Great Covers: Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978)

July 12th, 2018 8 comments

 

 

I first wrote this post seven years ago. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of 1978’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town, so it seems a good idea to revive my appreciation for the LP and its cover work, the latter by the words below, the former by a collection of cover versions of its songs, in the proper track order.

One track, Prove It All Night, isn’t a cover, but such a reworking that it might as well be, from Springsteen 1978 tour (from the Agora Ballroom gig in Cleveland, bootleg fans). Just as I was putting this set together, it was announced that Springsteen has released a remastered version of his legendary gig from the same tour at the Roxy in LA. One track here has featured before: the Flying Picket’s a capella version of Factory, which was on the Any Major Springsteen Covers mix that accompanied my review of Bruce’s autobiography.

For many years Darkness On The Edge Of Town, in my view Bruce Springsteen’s greatest album, was rather underrated. The trouble might have been that it produced no hit single, and nothing as exuberant as Born To Run on the preceding album of the same name or Hungry Hearts on 1980’s The River. The album’s title suggests an existential sense of alienation, a loss of hope and a ferocious anger, which is reflected in the songs, in their sound and in their words. The hope of Thunder Road on Born To Run gives way to the despondent resignation of Racing In The Streets on Darkness. The guitar-driven elation of Born To Run here becomes the guitar-driven anger of Candy’s Room or Adam Raised A Cain.

In the publicity blurb for the de luxe CD/DVD set of Darkness, Springsteen describes the album has his “samurai” record. I think of it as his Scorsese album. Mean Streets, the name of Martin Scorsese’s 1973 film, might have been a great alternative title for Springsteen’s only Carter-era LP. The cover complements the feel of the album perfectly. A tired-looking Bruce stands in what looks like a rather dreary apartment. His dishevelled hair calls to mind Al Pacino in Serpico, his penetrating stare Robert de Niro’s. One almost expects John Cazale to lurk behind the closed blinds, ready to embark on some ill-fated adventure or other (alas, that wonderful actor died on 12 March 1978, exactly a week before the completion of the recordings for Darkness , which begun in October 1977).

 

 

Rarely does an album cover condense in one simple photo the whole direction of an album. Photographer Frank Stefanko’s iconic photo of Springsteen did just that – without having heard the songs or knowing what they were about.

Stefanko, who also shot the cover of 1980’s The River, met Springsteen through Patti Smith, who had a big hit in 1978 with Because The Night, one of the many songs Springsteen had recorded for Darkness and then rejected. It was the beginning of a friendship that has survived the intervening three decades. In an interview with Pitchfork, Stefanko recalls doing a test shoot at his home in Haddonfield, New Jersey. More shoots followed, but it was that initial session that generated the cover art for Darkness.

Stefanko told Pitchfork that “the original shoot was just done with my perception of how I thought he wanted to look or how I wanted him to look […] From what I understand, when he looked at the photograph he said, ‘That’s the person that I’m writing about. That’s the person that is the Darkness on the Edge of Town character and that’s what I want on my cover.”

Springsteen recalled the shoot in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian: “He [Stefanko] was a guy who’d worked in a meat-packing plant in south Jersey. He got the 13-year-old kid from next door to hold a light. He borrowed a camera. I don’t know if he even had a camera! But when I saw the picture I said, ‘That’s the guy in the songs.’ I wanted the part of me that’s still that guy to be on the cover. Frank stripped away all your celebrity and left you with your essence. That’s what that record was about.”

In fact, Stefanko, who in 1978 was 32, had owned a camera since he was seven years old, and had been taking photos on a serious basis since the 1960s.

 

 

The Darkness photos may seem casual, snapshots taken on the fly. They were, in fact, the product of a long shoot. On the picture used for the cover, Springsteen wears a white t-shirt. On other photos taken during the same session, he wears a black shirt, and then a hideous purple paisley shirt with the leather jacket he wears on the front cover.

“We were trying to recreate these middle America, working class families; guys that were looking for redemption. It could have been done in the 70s or 50s or even the 40s. The idea was that these people transcended time or space,” Stefanko told Pitchfork. “But we were trying to get something to look like an old Kodacolor snapshot. There were a lot of black and white photographs taken in those sessions too which were very striking in their own right. But the idea of this color photograph that could have been a snapshot in somebody’s drawer worked for the album.”

From all that we learn that Stefanko had pretty awful taste in wallpaper in 1978. The new owners of the house took the right decision to paper over it, but neglected to sell scraps of it, thereby missing one of the great opportunities for profiteering from a photographer’s ugly wallpaper.

Of course this mix easily fits on a standard CD-R. I haven’t made home-gigged covers for this set. PW in comments.

1. Dropkick Murphys – Badlands (2012)
2. Jeff Healey Band – Adam Raised A Cain (1994)
3. Aram – Something In The Night (1997)
4. Maria McKee – Candy’s Room (2005)
5. Emmylou Harris – Racing In The Streets (1982)
6. Frans Pollux – Belaofde Land (Dutch version of Promised Land) (2013)
7. The Flying Pickets – Factory (1984)
8. Graziano Romani – Streets Of Fire (2001)
9. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Prove It All Night (live, 1978)
10. The Winter Blanket – Darkness On The Edge Of Town (2005)

GET IT!

Previous great covers
More Covers Mixes
More Mixed CD-Rs

In Memoriam – June 2018

July 3rd, 2018 2 comments

The man behind Elvis

Did rock & roll drumming take off with Elvis Presley’s drummer D. J. Fontana? No doubt, his stickwork on hits like Hound Dog — which must have sounded like punk to 1950s ears — helped create a template for the future. During a Louisiana Hayride tour in 1955 he joined a drummer-less group called the Blue Moon Boys — guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black and rhythm guitarist and singer Elvis Presley. He’d remain with Elvis for the next 15 years, playing on most of his hits and backing him on the 1968 comeback TV special. He was the last surviving of the four.

End of a 79-year career

In 1939, at the age of nine, Clarence Fountain was one of the founding members of the gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama. He remained with the group, even during a ten-year-long attempt to make it as a solo artist, until 2007 when he retired from performing; but even then continued to record with them. In the process he and his bandmates, almost all of them actually blind, became legends in the genre of gospel. Their first recording was 1948’s I Can See Everybody’s Mother But Mine. As soul music pushed gospel to the margins, the band was tempted to go secular but refused. Fountain said they were contented with what they had and remained committed to singing for the Lord. They steadily released gospel albums, but were “rediscovered” in the 1990s, winning a number of Grammys, leading to profitable collaborations with secular acts. Their version of Tom Wait’s Down In The Hole served as the theme for The Wire for a season. Fountain is survived by fellow founding member Jimmy Carter, who still performs with the band.

The Blues Brother

In the movie, the henpecked Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy didn’t think what he was going to do to Aretha Franklin and went on to join The Blues Brothers on their Mission of God. Murphy had played with The Blues Brothers — a supergroup of blues and soul session men fronted by actors Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi — after a long career playing with the greats of blues, from Ike Turner and Howlin’ Wolf to Chuck Berry, Memphis Slim, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Albert King, Etta James, Otis Rush and so on.

