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The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1

July 25th, 2013 18 comments

Few of us who are not drummers are likely to have a favourite drummer, and if we do they are probably a member of a band, say Keith Moon or John Bonham. My favourite drummer is Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, whose contribution to music has been mostly as a session musician. I have no competence to declare Purdie the “best” drummer ever, though he has been massively influential on others in his craft (inluding Bonham).

Purdie 1

Purdie plays on two songs on which I have always loved the drumming in particular: The Five Stairsteps’ “O-o-h Child” and Tim Rose’s version of “Hey Joe”, the one that inspired Jimi Hendrix. And from there it’s a short leap to two mixes… Yes, two mixes, since he is the world’s most recorded drummer.

The native of Elkton, Maryland, did overdubs for the album Tony Sheridan recorded with The Beatles (looks like Pete Best didn’t quite cut it), played with James Brown, served as Aretha Franklin’s musical director, backed Gil Scott-Heron and played on a succession of Steely Dan albums. You hear his drumming on James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World”, Hall & Oates’ “She’s Gone”, BB King’s “The Thrill Is Gone”, and on Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway’s “Where Is The Love”.

He is credited with inventing the “Purdie Shuffle” (see him demonstrate it in these two videos: Part 1 and Part 2). At 72 he is still performing. See his website.

Over the two mixes I’ve kept things down to one song per artist, with one exceptions: King Curtis appears in successive songs: on his own version of “Whole Lotta Love” from the Fillmore West live album and on the track by Shirley Scott.

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

1. Bernard Purdie – Soul Drums (1968)
2. The Five Stairsteps – O-o-h Child (1970)
3. Tim Rose – Hey Joe (1967)
4. King Curtis – Whole Lotta Love (1971)
5. Shirley Scott & The Soul Saxes – You (1968)
6. Aretha Franklin – Rock Steady (1972)
7. Nina Simone – Real Real (1967)
8. John Lee Hooker – I Don’t Wanna Go To Vietnam (1968)
9. Bama The Village Poet – I Got Soul (1972)
10. Gil Scott-Heron – The Needle’s Eye (1971)
11. Esther Phillips – Sweet Touch Of Love (1972)
12. David Newman – Captain Buckles (1971)
13. Margie Joseph – Touch Your Woman (1973)
14. Roberta Flack – Sunday And Sister Jones (1971)
15. Wayne Davis – I Like The Things About Me That I Once Despised (1973)
16. Donal Leace – Country Road (1972)
17. Gabor Szabo – Paint It Black (1966)
18. Leon Thomas – Let’s Go Down To Lucy (1972)
19. Ralfi Pagan – La Vida (1975)
20. Brother Jack McDuff – A Change Is Gonna Come (1966)

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Any Major Jimmy Webb Collection Vol. 2

July 18th, 2013 9 comments

The second mix of Jimmy Webb songs — you’ll find the first HERE — features several of the great songwriter’s lesser-known tunes. Some, of course, are well known, tracks such as Didn’t We (covered by Sinatra, featured here in Andy Williams’ version), Linda Ronstadt’s Easy For You To Say or If These Walls Could Speak. Many of the others are rarely heard today, but surely deserve an airing.

Any Major Jimmy Webb Collection 2

Some of the artists here have also been mostly forgotten, which is a pity. Peggy Lipton, also known as Peggy Jones, might be better remembered as Quincy Jones’ beautiful wife or as a TV actress (The Mod Squad, Twin Peaks) or as the mother of actress Rashida Jones (The Office, Parks & Recreation) than as a singer. But as a recording artist she bothered the Billboard charts on three occasions, though not with Webb’s gorgeous Red Clay Country Line.

Also known from TV, Connie Stevens previously featured on the Bacharach: The Lesser Known Songbook mix. She is best known for her part in the detective series Hawaiian Eye (1959-62) — and for once dating Elvis. Around the time of the TV series she also had a couple of US Top 5 singles, though neither are regarded as classics, even within the genre of novelty music. Like Peggy Lipton, Stevens has two acting daughters: Joely Fisher (from Ellen) and Tricia Leigh Fisher.

We’ve had a couple of occasions when the sisters Franklin — Aretha, Erma and Carolyn — featured in some combination or other on CD-R mixes. Here we have the sisters Kunkel doing songs by Jimmy Webb: Leah Kunkel in 1980, and her sister, whom we know better as Cass Elliot, in 1972. Born Leah Cohen (Kunkel was from her marriage to drummer Russ Kunkel), the younger sister had little commercial success, despite being championed by Art Garfunkel.  She recorded only two albums; Never Gonna Lose My Dream Of Love Again is from the second LP, I Run With Trouble.

Despite their name, the Strawberry Children didn’t seem to have been siblings. In fact, there is little information available about them. Love Years Coming was recorded on the Soul City label, owned by Johnny Rivers, an early Webb patron who first recorded By The Time I Get To Phoenix and features here with a recording of a Webb song from 1974. Love Years Coming was a very minor hit, and the fruity kids disappeared after releasing this one single late in the summer of 1967.

That summer possibly influenced the moniker chosen by The Love Generation, an outfit that recorded from 1967-69. After breaking up, the core of the group morphed into The Going Thing, which recorded music for Ford commercials. They also provided backing vocals for artists like former Paul Revere & The Raiders singer Mark Lindsay, who also features on this mix. The band’s leaders, brothers John and Tom Bähler, were also part of the loose conglomerate of session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew.  Tom served as associate producer and arranger of many projects led by Peggy Lipton’s ex-husband Quincy Jones, including work on Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall (for which he also wrote She’s Out Of My Life) and Thriller albums, and the mega-charity hit We Are The World.

As for Webb’s brilliant song P.F. Sloan, the meaning has been a bit confused. In this interview (scroll halfway down) Webb tries to explain it. Oh, and only one act features on both mixes…

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Home-composed covers are included.

1. Jimmy Webb – P. F. Sloan (1970)
2. The 5th Dimension – Never Gonna Be The Same (1967)
3. Dusty Springfield – Mixed Up Girl (1972)
4. Strawberry Children – Love Years Coming (1967)
5. The Love Generation – Montage (1968)
6. Peggy Lipton – Red Clay Country Line (1969)
7. Cass Elliot – Saturday Suit (1972)
8. Mark Lindsay – First Hymn From Grand Terrace (1970)
9. The Vogues – Turn Around, Look At Me (1968)
10. Connie Stevens – 5:30 Plane (1970)
11. Jackie Trent – Everybody Gets To Go To The Moon (1971)
12. Everly Brothers – She Never Smiles Anymore (1967)
13. Johnny Rivers – See You Then (1974)
14. Nancy Wilson – This Time Last Summer (1975)
15. Leah Kunkel – Never Gonna Lose My Dream Of Love Again (1980)
16. Glen Campbell – If These Walls Could Speak (1988)
17. The Highwaymen – Highwayman (1985)
18. Linda Ronstadt – Easy For You To Say (1982)
19. Arlo Guthrie – Oklahoma Nights (1981)
20. Richard Harris – A Tramp Shining (1972)
21. Ray Charles – I Keep It Hid (1970)
22. Andy Williams – Didn’t We (1969)
23. Günter Kallmann Chorus – Where’s The Playground, Susie (1969)
24. Barbra Streisand – Little Tin Soldier (1969)

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Any Major Soul 1969 Vol. 1

July 11th, 2013 3 comments

Could it be that 1969 was the absolute zenith of soul music? It certainly stands as a symbolic year for the transition from the rawer sound of the 1960s to the smoother tunes of the 1970s. So I ended up with such a long shortlist of indispensable tracks that I still had a surplus after making two mixes. Upshot: the year 1969 will run over two volumes.

Any Major Soul 1969 Vol. 1

Listen to the brief orchestral backing strings on the opening track, Edwin Starr’s “Soul City”, which in 1969 anticipated the sound of disco amid the funky Motown sound of the time. The track featured on Starr’s epic 25 Miles LP, which was so good, “Soul City” and other deserving tracks were not released on single.

The Winstons are said to have released the most-sampled track in music history, more specifically a drum break on their instrumental funk version of the “Amen” song from the film Lillies Of The Field, which they called “Amen Brother” (get it on the Saved Vol. 1 mix). Featured here is the Grammy-winning a-side, “Color Him Father”.

I’ve featured Erma Franklin on several occasions, but never really introduced her. She was Aretha Franklin’s elder sister. Erma, Aretha and the other recording sister, Carolyn (who has also featured here before and will appear on Any Major Soul 1969 – Vol. 2), performed at their father Cleveland Franklin’s church; when Aretha became a recording artist, Erma became her backing singer. In that role she was part of one of the greatest backing vocal performance ever, on “Respect”. Her solo career never took off, even though she provided the original of the Janis Joplin signature song “Piece Of My Heart”. She left the recording business in the mid-1970s, and died in 2002 of throat cancer, at the age of 64.

We started the mix with a song that hinted at the sound of disco; we end with a group that would become a byword for disco: Kool & the Gang. “Chocolate Buttermilk”, a funk instrumental, appeared on the band’s eponymous debut album on De-Lite Records.

As always, this mix is timed to fit on a CD-R and covers are included. PW in comments.

1. Edwin Starr – Soul City (Open Your Arms To Me)
2. David Ruffin – Pieces Of A Man
3. Isley Brothers – I Know Who You Been Socking It
4. The Winstons – Color Him Father
5. Marlena Shaw – I’m Satisfied
6. Jimmy Hughes – I’m Not Ashamed To Beg Or Plead
7. The Dynamics – Ain’t No Love At All
8. The Originals – Baby, I’m For Real
9. The Temptations – Why Did She Have To Leave Me (Why Did She Have to Go)
10. Gladys Knight & The Pips – The Nitty Gritty
11. Darrell Banks – Never Alone
12. Garland Green – Jealous Kind Of Fella
13. Tyrone Davis – Can I Change My Mind
14. Bobby Womack – Baby! You Oughta Think It Over
15. Laura Lee – Separation Line
16. Doris Duke – Divorce Decree
17. Joe Tex – That’s The Way
18. Peggy Scott & Jojo Benson – Lovers Holiday
19. Mavis Staples – Sweet Things You Do
20. Erma Franklin – You’ve Been Cancelled
21. Hank Ballard – Teardrops On Your Letter
22. Lorraine Ellison – Try
23. Jr. Walker and the All Stars – What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)
24. Ann Peebles – Solid Foundation
25. Baby Washington – Think About The Good Times
26. O.C. Smith – Clean Up Your Own Back Yard
27. Betty Harris – Break In The Road
28. Kool & the Gang – Chocolate Buttermilk

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In Memoriam – June 2013

July 3rd, 2013 5 comments

IM_June2013The headline death of the month must be that of Bobby “Blue” Bland (1), a man who transcended the blues-soul divide with such ease as few have. Bland credited as his primary inspiration the crooner Nat “King” Cole, and that influence also found expression in Bland’s music.

Country fans, on the other hand, might argue that the headline death was that of Slim Whitman (2). British readers will be pained to reminded that Slim’s great record of 11 weeks at #1 of the UK charts, with 1955’s “Rose Marie”, was broken almost four decades later by Bryan Adams’ regrettable hit “Everything I Do blah blah blah”.  Whitman, an early client of “Colonel” Tom Parker, was a member of the Grand Old Opry and had many hits in the US, especially the yodel number Indian Love Call, but it was in Britain where he was the biggest name in country, rivaled only by Jim Reeves. George Harrison once said that Whitman was the first musician he had ever seen with a guitar. And across the pond, Michael Jackson rated Slim as one of his top-ten favourite singers.

The death at 56 of Mandawuy Yunupingu (3) brought to an end a remarkable life. Born on an Aboriginal reservation in Australia to an artistic family, he was an activist for indigenous rights in a country whose laws, if not conduct, were not a million miles off from apartheid. In the mid-‘80s he founded Yothu Yindi, the first rock band to find national and international success with material that drew from aboriginal roots. All the while he was working as an educator. He was named “Australian of the Year” for 1992 by the National Australia Day Council, and in April 1998 received an honorary doctorate by the Queensland University of Technology.

Soul singer Darondo (4), real name William Daron Pulliam, was long forgotten until his sole hit “Didn’t I” received some airplay in Britain and then was included on several TV and film soundtracks, most prominently Breaking Bad (episode 4 of season 1, if you’d like to check it out). The revival brought the San Francisco singer back on stage after years in Californian suburbia, where he dabbled in real estate and worked as a physical therapist — a far cry from the brief halcyon years in the ’70s when he wore mink coats and owned a white Rolls-Royce, fitted out with a bar.

Sometimes the Grim Reaper has a fine sense if timing. On June 4 he took Marshall Sewell (5), bass singer of doo wop band The Edsels; a day later he took Cornelius Harp (6), lead singer of the multi-racial doo wop band The Marcels. The neat trick was that The Edsel’s  “Rama Lama Ding Dong” became a hit in 1961, three years after it was recorded, because a New York DJ played it as a segue from the doo wop hit “Blue Moon” — by The Marcels. guitarcoffin

Richard Raines, 48, guitarist of country band Perfect Strangers, on June 1
Perfect Stranger – You Have The Right To Remain Silent (1994)

Isaac M. ‘Ike’ Carpenter (Janie Thompson), 91, jazz bandleader and academic on June 1

Mandawuy Yunupingu, 56, singer and guitarist of Australian band Yothu Yindi, on June 2
Yothu Yindi – Timeless Land (1994)

Rob Morsberger, 53, singer, songwriter and arranger (Boardwalk Empire soundtrack, My Morning Jacket), on June 2

MickDeth, 35, heavy metal bassist (Eighteen Visions, Bleeding Through), on June 2

Graham Walker, 68, founder of British comedy band  Grumbleweeds, on June 2
Grumbleweeds – In A Teknikolor Dreem (1972)

Rick Neeley, 64, folk musician, on June 2

Piano ‘C’ Red, 79, blues pianist, on June 3
Piano ‘C’ Red – Hundred And Two (1963)

Chris Levoir, 31, member of Canadian rock band The Mark Inside, announced on June 3

Joey Covington, 67, drummer with Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, in a car crash on June 4
Jefferson Airplane – Pretty As You Feel (1971, on vocals and as songwriter)

Ben Tucker, 82, American jazz musician, in a car crash on June 4
Mel Tormé – Comin’ Home Baby (1962, as co-writer)

Jim Sundquist, 85, leader of rockabilly band The Fendermen, on June 4
The Fendermen – Mule Skinner Blues (1960, on lead guitar)

Marshall Sewell, 75, bass singer of doo wop band The Edsels, on June 4
The Edsels – Rama Lama Ding Dong (1958)

Cornelius ‘Nini’ Harp, lead singer of doo wop band The Marcels, on June 5
The Marcels – Heartaches (1961)

Don Bowman, 75, country singer, songwriter and comedian, on June 5
Don Bowman – Boll Weevil Air Lines (1966)

Bert Wilson, 73, jazz saxophonist, member of Rebirth, on June 6

Darondo, 67, soul singer, on June 9
Darondo – Didn’t I (1972)

Murray McNabb, 66, New Zealander jazz musician and film scorer (Once Were Warriors), on June 9

Johnny Smith, 90, jazz guitarist and songwriter, on June 12
Stan Getz & Johnny Smith – Nice Work If You Can Get It (1952)
Johnny Smith – Walk, Don’t Run (1954, also as composer)

Fatai Rolling Dollar, 86, Nigerian singer, on June 12

Gavin Taylor, 72, director of concert films (U2 at Red Rocks, Queen at Wembley), on June 12

Sam Most, 82, influential jazz flautist, on June 13
Chris Connor – Lonely Town (1956, on flute)

Roger LaVern, 75, keyboardist of The Tornados (1962-65), on June 15
The Tornados – Telstar (1962)

William Mysterious (Alastair Donaldson), bassist of British punk band The Rezillos, on June 18
The Rezillos – Flying Saucer Attack (1978)

Slim Whitman, 90, country singer-songwriter, on June 19
Slim Whitman – Indian Love Call (1952)
Slim Whitman – The Twelfth Of Never (1966)

Lil Snupe, 18, American rap artist, shot dead on June 20

Mary Love, 69, soul and gospel singer, on June 21
Mary Love – Lay This Burden Down (1966)

Gary Pickford-Hopkins, 65, Welsh singer with Wild Turkey, Rick Wakeman, on June 22
Wild Turkey – Easter Psalm (1971)

Wendy Saddington, 64, Australian jazz and blues singer, on June 22

Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, 83, American blues and soul singer, on June 23
Bobby Blue Bland & Ike Turner – Drifting (1962)
Bobby Bland – Share Your Love With Me (1964)
Bobby Blue Bland – Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of City (1974)

Jeanne Arland Peterson, 91, jazz pianist, on June 23

Puff Johnson, 40, soul singer and songwriter, on June 24
Puff Johnson – Over And Over (1996)

Alan Myers, 58, drummer of Devo, on April 24
Devo – Whip It (1980)

John Harrelson, 62, rock musician and music academic, on June 26

Paul Smith, 91, jazz pianist, on June 29
Anita O’Day – As Long As I Live (1955, as pianist)

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