Archive for February, 2013

Any Major Dogs

February 28th, 2013 17 comments

Here’s a selection for the dog lovers: 26 songs about canines — and one by dogs. Excluding some of the obvious choices, they range from the happy to the spooky to the amusing to the sad. I’ve tried to keep the sad ones to a minimum; as any dog or cat owner will know, the time when a pet has to be put down is nearly as traumatic as losing a family member.

Ken-L Ration Commercial – My Dog’s Better Than Your Dog (1960s)
Kids usually brag about whose Dad is the strongest; in this TV commercial, the kids don’t argue: the kids with the Ken-L Ration eating dog win by dietary default. The jingle was based on a song by the great singer-songwriter Tom Paxton.

The Beatles – Martha My Dear (1968)
Martha was Paul’s dog that roamed his overgrown garden in St John’s Wood, London. Paul never wrote as lovingly about Jane Asher…

Harry Nilsson – The Puppy Song (1969)
Lonely Harry wishes for a puppy with whom to “share a cup of tea” and escape from alienating society.

Cat Stevens – I Love My Dog (1967)
Yup, Cat loves his dog.

Johnny Cash – Dirty Old Egg Suckin Dog (1969)
Call the pet protection agency! Cash might like his dog, but if he messes with the chicken again, he will visit violence upon the hound. And this is a light-hearted song…

Dolly Parton – Me And Little Andy (1977)
Dark spooky stuff about a death-bound visitor and her dog. One for opening those tear-ducts.

Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians – Ghost Of A Dog (1990)
Some years ago Edie put her dog to sleep — and now he is nocturnally spooking the yard. Cold shivers!

Nellie McKay – The Dog Song (2004)
Adopted dog turns around singer’s pitiful life by being tail-wagging and cute.

Bobby Bare Jr – Your Adorable Beast (2004)
Country giant’s son sings a love song to his dog. All dog owners think about playing it for their pooch.

Bright Eyes – Stray Dog Freedom (2006)
Oberst digs the freedom of the stray dog. Or he means himself. Does anyone ever really know with that guy?

Klaatu – All Good Things (1980)
The band that wasn’t The Beatles after all sing about losing their best friend: “I never had a closer friend than you, but all good things must end”. Start up those tear-ducts again.

Jerry Jeff Walker – Mr. Bojangles (1968)
The original version. Bojangles is sobering up in jail and tells his fellow inmates about his hoofing life on the road, and about his beloved dog. *** SPOILER ALERT *** The dog died.

Anonymous – Your Dog Loves My Dog (1960s)
From an album of recordings from the civil rights movement, the song tells the story of two dogs, one owned by a black person and the other by a white man, who are great friends. The metaphor is patently obvious, but some people still do not get it.

Tom T. Hall – Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine (1972)
An old guy tells Tom about the three things “that’s worth a solitary dime”. Superannuated canines rank among these.

Jean Shepard & Ray Pillow – I’ll Take The Dog (1966)
Jean and Ray are getting divorced and amicably settle on who gets what, until it comes to the custody of the pooch, at which point they turn into Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney — a Pillow fight, so to speak (oh come on, everybody loves a putrid pun!). Watch out for the surprise ending.

Webb Pierce – I’m Walking The Dog (1953)
In questions of romance, Webb values his freedom, preferring to walk his dog. Unless the song’s title serves as a euphemism.

Elvis Presley – Old Shep (1956)
An old country lament for a dog that gone died. Originally recorded by Red Foley, Old Shep was the favourite song of the young boy Elvis down Tupelo way — so much did young Elvis love the song that he sang it at his first ever public performance, as a ten-year-old at a talent show at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. Elvis didn’t win (and the winner either never had to buy a drink again, or felt like a total fraud when Elvis became famous), but he recorded Old Shep on his debut album.

Three Keys – That Doggone Dog Of Mine (1933)
The Three Keys’ mutt cannot do much but it cost only 15 cents, in 1933 money. And what follows is a lovingly compiled doggy CV.