Fleetwood Mac’s ‘unsung hero’

Guitarist Danny Kirwan has been called the “forgotten hero of Fleetwood Mac”, the band he belonged to from 1968-72. It’s his slide guitar that supports Peter Green’s lead on the band’s early instrumental hit Albatross, but in their coked-up LA pomp Fleetwood Mac were rather a different band from the blues-rock outfit Kirwan and Green were part of. The flip-side of Albatross, titled Jigsaw Puzzle Blues, was written by the then-18-year-old. Kirwan has been described as a crucial creative force in the band prior to his involuntary 1972 departure. He released some solo material but increasingly struggled with mental illness and alcoholism, culminating in homelessness at one point.

The Veteran guitarist

Guitarist Bob Bain, who has died at 94 on an unspecified day in June, backed some of the great vocalists, including Billie Holiday (among others, on God Bless This Child), Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Mahalia Jackson, Nat King Cole (apparently on Unforgettable), Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis, Duke Ellington, Billy Eckstine, Ricky Nelson, Sam Cooke and others. He also played for Henry Mancini (apparently also on the Peter Gunn and Mission:Impossile themes) and on several TV scores. For 22 years he played in Doc Severinsen’s Tonight Show Band. He made his last recording in 2008 and last played on stage in 2015, some 70 years after debuting with Harry James and his Orchestra.

The jazz guardian

She was not a musician, but Lorraine Gordon made an indelible contribution to jazz, first as the wife of Blue Note co-founder Alfred Lion, whom she married in 1942, and then as the wife of Max Gordon, owner of the career-making Village Vanguard jazz club in New York’s Greenwich Village. After Max’s death in 1989 she closed the club for a day, and re-opened it the following day under her management. A peace and women’s activist in the 1960s, Gordon also wrote to keep the memory of jazz alive.

The doo wop legend

The Jive Five came on to the doo wop scene rather late in the genre’s heyday, but they turned out to be one of its longer-running acts, in part thanks to the band’s ability to jump on to the soul train in the mid-1960s. With the death this month of lead singer Eugene Pitt, I think only one member of the original line-up is still alive, Billy (Thurmond) Prophet. I was working on a mix of songs featuring in The Sopranos just days before I learnt of Pitt’s death; the Jive Five’s 1961 song What Time Is It? is very much in contention (it featured in Season 1, the scene where Tony dreams of getting head from Dr Melfi).

The Catholic satanist

You wouldn’t expect a devout Roman Catholic to play in a band called Deicide, which is led by a professed Satanist, and proclaim as his favourite song one whose title calls for the death of Jesus. Yet, so it was with metal guitarist Ralph Santolla, who has died at 51 following a heart attack. Many Deicide fans, who unsurprisingly are hostile to the Christianity, apparently didn’t really like Santolla and reportedly even issued death threats against him over his Catholic ways. But Santolla said he’d not betray his faith just to be liked. When he eventually left Deicide, it was over mundane business matters.

 

Demba Nabé, 46, member of German dancehall/rap group Seeed, on May 31

Eddy Clearwater, 83, blues singer and guitarist, on June 1
Eddy Clearwater – I Wouldn’t Lay My Guitar Down (1980)

Clarence Fountain, 88, founding member of gospel band The Blind Boys of Alabama, on June 3
The Blind Boys of Alabama – I Can See Everybody’s Mother But I Can’t See Mine (1948)
Clarence Fountain – Ain’t No Way (1974)
The Blind Boys of Alabama – Way Down In The Hole (2001)
The Blind Boys of Alabama with Lou Reed – Jesus (2009)

Marc Ogeret, 86, French protest singer, on June 4
Marc Ogeret – Le chant des partisans (1990)

Norman Edge, 84, jazz double-bassist, on June 4
Gene Ammons – Ca’ Purange (Jungle Soul) (1968, on double-bass)

Brian Browne, 81, Canadian jazz pianist, on June 5

Teddy Johnson, 98, English singer, on June 6
Teddy Johnson & Pearl Carr – Sing, Little Birdie (1959)

Ralph Santolla, 51, heavy metal guitarist, on June 6

Jimmy Gonzalez, 67, singer with Tejano band Mazz, on June 6

Stefan Weber, 71, Austrian singer, on June 7

Danny Kirwan, 68, British guitarist (Fleetwood Mac 1968-72), on June 8
Fleetwood Mac – Jigsaw Puzzle Blues (1968, also as writer)
Fleetwood Mac – Sands Of Time (1971, also as writer)
Danny Kirwan – Hot Summer Day (1975)

Gino Santercole, 77, Italian singer and songwriter, on June 8
Gino Santercole – Questo Vecchio Pazzo Mondo (1966)

Lorraine Gordon, 95, owner of NYC jazz club Village Vanguard, on June 9
Wynton Marsalis Septet – Midnight In Paris (Live At The Village Vanguard, 1999)

Ras Kimono, 60, Nigerian reggae musician, on June 10

Neal E. Boyd, 42, America’s Got Talent winner 2008, on June 10

Jon Hiseman, 73, English drummer, producer and engineer, on June 12
John Mayall – Sandy (1969, on drums)
Colosseum II – Secret Places (1976, as drummer, writer, producer)

Wayne Dockery, 76, American jazz double bassist, on June 12

D.J. Fontana, 87, rock & roll drummer (Elvis Presley), on June 13
Elvis Presley – Hound Dog (1956, on The Milton Berle Show, on drums)
Elvis Presley – Return To Sender (1962)
Scotty Moore & D.J. Fontana feat. Steve Earle – Hot Enough For Ya (1997)

Santos Blanco, 46, singer of Spanish pop group Locomía, on June 13
Locomía – Locomía (1984)

Matt Murphy, 88, blues guitarist, on June 14
Chuck Berry – Jaguar And Thunderbird (1960)
Koko Taylor – Don’t Mess With The Messer (1969)
The Blues Brothers – Think (1980, on guitar)

Nick Knox, 60, drummer of The Electric Eels and The Cramps, on June 14
The Cramps – Bikini Girls With Machine Guns (1986)

Rebecca Parris, 66, American jazz singer, on June 17
Rebecca Parris – Never Let Me Go (2001)

Delia Bell, 83, bluegrass singer, on June 18
Delia Bell & Bill Grant – Sad Situation (1984)

XXXTentacion, 20, rapper, shot on June 18

Jimmy Wopo, 21, rapper, on June 18

Lowrell Simon, 75, soul singer and songwriter, on June 19
Lowrell – Mellow Mellow (Right On) (1979)

Bansi Quinteros, 41, Spanish keyboardist of Dutch trance duo GMS, on June 19

David Bianco, 63, record producer, engineer and mixer, on June 20
Bruce Springsteen – Trapped (Live) (1980/85, as co-producer)
Lisa Loeb – I Do (1997, as engineer)
Tift Merritt – Another Country (2008, mix)

Vinnie Paul, 54, founding drummer of heavy metal band Pantera, on June 22
Pantera – Cemetery Gates (1990)
Pantera – Revolution Is My Name (2000)

