Archive

Archive for May, 2009

The Originals Vol. 25 – Beatles edition 1

May 29th, 2009 12 comments

Among the many potent influences the Beatles had on pop music, their part in advancing the importance of albums was crucial. Before the Beatles, pop albums — be it rock & roll or easy listening — were promotional tools for hit singles, populated by fillers. Serious albums served jazz and musical soundtracks. Of course there were very good albums before the Beatles (Elvis had at least three before Uncle Sam grabbed him, and Sinatra introduced the concept album), but LPs such as Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt Pepper’s, or even A Hard Day’s Night before those, helped establish the album as the more serious form of artistic (and commercial) expression.

With that in mind, it is easy to forget that three of the Beatles’ first four albums were topped up with fillers, many of them cover versions (which is quite ironic since the Beatles went on to become the most covered band ever). Some of these are better known in their original versions; the Little Richard and Chuck Berry compositions and Motown classics, for example. Some are generic classics (A Taste Of Honey; Till There Was You), and some are fairly obscure, or would become so. In this sub-series of The Originals, we look at the latter two categories in the first of a three-part sub-series, which includes a few rarities. (EDIT: The Cookies’ link is now fixed, and thespian misidentification removed.)

* * *

The Top Notes – Twist And Shout.mp3
The Isley Brothers – Twist And Shout.mp3
top-notes_twist_and_shout The Beatles – Twist And Shout.mp3
Mae West – Twist And Shout.mp3
Twist And Shout is probably the most famous cover by the Beatles, and is most commonly associated with them. And rightly so: their take is rock & roll perfection. It was based on the 1962 cover by the Isley Brothers, who introduced the rythm guitar riff (which borrows heavily from Richie Valens’ La Bamba) and the “ah-ah-ah” harmonies, to which the Beatles added the Little Richardesque “woo”.

The song was written by the legendary Bert Berns (sometimes credited to his pseudonym Bert Russell) with Phil Medley. Berns has featured in this series before as the author of songs such as I Hang On Sloopy and Here Comes The Night, and he will feature again if I can find Garnet Mimms’s Piece Of My Heart.

isley_twistBerns gave Twist And Shout to The Top Notes — a Philadelphia R&B group which might have been forgotten entirely otherwise — whose recording was produced by a very young Phil Spector. The result did not please Berns, who accused Spector of “fucking it up”. He was a bit harsh on young Phil; the Top Notes’ version is not bad, but Berns had hoped for something a more energetic. So he took the song to the reluctant Isley Brothers’, who had scored a hit two years earlier with the driving Shout, which had the kind of sound Berns imagined for his song. Their Twist And Shout, which Berns produced, became a US #17 hit, and so came to the attention of the Beatles, whose version upped the tempo to produce a joyously frenetic and, indeed, orgasmic version.

beatles_twist_and_shoutIt was the last song to be recorded after a marathon 12-hour session which saw ten tracks put down for the Please Please Me album, on 11 February 1963. Lennon had been ill with a cold — towards the end of the song, if you listen closely, you can hear Lennon cough — and his voice was already hoarse, soothed by milk and throat lozenges. The first take demolished Lennon’s voice; a second take was recorded but, according to producer George Martin, Lennon’s voice was by then gone (and George Harrison’s hands bleeding). That first take captured one of the great vocal performances in rock & roll — by a singer who, according to Martin, did not like his own voice, begging the producer to modify it on the recordings. Martin would later recall Lennon asking him repeatedly: “Do something with my voice. Put something on it. Smother it with tomato ketchup. Make it different.” In time, Lennon became adept at using his voice in different ways.

At about the same time as the Beatles’ version of Twist And Shout came out, another one was released by Brian Poole & the Tremeloes — the band Decca signed instead of the Beatles. For pure novelty value, Mae West’s remake is…interesting. Imagine a masochist cat enjoying an orgasm while being tortured.
Also recorded by: Booker T. & The M.G.’s (1962), The Searchers (1963), Ricky Gianco (1963), Brian Poole And The Tremeloes (1963), The Miracles (1963), Buddy Morrow and his Orchestra (1964), The Shangri-Las (1964), The Iguanas (1964), The Chipmunks (1964), Jack Nitzsche and his Orchestra (1964), Bob Hammer Band (1964), Del Shannon (1964), The Kingsmen (1964), Ike and Tina Turner (1965), Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs (1965), The Mamas and the Papas (a slowed down version, 1967), Tom Jones (1969), Chuck Berry (1969), The Who (1982), Rodney Dangerfield (for Back To School, 1986), Salt ‘n’ Pepa (1988), Los fabulosos Cadillacs (as Twist y gritos, 1988), Alejandra Guzmán (as Twist y gritos, 1989), Chaka Demus & Pliers (1993), Samantha Miller (1994), Mr. Al (1997), The Punkles (1998), Matmatah (2000), The Orchestra (2001), Liquido (2002), Dee Dee Ramone ( 2004), Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (bootleg, 2005), The Drawbacks (2009)

The Cookies – Chains.mp3
The Everly Brothers – Chains.mp3
The Beatles – Chains.mp3

cookies_chainsAnother US #17 hit found its way on the Please Please Me album, recorded during the same session that produced Twist And Shout and the next song. The Cookies at the time were Little Eva’s back-up singers (and, later, Ray Charles’) who occasionally released singles themselves. Apart from the Top 20 success of Chains, they had a top 10 hit with Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad (About My Baby). The Cookies recently featured on this blog (here) and one of the Cookies will reappear later in this series as the original singer of a Herman’s Hermits song.

Chains was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Soon after the Cookies had their hit, the Beatles (and other Merseyside bands) included it in their concert repertoire. On Please Please Me, it is one of two songs that feature George Harrison on vocals (the other is the Lennon-McCartney composition Do You Want To Know A Secret), with John taking over the lead guitar and Harrison on rhythm guitar.

The Everly Brothers’ version is possibly the best of the lot, but went unreleased until 1984.
Also recorded by: Sylvie Vartan (1963), Jack Nitzsche and his Orchestra (1964), Carole King (1980), Kaleo O Kalani (1995), Beatlejazz (2005)

Billy Dee Williams – A Taste Of Honey.mp3
The Beatles – A Taste Of Honey.mp3

billy_dee_williamsA Taste Of Honey was the title of a 1958 British kitchen-sink play by Shelagh Delaney (whose picture appeared on the single sleeve of The Smith’s Girlfriend In A Coma). The play was adapted in 1960 for Broadway, with the addition of incidental music. The song that became known as A Taste Of Honey provided a recurring theme. Among the cast of the Broadway production was Billy Dee Williams . Williams recorded the tune set to lyrics in 1960, failing to generate pop music’s crowning moment. Two years later, crooner Lenny Welch recorded the song (some source mistakenly claim that this was the first vocal version). It was Welch’s version which Paul McCartney was familiar with when the Beatles included it in their live repertoire, and then on their debut album, on which McCartney duetted with himself.

The song really has two lives: the vocal version and the instrumental one most famous in its incarnation by Herb Alpert (recently posted here).
Also recorded by: Bobby Scott (1960), Martin Denny (1962), Victor Feldman Quartet (1962), Acker Bilk (1963), Quincy Jones (1963), Barbra Streisand (1963), Paul Desmind (1963), The Hollyridge Strings (1964), Tony Bennett (1964), Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (1965), Bobby Darin (1965), Trini Lopez (1965), John Davidson (1966), Johnny Mathis (1966), Johnny Rivers (1966), Esther Phillips (1966), Tom Jones (1966), Chet Atkins (1967), Chris Montez (1967), I Giganti (as In paese è festa, 1967), The Hassles (1967), Shango (1969), Robert William Scott (1970), The Supremes & the Four Tops (1970), Ray Conniff (1971), Joshua Breakstone Quartet (1991), Vincent Gallo (1998), Lizz Wright (2005)

Barbara Cook & Robert Preston – Till There Was You.mp3
The Beatles – Till There Was You (Decca audition).mp3
The Beatles – Till There Was You.mp3

music_manWhether or not one would regard this as a lesser-known original depends on one’s interest in showtunes. The Broadway afficionado will know Till There Was You as the song that ends Act 2 in the 1957 musical The Music Man, as the librarian (Barbara Cook) addresses the professor (Robert Preston). The soundtrack of the stage musical — it was made into a movie in 1962 — was one of the biggest US sellers of the 1950s, as many musicals were in the days before pop LPs (which, as noted, the Beatles helped usher in).

