NYC – Any Major Mix Vol. 2

September 11th, 2018 4 comments

 

 

This is Volume 2 of the New York mixes, though it is really the third, after the first mix and the New York in Black & White collection.

The photo on the cover comes from a beautiful series of colour photos of New York in the 1940s from the Charles W Cushman collection.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and, as mentioned above, includes home-bronxed covers. PW in comments, where you are invited to say hello.

1. Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Jules Munchin – New York, New York (excerpt) (1949)
NYC hook: It’s our three sailor friends’ first time in New York, and having just arrived on shore leave (happily in New York, not in LA where they might have gone on to beat up Mexicans), they already presume it to be “a helluva town” because “the Bronx is up, but the Battery’s down”. Additionally, “the people ride in a hole in the ground” (as they do in many other cities, so big deal, chums).

2. Frank Sinatra & Tony Bennett – New York New York (1994)
NYC hook: Let’s face it, our boy from Hoboken was a promiscuous man when it came to American cities. Chicago? His kind of town! L.A.? It’s a lady he can’t say goodbye to. Las Vegas? He made it! And New York? Well, more of a challenge than a love affair; it seems. By the way, the song needs no high-kicks, party goers.

3. Theme – Seinfeld (1989)
NYC hook: Would Seinfeld have worked had it been set anywhere else? Nah!

4. Klaatu – Sub-Rosa Subway (1976)
NYC hook: The song that caused speculation about a clandestine Beatles reunion. Alas, it was just a bunch of Canadians with a funny name singing about Alfred Beach, the man who built America’s first subway in New York, based on the London Underground. (More on Beach)

5. NRBQ – Boys In The City (1972)
NYC hook: You might leave New York for the country, but you’ll still sing about “the trees in the Park”.

6. Harry Nilsson – I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City (1969)
NYC hook: New York as the new Jerusalem instead of its usual role as a fetid Babylon. So Harry makes his pilgrimage to the city permanent, leaving all his sorrows behind. Same year, he soundtracked Hoffman and Voight’s exit from bad, bad NYC.

7. John Lennon – New York City (1972)
NYC hook: The Statue of Liberty told Lennon to come. Come to the city where he would be murdered…

8. Kevin Devine – Brooklyn Boy (2006)
NYC hook: The eponymous lad is doing coke on his birthday, prompting Kev — rarely a herald of rampant cheer — to launch into an apocalypso.

9. Ian Hunter – Central Park N West (1981)
NYC hook: Hunter obviously hates living in stinky, crime-ridden, burning New York City. Except he doesn’t: “You’ve got to be crazy to live in the city, and New York city’s the best.”

10. Donavan Frankenreiter – Spanish Harlem Incident (2007)
NYC hook: A rather decent cover of Dylan’s 1964 song about having steamy, casual interracial sex.

11. Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street (1972)
NYC hook: 110th Street is the street that divides Harlem and Manhattan. Bob is not painting a pretty picture of what lies at the other side of Manhattan: pimps and hookers, pushers and junkies jostling on the streets of “the capital of every ghetto town”.

12. Billy Joel – New York State Of Mind (1976)
NYC hook: The New Yorker might leave the city for Miami Beach or for Hollywood, but if they are anything like Bronx-born, Long Island-raised Billiam, they’ll miss the New York Times and Daily News (but not the Post, it seems) so much, they’ll feel compelled to return.

13. Ella Fitzgerald – Manhattan (1956)
NYC hook: On his wonderful radio show, Bob Dylan described the Rodgers & Hart song as a love letter to New York City. Who knew that Zimmerman had a way with words? Ella is full of giddy tenderness as she provides us with a partial road map of the city. Are pushcarts still gliding gently on Mott Street?

14. Hem – Great Houses Of New York (live) (2006)
NYC hook: Native New Yorkers Hem don’t need to mention the city in a song that incorporates its name in the title to prove that it’s set there. It suffices to refer to NYC’s winter climate as a metaphor for a dying relationship, a recurring theme in Hem’s beautiful songs.

15. The Mamas & The Papas – Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon) (1968)
NYC hook: The Mamas and the Papas lived in New York before moving to Hawaii and then to California. It seems fair to say that they didn’t dig New York — “every thing there was dark and dirty “ — and this is their fuck-you note to the city. Most likely, the Daily News won’t be enough to lure them back.

16. Odyssey – Native New Yorker (1977)
NYC hook: Two decades before Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City made her, erm, acute observations about the politics of sex, Odyssey had it already figured out: “No one opens the door for a native New Yorker.” So, like, take charge of your life yourself, girl!

17. Elkow Bones & The Racketeers – A Night In New York (1983)
NYC hook: A sadly ignored club gem whose horns sounds like New York traffic to me. Delicious.

18. Nicole with Timmy Thomas – New York Eyes (1985)
NYC hook: What in the name of all that’s ophthalmological are these New York Eyes that have short-lived soul starlet Nicole attracted to ’70s soulster Timmy Thomas (who I presume provides the groovy keyboard here)? Whatever they are, reciprocally gazing at Nicole’s NY eyes, they make Timmy feel good inside.

19. Beastie Boys – An Open Letter To NYC (2005)
NYC hook: And it’s another love letter: “Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten, from the Battery to the top of Manhattan. Asian, Middle-Eastern and Latin, black, white — New York you make it happen.”

20. LL Cool J feat. Leshaun Williams – Doin’ It (1995)
NYC hook: Six people are credited with writing this droll ode to physical intimacy. None of them have sought to distance themselves from this lyrical gem which surely provides all the required evidence to support the notion that ladies really can’t help themselves but love NCIS agent Cool James. Mr Todd  rattles off the specials on today’s hum menu: “It’s the first time together and I’m feeling kinda horny, conventional methods of makin’ love kinda bore me. I wanna knock your block off, get my rocks off, blow your socks off, make sure your G-spot’s soft” (you get hard G-spots? And, more importantly, how do you get away rhyming “off” with “soft”?). With Cool James, sex is a matter of territorial chauvinism, not unlike the so-called World Series. He points out that he represents Queens, whose residents may well jostle for prime bedside seats, the better to cheer on their local stud muffin. Cool James’ hopefully softly G-spotted friend was raised “out Brooklyn”, where she learnt to yearn for a “Big Daddy” who might “pull my hair and spank me from the back” and finish off with some “candy rain”. Just as the contender from Queens might, if his dick is as big as his braggadocio. Yuk!

21. Jay-Z feat Alicia Keys – Empire State Of Mind (2009)
NYC hook: The national anthem of NYC for the millennial generation.

22. Ben Folds – Rock This Bitch (NYC version) (2004)
NYC hook: Some “motherfucker in Chicago” once shouted out “rock this bitch” at a Ben Folds gig, giving rise to a tradition whereby Folds (evidently reluctantly) improvises a new “Rock This Bitch” version on the spot. As he did in this recording from the 2004 Summerstage concert. “R.O.C.K. with your C.O.C.K. out, in N.Y.C.”

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Beach#Subway

In Memoriam – August 2018

September 4th, 2018 4 comments

This was one of those months: two or three obviously notable deaths, and a bunch of others that deserve our attention — including one that was made public only after five months! Spare a thought for the antipodean alt-rock band Beasts of Bourbon, who lost their second member this year.

The soul legend

By now nothing more needs to be said about Aretha Franklin. Other than to note that her screen husband in The Blues Brothers, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, died just two months before Aretha. Think about that! This corner of the Internets marked her death with a mix of cover versions recorded by Aretha. And, to give you your money’s worth, and because I’m a man who makes lists for fun, I’ll undertake the impossible task of compiling a Top 5 of Aretha Franklin songs: 1. I Say A Little Prayer   2. Rock Steady    3.  Baby, I Love You   4. Something He Can Feel   5. Daydreaming. What’s your Top 5?

 

The Funky Brother

We had to cut by one the list of the few surviving Funk Brothers, the legendary collective of session musicians on all those great Motown classics, with the death of guitarist EddieChank” Willis. It’s not always easy knowing exactly on which Funk Brother played on which record, but we know that Willis played on tracks like You Keep Me Hanging On, Where Did Our Love Go, You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me, I Second That Emotion, My Guy, Please Mr. Postman, Shotgun, Roadrunner, and many hits by Marvin Gaye (from Can I Get A Witness to I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Let’s Get It On) and The Temptations. For all he did to build up Motown, he said the label didn’t take care of him and his colleagues when they encountered poverty. Benefit concerts in 2015 helped Willis out when he lost his home and guitars.

 

Freebird!

Had Ronnie van Zant not annoyed him, Ed King might have been in the plane crash that killed his successor as guitarist in Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1977. Instead, King had left the group in 1975. As the only non-Southerner in the band, the Californian always felt like an outsider; ironically, he co-wrote their Southern anthem Sweet Home Alabama (with the Floridans van Zant and Gary Rossington). It’s King who counts in the song, and gives the “woo” after the first chorus — apart from playing that great lead guitar. King rejoined Skynyrd in 1987, leaving in 1996 due to health problems.

 

Singer behind a curtain

Almost unnoticed, the singer Jeanie Greene left us. You’ll have heard her singing backing vocals on several Elvis records, most notably In The Ghetto. Before that, as a teenager, she recorded on Elvis’ old label, Sun Records, under her birth name, Mary Johnson. She released a couple of singles and an album under her assumed name, and did backing vocals on many Muscle Shoals recordings by the likes of Ben E. King, Percy Sledge, Cher, Albert King, ZZ Hill, Southern Comfort, Boz Scaggs and Willie Nelson. Greene was also a songwriter for King and Sledge. Backing Percy Sledge on his tour of South Africa in 1970, where he played to segregated audiences, she had to sing behind a curtain at black venues, so that the patrons would not see a white woman being in the service of a black man.

The punk pioneer

Before Debbie Harry was the frontwoman of Blondie and Chris Stein her partner in crime, they cut their punkish teeth in Elda and The Stillettoes. The band’s founder and leader, Elda Stiletto, has died at 68. The band made some waves in New York’s club scene but broke up on the cusp of success, splitting in 1974 when only the female members were offered a recording contract. The group reformed in 1976, obviously without Harry and Stein, but soon split again.

 

A brave woman

I may have no interest in the music of occult trash metal band Huntress, but I salute the late lead singer Jill Janus for her engagement on issues of mental health, speaking openly about her own struggles with bipolar depression, schizophrenia and other diseases which claimed her in the end. It is by destigmatising mental health that those who suffer from it are encouraged to seek the necessary help. And if that help does not work, and a person dies from their disease by the route of suicide, then that too must be destigmatised. Jill Janus was immensely brave to speak about her mental health struggles, and did those who share her struggles a huge service.

 

The football jinx

In the Eurovision Song Contest, English songwriter/producer Tony Hiller was winner, having conjured Brotherhood of Man’s Save Your Kisses For Me, and their other two #1s, Angelo and the deplorable Figaro. But you really didn’t want him to write the FA Cup final records for your team. He contributed to that particular genre in the service of Manchester United (1976), FC Everton (1985), Liverpool (1986), Crystal Palace (1990) and Chelsea (1994). Other than Liverpool, all of them lost – ironically all against the first team Hiller jinxed.

 

Mrs The Godfather

How, in this day and age, does the death of a singer and actress who has played in Oscar-winning movies, go unnoticed for nearly five months? Yet so it was with Morgana King, whose death at 87 in March became public only in mid-August. Blessed with a four-octave contralto, Morgana was a respected jazz singer who recorded many albums, even into the 1990s. But her greater claim to fame was as an occasional actress. She appeared in five films; two of them stone-cold classics: The Godfather and The Godfather II, in which she played Vito Corleone’s wife Carmela — and got to sing a song in the wedding scene.

 

Aretha Franklin performing Rock Steady on Soul Train. From my series of stills from Soul Train.

 

Morgana King, 87, jazz singer and actress, on March 22
Morgana King – If You Could See Me Now (1956)
Morgana King – A Song For You (1973)

Celeste Rodrigues, 95, Portuguese fado singer, on Aug. 1
Celeste Rodrigues – Palavras de Toda a Gente (1974)

Jan Kirsznik, 84, saxophonist of Polish rock group Rhythm and Blues, on Aug. 1

Neil Argo, 71, film and TV composer, on Aug. 2

Bradley Daymond, 48, member of Canadian house group Love Inc. and producer, on Aug. 3
Love Inc. – Broken Bones (1998)

Tommy Peoples, 70, fiddler with Irish folk group The Bothy Band, on Aug. 3

Lorrie Collins, 76, half of teenage rockabilly duo The Collins Kids, on Aug. 4
The Collins Kids – Hop, Skip And Jump (1957)

Navid Izadi, 32, DJ and hip hop artist, plane crash on Aug. 5

Elda Stiletto (Gentile), 68, founder of proto-punk band The Stilettoes, on Aug. 6
The Stilettos – Anti-Disco (ca 1976)

Guilherme Lamounier, 67, Brazilian singer-songwriter and actor, on Aug. 7

Carlos Almenar Otero, 92, Venezuelan singer and songwriter, on Aug. 7
Carlos Almenar Otero – Teresa (1976)

Linda ‘Prokid’ Mkhize, 37, South African rapper and DJ, on Aug. 8

Scepaz, 30, Australian hip-hop artist, killed on Aug. 10

Alberto Tosca, 63, Cuban singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Aug. 14
Alberto Tosca y su Conj. – Sembrando Para Ti (1987)

Jill Janus, 42, singer of heavy metal band Huntress, suicide, suicide on Aug. 14

Randy Rampage, 58, ex-singer of Canadian hardcore band Annihilator, on Aug. 14

Queeneth Ndaba, 82, South African jazz singer and manager, on Aug. 15

Aretha Franklin, 76, soul and gospel singer, songwriter, pianist, on Aug.. 16
Aretha Franklin – Never Grow Old (1956)
Aretha Franklin – What A Diff’rence A Day Made (1964)
Aretha Franklin – Rock Steady (1972)
George Michael & Aretha Franklin – I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (1987)

Count Prince Miller, 83, Jamaican-born singer and actor, on Aug. 16
Count Prince Miller – Mule Train (1971)

Claudio Lolli, 68, Italian singer-songwriter, on Aug. 17

Danny Pearson, 65, soul singer, on Aug.17
Danny Pearson – What’s Your Sign Girl? (1978)

Jack Costanzo, 98, American percussionist, on Aug. 18
Nat King Cole – Yes Sir, That’s My Baby (1949, on congas)
Jack Constanzo and his Afro Cuban Band – Coco May May (1955)

Jeanie Greene (a.k.a. Mary Johnson), 75, soul and backing singer, on Aug. 19
Jeanie Greene – Sure As Sin (1968)
Elvis Presley – In The Ghetto (1969, as backing singer)

Eddie Willis, 82, guitarist with The Funk Brothers, on Aug. 20
The Temptations – The Way You Do The Things You Do (1964)
Jr. Walker & The All Stars – Ain’t That The Truth (1965, also as co-writer)
Stevie Wonder – I Was Made To Love Her (1967)
Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On (1973)

Spencer P. Jones, 61, New Zealand singer-songwriter and guitarist, on Aug. 21
Beasts Of Bourbon – Let’s Get Funky (1990)

Lazy Lester, 85, blues musician, on Aug. 22
Lazy Lester – Lester’s Stomp (1956)
Lazy Lester – Sugar Coated Love (1966)

Ed King, 68, guitarist of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Strawberry Alarm Clock, on Aug. 22
Strawberry Alarm Clock – Incense and Peppermints (1967)
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama (1974, also as co-writer)

Dieter ‘Thomas’ Heck, 80, legendary German music TV host, on Aug. 23
James Last – ZDF Hitparade theme (1969)

DJ Ready Red, 53, hip hop DH and producer (Geto Boys), on Aug. 24

Carlos Denogean, drummer of metal band Weedeater, on Aug. 24

Kyle Pavone, 28, singer of metal band We Came as Romans, on Aug. 25

Tony Hiller, 91, British songwriter and producer, on Aug. 26
Lulu – He Don’t Want Your Love Anymore (1965, as co-writer)
Brotherhood of Man – Angelo (1976, as writer and producer)

Luke Liang, 28, member of Australian rock band Papa vs Pretty, on Aug. 27

Ellie Mannette, 90, Trinidadian steelpan pioneer, on Aug. 29

Mike Kennedy, 59, country drummer with George Strait, on Aug. 30
George Strait – Living And Living Well (2001, on drums)

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(PW in comments)

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Covered With Soul Vol. 23

August 30th, 2018 1 comment

 

It’s been a more than  a year since the last Covered With Soul. This one is rather good, I find. And a pretty mixed bag: from Al Wilson’s astonishing version of By The Time I Get To Phoenix to Betty Everett’s cover of Big Mama Thornton’s Hound Dog to the Isley Brothers fuzz guitar-driven take on Carole King’s It’s Too Late.

This is only the second Covered With Soul mix in three years, so savour this. If you’ve missed any of the previous 22 mixes, I think most are still live.

Some are up on Rapidgator (the present mix is up on Zippyshare). One quirk of posting RG links here is that they open with a reference to this site in the URL. For some, this makes it impossible to DL the files. I have no idea how to change that, but if you remove to “referer” bit in the URL, the DLs will work.

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

1. Dee Dee Sharp Gamble – I’d Really Love to See You (1977)
2. Dorothy Morrison – Fire And Rain (1970)
3. Blossoms – Grandmas Hands (1972)
4. Lyn Collins – Backstabbers (1975)
5. Isaac Hayes – I’ll Never Fall In Love Again (1971)
6. Al Wilson – By The Time I Get To Phoenix (1968)
7. Blue Magic – Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely (1974)
8. René & Angela – Hotel California (1980)
9. L.V. Johnson – Try A Little Tenderness (1981)
10. Randy Crawford – Trade Winds (1981)
11. Samuel Jonathan Johnson – What The World Needs Now Is Love (1978)
12. The Smith Connection – ‘Til There Was You (1972)
13. Clydene Jackson – Tammy (1975)
14. Betty Everett – Hound Dog (1964)
15. Four Tops – Last Train To Clarksville (1967)
16. Maxine Weldon – My Way (1975)
17. The Isley Brothers – It’s Too Late (1972)

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Any Major Music from ‘The Sopranos’ Vol. 1

August 23rd, 2018 6 comments

 

 

Many TV series have integrated pop songs into their narrative, even before The Sopranos did so to great effect. Shows like The Wonder Years and Ally McBeal helped blaze that trail. The Sopranos used this to great effect. The music Tony Soprano listens to, for example, reveals a lot about who he is (in some ways not that much different from any of us), as does Carmella’s obsession with Andrea Bocelli’s Con Te Partirò communicate much about her real longings.

Sometimes the music is just incidental — a particular kind of track would be expected to play at a particular location — but other times a song can colour the tone of a scene. Take the scene in the final season when Tony comes out of hospital after having been shot by Uncle Junior and beats up his bodyguard as a way of reasserting his manhood. Playing in the background is a merry doo wop tune by The Students titled Every Day Of The Week. It communicates the random absurdity of Tony’s action. The scene would have played differently had the background tune been, say, Voodoo Chile.

Of course, this is Soundtracking 101, and the producers of The Sopranos didn’t invent anything new here, though David Chase set incredibly high standards in the eclectic selection of music. They used single songs, rather than a traditional score, to superb storytelling effect, sometimes even as a form of narration.

And that wealth of music used lends itself to mix-making. And this is what we’re doing here, over two mixes.

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

1. Alabama 3 – Woke Up This Morning (Chosen One Mix) (1997)
2. Cream – I Feel Free (1967)
3. Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul – Inside Of Me (1982)
4. Tom Petty – Free Fallin’ (1989)
5. Alejandro Escovedo – Guilty (1995)
6. The Chesterfield Kings – I Don’t Understand (2003)
7. Shawn Smith – Wrapped In My Memory (2003)
8. Bruce Hornsby & the Range – That’s The Way It Is (1986)
9. Boston – More Than A Feeling (1976)
10. Foghat – Slow Ride (1975)
11. Johnny & The Hurricanes – Red River Rock (1959)
12. The Jive Five – What Time Is It (1962)
13. The Students – Every Day Of The Week (1957)
14. Dean Martin – Powder Your Face With Sunshine (Smile, Smile, Smile) (1949)
15. Percy Faith Orchestra – Theme from ‘A Summer Place’ (1960)
16. The Dells – Oh, What A Night (1969)
17. Freda Payne – Band Of Gold (1970)
18. Chaka Khan feat. Me’ Shell Ndegeocello – Never Miss The Water (1996)
19. Angie Stone – Without You (1999)
20. Pink Martini – Andalucia (1997)
21. Nick Lowe – The Beast In Me (1994)
22. Andrea Bocelli – Con Te Partirò (1996)

https://rg.to/file/73ccf2098a1766698b30eaf130d20183/Sopra1.rar.html

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Aretha Sings Covers

August 16th, 2018 8 comments

What needs to be said about the genius of Aretha Franklin and her influence has been said. One part of that genius was her ability to take possession of other people’s songs. Mention songs like Respect or Say A Little Prayer or Spanish Harlem, and few will say Otis Redding or Dionne Warwick or Ben. E. King. When Aretha took those songs, they became hers.

Many others she re-interpreted in such a way that her version would become virtually a different song, not infrequently eclipsing the almost ineclipsible. Consider what she did with the Beatles ballad The Long And Winding Road or Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water — both fine ballads beloved of crooner types — by giving them a bit of gospel. The Beatles track acquires a depth neither the composition nor Phil Spector’s production suggested in The Beatles hands. The S&G track acquires a spiritual dimension that was hinted at in the original but not quite realised

So by way of tribute, here is a mix of Aretha Franklin singing other people’s songs. In the parentheses I cite the respective song’s original performer.

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

1. Soulville (1968 – Dinah Washington)
2. Groovin’ (1968 – The Young Rascals)
3. Until You Come Back To Me (1973 – Stevie Wonder)
4. You’re All I Need To Get By (1971 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
5. Long And Winding Road (1972 – The Beatles)
6. Young, Gifted And Black (1972 – Nina Simone)
7. People Get Ready (1968 – The Impressions)
8. A Change Is Gonna Come (1967 – Sam Cooke)
9. Drown In My Own Tears (1967 – Sonny Thompson)
10. Bridge Over Troubled Water (1971 – Simon & Garfunkel)
11. Don’t Play That Song (1970 – Ben. E. King)
12. A Brand New Me (1972 – Jerry Butler)
13. Tracks Of My Tears (1968 – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
14. The Weight (1969 – The Band)
15. Dark End Of The Street (1970 – James Carr)
16. Eleanor Rigby (1970 – The Beatles)
17. Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing (1974 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
18. Something He Can Feel (1976 – Irene Cara)
19. Oh Happy Day (with Mavis Staples) (1987 – Edwin Hawkins Singers)
20. Ever Changing Times (with Michael McDonald) (1991)
21. I Dreamed A Dream (1991 – from ‘Les Misérables’)

https://rg.to/file/eaae79e442aff43fb0f1ba612c05a3f1/Arethasc.rar.html

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Covered With Soul
1970s Soul

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Any Major Originals: The 1980s

August 9th, 2018 7 comments

Some years ago I ran a long series on the lesser-known originals of big hits. Here we continue a series of mixes that bring many of those originals together, by themes. Previously we’ve had the originals of Burt Bacharach songs, Christmas classics, Elvis Presley (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). Here are the originals of hits from the 1980s.

One act could have featured twice here: early ‘70s soul group The Persuaders feature here with their quite nice original of Some Guys Have All The Luck, with the famous cover a cautionary tale of what can happen to a perfectly good song when you add ‘80s synths, cocaine and Rod Stewart to it. Not featured is A Thin Line Between over And Hate, later a hit for the Pretenders. But another original of a Pretenders hit features here, the Kinks’ 1964 song Stop Your Sobbing. At this point I notice that the first three tracks on this mix were originally sung by men and covered to commercial success by women.

Perhaps the most famous of these originals is Gloria Jones’ 1965 b-side Tainted Love; a soul track (often falsely said to be a Tamla Motown record) that became a synth classic. It came to the UK by way of England’s Northern Soul scene which thrives on obscure ‘60s soul tracks. Before Tainted Love became a hit, Gloria Jones attained some pop history fame: she was Marc Bolan’s girlfriend and passenger when he was killed in a car crash in 1977.

A couple of tracks here may, to some, be better known in the original. The Labi Siffre original of It Must Be Love is hardly obscure. Still, it is the 1981 Madness cover that was the bigger hit and gets the wider airplay. Madness reached the UK #4 with the song; in 1971, Siffre (one of the first openly gay singers in pop) reached #14 with it. Rather endearingly, Siffre made a cameo appearance in the video for the Madness single (he is a violin player).

Likewise, when teenage singer Tiffany scored her 1987 debut hit I Think We’re Alone Now by performing it at malls, the kids’ parents (seen in the video looking on bemusedly at Tiffany’s exploits) probably recognised the song as Tommy James & the Shondells’ 1967 US #4 hit. And while Tiffany topped the UK charts with her version, the original didn’t chart there. Curiously, Tiffany’s cover was followed at US #1 by another Tommy James cover, Mony Mony by Billy Idol.

Certainly in Europe, the Laura Branigan hit Gloria was better known in Umberto Tozzi’s Italian original from 1978. Branigan had another big hit with an Italian hit: 1984’s Self Control was a Euro hit the same year for RAF.

Some originals were written or co-written by the artist who’d have the hit with them. C’est La Vie, first recorded by soul singer Beau Williams, was co-written by Robbie Nevil who’d have a hit with it in 1986 (followers of the Any Major Soul series may remember Williams as the singer of the slightly overwrought ballad Elvina).

China Girl, a hit for David Bowie in 1983, was originally recorded by Iggy Pop, who co-wrote it with Bowie, in 1977 at a time when both stars dwelled in Berlin to wean themselves off heroin. Indeed, there is a good case to be made that the song is about heroin, a drug sometimes referred to as China White, or about an opiate known as China Girl. In 1983 Bowie revived the song, which in Iggy’s version made few waves, in his besuited Let’s Dance period, polishing it under Nile Rodger’s production, and frolicking to it in the Australian waves in the video.

The Arrows were a short-lived English band on the RAK label, which also gave us the likes of Smokie, Hot Chocolate and Racey (who also feature here), and so were produced by the genius of ‘70s pop, Mickey Most. After two hits – though not this song – the Arrows disappeared. Joan Jett also seemed to disappear after the break-up of The Runaways in the late ‘70s, suddenly reappearing in 1982 with the largely obscure I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll, which she had previously recorded with members of the Sex Pistols. Apparently Jett had known the song since 1976 when, while on tour with the Runaways, she saw the Arrows performing it on TV.

Racey, mentioned above, were the original perpetrators of Toni Basil’s Mickey, though they sang about Kitty. The song was written by RAK’s Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. It was not a hit, and neither Toni Basil nor her record company evidently thought much of it when she recorded it soon after, also in 1979. For two years it languished in the reject tray before some bright spark decided to inflict the number on us, against Basil’s misgivings. They should have listened to the singer.

Some performers of lesser-known originals just had rotten luck. Take Evie Sands, the first singer to record the one-night stand anthem Angel Of The Morning, in 1967. It was on its way to becoming a hit, with good radio airplay and 10,000 copies selling fast. Then the label, Cameo-Parkway, went bankrupt, and Sands’ record sank. A few months later, Memphis producer Chips Moman picked up Angel Of The Morning (which in the interim had also been recorded by English singer Billie Davies) and had the unknown Merrilee Rush record it, backed by the same session crew that played with Elvis during his famous Memphis sessions that produced hits such as Suspicious Minds (itself a cover, as detailed in Elvis Originals Vol. 2). The Seattle-born singer had a massive hit with it, even receiving a Grammy nomination. It soon was covered prodigiously, with P.P. Arnold scoring a UK hit with it in 1968, and Juice Newton has a mega-hit with her 1981 cover (hence the song’s inclusion here). Happily, Sands went on to enjoy some success later.

Around the same time Juice Newton had a hit with Angel Of The Morning, Kim Carnes topped charts with Bette Davis Eyes, for which the song’s subject went out of her way to thank first Carnes and then the songwriters for introducing her to a whole new generation of kids and giving her cool status among her grandchildren. But the first version of it was recorded by Jackie DeShannon, who was not just a fine singer but also a songwriter. She co-wrote Bette Davis Eyes with Donna Weiss, and recorded it in 1975 in a country-boogie woogie style. Her version attracted little attention, but six years later Carnes’ cover became one of the biggest hits in US chart history. As for the titular eyes which warranted a song, apparently they were the product of a thyroid condition Davis suffered.

Produced by Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra, Got My Mind Set On was a cover version that in 1987 gave George Harrison his first big hit since the nostalgic All Those Years Ago six years earlier. With Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, Harrison and Lynne went on to form the Traveling Wilburys. It is no accident that Harrison’s US#1 and UK#2 hit sounds a lot like a Wilburys song.

Got My Mind Set On you was originally recorded at roughly the same time as the Beatles began their ascent. Indeed, Harrison discovered the song at that time when he bought James Ray’s LP during a holiday to visit his sister in the US in September 1963. R&B singer Ray James was remembered mostly for only one song, and it wasn’t the song Harrison resurrected 25 years later, but If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody, which reached #22 in the Billboard charts. Alas, he struggled to have more hits. James Ray died in 1964, reportedly of a drug overdose. Featured here is the longer album version of I’ve Got My Mind Set On You, on which Ray was backed by the Hutch Davie Orchestra, which Harrison would have heard on the LP he bought (and which is a lot better than his cover). The single version apparently was brutally truncated.

Money’s Too Tight To Mention was Simply Red’s breakthrough hit in the summer of 1985, creating what seemed to be a fresh take on an old soul number. It was, in fact, a cover of a song barely three years old (the Reaganomics reference, of course, hints at that). But even in its original form by the Valentine Brothers, the track sounds like a ’60s throwback, musically and lyrically. The narrative borrows from down-on-luck numbers such as Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come (absent the trace of optimism), and musically you can imagine Otis Redding singing it. Simply Red’s take is not wildly different from the funkier Valentine Brothers’ version. And the iconic exclamation, “Cut-back!” is there in the original. The Valentine Brothers, a duo from Ohio (one of whom, Billy, had been a member of jazz trio Young-Holt Unlimited), never enjoyed much success, their career fizzling out after a couple of albums.

It has never been much of a secret that Chaka Khan’s big 1984 hit I Feel For You was written by Prince, but the composer’s version is not very well known. And, frankly, it isn’t quite as good as Chaka’s (which coincidentally was a hit at the height of Prince’s fame and success on the back of Purple Rain). Prince, on his eponymous sophomore album, sings it with his falsetto, backed by a synth which in 1979 must have seemed cutting edge but now sounds terribly dated. It’s not bad, but the Arif Mardin arrangement for Chaka Khan, with Melle Mel’s rap – which surely did a lot to popularise rap in the mainstream, and which Chaka did not like – is richer, funkier, more fun.

South African-born Mutt Lange has had an excessively long string as a producer and songwriter who gave us the great (AC/DC’s Back In Black), the bad (Bryan Adam’s Everything I Do…) and the ugly (something by Michael Bolton). Before he hit the big time, he was the songwriter and singer of a UK-based band named Supercharge. One of the songs Mutt sang in 1979 was reworked three years later to become Huey Lewis’ Do You Believe In Love.

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

1. Arrows – I Love Rock ‘n Roll (1975)
The Usurper: Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (1982)
2. Kinks – Stop Your Sobbing (1964)
The Usurper: Pretenders (1979)
3. Tommy James & The Shondells – I Think We’re Alone Now (1967)
The Usurper: Tiffany (1987)
4. James Ray – Got My Mind Set On You (Parts 1 & 2) (1963)
The Usurper: George Harrison (1987)
5. Gloria Jones – Tainted Love (1965)
The Usurper: Soft Cell (1981)
6. The Persuaders – Some Guys Have All The Luck (1974)
The Usurpers: Robert Palmer (1982), Rod Stewart (1984)
7. Labi Siffre – It Must Be Love (1971)
The Usurper: Madness (1981)
8. Evie Sands – Angel Of The Morning (1967)
The Usurpers: Merrilee Rush (1968), Juice Newton (1981)
9. Jackie DeShannon – Bette Davis Eyes (1975)
The Usurper: Kim Carnes (1981)
10. i-Ten – Alone (1983)
The Usurper: Heart (1987)
11. Supercharge – We Both Believe In Love (1979)
The Usurper: Huey Lewis & the News (1982, as Do You Believe In Love)
12. Umberto Tozzi – Gloria (1979)
The Usurper: Laura Branigan (1982)
13. Iggy Pop – China Girl (1977)
The Usurper: David Bowie (1983)
14. The Reaction – Talk Talk Talk Talk (1977)
The Usurper: Talk Talk (1982, as Talk Talk)
15. Racey – Kitty (1979)
The Usurper: Toni Basil (1982, as Mickey)
16. Jules Shear – If She Knew What She Wants (1985)
The Usurper: The Bangles (1986)
17. Prince – I Feel For You (1979)
The Usurper: Chaka Khan (1984)
18. Valentine Brothers – Money’s Too Tight To Mention (1982)
The Usurper: Simply Red (1985)
19. Otis Clay – The Only Way Is Up (1982)
The Usurper: Yazz and the Plastic Population (1988)
20. Beau Williams – Cést La Vie (1984)
The Usurper: Robbie Nevil (1986)
21. The Crickets – More Than I Can Say (1960)
The Usurper: Leo Sayer (1980)
22. Sam & Dave – I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down (1967)
The Usurper: Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1980)
23. The Paragons – The Tide Is High (1967)
The Usurper: Blondie (1980)

https://rg.to/file/8078c639250340ff2c450b1ea518394c/Orginals_80s.rar.html

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In Memoriam – July 2018

August 2nd, 2018 5 comments

Another easy-going month, for which we ought to be grateful. Still, we lost the man for whom a huge record label was founded, the original Good Morning Vietnam DJ, a one-time teen dream, the composer of classic TV themes, and several others whose work brought people joy.

The unlikely teen dream

Bay City Rollers co-founder and bassist Alan Longmuir always seemed like the most unlikely of teen idols. Already in the second half of his 20s when Rollermania hit, he looked rather like Woody’s uncle than bandmate. So when he left the band in 1976, he was replaced by baby-faced Ian Mitchell, who in turn was replaced by seven-years-old Pat McGlynn. After an unsuccessful stab at a solo career (the featured track explains the lack of success; it’s the bad flip side of a shocking A-side), Alan returned when the teenyboppers had outgrown BCR, but by then the band was superannuated. In interviews, Alan always seemed a nice, down-to-earth guy. When the music thing didn’t work for him anymore, he ran a hotel. When that ruined his health, he retrained to become a building inspector.

The singing actor

Tab Hunter’s claim to fame obviously was his acting career — with Natalie Wood he was the last actor to be signed to an exclusive contract with Warner Brothers. But he also had a brief but successful recording career. In 1957, he topped the US charts for six straight weeks with Young Love on Dot Records. A follow-up reached #11, at which point Jack Warner invoked the exclusivity contract and founded the Warner Bros record label as a vehicle for Tab Hunter records. Well, it was one of the reasons; Hunter’s singing success was the impetus to put into action a business decision made earlier. But by then his crooning career was fizzling out. Whereas for a while, Warner Bros. Records became a rock music behemoth.

The TV composer

If you’ve seen TV shows like Columbo, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, The Streets of San Francisco or Lou Grant (the themes of the latter two he wrote) you’ve probably heard the compositions of multiple Grammy-winner Patrick Williams in their scores. Williams, who also write a highly rated jazz-symphony titled An American Concerto, was also a sought-after arranger. Frank Sinatra requested his services for the two Duets albums. Before that Williams arranged such classics as Dusty Springfield’s The Look Of Love, Dionne Warwick’s Theme from Valley Of The Dolls, and Barbra Streisand’s Evergreen, and orchestrated classic albums like Billy Joel’s The Stranger.

The all-rounder

How much did Richard Swift, who has died at 41, still have to offer? The man was an all-rounder: singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, engineer, producer, studio owner (National Freedom in Oregon), went on tour with acts like Wilco (whom he supported on the Sky Blue Sky tour), The Shins and The Black Keys. He produced acts like The Shins, Guster, Laetitia Sadier and Damian Jurado. And also he made short films.

The soundman

You will have heard Jim Malloy’s work at some point. He was the engineer on hits like Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther Theme, Jim Reeves’ Distant Drums, Mel Tillis’ Life Made Her That Way, Bobby Bare’s The Streets Of Baltimore, Elvis’ How Great Thou Art gospel LP, and albums by acts like Timi Yuro, Al Hirt, Duane Eddy, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Mahalia Jackson, Porter Wagoner, Skeeter Davis, Charley Pride, Jerry Reed, Dolly Parton and many others. He produced Sammi Smith’s Grammy-winning version of Help Me Make It Through The Night, various albums by the likes of Townes van Zandt, Ray Stevens, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Eddy Arnold and O.B. McClinton.

The other Robin Williams

Good Night Vietnam! The subject of the 1988 Robin Williams movie Good Morning Vietnam, Adrian Cronauer, has died at 79. By his own admission, Cronauer was nothing like how Williams portrayed him in the film. He did not consider himself particularly controversial. Even as he did introduce new musical material to the US Army playlists, his aim wasn’t to be subversive. And he certainly made up no improvisations about gay hairdesssers. In fact, Cronauer was a conservative life-long Republican who helped Bod Dole lose the presidential election of 1996, and George W Bush win it in 2004.

 

François Corbier, 73, French songwriter and TV presenter, on July 1

Alan Longmuir, 70, founder of the Bay City Rollers, on July 2
Bay City Rollers – Saturday Night (1973, original version)
Bay City Rollers – Summerlove Sensation (1974)
Alan Longmuir – I’ve Got Songs (1977)

Bill Watrous, 79, jazz trombonist, on July 2
Bill Watrous – No More Blues (1986)

Henry Butler, 68, jazz pianist, on July 2

Richard Swift, 41, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, engineer, on July 3
Richard Swift – Kisses For The Misses (2007)
The Shins – So Now What (2017, on synth and as producer)

Carmen Campagne, 58, Canadian singer, on July 4

Jim Malloy, 87, recording engineer, on July 5
Henry Mancini – The Pink Panther Theme (1963, as engineer)
Lee Hazlewood – Trouble Is A Lonesome Town (1963, as co-writer, engineer)
Townes Van Zandt – I’ll Be Here In The Morning (1969, as producer)

François Budet, 78, French singer-songwriter and poet, on July 5

Vince Martin, 81, folk singer, on July 6
Vince Martin and The Tarriers – Cindy, Oh Cindy (1956)

Bret Hoffmann, 51, singer of death metal band Malevolent Creation, on July 7

Garry Lowe, 65, Jamaican bassist of Canadian reggae/rock/blues band Big Sugar, on July 7
Big Sugar – Diggin A Hole (1996)

Tab Hunter, 86, actor and singer, on July 8
Tab Hunter – Young Love (1957)

Stefan Demert, 78, Swedish singer-songwriter, on July 9

Greg Bonham, 71, Australian singer, on July 10

Ponty Bone, 78, accordionist, on July 13
Ponty Bone – Clifton’s Boogie (2002)

Theryl ‘House Man’ DeClouet, 66, singer of jazz-funk singer band Galactic, on July 15
Galactic – Something’s Wrong With This Picture (1996)

Adrian Cronauer, 79, radio disc jockey, on July 18

Patrick Williams, 79, film/TV and jazz composer, arranger and conductor, on July 25
Dionne Warwick – Valley Of The Dolls (1967, as arranger)
Pat Williams Orchestra – The Streets Of San Francisco (1975, as composer & co-producer)
Frank Sinatra with Natalie Cole – They Can’t Take That Away From Me (1993)
Paul Anka – Jump (2005, as conductor)

Ben Sharpa, 41, South African hip hop artist, on July 26

Mark Shelton, 60, founder and singer-guitarist of heavy metal Manilla Road, on July 26
Manilla Road – The Riddle Master (1983)

Olga Jackowska, 67, singer of Polish rock band Maanam, on July 28

Oliver Dragojević, 70, Croatian singer, on July 29

Sam Mehran, 31, member of UK dance-punk band band Test Icicles, announced July 29
Test Icicles – Your Biggest Mistake (2005)

Irvin Jarrett, 69, percussionist of reggae band Third World, on July 31
Third World – 1865 (96 Degrees In The Shade) (1977)
Third World – Now That We’ve Found Love (1978)

https://rg.to/file/2302ba1f23d013a6fa397c747a550acf/IM_1807.rar.html
(PW in comments)

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Any Major ABC: 1970s

July 26th, 2018 13 comments

 

This week we launch a new series of mixes which take us through a decade through the medium of the alphabet: from A-Z, each letter gets a song. So it’s all quite random and great fun; a bit like listening to an oldies station.

And it was fun — and torture — to choose songs for this mix. None of these are necessarily the best or even favourite tracks by the acts whose name begins with the particular letter. The only set song was the one that will kick off the A-Z of the 1960s, which gave me the idea for the concept. But I can’t run the 1960s yet because I have no representative for the letter X — I can think of no band that begins with X, nor a solo act whose first name begins with that letter.

The 1950s is even tougher: I have an X, but no U and no Z. The 1940s lack a Q — if anybody has any good ideas to fill these gaps, the comments are the place…

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

1. Archie Bell & The Drells – Let’s Groove (1975)
2. Bay City Rollers – You Made Me Believe In Magic (1977)
3. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen The Rain (1970)
4. Darts – Come Back My Love (1977)
5. Electric Light Orchestra – Livin’ Thing (1976)
6. Fortunes – Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again (1971)
7. Giorgio Moroder – From Here to Eternity (1977)
8. Hues Corporation – Rock The Boat (1974)
9. Ike & Tina Turner – Nutbush City Limits (1973)
10. Jam – The Eton Rifles (1979)
11. Kiss – Beth (1977)
12. Love Unlimited – It May Be Winter Outside (1973)
13. Mr. Bloe – Groovin’ With Mr. Bloe (1970)
14. New York City – I’m Doing Fine Now (1973)
15. Osmonds – Crazy Horses (1973)
16. Python Lee Jackson feat. Rod Stewart – In A Broken Dream (1972)
17. Quantum Jump – The Lone Ranger (1979)
18. Rodriguez – I Wonder (1970)
19. Sweet – Fox On The Run (1975)
20. T. Rex – Metal Guru (1972)
21. Undisputed Truth – Smiling Faces Sometimes (1970)
22. Vicky Lawrence – The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia (1975)
23. Wings – Live And Let Die (1973)
24. XTC – Making Plans For Nigel (1979)
25. Yvonne Elliman – If I Can’t Have You (1977)
26. ZZ Top – Tush (1974)

https://rg.to/file/5181e7a4c30152087788b55e98e54f7c/ABC70.rar.html

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Any Major Guitar Vol. 2

July 19th, 2018 3 comments

 

 

The second mix of great guitar bits that I really dig. As with Any Major Guitar Vol. 1, I make no claims of the featured tracks belonging in any hierarchy. It’s all entirely subjective, as it usually is in music.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and it includes home-strummed covers.

 

1. Prince – Let’s Go Crazy (1984)
Byoong moment: 2:40. Prince was such a genius at so many things that his guitar beroics are easily forgotten. But just listen to tracks like When Doves Cry, Purple Rain, I Wanna Be Your Lover or his out-claptoning solo on a live cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps to know that he ranks among the great axemen.

2. Thin Lizzy – Whisky In The Jar (1971)
Byoong moment: 2:19. Before Gary Moore, there was Eric Bell in Thin Lizzy. It’s Bell’s guitar which turns this Irish folk-song into a rock classic, with that opening line, that guitar riff, and that minute-long solo that sounds thoroughly rock as well as faithful to the song’s Irish pipes.

3. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Come Up And See Me (1977)
Byoong moment: 1:50. A false ending, with a rather long pause, then Jim Cregan’s gorgeous flamenco acoustic solo kicks in. A story has it that the solo had been captured on tape during a soundcheck and later inserted by producer Alan Parsons later. A good story but probably not true.

4. Blondie – (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear (1978)
Byoong moment: 1:18. The great musician in Blondie is drummer Clem Burke (just listen to him here), though they were all much more accomplished musicians than the punk label suggested. Chris Stein’s guitar on Presence Dear shimmers and illuminates his girlfriend, Deborah Harry, much as it did on X-Offender, which was another contender.

5. The Smiths – This Charming Man (1984)
Byoong moment: 2:26. I have a theory that it wasn’t so much Morrissey’s lyrics that inspired a generation of alienated, misunderstood youths (many of the lyrics are embarrassingly bad, especially from a man who belittled others for writing “awful poetry”), but Johnny Marr’s guitar which could steer your emotions, from uplifted to dejected (that whine on How Soon Is Now, which might have featured here). There are many Marr moments to pick from; I’ll land on the jolly line he plays at 2:26.

6. Aztec Camera – Oblivious (1983)
Byoong moment: 1:48. A perfect pop song with delightful little guitar arpeggios interspersed throughout, leading us to a joyous guitar solo by singer-songwriter Roddy Frame.

7. Colin Hay – Overkill (acoustic) (2003)
Byoong moment: 1:48. Here the singer of the Men At Work hit cools things down with a superb vocal performance. It’s the simple but lovely acoustic guitar solo, also by Colin Hay, that signals an increase in intensity.

8. John Mayer – Gravity (2006)
Byoong moment: 2:05. Put aside John Mayer’s douchebag persona and you’ll find a very good guitarist. Often, there’s a lot of gurning self-indulgence in Mayer’s white bluesman’s guitar work, but sometimes he shows restraint and it is quite beautiful, as it is here.

9. Chris Isaak – Blue Hotel (1987)
Byoong moment: 1:52. The riff brings to mind the kind of Mexican border settings of shows like Breaking Bad, and James Calvin Wilsey‘s solo could soundtrack the gruesome but satisfactory killing in the desert of an evil drug kingpin. Wilsey also played the solo on Wicked Game, another contender for inclusion.

10. Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street (1977)
Byoong moment: 4:47. The obvious star of Baker Street (featured here in its LP version) is the late Raphael Ravenscroft’s alto sax, so the terrific guitar solo by Hugh Burns often is overlooked. Still, it inspired Slash’s solo for Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child o’ Mine. Hugh Burns’ other famous guitar performance was also on a song dominated by a saxophone: George Michael’s Careless Whispers (he also played on sax-less Faith and Father Figure).

11. Rod Stewart – Sailing (1975)
Byoong moment: 2:15. The first song I slow-danced to with a girl I liked, so the simple but lovely acoustic guitar intro still gives me butterflies; by the time of the guitar solo I’m as deeply in love as a 11-year-old can be. Both guitars are played by Muscle Shoals session man Pete Carr, who also might have featured for Bob Seger’s Against The Wind.

12. Santana – Samba Pa Ti (1970)
Byoong moments: 0:00. It’s all guitar here, starting with those mournful notes and becoming progressively more joyous. Carlos Santana gets great support from keyboardist and co-writer Gregg Rolie.

13. The Allman Brothers Band – Blue Sky (1972)
Byoong moments: 1:07 & 2:37. Two great solos for the price of one. First Duane Allman, in the last thing he played before his death in a motorcycle accident, lets his guitar sing. Then at 2:37 Dicky Betts gets his welcome turn. His distinctive guitar style has, by default, become synonymous with British small-world blokey bigotry through the instrumental Jessica, the theme of Top Gear.

14. The Doobie Brothers – China Grove (1973)
Byoong moment: 2:24. Tom Johnstone’s guitar riff deserves an entry on its own — but then, if you are going down the Doobie route, Long Train Running would be your first stop. But no Doobies song has a solo quite as delicious as that by Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter.

15. Status Quo – Rockin’ All Over The World (1977)
Byoong moment: 0:55 & 2:38. It’s easy to laugh at Status Quo’s three-chord career, as if they were musically limited. Don’t be fooled. Rockin’ All Over The World is a great pop-rock record, and it’s lifted higher by those joyous guitar solos, especially the increasingly insistent solo led by Rick Parfitt towards the end, with Francis Rossi providing the high-pitched fills, that sees out the song.

16. Chuck Berry – Too Much Monkey Business (1957)
Byoong moment: 1:17. It could have been any number of Chuck Berry songs to feature here. Truth be told, I’m a bit tired of the overplayed ones — Johnny B Goode, Roll Over Beethoven etc. Two solos here: the first is classic Berry; the second a throw-away effort.

17. Elvis Presley – Hound Dog (1956)
Byoong moment: 0:50 & 1:22. To white ears reared on Perry Como, Hound Dog must have been a shock: so much ferocious noise! Even now, 62 years later, Hound Dog is punk. Elvis’ raucous vocals, J.D. Fontana’s brutal drum rolls, the relentless bass, and Scotty Moore’s insolent guitar breaks. Moore later didn’t know himself how he produced that sound; he remembers being pissed off at the countless takes Elvis had the musicians play (Presley was the de facto producer of the song). In the end there were 31 takes; Elvis chose Take 18. It may well be the greatest rock & roll record of them all. (See the Hound Dog Song Swarm)

18. Jim Steinman – Love And Death And An American Guitar (1981)
Byoong moment: none. There’s no guitar here, nor any instrument, but it’s all about a guitar. Jim’s guitar has “a heart of chrome and a voice like a horny angel”, but he doesn’t know how “to treat an expensive musical instrument”. Steinman was not famous for his comedy nor for his mastery understatement, so this has to be one of the best unintentionally funny things ever committed to record.

19. Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell (1977)
Byoong moment: 6:09. And from there we move to Steinman’s greatest production, the gloriously overblown, operatic Bat Out Of Hell. Meat Loaf might own the song, but the real star of the show is Todd Rundgren’s guitar which not only scores the emotions and fills solo needs, but most importantly provides the sound-effect for the revving motorbike. It might well be the greatest guitar solo of all time, as this superb account of the recording, mainly true but embellished for effect, claims.

https://rg.to/file/608da0e68d839ce743938f6065228d75/guit_2.rar.html

 

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

July 12th, 2018 10 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)

https://rg.to/file/7d16442d45bbe5bdff2b48fb7e8d3f46/Darkness_rec.rar.html

 

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