Geoffrey Oryema, 65, Ugandan musician, on June 22
Geoffrey Oryema – Umoja (1993)

Violeta Rivas, 80, Argentine singer and actress, on June 23
Violeta Rivas – Chim Chimenea (1965)

Bob Bain, 94, jazz guitarist, in June
Harry James and his Orchestra – It’s Been A Long, Long Time (1945, on guitar)
Bob Bain – Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)
Carpenters – I Can Dream Can’t I? (1975, on guitar)

George Cameron, 70, drummer and co-lead singer of The Left Banke, on June 24
The Left Banke – She May Call You Up Tonight (1967)

Big Bill Bissonnette, 81, jazz trombonist, drummer, producer, on June 26

Fedor Frešo, 71, Slovak rock and jazz bassist, on June 26

Steve Soto, 54, bassist of punk bands Agent Orange, The Adolescents, on June 27
Adolescents – Amoeba (1981)

Joe Jackson, 89, father and manager of The Jackson 5, on June 27

Eugene Pitt, 80, singer with doo wop band The Jive Five, on June 29
The Jive Five – My True Story (1961)
The Jive Five feat. Eugene Pitt – Sugar (Don’t Take Away My Candy) (1968)

Smoke Dawg, 21, Canadian rapper, shot dead on June 30

Alan Longmuir, 70, founder and bassist of the Bay City Rollers, on July 2
See yesterday’s post

GET IT!
(PW in comments)

Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

Pissing off the Taste Police with the Bay City Rollers

July 2nd, 2018 15 comments

 

To mark the passing today of Bay City Rollers co-founder Alan Longmuir, I’m recycling this article, originally posted on 28 August 2008. I stand by its content.


It was inevitable that the Bay City Rollers would be regarded as the apogee of uncool, even in their pomp. The screaming, barely pubescent girls at their concert one might have overlooked – after all, the Beatles survived that. Even the outfits – tartan and stupid sock-revealing bell bottoms – might have been forgivable. But the juncture of both was too much to accept for the self-respecting music fan. That, and the name of the bassplayer, Stuart “Woody” Wood. Woody!

My rejection of the Bay City Rollers coincided, quite naturally, with the nascent sprouting of pubic hair. Once I had bravely (or obliviously) paddled against the informed mainstream which held BCR in the sort of contempt which two decades later would later be directed at the hapless Hanson. Where I once regarded BCR’s I Only Wanna Be With You as the definitive version of the song – and, well, the only one I knew – I now wished Leslie, Eric and Derek ill. Not on Woody, though, because I liked Woody. I laughed when their post-Leslie McKeown career, with South African teen idol Duncan Faure at lead vocals, flopped.

Still, BCR were my introduction to pop fandom. I don’t know why I chose them, and not, say, Sweet, who had much better songs and whose Poppa Joe was a favourite when I was six. It can’t have been the outfits. Perhaps I just liked Woody’s feather-mullet. But my pre-pubescent band they were. The girls loved them, which seemed to me a good reason to emulate them. So when I read that the Scottish idols wore no underpants, I was at once appalled and fascinated. Of course I tried going commando. That sartorial imitation did not last long on grounds of the jeans’ zipper and stitching chafing my tender scrotum.

I forgave the Bay City Rollers their lapse in hygiene (should the reader be of the commando persuasion, may I implore him at this point to put on some Y-fronts. You never know when you are going to have an accident. And I don’t necessarily mean vehicular mishaps). I even found it in my heart to overlook the personnel changes which followed the departure of Alan Longmuir. It was an odd thing: Alan, who looked 40 even then, was replaced by Ian Mitchell, who looked 12, who in turn was substituted for Pat McGlynn, who looked nine and three-quarters. Before BCR hit the big time – before Woody and Leslie joined and they had a hit with Keep On Dancing – the original members looked like old dudes, held over from Woodstock. Now the new influx was barely older than I was.

Ian and Pat didn’t last long, and the final album with Leslie McKeown on vocals, It’s A Game, was recorded as a foursome, with many of the songs self-penned, mostly by Eric Faulkner and Woody. There was a slightly incongruous cover of Bowie’s Rebel Rebel. On the back cover, our friends had shed not only their shirts, but their trousers seemed to have fallen off too, revealing the folly of going commando (actually, it probably was a comment on shedding the loony tartan outfits). I can’t say that It’s A Game was a poptastic triumph; my BCR infatuation was already waning on account of pubic growth (and here we enter another good argument against going commando). It did, however, deliver a quite magnificent song, You Made Me Believe In Magic. It is exquisite, perfect pop, crying out to be covered and turned into a massive hit (which it was in Japan, where BCR fever contributed to global warming). The title track was not bad either, at least the chorus.

Indeed, a couple of BCR singles could qualify as perfect pop. Saturday Night, with the stuttering chorus, is a bracing bit of glam pop. Likewise 1976’s prescient Yesterday’s Hero, which borrows the live concert effects from Sweet’s Teenage Rampage. It would be regarded as a classic had it been released in 1973 (which would have been two years before it was originally released by Australians Vanda & Young).

Summerlove Sensation, Bye Bye Baby, Rock And Roll Love Letter (“I’ll keep on rock and rollin’ till my jeans explode”), Money Honey, Give A Little Love, Shang-A-Lang, I Only Wanna Be With you are all fine pop records of their era. I wouldn’t want to listen to those every day, but once in a while, when in a ’70s mood, I do enjoy a bit of Bay City Rollers – even without the nostalgia caveat behind which I sometimes hide.

More in Pissing Off The Taste Police
.

Any Major Soul 1977

June 28th, 2018 1 comment

There was still some great soul music made in 1977, but the fuel of the great age was slowly diminishing, unable to compete with disco and slow to find a new direction.

That’s why after a few years that required two volumes each in the Any Major Soul series, 1977 merits only one. Some great tracks didn’t make the cut, and this mix has plenty of great music. Earth, Wind & Fire’s I’ll Write A Song For You, with Philip Bailey’s astonishing falsetto, in particular is a masterpiece, from the best soul album of the year, All ‘N All.

Two artists here turned out to become pastors. The conversion of Al Green, featured here with a track from his first record produced outside Hi Records — was alluded to in my review of his biography. The other future preacher here is O.C. Smith, who some years earlier scored a big hits with The Son of Hickory Holler’s Tramp and Little Green Apples. He has featured here several times; I especially like his contribution to the first Any Major Fathers mix. Smith died in 2001 at the age of 69.

Frederick Knight appears here with the original of a song which two years later was released by K.C. & The Sunshine Band. Betcha Didn’t Know That, which is superior in the cover version, featured on Any Major B-Side (which also featured Al Green). Knight also wrote Anita Ward’s monster 1979 disco hit Ring My Bell. You can see Knight in the superb Wattstax documentary, on the “Black Woodstock” in 1972 (the full film is on YouTube).

The Joneses, not to be confused with the 1980s California rock band, were a harmonising singing quartet from Pittsburgh who initially were championed by Dionne Warwick. The group, whose members were not called Jones, had a minor hit in 1974 with Sugar Pie Guy and something of a disco hit in 1975 with Love Inflation. They then broke up before being briefly revived by member Glenn Dorsey to bring out an eponymous LP in 1977, of which the track featured here, Who Loves You, was the lead single. And that was it for The Joneses.

There is an interesting family connection for Roger Hatcher; his cousin was Edwin Starr (née Charles Hatcher). His brother Willie was a soul singer, too, and his other brother, Roosevelt, a saxophonist. Roger, a prolific songwriter, began recording in 1968 but he changed labels so often that he never enjoyed a breakthrough. In part this was due to Roger’s uncompromising personality, in part due to the manipulative and/or incompetent ways of record executives. Hatcher died in 2002.

The most obscure artist here must be Bill Brantley. As far as I can see, he released two singles under his name, and a few more singles as the latter half of the duo Van & Titus. The track here could have featured in the Covered With Soul series: it’s a version (in my view superior) of a Dr Hook song. It was recorded in Nashville, and the country vibe is evident.

Bill Brandon, who has featured a few times on this site, is another great singer who never made that great breakthrough.  He made his mark in the late 1960s, when Percy Sledge covered his song Self Preservation. He also got some attention for his superb Rainbow Road, a murder ballad written by Dan Penn which was later covered by Arthur Alexander. After a string of singles he finally released his first and only album in 1977. Brandon left the music business in 1987 and became a truck driver and later a night club owner.

There was also just one album for Allspice, who were produced by the Crusaders’ Wayne Henderson — and the jazz fusion influence runs strongly through it. The band — made up of members of three soul groups — appeared to together on another album, Ronnie Laws’ Fever from 1976, which was also produced by Henderson.

The mix closes with a track from The Memphis Horns, who put out a series of albums besides plating on many soul classics. Led by Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love, their 1977 Get Up And Dance album also featured veteran soul saxophonists James Mitchell and Lewis Collins and trombonist Jack Hale.

1. Crown Heights Affair – Dreaming A Dream
2. The Emotions – A Feeling Is
3. High Inergy – Save It For A Rainy Day
4. Linda Clifford – Only Fooling Myself
5. Marlena Shaw – Look At Me-Look At You (We’re Flying)
6. Minnie Riperton – Stay In Love
7. Earth, Wind & Fire – I’ll Write A Song For You
8. Shirley Brown – Blessed Is The Woman (With A Man Like Mine)
9. Al Green – Belle
10. Bill Brantley – A Little Bit More
11. Natalie Cole – Annie Mae
12. Rose Royce – Ooh Boy
13. William Bell – Tryin’ To Love Two
14. Frederick Knight – I Betcha Didn’t Know That
15. The Joneses – Who Loves You
16. Roger Hatcher – Your Love Is A Masterpiece
17. O. C. Smith – Wham Bam (Blue Collar Man)
18. Teddy Pendergrass – I Don’t Love You Anymore
19. Bill Brandon – No Danger Of Heartbreak Ahead
20. Allspice – Destiny
21. Memphis Horns – Keep On Smilin’
BONUS TRACK: Mark Williams – House For Sale

GET IT!

More Any Major Soul

Categories: 70s Soul, Any Major Soul, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major Jones Vol. 2

June 21st, 2018 7 comments

Here are some songs about people named Jones. Like the first compilation on the theme, this mix is pretty eclectic, running from soul music to Americana to ’80s new wave to country and culminating with a couple of pretty amusing tracks from the 1930s by Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald — and all manner of stuff in between.

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

  1. The Temptations – Don’t Let The Joneses Get You Down (1969)
    What the Jones? The poor Jo-Jo-Joneses got a bad rap: “Keeping up with the Joneses, it’ll only makes your life a mess: bill collectors, tranquilizers and getting deeper in debt… So leave Jo-Jo-Joneses alone.”
  2. Nicolette Larson – Dancin’ Jones (1979)
    What the Jones? Representing the noun Jones, here’s the story of a girl who is compelled to “shake her bones” when she hears The Rolling Stones. Let’s call her Amanda.
  3. Talking Heads – Mr. Jones (1988)
    What the Jones? Mr. Jones, he is not so square, apparently. But now his pants are falling down…
  4. John Mellencamp – Case 795 (The Family) (1993)
    What the Jones? Tony Jones stabbed Alice Jones on their first anniversary down in Dallas, Texas. And now sad Tony is in court, citing mitigating circumstances. It’s a sorry tale.
  5. Ryan Bingham – Ghost Of Travelin’ Jones (2007)
    What the Jones? Disappointingly, not a ghost story. Travelin’ Jones is a metaphor for life experience…
  6. Stephen Duffy – Wednesday Jones (1985)
    What the Jones? Wednesday Jones and Stephen won’t be each others’ lover. I suspect Wednesday was put off by Duffy’s nickname, “Tin Tin”.
  7. Ocean Colour Scene – Mrs. Jones (1996)
    What the Jones? Mr. Jones, the cad, has upped and left, and now Mrs. Jones has to face the bills…
  8. The Vapors – Jimmie Jones (1981)
    What the Jones? Jimmie is a false prophet: Beware!
  9. Ray Davies – Next Door Neighbour (2006)
    What the Jones? Mr Davies has a neighbour called Jones. And another called Smith, and another called Brown. Is it a migrant-free zone where Ray lives?
  10. The Rolling Stones – Miss Amanda Jones (1967)
    What the Jones? Debutante Amanda’s gone groupie. Allegedly about 1970s disco singer Amanda Lear.
  11. The Grateful Dead – Casey Jones (1970)
    What the Jones? Stoners-in-charge have a lessons for the kids out there: Don’t do cocaine and drive a train!
  12. Clarence Carter – Willie And Laura Mae Jones (1970)
    What the Jones? Willie and Laura Mae Jones were the perfect neighbours. Then another place and another time happened… This song featured in another version on Volume 1 — can you guess the difference?
  13. Stevie Wonder – Do I Love Her (1968)
    What the Jones? Stevie declares his love for Ms Jones to her mother. But will mom approve?
  14. Van Dyke Parks – John Jones (1972)
    What the Jones? Van Dyke Parks thinks John Jones is a bit of an asshole. Do you know a John Jones?
  15. Dwight Yoakam – Floyd County (1988)
    What the Jones? A good man has died and it’s a sad day in Floyd County.
  16. Johnny Cash – Roll Call (1967)
    What the Jones? Atkins, Baker, Carter, Calahan, Clement, Johnson, Moran, McCoy, Perkins, Rivers, Revere, Stepherd, Thomas, Wilson… all fell in the mud of Vietnam. As did Jones.
  17. Buck Owens – Sweet Rosie Jones (1968)
    What the Jones? Sweet Rosie Jones left Buck for a tall dark stranger, and now spurned Buck is at the river’s edge… Don’t do it, Buck! Don’t jump!
  18. Cisco Houston – Great July Jones (1958)
    What the Jones? So big July Jones, “All muscle, meat and bones”, tries to sexually assault a woman, she beats him off, he falls in love and proposes marriages, and she tweets “#metoo, motherfucker”. Except, she doesn’t. It’s 1958, not 2018. She says yes.
  19. The McGuire Sisters – Delilah Jones (1956)
    What the Jones? “High flying flootie” gets ripped off by fraudulent loverman and pumps him full of lead.
  20. The Orioles – Deacon Jones (1950)
    What the Jones? Deacon Jones is laid out in his coffin in church, and all sorts of hi-jinx ensue. (Not to be confused with Deacon Jones, “the country’s greatest lover”, in Louis Jordan’s hit of a few years earlier.)
  21. The Mills Brothers – The Jones Boy (1954)
    What the Jones? The whole town talks about how that nice Jones boy is acting peculiar now, but there’s a reason for that (and the reason is, to be truthful, a bit unexciting).
  22. Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five – Sam Jones Done Snagged His Britches (1939)
    What the Jones? Best song title on this mix. It’s a cautionary tale about gambling, kids. So, don’t gamble. And don’t do cocaine while driving trains.
  23. King Cole Trio – Mutiny In The Nursery (1938)
    What the Jones? There’s a hell of a party going on, what with all the jitterbugging, as the kids call it. And you’ll find Miss Jenny Jones swinging lightly.
  24. Chick Webb & his Orchestra feat. Ella Fitzgerald – FDR Jones (1938)
    What the Jones? A satirical number about the large number of black families naming their children after Franklin D Roosevelt; performed three years later by Judy Garland – in blackface. Will someone do a song in orangeface about white supremacist families naming their babies after Donald J Trump?