Paul McCartney was not a big follower of Broadway as a young man; he was introduced to the song via Peggy Lee’s 1961 version, courtesy of a cousin. He later claimed to have been unaware until much later that the song originated from a musical. It was a firm fixture in the Beatles’ concert playlist, even during their second stint in Hamburg. They also played it at the unsuccessful Decca audition (the audition tapes, incidentally, show that poor Dick Rowe did not suffer a terrible lapse in judgment. The Beatles were pretty poor).

till there was you Having recorded it for their sophomore album, With The Beatles, the group played Till There Was You at the Royal Variety Performance, apparently giving the Queen Mother much pleasure. The old bat probably frowned soon after at Lennon’s exhortation for jewellery rattling (he had planned to say “rattle your fucking jewellery”, but wisely though disappointingly chickened out), and possibly did not dance on top of her seat to the next song, Twist And Shout.
Also recorded by: Anita Bryant (1959), Chet Atkins (1960), Joni James (1960), Peggy Lee (1961), Valjean (1962), Nana Mouskouri (1962), Thomas Allen & Valerie Masterson (1995), Innovations (1998), Patti Austin (1999), Maye Cavallaro & Mimi Fox (2003), Rod Stewart (2003), The Smithereens (2007), Cassandra Wilson (2008)

Buck Owens – Act Naturally.mp3
The Beatles – Act Naturally.mp3

buck_owensAppearing on Help!, Act Naturally was the Beatles’ final cover version, if one ignores Let It Be’s Maggie May. The other remake on Help!, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, had been recorded a month earlier. So we mark 17 June 1965 as the day the Beatles became an exclusively original band.

Act Naturally was a nod to Ringo’s fine performance in A Hard Day’s Night (and, indeed, in Help!), though the lyrics have less to do with impending stardom than with the feeling of rejection. It probably also cemented the public notion of Ringo as the cute, guileless and slightly retarded Beatle. It’s an image that would contribute to an entirely unjust diminution of Ringo’s reputation as a drummer.

Act Naturally was first recorded in 1963 by country singer Buck Owens, an influential figure in popular music as a progenitor, alongside Merle Haggard, of Bakersfield country, the Southern California sub-genre that gave rise to Gram Parsons (and the influence he brought to the Byrds) and later the likes of Dwight Yoakam, who recorded with Owens, and Brad Paisley. In 1989, almost exactly 24 years after the Beatles version was put down, Ringo and Owens — who had quite similar voices — recorded Act Naturally together.
Also recorded by: Loretta Lynn (1963), Brian Hyland (1964), Kitty Wells (1964), Betty Willis (1965), Hank Locklin (1965), Jody Miller (1966), The Hollyridge Strings (1967), Charley Pride (1967), The Cowsills (1969), The Youngbloods (1971), George Jones (1987), Daniel O’Donnell (1988), Buck Owens & Ringo Starr (1989), Moe Bandy (1997), Phil and the Frantics (1999), Johnny Russell (who wrote the song, 2000), Bobby Osborne (2000), Tamra Rosanes (2002)

More Originals

American Road Trip Vol. 7

May 26th, 2009 5 comments

Last time on our American Toad Trip, we were pausing for a beer in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, before planning to cross into Kentucky en route to Ohio. Soon after, we were detained in another Tennessee town to testify at a murder trial. Oh dear…

*   *   *

Knoxville, Tennessee

louvin-brothersWe were about a mile outside Knoxville when we chanced upon a grisly scene: a young man repeatedly beating a young, blonde woman with a rock, then dragging her away. Being responsible tourists, we immediately reported the act of violence to the local sheriff. Turns out the man’s name was Willy, and the young woman was his girlfriend, whose lifeless body he threw in the river. Turns out that Willy was a popular guy around town; apparently his many friends tried their best to raise bail for him. We were pleased they didn’t succeed, because we had seen what Willy dun’ to the poor girl. The trial heard that the girl had hopes of marrying Willy, probably the reason why he killed her. We are on our way to cross the Appalachian mountains now, leaving Willy behind to waste his life away down in his dirty old jail.
The Louvin Brothers – Knoxville Girl (1956).mp3

Kentucky

emryarthurHaving been waylaid in Knoxville, we quickly cross Kentucky, a state that has lent its name to many song titles, yet I cannot think of any song about a city from the state. Not even about Lexington. So we won’t even stop for Colonel Sanders’ artery-hardening fried battery chickens, and quickly we bid farewell to ol’ Kentucky. The song here was originally recorded in 1913 as Farewell Song by Dick Burnett, who had adapted it from a folk song. The version featured here, from 1928, seems to be the first recording under the present title.
Emry Arthur – I’m The Man Of Constant Sorrow (1928).mp3
.

Cincinnati, Ohio

porter_wagonerYes, as soon as we arrive on the outskirts of Ohio’s third-biggest (with a population if 330,000) and its most famous metropole (it was the USA’s first major inland city), we tune the radio to hear the dulcet tones of Dr Johnny Fever — and we can do so because, since our road trip is entirely notional, we can traverse time and reality. If we had a time machine, we might even travel back to 1977 to observe a council meeting chaired by the city’s mayor at the time — Jerry Springer.

Just before arriving in Cincinatti, we crossed the Ohio river, as once did many a slave seeking freedom. Being located on the border of slavery-state Kentucky, Cincinnati was the first stop for many escaping slaves. With the changing demographics and proximity to the South before the American Civil War, the city experienced much racial tension, and conflict between those for and against slavery.

The most famous song about the river which gives the state its name must be The Banks Of The Ohio, which is a variation on the theme explored in Knoxville Girl (itself adapted from an Irish murder ballad called Wexford Girl). Its oddest version is probably that which became a hit for Olivia Newton-John, a singer so wholesome that she is not an automatic murder suspect. Instead we shall go with the heavily rhinestoned Porter Wagoner (I think Johnny Cash has far too many murder raps on his sheet already).
Steve Carlisle – WKRP In Cincinnati (full version, 1978).mp3
Porter Wagoner – The Banks Of The Ohio (1969).mp3

.

In case anyone really wants to know why I am dispensing with pics of the cities I am visiting, it is because I am getting too many hits via Google image searches. It does boost my stats, but artificially so. I doubt many people who arrive here for a graphic of Tuscaloosa stick around to read the rest of the blog.

Songs by the dumped

May 22nd, 2009 12 comments

karaoke manWomen have I Will Survive to articulate for them how all men are bastards. Nottingham’s Mr Sex of the brilliant Todger Talk blog, which dispenses superb sex and relationship advice to men, pointed out to me at the star-studded gala for the Any Major Blogs Awards earlier this year that men have few equivalent karaoke songs which convey to the nasty ex that he’s well over her — and perhaps at the same time signal his availability to the lucky laydees who might be so fortunate as to hear him croon such songs. So Nottingham’s Mr Sex set me a challenge: find ten suitable songs which dumped guys can sing with dignified defiance, and he will come up with his own list.

