Archive for May, 2013

Any Major Jimmy Webb Collection Vol. 1

May 30th, 2013 22 comments

Mention in conversation with pop music aficionados the name Jimmy Webb, and you will likely be met with approval for bringing up a respected yet generally underrated songwriter.

Any Major Jimmy Webb Collection 1

Of course, his quintet of stone-cold, indisputable classics — “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston”, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”, “MacArthur Park” and “Up Up And Away” — are well known, but many other Webb compositions are not as ubiquitous as they may deserve to be. Listen to this lot of songs and decide for yourself whether Webb’s music, beyond the quintet of classics, merits greater currency than it presently enjoys (the fact of this compilations would suggest that in my view it does).

Choosing the right version, and deciding which songs to leave off this mix, was desperately difficult. One omission is a little comical: I decided to do a Webb cover mix when I heard Rumer’s lovely version of the glorious “P.F. Sloan” — and I realised only after I had completed the cover art that I had neglected to include the song. Well, if this mix goes down well, there will be a Volume 2.

One of the songs which I really had trouble to decide which version to opt for was “Do What You Gotta Do”. Nina Simone’s version is glorious, as is Roberta Flack’s. The latter was already on the list (with See You Then); in the event the Four Tops won out by virtue of their version having been the first I had known of the song, and having loved it ever since the 1980s.

Among the great songs missing from this mix are “Didn’t We”, “If These Walls Could Speak”, “I Keep It Hid” and “A Tramp Shining”. Still, I managed to include the song with one of the weirdest song titles in the canon of pop: “Himmler’s Ring”, recorded by Little Feat’s late lead singer Lowell George in 1979.

Jimmy Webb, still only 66, is touring this year (see HERE). In 2011 released an album, Cottonwood Farm, which he recorded with his five sons (including Christiaan, of our track 2 here) and the son of Glen Campbell, the singer who inspired the teenager Webb to become a songwriter and who made hits of “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston” and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”.

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

1. O.C. Smith – Wichita Lineman (1969)
2. Glen Campbell – Christiaan No (1976)
3. Scott Walker – All My Love’s Laughter (1973)
4. Four Tops – Do What You Gotta Do (1969)
5. Dee Dee Warwick – If This Was The Last Song (1970)
6. Thelma Houston – Pocketful Of Keys (1969)
7. Brooklyn Bridge – Worst That Could Happen (1969)
8. A.J. Marshall – By The Time I Get To Phoenix (1969)
9. Julie Rogers – Which Way To Nowhere (1969)
10. Art Garfunkel – All I Know (1973)
11. Joe Cocker – It’s A Sin (When You Love Somebody) (1974)
12. Roberta Flack – See You Then (1971)
13. Jimmy Webb – Galveston (1993)
14. Judy Collins – The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress (1990)
15. Ian Matthews – Met Her On A Plane (1974)
16. Harry Nilsson – Life Line (1971, writtenm by Nilsson, covered by Webb)
17. Chuck Jackson – Honey Come Back (1969)
18. The Supremes – Cheap Lovin’ (1972)
19. Nancy Sinatra – Up, Up And Away (1967)
20. B.J. Thomas – If You Must Leave My Life (1969)
21. The 5th Dimension – Rosecrans Boulevard (1967)
22. Waylon Jennings and The Kimberlys – MacArthur Park (1969)
23. Lowell George – Himmler’s Ring (1979)


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Curious Germany – The Collection

May 23rd, 2013 4 comments

Curious GermanyOn Saturday the Champions League final will be played in London between two German clubs, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. All people of sound principles will hope for a Bayern defeat, even if they couldn’t care less about Dortmund. To mark the all-German final, here is a mix of German curiosities, some chosen because they are very good or interesting (or both), and a couple of football-themed songs at the end, selected because they are entertaining in their musical poverty.

Some tracks have featured here before, but the links are long dead. I’ve also cribbed a few notes from those instalments. For a whole mix of songs recorded by international stars in German go HERE (posted almost exactly a year ago).

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


1. Die Toten Hosen – Bayern (2000)
The title refer to Germany’s most dominant football club, whom non-fans regard, with no exaggeration, as a cancer in the body of German football. So the alternative rock band Die Toten Hosen (The Dead Trousers) composed a very catchy number explaining how, if they were “super-talented” young footballers, they would never sign a contract with that club because such an act would be thoroughly corrupting. At one point the singer demands to know: “What kind of parents must one have to be so stupid as to sign for that shit club?” Well, Mario Götze, just how verdommen are you, and what kind of parents do you have?

2. Alexander Wolfrum – Hey Büblein (2006)
When somebody records an acoustic version of “Hey Joe” and renders the title as, roughly translated, Hey Little Boy, it’s worth listening to. The lyrics have nothing to do with the original either: it deals with metaphors involving thin ice, drowning in a lake and a rescue. And in-between a female voice warns that Joe is going to catch a cold.

Wolfrum, known by everybody as Sandy, is a singer-songwriter who performs in the dialect of Franconia  — the region around Nuremberg — and founded a Festival der Liedermacher (or Festival of Songwriters) in Bayreuth, the home town of Richard Wagner.  Check out more by Alexander Wolfrum at

3. David Bowie – Helden (1977)
In his Berlin period Bowie fused the cultures of the Weimar Republic cabarets, Krautrock and Kraftwerk, and the local junkie scene. It’s very nice that David Bowie sought to pay tribute to the city that served as his muse by recording in German, but since he lived and recorded there, one might quibble that he could have taken better care with his pronunciations. As it turns out, he put as much effort in enunciating German words correctly as English football commentators do in pronouncing the names of German (or any non-Latinate) football players.

4. Cindy & Bert – Der Hund von Baskerville (1970)
Husband-and-wife duo Cindy & Bert were a Schlager duo that epitomised square in the 1970s. My grandmother thought Cindy & Bert were delightful, so Oma would have been shocked to discover that Cindy & Bert’s catalogue included a cover version of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”, with the lyrics taking a Sherlock Holmes theme.  It need no pointing out that my grandmother probably wasn’t a hardcore Sabbath fan. Alas, Bert died last July—and was not even noted in the In Memoriam series!


5. Howard Carpendale – Du hast mich (1970)
In German Schlager history, Howard Carpendale wrote a particularly successful chapter. Unable to hack it in his home country South Africa as an Elvis impersonator, the former shotput champion moved to Germany, learned to speak the language with just enough of a touch of an accent (German audiences really got off on foreign accents; but only in entertainment and romance, not in shops, pubs or public transport), and became the leading romantic singer of the 1970s and ’80s Schlager scene, selling some 25 million records. None of those 25 million records soiled my collection, I am pleased to say. His first breakthrough came with the standard Schlager “Das Mädchen von Seite 1” (The girl from the front page). The flip side, however, was entire unschlagerish, a rocker called “Du hast mich” (You Have Me), a cover of a song Glory Be by German psychedelic rockers Daisy Clan which sounds like a heavy fuzz-guitared, organ-hammering Santana number.

Glory Be was the b-side of Daisy Clan’s 1970 single “Love Needs Love”, apparently the group’s final English-language single (their final release in 1972 was appropriately titled “Es geht vorrüber”, which could be translated as “It goes by”). The Daisy Clan apparently were Schlager singer Michael Holm and songwriter Joachim Haider, going by the name of Alfie Khan.

6. Udo Jürgens – Peace Now (1970)
The first of a fistful of English-language tracks here is by Udo Jürgens, the Austrian-born Swiss national who enjoyed immense success in West Germany, the place of his parents’ birth. Jürgens was as big a star as any on the Schlager scene, though his songs tended to be a notch or five above the usual banalities of the genre. Jürgens also wrote hits for Matt Munro, Sammy Davis Jr and Shirley Bassey.

“Peace Now” was the rocking English-language b-side of a German single titled “Deine Einsamkeit”, released in October 1970. It’s pretty good, in a dated sort of way that draws from rock, funk and gospel. Udo, exhibiting a rather lilting German accent, buys into the Zeitgeist as he sings: “Everybody is talkin’ ’bout peace in the world, but everytime I hear a hungry baby cry I ask: Peace, now show me your face.”

7. Heidi Brühl – Berlin (1969)
Schlager singers, as a rule, were not cool. Heidi Brühl was not cool either. She had been a popular child actress, making her screen debut in 1954 as a 12-year-old. As a 17-year-old she became a Schlager singer, selling a million copies of her 1960 hit “Wir wollen niemals auseinandergeh’n”, the runner-up in the Eurovision Song Contest that year. In the late ’60s Heidi, now married to American actor Brett Halsey, wanted to be cool — understandably, since her first hit in three years in 1966 was a cover of “The Ballad of the Green Berets”.

By now living in Rome, she went to London and recorded in English. “Berlin”, released in 1969, has that Swingin’ London sound which might have had a revival in an Austin Powers movie. Brühl’s sound — think Petula Clark covering Nico — sound was not well received, and the excellent “Berlin” was relegated to the status of a b-side. In 1970 the singer moved to the USA, thereby putting a slow end to her Schlager career. Brühl died of breast cancer in 1991 at the age of 49.

8. Vicky Leandros Singers – Wo ist er (1971)
Last weekend a whole continent took part in the annual ritual of the Eurovision Song Contest. Here is a singer who won the thing in 1972, for Luxembourg with a song called “Après Toi”. The English version of it, “Come What May”, reached #2 in the UK. But the career of the Greek-born singer was based mainly in West Germany, where her singer father had moved in search of success. Vicky began recording as a teenager in the mid-60s, but broke through when she adopted her dad’s Christian name as her surname.

“Wo ist er” is a German take on George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”; an obvious imitation of the Edwin Hawkins Singers, whose Oh Happy Day arrangement this borrows from (and which inspired Harrison). Vicky’s vocals are quite excellent.

Until recently Leandros participated in Greek politics. Under the magnificent name of Vassiliki von Ruffin (her real first name and the surname from her second marriage) she has served as deputy mayor of Piraeus as a representative of the  Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) .


9. Barry Ryan – Zeit macht nur vor dem Teufel halt (1971)
Best known for his crazy hit “Eloise”, Barry Ryan had a fairly decent career in West Germany, where he recorded his rather good Sanctus album in 1971. In 1972 he had a top 10 in West Germany hit with the catchy “Zeit macht nur vor dem Teufel halt” (Time stops only before the devil). The melody was written by his brother Paul Ryan, and used for Irish singer Dana’s song “Today”. Barry Ryan even appeared on the only German-language music show ZDF Hitparade with “Zeit macht nur vor dem Teufel halt”, to my knowledge the first time an international rock star appeared on the show (Video here).

10. Françoise Hardy – Ich bin nun mal ein Mädchen (1965)
The French superstar had some hits in Germany as well, with covers of French hits as well as German originals with material that took a bit from chanson, a bit from what was called Beat music. As a former student of German, her command of German was excellent, with that lovely French inflection. She also recorded in English and Italian. “Ich bin nun mal ein Mädchen” (I am a girl after all) was a version of her French 1964 hit “Pourtant tu m’aimes”, itself a cover of The Joys’ “I Still Love Him”. It’s a cute song with cute lyrics. The song was a minor hit in 1966.

11. The Supremes – Where Did Our Love Go (German) (1964)
Berry Gordy could spot a marketing opportunity, and so he had the stars of his Motown roster record their big hits in various European languages, apparently singing from phonetic lyric sheets. Unlike most others, Diana Ross makes a game attempt at it; one can understand her implorations not to be left by the addressee of the song.

12. Marvin Gaye – Sympatica (1964)
I have no idea whether Marvin Gaye was a polyglot or whether he just gave more of a shit, but, like La Ross, he did a better job of it than most of his peers — and even sang a German original composition. So here we have one instance of Motown going Schlager, sort of.


13. Johnny Cash – Wer kennt den Weg (1966)
In 1966, Johnny Cash recorded “I Walk The Line” as “Wer kennt den Weg?” (alas not as Johannes Bargeld). In the early 1950s, Cash had been based as an US soldier in southern Germany. Clearly he did little in that time to benefit from the opportunity to learn German; his accent is quite appalling.

14. Peter, Paul & Mary – Puff (1963)
It must have seemed an excellent idea for Peter, Paul & Mary to record their version of “Puff, The Magic Dragon” in German. The monster in question became a Zauberdrachen, and our biblically-named trio sung it with clear diction. So it is a little unfortunate that they titled the song “Puff” — colloquial German for the word “brothel”.

15. Hildegard Knef – From Here On It Got Rough (1969)
The actress Hildegard Knef was a remarkable woman. Having made her breakthrough just after World War II with the film classic Die Mörder sind unter uns, she became the first actress in German cinema to do a nude scene in 1950, for which the Spiesser (squares) couldn’t forgive her for a long time. She was so good that Hollywood beckoned, but she turned down Hollywood because she was expected to change her name to Gilda Christian and pretend to be Austrian (she later acted on Broadway as Hildegard Neff). Privately, Knef fought several battles with cancer; when she died in 2002 at 76, it was emphysema that claimed her, not the Big C.

Knef became a singer and frequent songwriter in 1963, though not on the Schlager scene but in the Chanson genre, singing in German and English. “From Here On It Got Rough”, an amusing autobiography with a cute pay-off line, was the English version of her song “Von nun ging’s bergab” (you can see her perform it at

16. Max Raabe & Palast Orchester – Lady Marmalade (2002)
The career of Max Raabe, a 51-year-old baritione, is predicated on conjuring the chanson of the Weimar Republic, either by covering songs or writing songs in the style of the era. He is brilliant at it, with his clipped diction and straight-faced wit — so much so that one yearns for Marlene Dietrich and Noel Coward to join on him on stage. He performed at the wedding of Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese, which must have been quite a scene. Raabe records prolifically; this track comes from the second of a pair of novelty albums on which Raabe covers pop songs, with mixed results.


17. Kandy – Die Kung-Fu-Leute (1974)
It was quite normal for Schlager acts to record German versions of international hits. I have no information about Kandy, but despite obviously not being German, it was his lot to record the teutonic take on Carl Douglas’ novelty hit “Kung Fu Fighting”. And when Douglas said everybody was kung fu fighting, Kandy meant it was the kung fu people doing the fighting.  It was produced by Michael Kunze, who also gave us the Silver Convention and has since become the German equivalent of Andrew Lloyd-Webber (though possibly with a more attractive persona).

18. Udo Lindenberg – Reeperbahn (1978)
Udo Lindenberg was the posterboy of the anti-establishment in the 1970s and ’80s, with his long hair, his sneering brashness, his supposedly cool one-liners, and presumably his steadfast refusal to hold a note. He gets aggressively out-of-tune on “Reeperbahn”, his cover of The Beatles’ “Penny Lane”, transposed to the street in Hamburg’s red light district where The Beatles spent their formative musical years. In his nostalgic paean, Lindenberg pretends to have grown up in the city in which he lived; he actually grew up in a small town near the Dutch border and moved to Hamburg only in 1968.

19. Klaus Doldinger – Theme of Tatort (1970)
This is the full theme of the German crime TV series Tatort, which has run for 43 years now. I know the theme has been re-recorded twice, in 1978 and 2004. I’m not sure which version this is, but on the original our friend Udo Lindenberg from the previous song played the drums. Composer Klaus Doldinger, a jazz saxophonist, also wrote the theme of the German cinema classic Das Boot, which was directed by Wolfgang Petersen. And Petersen came to national prominence for directing a landmark Tatort episode in 1977, tited “Reifezeugnis” and featuring the teenage Nastassja Kinski.

20. Peter Gabriel – Schock den Affen (1982)
I include this for reader Johnny Diego, who in a comment (you do know that you are welcome to comment, right?) proposes the theory that “there are two languages that lend themselves perfectly to [rock] music. One is, of course, English. The other is German, with its harsh guttural sounds. One can hear some that guttsyness in German bands that will never be heard in, say, French speaking bands.”

This track is from Peter Gabriel’s second effort at re-recording an album in German, new instrumentation and all. The first was the self-titled 1980 album with “Games Without Frontiers”; the second was the self-titled 1982 album with “Shock The Monkey”, the German take of which features here.


21. Zeltinger Band – Der lachende Vagabund (1980)
The Zeltinger Band was a punk outfit fronted by what may be Germany’s first openly gay singer, whose bruising appearance challenged the stereotype of common imagination (see this video). Their biggest hit was a cover of the Ramones song Rockaway Beach, which was renamed “Müngersdorfer Stadion” — after the public swimming baths, not the football stadium — and advocated the practice of fare dodging on public transport. “Der lachende Vagabund” is a contemptuous version of the 1957 Schlager hit by Fred Bertelmann, which was a cover of the country song Rusty Draper’s 1953 hit “Gambler’s Guitar”. The German version was so popular, it sold more copies in Germany that Draper’s million-seller did in the US. Hear Draper’s song HERE and Bertelmann’s HERE.

22. Agnetha – Señor Gonzales (1968)
Before she became one of the As in ABBA, Agnetha Fältskog tried to realise the ambition of many Scandinavian singers of the day with a dream of musical success: breaking into the German Schlager scene. Agnetha released a batch of German singles between 1968 and 1972, most of them quite awful even by the low standards of the genre, though a couple were actually quite good. In her endeavours, Agnetha — who already had a career in Sweden but put it on hold while going for stardom in West Germany — was produced by her boyfriend, Dieter Zimmermann. Once Dieter was history, her next boyfriend, Björn, worked out better on the way to stardom.

“Señor Gonzales” was Agnetha’s second German single. I see no reason why it shouldn’t have been a Schlager hit: it has the necessary clichéd lyrics and banal melody; it even has the faux-Mexican sound the Schlager-buying public was so fond of — though here Agnetha might have been ahead of her time; the Mexican Schlager wave peaked in 1972 with Rex Gildo’s superbly tacky “Fiesta Mexicana”.

23. Gerd Müller – Dann macht es bumm (1969)
Fans of English football (or soccer, as my American friends would say) are likely to cringe at the memory of their players’ attempts at pop stardom: Kevin Keegan’s 1979 hit single “Head Over Heels”, or Glenn Hoddle & Chris Waddle with their 1987 UK #12 hit “Diamond Lights”, or Paul Gascoigne teaming up with Lindisfarne to warble “The Fog On The Tyne” (there’s a Newcastle United thread here). Bad though these might be, English football fans would have no cause to cringe if they knew what their German counterparts have been subjected to, horrors that would make Hoddle & Waddle seem like the Righteous Brothers.

Two Bayern München legends perpetrated particular crimes against music. I’ll spare you Franz Beckenbauer’s attempts at romancing the Schlager audience, but shall inflict upon you the stylings of his teammate Gerd Müller. His nickname, just a quarter of a century after World War II, was “Der Bomber”, though this was based on a mistaken notion: though the greatest goalscoring machine ever, Müller didn’t have a powerful shot. His single, “Dann macht es bum” (“And then it bangs”), perpetuates the mistaken notion of the blitzkrieging bomber. It also perpetuates the reality that Gerd Müller wasn’t particularly bright

24. Village People & die Deutsche Fussballnationalmannschaft – Far Away In America (1994)
Sticking with the football theme, we close this mix with a most bizarre collaboration: the Village People and the German football squad, recording the official song for the German team’s participation in the 1994 World Cup in the USA. It is as awful yet insidiously catchy as one would expect, continuing a lamentable tradition of the German team recording the most appalling songs their federation could commission, and giving them the worst production possible. There was even an LP, which featured such acts as Udo Lindenberg, The Scorpions and — you guessed it — David Hasselhoff.

The lyrics of “Far Away In America” were possibly not inspired by Goethe or Schiller. “We’re gonna make it, get it up and shake it. You’re gonna fight for the light, baby, come on and know it’s allright,” Klinsmann, Matthäus, Völler and pals croon with the Village People. Bring on those light-demanding Bulgarians, baby! The football-loving German public sent its team on its way to defend the World Cup title by propelling the lead single to the dizzy heights on the hit parade of…#44.

Bonus:  Albert Brooks – The Englishman-German-Jew Blues (1975)
We’re ending this collection with a song that has no real connection with German music, nor much with Germany, but this is so good I want to share it. It’s from Albert Brooks’ concept comedy album A Star Is Bought, on which various music stars appeared as the comedian tries to become a musician. On this track, he riffs with blues legend Albert King, whose career is based on feeling blue”.


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The Ghetto Vol. 2

May 16th, 2013 6 comments

Like the first mix of The Ghetto, the second mix has some serious soul, with S.O.U.L. paying tribute to the sounds of the ghetto, including by sampling the track that follows theirs. And after Donny Hathaway‘s anthem comes Ruth McFadden‘s breathtaking Ghetto Woman, produced by Gamble & Huff of Philadelphia soul fame and released on the obscure Huff Puff label.

Tony Clarke, featured here with 1967’s Ghetto Man, had a solitary hit with The Entertainer. He was more successful as a songwriter; among his credits were the Etta James hits Pushover and Two Sides To Every Story. Clarke died in 1971 at the age of 31, killed by his estranged wife in apparent self-defence.

The most bizarre track here is Ghetto Kung Fu by Mody-Vation, a cash-in on the martial arts craze of the mid-1970s, apparently recorded by a bunch Germans led by a long-haired guy called Thomas Glanz for the Hansa label, home to many Euro-disco artists. It’s catchy stuff.

There were several versions of Woman Of The Ghetto on my shortlist; I went for Marlena Shaw‘s original, because Marlena Shaw tends to trump everyone. But if there is a third mix, one of the contenders might make the cut.

The first mix was firmly set in the 1970s; this one strays into the 1980s. Sylvia St. James was a member of the  Mike Curb Congregation and then the singer of disco outfit Side Effect before she went solo, without great success.

The eagle-eyed reader will notice that one song here lacks the word “ghetto” in the title. But Isaac Hayes‘ Soulsville, from the Shaft sountrack, is very much set in the ghetto.

The ghetto is a common and obvious theme of social consciousness songs, but a few songs here note that the people of the ghetto also have normal lives which include romance and sex — and who better to deal with these subjects than Marvin Sease and Rick James?

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a CD-R, and includes front and back covers. Do I still need to post the PW in the comments? It’s always the same.

1. S.O.U.L. – Down In The Ghetto (1971)
2. Donny Hathaway – The Ghetto (1970)
3. Ruth McFadden – Ghetto Woman (Parts 1 & 2) (1972)
4. Tony Clarke – Ghetto Man (1967)
5. Carlos Malcolm – Busting Out Of The Ghetto (1970)
6. The Mody-Vation – Ghetto Kung Fu (Part 1) (1974)
7. Gil Scott-Heron – Sex Education Ghetto Style (1972)
8. Marlena Shaw – Woman Of The Ghetto (1969)
9. Sylvia St. James – Ghetto Lament (1980)
10. Stevie Wonder – Village Ghetto Land (1976)
11. Isaac Hayes – Soulsville (1971)
12. Phillip Bailey – Children Of The Ghetto (1985)
13. Marvin Sease – Ghetto Man (1986)
14. Rick James – Ghetto Life (1982)
15. Luther Ingram – Ghetto Train (1972)
16. Boris Gardiner – Rough & Tough In The Ghetto (1973)
17. Jackie Mittoo – Ghetto Organ (1972)
18. B.B. King – Ghetto Woman (1971)


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Bacharach: The Lesser Known Songbook

May 9th, 2013 6 comments

On 12 May, Burt Bacharach will celebrate his 85th birthday. Regular readers will know that I regard Bacharach to be in the highest echelons of songwriters. Unusually, he straddles different genres: the easy listening of Perry Como’s Magic Moments, the pure pop of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, the soul of Don’t Make Me Over, the cowboy song of The Man Who Shot Liberty Vance… This mix places the focus on the lesser known Bacharach songs, chronologically from his beginnings to the time of his zenith, more or less: 1954-1965.

Bacharach - front

Actually, it starts in 1952, with a Nat ‘King’ Cole song that is usually incorrectly credited to Jerome Kern and Anne Caldwell. The jaunty instrumental Once In A Blue Moon is in fact the first known recording of a Bacharach song, a tune he had written with his father, a newspaper columnist (or, by his own admission, they adapted it from Rubenstein’s Melody in F).

Keep Me in Mind, the 1954 song Burt wrote with Jack Wolf, was his first pop song to be recorded when Patti Page sang it. He had tried, without success, to get his songs recorded for a year and a half after quitting his gig as arranger for the Ames Brothers. Too bad Bacharach hates the song, as he does most of the stuff he wrote during that period. It’s actually quite pleasant, if one ignores the chauvinist lyrics, though the sweet touches we associate Bacharach’s melodies with are still absent. I’d say that the earliest track on this compilation that hints at the Bacharach style of the 1960s is on Jane Morgan’s With Open Arms, a #15 pop hit in September 1959.

In 1956 the first Burt Bacharach/Hal David (or David/Bacharach, as it tended to be into the 1970s) composition was recorded, a track called The Morning Mail which a white vocal group called The Gallahads put on a b-side to a reputedly dull song called, perhaps appropriately, The Fool. Note the whistling: it featured also on the first two Bacharach/David hits the following year, Marty Robbins’ The Story of My Life (a chart-topper in Britain in Michael Holliday’s version) and Perry Como’s Magic Moments.

But the Bacharach/David artistic relationship, prolific as it was, was not yet monogamous. In fact, before they became an exclusive songwriting item in around 1963, Bacharach frequently wrote with Bob Hilliard (the guy who wrote the lyrics of Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning). Their collaborations included here are Del Shannon’ The Answer To Everything, The Drifters’ (Don’t Go) Please Stay, Etta James’ Waiting For Charlie (originally recorded by Jane Morgan), Dick Van Dyke’s Three Wheels on My Wagon, Gene Pitney’s Little Betty Falling Star, and Phil Colbert’s Who’s Got The Action (possibly written in 1962).

Other songs were the product of more fleeting associations, such as Johnny Mathis’ Heavenly and Keely Smith’s Close, which Bacharach co-wrote with Sydney Shaw, Peggy Lee’s Uninvited Dream (with Sammy Gallop, and arranged by Nelson Riddle) or Gene Vincent’s Crazy Times (with Paul Hampton). He also wrote a few forgotten songs with our old friend Norman Gimbel, though none feature here.

Talking of Paul Hampton, as a bonus track I’m including his recording of the bizarre collaboration with Bacharach, Two Hour Honeymoon, as a bonus. Recorded in 1960, it was a riff on the death records which were popular at the time. It must be heard to be believed.


As the 1950s ended, Bacharach’s R&B sensibilities began to become evident. Listen to 1959’s Faker Faker by The Eligibles: beneath the feckless white bread interpretation which makes no nod to Hal David’s lyrics of heartbreak, neither in arrangement nor vocals, there lurks a useful R&B number. The Eligibles, incidentally turn up again to back Gene Vincent. In 1959, R&B singer Gene McDaniels recorded his first Bacharach song, but the earliest soul song featured here is The Wanderers outstanding I Could Make You Mine, the only one of Bacharach/David’s early soul songs to be covered later by Dionne Warwick..

A future soul legend recorded a Bacharach song long before she became famous. As Tammi Montgomery, Tammi Terrell recorded Sinner’s Devotion in around 1961 for Wand Records, with The Shirelles on backing vocals. The song was released only in 1967 on a “from the vaults” type record to cash in on Tammi’s Motown success.

Of course, Bacharach continued to write in other genres, including terrible novelty songs such as Dick van Dyke’s Three Wheels On My Wagon, which features here solely as it also marked Bacharach’s first producer credit. But the Bacharach style we know manifests itself as the 1960s began, when he also started to supervise the arrangements. The Drifters’ Please Stay in 1961 was the first song for which Bacharach submitted a demo with an arrangement, rather than just the usual piano and vocal treatment. The song was produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and arranged by Ray Ellis. Later Bacharach would usually be in the studio at the first recordings of his songs, acting as de facto producer, even if he received no credit.

Already in the 1950s Bacharach employed the technique of voices imitating instruments. On Chuck Jackson’ 1961 song The Breaking Point, an usually fast R&B song, Bacharach gets the singer to imitate a rhythm section, with the machine-gun skat of shagga dagga shagga dagga shick shick.

Many of the songs here are lesser known because they were b-sides, often to inferior a-sides. Richard Chamberlain’s 1963 single Blue Guitar was a Bacharach/David a-side. They also wrote the flip side, a ditty you might know called (They Long To Be) Close To You.

burt (2)

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

1. Nat ‘King’ Cole – Once In A Blue Moon (1952)
2. Patti Page – Keep Me In Mind (1954)
3. Mel Tormé – These Desperate Hours (1955)
4. The Gallahads – The Morning Mail (1956)
5. Peggy Lee – Uninvited Dreams (1957)
6. Johnny Mathis – Heavenly (1959)
7. Jane Morgan – With Open Arms (1959)
8. Gloria Lambert – Moon Man (1959)
9. The Eligibles – Faker, Faker (1959)
10. Gene Vincent – Crazy Times (1960)
11. The Wanderers – I Could Make You Mine (1960)
12. Keely Smith – Close (1960)
13. Dick Van Dyke – Three Wheels On My Wagon (1961)
14. Connie Stevens – And This Is Mine (1961)
15. Del Shannon – The Answer To Everything (1961)
16. Tammi Montgomery (Tammi Terrell) – Sinner’s Devotion (1961, rel. 1967)
17. The Drifters – (Don’t Go) Please Stay (1961)
18. Dee Clark – You’re Telling Our Secrets (1961)
19. Chuck Jackson – The Breaking Point (1961)
20. The Shirelles – It’s Love That Really Counts (In The Long Run) (1962)
21. Etta James – Waiting For Charlie (1962)
22. Babs Tino – Forgive Me (For Giving You Such A Bad Time) (1962)
23. Helen Shapiro – Keep Away From Other Girls (1962)
24. Gene Pitney – Little Betty Falling Star (1962)
25. Jimmy Radcliffe – (There Goes) The Forgotten Man (1962)
26. Dionne Warwick – Make The Music Play (1963)
27. Jay and The Americans – To Wait For Love (Is To Waste Your Life Away) (1963)
28. Bobby Vee – Be True To Yourself (1963)
29. Richard Chamberlain – Blue Guitar (1963)
30. The Searchers – This Empty Place (1964)
31. Maxine Brown – I Cry Alone (1964)
32. Jackie DeShannon – A Lifetime Of Loneliness (1965)
33. Phil Colbert – Who’s Got The Action (1965)


Previous Bacharach mixes:
The Originals Vol. 45 – Bacharach Edition
Covered With Soul – Bacharach/David edition
The Burt Bacharach Mix

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In Memoriam: April 2013

May 2nd, 2013 5 comments

gallery_0413The unsung soul greats keep going. This month we lost Vince Montana (1), founder of the Salsoul Orchestra and member of Philadelphia International Records’ houseband MFSB. He played on and/or arranged an endless list of late ’60s and ’70s classics by the likes of The Delfonics, The O’Jays, Billy Paul, The Stylistics, Wilson Pickett, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, The Intruders, Patti LaBelle, Ronny Dyson, The Whispers, William DeVaughn, Lou Rawls and many more.

I had been playing The Montana Sextet’s Heavy Vibes in my car on the day Montana died, and on a Friday almost two weeks later I played George Jones (2) (the song from the Any Major Telephone mix), who died later that day. I am making myself a car mix consisting of Michael F Bolton, Chris Brown, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit and Ted Nugent as we speak. Jones was, of course, a giant in country music. In a genre that is as much soul music as soul music itself, Jones was as tower of soul. He used his voice to great effect, of course, but it was the interpretation of the emotions which his songs communicated which made him a great of any musical kind.

I take no blame for the other headline death of April: that of Richie Havens (3). I don’t think the man really received the recognition he merited, not as a singer nor as a guitarist. Many people remember him for being the opening act at Woodstock. Those who met him testify that he was also a one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. This series by nature tends to emphasise the contributions which recently deceased people have made to music, but I think it is good to sometimes remember a musician not only for his music, but for being a thoroughly decent and nice person. Richie Havens clearly deserves this paragraph on both counts.

Harry J (4) is perhaps best known as the owner of the studio where Bob Marley and the Wailers, and other Island acts, did many of their recordings. His 1969 instrumental The Liquidator served as an inspiration for the British ska movement of the early 1980s — and was sampled by the Staple Singers for their 1972 hit I’ll Take You There. Chelsea fans will claim the song as their own.

US baby boomers might well have been fans of Annette Funicello (5), one of the original Mouseketeers in The Mickey Mouse Club. But she was also the first female solo artist to have a US top 10 hit, with Tall Paul. The song was written by the Sherman brothers who thereby came to the attention of Walt Disney and proceeded to write the great songs for movies such as Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book.

We rarely pay much mind to the graphic designers of album covers. Storm Thorgerson (6) designed many covers you will know, including one of the most famous of them all: the cover of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon (and, in fact, the covers of most Floyd albums). He also did the covers of the Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Muse, Phish, 10cc, Black Sabbath, The Scorpions, Styx, The Cult, Ween, Biffy Clyro, Audioslave, The Cranberries, The Mars Volta and many more. He also directed music videos for Pink Floyd, Yes, Nik Kershaw, Paul Young and others. See the gallery below for just some of his album covers.



Johnnie Billington, 77, blues musician, founder of the Delta Blues Education Fund, on April 1

Roy Cox, 64, bass player of psychedelic rock band Bubble Puppy, on April 2
The Bubble Puppy – Hot Smoke & Sassafras (1969)

Harry J, 67, Jamaican musician, producer and studio owner, on April 3
Harry J & The All Stars – The Liquidator (1969)

Chris Bailey, 62, bass player of Australian rock band The Angels (or Angel City), on April 4
The Angels – Take A Long Line (1978)

Andy Johns, 61, British record producer  and engineer (Free, Humble Pie, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones), on April 7
The Rolling Stones – Sister Morphine (1971, as engineer)
Television – Prove It (1977, as producer)

Neil Smith, 59, early member of AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, on April 7

Annette Funicello, 70, actress (The Mickey Mouse Club) and singer, on April 8
Annette Funicello – Tall Paul (1957)

Sara Montiel, 85, Spanish actress and singer, on April 8

Emilio Pericoli, 85, Italian singer, on April 9
Emilio Pericoli – Al di là (1961)

Jimmy Dawkins, 76, blues singer and guitarist, on April 10
Jimmy Dawkins – Me, My Gitar And The Blues (2006)

Paul Wilson, 29, drummer of South African rock group Southern Gypsey Queen, on April 10
Southern Gypsey Queen – Radio Revolution (2011)

Don Blackman, 59, jazz-funk pianist and session musician, on April 11
Don Blackman – Holding You, Loving You (1982)

Vincent Montana, 85, percussionist, bandleader, arranger and composer, on April 13
Soul Survivors  – Expressway To Your Heart (1967)
The O’Jays – Backstabbers (1972)
Montana Sextet – Heavy Vibes (1982)

Chi Cheng, 42, bassist of alt.rock band The Deftones, after five-year coma on April 13
The Deftones – Teenager (2005)

George Jackson, 77, soul singer-songwriter, on April 14
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Old Time Rock ‘n Roll (1979, as co-writer)
Otis Clay – The Only Way Is Up (1980, as co-writer)

Dave McArtney, singer and guitarist of New Zealand pop group Hello Sailor, on April 15
Hello Sailor – Gutter Black (1977)

Scott Miller, 53, member of pop groups Game Theory and The Loud Family, on April 15

George Beverly Shea, 104, gospel singer (Bill Graham crusades), on April 16

Rita MacNeil, 68, Canadian country-folk singer and variety show host, on April 16
Rita MacNeil – Working Man (1988)

Jim McCandless, 68, singer-songwriter, on April 16

Gary Biddles, singer of British indie groups Fools Dance and Presence, on April 17
Presence – On Ocean Hill (1993)

Yngve Moe, 55, bass guitarist of Norwegian rock band Dance with a Stranger, on April 17

Storm Thorgerson, 69, English LP cover designer, on April 18
Pink Floyd – Have A Cigar (1975, as cover designer)
Powderfinger – Burn Your Name (2009, as cover designer)

Cordell Mosson, 60, bass player with Parliament/Funkadelic), on April 18
Parliament – Chocolate City (1975)

Artie White, 76, southern soul singer, on April 20
Artie ‘Blues Boy’ White – Don’t Pet My Dog (1990)

Chrissy Amphlett, 53, singer of Australian rock band Divinyls, on April 21
The Divinyls – Ring Me Up (1983)

Dani Crivelli, drummer of Swiss heavy metal group Krokus (1987-89), on April 21

Richie Havens, 72, American folk singer and guitarist, on April 22
Richie Havens – Handsome Johnny (1967)
Richie Havens – This Is The Hour (1983)
Richie Havens – Will The Circle Be Unbroken (2012)

Bob Brozman, 59, eclectic guitarist, on April 24

Paulo Emilio Vanzolini, 89, Brazilian samba composer, on April 25

George Jones, 81, country legend, on April 26
George Jones – Why Baby Why (1955)
George Jones – Things Have Gone To Pieces (1966)
George Jones – The One I Loved Back Then (Corvette Song) (1985)

Lillian Leach, 76, member of doo wop band The Mellows, on April 26
The Mellows – Smoke From Your Cigarette (1955)

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