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Albums of the Year: 2012

December 31st, 2012 11 comments

Better late than never, here is my Top 20 of 2012. A couple of albums I’ve come by too late to evaluate, such as Donald Fagen’s Sunken Condos, which after one listen I suspect would rank pretty highly on this list. I’ve prepared a compilation; tracklisting and link are in the comments section.

The tracks have all been reduced to 128kbps; if you like what you hear, please buy the album (artists’ websites are included in the text). I’d be pleased to know if any sales have been inspired by this post, so if you have bought something on strength of my recommendation, please don’t be shy to tell me.

 

20. Missy Higgins – The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle
The only person in the world who makes me look forward to hearing an Australian accent let us wait five long years for a new album. In the interim Missy Higgins,  a quality person who is engaged in all manner of causes, has done her university studies. So she is quite right to wonder, on Hello Hello, whether anyone is still there. Well, the album topped the Australia charts, so many still were. The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle isn’t as good as Higgins’ preceding album, On A Clear Night, an album that for all its hooks exercised restraint. There is also no track as great as Higgins’ stunning debut, The Sound Of White. The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle is flat when it tries to go mainstream pop (such as on the dire Temporary Love), but appealing on tracks that recall the previous albums, such as All In My Head. An album best listened to with an edited playlist. missyhiggins.com

19. Anna Ternheim – The Night Visitor
Strictly speaking, Anna Ternheim’s fifth album came out in 2011, but in many countries it was released in 2012, so it qualifies for this list. It would have sat comfortably in last year’s list as well. This is a much sparser album than its predecessors: the benefit of that is the absence of orchestration which at times seemed ostentatious; the obvious drawback is that after a while the whole thing can become a bit, well, undramatic. The melodies are lovely, however, and the Swedish singer has an appealing, warm voice which makes the album a welcome companion as background music. annaternheim.com

18. Hugh Masekela – Jabulani
There is nothing new on Hugh Masekela’s new album, but it’s a fine kicked-back album on which the master does his thing as he has since returning to South Africa from exile in the 1990s: the uncomplicated, swaying sounds of township jazz and mbaqanga. Arranged by another South African jazz great, Don Laka, Masekela sings, in isiXhosa, songs about the joys and pains of marriage, several of them traditionals. www.hughmasekela.co.za

17. Nanci Griffith – Intersection
Is there anything new to say about Nanci Griffith after some 20 albums? Intersection sounds like Griffith’s usual country-folk fare; the lyrics are a bit darker than they were in the past. At times she sounds positively angry. In the bar-singalong number she growls “Hell no, I’m not alright”. This is a thoroughly enjoyable album, and if its songs will come on the iPod shuffle I will welcome them. But if I’ll pick this album when I want a Nanci Griffith fix — ahead of, say Other Voices, Too — I don’t really know. nancigriffith.com

16. Gretchen Peters – Hello Cruel World
Gretchen Peters’ Hello Cruel World could serve as a companion album to Nanci Griffith’s Intersection: another country singer with a folk sensibility who observes that not everything is good in the world. Peters has a long track record of writing for others, country luminaries such as Trisha Yearwood, Patti Loveless, George Strait and Martina McBride. For the latter she wrote Independence Day, a song which the despicable Sean Hannity uses as the theme for his radio show, evidently without understanding the lyrics. The polemic truth-hater from Bullshit Mountain wouldn’t like some of the lyrics on Peters’ seventh studio album. This is a muscular, engaging country-folk album. gretchenpeters.com

15. Kelly Joe Phelps – Brother Sinner And The Whale
Bottleneck slide guitar folk-blues gospel… Here Kelly Joe Phelps riffs on the Old Testament Book of Jonah, but not in ways that will have the Westboro Baptist Church dancing in the streets while spreading the hate of their particular Lord (well, nobody will be able to dance to it anyway). This is an introspective album on which Phelps has no proselytising agenda. kellyjoephelps.net

14. Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
On the opening track, Canadian Kathleen Edwards announces that she’s “moving to America”. Her new album sounds like it. Produced by her boyfriend Justin Vernon, frontman of Bon Iver, Voyageur, Edwards’ fourth album, is a glistening piece of singer-songwriter pop. To paraphrase the title of an earlier Edwards song, if there is justice, the radio will like this or that song from Voyageur, though I wouldn’t bet on them playing it — certainly not the seven-minute elegy For The Record which closes this attractive set. kathleenedwards.com

13. Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t
The chief of Swedish indie, Lekman is a model eccentric. It shows in his wonderful, sometimes bizarre and awkward lyrics which benefit from being written by somebody whose first language is not English. It’s a break-up album with humour. Musically, the immensely likable Lekman has calmed down. Previous albums comprised catchy pop songs, with odd little turns. I Know What Love Isn’t has many melancholy, though not morose, and gentle moments, though the lovely title track with the sad name, which comes towards the end, is upbeat. Here the lyrics truly take centre-stage, which is great when the lyrics work, and discomforting on the few moments when they don’t. jenslekman.com

12. Tift Merritt – Travelling Alone
Travelling Alone is Tift Merritt’s New York City album. Make no mistake, she is still doing the country-folk thing, with the slide guitars and everything. And the voice is still exquisite and the melodies are still utterly lovely. It’s difficult to comprehend why, but Merritt was without a record label when she made this album; still, she had the likes of Andrew Bird (with whom she duets on Drifting Apart), Calexico’s drummer Jon Convertino and guitarist Marc Ribot backing her. Travelling Alone was released by the excellent independent Yep Roc label. tiftmerritt.com

11. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
Johnny Cash’s series of American Recordings, produced by Rick Rubin, paved the way for the new albums by septuagenarian singer-songwriters, or those near to it, to be taken seriously. It wasn’t always so, but when the likes of Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson or Kris Kristofferson (and look out for his brilliant new album in January) release an album, it is an event. So it was with Laughing Len, who performed his Old Ideas album to rapturous reviews at London’s Wembley Arena. This was remarkable, since Old Ideas is all about God and the afterlife, concepts that in Britain are more likely to invite contempt than applause. And Cohen isn’t oblique about his religious aspiration — he never was, even if biblical concepts might serve as sexual metaphors — with song titles like Amen, Going Home and Come Healing. All that is delivered straight; Cohen (like Neil Diamond) doesn’t seek to impose his religious point of view, but he’ll confess his feelings about it. leonardcohen.com

10. Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
The first words on Justin Towne’s Earle’s fourth album refer to the singer hearing his father, Steve Earle, singing Wheels on the radio. It’s a neat allusion to the problem a musician son of a great singer faces: the pressure to live up to expectation (complicated further by Justin’s middle name honouring another country-folk legend).  JTE’s latest effort does not quite reach the lofty levels of 2010’s astonishing Harlem River Blues, but it is a fine set which can stand alongside much of dad Steve’s work. justintownesearle.com

9. Melissa James – Day Dawns
This is the sort of retro-blues inflected album which the people down Grammy academy love so much – if it is made by somebody famous or connected. English soul/blues/jazz singer Melissa James is not famous, though this will surely change. Her impressive debut album is full of personality, though if one is looking for touchstones, well, her website astutely suggests Nina Simone and Rickie Lee Jones. I’d add Astrud Gilberto, Cassandra Wilson, Diane Schuur, Angie Stone (especially on the beautiful I Miss You) and India.Arie. melissa-james.com

8. Mindy Smith – Mindy Smith
When I first listened to Mindy Smith’s eponymous album (really, self-titling your fourth album?), I was so disappointed that I did not revisit it again for a long time. I have no explanation for my foolishness. It might not touch Smith’s astonishing debut, 2004’s One Moment More, but it is much better than the two albums that followed (though sophomore effort Long Island Shores [2006] was a good album). Here Smith’s angelic voice shines over relentlessly lovely melodies and gorgeous arrangement. And all that prettiness scores rather sad lyrics that suggest a measure of anguish in Smith’s life. Some listeners might prefer some angsty edge in the delivery of such lyrics; others might discern healing in the beautiful music… mindysmithmusic.com

7. Brandi Carlile – Bear Creek
It is a little worrying when a favourite singer fails to rise to greater heights from one album to the next.  Bear Creek is not as good an album as 2009’s exceptional Give Up The Ghost. Even then, it is a fine album without a mediocre track. It retains everything I’ll ever want from Carlile: catchy tunes, fine storytelling, that strong, slightly raspy voice which should really belong in country, the often exquisite arrangements, and that incredible, vulnerable warmth. You want to spend time with Brandi, and Bear Creek is a good way of doing so. brandicarlile.com

6. John Mayer – Born And Raised
Yeah, John Mayer. This is where Mayer channels James Taylor and Crosby, Stills & Nash with instantly memorable and entirely agreeable songs, abandoning for the moment the gurning bluesman persona (though his guitar work, liberated from the need to show off, is admirable). There is no weak moment on the album which turned out to be my go-to album when I wanted something solid and new to play in the background. Usually one is best advised to ignore Mayer’s lyrics; here Mayer is seeking redemption from his douchebag persona, repudiating the appalling dickhead we encountered  in that Playboy interview. johnmayer.com

5. Richard Hawley – Standing At The Sky’s Edge
Every Richard Hawley release is an event. 2009’s Truelove’s Gutter probably is my album of the so-called Noughties. On Standing At The Sky’s Edge the orchestral resigned sighs have for a large part given way to the angry clang of angry rock guitars. But beneath the aggressive arrangements of the opening and closing songs reside the gorgeous, instantly memorable melodies and engaging lyrics one expects from Sheffield’s greatest genius. richardhawley.co.uk

4. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis Present Lawless
The soundtrack to the depression era film is curated by Nick Cave (who also wrote the film’s script) and Warren Ellis under the moniker The Bootleggers, with Ralph Stanley, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson (with a long-lost song) and Mark Lanegan guesting, doing Bluegrass, or Bluegrass-flavoured, covers of songs by the Velvet Underground, Townes Van Zandt, Link Wray, Captain Beefheart, and Grandaddy. Some songs are repeated in very different interpretations. The Bootleggers and Mark Lanegan give Link Wray’s 1971 country-rock song Fire And Brimstone a rock treatment that would be very much in place on a Cave record; later Ralph Stanley, all of 85 years old, reprises the song in raw Appalachian style, with beautiful guitar work and an unedited throat clearing. BUY

3. Rumer – Boys Don’t Cry
Sometimes you have highly vaunted foghorns like Adele, and sometimes the hype is true. With British chanteuse Rumer (no relation to Bruce Willis’ daughter), the hype keeps its promise. Much has been said about Rumer being the Karen Carpenter of the 21st century (albeit without Richard’s genius arrangements), and the similarity in voice and delivery is undeniable. There is also a bit of Dusty Springfield; like Dusty, Rumer has an unobtrusive soul sensibility and a way of conveying an emotion with delicate subtlety. Boys Don’t Cry is a thoroughly lovely, engaging album. rumer.co.uk

2. Ruthie Foster – Let It Burn
Let It Burn is blues singer Ruthie Foster’s eighth album — and the first of hers I’ve heard. I have a feeling that I have missed out. Let It Burn is a collection of cover versions (other than two original compositions), which usually is a signal for alarm. Happily, Foster’s selections are almost invariably astute. She takes Adele’s Set Fire To The Rain, and schools the overrated foghorn. She takes The Black Keys’ Everlasting Light and turns in a slow-burning blues number. She takes Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire and delivers a sultry soul song. She takes The Band’s It Makes No Difference and breaks your heart with a Muscle Shoals take just as sure as Rick Danko did. And on You Don’t Miss Your Water she duets with the song’s writer, the soul legend William Bell (The Blind Boys of Alabama guest on a couple of songs as well). This album shines!  ruthiefoster.com/

1.  Bap Kennedy – The Sailor’s Revenge
Coming from Northern Ireland, Bap Kennedy is liable to be compared to Van Morrison. Van has declared himself a fan, and like Morrison’s music, Kennedy’s draws from Irish folk — pipes, flutes, whistles and mournful fiddles — and  with hints of American soul. Plus a generous fistful of Bob Dylan. Produced by Mark Knopfler, the trained diamond gemologist — not a traditional rock & roll background — has delivered an 11-track collection of superbly written, performed and arranged songs. bapkennedy.com

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Intros Quiz: 1992 edition

December 27th, 2012 1 comment

We continue our five-yearly cycle of intros quizzes, arriving at 20  years ago: 1992.  And it is timed for family-and-friends-fun at New Year’s Eve gatherings. I have also re-upped many of the previous quizzes, including the cycles 1964-89, 1965-85, 1966-86, special quizzes on Motown, ABBA, UK and US #1s, Disney songs, drums, love songs, Christmas, girls… All in one place HERE (all the answers are in the comments section).

So, 1992! It was the year Bosnia & Herzegovina declared independence, sparking off a civil war; Boutros Boutros-Ghali became UN secretary-general; President George Bush puked all over Japan’s prime minister; Mike Tyson was convicted of raping Desiree Washington; riots broke out in Los Angeles after four cops are acquitted of assaulting Rodney King; a fire in Windsor Castle added to Queen Elizabeth II’s annus horribilis; Paul “Victor Laszlo” Henreid, Marlene Dietrich, Benny Hill, Roger Miller, Willy Brandt and Menachem Begin died; and America didn’t stop to think about tomorrow

As always, twenty intros to hit songs from that year of 5-7 seconds in length. All were single releases and/or hits in 1992. The answers will be posted in the comments section by Monday. If the pesky number 17 bugs you, go to the Contact Me tab above for the answers, or  better, message me on Facebook. If you’re not my FB friend, click here.

Intros Quiz – 1992 Edition

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Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

December 24th, 2012 11 comments

 

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer was written by Johnny Marks, to whom we also owe X-Mas staples such as Rockin’ Round The Christmas Tree and A Holly Jolly Christmas, as well as Chuck Berry’s Run, Rudolph Run.

Rudolph was invented in 1939 by Johnny’s brother-in-law Robert L May, a copywriter, as part of a marketing campaign for department store/mail order company Montgomery Ward. Drawing inspiration from the tale of the Ugly Duckling and his own experience of being bullied for being slightly built, he contrived the story of reindeer-turned-hero. He had previously considered the names Reginald and Rollo before settling on Rudolph. By 1946, some six million copies of the story had been distributed.

These were more charitable times than ours. May’s wife had been diagnosed with cancer around the time he wrote Rudolph, and by 1947 he was financially crippled. Montgomery Ward, who held the copyright to the story, having commissioned it, generously ceded it to the writer, who did well from subsequent licensing, including a cartoon short.

Johnny Marks’ lyrics took some liberties with May’s story. For example, in the story, Rudolph was not one of Santa’s reindeer but a resident of the local reindeer village, raised by loving parents but teased by other little reindeers. The final line anticipates the patois of the 2010s as Santa tells Rudolph: “By YOU last night’s journey was actually bossed.  Without you, I’m certain we’d all have been lost.”

Marks’ song was first performed on radio in 1949 by Harry Brannon; the same year Hollywood cowboy Gene Autry recorded the first version, apparently reluctantly and at his wife’s insistence. It had been offered to Bing Crosby who turned it down — and recorded it a year later. Autry’s record reached #1 on the US charts, the first chart-topper of the 1950s, and the following week disappeared from the charts altogether. It’s the only time that has ever happened.

 The versions

Rudolph is a versatile song. Its nature allows the singer to have some fun. So Lena Horne in her 1966 version speculates whether the tone of Rudi’s nose might have been caused by generous grog consumption. Paul McCartney re-imagined our hero as the “reggae reindeer”, and Los Lobos as the manic reindeer. The Supremes and The Temptations in their respective takes take to shouting out Rudolph’s name. And Bing and Judy Garland, and later Bing with Ella in their live recordings from 1950 and 1953 offer all sorts of additional riffs to the story (Rudolph the celeb smoking cigars, jokes about deer-hunting!), which at one point has Judy giggling.

The Temptations’ version is one of the best of this lot, but I also really like The Melodeers’ doo wop take, and The Cadillacs’ R&B recording with the Coasters’ style sax solo.  The definitive version, in my view, is Dean Martin’s.

There are two very different instrumental versions: The Ramsey Lewis Trio’s piano-driven interpretation is very good; The Ventures bizzarely sample The Beatles’ I Feel Fine along the way.

And, of course, The Simpsons sang it, shambolically, in the very first full episode of the show, in 1989.

The late Vic Chesnutt mumbles the song in his live performance from 2006, in which he makes no secret of his disdain for the “frat boys”, meaning the other reindeer. His version finds an echo in my incisive analysis of the Rudolph situation from 2008.

So here are 42 takes on Rudolph’s story.

Gene Autry (1949), Bing Crosby (1950), Bing Crosby & Judy Garland (1950), Spike Jones and his City Slickers (1950), Bing Crosby & Ella Fitzgerald (1953), The Four Aces (1955), The Cadillacs (1956), Sammy Kaye and his Orchestra (1957), Dean Martin (1959), Ella Fitzgerald (1960), The Melodeers (1960), The Crystals (1963), Al Martino (1964), Burl Ives (1965), The Ventures (1965), The Supremes (1965), Lena Horne (1966), Ramsey Lewis Trio (1966), Hank Snow (1967), The Temptations (1968), The Jackson 5 (1970), John Denver (1975), Carpenters (as part of medley, 1978), Paul McCartney (as Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reggae, 1979), Willie Nelson (1979), Starland Vocal Band (1980), Los Lobos (as Rudolph The Manic Reindeer, 1988), The Simpsons (1989), Dolly Parton (1990), The Smashing Pumpkins (1993), Tiny Tim (1995), Alan Jackson (1996), Aaron Tippin (1997), Ray Charles (1997), The Pointer Sisters (1998), Lynyrd Skynyrd (2000), Jack Johnson (2002), Destiny’s Child (2004), Ballard C Boyd (2005), Merle Haggard (2005), Bootsy Collins (as Boot-Off, 2006), Vic Chesnutt & Elf Power (2006)

GET IT
(PW in comments)

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY

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More Christmas music
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Any Major Christmas Pop

December 19th, 2012 4 comments

We complete our trilogy of Christmas compilations with this eclectic mix on which we journey from the poptastic piety of The Beach Boys to the Christmas concupiscence of AC/DC’s yuletide offering. It’s a mixed bag of songs which one will not hear much in the malls; not because they are subversive — most songs here aren’t — but because they aren’t the usual standards. And when they are, they are not immediately recognisable; listen, for example, to the delightful Latin-soul of The Whispers’ take on Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

You’ll not hear Bill Cosby’s parody of Barry White seducing a lucky laydee for festive luurve-making  in the malls either. It really belongs to the Christmas Mix, Not For Mother collection I made four years ago (DL links were recently updated)

I don’t think Claudine Longet features on many Christmas albums, unlike her ex-husband, the late Andy Williams. Longet’s career was over in 1977 following her conviction for negligent homicide in the shooting her boyfriend, Vladimir “Spider” Sabich.

And isn’t the nostalgia of Kenny Williams’ song more relatable than Bing Crosby’s overcooked yearnings (and, hey, I love White Christmas)?

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

1. Linus – What Christmas Is All About (1965)
2. Mayer Hawthorne – Christmas Time Is Here (2011)
3. Kenny Vance and the Planotones – Doo Wop Christmas (2007)
4. Electric Jungle – Soul Santa (2009)
5. The Poets – Merry Christmas, Baby (1965)
6. Delbert McClinton – Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday (1972)
7. John Cale – A Child’s Christmas In Wales (1993)
8. Gilbert O’Sullivan – Christmas Song (1974)
9. The Beach Boys – Bells Of Christmas (1967)
10. Burt Bacharach – The Bell That Couldn’t Jingle (1968)
11. Keith Davis – Let’s Exchange Hearts For Christmas (mid-’50s)
12. Kenny Williams – Old Fashioned Christmas (1973)
13. Margie Joseph – Feeling Like Christmas (1976)
14. The Whispers – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1979)
15. Bill Cosby – Merry Christmas Mama (1977)
16. The Uniques – Please Come Home For Christmas (1966)
17. The Bee Gees – Thank You For Christmas (1967)
18. The Band – Christmas Must Be Tonight (1977)
19. Claudine Longet – I Don’t Intend To Spend Christmas Without You (1967)
20. Pet Shop Boys – It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas (1997)
21. Kurtis Blow – Christmas Rappin’ (1979)
22. AC/DC – Mistress For Christmas (1990)
23. The Who – Christmas (1970)
24. The Kinks – Father Christmas (1977)
25. Die Roten Rosen (Die Toten Hosen) – We Wish You A Merry Christmas (1998)

GET IT

More Christmas mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Song Swarm: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2

December 12th, 2012 10 comments

Having reached the end of the History of Country series, here is a second Country Christmas mix. This one is a bit more contemporary than last year’s compilation. Some of these songs are very funny indeed.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and it comes with home-baked front and back covers, featuring a Santa acting on stereotype. PW in comments.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Alan Jackson – Honky Tonk Christmas
2. Joe Diffie – Leroy The Redneck Reindeer
3. Travis Tritt – Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy
4. Dwight Yoakam – Santa Claus Is Back In Town
5. Willie Nelson – Please Come Home For Christmas
6. John Denver – Christmas For Cowboys
7. Emmylou Harris – Christmas Time’s A-Coming
8. Bill Anderson – It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
9. Garth Brooks – Baby Jesus Is Born
10. Brooks & Dunn – It Won’t Be Christmas Without You
11. Brad Paisley – 364 Days To Go
12. Merle Haggard – Goin’ Home For Christmas
13. Charley Pride – Christmas In My Home Town
14. Buck Owens – Christmas Time’s A-Comin’
15. Charlie Daniels Band – Christmas Time Down South
16. George Strait – Old Time Christmas
17. Alabama – Thistlehair The Christmas Bear
18. Dolly Parton – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
19. Tanya Tucker – Winter Wonderland
20. Lorrie Morgan – Christmas At Our House
21. Johnny Cash – O Christmas Tree
22. Crystal Gayle – What Child Is This
23. The Judds – Oh Holy Night
24. Glen Campbell – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

GET IT or HERE

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More Christmas mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Song Swarm: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

 

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas

December 6th, 2012 16 comments

It’s the season of Christmas mixes. We kick off with a Rhythm & Blues mix which I know the good readers of this corner of the blogosphere will dig. So will their friends – share the joy of R&B yule widely on Facebook, Twitter, and so on. If you open the link (as you will have to for the password), ckick on the relevant sharing button on the bottom of the page. And please don’t be shy to comment!

So, this compilation features 29 tracks which more or less (and mostly more) would be called R&B — “Race Records”, as the labels put it without much subtlety in the 1940s and ’50s.

There are lots of great stories behind the artists here, but being pressed for time I cannot go into them. One is worth mentioning: The Marquees, the short-lived group that emanated from the Rainbows and sort of merged with Harvey Fuqua’s Moonglows. One of the Marquee members was Marvin Gaye. I have no idea whether he sang on Santa Done Gone Hip; do any readers know?

While I was preparing this mix I received the news of the death of Earl Carroll, singer with The Cadillacs, whose version of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is among my favourites (and I do like the song, despite my tongue-in-cheek critique of it HERE).

And let The Youngsters’ song be a warning: Do not drink and drive! And not only because you might be caught, but because it is a dangerous and despicable thing to do.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home moonshined front and back covers. As mentioned, password in the comments.

TRACKLISTING:
1. B.B. King – Christmas Celebration (1962)
2. Mabel Scott – Boogie Woogie Santa Claus (1948)
3. The Moonglows – Hey Santa Claus (1953)
4. Charles Brown – Merry Christmas Baby (1947)
5. J. B. Summers – I Want A Present For Christmas (1949)
6. The Debonairs – Christmas Time (mid-’50s)
7. Keith Davis – Let’s Exchange Hearts For Christmas (mid-’50s)
8. The Orioles – Lonely Christmas (1949)
9. The Falcons – Can This Be Christmas (1957)
10. The Five Keys – It’s Christmas Time (1951)
11. Bubber Johnson – Let’s Make Every Day A Christmas Day (1955)
12. Nancy Wilson – That’s What I Want For Christmas (1963)
13. Bobby Nunn – Christmas Bells (1951)
14. Big Joe Turner – Christmas Date Boogie (1948)
15. Chuck Berry – Run Rudolph Run (1958)
16. The Hepsters – Rockin And Rollin’ With Santa Claus (1955)
17. The Drifters – I Remember Christmas (1964)
18. The Shirelles – Blue Holiday (1961)
19. Jesse Belvin – I Want You With Me At Christmas (1956)
20. Oscar McLollie with his Honey Jumpers – Dig That Crazy Santa Claus (1954)
21. Felix Gross – Love For Christmas (1949)
22. Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers – Merry Christmas Baby (1947)
23. Hadda Brooks – White Christmas (1950)
24. The Youngsters – Christmas In Jail (1956)
25. The Marquees – Santa Done Gone Hip (1959)
26. The Cadillacs – Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1956)
27. The Marshall Brothers – Mr Santa’s Boogie (1951)
28. The Enchanters – Mambo Santa Mambo (1957)
29. Lightnin’ Hopkins – Happy New Year (1953)

GET IT! (PW in comments)

More Christmas mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Song Swarm: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

In Memoriam – November 2012

December 3rd, 2012 3 comments

As a soul fan, the headline death for me was that of Major Harris, a great solo artist and one-time member of The Delfonics, the group in which in 1971 he succeeded Randy Cain, who died in April 2009. Cain went on to found Blue Magic, whose hit Sideshow Harris covered on his 1974 My Way album. Those who are easily offended by the sound of the female orgasm might want to skip the long version of his Love Won’t Let Me Wait, from the same album.

One of the great guitarists — in fact, one of Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest ever — died at 87. Mickey Baker was regarded as one of the influential guitarists of the early Rock & Roll era, performing on seminal records such as Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters’ Money Honey, Ruth Brown’s (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean , Big Joe Turner’s original of Shake, Rattle And Roll, Big Maybelle’s Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. He also had a hit with Sylvia Robinson — the soul singer of Pillow Talk and founder of Sugar Hill Records who died in September last year — as Mickey & Sylvia.

Chris Stamp, who died at 70, was best known as the co-manager of The Who, whose members regarded him as “The Fifth Who”. It was his idea that The Who change their style to appeal to Mods, and he was a driving force behind the rock opera Tommy. He also had Jimi Hendrix under his wings for a time.

Finally, Larry Hagman obviously was not famous for his musicianship — and his 1980 single Ballad Of A Good Luck Charm, a catchy little number, illustrates why this was so. Still, it is so amusing, and I liked Hagman so much, I’ll include him in this month’s In Memoriam.

Mitch Lucker, 28, singer of metal band Suicide Silence, following a motorcycle crash, on November 1

Carmélia Alves, 89, Brazilian Baiao singer, on November 3
Carmélia Alves – Eh! Boi (1951)

Ted Curson, 77, jazz trumpeter, on November 4

Leonardo Favio, 74, Argentine singer, actor and film director, on November 5
Leonardo Favio – La Cita

Shelton Broussard, 49, guitarist of Zydeco Force, in a fire on November 6
Zydeco Force – Louisiana Bow Hog (2001)

Cleve Duncan, 77, founding member of doo wop band The Penguins, on November 7
The Penguins – Earth Angel (1954)

Pete Namlook, 51, German producer and composer, on November 8

Major Harris, 65, soul singer and member of The Delfonics, on November 9
The Delfonics – Walk Right Up To The Sun (1972)
Major Harris – Love Won’t Let Me Wait (1975)
Major Harris – Spend Some Time (1984)

John ‘Wee Wee’ Napier, member of alternative/industrial music band Ethyl Meatplow, announced on November 11

Bob French, 74, drummer with the Tuxedo Jazz Band, on November 12

Martin Fay, 76, fiddler with Irish folk group The Chieftains, on November 14
The Chieftains with Jackson Browne – The Rebel Jesus (1991)

Bertram ‘Ranchie’ McLean, 64, Jamaican session musician, on November 14
Jimmy Cliff – Roots Woman (1983, as co-writer and member of Cliff’s backing band)

Frode Thingnæs, 72, Norwegian jazz trombonist, arranger and producer, on November 15

Maxim Saury, 84, French jazz bandleader and clarinettist, on November 15

Billy Scott, 70, soul singer with The Prophets, on November 17
The Prophets – I Got The Fever (1968)

Stan Greig, 82, Scottish jazz pianist, drummer, and bandleader, on November 18

Pete La Roca, 74, jazz drummer, on November 19
Pete La Roca – Lazy Afternoon (1965)

Michael Dunford, member of British prog rock band Renaissance, November 20
Renaissance – Northern Lights (1978)

Austin Peralta, 22, jazz musician and composer, on November 21

Frank Dycus, 72, country music songwriter, on November 23
George Strait – Unwound (1981)

Larry Hagman, 81, actor with a mercifully short singing career, on November 23
Larry Hagman – Ballad Of The Good Luck Charm (1980)

Ian Campbell, 79, British folk musician, on November 24

Chris Stamp, 70, British music producer and manager, The “Fifth” Who, on November 24
The Who – Behind Blue Eyes (1971, as executive producer)

Earl Carroll, 75, singer with The Cadillacs and as of 1961 The Coasters, on November 25
The Cadillacs – Speedo (1955)
The Coasters – Love Potion No 9 (1970)

Mickey Baker, 87, American guitarist and songwriter, half of Mickey & Sylvia, on November 27
Big Maybelle – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (1955, as guitarist)
Mickey & Sylvia – Love Is Strange (1957)

Kélétigui Diabaté, 81, Malian balafon player, on November 30
Kélétigui Diabaté – Summertime In Bamako (2004)

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