Any Major Decade: Favourites Vol. 1

February 23rd, 2017 18 comments

Any Major Dude With Half A Heart turns 10 years old this week. The first post was a narrative effort about plastic surgery inspired by Smokey Robinson’s rigid smile. But within a couple of weeks it became a music blog, paying tribute to Swedish indie artists, female folk-rock and indie singers and the great Ben Folds. Soon I got a following, especially thanks to Totally Fuzzy, an aggregator site on which music blogs could advertise their latest posts (it still exists, though with a different focus). As the months progressed, I had regular features: pissing off the taste police by defending acts like Barry Manilow or Wet Wet Wet; paying tribute to newer acts from the independent side of things, such as Josh Rouse;  “Music for Bloggers”, wherein I punted blogs and dedicated a suitable song to them. Some of these bloggers have remained friends, most notably Whiteray of Echoes In The Wind (www.echoesinthewind.com). For a couple of years I even ran an annual “award show” for my favourite blogs. Later came the relatively short-lived “Great Moustaches in Pop” series, a series on answer records (that I should turn into a CD-R Mix), and one of songs about murder (ditto).

The biggest project was The Originals, a series of pieces on lesser-known originals of famous songs. It was a mammoth project which I’d like to revise one day (as I did with the Elvis originals, Bacharach originals and Christmas originals), though the workload for it is immense. There are 700 such songs in my collection. For the first few years, I posted individual songs on various filehosting sites. The first of these was Z-Share; the most regular was Mediafire, until that service turned to crap. Around that time it seemed to me that concentrating on CD-R length themed mixes was the better way to go. Most of these mixes I make for my own pleasure, as a creative outlet. I take joy in sharing what I love. A few mixes were made as a means of documentary; most notably the History of Country series, which is still up, with an eBook that can be downloaded free. The mixes are usually accompanied by home-made covers. These are made especially for the readers. I have fun making them, though I have no idea whether anybody ever uses them.

In January 2010 I started the In Memoriam series, which I know many people are looking forward to every month. In the course of researching the monthly departed I’ve come across a number of sites and blogs that chronicle the latest celebrity deaths. I don’t think I’m overstating things when I describe my efforts as the most comprehensive monthly run-down of the latest music folks who have left us. Certainly none I’ve seen pay tribute to them by way of music (though some do so by posting YouTube links). These songs, I must add, aren’t always endorsed by me. Over time, this blog has received many plaudits, which is of course always very nice to hear. Comments are always the lifeblood of the blogger. When a post receives no comments, I am tempted to retire from running this show. It is frustrating when a few hundred people download a mix and have nothing to say. Usually the next post gets engagement, and all’s well again. A couple of times musicians from back when commented to thank me for keeping their music known, which was wonderful. And, of course, there was the time the notable songwriter Norman Gimbel e-mailed me to give me his version of how Killing Me Softly With His Song came about. The most impressive public plaudit was the inclusion of this blog in the Playboy 2013 Music Guide. Mine was the only music blog to feature, alongside artists like My Bloody Valentine, Kendrick Lamar, Caitlin Rose and Richard Thompson. “All blogs have strong opinions, but few have the expertise and imagination of Any Major Dude With Half a Heart,” editor Rob Tannenbaum wrote. “ A champion of the championless, the Dude puts together thematic MP3 playlists. The best posts at HalfheartedDude.com are the R&B compilations from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, which resurrect great songs that should never have been forgotten.” By way of acknowledgment I created a mix of seemingly random songs. The unmentioned punchline was that the covers of the albums from which these songs came featured nudity (because Playboy, y’see).

To celebrate these ten years, I’ll be posting compilations of some of the best songs from the various mixes that have appeared here. I’ll start off with two comps of tracks from my favourite 40 mixes over the years; mixes which I still play regularly (the second mix follows next month). The tracklisting is in random order (well, not random – I take care in sequencing them). If forced to choose, I’d rate the two Any Major Morning mixes as my all-favourites, maybe just ahead of the two Jimmy Webb compilations. cover-gallery_1 This mix is, as always, timed to fit on a standard CD-R. I’ve not made covers for it. PW in comments.

1. Alabama 3 – Woke Up This Morning (1999)
Any Major TV Themes Vol. 1
2. Stephen Duffy & The Lilac Time – Driving Somewhere (2007)
Any Major Roads Vol. 1
3. Marc Cohn – Listening To Levon (2007)
Any Major Radio Vol. 1
4. Little Feat – Willin’ (1972)
Any Major American Road Trip – Stage 3 (Amarillo to the California Coast)
5. Barbara Jean English – So Many Ways To Die (1972)
Any Major Soul 1972/73
6. Webster Lewis – Give Me Some Emotion (1979)
Any Major Funk Vol. 1
7. Bill LaBounty – Living It Up (1982)
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 1
8. Big Sound Authority – This House (Is Where Your Love Stands) (1984)
Should Have Been A Top 10 Hit – Vol. 1
9. Aztec Camera – Walk Out To Winter (1983)
Any Major Winter
10. Brooklyn Bridge – Worst That Could Happen (1969)
Any Major Jimmy Webb Collection Vol. 1
11. Scott Walker – Joanna (1968)
Any Major Summer Vol. 3
12. Carpenters – Road One (1972)
Any Major Flute Vol. 1
13. Fleetwood Mac – Silver Springs (1977)
Any Major B-Sides
14. Townes Van Zandt – I’ll Be Here In The Morning (1968)
Any Major Morning Vol. 1
15. Dave Alvin – Rio Grande (2004)
Any Major Mexico
16. Lyle Lovett – Just The Morning (1994)
Any Major Coffee Vol. 1
17. Bap Kennedy – Please Return To Jesus (2012)
Saved Vol. 3
18. Justin Townes Earle – One More Night In Brooklyn (2010)
Any Major Night Vol. 1
19. Jeff Tweedy – Simple Twist Of Fate (2007)
Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 1
20. Nick Drake – Saturday Sun (1970)
Any Major Week Vol. 1

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Any Major Soul 1975 Vol. 2

February 16th, 2017 2 comments

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Man, 1975 was a fine vintage for soul. Any Major Soul 1975 Vol. 1 was great; the second mix is no less wonderful. There are so many songs that failed to make the cut. And if you want more 1975 vibes, Any Major Soul 1974/75 is still up.

The mix begins with a time-capsule novelty: The Soul Train Gang preaching colour-blindness, with the late, great Don Cornelius, the presenter of Soul Train, rapping over the backing vocals of the quintet he founded. Flute fans will get something out of the outro.

Most acts on these mixes are North Americans, with the occasional Brit showing up — as Linda Lewis does in this edition with a song that is gospel-tinged soul but influenced, like all of Lewis’ music, by folk-rock. But here we also have a South African, Richard Jon Smith, who had a brief period of international success. As his fellow South African Jonathan Butler, Smith emerged from Cape Town’s vibrant “mixed-race” music scene where the boundaries between jazz, funk and soul are virtually meaningless — and it shows in their music.

By 1975, the heyday of JJ Barnes was over. He’d been an artist on Motown, though none of his songs were released by the label, and he enjoyed a 1967 hit with Baby Please Come Back Home. In the 1970s he moved to Britain, where his catalogue was popular on the Northern Soul scene. He released a few records in the UK, but had no chart success.

Founded in the wake of funk acts like Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & the Gang, Memphis band Chocolate Milk were also Allen Toussaint’s backing band. They were versatile, dabbling in funk, disco, soul, ballads and jazz.

In this mix, Clydene Jackson’s song recalls the southern soul of the late 1960s — perhaps not surprising, since she was produced by Ray Charles. Jackson didn’t record much for herself, but did (and still does) a lot of session work for acts like Rick James, Randy Crawford, Teddy Pendergrass, Tom Petty, Neil Diamond, Anita Baker, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, Gil Scott-Heron, Patti LaBelle, Michael McDonald, Hugh Masekela, Rod Stewart, Richard “Dimples” Fields, Tom Scott, Idris Muhammad, Neil Young, Muse  and lots others.

Leon Haywood’s seriously sexy I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You was famously sampled by Dr Dre for Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang — and by many other hip hop acts, such as Redman on Rockafella. A word of warning, the female backing vocalist’s contribution to the song, especially towards the end, might be NSFW. Haywood died in April 2016.

