Any Major Soul 1973 – Vol. 1

February 26th, 2015 7 comments

Any.Major.Soul.1973_1

Is 1972 the greatest year in soul music, or is it 1973? We have had two mixes covering 1972 (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), and now we have the first volume of 1973. Either way, it was the golden age in which utter gems like Leroy Hutson’s Love Oh Love went by quite unnoticed. To have these two years concentrated in one mix, check out Any Major Soul 1972/73, perhaps one of the greatest soul mixes ever compiled — and the credit for that goes not in any way to the compiler, but to the great people who made that music.

And here’s the mindblowing thing: when you hear the fine music on this mix, remember that just a few of them were hits; most of them were not, many were even just album tracks. Hutson’s Love Oh Love was released as a single: it reached #75 on the “Black Charts”.

One of the album tracks was the Isley Brothers’ If You Were There from the outstanding 3+3 LP. Eleven years later it was covered by Wham!, on their Make It Big album, introducing this fine song to a teenage audience.

On the Undisputed Truth’s Law Of The Land album Girl You’re Alright (spelled on the label incorrectly as “your”, anticipating Facebook grammar by almost four decades) is Track 3. It’s a fine song, but the track of greater interest is the one that precedes it: the original version of Papa Was A Rolling Stone. One day I’ll make a mix of original recordings of songs that became big Motown for others, and the Undisputed Truth will feature with that.

Margie Joseph’s Touch Your Woman might also feature in the “Covered With Soul” series — it was a hit the previous year for Dolly Parton. Dolly sang it in a way that suggests that a nice embrace will get her over the present spat (apart from one knowing inflection in the delivery of the title), but there is no doubt what Margie is talking: passionate make-up sex.

Letta Mbulu’s 1973 Naturally LP was an eclectic affair, with the sounds of her native South Africa, Afro-soul and straight soul. The featured track was written by the late, lamented Joe Sample.

Finally, I assure you that the sequencing of Darondo’s Didn’t I followed by Sylvia Robinson’s song of the same title is purely coincidental. They just went well together.


1. The Three Degrees – Year Of Decision
2. Freda Payne – Right Back Where I Started From
3. Bobby Womack – Lookin’ For A Love
4. Margie Joseph – Touch Your Woman
5. Denise LaSalle – There Ain’t Enough Hate Around (To Make Me Turn Around)
6. Irma Thomas – She’ll Never Be Your Wife
7. Four Tops – It Won’t Be The First Time
8. Leroy Hutson – Love, Oh Love
9. Baby Washington & Don Gardner – Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me
10. The Isley Brothers – If You Were There
11. John Edwards – Spread The News
12. The Spinners – One Of A Kind (Love Affair)
13. Bloodstone – Outside Woman
14. Al Green – Have You Been Making Out O.K.
15. Darondo – Didn’t I
16. Sylvia – Didn’t I
17. Terry Callier – Just As Long As We’re In Love
18. Inez Foxx – You’re Saving Me For A Rainy Day
19. Pat Lundy – He’s The Father Of My Children
20. Letta Mbulu – Now We May Begin
21. The Undisputed Truth – Girl You’re Alright
22. Sly & the Family Stone – Skin I’m In
23. Lyn Collins – Take Me Just As I Am

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A Life In Vinyl: 1981

February 19th, 2015 3 comments

A Life In Vinyl - 1981

With violent death of John Lennon just as 1980 drew to a close, the first few months of 1981, the year I turned 15, was spent on Beatles binging. I had been a fan before, but the only way to honour John Lennon was to go into manic overdrive. I even liked Yoko Ono’s single — and Walking On Thin Ice is a indeed a fine song on its own merit. It was the song John and Yoko were working on that 8 December, before Chapman shot Lennon dead outside the Dakota, apparently while John was holding the master tape of the song.

In February I bought Bruce Springsteen’s The River double album. On that day I had an eye test which for a few hours almost blinded me — I lacked the sense of knowledge or irony that might have prompted me to crack a “Blinded By The Light” joke. The second side of the album — starting with Hungry Heart and ending with the title track — and in between the glorious You Can Look (You Better Not Touch) — turned me into a Springsteen fan. Or was it simply the first track, the very underrated The Ties That Bind, which did the trick? It helped that Springsteen looked very cool, much like Al Pacino, on the cover.

From Springsteen it was a short jump to Garland JeffreysEscape Artist, a hit-and-miss affair that came with an EP, on which the E-Street Band’s keyboardist Roy Bittan and organist Danny Federici played. Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg also appeared on Jim Steinman’s Bad For Good album, a ridiculous and thoroughly entertaining affair which had been intended for Meat Loaf. The cover and the spoken track, Love And Death And An American Guitar, are so magnificently mad that Bad For Good should reside in every serious record collection.

Later I bought Nils Lofgren’s Night Fades Away; Lofgren would, of course, later join the E-Street Band. I listened to the LP again not so long ago. It’s not great, though Lofgren’s version of Peter & Gordon’s I Go To Pieces (written by Del Shannon) is pretty good. Around the time, or maybe a bit earlier, I also bought Neil Young’s Re-ac-tor LP, with its red and black sleeve. I listened to it again a while ago. I was reminded why I never listened to it back then. It’s awful. Even Opera Star, which prompted me to buy that LP.

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I didn’t own Kids In America on record, and I didn’t really like it very much (though I did like Kim Wilde), but the song was so ubiquitous that hearing it beams me back to 1981. I rather enjoy it now. I also didn’t own Kim Carnes’ Bette Davis Eyes on record, though I taped it off the radio. It was a hit when my sister’s boyfriend returned from a visit to Colorado. For a German boy who had been around a fair bit in Europe, the USA was nevertheless terribly exotic. I expected that all of America sounded like Kim Carnes’ song and Juice Newton’s Angel Of The Morning. Which in 1981 much of the USA possibly did.

The year was also the time when the New Wave broke big. Visage’s double whammy of great singles with great videos — Fade To Grey and Mind Of A Toy — as well as Duran Duran’s Girls On Film and the OMD songs provided a whole new sound. Best of them was Ultravox’s Vienna. One of the great songs of the 1980s, and still it was held off the British #1 spot (when that still meant a great deal) by the ghastly novelty song Shaddap Your Face. Well, that nation re-elected Thatcher, so it had — and evidently still has — a surplus of idiots. Alas, last week, shortly after I had prepared this mix, Visage’s Steve Strange passed away at 55.

I bought the Rolling StonesTattoo You album, freshly released, on the day we were making a trip to East Germany. I taped it as we packed the car for our driving entertainment. At the border I hid the tape in my jacket pocket. I left the tape (and other contraband we smuggled over, at some risk) with our friends in the GDR. I wonder whether they knew to capitalise on having the brand-new Stones album. I have been told that my act of smuggling tapes and Bravo magazines (West Germany’s big pop and sex education publication) was greatly appreciated.

As autumn broke I bought Billy Joel’s Songs In The Attic LP, an album of songs recorded in concert which in their studio versions had been considered unsatisfactory by Joel. It is a near-perfect album, to this day an all-time favourite. In 1981 I played it to death. This and the older Turnstiles, The Stranger and 52nd Street LPs (I always hated Glass Houses) provided the soundtrack for and solace in many dark teenage days.

My quartet of acts that I was obsessed with in 1981 — Beatles, Springsteen, Joel — was completed at the end of the year by the German band BAP. Their story is remarkable: they sung only in Kölsch, a dialect unique to the city of Cologne, yet they went on to become Germany’s biggest act for several years. Their rock sound was catchy and their live performances incendiary. In 1984/85 I saw both BAP and Springsteen in concert within eight months or so of one another. The energy was comparable, though the quality of the music not so much.

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

1. John Lennon – Watching The Wheels
2. The Look – I Am The Beat
3. Yoko Ono – Walking On Thin Ice
4. Bruce Springsteen – The Ties That Bind
5. Garland Jeffreys – R.O.C.K.
6. Jim Steinman – Bad For Good
7. Kim Wilde – Kids In America
8. Ultravox – Vienna
9. Visage – Mind Of A Toy
10. The Specials – Ghost Town
11. Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes
12. Rolling Stones – Waiting For A Friend
13. Nils Lofgren – I Go To Pieces
14. Billy Joel – Summer, Highland Falls
15. Stray Cats – Stray Cat Strut
16. Foreigner – Juke Box Hero
17. Fischer-Z – Marliese
18. Hazel O’Connor – (Cover Plus) We’re All Grown Up
19. Bap – Verdamp lang her

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Any Major Love

February 12th, 2015 8 comments

Any Major Love

We all may have attended weddings during which the happy couple chose the most inappropriate tune for “Our Song”. Stalker theme Every Breath You Take, perhaps, “because every breath she takes I will be watching her”, or James Blunt’s psycho anthem You’re Beautiful “because, you know, she is beautiful”. The potential for awful choices is endless.

Relief is at hand with this compilation, bang on time for Valentine’s Day. This mix is useful for weddings, but I’ve tried not to make it an obvious wedding theme — The Dixie Cups can stay at home, as can Billy Idol.

It can work as a wedding proposal mix, even though it lacks the insistence of Beyoncé (or the cheery bounciness of the rather good Bruno Mars). And even though some songs speak of getting hitched — Springsteen is pretty clear about his intentions; clearly his little girl of the song is not the pregnant Mary nor the mother-in-law wielding Sherry, nor the unnamed wife with kid in Baltimore Jack, who feature on the same double LP — it is not exclusive to that purpose.

It might work best as a collection of love songs: some celebrating just being in love, some expressing hope for a nuptial future, some expressing love within marriage. I didn’t necessarily make this mix to get you laid, but if Peter Mayer’s or Deb Talan’s beautiful songs (based on poems by William Jay Smith and Pablo Neruda respectively) doesn’t make your beloved go all doe-eyed , you might have a problem. Ben Fold’s The Luckiest, meanwhile, might be the greatest love song in pop. Pity that the woman he wrote it for is now his ex-wife… In everything, I’ve tried to avoid the most obvious songs. If you are so fortunate as to have a loved one, perhaps some of the songs on this mix will help articulate how you feel.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-romanced covers. The front cover photo is by Prawny; the gorgeous back cover photo by Dedulo Photos (both morguefile.com).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

1. Dinah Washington – Come Rain Or Come Shine (1954)
2. The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You (1959)
3. The Association – Never My Love (1967)
4. The Platters – With This Ring (1967)
5. Honey Cone – Blessed Be Our Love (1971)
6. Minnie Riperton – Never Existed Before (1979)
7. Al Green – Let’s Stay Together (1972)
8. Ambrosia – Biggest Part Of Me (1980)
9. Alan Price – Groovy Times (1978)
10. Ron Sexsmith – Never Give Up (2006)
11. Ben Folds – The Luckiest (2001)
12. Deb Talan – Cherry Trees (2001)
13. Peter Mayer – Now Touch The Air Softly (1999)
14. Loggins & Messina – Danny’s Song (1972)
15. Bruce Springsteen – I Wanna Marry You (1980)
16. Indigo Girls – Power Of Two (1995)
17. Ben Harper – By My Side (1995)
18. Neil Young – Harvest Moon (1992)
19. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Grow Old With Me (1999)

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In Memoriam – January 2015

February 5th, 2015 6 comments

It was carnage in January! The headline death in January surely was that of Demis Roussos, the hirsute yet balding crooner of housewife-friendly ballads who hid his substantial girth beneath flowing kaftans. The look gave him an iconic image, but he was not considered very cool. Yet, as a member of Aphrodite’s Child, the Egypt-born Greek had plenty cool quotient with some pretty trippy music. The trio, which also included Vangelis on keyboards, were on the vanguard of prog-rock.

Gallery 1Vangelis lost another past musical partner three days later with the death at 72 of Italian musician Maurizio Arcieri, with whom he collaborated in the late-1970s project Chrisma (later renamed Krisma), an electronic music group founded by Arcieri with his wife Christina Moser in 1976 which enjoyed some success throughout Europe. Arcieri already had been a star in the 1960s as the founder and leader of the beat group The New Dada, who supported The Beatles on their 1965 tour of Italy.

Soul singer Don Covay, who has died at 76, is mostly remembered for the ‘60s soul standard See-Saw, but it is as a writer that he received the greater recognition from the soul community. Chief among the songs Covay wrote was Aretha Franklin’s glorious Chain Of Fools, originally written for Otis Redding who never recorded it. Earlier, Chubby Checker took Covay’s Pony Time to the US #1. Other well-known Covay compositions include Solomon Burke’s I’m Hanging Up My Heart For You, Gladys Knight & The Pips’ Letter Full Of Tears, Wilson Pickett’s I’m Gonna Cry , and his own Sookie Sookie and the much-covered Mercy Mercy (on which a still unknown Jimi Hendrix played guitar). And his Long Tall Shorty featured as the b-side to The Kinks’ All Day And All Of The Night.

The rise of the pedal steel guitar in country music can be in part be credited to an act by Little Jimmy Dickens, who died on the second day of the new year at the age of 94. It was Dickens who had brought steel guitar player Bud Isaacs to Nashville. In 1954 Isaacs went on to play his novel pedal steel guitar on Webb Pierce’s big hit “Slowly”. The whiny sound immediately caught on, with every steel guitar player quickly fitting pedals. Little Jimmy Dickens, who measured 4’11 (or 1,50m) was something of a country legend himself when he scored his biggest hit in 1965, the marvelously titled May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose. By then he had been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 17 years (he’d rack up 66 years on the Opry). Among his pals was Hank Williams, who once wrote a song for Dickens in 20 minutes while on a flight, calling it Hey Good Lookin’. A week later Williams recorded the song himself, telling Dickens jokingly: “That song’s too good for you!”

In the world of gospel music, Andraé Crouch was the giant. The good pastor was the godfather of contemporary gospel, and brought the genre into secular music. The choirs on Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror, Earth Song, Keep The Faith and Will You Be There, and on Madonna’s Like A Prayer were conducted by Crouch. He did arrangements for soundtracks that scored movies like The Color Purple and The Lion King. Conversely, and crucially, he also brought secular influences into gospel music. Stars such as Stevie Wonder, Phillip Bailey, Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, David Paich, and El DeBarge appeared on his records.

Last month, one alumnus of The Lawrence Welk Show, Dick Dale, died. This month another one went with the plucker and strummer of different kind of strings, Neil Levang. The guitar, mandolin and banjo player had a rich CV: He played on Frank Zappa’s 1966 breakthrough album, Freak Out, as well as for the likes of Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley, Carpenters (on their Christmas album), Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Glen Campbell, Bobbi Gentry, Herb Alpert, Lou Rawls, Frank Sinatra, Fifth Dimension, Jackson Five (apparently on “I’ll Be There”), Harry Nilsson, David Clayton Thomas, Bing Crosby, and Frankie Valli. He also played on the music for many TV series, including the themes of Batman and Green Acres as well as on the music for all those Hanna-Barbera cartoons and The Beverly Hillbillies (whose Donna Douglas died on New Year’s Day) . He also worked on film scores, including those for The Godfather, All The President’s Men, Good Morning Vietnam, Rosemary’s Baby and Smokey and the Bandit. On top of all that, he helped Leo Fender develop the Bass VI.

Poet Rod McKuen is said to have written some 1,500 songs which have sold 100 million records worldwide. Most famous of these is Terry Jacks’ mega-hit Seasons In The Sun, a cover of McKuen’s version of Jacques Brel’s Le Moribond. In 1969 Frank Sinatra recorded an entire album of McKuen songs, including the hit Love’s Been Good to Me.

Gallery 2A pioneer of rock & roll departed with the death at 92 of Rose Marie McCoy. She recorded some proto rock & roll tunes in the early 1950s before the concept was invented, and wrote for the likes of Big Maybelle (including her great Gabbin’ Blues, on which McCoy provided the spoken bits) and Louis Jordan. In the 1960s she contributed to the canon of soul music with songs recorded by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Jerry Butler, Brook Benton, Solomon Burke and others. But she could also write for jazz vocalists, Sarah Vaughn being a particular fan. Other vocalists who recorded McCoy’s songs included Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, Billy Eckstine, Al Hibbler and Peggy Lee. A biography, titled Thought We Were Writing the Blues: But They Called It Rock ‘n’ Roll, by Arlene Corsano was published last year.

With the death of Popsy Dixon and the illness of Wendell Holmes, 2013’s excellent Brotherhood album might have been The Holmes Brothers’ last. The remarkable trio’s long struggle to break big in music — they formed in 1979 after making music since the early 1960s — came to fruition in the 1990s, mainly thanks to the patronage of Peter Gabriel.

Last month we lost Elvis Presley’s long-time guitarist Chip Young; now the King’s musical director from 1970 till his death in 1977 has passed on. Among Joe Guercio’s triumphs in that role was his conducting of the orchestra on Elvi’s Aloah From Hawaii concert, which was broadcast worldwide, at a time when such things were a sensation. He also served as musical director for the likes of Patti Page, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme, Diahann Carroll and Diana Ross, and arranged for people like Barbra Streisand and Gladys Knight.

It is tempting to view the names on the monthly In Memoriam lists with a sense of unquestioning affection. Usually that is merited. But at least one name this month will inspire little of such sentiment, unless you are a friend or family member. Kim Fowley did not strive to present an attractive public image, and reports of his private life did little to redeem that image. It’s the way Fowley wanted it: the man prided himself on being an obnoxious character. His contribution to music, as a producer or writer or manager, is significant. His most famous legacy, perhaps, is his formation of The Runaways, an all-girl rock band when such a thing was unknown. Or it might be his idea to instruct the Toronto audience at a Plastic Ono Band gig to welcome a nervous John Lennon with matchers or lighters aflame — the first recorded instance of what would become a concert cliché.

Only a few months after the publication of David Stubbs’ definitive history of Krautrock, Future Days, one of its protagonists has died. Edgar Froese was the founder and only constant in the electronic rock group Tangerine Dream. Stubbs was wise to interview Froese for his narrative, even though Tangerine Dream don’t quite fit the Krautrock profile. Froese’s art transcended it. As did his success: Tangerine Dream might not have set the charts flame, but earned much international acclaim and exerted wide influence with a synth-based sound that in its day was quite revolutionary.

He might not have been a household name, but Ray McFall, who has died at 88, wrote a crucial chapter in the history of pop music: he was the owner of the Cavern Club in Liverpool, in which The Beatles and other Merseybeat bands got their start. Having bought the club in Matthew Street in 1959, he slowly turned it from a jazz venue — his first headliner was the recently late Acker Bilk — into a showcase for pop bands, albeit still with a “no jeans” rule when The Beatles made their first appearance there on 9 February 1961.

They’d play 292 dates at the Cavern till August 1963, including the gig in November 1961 at which Brian Epstein discovered them. Even before Epstein put the Fab Four into suits, McFall ordered them to dress smartly. Other bands which later played The Cavern included The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Yardbirds. The Cavern Club closed in 1966, due to McFall’s financial problems. After the Cavern adventure, McFall sold insurance and worked for an office furnishings business.

Ray McFall in front of the Cavern

Ray McFall in front of the Cavern

 

Leslie Felton, 72, baritone for doo wop group The Showmen, on Dec. 16
The Showmen – It Will Stand (1961, with General Johnson on lead vocals)

Donna Douglas, actress (Beverly Hillbillies) and country singer, on Jan. 1
Donna Douglas – All The Other Girls (1962)

Matthew Cogley, 30, guitarist and singer of British rock group Failsafe, on Jan. 1
Failsafe – Only If We Learn (2008)

Jeff Golub, 59, jazz and pop guitarist, on Jan. 1
Avenue Blue featuring Jeff Golub – Funky Is As Funky Does (1996)

Little Jimmy Dickens, 94, country singer, on Jan. 2
Little Jimmy Dickens – May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose (1965)

Joe Guercio, 87, musical director and songwriter, on Jan. 4
Chad & Jeremy – Distant Shores (1966, also as writer)
Elvis Presley – American Trilogy (Aloha From Hawaii version, 1973, as conductor)

Lance Diamond, 72, lounge singer and radio DJ, on Jan. 4
Goo Goo Dolls (with Lance Diamond) – Down On The Corner (1989)

Pino Daniele, 59, Italian singer and songwriter, on Jan. 4
Pino Daniele – Quanno Chiove (1981)

King Sporty, 71, Jamaican-American reggae musician and songwriter), on Jan. 5
King Sporty & The Ex Tras – Do You Wanna Dance? (1983)
Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldier (released 1983, as writer)

Lance Percival, 81, English actor and singer, on Jan. 6
Lance Percival – Shame And Scandal In The Family (1965)

Curtis Lee, 75, rock & roll singer, on Jan. 8
Curtis Lee – Pretty Little Angel Eyes (1961)
Curtis Lee – Under The Moon Of Love (1961)

Ray McFall, 88, owner of Liverpool’s Cavern Club, on Jan. 8
The Beatles – One After 909 (Cavern Club, 1962)

Andraé Crouch, 72, gospel singer, songwriter and producer, on Jan. 8
Andraé Crouch & The Disciples – Soon And Very Soon (1976)

Popsy Dixon, 72, drummer and singer with The Holmes Brothers, on Jan. 9
The Holmes Brothers – Walk In The Light (1993)
The Holmes Brothers – I Want You To Want Me (2007)

Tim Drummond, 74, session bassist (James Brown, Joe Cocker, Neil Young) and songwriter, on Jan. 10
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Just A Song Before I Go (1977, as bassist)
Bob Dylan – Saved (1980, also as co-writer)

George Probert, 87, jazz musician and music editor, on Jan. 10

Clifford Adams, 62, trombonist for Kool & The Gang, on Jan. 12
Kool & The Gang – Big Fun (1982)

J. Masters, 64, country singer and songwriter, on Jan. 12
The Oak Ridge Boys – Change My Mind (1991, as writer)

Trevor ‘Dozy’ Ward-Davies, 70, bassist of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, on Jan. 13
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – The Legend Of Xanadu (1968)

Ronnie Ronalde, 91, British music hall singer and whistler, on Jan. 13
Ronnie Ronalde – Hair Of Gold, Eyes Of Blue (1948)

Ervin Drake, 95, songwriter (I Believe), on Jan. 15
Frank Sinatra – It Was A Very Good Year (live 1966, as writer)

Kim Fowley, 75, producer, manager, impresario and musician, on Jan. 15
Kim Fowley – Bubble Gum (1967)

Dixie Hall, 80, country songwriter (wife of Tom T Hall), on Jan 16
Johnny Cash – Troublesome Waters (1970, as co-writer with Maybelle Carter)

Cynthia Layne, 51, jazz singer, on Jan. 18

Dallas Taylor, 66, session drummer, on Jan. 18
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Almost Cut My Hair (1970, as drummer)

ASAP Yams, 26, rapper, announced on Jan. 18

Ward Swingle, 87, musician with The Swingle Singers, Les Double Six, on Jan. 19
The Swingle Singers – He’s Gone Away (1969)

Rose Marie McCoy, 92, R&B and soul singer and songwriter, on Jan. 20
Big Maybelle & Rose Marie McCoy – Gabbin’ Blues (1952)
Rose Marie McCoy – Dippin’ In My Business (1954)
Elvis Presley – Trying To Get To You (1956, as co-writer)

Canserbero, 26, Venezuelan rapper, suicide on Jan. 20

Edgar Froese, 70, leader of German electro-rock band Tangerine Dream, on Jan. 20
Tangerine Dream – Dr. Destructo (1980)

Joan Hinde, 81, English trumpeter and entertainer, on Jan. 22

Demis Roussos, 68, Greek/Egyptian singer, on Jan. 25
Aphrodite’s Child – It’s Five O’Clock (1969)
Demis Roussos – Forever And Ever (1973)

Neil Levang, 83, guitar, violin and banjo player, on Jan. 26
Theme of Green Acres (1965, on first guitar)
Gloria Jones – Oh Baby (1973, on mandolin)

Margot Moir, 55, member of Australian pop trio The Moir Sisters, on Jan. 27
The Moir Sisters – Good Morning (How Are You) (1974)

Maurizio Arcieri, 72, founder of Italian pop bands New Dada, Krisma, on Jan. 28
Chrisma – Lola (1978)

Rod McKuen, 81, poet, singer and songwriter, on Jan. 29
Rod McKuen – Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes (1971)

Don Covay, 76, soul singer and songwriter, on Jan. 30
Don Covay – Mercy Mercy (1966)
Don Covay – Somebody’s Been Enjoying My Home (1973)

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Covered With Soul Vol. 20

January 29th, 2015 8 comments

Covered With Soul Vol. 20

Twenty Covered With Soul mixes, and still there are some mindblowing tracks. Just check out Thelma Houston doing to Jumpin’ Jack Flash what Mick could only dream of.

Bobby Womack recorded his take on All Along The Watchtower for the 1973 Facts of Life LP, which it closes. About half of the tracks on it are cover versions, which is actually an improvement on previous albums — unless you love, as I do, Womack’s ability to cover any song, be it a crooner’s standard or a psychedelic rock song, and make it his own.

Motown fans are liable to argue the relative merits of Diana Ross vs fellow Supreme Florence Ballard. Diana became a diva megastar, and deservedly so. It takes nothing away from Ross to say that the tragic Florence was the more talented soul singer. After her acrimonious break with Motown, Ballard recorded an album for ABC, which the label did not release (it never has been issued, as far as I know). Instead two singles were issued, both failing to chart. Ballard’s excellent version of Little Anthony & the Imperials ‘s 1964 hit Going Out Of My Head was the b-side to the first of these, the unimpressively produced and not at all promoted It Doesn’t Matter How I Say It (It’s What I Say That Matters).

I love the instrumental break in Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ version of Everybody’s Talkin’, with Teddy Pendergrass on vocals. It appeared on a compilation charity album released by Philadelphia International Records titled Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto, produced by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. It also features The Intruders, represented here with a fine interpretation of the Carpenters’ Rainy Days And Mondays.

Also covering the Carpenters is Al Wilson, doing I Won’t Last A Day Without You in a medley with Let Me Be The One. It’s very lovely, though it also makes me want to hear Karen sing the original.

Two songs here have been covered to death: Yesterday and Bridge Over Troubled Water. But the two featured here are worth hearing. Carla Thomas’ version of Yesterday was recorded live on a revue with Booker T & The MG’s, Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave, The Mar-Keys, Eddie Floyd and Otis Redding.

I must confess to not being very enthusiastic about Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s cover of Something Stupid. It is included here for the sake of interest rather than on the merit of quality.

I’ve updated links to previous Covered With Soul mixes recently.

As always, this mix will fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-covered covers. PW in comments.

1. Thelma Houston – Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1969)
2. Bobby Womack – All Along The Watchtower (1973)
3. Brothers Unlimited – Spoonful (1970)
4. Bobby Powell – Crazy Love (1973)
5. Randy Crawford – Desperado (1977)
6. Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – Everybody’s Talkin’ (1977)
7. The Main Ingredient – By The Time I Get To Phoenix/Wichita Lineman (1970)
8. Florence Ballard – Goin’ Out Of My Head (1968)
9. The Dells – One Less Bell To Answer (1971)
10. The Ovations – Hooked On A Feeling (1972)
11. The Intruders – Rainy Days And Mondays (1974)
12. Major Harris – Like A Rolling Stone (1969)
13. Roberta Flack – To Love Somebody (1971)
14. Carla Thomas – Yesterday (Live) (1967)
15. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Somethin’ Stupid (1967)
16. Al Wilson – I Won’t Last A Day Without You/Let Me Be The One (1974)
17. Nancy Wilson – Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
18. Maxine Weldon – I (Who Have Nothing) (1971)
19. Sharon Cash – Nature Boy (1970)
20. The Deidre Wilson Tabac – Get Back (1970)

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Any Major Winter

January 22nd, 2015 7 comments

Any Major Winter

Having recently returned from the wintry climes of the northern hemisphere, I felt inspired to create a mix of songs about winter, to complement the four summer mixes posted over the past year (Vol 1   Vol. 2    Vol. 3   Vol. 4)

The selection required ground rules. Firstly, the songs must be about actual winter, not just use the notion of winter as a metaphor. It is Winter in America even during the heatwaves of July, so Gil Scott-Heron is out. If the song has it snowing outside by way of establishing a metaphor for the bleakness of life, it qualifies. Just let it snow.

Which brings me to the second category for disqualification. If the meteorologically inspired song is used in the popular canon of Christmas songs, it’s out, no matter how frightful the weather outside is said to be. But there is one exception: Baby It’s Cold Outside. I do not understand by what asinine process a song about seduction has wormed itself onto Christmas compilations, but a song about trying to get laid adds little to the true meaning of Christmas, elusive as that concept is.

In order to keep this mix down to the customary CD-R length I had to sacrifice a couple of contenders, such as Joni Mitchell’s River (another questionable addition to the Christmas catalogue; in any case, Joni already features), Frank Zappa’s Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, Windjammer’s Winter Love, Cliff Bruner’s Snow Flakes, Jens Lekman’s The Cold Swedish Winter or Bob Dylan’s Girl From The North Country.

Instead there are some of the most joyful songs about winter, led by Aztec Camera’s exuberant Walk Out To Winter, one of the happiest songs I know.

As always, the mix includes home-frozen covers (the beautiful front cover image is from butkovicdub at morguefile.com, the back pic is mine). PW in comments.

1. Aztec Camera – Walk Out To Winter (1983)
2. Blood, Sweat & Tears – Sometimes In Winter (1969)
3. Rolling Stones – Winter (1973)
4. Lee Moses – California Dreaming (1971)
5. Love Unlimited – It May Be Winter Outside (1973)
6. The Impressions – Long Long Winter (1964)
7. Ray Charles & Betty Carter – Baby It’s Cold Outside (1961)
8. Dean Martin – June In January (live, 1963)
9. Tommy Roe – It’s Now Winter’s Day (1967)
10. Don McLean – Winter Has Me In Its Grip (1974)
11. Ron Sexsmith – Snow Angel (2006)
12. Tracey Thorn – Snow In The Sun (2012)
13. Josh Rouse – Winter In The Hamptons (2005)
14. The Weepies – Hope Tomorrow (2010)
15. Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal (2008)
16. Steve Miller Band – Winter Time (1977)
17. Merle Haggard – If We Make It Through December (1973)
18. Jim Reeves – The Blizzard (1961)
19. Gordon Lightfoot – Song For A Winter’s Night (1967)
20. Joni Mitchell – Urge For Going (1968)
21. Simon & Garfunkel – A Hazy Shade Of Winter (1968)
22. The Doors – Wintertime Love (1968)
23. Donald Fagen – Snowbound (1993)

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In Memoriam – December 2014 – Part 2

January 15th, 2015 10 comments

When I posted the first half of the December In Memoriam last month, I promised the second half would be incorporated into the January edition. The Grim Reaper was too active in December to allow for that (37 listed in total; of those 22 in this post). So here is December’s In Memoriam, Part 2.

The month’s headline death was that of Joe Cocker, who had featured on the tribute collection to Bobby Keys, the saxophonist who died in early December. Much has been written about Cocker, though few obituaries made much of that note-missing final “me” in You Are So Beautiful, which to me defines Cocker. That was one of the many cover versions which Cocker was famed for. Indeed, I think he was a better interpreter of other people’s songs than of his own. Of course, the hit which provided his breakthrough, With A Little Help From My Friends, was a cover, one which he so comprehensively reworked as to make it his own — succeeding in doing what his idols in the world of soul had been doing for so long before him.

IM1214_2Earlier this year, Germany celebrated the 80th birthday of singer Udo Jürgens in big style, with TV extravaganzas and all. Three months later, Jürgens’ death returned the singer-songwriter to the front pages of German newspapers and magazines. At a time when the banal Schlager dominated German music, in the 1960s and ’70s,  Jürgens was part of it and yet above it. His lyrics and music tended to be of a higher standard.

Jürgens was a decent satirist, though not one to piss off his wealthy fan base too much, and was among the first mainstream celebs to comment on German xenophobia, albeit gently and with resort to cliché, in 1975’s Griechischer Wein (which apparently is still very popular in Greece). In between, he wrote music for singers such as Shirley Bassey, Sammy Davis Jr and Matt Monro. Born in Austria as the son of Germans and later taking Swiss citizenship, he won the 1966 Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg with Mercy Cheri, a song which he co-wrote. He even tried his hand at recording in English, as featured on the Curious Germany mix.

You might not know Millie Kirkham’s name, but you will have heard her soprano on several Elvis hits, such as The Wonder Of You, Surrender, Polk Salad Annie, (You’re The) Devil in Disguise, C.C. Rider or Blue Christmas. She also backed the likes of Roy Orbison (on Pretty Woman), George Jones (on He Stopped Loving Her Today), Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Gordon Lightfoot, Reba McEntire, Ferlin Huskey, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom T Hall and Brenda Lee.

A week after Kirkham, a guitarist in Elvis’ studio house band died. Chip Young had backed Elvis from 1965-77. He also played for the country likes of George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Bobby Bare, Eddy Arnold, Carl Perkins, Oak Ridge Boys, Statler Brothers, Faron Young, Earl Scruggs, Skeeter Davis, Tom T Hall, Tanya Tucker, Roger Miller, Reba McEntire, and Jerry Lee Lewis. He played for Nancy Sinatra on her country album, for swamp rocker Tony Joe White, for indie-rockers My Morning Jacket, for blues man Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, for soul singer Candi Staton. His obits say that he played guitar on Dolly’s Jolene; though he was one of several guitarists to play on the LP, I could find no confirmation that it was him. Young also produced artists such as Jerry Reed, Jimmy Buffett, Johnny Mathis, Billy Swan and Delbert McClinton.

When I saw that Dick Dale had died, I thought it was the legendary surf-guitarist whose version of the old Greek hit Misirlou appeared on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. But that Dick Dale is still alive; the dead one was a feature on The Lawrence Welk Show. On the variety show he not only sang and played the sax, but also appeared in sketches. He also was the show’s Santa Claus, so it seems appropriate that he should have died on Boxing Day, at the ripe age of 88.

The song featured for Buddy DeFranco, the jazz clarinetist who has died at 91, is remarkable for its line-up which includes Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet, Buddy Rich on drums and, most prominently, Nat King Cole on piano. It was recorded 67 years and three days before DeFranco’s death.

 

Millie Kirkham, 91, backing singer, on December 14
Elvis Presley – The Wonder Of You (1970, on backing vocals)

Joe Carr, 63, bluegrass musician, on December 14

Wendy Rene, 67, soul singer, on December 16
Wendy Rene – After Laughter Comes Tears (1964)

Rock Scully, 73, manager of the Grateful Dead, on December 16
Grateful Dead – Attics Of My Life (1970)

John Fry, 69, founder of Ardent Studios, on December 18
Big Star – The Ballad Of El Goodo (1972, as executive producer & studio owner)

Larry Henley, 77, singer with The Newbeats and songwriter, on December 18
Roger Whittaker – Wind Beneath My Wings (1982, as writer)

Larry Smith, 63, hip hop producer (Run-DMC, Whodini), on December 18
Run-DMC – Rock Box (1984, as producer and co-writer)

Barbara Jones, 62, Jamaican reggae and gospel singer, on December 19
Barbara Jones – Just When I Needed You Most (1981)

Ronnie Bedford, 83, jazz drummer, on December 20

Chip Young, 76, guitarist and record producer, on December 20
Billy Swan – I Can Help (1974, on electric guitar and as producer)

Udo Jürgens, 80, Austrian-born composer and singer, on December 21
Matt Monro – Walk Away (1964, as co-writer)
Udo Jürgens – Es wird Nacht, Senorita (1968)

Joe Cocker, 70, rock singer, on December 22
Joe Cocker – Woman To Woman (1972)
Joe Cocker – It’s A Sin When You Love Somebody (1974)

Jo Jo Benson, 76, soul singer, on December 23
Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson – Soulshake (1969)

Alvin Jett, 54, blues guitarist, on December 23

Buddy DeFranco, 91, jazz clarinetist, on December 24
Metronome All Stars – Leap Here (1947, on clarinet)

Alberta Adams, 97, blues singer, on December 25
Alberta Adams – Detroit Is My Home (2008)

Dick Dale, 88, saxophonist and singer, on December 26

Al Belletto, 86, jazz musician, on December 27

Frankie Randall, 76, singer and actor, on December 28
Frankie Randall – Theme from Flipper (1965)
Frankie Randall – I Can See For Miles (1968)

Merrill Womach, 87, gospel singer, on December 28

Jim Galloway, 78, Canadian jazz clarinetist and saxophonist, on December 30

Melvin Jackson, 79, session blues saxophonist and trumpeter, on December 30

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Any Major Country History: A mix & a book

January 12th, 2015 6 comments

 

Any Major Country Mix

It has been a couple of years now since brought my History of Country series under one roof, with a few edits, in an illustrated eBook (well, a booklet, really) in PDF format, titled A Brief History of Country. It seems like a good time to bump that link.

Please feel free to pass it on in good conscience or to link to it on your website: while I assert my copyright for the text, the eBook is completely free. The more people read it and, I hope, gain enough of an understanding of the genre so that they will never call it “Country & Western” again, or say “yee haw, pardner”, the more they will appreciate the wealth of country.

Download A Brief History of Country eBook

 

And to give you some music to go with that, here’s a compilation of some of my favourite songs from the 22-part series, one from each mix plus one to bring the set up to present times, with no claims to being representative of the development of country music. As always, timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes covers, and same PW as every time.

1. Jimmie Rodgers – Brakeman’s Blues (Blue Yodel No.2) (1928)
2. Moonshine Kate – My Man’s A Jolly Railroad Man (1930)
3. Carter Family – Can The Circle Be Unbroken (By And By) (1935)
4. Uncle Dave Macon – All In Down And Out Blues (1937)
5. Al Dexter and his Troopers – Pistol Packin’ Mama (1943)
6. Hank Williams – Move It On Over (1947)
7. Eddie Kirk – Sugar Baby (1950)
8. T. Texas Tyler – Bumming Around (1953)
9. Johnny Cash – Hey Porter (1955)
10. Hank Locklin – Send Me The Pillow You Dream On (1958)
11. Skeeter Davis – Don’t Let Me Cross Over (1962)
12. Red Sovine – Phantom 309 (1967)
13. Dolly Parton – Coat Of Many Colors (1971)
14. Faron Young – It’s Four In The Morning (1972)
15. Rusty Wier – Texas Morning (1974)
16. Emmylou Harris – Pancho & Lefty (1977)
17. Earl Thomas Conley – Holding Her And Loving You (1983)
18. Keith Whitley – I’m No Stranger To The Rain (1989)
19. Garth Brooks – Friends In Low Places (1990)
20. Lyle Lovett – Step Inside This House (1998)
21. Alison Krauss & Union Station – Restless (2004)
22. Tift Merritt – I Know What I’m Looking For Now (2008)
23. Kris Kristofferson – Feeling Mortal (2013)

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The Originals – Elvis Presley Vol. 1

January 8th, 2015 8 comments

On 8 January Elvis would have turned 80. Let that sink in. And when you bump into an 80-year-old man today…that could be Elvis now!

To mark Elvis’ birthday, here’s the first of two mixes of original versions of famous Elvis songs, this one covering Elvis’ output up to 1960. Four are actually not really originals: the last three are demos which were presented to Presley (and the Elvis recordings show just how great an interpreter of song he was). And Aura Lee was reworked as Love Me Tender; it was an old song first copyrighted in 1861. It was sung by Frances Farmer in the 1936 movie Come and Get It!, but wasn’t released on record.

Then there’s Hound Dog, featured twice: in Big Mama Thornton’s original recording of the song, and the version on which Elvis based his, by Freddie Bell and the Bellboys, an Italo-American band he had seen during his discouraging concert engagement in Vegas in April/May 1956. Between Thornton and Presley the song had been brutalised in a series of covers which dismantled the original lyrics and added doggerel to it (such as the rabbit line) to become the nonsense we know today.

Freddie Bell & the Bellboys, on whose rendition of Hound Dog Elvis based his.

Freddie Bell & the Bellboys, on whose rendition of Hound Dog Elvis based his.

 

This collection of songs proves one thing: Elvis didn’t just, as the popular narrative has it, “steal” black music and made it big on its back. Elvis certainly was a big fan of the various strands of what we now call R&B, and no doubt was heavily influenced by it. But he also drew much from country music, as well as from gospel. Indeed, his first public performance was as a ten-year-old at a talent show in his hometown Tupelo, where he performed Old Shep, a hit from 1941 by Red Foley (he had first recorded it in 1935, about his German shepherd  Hoover, who had been poisoned by a neighbour). Elvis first stage performances were on the country circuit, especially on the Louisiana Hayride. And it was through country star Hank Snow that he met the ghastly “Colonel” Parker.

Elvis’ first hit was, of course, a cover of a blues tune, Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup’s That’s All Right Mama. It’s the song that changed Rock & Roll forever. Young Elvis was in the Sun studios in Memphis, auditioning for the legendary Sam Phillips (in other accounts the story is set, more credibly, during the first recording session). Elvis, the story goes, was failing the audition, having crooned one ballad after another in Dean Martin mode. It was not the sound Phillips was looking for.

During a break (or at the end of the session), Elvis starting goofing around with his guitar, singing That’s All Right. Session musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black joined in. Sam Phillips later recalled: “The door to the control room was open, the mics were on, Scotty was in the process of packing up his guitar, I think Bill had already thrown his old bass down — he didn’t even have a cover for it — and the session was, to all intents and purposes, over. Then Elvis struck up on just his rhythm guitar, ‘That’s all right, mama..,’ and I mean he got my attention immediately. It could have been that it wouldn’t have sold ten copies, but that was what I was looking for!”

Elvis later also covered Crudup’s very similar My Baby Left Me. Crudup fought for the rest of his life to receive due royalties, making his living as a bootlegger and field labourer. In 1971 an agreement for $60,000 was agreed with Melrose Publishers, who proceeded to blankly refuse paying up. Crudup died penniless in 1974 at the age of 68.

Arthur Crudup, from whom Elvis covered two songs.

Arthur Crudup, from whom Elvis covered two songs.

 

Some say that Good Rockin’ Tonight was the proto Rock & Roll record. Of course, any claim of inaugurating Rock & Roll is impossible to validate because the genre was the result of a musical evolution (and it is still evolving). What can be said is that the song, and most certainly Wynonie Harris’ 1948 cover, was influential in that evolution. Good Rockin’ Tonight was Elvis’ second single. So it is faintly ironic that Presley’s version draws more from Brown’s 1947 jump blues original (deleting, however, the by then outdated litany of R&B figures) than from Harris’ R&B cover.

It was not the most popular of Elvis’ early tunes; his still mostly country audience was still unsure about the influence of what was then called “race music” on the future legend’s sound. In those embryonic days of Elvis’ stardom, his most popular song seemed to be the flip side of That’s Alright, Blue Moon Of Kentucky.

It is difficult to pinpoint at which point Elvis became a superstar, or with which hit. He was a local star as soon as his debut single hit the Memphis airwaves, and a regional star soon after. Arguably, his nascent stardom was built not so much on hit recordings than on his incendiary performances delivered on intensive tours. On these tours, he often shared a bill with his Sun label mates Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.

It was on one such tour in November 1955, in Gladewater, Texas, that Cash gave Perkins the idea for Blues Suede Shoes (in return for Perkins inspiring the title for Cash’s future hit I Walk The Line), based on a catchphrase by one C.V. White, an African-American GI Cash had served with in West Germany. White, the story as told by one of Cash’s GI friends goes, was about to go out for the weekend when another soldier accidentally trod on White’s black army issue shoes, whereupon White exclaimed: “I don’t care what you do with my Fräulein or what you do with whatever, but don’t step on my blues suede shoes.” The joke, obviously, was that White was not actually wearing such shoes (which, in any case, where not in fashion), but regulation issue army shoes.

Soon after he heard that story, Perkins was at a dance when he saw a young man being visibly upset with his pretty date for stepping on his, you guessed it, blue suede shoes. Sufficiently inspired, he immediately wrote the lyrics on a paper potato sack, giving birth to one of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s great classics.

Million Dollar Quartet: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Three of them play a role in the story of Blue Suede Shoes. Lewis later also covered it, and Cash played it on stage.

Million Dollar Quartet: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Three of them play a role in the story of Blue Suede Shoes. Lewis later also covered it, and Cash played it on stage.

 

It may have been the first true crossover record; it certainly was the first to chart simultaneously in the pop, country and R&B charts, in early 1956. As the song was rising in the charts, Perkins was laid low by a serious car crash on the way to performing his hit on the Ed Sullivan Show. While he was recuperating, he heard former Sun colleague Elvis announcing on the Milton Berle Show that his next single would be Blues Suede Shoes, which he proceeded to perform, as he would twice more before releasing the single. Although Perkins was unable to promote the song further, it went on to sell more than a million copies.

By arrangement, Elvis waited until Perkins’ version had peaked. Released so soon after Perkins’ hit, Elvis’ version reached no higher than #20 on the charts. Yet, public consciousness associates the song more closely with Elvis than with its author, possibly because he performed it several times on television, and riffed on the footwear in a few skits on these shows.

Perkins, whose career or health never really recovered from the car crash, was philosophical about Elvis scoring the more lasting hit, saying that Presley had the image and the looks, and he did not. He surely was less placid about not receiving writer’s royalties until a court found in his favour in 1977.

Arguably Elvis the Rock & Roller died in 1960 when, having returned from the army, he recorded crooners’ material such as It’s Now Or Never and Are You Lonesome Tonight. The latter was recorded at the behest of Tom Parker as it was a favourite of his wife, Mrs Marie Parker, in its 1940s version by country star Gene Austin. Written by Tin Pan Alley residents Lou Handman and Roy Turk in 1926, it was recorded by a swathe of artists in 1927. The first of these versions, by Ned Jakobs, was not released, so the honour of first released recording goes to one Charles Hart.

The song enjoyed a revival in the 1950s. It was the 1950 version by Blue Barron and his Orchestra which served as the basis for Elvis’ take on Are You Lonesome Tonight, with Al Jolson’s version of the same year inspiring the spoken part, which borrows from Shakespeare’s As You Like It (“All the world’s a stage” etc).

1. Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup – That’s All Right (1947)
2. Roy Brown – Good Rockin’ Tonight (1947)
3. Smiley Lewis – One Night Of Sin (1956)
4. Big Mama Thornton – Hound Dog (1953)
5. Freddie Bell & the Bellboys – Hound Dog (1956)
6. Carl Perkins – Blue Suede Shoes (1956)
7. Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup – My Baby Left Me (1950)
8. Little Junior & the Blue Flames – Mystery Train (1953)
9. Eddie Riff – Ain’t That Loving You Baby (1956)
10. Chuck Wills – I Feel So Bad (1954)
11. Shep Fields Rippling Rhythm – That’s When Your Heartaches Begin (1937)
12. Charles Hart – Are You Lonesome Tonight (1927)
13. Frances Farmer – Aura Lea (1936)
14. Flying Clouds Of Detroit – Peace In The Valley (1947)
15. Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys – Blue Moon Of Kentucky (1947)
16. Red Foley – Old Shep (1941)
17. Wiley Walker & Gene Sullivan – When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again (1941)
18. Hank Snow – Now And Then There’s A Fool Such As I (1952)
19. Willy & Ruth – Love Me (1954)
20. Bernard Hardison – Too Much (1956)
21. Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters – Such A Night (1954)
22. Glen Reeves – Heartbreak Hotel (1955)
23. Otis Blackwell – Teddy Bear (1956)
24. Otis Blackwell – All Shook Up (1956)

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PW as always

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Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

December 18th, 2014 11 comments

Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

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

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

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

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

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

Xmas gallery

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

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

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

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CHRISTMAS MIXES WITH WORKING LINKS:
The Christmas Originals
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3

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

 

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