Dolly Dawn and her Dawn Patrol – Where Has My Little Dog Gone (1939)
The nursery rhyme rendered in big band style. It’s quite brilliant.

Hank Williams – Move It On Over (1947)
Hank is in the dog house, now the big, mad dawg is moving in, so scratch it on over, small dog.

Rufus Thomas – Stop Kickin’ My Dog Around (1964)
Rufus, whose moniker is a popular canine name, had a string of songs about man’s best friend: Walk The Dog, The Dog, Somebody Stole My Dog , Can Your Monkey Do The Dog and this song counselling somebody to mind their bad temper.

Nancy Sinatra – Leave My Dog Alone (1966)
People, leave the dog alone. And her cat. And Nancy.

Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia (The Full Horror Mix) (1986)
Because I Want A Dog is much too obvious.

Ferlinghetti & Dorough – Dog (1958)
An existential poem about dogs set to jazz (“Congressman Doyle is just another fire hydrant to him.”). Snoopy would dig it.

The Monkees – Gonna Buy Me A Dog (1966)
The Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart song about getting a pet to recover from a break-up  was intended to be performed straight, and The Monkees recorded it thus on a version that went unreleased for the next three decades. On this take, released in 1966, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones certainly don’t play the song straight, instead lacing it with some really bad jokes.

Homer & Jethro – That Hound Dog In The Window (1953)
Yes, we’re well into the novelty section of dog songs now. Comedy duo Homer & Jethro corrupt that nice Patti Page hit about the price for the pooch in the store window. It probably was quite hilarious in 1953.

Don Charles and the Singing Dogs – Oh! Susanna (1955)
Doggies bark a song. There is a reason this song comes at the end of this collection…

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Home-bred covers are included. I borrowed the graphic for the front cover from, an adoption agency for dogs. If you are in the market for a canine, please consider adopting a dog.


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The Originals – Bacharach Edition

February 21st, 2013 9 comments

Often Burt Bacharach had a lucky hand in producing the best known version of his compositions at the first attempt — and after 1963, he usually was the de facto producer and arranger of his songs’ first (and sometimes subsequent) recordings, even when others would get the credit.

So songs like Only Love Can Break A Heart, What’s New, Pussycat, Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head and This Guy’s In Love are best known in their original versions by Gene Pitney, Tom Jones, B.J. Thomas and Herb Alpert respectively. And, of course, there are all the Dionne Warwick hits, such as Walk On By, Do You Know The Way To San José or Promises Promises which have been covered often but never eclipsed. The one Warwick/Bacharach hit that provides the rule-proving exception is I Say a Little Prayer, a US #10 hit for Aretha Franklin in 1968, two years after it reached #4 for Warwick.

So here are Bacharach songs which may be better known — and, in some cases, definitely are — in later versions. In many of these cases, geography is the key. For example, in the US, The Story Of My Life from 1957 will be associated with Marty Robbins, but in Britain it was a #1 hit for Michael Holliday. The same may apply to Anyone Who Had A Heart, which in Britain is Cilla Black’s song rather than Dionne’s (and, depending on generation, to some it is Luther Vandross’ song). The Story Of My Life was, incidentally, the first collaboration between Bacharach and Hal David to become a hit, years before they started to work together regularly and, for a time, exclusively. It went #1 Country, #15 Pop and reached #2 in Australia.

A few songs were bigger hits than their better-known covers. For example, The Shirelles had a US #8 hit with Baby It’s You in 1962, but The Beatles’ version enjoys greater familiarity by force of album sales.

Other songs were not hits until later. Keely Smith’s One Less Bell To Answer sank without a trace until The 5th Dimension had a hit with it three years later. I’ll Never Fall In Love Again might have been familiar to those who knew the soundtrack for the 1968 musical Promises, Promises (for which Jerry Orbach — yes, Lennie Briscoe from Law & Order — won a Tony Award. British fans will know it better as Bobbie Gentry’s hit, or in Dionne’s version, and younger generations might think of it as Elvis Costello’s song from the Austin Powers 2  movie.

I would guess that Bacharach probably was happy enough with most hit covers of his songs (though I wonder what he made of The Stranglers and Naked Eyes covers of his tunes); one which he apparently really dislikes is Love’s 1966 rock classic version of Manfred Mann’s My Little Red Book, which was written for the film What’s New, Pussycat.

Two more recent songs postscript this collection, both from movie soundtracks. Rod Stewart’s version of That’s What Friends Are For appeared on the soundtrack of the Michael Keaton vehicle Nightshift (1982) before it was revived by Dionne Warwick and her pals. Siedah Garrett’s Everchanging Times featured in the 1987 Diane Keaton flick Baby Boom before Aretha Franklin & Michael McDonald covered it to good effect in 1992.

Not all the songs here are Bacharach/David compositions. Tower Of Strength and Any Day Now were written with Bob Hilliard; Baby It’s You with Mack David (Hal’s brother) and Luther Dixon, and the two 1980s songs with Carol Bayer-Sager.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-made covers. PW in comments (and, yes, passwords are necessary).

TRACKLISTING (cover versions in brackets):
1. Marty Robbins – The Story Of My Life (1958 — Michael Holliday 1958; Gary Miller, 1958)
2. Gene McDaniels – Tower Of Strength (1961 — Frankie Vaughan, 1961)
3. Jerry Butler – Make It Easy On Yourself (1962  — Walker Brothers, 1965)
4. Chuck Jackson – Any Day Now (1962 — Elvis Presley, 1969, Ronnie Milsap, 1978)
5. The Shirelles – Baby, It’s You (1962 — The Beatles, 1963; Smith, 1969)
6. Tommy Hunt – I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself (1962 – Dusty Springfield 1964; Dionne Warwick, 1966)
7. The Fairmount Singers – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962 — Gene Pitney, 1962)
8. Gene McDaniels – Another Tear Falls (1962 — Walker Brothers, 1966)
9. Dionne Warwick – Wishin’ And Hopin’ (1963; Dusty Springfield, 1964; Merseybeats, 1964)
10. Lou Johnson – Reach Out For Me (1963 — Dionne Warwick, 1964)
11. Jerry Butler – Message To Martha (1963 — Adam Faith, 1964; Dionne Warwick, 1966)
12. Dionne Warwick – Anyone Who Had A Heart (1963 — Cilla Black, 1964)
13. Richard Chamberlain – (They Long To Be) Close To You (1964 — Carpenters, 1970)
14. Brook Benton – A House Is Not A Home (1964 — Dionne Warwick, 1964; Luther Vandross, 1981)
15. Lou Johnson – (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me (1964 — Sandie Shaw, 1964; Naked Eyes, 1982)
16. Burt Bacharach – Trains And Boats And Planes (1965 — Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, 1965)
17. Dionne Warwick – You’ll Never Get To Heaven (1964 — The Stylistics, 1976)
18. Manfred Mann – My Little Red Book (1965 — Love, 1966)
19. Dusty Springfield – The Look Of Love (1967 — Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66, 1968)
20. Keely Smith – One Less Bell To Answer (1967 — The 5th Dimension, 1970)
21. Jill O’Hara & Jerry Orbach – I’ll Never Fall In Love Again (1968 — Bobbie Gentry, 1969; Dionne Warwick, 1970)
22. Rod Stewart – That’s What Friends Are For (1982 — Dionne Warwick & Friends, 1986)
23. Siedah Garrett – Everchanging Times (1987 — Aretha Franklin & Michael McDonald, 1992)


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More Bacharach:
Burt Bacharach Mix
Covered With Soul – Bacharach/David edition

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Covered With Soul Vol. 16

February 14th, 2013 10 comments

Volume 16 in the series, and no letting up. There are still many more fine soul covers in stock.

Unusually, we kick this one off with an instrumental — but what an instrumental! King Curtis’ cover of A Whiter Shade Of Pale, which also scores the opening sequence of the film Withnail & I. That film was set in 1969, but the song was actually released only in 1971, on Curtis’ Live At Filmore West LP.

We’ve had a couple of soul cover mixes of Beatles songs; the overflow will be sprinkled over the next few mixes. Diana Ross’ version of Come Together, from 1970, is quite excellent; see what you make of The Impressions’ fairly straight cover of The Fool On The Hill.

Joe Simon, on the other hand, delivers a thoroughly reworked take on the Rolling Stones’ Let’s Spend The Night Together.

I think I’ve gone on record as saying that every Kris Kristofferson song is best performed by the man himself. Here, Al Green is giving it everything to disprove my notion. Where KK’s version is melancholy about the break-up sex, Al is going to make the final night so memorable that she’ll change her mind about splitting (if it is indeed her who is agitating for separation; what do you think?).

Definitely outperforming the original is Maxine Weldon with her harp-dominated version of Fire And Rain.

It seems right to let the late Major Harris close off the mix with his version of My Way, a terrible song which in his hands is actually quite good once he goes into Philly Soul mode halfway through.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, for which homebaked covers are included. PW in comments.

1. King Curtis – A Whiter Shade Of Pale (1971)
2. Diana Ross – Come Together (1970)
3. Joe Simon – Let’s Spend The Night Together (1976)
4. Hodges, James & Smith – I Who Have Nothing (1975)
5. New York City – Hang On Sloopy (1973)
6. Solomon Burke – Proud Mary (1969)
7. The Staple Singers – For What It’s Worth (1967)
8. The Impressions – Fool On The Hill (1969)
9. Jimmy Hughes – I Stand Accused (1967)
10. Al Green – For the Good Times (1972)
11. The Manhattans – By The Time I Get To Phoenix (1970)
12. The Temprees – We’ve Only Just Begun (1972)
13. Gladys Knight & The Pips – The Look Of Love (1968)
14. Maxine Weldon – Fire And Rain (1971)
15. Margie Joseph – Baby I’m A Want You (1974)
16. The Undisputed Truth – Killing Me Softly With His Song (1973)
17. Al Wilson – This Guy’s In Love With You (1968)
18. Major Harris – My Way (1974)


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Intros Quiz: TV Themes Vol. 2

February 7th, 2013 2 comments

A couple of years ago I posted an intros quiz of TV themes; the link to it is working. Here is a second volume. All are themes of US shows from the 1980s and ’90s; all were broadcast throughout the world and are therefore universal. Each is  5-7 seconds in length.

The answers will be posted in the comments section by Monday (so please don’t post your answers). If the pesky number 8 bugs you, go to the Contact Me tab above to request the answers, or  better, message me on Facebook. If you’re not my FB friend, click here.

Intros Quiz – TV Themes Edition Vol. 2   (left click)

And for our German readers, here is a German TV theme intros quiz, covering the 1970s/80s. Answers also by Monday.

Intros Quiz – German TV Themes   (left click)


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In Memoriam: January 2013

February 4th, 2013 9 comments

It was carnage in January, as far as music deaths went. Strangely, none of the 30-odd new arrivals in music heaven (or hell) were big headline deaths.

Of course, Patti Page, who died on the first day of the new year, and Patty Andrews, the last surviving Andrews Sister who passed away on the second-last day of the month, were household names back in the day, but neither passing caused much of a stir. I suppose when you are 85 and 94, your deaths are sort of expected.

For funk fans, the deaths of Ohio Players singer Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner and Mandrill’s Lou Wilson was big news.  And fans of eclectic music that is rooted in blues will mourn the passing of Jef Lee Johnson, at only 54, and the quite remarkable Precious Bryant (google her story).

Claude Nobs, the founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, died on January 10, after an 11-day come caused by a ski accident. He is the “Funky Claude” in Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water, a reference to Montreux casino that burnt down during a Frank Zappa concert.

Perhaps one for the collectors is Trevor Gordon’s House Without Windows, written by Barry Gibb with the Gibb Brothers doing backing vocals.


Patti Page, 85, pop singer, on January 1
Patti Page – How Much Is That Doggie In The Window (1953)

Jon Fromer, 66, protest singer and television producer, on January 2
Jonathan, David and Elbert – Three Kids (1965)

Sammy Johns, 66, country singer-songwriter, on January 4
Sammy Johns – Chevy Van (1975)

Lou Wilson, 71, member of funk band Mandrill, on January 7
Mandrill – Livin’ It Up (1976)

Tom Ebbert, 93, trombonist with jazz band Dukes of Dixieland, on January 7

Liz Lands, 73, soul singer, on January 7
Liz Lands – One Man’s Poison (1967)

Kent Abbott, 32, member of Canadian emo band Grade, on January 7

Tandyn Almer, 70, musician, songwriter and composer, on January 8
The Association – Along Comes Mary (1966, as composer)

Rex Trailer, 84, western singer and TV host (Boomtown), on January 9
Rex Trailer – Hoofbeats (1955)

Karl Potter, 62, jazz percussionist, on January 7

Claude Nobs, 76, Swiss founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, on January 10
Deep Purple – Smoke On The Water (1972)
Neil Larsen & Buzz Feiten – Casino Lights (live at Montreux, 1982)

Hansi Schwarz, 70, member of Swedish band The Hootenanny Singers (with future Abba member Bjorn Ulvaeus), on January 10
The Hootenanny Singers – Marianne (1965)

George Gruntz, 80, Swiss jazz musician, on January 10

Trevor Gordon, 64, English singer and guitarist, member of duo ’60s The Marbles, on January 10
Trevor Gordon and the Bee Gees – House Without Windows (1965)

John Wilkinson, 67, rhythm guitarist of Elvis Presley’s backing band TCB, on January 11
Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds (live, 1973)

Precious Bryant, 71, American blues, gospel, soul and country musician, on January 12
Precious Bryant – Fever (2002)

Sam Pace, 68, member of soul group The Esquires, on January 14
The Esquires – Girls In The City (1970)

Nic Potter, 61, bassist with English prog-rock band Van der Graaf Generator, on December 15
Van der Graaf Generator – Out Of My Book (1970)

Claude Black, 80, jazz pianist, on January 17

Steve Knight, 77, keyboardist of ’60s hard rock band Mountain, on December 18
Mountain – Mississippi Queen (1970)

Bob Engemann, 78, member of The Lettermen, on January 20
The Lettermen – Where Or When (1963)

Tony Douglas, 83, country singer, on January 22
Tony Douglas – My Last Day (1981)

Sally Starr, 90, TV personality and rockabilly singer, on January 25
Sally Starr – Rocky The Rockin’ Rabbit (1958)

Gregory Carroll, 83, doo wop singer with The Four Buddies and The Orioles, and songwriter, on January 25
The Four Buddies – I Will Wait
The Orioles – Crying In The Chapel (1953)
Doris Troy – Just One Look (1963, as co-writer)

Leroy ‘Sugarfoot’ Bonner, 70, singer of funk legends Ohio Players, on January 26
Ohio Players – I’ve Got To Hold On (1968)
Ohio Players – Funky Worm (1973)

Brian Bailey, 69, member of British novelty band Moldy Warps, on January 27

Jef Lee Johnson, 54, jazz-blues musician, on January 28
Jef Lee Johnson – One For Right Now (2002)

George Higgs, 82, blues musician and leader of the Friendly Five Gospel Quartet, on January 29

Butch Morris, 65, jazz cornetist, composer and conductor, on January 29

Victor Ntoni, 65, South African jazz musician, on January 29
Black Coffee – Wathula Nje (2010, as songwriter and bassist)

Ann Rabson, 67, member of blues trio Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women, on January 30

Patty Andrews, 94, last surviving member of The Andrews Sisters, on January 30
Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters – Don’t Fence Me In (1944)

(PW in comments)

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