GET IT!

More Mix CD-Rs

Categories: Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 9

June 14th, 2018 5 comments

Just as I thought that I might have wrapped up the series of AOR stuff about which one need never feel guilty, I felt like putting together another mix — in fact, two, but presently I shall share the first of those; and the ninth in the series. This stuff is addictive.

Aside from an aversion to the letter G in the endin’ of a word and some really awful lyrics, the acts here share in common a knack for a good hook, and high standards of musicianship.

Some come from a jazz fusion background.  Jeff Lorber is better-known as a fusion musician; doing vocals for him here are Arnold McCuller and Sylvia St. James. McCuller is a recording artist in his own right, having released six albums, but also has prolific track record in backing vocals, including on The Jackson’s Can You Feel It and Odyssey’s Native New Yorker. He has also backed two acts that appear on this mix: Brooklyn Dreams and Stephen Bishop — and Sylvia St. James on one of her two albums.

Brooklyn Dreams had greater success as the backing outfit for Donna Summer in the late 1970s than with their own records (they wrote Bad Girls, among other songs). The trio scored two minor hits; one of them was the track featured here, which has been liberally sampled in hip hop. Lead singer Joe Esposito went on to write scores for hit movies like Flashdance and The Karate Kid; keyboardist Bruce Sodano went on to marry Donna Summer.

Featured here as The Dukes, Dominic Bugatti & Frank Musker recorded also as a duo under their own names. But they made more of a mark as songwriters. Not everything they wrote was gold: our friends wrote the 1977 UK hit Reggae Like It Used To Be (which should have had as its subtitle A White Man’s Lament) for Paul Nicholas. They wrote another track featured here, Air Supply’s Every Woman In The World.

You might not know Junior Campbell, but you likely have heard his biggest hit: Reflections Of My Life, which he co-wrote as Marmalade’s lead guitarist with singer Dean Ford (the guitar solo is by Campbell). After leaving Marmalade in 1971, he scored a couple of UK hits with Hallelujah Freedom and Sweet Illusion. He later went into producing and arranging, as well as writing scores. In the latter endeavour, he wrote prolifically for the children’s TV series Thomas The Tank Engine.

Canadian singer Craig Ruhnke didn’t really have a great rock & roll name, and he looked more like a geography teacher than a rock star. Still, Mr Ruhnke was a regular on Canada’s airwaves, and periodically troubled the country’s charts. He also enjoyed attention in Japan, as you do.  By 1983 he had founded his own independent label, from which the present track came. After a while he turned to producing music for commercials but continued to release new songs from time to time.

And if Ruhnke is not really the name to propel you to mega-stardom, the moniker Fred Knoblock is not likely to either. On the staff of Mr Ruhnke’s school, Mr Knoblock was the coach (others on the teaching body included Mesrrs. Walter Egan, James Felix, Bruce Hibbard and Stephen Bishop). Still, his name notwithstanding, Fred Knoblock has enjoyed a Top 20 hit, and his career has merited induction into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame.

As ever, CD-R length, home-yachted covers, PW in comments.

1. Far Cry – The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ (1980)
2. Jackson Browne – Somebody’s Baby (1982)
3. James Felix – Open Up (1980)
4. Boz Scaggs – Georgia (1976)
5. Brooklyn Dreams – Music Harmony & Rhythm (1977)
6. Jeff Lorber – Your Love Has Got Me (1981)
7. The Dukes – So Much In Love (1982)
8. Walter Egan with Stevie Nicks – Magnet And Steel (1980)
9. Jim Capaldi – That’s Love (1983)
10. Robbie Dupree – Free Fallin’ (1981)
11. Fonda Feingold – Feelin’ Your Love (1978)
12. Eric Tagg – A Bigger Love (1982)
13. Pablo Cruise – Atlanta June (1977)
14. Craig Ruhnke – Give Me The Nighttime (1983)
15. Stephen Bishop – Save It For A Rainy Day (1976)
16. Air Supply – Every Woman In The World (1980)
17. Junior Campbell – Highland Girl (1978)
18. Karla Bonoff – Personally (1982)
19. Fred Knoblock – It’s Over (1980)
20. Bruce Hibbard – Never Turnin’ Back (1980)

GET IT!

Not Feeling Guilty Mix 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 3
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 4
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 5
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 6
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 7
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 8

Categories: In the middle of the road Tags:

Own Goal – The Singing Footballers

June 7th, 2018 15 comments

own_goal_1

Their goals might cause you distress, if they are scored against your team. But no torment the stars of football (or soccer, as some call it) might inflict upon you can compare to the furious torture I am unleashing with this mix of unmitigated crap. And yet, if you are football fan, you might actually want to hear it, even four years after I first posted this mix.

In fact, you should. Art consists not only of beauty, but also expresses the dissonant dystopian future/present in which we are caught. And few do so more eloquently than football legend Johan Cruyff in his oompah-band stomper “Oei Oei Oei (Dat was me weer een loei)”, for in no language can you locate greater dystopian dissonance than in Dutch. Be careful, you might sing along with the honey-voiced Johan.

On July 7 the world will observe the 44th anniversary of West Germany beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the World Cup final (and let’s put to rest the legend of lucky Germany: in the second half they had a clear goal disallowed and an obvious penalty denied. So, 4-1). The winner was scored in the 43rd minute by Gerd Müller, the greatest goal scorer ever, who anticipated his subsequential valiance in flat monotone in the same year of Cruyff’s aural assault.

The captain in 1974 was Franz Beckenbauer, who stayed clear from footballing sentiment in his heavy-accented 1966 Schlager hit. It nevertheless kicks off with the rhythmic clapping which seems to begin every football song of the era, just in case we mistake Franz for a serious singer. Which, it must be said, is fair enough.