As ever, CD-R-length, covers, PW the same as always (amdwhah)

1.  Soul Train Gang – Spectrum
2.  Chocolate Milk – Ain’t Nothing But A Thing
3.  Leon Haywood – I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You
4.  Merry Clayton – Room 205
5.  Linda Lewis – Love, Love, Love
6.  Minnie Riperton – Feelin’ That Your Feelin’s Right
7.  Clydene Jackson – If You Were Mine
8.  Johnny Bristol – Leave My World
9.  J.J. Barnes – I Think I’ve Got A Good Chance
10. Richard Jon Smith – Live For You
11. Smoked Sugar – My Eyes Search A Lonely Room For You
12. Loleatta Holloway – I Know Where You’re Coming From
13. Melba Moore – Get Into My Mind
14. Barbara Acklin – Give Me Some Your Sweet Love
15. Carl Graves – You’re Gonna Be All Alone
16. Curtis Mayfield – So In Love
17. Freddie North – Cuss The Wind
18. Roberta Flack – Mr. Magic
19. Bill Withers – I Wish You Well
20. Vernon Garrett – I Learned My Lesson
21. Impressions – Groove

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Any Major Roads Vol. 3

February 9th, 2017 5 comments

 

Any Major Road Vol.3

The first two Any Major Road mixes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) were so popular, here’s a third one. And this time we let in hitch-hikers, as the cover indicates. I have test-driven this mix for a couple of months now; I really like it.

As I did with the Beach Boys for the summer mixes, I include one Bruce Springsteen song per roads set. Of course, the Beach Boys could also contend having bossed the car song genre. And another one who could stake a claim is, surprisingly, Bob Dylan. But they get only one song, for there’s only one The Boss.

Still, Dylan appears here, on the third volume. And his song is followed by one of the rockabilly artists who had a great influence on the young Robert. Warren Smith never really hit the big time, but I think his Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache is one of the finest songs on any of these road mixes (Dylan recorded a version if it in 2001).

His career at Sun Records having stalled, Smith moved to California and had a couple of minor hits on Liberty records. His career was ruined by a car crash in 1965, in the aftermath of which Smith became addicted to painkillers and then to alcohol, culminating in a prison term for a robbery of a pharmacy. In the late 1970s Smith enjoyed something of a comeback in Britain and Europe, at a time of a rockabilly revival there. After a successful tour of Britain and Europe he was planning another one. He never went: a heart attack killed him on January 30, 1980, about a week before he would have turned 48.

Warren Smith and pal.

Warren Smith and pal.

After Smith had left Sun, another act featured here signed for the label. You may recall The Jesters from the Any American Road Trip – Stage 5 mix. Not to be confused with the New York doo-wop band of the late 1950s, this lot was a mid-1960s Memphis garage rock band. And why were they signed for Sun Records? Because their bassist and producer were label boss Sam Philips’ sons. Cadillac Man from 1966 was their only single. When it tanked, the band broke up.

The Jesters were unmistakably influenced by the rockabilly of their predecessors on Sun. Two more recent acts here draw from the same pool of influences:  Scotty Baker’s 2001 song ‘50 Buick could have been recorded by any number of rockabilly acts in 1958; even his CD cover looks like it was made then. The Little Willies are an Americana band: the title of their Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves sounds like a ’50s country title; the sound is an updated version of that from those days.

Most of the acts here are Americans, but two acts here are from Britain. The Kinks are well-known; sadly, Scottish outfit Hipsway never became really big. They had a UK Top 20 in 1986 with the outstanding The Honeythief. Songs like Ask The Lord and The Broken Years should have been big hits too, as should have been the featured song, Long White Car, which reached #55 in the UK in September 1986. It’s a great shame they never made it big.

On the subject of the covers: I don’t know whether I’m wasting my time making them, but I hope they at least look good. For this mix, both images are from pixabay.com, a very useful royalty-free photo resource (the frontcover photo is by cocoparisienne; the back-cover by Lufina).

Some people made suggestions for future mixes in the comments of previous mixes. Feel free to add to them for a possible readers’ mix.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Home-pimped covers are included. PW the same as always (amdwhah)

1. Willie Nelson – On The Road Again (1980)
2. Janis Joplin – Me And Bobby McGee (1971)
3. Bob Dylan – On The Road Again (1965)
4. Warren Smith – Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache (1957)
5. Chuck Berry – Nadine (Is That You?) (1964)
6. Jean DuShon – Hitch Hike (1964)
7. The Jesters – Cadillac Man (1966)
8. The Kinks – Drivin’ (1969)
9. Sammy Johns – Chevy Van (1975)
10. Tom Waits – Diamonds On My Windshield (1974)
11. Tom Russell – Down The Rio Grande (2001)
12. Bruce Springsteen – Racing In The Street (1978)
13. Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)
14. Hipsway – Long White Car (1986)
15. Black Heat – Drive My Car (1975)
16. Eddie Rabbitt – Drivin’ My Life Away (1980)
17. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Truck Drivin’ Man (1987)
18. Roy Orbison – I Drove All Night (rel. 1992)
19. Scotty Baker – ‘50 Buick (2001)
20. The Little Willies – Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves (2012)
21. Jerry Reed – East Bound And Down (1977)
22. Robert Mitchum – Ballad Of Thunder Road (1960)

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In Memoriam – January 2017

February 2nd, 2017 7 comments

The first month of January might have spared us the death of superstars, but the Grim Reaper wrought almost as great carnage in his domain as the Orange Horror Clown did in his.Perhaps the most famous name to be struck off the roll call of the living was that of Peter Sarstedt, the British folk-rock singer who suffered the double-edged sword of having an enduring mega-hit that came to define him. It didn’t help that this hit, Where Do You Go To My Lovely?, became one of those songs that gained a reputation, to the point of perceived wisdom, of being awful. While one can see how it might not be everybody’s cup of herbal tea, it didn’t merit this derision — it is a fine song. And Sarstedt did not deserve to be defined by his big hit; he actually had better songs than that, including Where Do You…’s flip-side, I am A Cathedral.

One of the premier jazz labels in the 1950s and ‘60s was Verve, and arranger and conductor Buddy Bregman was there from the start in 1956, having been appointed head of A&R by the label’s great founder, Norman Granz, at only 25. As part of his A&R job, he brought Bing Cosby to the label. But it was as an arranger that he made his name — so much so that it appeared on the title of Cosby’s first album for Verve, the platinum-seller Bing Sings Whilst Bregman Swings. Bregman also arranged the label’s first album, the classic Ella Fitzgerald Sings Cole Porter (he’d also arrange some of Ella’s subsequent songbook albums). Bregman arranged for the likes of Count Basie, Anita O’Day, Fed Astaire, Rosemary Clooney, Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee, Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Jerry Lewis, Ricky Nelson, Paul Anka, Buddy Rich, Gogi Grant, Eydie Gormé, Johnny Mercer, Coleman Hawkins, Eddie Fisher (on whose TV show he was musical director), Carmen McRae, and Ethel Merman. He also presented his own TV show in the late 1950s, and scored or orchestrated several films in the 1950s and ‘60s, including Bob Fosse’s The Pajama Game. In the 1960s he worked in Britain for a while, as head of light entertainment on the ITV television station.

It wasn’t a good month for Buddys who once lived in England.  Two days after Bregman, the jazz vocalist and pianist Buddy Greco died at 90. He was performing from seven years of age, including appearances on the radio. Greco’s professional music career began in 1942 when at the age of 16 he joined Benny Goodman’s touring band. By the time he left Goodman four years later, Greco was an experienced singer, pianist and arranger. In 1947 he scored his first US chart hit — Ooh! Look-A There, Ain’t She Pretty — which peaked at #15. Many more hits followed, including his greatest in 1960 with a version of The Lady Is A Tramp. Unusually for singers in his genre, he lived much of his time in England, where he had great success on stage (though none in the charts, other than a middling position with The Lady Is A Tramp). He was still performing on stage until a couple of years ago, marking his 80th anniversary as a performer with a concert in 2013.

The lifestory of South African jazz singer Thandi Klaasen might make for a pretty good movie. Having reached adulthood just as the apartheid regime was putting its racist boot on the throats of South Africa’s black people, Klaasen became a young singing sensation in early 1950s Sophiatown, a township that was the capital of jazz in Johannesburg, by breaking the male monopoly with her all-female vocal quartet, the Quad Sisters. It paved the way for other female Sophiatown artists, such as Miriam Makeba and Dolly Rathebe. Klaasen, a woman of formidable character, also taught the pretty singers how to deal with the sexual advances of the assorted gangsters and thugs who formed a large part of their audiences. In 1961 Klaasen featured with Makeba in the  London run of the all-black jazz-musical King Kong, which served as a requiem for Sophiatown after it had been ethnically-cleansed and torn down by the apartheid regime.

Klaasen was prolific mostly as a stage performer, but that might have ended in 1977 when she was disfigured by an acid attack on her face, allegedly by “rivals”. After more than a year in hospital, she drew from that immense inner strength to reboot her career. She became an icon not only for her contralto and jazz-scatting, but also for her defiance of fate’s cruel tricks. Among the mourners at her funeral was South Africa’s former president, Thabo Mbeki. On February 3, 1959 a bunch of musicians on a tour tossed coins to see who could fly to the next venue, and who’d suffer the mid-winter journey on the beat-up bus. Guitarist Tommy Allsup lost the toss to Richie Valens — and lived for another almost 58 years. After rock music’s most famous plane crash, Allsup, who was a member of Buddy Holly’s Crickets, completed the tour, which was joined by a young Bobby Vee, who also recently died.  Allsup had recorded with Holly (for example on Heartbeat) and previously toured with Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys. Later he backed acts like Bobby Vee, Johnny Cash, The Everly Brothers, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Mother Maybelle Carter, Faron Young, George Jones, Leon Russell, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jean Shepard, Tom T Hall, Billie Jo Spears, Reba McEntire, Charlie Rich, Marty Robbins, Asleep At The Wheel and Elvis Costello.

A year and five days after Mott the Hoople drummer Dale Griffin died, bassist Pete Overend Watts followed him. Watts and Griffin were also fellow band members in The Soulents, one of the two groups that would morph into the Hoople. It was Watts who confided to David Bowie that the band was about to split due to their lack of success. Bowie offered them his song Suffragette City, which the band turned down. Instead, Bowie wrote All The Young Dudes for them, providing their breakthrough hit in 1972. Within four years, the band had burnt out. Watts, Griffin and Mott keyboardist Morgan Fisher carried on as British Lions, releasing two modesty successful albums. Watts later went into production. He died on January 22 of throat cancer.

On the same day Watts died, German drummer Jaki Liebezeit said his final Auf Wiedersehen. For drum connoisseurs, the drummer of the legendary Krautrock band Can ranks among the greats, crediting him with innovation and a funkiness you’d not immediately expect from a German. As a resident of Cologne, he recorded with a few local acts that sang in the city’s local dialects, and mentored upcoming Neue Deutsche Welle acts like Joachim Witt. He drummed on early Eurythmics and later Depeche Mode records, and collaborated extensively with poet-singer-guitarist Jah Wobble. Liebezeit is one of the central voices in David Stubbs’ magisterial 2014 book on Krautrock, Future Days (the book was named after a Can album), which has been translated into several languages, including Japanese.

In the world of soul, Marvell Thomas was something of royalty: his father was the hugely influential Rufus Thomas, who was called “Memphis’ Other King”, his sister was the erstwhile Queen of Soul, Carla Thomas. Marvell was more of a behind-the-scenes guy, playing the keyboard and organ on the records of others produced on Stax and at Muscle Shoals — among them the flip-side of Rufus’ and Carla’s 1960 duet Deep Down Inside, Stax’s first big hit. From the ‘70s onwards he backed the likes of Wilson Picket, Clarence Carter, Duane Allman, Mavis Staples, Denise LaSalle, The Soul Children, Inez Foxx, Shirley Brown (including on Woman To Woman), Yvonne Elliman, Albert King, Tony Joe White, Irma Thomas, Pops Staples, Margie Joseph, among others. He wrote several songs, arranged others, and — by the way — also co-produced Isaac Hayes’ classic Hot Buttered Soul album.Actor Miguel Ferrer was best-known as an actor, especially in RoboCop and the TV series Twin Peak and NCIS: Los Angeles. But the son of actor José Ferrer and the legendary singer Rosemary Clooney (and therefore George Clooney’s cousin), Ferrer also had a career as a backing and session drummer. He was only 21 when he backed Bing Crosby on his 60th anniversary concert in 1976. The year before, he played the drums on Who drummer Keith Moon’s solo album.

Auriel Andrew was not your archetypal country singer. For one thing, she was Australian; for another, she was an Aborigine (her skin name was Mbitjana and her totem the hairy Caterpillar). It seems that the Aboriginal community has a rich tradition of making country music, going back to the 1940s, a time when the term “country” wasn’t even in use yet. A protégé of the godfather of the genre, Jimmy Little, Auriel Andrew was one of its biggest stars in the 1970s and ‘80s, and kept performing and recording until recently.  She was the first Aboriginal woman to perform on Australian television, and appeared in a couple of episodes of the TV soap A Country Practice in 1983. Once she also performed for Pope John Paul II in Pitjantjitjara. She stood in the line, shook his hand, and then joined the back of the line to shake his hand again.

In the canon of Beatles history, Magic Alex has a poor reputation. Known to his mom as Alexis Mardas, the Greek electronics engineer had struck up a friendship with John Lennon, who was impressed by the lightshow Magic Alex had produced for The Rolling Stones. Lennon brought Magic Alex to Apple where he declared the Abbey Road studios with the 8-track recording system as inadequate, and built a 72-track system in Apple’s Savile Row studio. It was a disaster: in the end the expensive mixing desk he devised was sold for scrap, recouping a full £5. When Allen Klein became Beatles manager, Magic Alex was fired in short order. Mardas wasn’t a complete fool, however. He devised a telephone that dialled by voice recognition and displayed the numbers of callers — not unlike what another outfit named Apple would offer a few decades later. Magic Alex was also central in Lennon’s sordid split from Cynthia: it was he who delivered the message that John was leaving her for Yoko Ono.

The death of sound engineer Bill Price on December 22 was announced only in mid-January. Engineers don’t really get much attention, but their contribution to the production of records is crucial. Price was involved in engineering some pop classics, including Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual and What’s New Pussycat, Engelbert Humperdinck’s The Last Waltz and Release Me, Los Bravos’ Black Is Black, possibly The Flirtations’ Nothing But A Heartache, Marmalade’s Reflections Of My Life, Wings’ Live And Let Die (as co-engineer), Mott the Hoople’s All The Way From Memphis (which gives us an overlap in light of Peter Overend Watts’ death), Tom Robinson Band’s Glad To Be Gay, Boomtown Rats’ She’s So Modern, The Clash’s London Calling, Pretenders’ Brass In Pocket, Kid, Stop Your Sobbing, Talk Of The Town and I Go To Sleep, Elton John’s I’m Still Standing , Blue Eyes, I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues and Kiss The Bride, Black’s Everything’s Coming Up Roses, Guns N’ Roses’ November Rain (the LP mix), and much more. His resumé as a producer is shorter, but it includes The Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant, The Clash’s I Fought The Law and the Jesus And Mary Chain’s triple whammy of April Skies, Darklands and Happy When It Rains.My intimate knowledge of Colombian rock is not flawless, so I had no idea who Elkin Ramírez was. It turns out that he was about the biggest rock star in the Latin American country. As frontman of the hard rock band Kraken, he was generally known as Colombia’s Freddie Mercury — so much so that there were rumours that he’d replace Freddie in Queen. The Medellín band began its rise to fame in the mid-’80s. Their last album was released in 2015, when Ramírez was diagnosed with the brain tumor that killed him at 54.

A second ex-King Crimson and future superband member died this month in singer-bassist John Wetton, a month after Greg Lake departed. They were Crimson members at different times, but like Lake, Wetton enjoyed his biggest success as part of a superband, Asia. In between finishing his two-year stint with King Crimson in 1974 and co-founding Asia in 1982, he was also a member of Wishbone Ash, UK and Uriah Heep. He also had session stints with Roxy Music on their live album and various solo albums by all of its members.

A hallmark of the sound created by The Allman Brothers, besides that guitar, was the use of two drummers: Butch Trucks provided the thundering backbeat, Jaimoe Johanson the funky syncopation (also using percussions). Butch remained the one constant in the 46-year span of the Allman Brothers Band, a group he co-founded with the brothers Duane and Greg. The band broke up for good in 2014, and Trucks continued to perform, latterly leading the group Les Brers, which features various Allman alumni, including Jaimoe. Butch last performed on stage on January 6. Eighteen days later the 69-year-old drumming legend put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

 

Bill Price, 72, sound engineer and producer, on Dec. 22
Tom Jones – It’s Not Unusual (1965, as engineer)
Sex Pistols – Pretty Vacant (1977, as producer)
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Happy When It Rains (1987)

Auriel Andrew, 69, Australian country musician, on Jan. 2
Auriel Andrew – Truck Driving Woman (1970)

Elliot Meadow, 71, Scottish-born jazz producer, broadcaster and writer, on Jan. 4
Claire Martin – You Hit The Spot (1991, as producer)

Mike ‘Jefe’ Gaborno, 51, singer of Chicano punk group Manic Hispanic, on Jan. 4

Sylvester Potts, 78, singer with soul group The Contours, on Jan. 6
The Contours – Do You Love Me (1962)
The Contours – It’s Growing (1974)

Johnny Dick, 73, Australia-based rock drummer, on Jan. 6
Johnny Dick ‎- The Warrior (1975)

Eddie Kamae, 89, ukuleleist with Sons of Hawaii, on Jan. 7

Peter Sarstedt, 75, English singer-songwriter, on Jan. 8
Peter Sarstedt – I Am A Cathedral (1969)
Peter Sarstedt – Frozen Orange Juice (1969)

Buddy Bregman, 86, producer, arranger and composer, on Jan. 8
Anita O’Day – Fine And Dandy (1956, as arranger and conductor)
Bing Crosby & Buddy Bregman – Have You Met Miss Jones (1956, as arranger and conductor)
Ella Fitzgerald – Anything Goes (1956, as arranger and conductor)

Crazy Toones, 45, hip-hop producer and DJ, on Jan. 9

Buddy Greco, 90, jazz singer and pianist, on Jan. 10
Buddy Greco – Ooh! Look-A-There, Ain’t She Pretty? (1947)
Buddy Greco – The Lady Is A Tramp (1960)
Buddy Greco – Like A Rolling Stone (1969)

Tommy Allsup, 85, rockabilly, pope & country guitarist, and arranger, on Jan. 11
Buddy Holly – Heartbeat (1958, on lead guitar)
Bobby Vee – Take Good Care Of My Baby (1961, on guitar)
Kenny Rogers – The Gambler (1978, on bass)

Meir Banai, 55, Israeli singer, on Jan. 12

Larry Steinbachek, 56, keyboardist of Bronski Beat, announced on Jan. 12
Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy (1984)

Jan Stoeckart, 89, Dutch composer, conductor and trombonist, on Jan. 13
Simon Park Orchestra – Eye Level (Van der Valk Theme) (1972, as composer)

Alexis ‘Magic Alex’ Mardas, 74, Greek electronics engineer, on Jan. 13

Richie Ingui, 70, singer with the Soul Survivors, on Jan. 13
Soul Survivors – Expressway To Your Heart (1967)
Soul Survivors – City Of Brotherly Love (1974)

Alan Jabbour, 74, fiddler and folklorist, on Jan. 13

Mark Fisher, 48, British music journalist and cultural theorist, on Jan. 13

Greg Trooper, 61, American singer-songwriter, on Jan. 15
Steve Earle – Little Sister (1988, as writer)
Greg Trooper – Good Luck Heart (2013)

Thandi Klaasen, 86, South African jazz singer, on Jan. 15
Thandi Klaasen – Sophiatown (2007)

William Onyeabor, 70, Nigerian singer-songwriter, on Jan. 16
William Onyeabor – Better Change Your Mind (1978)

Charles ‘Bobo’ Shaw, 69, free jazz drummer, on Jan. 16

Steve Wright, bassist of the Greg Kihn Band, on Jan. 16
Greg Kihn Band – The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em) (1981)

Franz Jarnach, 72, keyboardist of German band The Rattles (1991-95), actor, on Jan. 16

Mike Kellie, 69, English multi-instrumentalist and producer, on Jan. 19
Spooky Tooth – That Was Only Yesterday (1969, as member)
The Only Ones – You’ve Got To Pay (1979, as member)

Miguel Ferrer, 61, actor and session musician, on Jan. 19
Keith Moon – Don’t Worry Baby (1975, on drums)

Loalwa Braz, 63, Brazilian singer-songwriter, on Jan. 19
Kaoma – Lambada (1989, on vocals)

Frank Thomas, 80, French songwriter, on Jan. 20
Françoise Hardy – Des bottes rouges de Russie (1969, as writer)

Bingo Mundy, 76, singer with doo wop band The Marcels, on Jan. 20
The Marcels – Blue Moon (1961; Mundy sings the “Moon, moon, moon, moon, moon” line)

Joey Powers, 82, pop singer, songwriter, producer, on Jan. 20
Joey Powers – Midnight Mary (1963)

Maggie Roche, 65, songwriter and singer with The Roches, on Jan. 21
The Roches – No Shoes (2007)

Karl Hendricks, 46, singer, songwriter and guitarist, on Jan. 21
The Karl Hendricks Trio – The Last Bus (1992)

Pete Overend Watts, 69, English bassist of Mott the Hoople, on Jan. 22
Mott The Hoople – Thunderbuck Ram (1970)
Mott The Hoople – Honaloochie Boogie (1973)

Jaki Liebezeit, 78, drummer of German rock band Can, on Jan. 22
Can – Moonshake (1973)
Zeltinger Band – So wie ein Tiger (1979, on drums)
Depeche Mode – The Bottom Line (1997, on percussions)

Marvell Thomas, 75, American keyboardist, on Jan. 23
Carla & Rufus Thomas – Cause I Love You (1960)
The Soul Children – All That Shines Ain’t Gold (1972, on piano)

Butch Trucks, 69, drummer of the Allman Brothers Band, of suicide on Jan. 24
Allman Brothers Band – Southbound (1973)
Allman Brothers – Old Before My Time (2003)

Gil Ray, 60, drummer of power pop bands Game Theory, The Loud Family, on Jan. 24
Game Theory – Erica’s Word (1986)

Björn Thelin, 74, bassist of Swedish guitar band The Spotnicks, on Jan. 24
The Spotnicks – The Rocket Man (1962)

Ronald ‘Nambo’ Robinson, Jamaican singer and musician, on Jan. 25
Ronald ‘Nambo’ Robinson – Sunset (2001)

Ronnie Davis, 66, Jamaican reggae singer, on Jan. 26
Ronnie Davis – Jah Jah Jehovah (1977)

Geoff Nicholls, 68, keyboardist of Black Sabbath, Quartz, on Jan. 28
Quartz – Street Fighting Lady (1977)
Black Sabbath – Die Young (1980)

Guitar Gable, 79, swamp blues singer, on Jan. 28
Guitar Gable with King Karl – This Should Go On Forever (1959)

Elkin Ramírez, 54, singer of Colombian rock band Kraken, on Jan. 29
Kraken – Muere Libre (1987)

James Laurence, 27, half of instrumental hip hop duo Friendzone, on Jan. 30

John Wetton, 67, singer and bassist of Asia, King Crimson, on Jan. 31
King Crimson – Fallen Angel (1974)
John Wetton – Caught In The Crossfire (1980)
Asia – Heat Of The Moment (1982)

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Any Major Favourites 2016 – Vol. 2

January 26th, 2017 7 comments

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This is the second mix of one favourite song each from mixes I’ve posted in 2016 (excluding the Christmas mixes, Song Swarms and In Memoriams).

Last time I asked you to tell me which mixes you enjoyed over the year, and if you didn’t do so then, please let me know now.

Of course, the first person I make these compilations for is myself. I listen to some of them for months before I post them. I love sharing them, and I really enjoy it when other people enjoy them too. But I wouldn’t make them if it wasn’t for me listening to them. The home-brewed covers… those I make exclusively for you (though I don’t know if anyone actually uses them).

If I want to know from you what you liked, I should tell you what mixes of 2016 I liked best. I have played the American Road Trip series a lot. I already have the complete collection, and I’ll hold on to that until I can actually make such a road trip. The Any Major Radio, Coffee and Road mixes (especially Road Vol. 1, and the third volume as well, which I have to post) have been frequent companions in my car, as have the Dylan covers mixes. I really love the Any Major Mexico mix as well.

I’ve also enjoyed the one mix that I didn’t make, but Prince. His party playlist was released after his death, and it was splendid (the song I picked for the present mix has been on a playlist I’ve been planning for years. Maybe this February.). He truly was Any Major Prince.

Obviously I stand by the other mixes as well. The Any Major Soul and Not Feeling Guilty mixes are such a joy to compile, because they make me listen to different tracks from albums I’d normally not play. And I really enjoy the research that goes into making the collections of songs involving individuals, such as, this year, the Steve Gadd and Rod Temperton Collections. The vast investment in time is really worth it.

If you didn’t let me know in Any Major Favourites 2016 Vol. 1, I would still love to know which of the mixes posted here in 2016 you have enjoyed the most.

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

1. Steve Earle – Satellite Radio (2007)
Any Major Radio Vol. 2
2. Jim Photoglo – Fool In Love With You (1981)
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 7
3. Billy Preston – She Belongs To Me (1969)
Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 2
4. George Harrison – Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) (1970)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away
5. The Band – It Makes No Difference (1978)
Any Major Unrequited Love
6. Al Jarreau – Could You Believe (1977)
Saved! Vol. 7: The Soul Edition
7. Margie Joseph – Sign Of The Times (1975)
Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 3
8. The Soul Children – We’re Gettin’ Too Close (1974)
Prince Is Your DJ
9. Dusty Springfield – I Can’t Wait Until I See My Baby’s Face (1967)
Any Major Flute Vol. 3
10. Roy Redmond – Good Day Sunshine (1967)
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
11. Lloyd Price – Under Your Spell Again (1962)
Any Major Halloween Vol. 3
12. Anita O’Day & Billy May – I Could Write A Book (1960)
Any Major Love In Black & White
13. Randy Newman – Birmingham (1974)
American Road Trip – Stage 2
14. Hall & Oates – Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song) (1974)
American Road Trip – Stage 5
15. Sugar Billy – Super Duper Love (Parts 1 & 2) (1975)
Any Major Soul: 1975 Vol. 1
16. Sir Mack Rice – Muhammed Ali (1976)
Muhammad Ali: A Musical Tribute
17. The Whispers – It’s A Love Thing (1980)
Any Major Disco Vol. 4
18. Mighty Mo Rodgers – Black Coffee And Cigarettes (2011)
Any Major Coffee Vol. 1
19. The Cars – You Might Think (1984)
A Life In Vinyl: 1984 Vol. 1
20. Nick Heyward – Whistle Down The Wind (1983)
A Life In Vinyl: 1983
21. Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid – Santa Rosa (1972)
American Road Trip – Stage 4

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Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 1

January 19th, 2017 21 comments

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It was difficult to come up with a name for this mix, and if “protest” implies the kind of angry, black voices that has many whites scared, then that is not quite an accurate reflection of the tone of the songs. Even if some songs are righteously angry and even militant, most are conciliatory, and a few even quite naive.

This is a mix of soul songs that appeal for a social justice, racial equality and harmony, for black consciousness, and for political activism — some deal with one or two of these issues, some with all of them.

It covers roughly the era after the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King and subsequent uprisings, to the decline of the civil rights movement towards the mid-to-late 1970s. So this mix not only addresses the racism and its effects of the time, but also the conversation within black activism between the heirs of MLK and the Black Panthers.

The timing of this post is not by chance. On January 20 — just four days after Martin Luther King Day — the most corrupt and racist US president of modern times will be sworn in. Donald Trump is, of course, a bigot of many badges: he is a xenophobe, a misogynist, a racist and so on. He despises the poor and serves the rich. He mocks the disabled and encourages the bullies. He was endorsed by the Ku Klax Klan and he did not distance himself from them. His impeachment cannot come soon enough, if the venal slimeballs in the GOP can muster enough self-interest to make real what should be inevitable.

Which brings us to 1968, when Richard Nixon was elected president. If we call Trump a racist, then on scale it is fair to describe Nixon in rather more diplomatic terms. Let’s say that Tricky Dick was not an unequivocal friend of African-Americans. There are a few echoes from 1968 in 2016. In both years, right-wing presidents were elected during times of war on the Asian continent; both were elected at a time when the hope for a better future by black Americans — raised by the Civil Rights Act and the election of a black president respectively — was followed by unrest which only the willfully ignorant or the terminally racist would see as unprovoked.

The songs on this mix speak to the Nixon era, but substitute the dated political and cultural references with current ones, and they have application even today. There were plenty more such songs than what will appear on subsequent mixes (to start with, I keep to my usual rule of one song per artist, with a couple of exceptions. I’m guessing there will be three mixes). Since the 1970s, the art of catchy black protest soul songs nearly died out. The corporatisation of music has seen to it. The militant hip hop of the 1980s was a necessary reaction to the jheri-curled soul singers of the age who kept it strictly romantic. But in the 1990s, hip hop became a vehicle for gangsta bling, spinning rims, bustin’ caps in yo ass and rampant misogyny of the kind even Donald Trump would blanche at, rather than to mobilise for social change. Pac died, and Snoop won.

Now Kanye West, that fraudster in charlatan’s clothes, requests an audience with the racist Trump. But we must take courage, there are some artists who do social commentary well — from Eykah Badu, The Fugees or The Roots in the Clinton/Bush era to Frank Ocean, Gregory Porter, Solange or her sister Beyoncé (who did so with Formation, which is no Gil Scott-Heron, though he might have approved anyway) in 2016/17. The protest soul song is making a comeback, in time to stand up to the racists who say racism is dead while revving up the racism. Now it must return to the mainstream, as it did 40+ years ago.

Maybe there is value in reviving the memory of protest and social commentary of the Nixon generation and give it meaning in the Trump era, when it is politically correct again to be racist because the racists have taken off their white hoods or “see no colour”. And if all of the above (other than my empirical views on Donald Trump and his racist pals) is rubbish, take this mix as my contribution to Black History Month.

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

1. The Temptations – Ball of Confusion (1970)
2. The Chi-Lites – Give More Power To The People (1970)
3. The Main Ingredient – Black Seeds Keep On Growing (1971)
4. Sly and the Family Stone – Stand! (1969)
5. The Impressions – Mighty Mighty (Spade & Whitey) (1969)
6. Grady Tate – Be Black (1968)
7. Syl Johnson – I’m Talkin’ ’Bout Freedom (1970)
8. Billy Paul – Am I Black Enough For You (1972)
9. Lou Rawls – The Politician (1972)
10. Z.Z. Hill – Think People (1971)
11. James Carr – Freedom Train (1969)
12. Lee Dorsey – Yes We Can (Part 1) (1970)
13. S.O.U.L. – Tell It Like It Is (1972)
14. Jackie Moore – If (1973)
15. Ernie Hines – A Better World (For Everyone) (1972)
16. George Soulé – Get Involved (1973)
17. The Bar Kays – Six O’Clock News Report (1971)
18. Darondo – Let My People Go (1974)
19. Marion Black – Listen Black Brother (1972)
20. Swamp Dogg – I Was Born Blue (1970)
21. The Isley Brothers – Fight The Power (Parts 1&2) (1975)
22. Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1971)

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Any Major Favourites 2016 – Vol. 1

January 12th, 2017 10 comments

As I did last year, I am offering two compilations of the compilations I posted over the past year, with one song chosen from each mix (except for last year’s Any Major Favourites Vol. 1 and Vol .2, the Christmas selections, the Song Swarms for The Girl From Ipanema and By The Time I Get To Phoenix, the Any Major Disco Vol. 3 mix I posted just before New Year’s, All The People Who Died 2016, and In Memoriams). All of the songs here are among my favourite tracks from the respective mixes —  the choice often was tough.

In 2016 I put up 48 mixes, plus a dozen of In Memoriams, and the Purple Rain vs Thriller post with which I think I agitated a couple of Michael Jackson devotees a little.  But, hey, at least they commented. I’m very grateful to those who frequently comment; sometimes these comments tell stories from the commenter’s experience, which are huge fun to read. The nice comments keep this place going; but when there are weeks when virtually nobody comments, I do get discouraged and wonder how long I will keep going at this hobby. But obviously I still have fun doing it, right down to doing the covers which I doubt anybody uses.

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There’ll be a second mix like this in two week’s time (next time we will turn our gaze to the inauguration if Little Hands, the mocker of disabled journalists).

Of course, I would love to know which of the mixes of 2016 you have enjoyed the most.

For once, this mix won’t quite fit on a standard CD-R, and there are no home-made covers… PW in comments.

1. Bruce Springsteen – Chimes Of Freedom (1988)
Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 1
2. Warren Zevon – Mohammed’s Radio (1981)
Any Major Radio Vol. 1
3. Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Winter In America (1974)
Any Major Flute Vol. 1
4. Dorothy Morrison – Black California (1970)
American Road Trip – Stage 3
5. Sandra Wright – I’ll See You Through (I’ll Be Your Shelter) (1974)
Any Major Soul 1974 Vol. 2
6. Minnie Riperton – Light My Fire (1979)
Any Major Flute Vol. 2
7. War – All Day Music (1971)
Any Major Beach Vol. 1
8. Boz Scaggs – Miss Sun (1980)
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 6
9. Karen Carpenter – If We Try (1979/80)
Rod Temperton Collection
10. Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Kiss And Say Goodbye (1975)
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 2
11. Billy Joel – Summer, Highland Falls (1976)
American Road Trip – Stage 1
12. Françoise Hardy – Suzanne (1970)
Any Major Leonard Cohen Covers
13. Hoyt Axton – Evangelina (1975)
Any Major Mexico
14. Guy Clark – The Randall Knife (1983)
Any Major Fathers Vol. 2
15. Kris Kristofferson – Thank You For A Life (2006)
Any Major Thanksgiving
16. Drive-By Truckers – George Jones Talkin’ Cell Phone Blues (2009)
Any Major Road Vol. 2
17. Aztec Camera – Still On Fire (1984)
A Life In Vinyl: 1984 Vol. 2
18. Josh Rouse – Wonderful (2006)
Any Major Coffee Vol. 2
19. Richard Hawley – The Nights Are Made For Us (2003)
Any Major Night Vol. 1
Bonus track: David Bowie – Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide (live) (1973)
Great Covers: Ziggy Stardust

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In Memoriam – December 2016

January 5th, 2017 7 comments

im1612-gallery-1The tributes have been exhaustive, the Last Christmas references been made. There’s not really much left to say about George Michael. It is now being revealed just how generous and caring a person he was, mostly discreetly. It needn’t be stated that George Michael was a gifted songwriter and arranger. He was also a marvellous vocalist, in tone and phrasing. Seek out his unjustly overlooked 1986 solo single A Different Corner (featured on the All The People Who Died 2016 mix). It has a lovely melody, understated arrangement and very good lyrics. But George’s soulful delivery is the real star here. He was great on ballads: Kissing A Fool and One More Try from the Faith album are other good examples of it.

But the stand-out performance is his version at Live Aid of Elton John’s Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. Forget the 1990s recording (also live); this is the more-or-less spontaneous version, without post-production. It’s perfect; George Michael’s vocal performance is breathtaking, as is fellow Pinner boy Elton’s arrangement. Had Queen bombed at Wembley, then this would be regarded as the singular highpoint of Live Aid. So, yeah, there were quite a few things left to say about George Michael.

With the death of Status Quo rhythm guitarist and co-singer Rick Parfitt the day after George Michael, the first two performers to appear on the Band Aid record have died (and, I think, the first two to have appeared on the London leg of Live Aid). Status Quo were considered a bit of a two-chord band by the purist, but their records were huge fun — especially for the dedicated air guitarists. A friend remarked after Parfitt’s death that it was harsh to expect much variation from a band named Status Quo. But they could also do slow songs, such as the lovely Living On An Island, which featured on A Life In Vinyl 1980. By all accounts, Parfitt was a gregarious party animal with no big star pretensions. But he also knew tragedy, having lost a two-year-old daughter in a drowning accident in 1980. He became a father again, to twins, in 2008, at the age of 60.

As 2016 began, prog-rockers Emerson, Lake & Palmer were still all alive. Now only Carl Palmer is left. Keith Emerson went in March; now Greg Lake died — just as his song I Believe in Father Christmas was going back on seasonal rotation (it featured on Any Major 1970s Christmas), though that selection was made weeks before his death). Before becoming a target of contempt for 1970s punks as a member of ELP, Lake was the singer and bass guitarist for prog-rock pioneers King Crimson. On a tour that also included fellow prog-rockers The Nice on the bill, Lake struck up a friendship with that group’s Keith Emerson. They decided to form a band, roping in drummer Palmer, to create ELP. By 1974, ELP were done due to artistic differences between Emerson and Lake (a contractually obliged 1979 album still followed). His autobiography, Lucky Man, is now due for publication in September 2017; it’s named after a song he wrote at age 12 and recorded by ELP in 1970.

im1612-gallery-2There is a certain symmetry between ELP and the Australian rock band Daddy Cool: both lost members in March — in the case of Daddy Cool, guitarist Ross Hannaford — and in December, with bass player Wayne Duncan, of a stroke. The Melbourne group was the first local act to sell 100,000 LPs in Australia, with their 1970 debut LP Daddy Who?… Daddy Cool. That album included their 1970 hit Eagle Rock, which topped the Australian charts for ten weeks, and featured here earlier this year. In the comments to the March edition of In Memoriam, reader J Loslo noted that there’s an Australian bar tradition to drop one’s trousers and shuffle around with your pants around your ankles if it happens to come on the jukebox. Eagle Rock featured in the tribute for Hannaford; here I’ll go with one of J Loslo’s recommendations.

As a great actress might, Debbie Reynolds made her exit in emphatic style, of a broken heart the day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died. With that, she gave this rotten year a symbolic accent. Reynolds was a gifted talent; in the Good Morning sequence in Singin’ In The Rain, the just 19-year-old held her own against the seasoned hoofers Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor — after just four months of hyper-intensive training. In music, Reynolds scored her big hits by way of musicals, including the chart-topper Tammy, which was from the 1957 film Tammy and the Bachelor. She also had minor hits in the 1950s with pop covers of country songs. Later she tried her hand at bubblegum pop, being produced by Wes Farrell, who later invented The Partridge Family. Subsequently she had a long-running cabaret stint in Las Vegas. In a month when the Reaper took several stars with connections to Christmas records, it’s suitable that Reynolds’ final recording was an album of festive season numbers, recorded with Singin’ In The Rain co-star O’Connor in the early 1990s.

Saxophonist and trumpeter Herb Hardesty, a World Wart 2 veteran, was really a jazzman, but he played a role in the rise of rock & roll as a tenor saxophonist for Fats Domino, including on crossover hits such as Ain’t That A Shame and Blueberry Hill, and earlier on Lloyd Price’s 1952 proto-rock & roll number Lawdy Miss Clawdy (on which Domino played the piano; the song was based on an earlier Domino track). Hardesty also backed acts such as Smiley Lewis, T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner, Little Richard, Lee Dorsey and, later, Dr John. Playing with him on many of these tracks, as part of producer Dave Bartholomew’s backing band, was future Wrecking Crew drummer Earl Palmer, who got Hardesty a session gig with Tom Waits on his 1978 Blue Valentine LP. In 1953, it was Hardesty who prepped a young Ray Charles for his first tour. Hardesty went on to do a lot of live backing on stage with acts like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Fats Domino, as well as Waits.

In the 1960s Larry Muhoberac played on several Elvis records, and then he was the keyboardist in Elvis TCB backing band during his early Las Vegas stints. He also played as a session keyboardist on records by the likes of Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand, Kim Carnes, BW Stevenson, Nancy Wilson, José Feliciano, John Prine, Jessi Colter, Ann Murray, Johnny Cash, Hoyt Axton (on Evangelina, which featured on the Any Major Mexico mix), Helen Reddy, Bobbie Gentry, Carpenters, Maxine Nightingale, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Jr, Andraé Crouch, Dolly Parton and others. He also produced or arranged for Diamond, Haggard, Gentry, Crouch, Dean Martin, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood, Al Martino, Red Simpson, Jim Gilstrap (including House of Strangers on Any Major Soul 1975 Vol. 1), Yvonne Elliman, Ray Charles, Eddie Rabbit, Glen Campbell, Crystal Gayle and more…

im1612-gallery-3Gospel is a difficult genre to define, even if one just sticks to black gospel. The popular image is of robed choirs doing Oh Happy Day kind of stuff, or maybe Mahalia Jackson’s more blues inflected spirituals. Of course, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a gospel singer who did more than most to help invent rock & roll. Joe Ligon, the founder of the Mighty Clouds Of Joy who has died at 80, was another innovator. The group started in the early 1960s as a traditional Southern Baptist shout-and-yell gospel band. But over time they incorporated influences from secular soul music, culminating in secular recognition, including being the first gospel act to appear on Soul Train. In that way, they blazed a trail for contemporary gospel acts such as The Winans. The secular world appreciated the Mighty Clouds Of Joy as well: they opened for acts like the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon and Aretha Franklin.

In the world of jazz-fusion, drummer Alphonse Mouzon was royalty. A founder member of Weather Report (even if that stint was short-lived) he released several LPs and backed some of the great names in the genre, from Roy Ayers and Herbie Hancock to Al di Meola , but also more traditional jazz people, such as Miles Davis and Les McCann. He also drummed for non-jazz acts, such as Tim Hardin, Roberta Flack, Eugene McDaniels and Freda Payne.

The Grim Reaper made it a habit in 2016 of taking musicians before their time. French singer Léo Marjane can have no such complaints: she lived to the age of 104. At one point, before and during World War 2, Marjane was among the biggest singing stars in France, right up there with Edith Piaf, Jean Sablon and Charles Trenet (who wrote Marjane’s biggest hit, 1941’s Seule ce soir). Her career collapsed with the liberation of France when she was accused of having sung in venues frequented by German officers and performed on radio stations controlled by French collaborators. She ascribed this to naiveté. A comeback attempt in the 1950s failed, partly because her genre of music was on the decline, and partly because the French public had not forgotten the past. By 1957 she married a French aristocrat and quit the music business.

This month we lost the singer-writers of two beloved Christmas pop songs in George Michael and Greg Lake (and Rick Parfitt, who sang on the Band Aid single). Irish band manager Frank Murray had a role in the creation of another Christmas classic: Fairytale Of New York. Murray was the manager of The Pogues when he suggested they cover The Band’s Christmas Must Be Tonight. The band turned down the idea, so Murray challenged frontman Shane McGowan to write something better. Which he did. Murray also got Kirsty MacColl to duet on the song.

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Mark Gray, 64, country singer, songwriter, keyboardist with Exile, on Dec. 2
Exile -Take Me Down (1980, as co-writer)

Herbert Hardesty, 91, jazz trumpeter & saxophonist, on Dec. 3
Fats Domino – Blue Monday (1956, on baritone sax)
Herb Hardesty – Perdido Street (1962)
Growly-the-DCM-monster – Whistlin’ Past The Graveyard (1978)

Larry Muhoberac, 79, arranger, producer, and keyboardist, on Dec. 4
Neil Diamond – I Am…I Said (1971, as arranger)
Barbra Streisand – Beautiful (1971, on piano)
Jessi Colter – I’m Not Lisa (1975, on piano)

Wayne Duncan, 72, bassist of Australian rock band Daddy Cool, on Dec. 4
Daddy Cool – Zoop Bop Gold Cadillac (1971)

Ralph Johnson, lead singer of The Impressions (as of 1973), on Dec. 4
The Impressions – I’m A Changed Man (Finally Got Myself Together) (1973)

Adam Sagan, 35, drummer of metal bands Circle II Circle, Into Eternity, on Dec. 5

Big Syke, 48, rapper, on Dec. 5
2Pac feat. Big Syke and Kurupt – Check Out Time (rel. 1996; as co-rapper)

Greg Lake, 69, English singer and guitarist/bassist (King Crimson, ELP), on Dec. 7
King Crimson – I Talk To The Wind (1969)
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Lucky Man (1970)
Greg Lake – I Believe In Father Christmas (1975)

Palani Vaughan, 72, Hawaiian music singer, on Dec. 8

George Mantalis, 81, singer with vocal group The Four Coins, on Dec. 10
The Four Coins – Memories Of You (1955)

Damião Experiença, 81, Brazilian singer-songwriter, musician, producer on Dec. 10

Joe Ligon, 80, lead singer of gospel group Mighty Clouds Of Joy, on Dec. 11
Mighty Clouds Of Joy – You’ll Never Know (1961)
Mighty Clouds Of Joy – Time (1974)

Valerie Gell, 71, member of English beat group The Liverbirds, on Dec. 11
The Liverbirds – Leave All Your Old Loves (1964)

Bob Krasnow, 82, record executive, co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, on Dec. 11

Jim Lowe, 93, singer-songwriter and DJ, on Dec. 12
Jim Lowe – Green Door (1956)

Barrelhouse Chuck, 58, American blues musician, on Dec. 12

Mark Fisher, 57, keyboardist of British pop group Matt Bianco, on Dec. 12
Matt Bianco – Don’t Blame It On That Girl (1988, also as co-writer)

Betsy Pecanins, 62, US-born Mexican singer, songwriter, producer, on Dec. 13

Alan Thicke, 69, Canadian actor and TV theme songwriter, on Dec. 13
Al Burton – Theme of Diff’rent Strokes (1978, as songwriter)

Bunny Walters, 63, New Zealand singer, on Dec. 14
Bunny Walters – Brandy (1972)

Dave Shepherd, 87, English jazz clarinetist, on Dec. 15

Léo Marjane, 104, French singer, on Dec. 18
Léo Marjane – Seule ce soir (1941)

Sven Zetterberg, 64, Swedish blues musician, on Dec. 18

Gordie Tapp, 94, Canadian country singer and comedian (Hee Haw), on Dec. 18
Gordie Tapp  – Trouble In The Amen Corner

Andrew Dorff, 40, country songwriter (brother of actor Stephen Dorff), on Dec. 19
Blake Shelton – My Eyes (2013, as co-writer)

Sam Leach, 81, British concert promoter (also for the early Beatles), on Dec. 21

Betty Loo Taylor, 87, jazz pianist, on Dec. 21

Frank Murray, 66, Irish manager of Thin Lizzy, The Pogues, on Dec. 22
The Pogues – If I Should Fall From Grace With God (1988, as manager)

Mick Zane, 57, guitarist of heavy metal band Malice, on Dec. 23

Rick Parfitt, 68, guitarist and singer with Status Quo, on Dec. 24
Status Quo – Pictures Of Matchstick Men (1967)
Status Quo – Down Down (1974)
Status Quo – Accident Prone (1978)

Carole Smith, 94, country songwriter, on Dec. 24
Sonny James – Don’t Keep Me Hangin’ On (1970, as co-writer)

George Michael, 53, singer and songwriter, on Dec. 25
Wham! – Wham Rap! (1982)
George Michael – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (at Live Aid, 1985)
George Michael – Kissing A Fool (1987)
George Michael – Fastlove (1996)

Alphonse Mouzon, 68, jazz-fusion drummer, on Dec 25.
Eugene McDaniels – Susan Jane (1971, on drums)
Alphonse Mouzon – Playing Between The Beats (1978)

Knut Kiesewetter, 75, German jazz singer, songwriter and producer, on Dec. 28
Knut Kiesewetter – Good Night Irene (1963)

Pierre Barouh, 82, French actor, writer and musician, on Dec. 28

Debbie Reynolds, 84, American actress and singer, on Dec. 28
Debbie Reynolds & Carleton Carpenter – Aba Daba Honeymoon (1950)
Debbie Reynolds – Tammy (1957)
Debbie Reynolds – With A Little Love (Just A Little Love) (1969)

Allan Williams, 86, first manager of The Beatles, on Dec. 30

David Meltzer, 79, beat-poet and musician, on Dec. 31
Tina & David Meltzer – Pure White Place (1996)

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Any Major Disco Vol. 5

December 29th, 2016 3 comments

any-major-disco-vol-5

As last year, we are seeing out December with a mix of disco songs, especially for New Year’s Eve. After the annus horribilis we have had — 2016 cannot piss off soon enough — we are going for pure nostalgia with the obvious classics of the genre. Even some which back in the day some of us night have thought of as naff (but how wrong we were about Boney M!).

This mix is set up for dancing — I’ve even sequenced the thing to roughly account for the BPMs — whether in a big group, or with your partner or by yourself. Just put on your dancing shoes and shake your booty to the boogie.

And if you need more to dance to, get multiple fixes of the previous four Any Major Disco mixes and the eight-volume Any Major Funk (which really was mostly disco as well). The whole lot can be found in one handy repository. As far as I can see, all links are still live.

By the way, check out which acts Germany’s Bravo magazine chose as their disco groups of 1978.

And so I wish you, as the Germans say, a good slide into the New Year. May 2017 give us respite from the ceaselessly obnoxious 2016, and may it bring you personally much to be joyful about.

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

1. Kool & the Gang – Ladies’ Night (1979)
2. Sister Sledge – Lost In Music (1979)
3. Chaka Khan – I’m Every Woman (1978)
4. KC & the Sunshine Band – Shake Your Booty (1976)
5. Rose Royce – Car Wash (1977)
6. Chic – Dance Dance Dance (1977)
7. The Jacksons – Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) (1979)
8. Alicia Bridges – I Love The Nightlife (1978)
9. Anita Ward – Ring My Bell (1979)
10. Gibson Brothers – Que Sera Mi Vida (1980)
11. Amii Stewart – Knock On Wood (1979)
12. Patrick Hernandez – Born To Be Alive (1979)
13. Boney M – Ma Baker (1977)
14. Amanda Lear – Queen Of Chinatown (1977)
15. La Bionda – One For You, One For Me (1978)
16. Donna Summer – Bad Girls (1979)
17. Andrea True Connection – More, More, More (1976)
18. Shirley & Co – Shame Shame Shame (1975)
19. Silver Convention – Fly Robin Fly (1975)

Categories: Disco, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Notable music deaths of 2016

December 27th, 2016 20 comments

all-the-people-whove-died-2016

Readers of the monthly In Memoriam round-up would have spotted 2016 as an annus horribilis in music deaths already in March — by the time Prince went in April, we were just confirmed in that view.

The only nearly comparable year I can think of is 1977, when Elvis Presley, Marc Bolan, Bing Crosby, Sandy Denny and Buddy Johnson went, plus the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the plane crash (1978 was also shitty, so don’t even hope for a milder 2017). Given that the pool of pop musicians of death-appropriate age was still pretty small then, that was some heavy-going. But at least, for all its not insignificant problems, 1977 was not the political clusterfuck which 2016 was. Indeed, 1977 was the post-war 20th century we knew; 2016 put an end to that era.

As always in my end-of-year In Memoriam round-up, I nominate the most significant deaths of the year by categories of 20 (in pop-rock), tens or fives. Some people could have been included in more than one; I might have omitted somebody who you think must be included, but them’s the subjective shakes. There are some I wanted to include, but just couldn’t. The stories of many the people listed here, and many more who aren’t, were told in the monthly In Memoriams — revisit them here.

Some of the people who died were paid tribute to with special mixes:, a mix of songs that Rod Temperton wrote or produced or played on, a mix of covers of Leonard Cohen songs, a DJ setlist compiled by Prince himself, and Ziggy Stardust in cover versions.

And this year, I offer a People Who’ve Died 2016 mix: I’ve chosen the 20 people who died this year whose music meant the most to me. In that, I’ll limit myself to people actually being in the featured band, so no songwriters, producers or session musicians will feature, even if the body of their contributions was weighty.

So, with that to the year’s dead. If anybody meriting inclusion dies within the last few days of the year, I’ll include them in edits, as I did with Natalie Cole in last year’s Notable Music Deaths of 2015. Of course they’ll feature in the monthly In Memoriam list, which will appear in the first week of the new year.

And, 2016, do fuck off.

 

POP/ROCK
David Bowie
, 69, legend, on Jan. 10
Prince, 57, music genius, on April 21
Leonard Cohen, 82, Canadian singer-songwriter and poet, on Nov. 7
George Michael, 53, English singer and songwriter (Wham!), on Dec. 25
Leon Russell
, 74, singer, songwriter and musician, on Nov. 13
im16-rock-pop_1

Glenn Frey, 67, member of Eagles, singer-songwriter, actor, on Jan. 18
Rick Parfitt, 68, rhythm guitarist and singer with Status Quo, on Dec. 24
Greg Lake, 69, English singer and guitarist/bassist (King Crimson, ELP), on Dec. 7
Keith Emerson, 71, English rock keyboardist (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), on March 10
Black/Colin Vearncombe, 53, British singer-songwriter, on Jan. 26
im16-rock-pop_2

Pete Burns, 57, English singer and songwriter (Dead or Alive), on Oct. 23
Henry McCullough, 72, Northern Irish guitarist with Spooky Tooth, Wings, on June 14
Paul Kantner, 74, guitarist, singer, co-founder of Jefferson Airplane/ Starship, on Jan. 28
Signe Toly Anderson, 74, original singer of Jefferson Airplane, on Jan. 28
Alan Vega, 78, half of protopunk duo Suicide, on July 16
im16-rock-pop_3

Dale Griffin, 67, drummer of Mott The Hoople, on Jan. 17
Andy Newman, 73, pianist of British band Thunderclap Newman, announced on March 30
Lennie Baker, 69, singer with Sha Na Na, on Feb. 24
Nick Menza, 51, German-born drummer of Megadeth, on May 21
Steven Young, member of British electronic bands Colourbox and M/A/R/R/S, on July 13
im16-rock-pop_4

 

SOUL/FUNK
Maurice White, 74, singer, drummer, composer, producer, arranger, on Feb. 4
Billy Paul, 81, soul singer, on April 24
Wayne Jackson, 74, legendary trumpeter (The Memphis Horns), on June 21
Bernie Worrell, 72, keyboard player with Parliament-Funkadelic, on June 24
Mack Rice, 82, soul songwriter and singer, on June 27
im16-soul_1

Phife Dawg, 45, member of hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, on March 22
Colonel Abrams, 67, soul/funk singer, on Nov. 25
Nicholas Caldwell, 71, extravagantly bearded singer with The Whispers, on Jan. 5
Kashif (née Michael Jones), 56, soul singer, songwriter and producer, on Sept. 25
Clarence ‘Blowfly’ Reid, 76, soul-funk musician, songwriter and producer, on Jan. 17
im16-soul_2

 

COUNTRY
Merle Haggard, 79, country singer-songwriter, on April 6
Ralph Stanley, 89, bluegrass legend, on June 23
Jean Shepard, 82, country singer and songwriter, on Sept. 25
Steve Young, 73, country singer–songwriter, on March 17
John D. Loudermilk
, 82, singer and songwriter, on Sept. 21
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Red Simpson, 81, country singer and songwriter, on Jan. 8
Sonny James, 87, country singer-songwriter, on Feb. 22
Bonnie Brown, 77, member of country group The Browns, on July 16
Holly Dunn, 59, country music singer-songwriter, on Nov. 14
Joe Clay, 78, rockabilly singer and guitarist, on Sept. 26
im16-country_2

 

FOLK
Guy Clark, 74, folk and country singer-songwriter, on May 17
Fred Hellerman, 89, folk singer-songwriter, guitarist with The Weavers; producer, on Sept. 1
Glenn Yarbrough, 86, folk singer, on Aug. 11
Dave Swarbrick, 75, fiddler with British folk band Fairport Convention, on June 3
Oscar Brand, 96, folk singer-songwriter, author and radio personality, on Sept. 30
Karl Dallas, 85, folk songwriter, writer and peace campaigner, on June 21
im16-folk

 

JAZZ
Mose Allison, 89, jazz pianist, singer and songwriter, on Nov. 15
Toots Thielemans, 94, Belgian jazz harmonica player and guitarist, on Aug. 22
Alphonse Mouzon, 68, jazz fusion drummer, on December 26
Jeremy Steig, 73, jazz-rock flautist, on April 13
Joe Houston, 89, R&B and jazz saxophonist, on Dec. 28, 2015 (didn’t make on last year’s round-up)
Bill Henderson, 90, jazz singer and actor, on April 3
im16-jazz

 

MOM’S FAVOURITES
Bobby Vee, 73, pop singer, on Oct. 24
Kay Starr
, 94, pop and jazz singer, on Nov. 3
Marni Nixon, 86, singer (voice-over for Natalie Wood, Audrey Hepburn etc), on July 24
Gogi Grant, 91, pop and musicals singer, on March 10
Frank Sinatra Jr., 72, singer and actor, on March 15
im16-moms-faves

 

PIONEERS
Scotty Moore, 84, pioneering Rock & Roll guitarist, on June 28
Lonnie Mack, 74, singer and guitar pioneer, on April 21
Emile Ford, 78, Saint Lucia-born pop singer and pioneering sound engineer, on April 11
Jean-Jacques Perrey
, 87, pioneering French electronic musician, producer, on Nov. 4
Ray ‘Miss Ray’ Singleton, 79, early Motown songwriter and producer, on Nov. 11
im16-pioneers

 

WORLD
Papa Wemba, 66, Congolese singer, on April 24
Hubert Giraud, 94, French songwriter, on Jan. 16
Naná Vasconcelos, 71, Brazilian jazz percussionist and singer, on March 9
Buckwheat Zydeco, 68, accordionist and bandleader, on Sept. 24
Mandoza
, 38, South African kwaito musician, on Sept. 18
im16-world

 

BLUES/ GOSPEL/REGGAE/SKA
Prince Buster, 78, Jamaican ska musician, on Sept. 8
Joe Ligon, 80, lead singer of gospel group Mighty Clouds Of Joy, on Dec. 11
Long John Hunter, 84, blues guitarist and singer-songwriter, on Jan. 4
Candye Kane
, 54, blues singer-songwriter and porn actress, on May 6
L.C. Ulmer, 87, blues musician, on Feb. 14
im16-blues-etc

 

SESSION MUSICIANS
Harrison Calloway, 75, trumpeter and leader of the Muscle Shoals Horns, on April 30
Bob Cranshaw, 83, jazz bassist, on Nov. 2
Herbert Hardesty, 91, jazz trumpeter & saxophonist, on Dec. 3
Al Caiola
, 96, American guitarist and composer, on Nov. 9
Dennis Davis, session drummer, on April 6
im16-session-players

 

PRODUCERS/ARRANGERS
George Martin, 90, English record producer, composer, arranger and engineer, on March 8
Chips Moman, 79, songwriter, producer, engineer, guitarist, on June 13
Rod Temperton, 66, English keyboardist, songwriter, producer, on Oct. 5
Lewis Merenstein, 81, producer (Van Morrison), on Sept. 6
Giorgio Gomelsky, 81, impresario, band manager, songwriter, producer, on Jan. 13
im16-producers

 

SONGWRITERS
Curly Putman, 85, country songwriter, on Oct. 30
Sonny Sanders, 77, soul songwriter, arranger, producer, on Oct. 12
Jimmy Haskell, 79, arranger, conductor and TV/film composer, on Feb. 2
Gary S. Paxton, 77, producer and singer-songwriter, on July 16
Sandy Pearlman, 72, producer, songwriter and manager, on July 26
im16-songwriters

 

MOVERS & SHAKERS
Phil Chess
, 95, producer and co-founder of Chess Records, on Oct. 19
Robert Stigwood, 81, Australian music, theatre and film impresario, on Jan. 4
Chris Stone, 81, co- owner of the Record Plant studio, on Sept. 10
David Mancuso, 72, DJ and founder of New York club The Loft, on Nov. 12im16-movers-shakers

And so to the tribute mix. CD-R length, home-untertaken covers included. PW in comments.

1. Status Quo – Again And Again (1978)
2. David Bowie – Changes (1971)
3. Leon Russell – Roll Away The Stone (1970)
4. Mott The Hoople – All The Way From Memphis (1973)
5. Prince – Baby I ‘m A Star (1984)
6. Mandoza – Nkalakatha (2001)
7. Sir Mack Rice – Dark Skin Woman (Part 1) (1975)
8. Billy Paul – Let ‘Em In (1974)
9. Earth, Wind & Fire – In The Stone (1979)
10. Heatwave – Boogie Nights (1976)
11. The Whispers – Let’s Go All The Way (1978)
12. Black – Wonderful Life (1987)
13. George Michael – A Different Corner (1986)
14. Eagles – New Kid In Town (1976)
15. Leonard Cohen – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (1967)
16. Papa Wemba – Le Voyageur (1992)
17. Bobby Vee – Run to Him (1961)
18. Guy Clark – Stuff That Works (1995)
19. Merle Haggard – In My Next Life (1994)
20. Ralph Stanley – O Death (2000)

GET IT!

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Categories: In Memoriam, Mix CD-Rs Tags: