Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Recovered

May 16th, 2019 10 comments

As I have already done with albums by Bruce Springsteen, Carole King, David Bowie and many Beatles albums, here’s another track-by-track covers mix. Except there are some songs on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road for which no covers seem to exist, so I have filled gaps with three live performances by Elton John himself, from his Hammersmith Odeon concert on 22 December 1973. One song had to be omitted altogether, for lack of any alternative versions.

In 1973 there was no indication that one day Elton John would become one of the leading Friends of Dorothy, but he unintentionally hinted at the yet-to-be-invented codeword with the metaphors in the title and on the cover of his double album.

The album’s title, also the name of the lead single, seems to be at odds the artwork on the cover. Both, song and cover, take their imagery from The Wizard Of Oz, in which the yellow brick road played as much a central role as any thoroughfare ever did in the movies. Where the song tells of disillusion at the end of that bright road, the cover promises the beginning of an escape from reality as Elton – spangly mauve platforms instead of ruby slippers – steps into a poster and on to a yellow brick road.

The poster is on a tatty wall, covering a previous poster (the font of which suggests that it might have advertised a music hall), with chimneys in the background telling of a drab existence, quite at odds with Elton’s flamboyant get-up.

The cover was drawn by the illustrator Ian Beck, who was 26 at the time. Beck has since illustrated magazines, greeting cards, packaging and a few children’s books. He has also written a few novels.

Beck came to LP cover design through John Kosh, whose credits included the Abbey Road cover. They shared a studio at 6 Garrick Street in London’s Covent Garden when Kosh arranged for Beck to do illustrations for an LP cover he was designing for Irish folk singer Jonathan Kelly, Wait Till They Change The Backdrop.

Elton John bought that album on strength of the cover, and wanted the same graphic for his new album. Beck told him that this was not possible but offered to create new artwork for the cover.

He was given tapes of the songs (which included future classics like Benny And The Jets, Saturday Night Is Alright For Fighting, Candle In The Wind and the title track), and typed lyrics sheets, and began working on a concept. His friend, fashion illustrator Leslie McKinley Howell, stood in as a model for Elton John in polaroids which Beck took (hence the long legs) in preparation for his watercolour, pastel, and coloured crayon pencils artwork. The piano on the front cover and the teddy bear at the back were placed there at the request of Elsie, as Beck only later realised Elton was known to his staff.

It was the last LP cover Ian Beck designed, though this had nothing to do with his experience of creating the iconic sleeve for one of the great double albums in a decade of many double albums.

The album is regarded by many as Elton John’s finest work. It is indeed filled with many great songs, too many to be released on single, and too many to find inclusion on retrospectives. Songs like Sweet Painted Lady (a song Paul McCartney might have written), I’ve Seen That Movie Too, This Song Has No Title, Roy Rogers and Harmony could have been hits (and Harmony was intended to be the album’s fourth single release); now they are remembered only by fans of the album.

1. Dream Theater – Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding (1995)
2. Sandy Denny – Candle In The Wind (1977)
3. Paul Young – Bennie And The Jets (2006)
4. Sara Bareilles – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (2013)
5. Elton John – This Song Has No Title (Live) (1973)
6. The Band Perry – Grey Seal (2014)
7. Judge Dread – Jamaica Jerk-off (1977)
8. Elton John – I’ve Seen That Movie Too (Live) (1973)
9. Bridget St. John – Sweet Painted Lady (1974)
10. Elton John – The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-1934) (Live) (1973)
11. Emeli Sandé – All The Girls Love Alice (2014)
12. Imelda May – Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock’n’ Roll) (2014)
13. The Who – Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) (1991)
14. Kacey Musgraves – Roy Rogers (2018)
15. Jesse Malin – Harmony (2008)
Bonus: Diana Ross – Harmony (1976)
Hickoids – Bennie & The Jets (2011)

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Life In Vinyl 1986 – Vol. 1

May 9th, 2019 1 comment

 

 

After a long time, we return to the Life In Vinyl series, with the year 1986. Why the long delay of almost two years? Well, I had written what I thought was a great piece on my relationship with music in 1986 — and lost it in a hard-drive crash. The lost essay was so good, I was put off by the thought of trying to replicate it. I have now come to terms that I won’t.

You can blame the revival of this series to my recent viewing of the film Pretty In Pink, which virtually defines 1986, and certainly the first half of that year, which is the range of this collection.

In 1986 I was turning 20 and living in London. That year I was a pop-crazed youngster caught up in chart music. The UK charts were like a sport. As it was in 1985, I’d still be an early adopter, finding records to champion, and see them climb the charts (or, sometimes, fail to do so). It seems I was particularly good at spotting hits that would get stuck just outside the Top 10. So, fittingly, the average chart position of the 17 tracks here is #18 (the spot at which the It’s Immaterial track here peaked). The whole exercise had as much to do with love for music as it had with the charts as a sport.

It meant that I bought some records which I would not buy today. I shall not inflict some of them on you, stuff like Hollywood Beyond’s What’s The Colour Of Money. But some of these hits are also coloured by nostalgia for that first half of 1986, when I was young and clever enough to get into the fancy Stringellows club in London’s West End. Supposedly it was a hang-out for popular stars, though the only one I recognised there on my two visits was singer Belouis Some, who hardly was a star. I do have photos of our small group shooting the breeze with two prostitutes who might have been men. Let it be recorded that Stringellows was not my scene.

Anyhow, among those nostalgia-tinged tracks is Calling All The Heroes by It Bites. That summer hit was discussed last year on Chart Music, the superb podcast which clinically dissects episodes of Top Of The Pops. The experts were emphatically dismissive of the artistic merits of It Bites. I revisited the song to mop up the blood. I don’t think it’s as awful as the Chart Music pundits say; it’s an innocuous and fairly catchy slice of pop. But I also think that I enjoy it only through the haze of nostalgia of that glorious summer of ’86.

And so back to Pretty In Pink. Did anybody in American high schools really dress like James Spader, the slightly less evil version of Donald Trump?

As always, CD-R length, home-legwarmed covers. PW as usual.

1. Full Force – Alice, I Want You Just For Me
2. Fine Young Cannibals – Suspicious Minds
3. The Damned – Eloise
4. P.I.L. – Rise
5. Hipsway – The Honeythief
6. Blow Monkeys – Diggin’ Your Scene
7. David Bowie – Absolute Beginners
8. George Michael – A Different Corner
9. Big Audio Dynamite – E=Mc2
10. New Order – Shell Shock
11. Big Country – Look Away
12. It’s Immaterial – Driving Away Form Home
13. OMD – If You Leave
14. The Bangles – If She Knew What She Wants
15. Stan Ridgway – Camouflage
16. Freddie McGregor – Push Comes To Shove
17. It Bites – Calling All the Heroes

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In Memoriam – April 2019

May 2nd, 2019 4 comments

April was shaping up to be a gentle month, and then there was a death that shook me, even if I had never heard of the artist before. But more about that later…

If there was an impossible-not-to sing-along-to English pop song in the charts in the 1960s, chances were that Les Reed co-wrote it (often with Geoff Stephens). His classic hits include It’s Not Unusual and Delilah (Tom Jones), The Last Waltz, Les Bicyclettes de Belsize and When There’s No You (Engelbert Humperdinck), There’s A Kind Of Hush (Herman’s Hermits and later Carpenters), Everybody Knows (Dave Clark Five), Here It Comes Again (The Fortunes), I Pretend (Des O’Connor), Leave A Little Love (Lulu) and many others. He also wrote song for Elvis and Bing Crosby.

In the 1980s, Earl Thomas Conley was one of the biggest country stars, notching up 18 Billboard Country #1s, plus a bunch of #2 hits — but he never achieved crossover success. That amazing run of hits came after a time of struggle in the 1970s, kicking off with the 1981 country chart-topper Fire And Smoke and neatly ending in 1989 with Love Out Loud. Another #2 hit followed in 1991, and that was the end of Conley’s chart dominance. He continued to record and write songs, including Blake Shelton’s 2002 hit All Over Me. Conley was the first (and possibly only) country star to appear on Soul Train when he performed his duet with Anita Pointer, Too Many Times, on the show.

Almost exactly a month after Danny and the Juniors member and songwriter David White died, baritone Joe Terry (or Terranova) passed away. While White had washed his hands off the Juniors by the 1960s, Terry led the group right to the end, with the now only surviving original member Frank Maffei and Maffei’s brother Bobby. Terry’s death has probably put an end to the 62-year career of Danny and The Juniors.

The month’s most heartbreaking pop death is that of teenage Brazilian singer and TV personality Yasmim Gabrielle. Well-known in Brazil as a child-singer on the TV shows of Raul Gil Junior, Yasmin died at only 17 of suicide, brought on by clinical depression, probably aggravated by personal tragedy and a sense of loss of purpose after her child career ended. Yasmim’s death is a reminder that depression is a disease that can kill, even teenagers — and perhaps especially such young people who have had no chance to accumulate the life skills to fight it, even by knowing to seek help.

 

William Carvan Isles II, 79, co-founder of the O’Jays, on March 25
The O’Jays – Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette) (1965)

Armando Vega Gil, 64, composer, bassist of Mexican band Botellita de Jerez, suicide on April 1
Botellita de Jerez – El Zarco (1986)

Kim English, 48, house and gospel singer-songwriter, on April 2
Kim English – Treat Me Right (2010)

Rick Elias, 64, musician, member of A Ragamuffin Band, on April 2
Rick Elias – Confession Of Love (1990)

Einar Iversen, 88, Norwegian jazz pianist and composer, on April 3

Tiger Merritt, 31, singer-guitarist of rock band Morning Teleportation, on April 4
Morning Teleportation – Eyes The Same (2011)

Alberto Cortez, 79, Argentine singer and songwriter, on April 4

Sam Pilafian, 69, tuba player, on April 4
Sam Pilafian – Tiger Rag (1991)

Davey Williams, 66, guitarist with free-jazz band Curlew, music critic, on April 5

Shawn Smith, 53, alt.rock singer and songwriter, on April 5
Brad – The Day Brings (1997, on vocals)

Pastor López, 74, Venezuelan cumbia singer-songwriter, on April 5
Pastor López y Su Combo – Cali bonita (1982)

Ib Glindemann, 84, Danish jazz composer and bandleader, on April 5

Jim Glaser, 82, American country singer and songwriter, on April 6
Tompall & The Glaser Brothers – Rings (1972)
Jim Glaser – You’re Gettin’ to Me Again (1984)

Paul Severs, 70, Belgian singer, on April 9

Earl Thomas Conley, 77, country singer-songwriter, on April 10
Earl Thomas Conley – Holding Her And Loving You (1983)
Earl Thomas Conley & Anita Pointer – Too Many Times (1986)
Blake Shelton – All Over Me (2001)

Johnny Hutchinson, 78, drummer of English rock & roll band The Big Three, on April 12
The Big Three – Some Other Guy (1963)

Dina, 62, Portuguese singer, on April 12

Paul Raymond, 73, keyboardist (Chicken Shack, Savoy Brown, UFO, on April 13
Chicken Shack – Maudie (1970)
UFO – Young Blood (1980)

Joe Terry (Terranova), 78, baritone of doo wop band Danny & the Juniors, on April 15
Danny & The Juniors – Rock & Roll Is Here to Stay (1958)

Les Reed, 83, English songwriter, on April 15
The Fortunes – Here It Comes Again (1965, as co-writer)
Herman’s Hermits – There’s A Kind Of Hush (1967, as co-writer)
Peter Alexander – Delilah (1968, as co-writer)
Elvis Presley – Girl Of Mine (1973, as co-writer)

Kent Harris, 88, American songwriter and producer, on April 16
The Coasters – Shoppin’ For Clothes (1960, as co-writer)

Eddie Tigner, 92, blues singer, keyboardist and songwriter, on April 18
Eddie Tigner – Home At Last (2009)

MC Sapão, 40, Brazilian singer, on April 19

Omar Higgins, 37, bassist of reggae-punk band Negro Terror, on April 20

Yasmim Gabrielle, 17, Brazilian singer and TV personality, of suicide on April 21

Dave Samuels, 70, percussionist of jazz-fusion band Spyro Gyra, on April 22
Spyro Gyra – Morning Dance (1979)

Dick Rivers, 74, French rock and roll singer with Les Chats Sauvages, on April 24
Les Chats Sauvages – Twist à Saint Tropez (1961)

Reijo Taipale, 79, Finnish singer, on April 26

Phil McCormack, 58, singer of rock band Molly Hatchet (after 1996), on April 26
Molly Hatchet – Mississippi Moon Dog (1998)

Jack de Mello, 102, Hawaiian music composer and producer, on April 27

Jo Loesser, 91, musical theatre actress, on April 28

Beth Carvalho, 72, Brazilian samba singer and guitarist, on April 30
Beth Carvalho – Coisinha do Pai (1979)

Boon Gould, 64, guitarist of Level 42, on April 30
Level 42 – Starchild (1981, also as co-writer)
Level 42 – Something About You (1985, also as co-writer)

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The Originals – 1960s Vol. 1

April 25th, 2019 5 comments

 

In this instalment of The Originals we look at some of the lesser-known first releases of songs that would become huge 1960s hits for others, starting with (what I will assume is) the innocence of My Boy Lollipop and ending with the national anthem of Orgasmia. There are 30 songs on the mix; I’m telling the story of 17 of them. Of the remaining 13, it may be noted that two were written by Laura Nyro, the one featured here in her first recording and the later Blood, Sweat & Tears hit And When I Die.

So, get a good cup of the hit beverage of your choice, settle in and enjoy the journey through the originals of 1960s classics.

 

My Boy Lollipop
Millie’s My Boy Lollipop, widely regarded as the first crossover ska hit which helped give reggae a mainstream audience. In its original version, My Boy Lollypop (note the original spelling) was a song recorded in 1956 by the white R&B singer Barbie Gaye, at 15 two years younger than Millie Small was when she had a hit with the cover in 1964.

As so often in pop history, the story of the song’s authorship is cloaked in controversy. By most accounts, it was written by Bobby Spencer of the doo wop band The Cadillacs, with the group’s manager, Johnny Roberts, getting co-writer credit. Barbie Gaye’s single became a very minor hit, championed by the legendary rock & roll DJ Alan Freed. It was Spencer’s misfortune to come into contact with the notorious mafia-connected record executive and music publisher Morris Levy, who implausibly claimed that he had in fact written My Boy Lollypop, using the moniker R Spencer as a pseudonym. The real Spencer was later reinstated on the credits which nonetheless still list Levy as a co-writer. Levy’s name is attached to other classics which he had no hand in writing, such as Lee Dorsey’s Ya Ya, Frankie Lymon’s Why Do Fools Fall In Love, and The Rivieras’ California Sun. We’ll encounter him again in the story of the next song in this post.

My Boy Lollipop was revived in 1964 by Chris Blackwell, boss of the nascent Island Records label in England, which had recorded no big hit yet. He chose young Millicent Small to record it. As half of the duo Roy & Millie she had already enjoyed a hit with We’ll Meet in Jamaica. Her version changed Island’s fortunes: the song became a worldwide hit, reaching #2 in both US and UK. Island, of course, went on to become the label of Bob Marley, Roxy Music, Robert Palmer and U2.

Hanky Panky
Among the inhabitants of cubicles with pianos at the Brill Building in New York were Ellie Greenwich (who in her earlier singing had named herself Ellie Gaye in tribute to Barbie Gaye) and her husband Jeff Barry, who together wrote so many of the songs we now associate with Phil Spector’s girl groups. In 1963, Greenwich and Barry recorded a demo of a song called What A Guy. It was intended for a doo-wop group called The Sensations, but the band’s label, Jubilee, was so impressed with demo’s girl-band style (which was in fact Greenwich’s multi-tracked voice, with Barry providing bass voice) that they decided to release it, in the name of the songwriters’ band, The Raindrops.

Trouble was that Greenwich and Barry had no song for the flip-side, so they thrashed out Hanky Panky in the space of 20 minutes. They were not particularly satisfied with the song, and when a group called The Summits released it soon after as the b-side of He’s An Angel (or it might have been released before What A Guy came out; it’s unclear), it didn’t do brisk business either.

And yet, the song had become popular among garage rock live bands, including one called The Spinners (not the soul band), from whom the teenage musician Tommy Jackson heard it. He recorded it with his band, The Shondells, in 1964 at a radio station in Michigan. It was a local hit, but Tommy decided to break up his band and complete his schooling. The following year he was contacted by a Pittsburgh DJ who had discovered the record and now wanted Tommy and his Shondells to perform it on air. He hurriedly put together a new line-up of Shondells, and changed his name to Tommy James. He then sold the 1964 master to Roulette Records, which released it without remixing, never mind re-recording it. The single went to #1 in July 1966. James later explained in a Billboard interview: “I don’t think anybody can record a song that bad and make it sound good. It had to sound amateurish like that.”

There is a great story of how the small New York-based Roulette label got to release Hanky Panky. It seems that a whole gang of labels, some of them majors, wanted to buy the record. Suddenly, one after another, they withdrew their offers, much to Tommy James’ surprised dismay. In the end Jerry Wexler of Atlantic told the singer, still a teenager, what was going on: Roulette’s Morris Levy (on whom The Soprano’s Hesch Rabkin is based) had called all rival labels telling them that Hanky Panky belonged to him. Intimidated, the rivals bought the bluff, and James had to go with Levy.

Needles And Pins
Needles And Pins was written by Sonny Bono and Jack Nietzsche and first recorded by the vastly underrated Jackie DeShannon in 1963, crossing the Atlantic the same year in Petula Clark’s version before the Searchers finally scored a hit with it in 1964 (DeShannon’s version, while not a hit in the US, topped the Canadian charts). The story goes that The Searchers first heard Needles And Pins being performed by Cliff Bennett at the Star Club in Hamburg and immediately decided that the song should be their next single. It became the second of their three UK #1 hits. They did retain DeShannon’s pronunciation of “now-ah”, “begins-ah” and “pins-ah.

 

I’m Into Something Good
In the late 1950s Ethel “Earl-Jean” McCrea was a member of the R&B girl group The Cookies, which was absorbed into Ray Charles’ backing band, The Raelettes. Only Earl-Jean didn’t join the backing singer gig, instead becoming part of a new incarnation of The Cookies, who recorded the original of The Beatles’ Chains.

The Cookies did much demo work for Carole King and Gerry Goffin at Aldon Music, doing backing vocals on pop songs such as Little Eva’s The Loco-motion (it was through Earl-Jean’s recommendation that King and Goffin employed Little Eva as a babysitter) and Neil Sedaka’s Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. Along the way, they had a top ten hit with Don’t Say Nothing Bad About My Baby.

Earl-Jean left The Cookies in 1964 to try for a solo career, and it was King and Goffin who wrote her first (and only) solo hit: I’m Into Something Good, released on Colpix Records. It did a creditable job, climbing to #38 in the Billboard charts. Alas, her follow-up single, Randy, didn’t do as well, and when in 1966 Colpix folded, her solo career was over.

In Britain, the record producer Mickey Most – fresh from discovering The Animals – had heard I’m Into Something Good, and decided it was a perfect vehicle for his new protéges, Herman’s Hermits. The single became a UK #1 hit in September 1964, and then went on to reach #13 in the US, ringing in a golden period for Herman’s Hermits, who remarkably became the best-selling act in the United States in 1965, ahead of even The Beatles.

Galveston
Jimmy Webb sat on the beach of Galveston on the hurricane-plagued Gulf of Mexico when he wrote this song, which might appear to be about the “Spanish-American War” (which we really should call the Cuban Independence War) but was just as applicable to the Vietnam War, which in 1966 was starting to heat up (“While I watch the cannons flashing, I clean my gun and dream of Galveston” and “I’m so afraid of dying”). The composer subsequently said it was about the Vietnam War but at other times also denied it. Whatever Webb had in mind, its theme is universal about any soldier who’d rather be home than on the killing fields.

The original of Galveston was recorded by the relatively obscure Don Ho, a Hawaiian lounge singer and TV star who was known for appearing with red shades and died in 2007 aged 76. Campbell later said that, while in Hawaii, Ho turned him om to Galveston. Campbell sped it up a bit to create his moving version. Apparently, after “giving” the song to Campbell, Ho would not sing it any more.

Gentle On My Mind
Another Glen Campbell hit. Even without a chorus, Gentle On My Mind made a great impact when it first appeared in the late 1960s. John Hartford, who wrote the song, picked up two Grammys for best folk performance and best country song, but that was eclipsed by Glen Campbell, for whom it became a signature tune (literally; it was the theme of his 1969-72 TV show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, on which Hartford frequently appeared). Campbell, who discovered the song when he heard Hartford’s record on the radio, also won two Grammys for his version, for best country recording and solo performance.

Gentle On My Mind was not a typical John Hartford number. The singer is better known for his bluegrass roots which found expression in his accomplished use of the banjo and fiddle (shortly before his death at 63 in 2001, Hartford won another Grammy for his contributions to the bluegrass soundtrack for the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?). Hartford — the son of a New York doctor who grew up in St Louis and later acquired a steamboat pilot licence — said that he wrote Gentle On My Mind after watching the film Dr Zhivago. “While I was writing it, if I had any idea that was going to be a hit, it probably would have come out differently and it wouldn’t have been a hit. That just came real fast, a blaze, a blur.” The song is said to have spawned some 300 cover versions.

 

Guantanamera
A patriotic Cuban song, Guantanamera came into the US via Pete Seeger, who used it (with the translated lyrics of the island’s independence hero José Marti) to promote peace during the time of the Missile Crisis. It became a worldwide hit in 1966 in the version by easy listening crooners The Sandpipers. The song’s origins go back to 1928 at the latest, when Cuban singer Joseíto Fernández improvised commentary on current affairs to the song’s tune on his radio programme.  The earliest recording of Guantanamera seems to be that made in New York by the Cuban dance band Cuarteto Caney. Led by Fernando Storch, the band (which, contrary to its name, at times had up to seven members) did much to popularise Cuban music in the US in the 1930s and ’40s.

Yeh-Yeh
Written by jazz musicians Rodgers Grant (piano) and Laurdine “Pat” Patrick (saxophone), Yeh-Yeh was first recorded in 1963 by Afro-Cuban jazz percussionist Mongo Santamaría, whose band Grant and Patrick were members of at the time. Still an instrumental — though Santamaría’s single version includes what might be described as vocal ticks — it appeared on his Watermelon Man album. It soon came to the attention of jazz singer Jon Hendricks, one of the great purveyors of scat singing and a third of the jazz-vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. Hendricks had a long line of instrumental songs to which he added lyrics, doing so most famously for an album of Count Basie standards. Hendricks recorded Yeh-Yeh with the trio, in which Yalande Bavan had by now replaced Annie Ross, for the At Newport ’63 live album.

English singer Georgie Fame heard the Newport recording of Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan’s version, and incorporated into his Blue Flames’ live shows. At one point in 1964 Fame and his team were stuck for a new single. Somebody suggested Yeh Yeh. Pirate radio in Britain helped make it a hit there.

Here Comes The Night
Sometimes in pop, as we have already seen in this series (and see again), a song written for a particular artist is not always the first to be recorded by them. Or, in this case, by Them. Here Comes The Night was written by Bert Berns, the Brill Building graduate whose songwriting credits included Twist And Shout, Hang On Sloopy, Tell Him and Piece Of My Heart. His splendid career was cut short by his sudden death at 39 from a heart attack in late 1967. Somehow, possibly because they were labelmates on Decca with Them, Lulu & the Luvvers (she ditched the backing band in 1966; the same year Van Morrison ditched Them) got to go first with Here Comes The Night in 1964. This, their third single flopped, reaching only #50 in Britain. Them’s version, with Jimmy Page on guitar, was released in May 1965, peaking at #2 in the UK and #24 in the US.

 

Dream A Little Dream Of Me
Dream A Little Dream Of Me is one of those songs where one cannot pinpoint a definitive “most famous” performance or hit version. To some, it’s Mama Cass’ song. Others will remember it as Frankie Laine’s or Ella Fitzgerald’s song. Written by Fabian André and Wilbur Schwandt — there are claims that one Milton Adolphus wrote it —with lyrics by Gus Kahn, it was first recorded on 16 February 1931 by Ozzie Nelson and his Orchestra, with Ozzie on vocals and Jack Teagarden on trombone, beating a recording by Wayne King’s orchestra by two days. Ozzie, who had a radio and then TV show with his wife Harriet Hilliard and two sons — the late rock & roll singer Ricky Nelson and TV producer David— got his break in 1930 when as an unknown he won a popularity poll by the New York Daily News. Realising that kiosk vendors claimed for unsold newspapers with only the torn-off front page, Ozzie and pals picked up the discarded newspapers and filled in the poll forms in their favour. The ruse worked, and throughout the 1930s, Ozzie and his orchestra enjoyed a fine run of success — even if their version of Dream A Little Dream Of Me was not a hit.

The song seems to have maintained a presence in many concert repertoires. But it made a big comeback with the versions by Laine and Fitzgerald only in 1950. It made the rounds in the jazz and easy listening circles, but it required the death of one of its co-writers to cross over into pop. Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas grew up knowing Fabian André as a family friend. When he died in 1967, after falling down an elevator shaft, she (or possibly Cass Elliott) proposed that the band record the song Michelle remembered from her childhood. A decision was made that Cass should sing it solo, and when the song was released as a single, it was credited in the US to Mama Cass with The Mamas and The Papas (elsewhere just to Mama Cass). A re-recorded version also appeared on Cass’ debut album, not coincidentally titled Dream A Little Dream.

I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
Pino Donaggio is best known as a composer of the scores for films such as Don’t Look Now, Carrie and Dressed To Kill. But before that, he was a big pop star in Italy, having abandoned the classical training he received as a teenager (and which prepared him for his soundtrack career) for pop after performing with Paul Anka in the late 1950s.

He performed Io che non vivo (senza te), which he wrote with Vito Pallavicini, at the San Remo Festival in 1965 with the country singer Jody Miller. Dusty Springfield was there and then asked Vicki Wickham, producer of the British music TV show Ready Steady Go! and a songwriter, to set the song to English lyrics for her. Wickham asked Simon Napier-Bell (one-time manager of the Yardbirds, Marc Bolan and Wham!) to help her. Napier-Bell later remembered that they wrote the lyrics in a taxi. Springfield’s version (reportedly recorded in 47 takes) was released in 1966 and became one of her signature hits.

Universal Soldier
Early in the Vietnam War, Canadian folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie saw an injured soldier return from active duty and decided to write an anti-war song. It would become one of the most potent songs in the peace movement, even if her good advice to you and me evidently has not been taken. By her own account, the song was written in a Toronto café to impress a college professor, Buffy, then in her early 20s, sold the rights to Universal Soldier to a man she had just met in Greenwich Village’s Gaslight Café, for a dollar (the contract was written on a paper napkin). Two decades later she bought the rights back for $25,000. In the interim, she made it on the White House’s blacklist for her anti-Vietnam and Native American rights activities, spent five years on Sesame Street (on which she breastfed her child), in 1966 became the first singer to release a quadraphonic album (4.0 stereo) and apparently the first to release an album on the Internet (in 1991). She also co-wrote Up Where We Belong, the hit for Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes from 1981’s An Officer And A Gentleman, with then-husband Jack Nitzsche.

The year before Sainte-Marie released Universal Soldier on her 1964 debut album, It’s My Way, it was recorded by folk-group The Highwaymen (not to be confused with the country supergroup), who enjoyed their commercial peak in 1960 with the hit version of Michael (Row The Boat Ashore). It’s not clear how the Highwaymen got to record Universal Soldier first; one may guess that they were given the song by Buffy’s new friend from the Gaslight Café. Released as a single and on the group’s penultimate album, March On Brothers, it was not a huge success.

Universal Soldier’s breakthrough came with the version by Scottish folkie Donovan, who released it in 1965 at the age of 19, having already two UK Top 10 hits with Catch The Wind and Colours. Young Mr Leitch’s softer version, which adopted Buffy’s arrangement (and using strange pronunciation of the name Dachau). Released as an EP in Britain, it topped the EP charts there and reached #14 in the singles charts.

 

Green, Green Grass Of Home
Written by Claude “Curly” Putman Jr, the execution ballad Green, Green Grass Of Home was first recorded by Johnny Darrell, the ill-fated associate of the Outlaw Country movement. Darrell’s 1965 version failed to make much of a splash, but country star Porter Wagoner did gain some attention with his recording made in June 1965. Both versions communicate empathy with the protagonist, a dead-man-walking who is awakening from a dream of being reunited in freedom with the scenes of his childhood but in fact is awaiting his execution in the presence of the “sad old padre” (not “peartree” or “partridge”).

Tom Jones was introduced to the song through Jerry Lee Lewis’ version, also a country affair recorded a few months after Wagoner’s, and proceeded to turn it into hackneyed easy listening, selling more than a million records of it in 1966. Who said pop was fair?

Those Were The Days
It’s difficult to say which version of the Mary Hopkin hit Those Were The Days should be regarded as the original. Strictly speaking, it’s a Russian song called Dorogoi dlinnoyu, which was first recorded in 1925 by Georgian singer Tamara Tsereteli. It reached the West in 1953 when it was sung by Russian singer Ludmila Lopato in the film Innocents in Paris. It was subsequently recorded by folk icon Theodore Bikel. Enter Greenwich Village folkie type and playwright Gene Raskin who wrote English lyrics for his singer-wife Francesca, and then summarily copyrighted not only the words but the music as well.

Folk band The Limeliters first recorded the song in 1962. Six years later Paul McCartney heard it performed by the Raskins in a London club, and decided Mary Hopkin should record it on Apple Records. She did and had a worldwide hit with it. The song would be used in ads, and Raskin — by then an academic who surely reviled plagiarism — became very rich from the royalties. Today he’d be sued to kingdom come, but those were the days…

 

Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying
It’s not really fair to call Gerry & The Pacemakers “usurpers” of Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying, since the song was written by Gerry Marsden and his fellow Pacemakers. But before they could record it, Decca had teenage singer Louise Cordet commit it to record. Cordet, who had a minor single hit in 1962 with I’m Just A Baby, was among the supporting acts ion the 1963 Beatles/Roy Orbison tour of the UK. Also on the bill were Gerry & The Pacemakers. And it was their George Martin-produced version of Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying that became a huge hit soon after Cordet released her record. Cordet is the god-daughter of Prince Philip, on account of her parents’ friendship with the exiled Greek royals, and the mother of singer-songwriter Alexi Murdoch.

Good Lovin’
One of the defining songs of the 1960s, Good Lovin’ was first recorded by soul singer Lemme B. Good, but co-writer Rudy Clark wasn’t happy with the lyrics. Soon after, soul group The Olympics recorded the song with tweaked lyrics. Their Jerry Ragavoy-produced version was recorded with practically the same arrangement by The Rascals, who had the huge hit with it. Lemme B. Goode, real name Limmie Snell, went on to found Limmie & Family Cookin’ which had two UK Top 10 hits in the 1970s.

Je t’aime… moi non plus
The story goes that the national anthem of Orgasmia, Je t’aime… moi non plus, was written in 1967 by Serge Gainsbourg at the request of Brigitte Bardot, who did record it but asked Gainsbourg to withdraw its release. Her version came out in 1986, almost two decades after Jane Birkin had a hit with it. Bardot’s version is the first recorded with that title and that arrangement. But already in 1966 the Gainsbourg composition was recorded under the title “Scène de Bal” by arranger Michel Colombier for the film Les cœurs verts. So effectively there are three originals: Colombier’s “Scène de Bal”, Bardot’s unreleased recording, and Birkin’s 1969 release.

As always, the mix fits on a standard CD-R and includes covers. PW in comments.

1. Barbie Gaye – My Boy Lollipop (1956)
The Usurper: Millie (1964)

2. Earl-Jean – I’m Into Something Good (1964)
The Usurper: Herman’s Hermits (1964)

3. The Exciters – Do-Wah-Diddy (1963)
The Usurper: Manfred Mann (1964)

4. The Four Voices – Sealed With A Kiss (1960)
The Usurper: Brian Hyland (1962)

5. Jackie DeShannon – Needles And Pins (1963)
The Usurper: The Searchers (1964)

6. The Raindrops – Hanky Panky (1965)
The Usurper: Tommy James and the Shondells (1966)

7. The Outsiders – Bend Me, Shape Me (1966)
The Usurper: The American Breed (1967)

8. Lulu & The Luvvers – Here Comes The Night (1964)
The Usurper: Them (1965)

9. The Valentinos – It’s All Over Now (1964)
The Usurper: The Rolling Stones (1964)

10. Frankie Valli – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (1965)
The Usurper: The Walker Brothers (1966)

11. Peter, Paul & Mary – And When I Die (1966)
The Usurper: Blood, Sweat & Tears (1969)

12. The Highwaymen – Universal Soldier (1963)
The Usurper: Donovan (1965)

13. The Limeliters – Those Were The Days (1962)
The Usurper: Mary Hopkin (1968)

14. Cuarteto Caney – Guajira Guantanamera (1938)
The Usurper: The Sandpipers (as Guantanamera, 1966)

15. Mongo Santamaria – Yeh-Yeh (1963)
The Usurper: Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames (1965)

16. Ozzie Nelson and his Orchestra – Dream A Little Dream Of Me (1931)
The Usurper: The Mamas & The Papas (1968)

17. Tony Bennett – Blue Velvet (1951)
The Usurper: Bobby Vinton (1963)

18. Eddie Miller – Release Me (1950)
The Usurpers: Ray Price (1954), Engelbert Humperdinck (1967)

19. Johnny Darrell – Green, Green Grass Of Home (1965)
The Usurpers: Porter Wagoner (1965), Tom Jones (1966)

20. Don Ho with The Oak Ridge Strings – Galveston (1968)
The Usurper: Glen Campbell (1969)

21. Pino Donaggio – Io che non vivo (senza te) (1965)
The Usurper: Dusty Springfield (as You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, 1965)

22. Louise Cordet – Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying (1964)
The ‘Usurper’: Gerry and the Pacemakers (1964)

23. Laura Nyro – Wedding Bell Blues (1966)
The Usurper: The 5th Dimension (1969)

24. Lemme B. Good – Good Lovin’ (1965)
The Usurper: The Young Rascals (1966)

25. Sam the Sham & Pharaohs – Ready Or Not (Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie) (1966)
The Usurper: Jay & the Techniques (as Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie, 1967)

26. Will-O-Bees – Make You Own Kind Of Music (1968)
The Usurper: Mama Cass Elliot (1969)

27. Vicky Leandros – L’amour Est Bleu (1967)
The Usurper: Paul Mauriat (as Love Is Blue, 1967)

28. John Hartford – Gentle On My Mind (1967)
The Usurper: Glen Campbell (1967)

29. The Stokes – Whipped Cream (1965)
The Usurper: Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass (1965)

30. Michel Colombier – Scène de Bal (1966)
The Usurper: Jane Birkin (as Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus, 1968)

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Any Major Churches

April 18th, 2019 2 comments

I had no plans to post anything special for Easter, since the Saved! series had run its course. But the fire in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, a place I’ve visited several times, moved me to make a mix of songs about churches. It is not a Saved! mix because the songs here don’t necessarily speak of religious faith. In some songs, such as California Dreaming or For Emily, the churches are just incidental in the narrative.

What has emerged is a remarkably eclectic mix which covers all sorts of things, from French chanson to hip hop, from funk to country, from blues to indie rock. Any Major Dude With Half A Heart is a broad church.

The mix kicks off with a song about Notre-Dame, and the Paris theme returns later with Tift Merrit’s song which references the church of St Sulpice, which also caught fire, though less destructive, this year.

The story of the Johnny Cash song is quite extraordinary: it was written by one of the inmate at Folsom Prison about the jail chapel, “a house of worship in this den of sin”. Apparently the inmate who wrote it, 32-year-old Glen Sherley, sat in the front-row at the Folsom Prison concert, not knowing that Cash would perform his song. Sherley, who was serving time for armed robbery, never caught the curve, despite Cash’s attempts at helping him. In 1978 he died of suicide.

As always, the ix is time to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-hallelujahed covers. PW in comments.

For those who believe, I wish you a Happy Easter. For those who don’t, Happy Feast of the Easter Bunny.

1. Edith Piaf – Notre-Dame de Paris (1952)
2. Ann Cole – In The Chapel (1956)
3. Johnny Rivers – Mountain Of Love (1964)
4. Honey Cone – Sunday Morning People (1971)
5. Box Tops – I Met Her In Church (1967)
6. Lyle Lovett – Church (1992)
7. Drive-By Truckers – Late For Church (1998)
8. Tift Merritt – Tender Branch (2008)
9. Eels – In The Yard, Behind The Church (2005)
10. Ben Harper and The Five Blind Boys of Alabama – Church House Steps (2004)
11. Outkast – Church (2003)
12. James Brown – Bodyheat (1976)
13. Lee Moses – California Dreaming (1971)
14. David Egan – Bourbon In My Cup (2008)
15. Robert Patterson Singers – Crying In The Chapel (1967)
16. Simon & Garfunkel – For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her (1970)
17. Johnny Cash – Greystone Chapel (1969)
18. Porter Wagoner – I’ll Meet You In Church Sunday Morning (1964)
19. Ella Fitzgerald – The Church In The Wildwood (1967)
20. Frank Sinatra – Winchester Cathedral (1966)
21. The Willows – Church Bells Are Ringing (1956)
22. John Lee Hooker – Church Bell Tone (1959)

GET IT: https://rapidgator.net/file/8a5989d25f5b7f826a7c732182a0fb75/church.rar.html

Previous SAVED! mixes
Saved! Vol. 1 (Elvis Presley, Carter Family, LaVern Baker, Marvin Gaye…)
Saved! Vol. 2: Soul edition (Curtis Mayfield, The Supremes, The Trammps,  Jerry Butler…)
Saved! Vol. 3 (Prefab Sprout,  Wilco, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds…)
Saved! Vol. 4 (Sam Cooke, Dixie Hummingbirds, Dinah Washington, Jerry Lee Lewis…)
Saved! Vol. 5 (Donny Hathaway, Holmes Brothers,  Steve Earle, The Bar-Kays…)
Saved! Vol. 6: Angels edition (Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Rilo Kiley, Kris Kristofferson…)
Saved! Vol. 7: Soul edition (Earth, Wind & Fire, Billy Preston, Marlena Shaw, Al Green….)
Best of Saved!

Categories: God Grooves, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Beatles Reunited – 77 (1977)

April 11th, 2019 1 comment

 

In our alternate Beatleverse it’s 1977, and three years after 1974’s classic double album Photographs, the Fabs are finally releasing a follow-up.

By now John is concentrating on his home-life more than he does on The Beatles, and Ringo is enjoying his forays into the movies. Between them, they provide only three songs to the new album, and John’s are hold-overs from the Photographs sessions [real life aside: the featured Lennon tracks are from the Menlove Ave. album of outtakes from the Walls & Bridges sessions]. One might’ve thought that John’s Rock & Roll shtick was something of an anachronism, but by 1977 it was in line with the 1950s revival which a year later would find full expression with the film Grease.

Paul and George have been prolific, however, and their contributions to this LP are quite lovely. Remarkably, The Beatles have not yet succumbed to the influences of disco.

The album title, 77, is a bit lazy. Obviously it refers to the year of its release. One wonders whether it is also an oblique reference to the year being the tenth anniversary of the year in which Sgt Pepper’s was released. The plain red back cover and the font on the front-cover more than hints at that.

 

This series of alternate history mixes pay tribute Peter Lee’s commendable alternative-history novel The Life And Death of Mal Evans which is available in print or eBook from avonypublishing.com or from Amazon or Kobo.

The set fits on a standard CD-R and includes covers (and if you don’t like them, take it up with The Beatles’ arts department). PW in comments.

Side 1
1. Let ‘Em In (Paul)
2. Cracker Box Palace (George)
3. Silly Love Songs (Paul)
4. Rock And Roll People (John)
5. Beautiful Girl (George)

Side 2
6. This Song (George)
7. Lady Gaye (Ringo)
8. Girls’ School (Paul)
9. Old Dirt Road (John)
10. You (George)
11. Letting Go (Paul)

GET IT!
OR: https://rapidgator.net/file/94c3713319b8cdd9c6dc891e285dd7ca/BR-77.rar.html

Previous Beatles Reunited albums:
Everest (1971)
Live ’72 (1972)
Smile Away (1972)
Photographs (1974)

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In Memoriam – March 2019

April 2nd, 2019 4 comments

March saw the fall of at least three stone-cold legends, and tragic death of an up-and-coming band.

The Great Baritone
The voice of an Engel has fallen silent with the death at 76 of the versatile Scott Walker. The obits have covered Walker’s life and career, and it needs no rehashing here. But it’s worth noting that few artists have had a career that spans teen idol pop, interpretative chanson, avant-garde and neo-classical music — and fewer still who could pull it off as Walker did (though, in some cases, I have to rely on critical consensus rather than my own judgment).

The Drummer of a Thousand Hits
He might have lived till he was 90 and not contributed anything to pop music in a long time, but to those who knew his role in music history will have grieved the death of Hal Blaine. The two mixes I put together of songs Blaine played on, as part of the Wrecking Crew, tell only a small part of his story. They are, of course, worth revisiting. Blaine was a total pro, knowing when to hold back, when to let go, and when to innovate (with snowchains on Bridge Over Troubled Water, in an elevator shaft on The Boxer, with a glass ashtray on Dean Martin’s Houston).  And he was a total gentleman; his acts of kindness and generosity are legendary. The world was richer with Hal Blaine in it. And look at his “farewell letter” (click to enlarge), issued in January…

The Guitar Pioneer
Without Dick Dale, how might things have been for the Beach Boys or Jan & Dean or any of the surf guitar bands? No doubt, Dale was massively influential, not only in producing the sound of surf rock, but also in pushing the limits of guitar and amplifier technology in his cooperation with Leo Fender. Heavy metal owes Dick Dale!  Born Richard Mansour, he was from Lebanese stock, and so incorporated his love of Arab music in his sound. His most famous song, Misirlou, is a good example of that (though that song was a cover of a much older Greek tune).

The Top Ranker
For many people of my generation in the UK or Europe, the ska revival spearheaded by bands such as The Specials or The Beat was a cultural marker. The Beat’s co-frontman Rankin Roger was a symbol of that new kind of music that made political statements you could dance to. After The Beat split, Ranking Roger joined General Public, a supergroup comprising fellow Beat frontman Dave Wakeling, Clash guitarist Mick Jones, Specials bassist Horace Panter, and Dexys Midnight Runner keyboardist Mickey Billingham and drummer Stoker. That outfit was more successful in the US than in the UK, partially thanks to the inclusion of the hit Tenderness (more new wave than ska) in John Hughes movies. Ranking Roger continued to perform and record, sometimes with acts like Big Audio Dynamite and Sly & Robbie, also touring with the reformed Police in 2007 as special guest.

The Rock & Roll Writer
As a member of doo-wop band Danny & The Juniors, David White co-wrote one of the great rock & roll classics with At The Hop. He went on to write Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay, then co-wrote Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me, Cubby Checker’s The Fly, and Len Barry’s 1-2-3. He formed The Spokesman with songwriting and production partner John Madara and a radio DJ to issue the right-wing answer record to Barry McGuire’s Eve Of Destruction, titled Dawn Of Correction. The opening verse goes: “The western world has a common dedication to keep free people from Red domination. And maybe you can’t vote, boy, but man your battle stations, or there’ll be no need for votin’ in future generations.”

The Comeback Man
Fans of The Blues Brothers will know at least one song co-written by R&B singer Andre Williams: his Shake A Tailfeather, a 1967 hit for James & Bobby Purify, was sung in the movie by Ray Charles. Williams recorded it towards the end of his long career which produced a number of minor hits but never brought the big breakthrough. In between, he wrote Stevie Wonder’s first-ever song (Thank You For Loving Me), helped produce The Contours and Ike Turner, was a roadie for Edwin Starr, and wrote for the Parliament/Funkadelic collective. Drug addiction in the 1980s ended in a spell of homelessness. The 1990s saw a return to recording, including a 1998 album of rather lewd songs, and a 2000 country-flavoured album (which included a most sinister rendition of Excuse Me, I Have Someone To Kill, featured on Any Major Murder Songs).  His last album came out in 2016.

The ‘Punk’ Guitarist
Residing on the shortlist for the Any Major Guitar mixes is the Tom Robinson Band’s 2-4-6-8 Motorway. The superb guitar solo was played by Danny Kustow, who has died at 63 (and played that solo when he was 22). The TRB broke up in 1979, and Kustow did session work with bands like Gen X. He reunited with Robinson for his hit 1984 War Baby.

The Arranger of Classics
Much of the sound of the early 1960s was shaped by Stan Appelbaum, who arranged classic hits of The Drifters (such as Save The Last Dance For Me, There Goes My Baby) and Ben E. King (such as Stand By Me, Spanish Harlem), as well as hits such as Connie Francis’ Where The Boys Are and Brian Hyland’s Sealed With A Kiss and Ginny Come Lately. Others for whom Appelbaum arranged include Lavern Baker, Al Martino, Bobby Vinton, The Coasters, Ray Peterson, Brooke Benton, Lonnie Donegan, Damita Jo, Sam Cooke, Paul Anka, Johnny Preston, Dion, Curtis Lee, Gene Pitney, Cliff Richard, Sammy Davis Jr. and others. Along the way he arranged for jazz musicians like Cal Tjader and Don Cherry, and mentored Neil Sedaka, who first recorded with the Stan Appelbaum Orchestra. Before all that, in the 1950s, he arranged for several jazz greats, including Benny Goodman and Sarah Vaughan. Applebaum was also composed for commercials, with his best-known work being PanAm Airlines Makes the Going Great.

The Blues-Rock Voice
In October we lost Ray Owen, original singer of UK blues-rock band Juicy Lucy. On the first of the month, Owen’s successor in the group, Paul Williams, passed away at 78. With his first band, the Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band, he played alongside future Police guitarist Andy Summers. Next Williams joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, replacing future Fleetwood Mac legend John McVie. He recorded only one album with Juicy Lucy (where he sang alongside future Whitesnake guitarist Mick Moody). In 1973 he joined Tempest, which also included guitarist Allan Holdsworth, whom Williams went on to join in is I.O.U. jazz-fusion outfit.

A Cruel End
Having released two critically well-received albums, the Liverpool duo Her’s was expected to go a long way towards stardom. That was brutally cut short when members Stephen Fitzpatrick, 24, and Audun Laading, 25, died alongside their tour manager, Trevor Engelbrektson, in a head-on traffic collision in Arizona, during a 19-date US tour. They were on their way from a gig the night before in Phoenix to Santa Ana in California when they collided with a pick-up truck which apparently was travelling in the wrong direction. The other driver also died.

 

Stan Applebaum, 97, arranger and conductor, on February 28
Sarah Vaughan & Billy Eckstine – Passing Strangers (1957, as arranger & conductor)
Neil Sedaka with Stan Applebaum and his Orchestra – Stairway To Heaven (1960)
LaVern Baker – No Love So True (1962, as arranger)
Ben E. King – Don’t Play That Song For Me (1962, as arranger)

Paul Williams, 78, English singer, on March 1
Paul Williams & The Big Roll Band – Gin House (1964)
Juicy Lucy – Thinking Of My Life (1970, also as writer)
Allan Holdsworth – Checking Out (1982, on lead vocals)

Al Hazan, 84, musician, producer and songwriter, on March 2
Ritchie Valens – Hi-Tone (1959, as writer)

Janice Freeman, 33, singer, contestant on The Voice (US), on March 2

Leo de Castro, 70, New Zealand soul singer and guitarist, on March 3
Johnny Rocco Band – Heading In The Right Direction (1975, on lead vocals)

Kate Cook, 36, singer, contestant on Australian Idol, on March 3

Keith Flint, 49, singer of The Prodigy, suicide on March 4
The Prodigy – Firestarter (1996)

Sara Romweber, 55, drummer of pop-rock band Let’s Active, on March 5
Let’s Active- Horizon (1988)

Jacques Loussier, 84, French jazz pianist, arranger and composer, on March 5
Jacques Loussier Trio – Bach’s Prelude Nº 1 In C Major (1959)
Go-Betweens – Part Company (1984, on synth)

Mike Grose, original bassist of Queen (in 1970), on March 6

Charlie Panigoniak, 72, Canadian Inuktitut singer and guitarist, on March 6

Raymond ‘Don Ray’ Donnez, 76, French producer and conductor, on March 7
Santa Esmeralda – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood + Esmeralda Suite (1977, as producer, co-writer)
Don Ray – Standing In The Rain (1978)

Eddie Taylor Jr., 46, blues singer and guitarist, on March 8
Eddie Taylor Jr. – The Sky Is Crying (2015)

George ‘Sax’ Benson, 90, jazz saxophonist, on March 9
Frank Sinatra – Learnin’ The Blues (1955, on trombone)
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971, on tenor saxophone)

Asa Brebner, 65, guitarist, singer and songwriter, on March 10
Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Lover Please (1979, as member)

Charlie Karp, 65, musician and songwriter, on March 10
Joan Jett – Too Bad On Your Birthday (1980, as co-writer)

Hal Blaine, 90, legendary session drummer, on March 11
The Crystals – He’s A Rebel (1962, on drums)
Dean Martin – Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes (1964, on drums)
Beach Boys – Good Vibrations (1967, on drums)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Boxer (1970, on drums)
America – Ventura Highway (1972, on drums)

Danny Kustow, 63, English guitarist with the Tom Robinson Band, on March 11
Tom Robinson Band – Glad To Be Gay (1978)
Tom Robinson – Atmospherics (Listen To The Radio) (1983)

Danny Ben-Israel, 75, Israeli psychedelic rock musician, on March 11

John Kilzer, 62, singer and songwriter, suicide on March 12
John Kilzer – Red Blue Jeans (1988)

Dick Dale, 81, surf music guitarist, on March 16
Dick Dale and his Del-Tones – Lets Go Trippin’ (1962)
Dick Dale and his Del-Tones – Misirlou (1963)
Dick Dale – The Wedge (1963)

Justin Carter, 35, country singer, in accidental shooting on March 16

Dewayne ‘Son’ Smith, half of comedy country duo The Geezinslaws, on March 16
The Geezinslaw Brothers – Peel Me A Nanner (1967)

David White, 79, singer-songwriter with Danny & the Juniors, on March 17
Danny & The Juniors – At The Hop (1957)
Lesley Gore – You Don’t Own Me (1964)
The Spokesmen – The Dawn Of Correction (1965)

Andre Williams, 82, R&B singer, on March 17
Andre Williams – Jail Bait (1956)
Andre Williams – Only Black Man In South Dakota (1998)
Andre Williams – Shake A Tailfeather (2015, also as co-writer)

Yuya Uchida, 79, Japanese singer and actor, on March 17
Flower Travellin’ Band – Hiroshima (1972)

Bernie Tormé, 66, Irish rock guitarist, singer and songwriter, on March 17
Bernie Tormé – Too Young (1983)

Arkadiy Aladyin, 61, drummer of Russian rock band Poyushchiye Gitary, on March 21

Scott Walker, 76, singer-songwriter and producer, on March 22
Scotty Engel – When Is A Boy A Man (1957)
Walker Brothers – Love Her (1965)
Scott Walker – Montague Terrace (In Blue) (1967)
Walker Brothers – No Regrets (1975)
Scott Walker – Only Myself To Blame (1999)

Ranking Roger, 56, singer with English ska band The Beat, General Public, on March 26
The Beat – Stand Down Margaret (1980)
General Public – Tenderness (1984)
Ranking Roger – Mirror In The Bathroom (Dub Mix) (1991)

Stephen Fitzpatrick, 24, half of English rock duo Her’s, in car crash on March 27
Audun Laading, 25, Norwegian-born half of English rock duo Her’s, in car crash on March 27
Her’s – What Once Was (2016)

Joe Flannery, 87, booking manager and friend of The Beatles, on March 28

Billy Adams, 79, rockabilly singer, on March 30

Simaro Lutumba, 81, member of Congolese band TPOK Jazz, on March 30
TPOK Jazz – Zenaba (1973)

Geoff Harvey, 83, Australian musician and music director, on March 30

Nipsey Hussle, 33, American rapper, shot on March 31
Nipsey Hussle – The Hustle Way (2009)

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or at https://rapidgator.net/file/7e55ddc8f1295ce7dbf0e834bcbb207e/IM_1903.rar.html

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

NYC – Any Major Mix Vol. 3

March 28th, 2019 10 comments

 

 

Here is the third New York City mix (or fourth if you include the New York in Black & White, as you should). This one includes a couple of obvious choices, but one of those in a rather good splendid version, plus a few lesser-known numbers.

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

1. Conor Oberst – NYC – Gone, Gone (2008)
2. Lou Reed – NYC Man (1996)
3. Steely Dan – Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More (1975)
4. Chicago – Saturday In The Park (1972)
5. Candi Staton – Nights On Broadway (1977)
6. Bob & Earl – Harlem Shuffle (1963)
7. Brecker Brothers – East River (1978)
8. Billy Joel – Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway) (1981)
9. A-ha – Manhattan Skyline (1987)
10. Dar Williams – The Hudson (2005)
11. The Avett Brothers – Famous Flower Of Manhattan (2006)
12. The Statler Brothers – New York City (1970)
13. Steeleye Span feat. Peter Sellers – New York Girls (1975)
14. Belle & Sebastian – Piazza, New York Catcher (2003)
15. The Moldy Peaches – NYC’s Like A Graveyard (1997)
16. Fountains Of Wayne – Red Dragon Tattoo (1999)
17. Thomas Dybdahl – One Day You’ll Dance For Me, New York City (2004)
18. Suzanne Vega – Ludlow Street (2007)
19. Art Garfunkel – A Heart In New York (1981)
20. Horace Silver – Summer In Central Park (1973)
21. Sammy Davis Jr. – New York’s My Home (1956)
22. Bette Davis – Turn Me Loose On Broadway (1952)

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The Originals: Schlager edition

March 21st, 2019 6 comments

 

At first glance, this edition of The Originals seems narrowly aimed at Germans, but it should appeal to all fans of European and 1970s pop music.

The German Schlager has a reputation for being banal rubbish, and it’s not entirely unmerited. But the genre generated some legit entertainment and even moments of good quality. Often, those moments were the result of the Schlagermachine finding foreign songs and reproducing them for the German market. Sometimes what emerged was superior to the originals, as it was in the case of Danyel Gérard’s 1971 mammoth-hit Butterfly.

That song doesn’t feature here; only one track on this collection is the first version of a German hit sung by its original artist: Belgian singer Salvatore Adamo’s Petit Bonheur, which in German became Ein kleines Glück. The German version disproves the point I just made about teutonic production superiority. It’s a fairly strange bit of music in any version.

 

Before Giorgio Moroder became a pioneering trailblazer in Euro-disco and electronic music, he was a pop singer and Schlager producer. The Italian-born half-German came to Berlin in 1963. In 1969 he had a million-seller as Giorgio with Looky Looky, which topped the French charts. The following year he released Arizona Man, a Moog-driven, temp-changing pop number. His version went nowhere, but a German cover released shortly after gave Mary Roos her first hit.

Arguably the Schlager singer with the best strike-rate in choosing covers was Israeli-born Daliah Lavi. Four of her biggest hits were cover versions: three feature here; two were written by the same man: John Kongos. The South African singer went on to have two UK Top 10 hits (Tokoloshe Man and He’s Going To Step On You Again; both later covered by the Happy Mondays), but in 1970 his Would You Follow Me was translated into German and became a big hit for Lavi as Willst Du mit mir geh’n. The following year, the song was also covered by Olivia Newton-John.

 

Also in 1970, Kongos’ Won’t You Join Me was covered by the improbably-named Emil Dean Zoghby, who was a bit of a star in South Africa in the 1960s. Zoghby, who died in 2014 at 72, went on to be a stage actor in London and, back in South Africa, a record producer. Lavi’s cover, titled Wann kommst Du, was released in 1971.

The third original of a Lavi song is fairly well-known: Rod McKuen’s catchy 1971 anti-war anthem Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes, which enjoyed some success in Europe, especially in the Netherlands. In Lavi’s hands, the peace song became a love song with the title Meine Art Liebe zu zeigen, which translates as My Way Of Showing Love.

 

Another astute selector of cover versions was Michael Holm. Most of these were quite well-known, so this mix of lesser-known originals picks the 1969 French song Fernando by Sheila, a singer whom the world of pop would get to know better as the lead of Sheila B. and The Devotions. Fernando—which was co-written by Danyel Vangarde, who’d later co-write hits such as the Gibson Brothers’ Cuba and Ottawan’s DISCO — became a Spanish hit as Un rayo de sol by Los Diablos, and for Michael Holm in Germany as Wie der Sonnenschein. Holm featured himself on the Christmas Originals for doing the first version of When A Child Is Born, which was itself based on an original instrumental, Le Rose blu by Ciro Dammicco (the song became later known as Soleado). Holm might feature again for doing the original of Chickory Tip’s Son Of My Father, which he co-wrote with Giorgio Moroder.

Perhaps the greatest Schlager singer-songwriter was Udo Jürgens, whose songs always stood a few steps above the standard Schlager fare. Jürgens had few needs for the songs of others, but one of his biggest hits, the cheeky seduction number Es wird Nacht Senorita of 1968, was a cover. Originally the song was recorded in 1965 as Le Rossignol Anglais by the popular French chansonnier Hugues Aufray, and the year after by Mireille Mathieu.

 

As a song travels the continent, its meaning can change. When Portuguese Brazilian singer Benito di Paula wrote and recorded his 1975 song Charlie Brown, a hit in Portugal, it was about the Peanuts character. Travelling eastwards it became a discofied number by Belgian outfit Two Man Sound (whose dance moves must be seen). Retaining the original lyrics, it was a huge hit in Belgium and Italy. But when it came to Germany, the hit version by Benny was no longer about the depressed protagonist of Charles M Schulz’s cartoon but about a promiscuous guy who beds every woman “between Mexico and Paraguay”, even your girlfriend.

One song here might just as well have featured in a 1970s edition of The Originals. A cover of Living Next Door To Alice was a big 1977 hit for Smokie. But it features here on strength of a cover of the Smokie version by South African-born Schlager balladeer Howard Carpendale, as Tür an Tür mit Alice. Originally it was recorded by Australian band New World, who had enjoyed UK Top 10 action with Tom-Tom Turnaround and Sister Jane on RAK Records, the label Smokie would later find success on. Living Next Door To Alice, recorded in 1972, flopped, however. New World’s career was over soon after when their success on the UK Opportunity Knocks talent show in 1970 became (through no fault of theirs) the focus of a results-fixing scandal.

 

Remarkably, only one song here is a German-language original of a German hit. Über sieben Brücken mußt du gehn (which means, You’ll Have To Cross Seven Bridges) was recorded in 1978 by the East-German band Karat as the theme song for a TV film. It became a massive hit in East-Germany and even won the Eastern Bloc’s version of the Eurovision Song Contest. The LP on which the song appeared did good business in West-Germany, but since East-German musicians were forbidden from appearing on western TV, the single went nowhere. When in 1980 the German rock singer Peter Maffay heard Über sieben Brücken mußt du gehn, he asked the band for permission to record it. His faster version became a mega-hit. After reunification, Karat and Maffay re-recorded the song together. It has become something of a German anthem.

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

1. Giorgio Moroder – Arizona Man (1970)
The Usurper: Mary Roos (Arizona Man, 1970)

2. John Kongos – Would You Follow Me (1971)
The Usurper: Daliah Lavi (Wann kommst Du?, 1970)

3. Hughes Aufray – Le Rossignol Anglais (1965)
The Usurper: Udo Jürgens (Es wird Nacht, Senorita, 1968)

4. Mickey – El chico de la armónica (1972)
The Usurper: Bernd Clüver (Der Junge mit der Mundharmonika, 1972)

5. Emil Dean Zoghby – Won’t You Join Me (1970)
The Usurper: Daliah Lavi (Willst Du mit mir geh’n, 1971)

6. Martinho Da Vila – Canta Canta, Minha Gente (1974)
The Usurper: Nana Mouskourie (Guten Morgen Sonnenschein, 1977)

7. Michel Delpech – Pour Un Flirt (1971)
The Usurper: Randolph Rose (Nur ein Flirt, 1971)

8. Adamo – Petit bonheur (1969)
The Usurper: Adamo (Ein kleines Glück, 1970)

9. Tom Jones – The Young New Mexican Puppeteer (1972)
The Usurper: Robert Blanco (Der Puppenspieler aus Mexiko, 1972)

10. Sheila – Fernando (1969)
The Usurper: Michael Holm (Wie der Sonnenschein, 1970)

11. Rod McKuen – Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes (1971)
The Usurper: Daliah Lavi (Meine Art, Liebe zu zeigen, 1973)

12. Karat – Über sieben Brücken mußt du gehn (1978)
The Usurper: Peter Maffay, Über sieben Brücken mußt du gehn, 1980)

13. Benito di Paula – Charlie Brown (1975)
The Usurper: Benny (Amigo Charlie, 1976)

14. New World – Living Next Door To Alice (1972)
The Usurpers: Smokie (1976), Howard Carpendale (Tür an Tür mit Alice)

15. The Bellamy Brothers – Crossfire (1977)
The Usurper: Hoffmann & Hoffmann (Himbeereis zum Frühstück, 1977)

16. Vader Abraham – ‘t Kleine Café Aan De Haven (1975)
The Usurper: Peter Alexander (Die kleine Kneipe, 1976)

17. Jim Lowe – Gambler’s Guitar (1952)
The Usurper: Fred Bertelmann (Der lachende Vagabund, 1957)

18. Domenico Modugno – Piove (Ciao Ciao Bambina) (1959)
The Usurper: Caterina Valente (Tschau Tschau Bambina, 1959)

19. Eydie Gorme – Blame It On The Bossa Nova (1963)
The Usurper: Manuela (Schuld War Nur Der Bossa Nova, 1963)

20. Beniamino Gigli – Mamma (1960)
The Usurper: Heintje (Mama, 1969)

21. Carlos Francisco with Orchestra – La Paloma (1904)
The Usurper: Mireille Mathieu (La Paloma Adieu, 1973)

Bonus Track: Masquerade – Guardian Angel (1983)
The Usurper: Nino de Angelo (Jenseits von Eden, 1983)

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Alternative link: https://rapidgator.net/file/53e8cde1c3bcc0101e73c6abd1809b2a/Orig-Schlag.rar.html

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Any Major Babymaking Music Vol. 1

March 14th, 2019 5 comments

The term “baby-making music” describes the sonic complement to the carnal act, and the stages preceding it, which is usually applied to create an ambience which facilitates the arousal of heightened sensuality. The purpose of such music does not necessarily require the objective of procreation, nor indeed the initiation of the carnal act, but its use may not, by definition, preclude these.

The selection of suitable music for that purpose is, by its nature, subjective. However, the following are not universally considered appropriate propositions to qualify inclusion under the genre “baby-making” music: Marilyn Manson’s This Is The New Shit, Aqua’s Barbie Girl, Sgt Barry Sadler’s Ballad of The Green Berets, Billy Ray Cyrus’ Achy Breaky Heart, Lawrence Welk’s Baby Elephant Walk, Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of, The Buoys’ Timothy, Michael Jackson’s Ben, Insane Clown Posse’s Miracles, Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters, Toby Keith’s Courtesy Of The Red, White and Blue, the Carpenters’ Sing, Michael F Bolton’s opera album, anything by Creed, the Birdie Song, and others.

Should you find yourself in a situation where a lover cranks up the sounds of any of the above without the display of any discernible irony, then you might be in the company of a serial killer. Don’t wait to find out where the moment might lead you, regardless of what your libido tells you. Run!

If, however, your partner digs out a CD with the home-smooched cover you see above, you have a reasonable expectation of experiencing the best sex ever.

I do not wish to plant uncomfortable mental images in your head (though, since very few of you know what I look like, such mental images may take the form of the tanned and toned Adonis that I am), so I won’t reveal which of these songs I have made figurative babies to. But all of these songs here make me want to make figurative babies.

 

Actually, I’m overegging the point. I think these songs are not so much humping-music (though none preclude that notion either) as they are suited to setting the mood for intense romantic moments, when two people share a deep intimacy. Some songs can express such intimacy, as anybody who has ever made out to, say, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face will know. Such songs are sexy because they feed that intimacy, that essence of being-in-love that is fundamental to the act of making love.

This is why this mix includes tracks like Isaac Hayes’ version of The Look Of Love (the live version on which he is dealing with love on a more personal basis) or Bob Marley’s Turn Your Lights Down Low, but none of Barry White’s advertising jingles for his baby-making prowess (great though these songs are). But if you need some Barry to get you into the groove, don’t despair: he’s doing his thing on Quincy Jones’ star-studded The Secret Garden, alongside the likes of James Ingram, El DeBarge and Al B. Sure.

An automatic choice would have been Earth, Wind & Fire’s I Write A Song For You, but that featured recently already. But if the stand-by is the glorious live version of Reasons, then the baby-making agenda remains uncompromised. The obvious song-choice by Billy Paul is deferred to the inevitable Volume 2.

Of course, the mix can be cheerfully played outside the setting of intimate relations. It’s just as great to listen to when driving, with no hopes of having sex in sight.

So, what are your baby-making songs?

As ever, this mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-smooched covers.

1. Al Green – Let’s Stay Together (1972)
2. Isaac Hayes – The Look Of Love (live) (1973)
3. Earth, Wind & Fire – Reasons (live) (1975)
4. Heatwave – Always and Forever (1977)
5. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Turn Your Lights Down Low (1977)
6. Van Morrison – Tupelo Honey (1971)
7. Joan Armatrading – Turn Out the Light (1980)
8. Roberta Flack – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (1969)
9. Randy Crawford – Tender Falls The Rain (1980)
10. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Help Me Make It Through The Night (1972)
11. Luther Vandross – If Only For One Night (1985)
12. Curtis Mayfield – Do Be Down (1990)
13. Derek and the Dominos – Bell Bottom Blues (1970)
14. Santana – Europa (1976)
15. Quincy Jones – The Secret Garden (1989)
16. Marvin Gaye – After The Dance (1976)

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