More lately, players have turned to hip hop and dance music, usually with the help of some friends. France’s Karim Benzema did so to best effect in 2010, using the platform with French rapper Rohff to slag off previous France coach Raymond Domenech and express his dislike for Barcelona.

Not everybody shares Benzema’s bad-minding ways. On his record with something called Brings, Germany’s Lukas Podolski is asked whether he can sing. Podi responds, bright as a flash, by asking whether Brings can play football. It’s a relevant point to raise, in the event that Brings ever try to enter the world of professional football. The song is quite deplorable, so perhaps Brings might indeed be urged to seek a different career.

own_goal_2Unbelievably, some footballers genuinely thought that they had the talent to contribute to the world of pop in ways beyond the disposable arena of novelty. Kevin Keegan, with his Smokie-produced effort comes closest, but there is a reason why the whole world didn’t luvv it, just luvved it.

The contributions by Ruud Gullit (that cover!),  Andy Cole (doing bad things to the Gap Band) and Ian Wright are pretty dismal, but none was as appalling as Glenn Hoddle & Chris Waddle’s UK #12 hit “Diamond Lights”, a mulletted horror so offensive I felt compelled to exclude it from this CD-R timed mix for reasons of lacking in quality, for crying out loud (it’s there as a “bonus”, as is the worthy anti-apartheid “South Africa”, which Gullit recorded with reggae outfit Revelation Time).

Cameroon legend Roger Milla does a straight song, about fatherhood. He has no discernible musical talent, however; the whole debacle is mitigated by the vocals of the talented Senegalese singer Julia Sarr. This was a single from Milla’s album Saga Africa. Imagine what the rest is like!

In the late 1980s, John Barnes was British football’s King of Rap. To this day, British hip hop fans whisper in hushed tones: “Before Dre, before Pac, before Snoop, before MC Hammer, there was Liverpool attacking midfield sensation John Barnes.” Barnes rapped on the notorious “Anfield Rap”, which reached #3 in the UK charts, in anticipation of Liverpool’s defeat to AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup final. Britain remembered, and in 1990 he was allowed to rap on New Order’s World Cup song “World In Motion”. He gave us what one night describe as a sing-song accumulation of words which is a lot worse than the middle-age white dudes’ conception of rap as perpetrated in the box-office hit Three Men and A Little Lady of the same year.

What John Barnes could do, Paul Gascoigne thought he could do better. So he ventured into the sidestreet as rapping icon Gazza, and enriched the body of hip hop with the incisive social commentary of “Gazza’s Rap”. The backing track exploits every cliché of early 1990s dance music; Gazza’s rapping draws its influence from Kenny Everett’s “Snot Rap” from 1983.

One can laugh at almost every vocally-disoriented, good-sense-deprived footballer featured here, but Clint Dempsey’s rap gets a bye —he sounds even scarier than John Barnes and might seek me out to bust a cap in my ass, to employ the jargon of the circles in which Dempsey moves. There is no cause for mirth in Pelé’s bossa nova number; dude can’t sing, but it is quite nice.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Your moms want to bang him.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Your moms want to bang him.

 

The biggest laugh must be reserved for Cristiano Ronaldo’s bid at usurping Julio Iglesias’ crooner crown. It might have been for a TV commercial, but if Portugal’s Banco Espírito Santo in their best judgment thought it was okay to unleash the crooning talents of young Ron upon the world, I don’t think I would trust them with my hard-earned cash.

This whole catastrophe is timed to fit on a CD-R, though I cannot conceive of any earthly circumstances which might drive you to committing this on to a disc. So I have not bothered to make home-scored covers. PW in comments.

1. New Order feat. John Barnes – World In Motion (1990)
2. Edcity & Ronaldinho – Vai Na Fé (2014)
3. Pelé & Gracinha – Meu Mundo é Uma Bola (1977)
4. Cristiano Ronaldo – Amor mio (2009)
5. Canelita feat Sergio Ramos – A Quien Le Voy A Contar Mis Penas (2012)
6. Castro feat. Asamoah Gyan – African Girls (2011)
7. Youri (Djourkaeff) – Vivre dans ta lumière (2000)
8. Andy Cole – Outstanding (1999)
9. Kevin Keegan – Head Over Heels In Love (1979)
10. Ruud Gullit – Not The Dancing Kind (1984)
11. Ian Wright – Do The Right Thing (1993)
12. Brings feat. Lukas Podolski – Halleluja (2012)
13. Rohff feat. Karim Benzema – Fais moi la passe (2010)
14. Clint Dempsey – Don’t Tread On This (2011)
15. Jay Jay Okocha – I I Am Am J J (1994)
16. TKZee & Benni McCarthy – Shibobo (1998)
17. Roger Milla – Sandy (1991)
18. Gazza (Paul Gascoigne) – Geordie Boys (1990)
19. Johan Cruyff – Oei Oei Oei (Dat was me weer een loei) (1969)
20. Franz Beckenbauer – Gute Freunde kann niemand trennen (1966)
21. Gerd Müller – Dann macht es bumm (1969)
Bonus: Glenn (Hoddle & Chris (Waddle) – Diamond Lights (1987)
Bonus: Revelation Time & Ruud Gullit – South Africa (1988)

GET IT!

*     *     *

More Mix-CD-Rs

Categories: Mix CD-Rs Tags:

In Memoriam – May 2018

May 29th, 2018 6 comments

This month May’s dead and their music come to you before the month is out, due to travelling schedules. It has been another fairly easy-going month. In 2016 the never-ending streak of superstar deaths culminated in the election of Donald Trump. Maybe the unusually quiet year 2018 is preparing the way for the monster’s political demise. What’s that phrase he used to chant about Hilary Clinton?

The funky drummer

May started on a shitty note as James Brown drummer John Jabo Starks died at 79, just over a year after his fellow J.B.’s drummer Clyde Stubblefield passed on. Starks and Stubblefield are likely the most-sampled drummers. Apart from laying down the funky beats for Brown, Starks also drummed for blues legends like Bobby “Blue” Bland and B.B. King.

The inventor’s Satisfaction

Often great innovations have their roots in misadventure. So it as with Glenn Snoddy’s greatest legacy: the invention of the fuzz guitar pedal which came to define the Nashville Sound and found its most famous expression in the intro riff of the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction. Snoddy was engineering Marty Robbins’ 1960 song Don’t Worry when he noticed a distortion in Grady Martin’s guitar (coming at 1:24). He found that the transformer in the amplifier had blown up. But the effect was great and so it was retained on record. It proved so popular that Snoddy set about inventing a device which could easily create that sound. Snoddy also engineered some classic country tracks, including Hank Williams’ Your Cheating Heart and Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire. In 1967 he set up his own studio, Woodlands, were classics like the Charlie Daniels Band’s The Devil Went Down To Georgia, The Oak Ridge Boys’ Elvira and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s album Will The Circle Be Unbroken was recorded. Oh, and he was the one who hired Kris Kristofferson as the janitor atColumbia, which would lead to great things.

Triple-force

Reggie Lucas made his mark in three fields of record-making: he was a fine guitarist who served a sideman to Miles Davis and others in the 1970s; he was a producer for Madonna (on her debut album), Randy Crawford, The O’Jays, The Spinners, Stephanie Mills, Lou Rawls, Phyllis Hyman and others; and he was a songwriter of classic soul tracks like Mills’ Never Knew Like This Before, Hyman’s You Know How To Love Me, Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway’s Back Together Again and The Closer I Get To You, as well as Madonna’s Borderline. For a brief time, he was a member of the soul-funk trio Sunfire.

The last dance

One of the most delightfully dark songs of the 1960s must be Esther & Abi Ofarim’s One More Dance, wherein two lovers regard the illness and eventual death of the woman’s rich husband with undisguised glee. I hope that when he died at 80, Abi Ofarim had nobody observing his demise with such relish. He and Esther divorced in 1970, after scoring hits such as Cinderella Rockefella and the Bee Gees-written Morning Of My Life. He kept recording and arranging, and also acted as a manager. In recent years he founded a project for impoverished seniors in Munich.

The Schlager paradox

A better example of German Schlager was provided by singer Jürgen Marcus, who has passed away at 69. Marcus is a good summary of Schlager music: like so much in the genre, his music was banal and yet often inventive, catchy yet embarrassing; his image was square and ingratiatingly conventional, yet he was secretly gay (of a conservative sort; he later come out, but opposed gay marriage because of his Catholic beliefs). He was the son-in-law every mom wanted for their daughter, and not a few moms wanted for themselves. His songs sometimes abruptly changed genre in mid-track: listen to Ein Festival der Liebe: it’s standard Schlager fare, including oompah intro, until  the bridge slows things down and morphs into a samba-influenced chant-along interlude interrupts proceedings, and then resumes to the clap-along gumph the Germans are so fond of.

The Williams brother

With his brothers, including the younger and more eventually more famous Andy, Dick Williams began performing on radio as a pre-teen in 1938 as The Williams Brothers. It was the start of a long career during which they appeared in four movies, backed Bing Crosby, and formed a popular nightclub act with the singer and actress Kay Thompson. While Andy Williams became one of the most popular entertainers of his time, Dick joined Dick James’ band as a singer.

 

John ‘Jabo’ Starks, 79, drummer with James Brown’s J.B.s, on May 1
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland – Turn On Your Love Light (1961, on drums)
The J.B.’s – Pass The Peas (1972, on drums, also as co-writer)
James Brown – Super Bad (1970, on drums)
James Brown – The Payback (1973, on drums, also as writer)

Stu Boy King, 64, drummer with proto-punk band The Dictators (1974-75), on May 1
The Dictators – The Next Big Thing (1975)

Takayuki Inoue, 77, lead guitarist of Japanese rock band The Spiders, on May 2
The Spiders – Hey Boy (1966)

Tony Cucchiara, 80, Italian singer and songwriter, on May 2
Tony Cucchiara – Gioia mia (1965)

Tony Kinman, 62, (cow)punk singer and bassist, on May 3
The Dils – I Hate The Rich (1977)
Rank And File – Rank And File (1984)

Abi Ofarim, 80, Israeli musician, on May 4
Esther & Abi Ofarim – Morning Of My Life (1967)
Esther & Abi Ofarim – Cinderella Rockafella (1968)
Abi Ofarim & Tom Winter – Slow Motion Man (1973)

Steve Coy, 56, member of English pop band Dead or Alive, on May 4
Dead Or Alive – In Too Deep (1985)

Dick Williams, 91, singer with vocal group The Williams Brothers, on May 5
Bing Crosby – Swinging On A Star (1944, on co-vocals)
Harry James and his Orchestra – Mona Lisa (1950, on lead vocals)

Maurane, 57, Belgian singer and actress, on May 7

Gayle Shepherd, 81, member of vocal group Shepherd Sisters, on May 7
The Shepherd Sisters – Alone (Why Must I Be Alone) (1957)

Big T, 52, American rapper, on May 7

Carl Perkins, 59, member of New Zealand reggae band House of Shem, on May 9

Sammy Allred, 84, country entertainer, on May 9
The Geezinslaw Brothers – Change Of Wife (1967)

Ben Graves, 46, drummer of heavy metal band Murderdolls, on May 9

Scott Hutchison, 36, Scottish singer, songwriter and guitarist, suicide on May 10
Frightened Rabbit – Living In Colour (2010)

Glenn Branca, 69, avant-garde composer and guitarist, on May 23

Hideki Saijo, 63, Japanese pop singer, on May 16
Saijo Hideki – Young Man (1979)

Jack Reilly, 86, jazz pianist and academic, on May 18

Philip ‘Nchipi’ Tabane, 84, South African jazz singer and musician, on May 18
Philip Tabane – Ba Nyaka Ke Wele (1969)

Reggie Lucas, 65, producer, guitarist and songwriter, May 19
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – The Closer I Get To You (1978, as co-writer)
Mtume – So You Wanna Be A Star (1980, as producer & guitarist)
Sunfire – Young, Free And Single (1982, as member, producer, guitarist)
Randy Crawford – Almaz (1986, as producer)

Glenn Snoddy, 96, engineer and inventor of the fuzz guitar pedal, on May 19
Hank Williams – Your Cheatin’ Heart (1952, as engineer)
Marty Robbins – Don’t Worry (1960, as engineer)
Billy Joe Royal – Hush (1967, as producer)

Phil Emmanuel, 65, Australian guitarist, on May 24
Phil & Tommy Emmanuel – The Shaker (1994)

Roger Clark, 67, Muscle Shoals drummer, on May 24
Narvel Felts – Reconsider Me (1975, on drums)
Bill Brandon – No Danger Of Heartbreak Ahead (1977, on drums)

Andy MacQueen, bassist of Australian pop-punk band Exploding White Mice, on May 27
Exploding White Mice – Always Ends The Same (1994)

Stewart Lupton, 43, singer of indie group Jonathan Fire*Eater, on May 28
Jonathan Fire*Eater – Station Coffee (1997)

Josh Martin, guitarist of grindcore band Anal Cunt, in an escalator accident on May 28

Jürgen Marcus, 69, German Schlager singer, on May 29
Jürgen Marcus – Eine neue Liebe ist wie ein neues Leben (1972)
Jürgen Markus – Ein Festival der Liebe (1973)

GET IT!
(PW in comments)

Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

Any Major Music from ‘The Deuce’

May 24th, 2018 5 comments

In many TV shows, music plays a character in its own right. A song on the radio can portend a looming crisis or the state of mind of two lovers in bed (with their Z-shaped sheet). The 2017 HBO drama The Deuce used music to brilliant effect to help set the scene of early 1970s in New York City’s underbelly of prostitution, pornography, police corruption and organised crime.

The series had no orchestral score to guide the viewer; that job is done by the incidental music — on the radio, from passing cars, on a juke box, etc. George Pelecanos, co-producer of The Deuce with David Simon (they also did The Wire and Treme together), has explained that much thought went into choosing the right song for each scene. Music placement on TV is never random, but here extraordinary thought went into it.

Much of the music draws from the pool of late-1960s, early-’70s soul and funk. With the setting being the underworld, and many of the protagonists being black, there must have been a temptation to litter the soundtrack with blaxploitation film music (The Tarantino Option, as I call it). Pelecanos said that this would have been inauthentic; people didn’t play that stuff on their HiFis or on the juke-box. It would have been clichéd and was wisely avoided.

Music supervisor Blake Leyh explained in Billboard that “we made a conscious decision to feature lesser-known tracks to a large degree – although we have some of the more obvious favorites like James Brown and the Velvet Underground when appropriate. But much of the music is more likely found in a record collector’s obscurities bin.”

Starting with the smartly chosen theme song, Curtis Mayfield’s discombobulating If There’s A Hell Below We’re All Going To Go, there are songs that communicate purely by their sound the pressure and violence of that world. Other times there’s the old but useful trick of contrasting a sweet tune with cruelty on screen (one that was employed to particularly memorable effect in The Sopranos, when the weakened Tony Soprano beats up his hapless and innocent driver in a show of strength; all the while the cheerful doo wop tune Every Day Of The Week by The Students is playing).

Pernell Walker, James Franco and Maggie Gyllennhaal in a scene from HBO’s series The Deuce.

As it is with many other TV shows, the choice of music used in them presents us with a treasure of new songs to discover or to revisit forgotten tracks.

Pleasingly, the songs featured in The Deuce, other than the closing theme (by The Wire alumnus Lafayette Gilchrist), fit into the time-frame of the show. An exception is Johnnie Taylor’s Standing In For Jody in Episode 1, set in 1971. The song came out only in 1972 (perhaps the musical directors thought of Taylor’s 1970 song Jody’s Got Your Girl And Gone). And if that is the extent to which one can nitpick, then the music supervisors did a fantastic job.

Few songs here have been used in other TV shows, but Darondo’s sublime Didn’t has been used in several other TV shows: Ray Donovan (another series with excellent music), Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, I’m Dying Up Here and the shortlived Lovesick.

The present mix is a small selection of music featured in the show’s eight episodes (the first episode alone featured close to 30 songs). I’ve tried to create a bit of a story arch: The mix begins with the Mayfield theme, and ends with the Ray Charles track that plays in the jukebox as the series concludes, followed by the closing theme.

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

1. Curtis Mayfield – If There’s A Hell Below We’re All Going To Go (1970)
2. Rufus Thomas – (Do The) Push And Pull (Part 1) (1970)
3. Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – Treat Her Like A Lady (1971)
4. James Brown – Out Of Sight (1965)
5. Darondo – Didn’t I (1972)
6. The Manhattans – I Don’t Wanna Go (1969)
7. James Carr – These Ain’t Raindrops (1969)
8. Lee Williams & The Cymbals – Peeping Through The Window (1967)
9. Johnnie Taylor – Standing In For Jody (1972)
10. Ann Peebles – I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home Tonight (1971)
11. Dusty Springfield – Haunted (1971)
12. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Don’t Pull Your Love (1971)
13. The Guess Who – These Eyes (1969)
14. Velvet Underground – Pale Blue Eyes (1969)
15. The Persuaders – Thin Line Between Love And Hate (1971)
16. The Notations – A New Day (1971)
17. Honey Cone – Want Ads (1971)
18. Jean Knight – Mr. Big Stuff (1971)
19. War – Slippin’ Into Darkness (1971)
20. George McGregor & The Bronzettes – Temptation Is Too Hard To Fight (1967)
21. The Temptations – Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (1971)
22. The Lovettes – I Need A Guy (1967)
23. Ray Charles – Careless Love (1962)
24. Lafayette Gilchrist – Assume The Position (2004)

GET IT!

More Music from TV Shows
More Mix CD-Rs

Stars Pick Your Songs Vol. 3: Celebs

May 17th, 2018 1 comment

This is the third mix of songs chosen by guests on the long-running BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs. This time, celebs of various backgrounds are choosing their music for your listening pleasure.

Most of them are British, though some are world-famous, like zillionaire Bill Gates, boxer George Foreman, author Bill Bryson, tennis legend John McEnroe, footballer David Beckham, survivalist Bear Grylls, Facebook chief Sheryl Sandberg, over-the-hill comedian Ricky Gervais, 1960s model Twiggy etc.

In any case, the concept is just the framework for putting together a fun eclectic mix that opens with the Sex Pistols anthem of no future and closes with a song promising the return of happy days, chosen in the middle of a war.

The concept of Desert Island Discs, which had remained unchanged since it first aired in 1942, is that the invited guest chooses eight songs he or she would take with them to a lonely island. In the course of often revealing interviews, they explain why they chose those songs. A massive collection of Desert Island Discs episodes is available for download in the form of MP3 podcasts from the BBC website.

The mix ends with a song selected by the first-ever castaway. On that debut Desert Island Disc, broadcast on 29 January 1942, British actor and comedian Vic Oliver chose British bandleader Jack Hylton’s 1930 version of Happy Days Are Here Again. It’s a quite remarkable choice, coming right in the middle of World War 2.

As ever, CD-R length, home-picked covers, PW in comments.

1. Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen (1977 – John McEnroe,2017)
2. The Jam – Going Underground (1980 – Lee Mack,2013)
3. David Bowie – Starman (1972 – Stella McCartney,2017)
4. The Rolling Stones – Wild Horses (1971 – David Beckham,2017)
5. Al Green – So Tired Of Being Alone (2012 – Michael Johnson,2012)
6. The Temptations – I Wish It Would Rain (1967 – George Foreman,2003)
7. Booker T & the MGs – Soul Limbo (1968 – Gary Lineker,1990)
8. Prince – Raspberry Beret (1985 – Steve McQueen,2014)
9. The La’s – There She Goes (1988 – Jamie Oliver,2002)
10. Counting Crows – A Long December (1996 – Sheryl Sandberg,2017)
11. Bright Eyes – First Day Of My Life (2005 – James Corden,2012)
12. Loudon Wainwright III – Your Mother And I (1986 – Bill Bryson,1998)
13. Cat Stevens – Lilywhite (1970 – Ricky Gervais,2007)
14. Johnny Cash & June Carter – Jackson (1967 – Bear Grylls,2012)
15. The Beatles – She’s A Woman (1964 – Brian Epstein,1964)
16. Roy Orbison – Only The Lonely (1960 – Billy Connolly,2004)
17. Ella Fitzgerald – Do I Love You (1956 – Stephen Fry,2015)
18. Edith Piaf – Les amants d’un jour (1956 – Marcel Marceau,1972)
19. Billy Joel – New York State Of Mind (1976 – Brian Cox,2012)
20. Willie Nelson – Blue Skies (1980 – Bill Gates,2016)
21. Francis Ruffelle – On My Own (1985 – Twiggy,1989)
22. Jack Hylton and his Orchestra – Happy Days Are Here Again (1930 – Vic Oliver,1942)

GET IT!

More stars picking your songs
More Mixed CD-Rs

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Stars pick your songs Tags: