebody’s Been Sleeping In My Bed , Barbara Mason’s From His Woman To You, William Bell’s My Whole World Is Falling Down, and Betty Wright’s (and later Ted Taylor’s) I’m Gonna Hate Myself In the Morning.

As ever, CD-R timed, covers, PW in comments.

1. Executive Suite – When The Fuel Runs Out
2. The Joneses – Hey Babe (Is The Gettin’ Still Good) Pt 1
3. Ace Spectrum – Don’t Send Nobody Else
4. The Javells feat. Nosmo King – Goodbye Nothing To Say
5. Major Harris – Two Wrongs
6. Betty Wright – Tonight Is the Night
7. Ann Peebles – I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down
8. The Soul Children – It’s Out Of My Hands
9. Lamont Dozier – Rose
10. Johnny Bristol – Reachin’ Out For Your Love
11. Grady Tate – I Wouldn’t Have You Any Other Way
12. Bettye Crutcher – Up For A Let Down
13. Lim Taylor – Isn’t It Wonderful
14. William DeVaughn – You Can Do It
15. Margie Joseph – Sweet Surrender
16. Gloria Scott – What Am I Gonna Do
17. The Manhattans – Don’t Take Your Love From Me
18. Blue Magic – Stop To Start
19. Gene Redding – I Can See The Lovelight
20. Candi Staton – Here I Am Again
21. Sidney Joe Qualls – Run To Me
22. The Four Tops – Right On Brother
23. Brother To Brother – Hey, What’s That You?


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