It proved more difficult than I had thought. Dumped guys don’t do gracious much, they don’t do that “who do you think you are, buster?” wiggly neck thing Aretha Franklin does in The Blues Brothers. As we have seen in this series of songs about love, men typically wallow in the dejection of rejection, hoping that their pathetic puppy eyes — or, worse, an emo outburst — will extract just enough pity to be taken back. Or they use their heartbreak as an excuse to drink prodigiously and discard the basic doctrines governing personal hygiene and housekeeping.

But that most certainly won’t win her back, nor probably attract a new romance. Much better to jump on stage, grab the mic, and let rip with whichever of these ten songs characterises your back-bouncing emotions.

This being an MP3 blog, I’ve posted links to the music files; the Todger Talk version of this cross-blog has links to video files to all 20 songs, except the Tom Waits track (and a couple not of the originals, though the Garth Brooks karaokist gives it his best shot).

* * *

Ben Folds Five – Song For The Dumped.mp3
Song For The Dumped really is the national anthem of embittered dumpees. Ben Folds has been discarded with pitiless diplomacy: “So you wanted to take a break, slow it down some and have some space…” He stood no chance; you can’t argue yourself out of that one. How would you respond? And how would you like to respond. Probably like Folds: “Well, fuck you too.” Less than considerate? Perhaps. But, man, he had just BOUGHT HER DINNER. Now he wants his money back, “and don’t forget to give me back my black T-shirt”. Yeah! Give him back the black T-shirt! The new girlfriend is getting cold!

Tom Waits – Who Are You.mp3
Ben Folds wants to her to give back the T-shirt; Waits wants her to TAKE back what she gave him: lies. And he’s only getting started in what might be the greatest fuck-off song from the male perspective. “Did my time – in the jail of your arms.” Oooh! “Go on ahead and take this the wrong way, time’s not your friend.” Ouch! “Are you pretending to love? Well, I hear that it pays well.” Oooof!

Godsmack – I Fucking Hate You.mp3
It is fair to say that Godsmack’s repertoire of scathing zingers is rather more slender than that of Waits and they do lack Ben Folds cutting drollness, but they sing from the heart. Not only was that horrid ex apparently lying to Mr Smack, but she also impugned his good character (and we must trust that his integrity was entirely unimpeachable before), as the lyric suggest: “And every day I’m gonna blame you, even if you justify every fuckin’ bullshit lie…it only makes me want to break you.” Inarticulation often accompanies a broken heart, which might explain the lyrical descend to the levels subsequently occupied by Paris Hilton on her excursion into the world of popular music: “Don’t ever look my way. Don’t even think I’m playin’, cause I fuckin’ hate you. You’re such a liar; I love to hate you” (punctuation is mine; as conceived by the lyricist, none might have been intended). And with that out of the way, we can finally deliberate on the heart of the song: “Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” And why not? Sometimes that is all that needs to be said.
.

.Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River.mp3
The song apparently was a riposte to Britney Spears’ alleged infidelity. Likewise, our notional karaoke singer might have been the blameless party in a split generated by a betrayal. He might have done the dumping, but the betrayal was hers. Either way, the relationship is over, no matter how much she begs. “Girl I refuse, you must have me confused with some other guy. Your bridges were burned, and now it’s your turn to cry, cry me a river.” The sentiment, of course, borrows from a much greater song by the same title. That one is more commonly sung by women (best heard in Julie London’s version).

Hank Williams – Your Cheating Heart.mp3
Where Timberlake is piqued over Britn… the girl’s infidelity, Hank Williams (the first one, not the McCain-lovin’ son) navigates the byways of false empathy as he sketches out what emotional turmoil awaits the indiscreet ex. “Your cheatin’ heart will make you weep. You’ll cry and cry and try to sleep.” Just reward for cheating on the doubtless scrupulously faithful Hank. Of course Hank may just be hoping or projecting; the girl might well be pleased to be rid of him, and perhaps with good reason. But just in case she isn’t, he adds: “You’ll toss around and call my name.” And wouldn’t that just settle the score?

Lou Rawls – You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine.mp3
Where Hank Williams’ wishes psychological suffering upon his ex, Lou is more sanguine about love lost — and he can afford to be, since he was only rejected, not cheated upon. His cheer obviously is a mask: when he says she won’t ever find anyone as good as him, he is bathed in anguish, and not making an intrepid foray into the dark art of divination, his rebuff of “ifs and buts and maybes” notwithstanding. He’s not “bragging on myself, baby”; it’s just inconceivable that anyone can love her as tenderly and completely as he has. She’ll regret rejecting him. “Late in the midnight hour, baby — you’re gonna miss my lovin’. When it’s cold outside — you’re gonna miss my lovin’.” His whoa-whoas serve to underline the hopeful taunt. He’ll get over her in good time, and when she realises what she has lost, it’ll be too late. Take that, you wretched waster of good love!

Any rejected fool in love will know precisely what Lou is talking about. Twenty years ago, I was such a fool, suffering from unrequited love, a distressing case of frienditis, with Elizabeth (not necessarily her real name). One night at a club, You’ll Never Find… came on. While she was dancing with some random other, I whispered to my friend: “And I dedicate this song to Elizabeth.” Our mutual friend emphatically agreed with the sentiment. Well, Elizabeth just didn’t love me that way. The way she did love me was expressed by ramming a stake through my heart while cackling viciously like a particularly sinister witch in Macbeth as portrayed by an overacting diva as she told me that we should just be friends. I recently caught up with Elizabeth. She is happily married to a nice man who clearly adores her, and she him. So Lou proved to be less than prescient. But at the time, his anthem of defiant self-validation in which she, not he, was the big loser helped to shake the heavy dust of lovelorn despondency off my shoulders. And within only a year and a half, I was even over her…

…...

Whitesnake – Here I Go Again.mp3
Some men are accumulating experience at being dumped, much like our present friend as he goes again here. He won’t waste much time mourning the old relationship. In karaoke mode, he is proclaiming himself ready to be swept off his feet by the next knightess in shining lycra. And what woman of compassionate spirit would fail to give the man a chance when he philosophies: “I’m just another heart in need of rescue, waiting on love’s sweet charity. And I’m gonna hold on for the rest of my days, ’cos I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams.” Sure, the poetry is risible, but he probably will get laid tonight.

Garth Brooks – Friends In Low Places.mp3
Being dumped for reasons of economic class just isn’t right-on. But this is what has happened to Garth Brooks (or the song’s first-person protagonist). He confronts her for a final time on her wedding day. And as he might in the rejected script for a rom-com, Brooks trespasses on the nuptials in his cowboy boots (and perhaps a 12 gallon Stetson), intimidates the alarmed groom, and tells the bride that he’s down with her new life — as turning up uninvited to an ex’s wedding invariably communicates. “I toasted you, said, ‘honey, we may be through’, but you’ll never hear me complain.” With bravado he celebrates having found refuge in drink among the flies at his local bar (here we imagine a joint where Achy Breaky Heart commands respect) populated by the cohort of low social expectations in the title. Brooks is, as we and his ex can guess, fooling himself. But at least he can get in a little dig as he makes his declaration of emotional independence: “Hey, I didn’t mean to cause a big scene. Just give me an hour and then…well, I’ll be as high as that ivory tower that you’re livin’ in.” At which point his lowly-placed pals join in the rousing, presumably alcohol-fuelled chorus.

Prefab Sprout – When Love Breaks Down.mp3
The dumped karaoke song for the more introspective, analytical man. It isn’t even clear yet that he has been dumped, or that the relationship is over. But our hero is already making plans for that eventuality, which he seems to regard as virtually inevitable. So, what happens when love breaks down? Firstly, you stop the truth from hurting you. Secondly, you lie to yourself (as some of our friends in the preceding songs have done). Thirdly, “you join the wrecks who leave their hearts for easy sex”. Which is why we are presently singing karaoke songs about failed relationship in a bar populated with women in first place.

New York City – I’m Doing Fine Now.mp3
At the beginning of the post I flagged Ben Folds Five’s Song For The Dumped as the national anthem for the dumped, but the real song of recovery, of liberation from the cast irons of a broken heart, is this glorious soul number from 1973. The protagonist is at a more advanced stage of recovery than our notional karaokist, but projecting an aspirational confidence that happiness will return with a new love certainly would do no damage to the prospect of getting laid or, depending on your temperament, strike up a rewarding relationship with a very nice girl. The opening verse updates us comprehensively: “Remember the day you up and left? I nearly cried myself to death, oh yeah. And then I met someone else. She made me stop and get a-hold of myself.” And here comes the taunt: “Oh girl, I’m doin’ fine now, without you, baby.” Repeated often enough to drive home the message: what the hell was I doing tormenting myself over you for?

.

More songs about love

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

todger_talk_heading

And seeing as Nottingham’s Mr Sex set me a challenge, it was only fair that he should show his hand. Here then is his list of 10 male variations on the I Will Survive theme, with Mr Sex’s links to video files, to which I’ve added MP3s (Mediafire was playing up, so all but one are on DivShare). Incidentally, go to Todger Talk to read Mr Sex’s introduction to this cross-blog — it’s much better than mine, and very funny. Besides, you will need to if you want to understand the Crazy woman reference.

.

Black Sabbath – Iron Man.mp3
Video
This song might sound like a big metal robot getting ready to kick the world’s face in, but don’t be fooled – the sentiments are as close as it gets to the male version of IWS. Ignore the rammell about being turned to steel in the great magnetic field – that’s Ozzy trying to say that he’s been chucked by a bird without his mates twigging and taking the piss out of him. Perfectly male sentiments, too – while Gloria gets over her ex by finding someone better, Ozzy can only purge his feelings of rejection by pretending to be 100 feet tall and putting his metal Doc Martens through a building. Because we’ve all thought that, haven’t we, chaps?
.
Isaac Hayes – By The Time I Get To Phoenix (full version).mp3
Video
And yes, it has to be the full Isaac Hayes version. While Glen Campbell sounds like a deadbeat Dad making a midnight flit with a barmaid half his age, Black Moses takes the time to explain that his ex was a right slapper who made him work triple-time so she could get her nails done, and only now does she realise how mint he is, ha ha. Problem is, he takes eleven minutes to lay this all out before he sings note number one, so you’re going to have to work your arse off to prevent a bum-rush by Crazy woman and a hail of empty WKD bottles. Wearing a dressing gown made of gold chains might help.
.
Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.mp3
Video
Marc Almond might not be the most aggressively masculine singer in this list (and the opening line forces you to state that a) you’ve had a bit of a roar and b) you knock about in a pub called The Pink Flamingo), but don’t let that put you off, because the glee with which he lays into his rubbish ex is a joy to behold. Bonus points for the subtle allusion that you’re after a ‘nice little housewife’, as the pub will be full of ‘em. I’d mention the David Gray version, but I’d rather not, as I’ve never heard it.
.
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – Who’s Gonna Take The Blame.mp3
Video
Poor old Smokey seems to have spent the vast majority of his life being pissed about by women, but he clocked what the girl in this song was all about ages ago; a window-smashing, abusive cow who needed getting shot of. Naturally, said harridan becomes a ‘woman of the street’. Smokey charitably alludes that he tried his best, but he’s bragging, really. Moral – you’re going to end up having sex for money in graveyards for dumping me, you rotten cow.
.
Jimi Hendrix – Stone Free.mp3
Video
It was either this or Roadrunner by Junior Walker and the All-Stars, because the sentiments are the same: I’m single because I go round the country (possibly as a sales rep), I can’t be doing with women putting me in a plastic cage (my making me stay in and watch Strictly Come Dancing), and I’m a wild spirit who needs to live his life the way he needs to, in order to be spiritually fulfilled (by downloading porn torrents, watching back-to-back episodes of Top Gear, and playing Football Manager until 3am next to a stack of pizza boxes).

Cliff Richard – Devil Woman.mp3
Video
The standard get-out clause for any dumped male: She Was Mental. And Cliff (who has allegedly not had it off since rationing was stopped in the UK) is in full-on warning mode about his ex, who sounds a bit like that cat-woman in Conan The Barbarian who turns into a ball of flame after that romp in the cave, advising any other bloke sniffing around to LEG IT. Whilst subtly bragging that he’s been there, of course.

Lee Dorsey – Get Out My Life Woman.mp3
Video
As you’ve noticed, the tone is changing very quickly from ‘I will grow stronger without you’ to ‘Oh, bollocks to you, then’. And this is probably the most eloquent, understated OBTYT I’ve ever come across.
.
Jilted John – Jilted John.mp3
Video
The most joyous, cathartic, triumphant I’ve-been-dumped song ever. She is a slag. And he’s a creep. She is a tart. He’s very cheap. She is a slut. He thinks he’s tough. She is a bitch. He is a puff. (and Kid Jensen can shut his gob, the cheeky bastard).
.
Wayne County and the Electric Chairs – Fuck Off.mp3
Video
Say no more. But be aware the singer in question ended up having a sex change.
.
Cake – I Will Survive.mp3
Video
Sod it, why not? 99.99999% of songs don’t have genitals, and the ones that do can easily be operated on.

So, which song would you nominate?

Great covers: Gil Scott-Heron/Brian Jackson – Winter In America (1974)

May 19th, 2009 2 comments

How many albums are there which bear the name of one of the artist’s most epic song which does not appear on it? Winter In America, the song, made its appearance a year later, on 1975’s The First Minute Of A New Day album, written at the decree of one Peggy Harris who created the artwork on the inner sleeve, and who believed there just should be a song called Winter In America. Read more…

Music for Bloggers Vol. 10

May 15th, 2009 11 comments

It has been a long time since I’ve celebrated the work of my fellow bloggers. So long, in fact, that some which I might have featured along the way have given up (or hopefully just suspended) their endeavours. So, whatever happened to The Urban Woo? Will Catholick Tastes ever blog again? Got The Fever, the mercury is running much too low!

Oh, and if your blog doesn’t feature here, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. And at this point, I should express my gratitude to all the blogs that link to me, and especially to those that do so in their posts (with special props to Rock God Cred and its sibling blog Retro Music Snob). Click on the heading to visit the blogs reviewed.

* * *

The Vinyl District

vinyl_district

This may look like reciprocation after The Vinyl District (TVD) chose your humble servant to kick off a new series in which that blog visits other blogs, asking them to tell about themselves and offer up a few tunes. Of course I sounded like an idiot, referring to this blog in the third person. TVD, on the other hand, astutely evades exhibitions of idiocy in its bid to promote the delights of trusty vinyl, which is sustaining something of a comeback. In doing so, the blog revisits old records and flags new vinyl releases. Periodically, TVD runs competitions, usually calling on readers to exercise their wit to win a t-shirt, a concert ticket or a deluxe vinyl edition of Jenny Lewis’ fine Acid Tongue album (I can never muster the required with, I’m afraid). And I love the website design: the vinyl LP coming out of the album cover. Brilkliant. It seems logical that the song dedication for TVD should be my vinyl rip of a hard-to-find song, a very beautiful 1982 track in the James Taylor vein by the Australian singer Richard Clapton.
Richard Clapton – Walk On The Water.mp3

***

Another Nickel In The Machine

another_nickel

This blog is an absolute gem. Taking as its subject London in the 20th century, it is a cultural multimedia journey through eras, from the London which still had the murders of Jack the Ripper fresh in its collective mind to the pre-WW2 years to the Swinging Sixties to the brief punk period. Some posts include music, others photos or videos. The essays are beautifully written and invariably fascinating, even (or especially) for non-Londoners. Along the way we meet eccentrics, gangsters and musicians, read about “the Duchess of Argyll and the Headless Man polaroids” and visit Harry Nilsson’s cursed flat in which first Cass Elliott and then Keith Moon died, or take a look inside “the hippy squat at 144 Piccadilly”, which was guarded by a trio of fey looking Hell’s Angels.
The Smiths – Half A Person.mp3

***

Oreo Cookie Blues

oreo_cookie_blues

I like a blog with great pictures and great music. One such blog is Dane’s All Eyes And Ears, which showcases her marvellous photography (which has influenced the way I look for subject matter in my own photographic endeavours) and fine music to illustrate the illustration. Oreo Cookie Blues is another fusion of sound and images, mostly photos taken by the blogger, from Toronto, himself. Some of the photos are utterly exquisite, and so is the music — for all you Ring Of Fire cover needs, Oreo Cookie Blues’ got ’em. I must run the all-too obvious song dedication, of course. Any Minor Dude, now 14, recently told me that, when he was small, he thought I was the Cookie Monster because I sounded exactly like him when singing C Is For Cookie. But to compensate for the novelty value of a Sesame Street classic, I also offer an early girl-group soul classic (with a weird spoken bit) from 1956 by a group which we will soon encounter again in the Originals series.
Cookie Monster – C is for Cookie.mp3
The Cookies – In Paradise.mp3

***

The Cheese Does Not Wear Me

cheese_does_not_wear_me

I remember my university days with some affection; so much so that when I visit the campus, as I do when I am showing overseas visitors around, I get agonisingly nostalgic. Perhaps I just feel reminded of my rapidly receding youth. So I read Liz’s blog of life on campus in Winnipeg, Canada, with a certain empathy. It helps that Liz (who frequently comments on this blog, for which I love her) is engaging and witty as she shares the minutae of college life. She is at her best when she directs her bile at her more brainless peers. Liz recently completed her Bachelor of Arts degree (hurrah!) and will leave the site of her brainless peers. Happily for us, she is not going to enter the world of gainful employment (other than a summer job), but will continue her studies, post-grad style, at the University of Minnesota, home state of at least three bloggers previously featured in this series. As we know from the film Fargo, Minnesota has its share of dim people, so Liz doubtless will find fertile grounds from which to reap instances of brainlessness on which to comment. In Purple Rain, the objectionable side of Minnesotans was represented by the gloriously preening Morris Day. This is one of the songs Day and his group (which once included future producers Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam) performed in the film. It’s outrageous!
Morris Day & the Time – The Bird.mp3

***

Groover’s Paradise

groovers_paradise

I’m not certain I am convinced of the merits of collaborative blogs. Of course, the benefit of pooling expertise and talent is a potential consistency of quality, but somehow I miss the one-on-one relationship between blogger and reader. This is not intended to deprecate such blogs, of course. There are many whose fused work I admire. One of them is Groover’s Paradise, among whose contributors are the always wonderful Gentlebear and the very impressive Setting The Woods On Fire, one of my favourite site for classic country fixes. Groover’s Paradise styles itself as a place “where we celebrate our favorite 20th Century rock, country, and soul music”. Which is as good a description as I might come up with.
Peaches & Herb – Shake Your Groove Thing (Original 12″ Mix).mp3

.

Geezer Music Club

geezer_music_club

The title stakes out this blog’s intended audiences: if you are looking for Kelly Clarkson’s latest single, you probably won’t find it here. And, just in case you need to be reassured that Kelly does not live here, it says: “A special place for SEASONED music lovers.” What one will find is thoughtfully selected music with well researched and written articles of just the right length (in other words, the Big Geez does not waffle as prodigiously as your present interlocutor). I’m not sure at what point one becomes a “seasoned” music lover; I suspect it has to do less with age but with the extent to which one has been immersed in music. Read this way, following this blog can – should – be inter-generational.
John Prine – Hello In There.mp3

***

Beatles Anecdotes

beatles_anecdotes

Can one ever know enough about the Beatles? Beatles Anecdotes offers a fresh nugget of information every day. That is quite an incredible effort: finding something to post, writing it up, logging in, posting…every day. That is dedication. And the information is very entertaining indeed. I didn’t know that Lovely Rita, the meter maid, was a real person called, of all things, Meta, whom McCartney met in St John’s Wood (and 20 years later didn’t recognise even after hearing her name). And I didn’t know that John Lennon gave the band Hot Chocolate their name, or that Ringo was briefly a Beach Boy. And here’s the kicker, all three nuggets of extravagant trivia appeared on consecutive days. This is a blog to visit for a daily fix of trivia, and to dip into the archives on a slow day. In tribute, José Feliciano’s fantastic live acoustic version of A Day In The Life from his 1969 Alive Alive-o! Live At London Palladium album (another vinyl rip of mine).
José Feliciano – A Day In The Life.mp3

.

Number One In Heaven

number_one_in_heaven

And finally not a blog, but those who dabble on Facebook will find at least one group very useful indeed: Number One In Heaven sends out monthly messages notifying subscribers of the latest deaths in the world of pop. I did not know that soul songstress Viola Wills and former Delfonic Randy Cain had died until I received my update earlier this week. The group promotes Jeremy Simmonds book Number One in Heaven: The Heroes Who Died for Rock ‘n’ Roll (retitled in the US The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars: Heroin, Handguns and Ham Sandwiches). I haven’t read it yet (seeing as I live in a backwater where the music section in even the best bookshops offers a range of a dozen books, half of them about U2 and Nirvana, and Amazon don’t deliver to South Africa), but it looks like a fantastic work. The reviews certainly seem to suggest so.

And while you are on Facebook, become this blog’s friend (it’s OK, you won’t go to Guantanamo Bay for being friends with something called Amd Whah any longer). Apart from being alerted to new posts – and sometimes posts I’m working on – you’ll also learn such fascinating things about me as which West Wing character I am, my five favourite brands of ketchup and how well (or not) I perform in quizzes about Pauly Shore’s cinematic artistry. The sort of stuff that will enrich your reading experiences of Any Major Dude With Half A Heart. The song dedication is a bit obvious, though the song belongs in every collection that reserves a special place for spectacularly bad songs, such as this glorious cash-in on the death of Elvis, released within a couple of weeks of 16 August 1977.
Danny Mirror – I Remember Elvis Presley.mp3 (reuploaded)

.
Previously featured in Music for Bloggers

Great covers: Herb Alpert – Whipped Cream and Other Delights

May 12th, 2009 9 comments

I cheerfully admit that I like this album cover for all the wrong reasons. The picture is not exactly, to use the dreaded and misleading term, “politically correct” (less so in an age when the troubling terminology of bukkake is gaining mainstream currency). The woman is objectified, of course. The whipped cream is not supposed to guarantee her modesty, and, in the mind of the male heterosexual beholder, it is not meant to be removed by such conventional means as a cloth. The model’s come-hither look and suggestive lick of her finger communicate as much. So the reader will have to believe me when I claim that my attraction to the cover relates only and exclusively to the very attractive typeface. Read more…

The Originals Vol. 24

May 8th, 2009 14 comments

We have a bit of a bumper edition here, with ten quite distinct and all lovely versions of Let It Be Me, four of City Of New Orleans, plus It Must Be Love, My Baby Just Cares For Me and Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town. Special thanks to our old friend RH and our new friend Walter for their contributions. I would be interested to know which version of Let It Be Me is the most liked.

* * *

Labi Siffre – It Must Be Love.mp3
Madness – It Must Be Love.mp3

siffre_it_must_be_lovePerhaps I’m stretching the concept of this series a little here; some may well say that they know the Labi Siffre original better than the remake. Still, it is the 1981 Madness cover that was the bigger hit and gets the wider airplay. In my view, their version is better than Siffre’s, though I fully expect to receive dissenting comment calling into question the intactness of my mental faculties (or, indeed, refer to my complete madness). Madness reached the UK #4 with the song; in 1971, Siffre (one of the first openly gay singers in pop) reached #14 with it. Rather endearingly, Siffre made a cameo appearance in the video for the Madness single (he is a violin player).

Siffre periodically retired from the music industry. He most propitiously returned in 1987 when he released his anti-apartheid song Something Inside (So Strong), which has been frequently covered, and then proceeded to co-write most of Jonathan Butler’s fine 1990 album Heal Our Land, which in part was a love letter to South Africa at a time when it had become clear that apartheid was dead.

Also recorded by: Marian Montgomery (1972), Lyn Paul (1975), Jasper Steverlinck (2004), Jeroen van der Boom (2006), Paolo Nutini (2007)

* * *

Mel Tillis – Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love To Town) (1967).mp3
Waylon Jennings – Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town (1967).mp3
Kenny Rogers & First Edition – Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town.mp3

Mel Tillis – Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town (1976).mp3

tillisA Korean war veteran comes home from doing his “patriotic chore” without his legs and his beloved wife treats him like dirt and goes cheating on him. Much as it may sound like a country music cliché, songwriter Mel Tillis, who released the song in January 1967, said he based the lyrics on a couple in his neighbourhood, with the man having been wounded in Germany in Word War 2, not in Korea. Tillis spared us the bitter end of the story: The ex-GI killed his straying wife and then himself. Though the protagonist of the song imagines putting Ruby into the ground, he has no concrete plans to kill her.

EDIT: Tillis was the first to release the song, but Waylon Jennings actually recorded it three months before Tillis did, in September 1966. Jennings’ version, however, did not get released until August 1967.

The song had been recorded a couple of times before Kenny Rogers decided it would serve to move his group, the First Edition, closer to the country scene. He and the group recorded the song in one take. It became a hit in 1969 (at the height of the Vietnam War), reaching #6 in the US and #2 in the UK. For Rogers it became a signature tune which he would record twice more, in 1977 and 1990. Apparently Rogers likes to send the song up in concerts; it seems to have become a bit of a gag, with the not very humorous Right Said Fred honouring it with a cover version. Personally, I fail to see the capricious angle.

And thanks to commenter Phillip:
Walter Brennan – Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.mp3 (direct DL via AprilWinchell.com)

Also recorded by: Johnny Darrell (1967), The Statler Brothers (1967), Red Sovine (1969), Dale Hawkins (1969), Peter Law & The New Pacific (1969), Leonard Nimoy (1970),  Carl Perkins (1974), Gary Holton & Casino Steel (1980), Sort Sol (1985), The Gorehounds (as Ruby, 1989), Right Said Fred (1996), Cake (2005), The Killers (2007) a.o.

* * *

Steve Goodman – City Of New Orleans.mp3
Arlo Guthrie – City Of New Orleans.mp3
Johnny Cash – City Of New Orleans.mp3

Willie Nelson – City Of New Orleans.mp3

steve_goodmanThroughout this series there have been songs that in their original form were far superior to the versions that made them famous. Great though Guthrie’s version (and Willie Nelson’s) is, City Of New Orleans is one such song. Goodman wrote it after travelling on the eponymous train which was about to be decommissioned, recording faithfully what he saw. The song helped to reprieve the line. Having been discovered by Kris Kristofferson, who introduced him to Paul Anka, Goodman recorded the song in 1971. One night in a Chicago bar he approached Arlo Guthrie with a view to introducing the song to Woody’s son. Arlo was not really interested in hearing another songwriter trying to peddle a song, but on condition that Goodman buy him a beer, he mustered some patience. Later he would recall it as “one of the longest, most enjoyable beers I ever had”. The meeting would provide him with his biggest hit, released in 1972. Johnny Cash, no stranger to the subject matter of trains, released his take in 1973.

arlo_guthrieGuthrie changed some of the lyrics: Goodman’s “passing towns” became “passing trains”, the “magic carpet made of steam” was now made of steel, “the rhythm of the rails is all they dream” was now felt. Goodman didn’t seem to mind; he and Guthrie remained good friends until the former’s premature death at 36 in 1984 from leukaemia, the disease he had been diagnosed with in 1969. He won a posthumous Grammy for the song on strength of Willie Nelson’s 1984 version. Read the quite dramatic story of The City of New Orleans train here, and more about Steve Goodman here.

Also recorded by: John Denver (1971), Chet Atkins (1973), The Seldom Scene (1973), Joe Dassin (as Salut les amoureux, 1973), Sammi Smith (1973), Hank Snow (1973), Johnny Cash & June Carter (1973), Henson Cargill (1973), Ted Egan (1973), Hopeton Lewis (1973), Jerry Reed (1974), Johnny Cash (1975), Judy Collins (1975), Rudi Carrell (as Wann wird’s mal wieder richtig Sommer, 1975), Yoram Gaon (as Shalom Lach Eretz Nehederet, 1977), Louise Féron & Jérôme Soligny (as Salut les amoureux, 1993), Randy Scruggs (1998), Maarten Cox (as ‘t Is weer voorbij, die mooie zomer, 2005), Beth Kinderman (2006), Discharger (2006), Lizzie West & the White Buffalo (2006), Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (2007) a.o.

* * *

Ted Weems & his Orchestra – My Baby Just Cares For Me.mp3
Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares For Me.mp3

weemsWritten by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn for the 1928 musical Whoopee (not to be confused with the rubbish actress going by a similar name), My Baby Just Cares For Me was recorded by a host of artists in the following few years. Ted Weems’ was not the first, but certainly among the earliest recordings. His take shows just how great an interpreter of songs Nina Simone was. She recorded it in 1958. It was not her most famous number, much less her signature tune, really becoming well-known when it featured in a British TV commercial for Chanel No. 5.

The bandleader Ted Weems was a star by the time he released his version of My Baby Just Cares For Me in July 1930, having had previous hits with Somebody Stole My Gal (1924), Piccolo Pete, and The Man from the South (1928), and later with Heartaches, which he recorded in 1933. At around that time he became even more famous thanks to a regular spot on Jack Benny’s hugely popular radio show. His band broke up with World War 2, and was reformed briefly in the early ’50s. Weems toured until 1953 when he became a DJ in Memphis and then a hotel manager. Weems died in 1963 at the age of 62. Take a look at this great video of Weems and a chorus line of flappers.

Also recorded by: Ethel Shutta (1930), Ted Fiorito & his Orchestra (1930), Mel Tormé (1947), Nat ‘King’ Cole (1949), The Hi-Lo’s (1954), Tony Bennett (1955), Somethin’ Smith and the Redheads (1955), Tommy Dorsey (1958), Tab Hunter (1958), Mary Wells (1965), Frank Sinatra (1966), Cornell Campbell (1973), Alex Chilton (1994), George Michael (1999), Julie Budd (2000), Natalie Cole (2002), Cyndi Lauper (2003), Laura Fedele (2005), Jaqui Naylor (2006), Amanda Lear (2006) a.o.

.

Gilbert Bécaud – Je t’appartiens (1955).mp3
Jill Corey
– Let It Be Me (1957)
Everly Brothers – Let It Be Me (1960)
Betty Everett & Jerry Butler – Let It Be Me (1964)
Skeeter Davis & Bobby Bare – Let It Be Me (1965)
Peaches & Herb – Let It Be Me (ca 1967)
Glen Campbell & Bobbie Gentry – Let It Be Me (1968)
Bob Dylan – Let It Be Me (1970)
Roberta Flack – Let It Be Me (1970)
Rosie Thomas – Let It Be Me (2005)
All nine cover versions in one file here

becaud-jappertiensLet It Be Me is one of those pop standards that cannot be ascribed to any one particular artist. Most commonly, it might be considered an Everly Brothers song. To me, it is Betty Everett & Jerry Butler’s song; perhaps the most gorgeous version. Some may have heard it for the first time in its vulnerable interpretation by the wonderful Rosie Thomas, duetting with Ed Hardcourt. Not many will think of it as a French song, co-written and first released by the brilliant Gilbert Bécaud as Je t’appartiens (I belong to you) in 1955.

It was not the biggest hit for Bécaud (born François Silly), but it has been prodigiously covered. It took two years to cross the Atlantic, when Jill Corey – the youngest singer ever to headline at the Copacabana — recorded the first English-translation version. It was not a big hit, barely scratching the Top 60. It did become a hit with the Everly Brothers’ in 1960, their first recording made outside Nashville — it was made in New York — and their first to incorporate strings in the arrangement. Let It Be Me became a hit again in 1964 for Butler & Everett, in 1969 for Glenn Campbell & Bobby Gentry, and in 1982 for Willie Nelson. Bob Dylan recorded it twice; featured here is the first of these, which appeared on his 1970’s Self Portrait album. The same year Roberta Flack gave the song a whole new treatment on her second album. I am also partial to the version by the delightfully named Skeeter Davis with outlaw country pioneer Bobby Bare, which includes aspoken bit by Skeeter, as was her wont.

Also recorded by: The Blue Diamonds (1960), Chet Atkins (1961), The Lettermen (1962), Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (1962), Andy Williams & Claudine Longet (1964), Sonny & Cher (1965), Brenda Lee (1965), Molly Bee (1965), The Shadows (1965), Barbara Lewis (1966), The Escorts (1966), Nancy Sinatra (1966), Arthur Prysock (1966), Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown (1967), The Sweet Inspirations (1967), Sam & Dave (1967), Claudine Longet (1968), Earl Grant (1968), Petula Clark (1969), The Delfonics (1969), Jim Ed Brown (1969), Tom Jones (1969), Connie Smith & Nat Stuckey (1969), Roberta Flack (1970), Elvis Presley (1970), Bob Dylan (1970), Nancy Wilson (1971), New Trolls (1973), The Pointer Sisters (1974), Demis Roussos (1974), Nina Simone (1974), Mary McCaslin (1974), Melanie (1978), Kenny Rogers & Dottie West (1979),Jay & the Americans (1980), Bob Dylan (again, 1981), Willie Nelson (1982), David Hasselhoff (1984), Collin Raye (1992), Marc Jordan (1999), Nnenna Freelon feat Kirk Whalum (2000), Justin (2000), Lauro Nyro (2001), Anne Murray & Vince Gill (2002), Mike Andersen (2003), The Willy DeVille Acoustic Trio ( 2003), Paul Weller (2004),Pajo (2006), Frankie Valli (2007), Charlie Daniels Band with Brenda Lee (2007), Roch Voisine (2008), Jason Donovan (2008) a.o.

.

More Originals

Great covers: The Mamas and the Papas – If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears

May 6th, 2009 8 comments

In this series of album covers I would hang up on my wall, I previously featured the artwork of Dexys Midnight Runners’ Searching For The Young Soul Rebel album, which features a defiant looking Belfast lad named Anthony O’Shaughnessy. A couple of weeks ago, Anthony commented on that post, which marks the first time the subject of a post (who was not a fellow blogger) responded to something published here.  Let’s see if Michelle Philips leaves a comment to this post. If she doesn’t, you are more than invited to do so… Read more…

Intros Quiz- 1984 edition

May 4th, 2009 4 comments
smashhits84

Image borrowed from toomuchapplepie.blogspot.com

Continuing our five-year cycle, this month’s intros quiz covers the year 1984: all songs were single releases in that year.

As always, each of the 20 intros is 5-7 seconds in length (an easy one is actually just four seconds long, cutting off just as the singer begins to croon). I will post the answers in the comments section by Thursday. If you can’t wait till then to find out what the blasted number 4 is, please feel free to e-mail me or, better, message me on Facebook. If you’re not my FB friend, click here and become one.

Intros Quiz – 1984 edition

Categories: Intros Quiz Tags: ,

The Originals Vol. 23

May 1st, 2009 4 comments

This time, we’re looking at the originals (and, in some cases, more than one covers) of For Once In My Life, Dancing In The Moonlight, Money’s Too Tight (To Mention), Georgia On My Mind and Rainy Night In Georgia.

* * *

Jean DuShon – For Once In My Life (1966).mp3
Barbara McNair – For Once In My Life (1966).mp3
Stevie Wonder – For Once In My Life (1967/68).mp3

Jean DuShon

Jean DuShon

Ron Miller and Orlando Murden were staff writers for the Jobete publishing company which was owned by Motown. In 1966 they wrote For Once In My Life, but were still struggling with it. Miller asked the little-known singer, signed to Chess Records but then performing in a nightclub, singer Jean DuShon to work with him on the vocal arrangement. He was so impressed with DuShon’s interpretation that he had her record and release the record on Chess. Sadly Chess didn’t promote the record (some say due to pressure by Motown boss Berry Gordy), and it flopped. Hearing that the songwriters had given the song to a non-Motown artist, Berry Gordy insisted that it be immediately recorded by an act on his label. The song was given to Barbara McNair (whose stint at Motown was brief and who never was a priority for Gordy), and over the next few months was recorded by non-Motown artists, including Tony Bennett, who had a minor pop but decent easy listening charts hit with it.

steviewonder_foronceMotown regularly produced the same songs by different artists. In summer 1967, the Temptations recorded For Once In My Life, and included their take — like all the others, read as a ballad — in their live repertoire. At about the same time Stevie Wonder, still a teenager, gave it an exuberant, uptempo treatment. Gordy didn’t like Stevie’s versions and declined to release it. When, at the bidding of Billie Jean Brown, head of Motown’s Quality Control Department (!), it was released as a single (and title song of Stevie’s new LP) in late 1968, it became a massive hit, peaking at #2 (topping the charts was another Motown hit Gordy had previously vetoed, Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine).

Ron Miller wrote other hits for Stevie Wonder: Heaven Help Us All, Yester-Me Yester-You Yesterday, and A Place In The Sun. But before Stevie had a hit with For Once In My Life, it was considered Tony Bennett’s song. When Ella Fitzgerald introduced it on her 1968 Live in Berlin album (recorded before Stevie’s version was issued), she described it as Bennett’s song. A few years ago, Bennett and Wonder finally sang the song together, on the former’s album of duets. The pair took Grammies home for their efforts, and performed the song at the awards ceremony where Stevie dedicated it to his recently deceased mother and Bennett to…his sponsors.

Also recorded by: Barbara McNair (1966), Tony Bennett (1967, Carmen McRae (1967), Nancy Wilson (1968), Ella Fitzgerald (1968), Vikki Carr (1968), Dorothy Squires (1969), Jim Nabors (1969), Mantovani (1969), Erma Franklin (1969), Charlie Byrd (1969), Nancy Sinatra (1969), Andy Williams (1969), Slim Jim (1969), O.C. Smith (1969), Frank Sinatra (1969), Sammy Davis Jr. (1970), Bill Medley (1970), James Brown (1970), Kiki Dee (1970), Cilla Black (1970), Dean Martin (1971), John Farnham (1971), The Rance Allen Group (1973), Gladys Knight & The Pips (1973), Peter Nero (1974), Roberto Carlos (1979), Dean Martin (1986), Pia Zadora (1986), Frank Sinatra, Gladys Knight & Stevie Wonder (1994), Dionne Farris (1996), Jack Jones (1998), Patti Austin (1999), Trijntje Oosterhuis (1999), Vonda Shephered (2001), Justin Guarini (2002), Michael Bublé (2003), Natalia (2003), Harry Connick Jr (2004), Stefan Gwildis (as Es kommt eine Zeit, 2005), Michael Fucking Bolton (2006), Gilbert Montagné (2006), Michael McDonald (2008) a.o.


.
Boffalongo – Dancing In The Moonlight (1970).mp3
King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight (1972).mp3

boffalongoWhen Toploader had a UK top 10 hit with Dancing In The Moonlight in 2000, the question of who originally recorded the song became a popular piece of trivia. Most self-appointed quiz masters got it wrong. Dancing In The Moonlight was written by Sherman Kelly of the not very successful American band Boffalongo, which recorded the song in 1970. Sherman’s brother Wells was the drummer for King Harvest (named after the song by The Band), and introduced the song to his group, which recorded it in 1972 and had their one big hit with it.

The Toploader version, which I see no cause for featuring here, was a bit of a joke in that the singer even copied the frog-in-the-mouth diction of King Harvest singer (evraburdy’s dancin’ in moonlight). The Boffalongo version, it may be noted, also features some serious drawling.

Also recorded by: Young Generation (1973), Liza Minnelli (1973), The Keane Brothers (1979), M.O.T.O. (1991), Baha Man (1994), Joe Esposito (1996), Toploader (2000), Aswad (2002), David Kitt (2005), Orleans (2005), Jack Wagner (2005) a.o.
.

The Valentine Brothers – Money’s Too Tight (To Mention) (1982).mp3
Simply Red – Money’s Too Tight (To Mention) (1985).mp3

valentine-brothersThe lyrics of this song have recovered pertinence in the aftermath of greedy capitalist bastards selling the world economy down the toilet. The economy was not in a great state in the early ’80s, so money was pretty tight then.

Money’s Too Tight To Mention was Simply Red’s breakthrough hit in the summer of 1985, creating what seemed to be a fresh take on an old soul number. It was, in fact, a cover of a song barely three years old (the Reaganomics reference, of course, hints at that). But even in its original form, the track sounds like a ’60s throwback, musically and lyrically. The narrative borrows from down-on-luck numbers such as Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come (absent the trace of optimism), and musically you can imagine Otis Redding singing it. Simply Red’s take is not wildly different from the funkier Valentine Brothers’ version. And the iconic exclamation, “Cut-back!” is there in the original.

The Valentine Brothers, a duo from Ohio (one of whom, Billy, had been a member of jazz trio Young-Holt Unlimited), never enjoyed much success, their career fizzling out after a couple of albums. Billy Valentine still seems to be recording and writing. I’ve once read that, happily, the brothers didn’t sell the right to Money’s Too Tight, which will have brought in a fair amount of royalties.

Also recorded by: Nobody I could find
.

Hoagy Carmichael – Georgia On My Mind (1930).mp3
Mildred Bailey – Georgia On My Mind (1931).mp3
Billie Holiday – Georgia On My Mind (1941).mp3
Ray Charles – Georgia On My Mind (1960).mp3

hoagy-georgia-on-my-mindGeorgia On My Mind was a standard long before Ray Charles recorded it, but when he did, he made the song his own. It was written by Hoagy Carmichael and lyricist Stuart Gorrell in 1930. The Georgia of the title was originally intended to refer to Hoagy’s sister, but realising that the words could apply also to the southern US state, Carmichael and Gorrell were happy to keep things ambiguous. The plan worked: the song was a massive hit especially in the South, and since 1979 it has been the state song of Georgia (a better choice than the tourist-unfriendly Rainy Night In Georgia, the loser-comes-home Midnight Train To Georgia, or the infrastructure-deficient The Lights Went Out In Georgia).

Carmichael’s version features jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke on cornet. He died a few months later at 28, but Carmichael went on to enjoy a long career, and is perhaps even better known for Stardust and Heart And Soul than he is for Georgia (which he nonetheless re-recorded a few times). Frankie Trumbauer scored a hit with the song in 1931, as did Mildred Bailey with her very appealing version.

ray_charles_georgia1Ray Charles, who was born in Georgia but grew up in Florida, recorded his version in 1960, reportedly at the advice of his driver who had heard Ray sing it to himself in the car. It was an instant hit, topping the US charts, and became something of a signature tune for Ray. When Georgia adopted the song, two years before Hoagy’s death, it was Ray Charles who performed it at ceremony in Atlanta. Willie Nelson sang Georgia On My Mind at Ray’s funeral.

Also recorded by: Frankie Trumbauer & his Orchestra (1931), Milded Bailey (1932), Louis Armstrong (1932), Gene Krupa (1941), Billie Holiday (1941), Artie Shaw & his Orchestra (1942), Fats Waller (1942), Jo Stafford (1946), Peggy Lee (1946), Frankie Laine (1953), Dean Martin (1955), Eddy Arnold (1958), Lawrence Welk (1960), Rusty Draper (1960), Oscar Peterson Trio (1962), Lou Rawls (1963), Richard Chamberlain (1963), The Righteous Brothers (1963), Jimmy Smith (1963), Jackie Wilson (1965), The Spencer Davis Group (1965), Doc Severinsen (1966), Tom Jones (1966), Gonks (1966), Wes Montgomery (1968), Anita Kerr (1968), Jerry Reed (1969), Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland (1969), James Brown (1970), Geoff & Maria Muldaur (1970), Herbie Mann (1973), Glenn Barber (1974), The Band (1976), Mike Auldridge (1976), Deep Purple (1976), Jerry Lee Lewis (1977), Jerry Lee Lewis (1977), Willie Nelson (1978), Cold Chisel (1978), Mina (1978), Willie Nelson (1980), Nat Gonella (1981), Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass (1983), Stanley Jordan (1987), Michael Fucking Bolton (1989), George Adams (1989), Maceo Parker (1992), James Brown (1992), Bobby Kimball (1993), Shirley Horn (1993), Emilio Aragón & Greta (1996), Günther Neefs (1997), Crystal Gayle (1999), Roderick Paulin (1999), Coco Schumann (1999), Boston Brass (2001), Van Morrison (2002), Booker T. & the MG’s (previously unreleased, 2003), Steve Tyrell (2003), Joeri (2004), John Scofield (2005), Nicoletta (2006), Gerald Albright (2006), Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues feat. india.arie (2006), Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis (2008), Russell Watson (2008) a.o.
.

Tony Joe White – Rainy Night In Georgia (1969).mp3
Brook Benton – Rainy Night In Georgia (1970).mp3
Ray Charles – Rainy Night In Georgia (1972).mp3
Randy Crawford – Rainy Night In Georgia (1981).mp3

tony-joe-whiteLouisiana-born “swamp rocker” Tony Joe White was only19 when he wrote Rainy Night In Georgia in 1962. He didn’t release the song until seven later, and even then it was his Polk Salad Annie which grabbed all the attention (covered to good effect by Elvis). At the same time, deep-voiced soul veteran Brook Benton was looking for a hit to launch his comeback on an Atlantic subsidiary, Cottillion Records. The legendary Jerry Wexler alerted Benton to White’s song, and the singer scored a massive 1970 hit with his version, produced by the great Arif Mardin.

brook_bentonRainy Night In Georgia has been recorded many times (ex-Temptations singer David Ruffin put down a version at about the same time as Benton did; it was not released until 2004), as soul and as country songs. Ray Charles (1972) put his own blues spin on it, taking the tune to unexpected places. But my favourite version is that from 1981 by Randy Crawford, one of soul’s finest but least appreciated singers, whose clear and warm voice captures the resigned spirit of the lyrics exquisitely.

Also recorded by: Nat Stuckey (1970), Boots Randolph (1970), Johnny Rivers (1970), Ken Parker (1970), Wynn Stewart (1970), Tennessee Ernie Ford (1971), Hank Williams Jr (1974), John Holt (1977), Tony Worsley (1990), Amos Garrett (1992), Ross Hanniford Trio (1994), Sam Moore & Conway Twitty (1994), Beaucoup Blue (2005), Boozoo Bajou (2006), Hem (2006), Aaron Neville feat. Chris Botti (2006) a.o.

.

More Originals