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Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

December 18th, 2014 14 comments

Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

I posted much of this mix six years ago, and several people have asked me to re-post the 2008 compilation. This isn’t the exact same mix, but what I hope is an improved version. Some tracks on the old mix have been used on others since, and a few songs included now are much better than those they replace.

The Beatles song comes from a 1968 recording for their fan club. It’s not quite in the class of, say, Strawberry Fields, but it is The Beatles, singing an original Christmas song most people have not heard.

Six years ago I suggested that Rosie Thomas’ Why Can’t It Be Christmas All Year, then newly released, should become a Christmas pop standard. That hasn’t happened, though it still should. In fact, she has released only one album since her lovely A Very Rosie Christmas, partly owing to illness. Spresad the word about the song; it really is great.

Neil Diamond’s Christmas song is a bit unusual: it riffs on titles from his songs, from Cherry Cherry to the wonderful Amazing Grace in 2005.

This is the 17th Christmas mix I’ve posted. Here are the previous 16 in one pic. Find them all HERE or look at the end of the post for the individual links.

Xmas gallery

As always, CD-R length, home-wrapped covers, PW the same as every time.

Here’s wishing you a merry Christmas; see you in the New Year. I will be out of here until January 8.

1. Twisted Sister – Deck The Halls (2006)
2. Smashing Pumpkins – Christmastime (1997)
3. Manic Street Preachers – Last Christmas (live) (2003)
4. Rosie Thomas – Why Can’t It Be Christmas All Year? (2008)
5. The Temptations – This Christmas (1980)
6. The Jackson Five – Give Love On Christmas Day (1968)
7. Take 6 – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1999)
8. Carpenters – Merry Christmas Darling (1970)
9. She & Him – I’ll Be Home For Christmas (2011)
10. Ron Sexsmith – Maybe This Christmas (2002)
11. The Weepies – All That I Want (2003)
12. Neil Diamond – Cherry Cherry Christmas (2009)
13. Chris Isaak – Christmas On TV (2004)
14. El Vez – Santa Claus Is Sometimes Brown (2000)
15. Bruce Springsteen – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1985)
16. Dana – It’s Gonna Be A Cold Christmas (1975)
17. B.B. Jeans & the Bobby Sox – Here Comes Santa Claus (1963)
18. Koko Taylor – Merry, Merry Christmas (1992)
19. Nicole Atkins – Blue Christmas (2008)
20. Chris Rea – I’m Driving Home (1985)
21. They Might Be Giants – Santa’s Beard (1988)
22. Weezer – Christmas Celebration (2000)
23. Sufjan Stevens – Come On! Let’s Boogey To The Elf Dance! (2003)
24. The Beatles – Christmas Time (Is Here Again) (1968)

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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 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
The Christmas Originals
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

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In Memoriam – December 2014 – Part 1

December 15th, 2014 4 comments

In Memoriam - December 2014I will be unable to post a complete In Memoriam for December until late in January. But the Grim Reaper has wreaked havoc in the first half of this month (five listed deaths on December 3 alone!), so the first half of the month will be covered now; the second half, hopefully less lethal, will go with the January round-up.

As December began, the Rolling Stones received a double shock with the deaths first of long-time saxophonist Bobby Keys, and next day of ex-Small Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, who also recorded with them. McLagan played on the 1978 hit Miss You, but the saxophone is played not by Keys but by Mel Collins.

With Ian McLagan’s death, only one of the Small Faces is still alive; drummer Kenney Jones is the last man standing. McLagan was active in the music industry till the end, most lately playing on Lucinda Williams’ new album. In the interim he appeared on albums by old Faces pals like Rod Stewart (starting with Gasoline Alley) and Ronnie Wood, as well as on albums by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and John Mayer.

Adding to the overlap, Bobby Keys also played for McLagan’s Faces, and on McLagan’s 1979 Troublemaker and 1981 Bump Into The Night albums. Bobby Keys’ story is covered by last Monday’s post with a collection of songs he played on.

Quick: how many of the big soul groups of the 1960s or ’70s can you think of who can still come together in their classic line-up? With the death of Sonny Bivins of The Manhattans on December 3 and Winfred ‘Blue’ Lovett a week later (FFS, The Grim Reaper, FFS!), I can think only of The Stylistics and Sly & the Family Stone.  Between them, Bivins and Lovett were responsible for two of the band’s greatest hits: the former wrote There’s No Me Without You, Lovett wrote Kiss And Say Goodbye (his is the spoken intro), which was originally intended for Glen Campbell. The featured song It’s That Time Of Year is a seasonal Christmas offering.

A few weeks before her sudden death at 35, the hugely talented South African singer Lulu Dikana had supported John Legend on his tour of her country. Dikana’s death must have been hard on her 15-year-old son, but spare a thought also for her sister, Zonke Dikana, perhaps the bigger star in South Africa: last year her older sister died, now her other sister. Their father, Viva Dikana, was a well-known drummer. He died in 2009.

Few deaths can be more satisfying for a performer than to die on stage. So it was for 60-year-old Italian singer Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Mango, widely known only by his surname. On December 7 he was on stage in the southern Italian town of Policoro when he sang the opening bars of his 1984 hit Oro. Suddenly he raised his arm, said “excuse me” and collapsed. He died of a heart attack shortly after in hospital. The next day his 75-year-old brother Giovanni died as well.

 

Bobby Keys, 70, rock saxophonist , on Dec. 2
The Rolling Stones – Live With Me (1969)
The Jim Carroll Band – City Drops Into The Night (1980)
Sheryl Crow – There Goes The Neighborhood (2003)

Ian McLagan, 69, keyboardist of the Small Faces, on Dec. 3
Small Faces – Sorry She’s Mine (1966)
Rolling Stones – Miss You (1978)
Ian McLagan – La De La (1979)

Sonny Bivins, 78, singer with The Manhattans, on Dec. 3
The Manhattans – It’s That Time Of Year (1966)
The Manhattans – It’s Gonna Take A Lot To Bring Me Back (1970)
The Manhattans – There’s No Me Without You (1973, also as writer)

Graeme Godall, 82, co-founder of Island Records, on Dec. 3

Lulu Dikana, 35, South African soul singer, on December 3
Lulu Dikana – Falling Deeper (2014)

Paul Ferrara, 76, jazz drummer, on Dec. 3
Louis Prima – Felicia No Capicia (1959, on drums)

Nick Talbot aka Gravenhurst, 37, British singer-songwriter and writer, announced on Dec. 4

Bob Montgomery, 77, songwriter, on Dec. 4
Buddy Holly – Heartbeat (1958, as writer)
Eddy Arnold – Misty Blue (1967, as writer)

Brian Goble, 57, member of Canadian punk band Subhumans, on Dec. 7

Mango, 60, Italian singer-songwriter and musician, on Dec. 7
Mango – Oro (1984)

Earl Hayes, 34, American rapper, suicide on Dec. 8

Sheila  Stewart, 77, Scottish singer and author, on Dec. 9

Winfred ‘Blue’ Lovett, 74, bass singer of The Manhattans, on Dec. 10
The Manhattans – Kiss And Say Goodbye (1976)
The Manhattans – Hurt (1976)

Dawn Sears, 53, country singer, on Dec. 11
Dawn Sears – Close Up The Honky Tonks (1994)

John Hampton, 61, engineer and producer (White Stripes, Gin Blossoms), on Dec. 12

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Any Major Christmas Carols

December 11th, 2014 14 comments

Any Major Christmas Carols

This year a new Christmas mix: pop artists (using the term broadly) doing traditional  Christmas carols. There’s not much by way of irony going on here, though the levels of sincere religious sentiment obviously vary. I suppose the Staple Singers, who were primarily a gospel act, are more sincere than the Crash Test Dummies, whose vocals might startle grandmother a little.

Many of the artists, of course, give the carols some interpretation that relate to their genre. I have avoided the insufferable wispy songbirds who breathe through their sensitive versions of Silent Night. What songbirds are featured here do not breathe their carols, and Silent Night is covered by The Temptations, who are not wispy at all. As far as interpretative chops go, I particularly love The Gaylads’ delightful soul version of We Three Kings from 1970.

One might be pedantic and question whether Go Tell It On The Mountain is really a Christmas carol, in the traditional sense of the word. It is really a spiritual, but I see no reason why these should not also form part of the canon of carols. So should Mary’s Boy Child, written in the 1950s, What Child Is This, from 1962, and arguably even When A Child Is Born, from the 1970s. If it refers to the religious element of the feast of the Nativity, then it’s a Christmas carol. If it doesn’t, then it isn’t. But where would that rule leave the traditional English carol from 1850, Here We Come A-Wassailing, which makes no reference to the birth of Christ?

As always, this mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-baked covers. Password in comments. Feel free to add to the comments! Next Thursday: a Christmas pop mix.

1. The Bird And The Bee – Carol Of The Bells (2007)
2. Musiq Soulchild – Deck The Halls (2008)
3. Earth, Wind & Fire – Away In A Manger (2014)
4. Luther Vandross – O Come All Ye Faithful (1995)
5. Aaron Neville – O Little Town of Bethlehem (1993)
6. Harry Belafonte – The Son Of Mary (What Child Is This) (1958)
7. Ella Fitzgerald – The First Noel (1967)
8. Nat King Cole – O Holy Night (1963)
9. Bobby Darin – While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (1960)
10. Johnny Cash – It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (1980)
11. Jewel – Hark, The Herald Angels Sing (1999)
12. Etta James – Joy To The World (1998)
13. Mel Tormé – Good King Wenceslas (1992)
14. Crash Test Dummies – God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (2002)
15. Don Grusin – Angels We Have Heard On High (2005)
16. Nils Landgren – Ding Dong Merrily On High (2012)
17. Vanessa Williams – The Holly And The Ivy (2004)
18. Kate Rusby – Here We Come A-Wassailing (2008)
19. Sufjan Stevens – Lo How A Rose E’er Blooming (2002)
20. Robin Gibb – Once In Royal David’s City (2007)
21. The Gaylads – We Three Kings (1970)
22. The Staple Singers – Go Tell It On The Mountain (1962)
23. The Temptations – Silent Night (1980)

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 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
The Christmas Originals
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:

The Bobby Keys Collection

December 8th, 2014 8 comments

Bobby Keys Collection

Saxophonist Bobby Keys, who died on 2 December just a couple of weeks short of his 71st birthday, may be best remembered for his contributions with the Rolling Stones, but he also appeared on hundreds of records by others, including some of the biggest names in rock.

His death came a day before that of Ian McLagan, the keyboard player of the Small Faces, with whom Keys collaborated on Faces records, on McLagan solo LPS, and on occasion with both serving on session duty on records by others.

Keys also crossed paths in the studio with the two Wrecking Crew drummers featured in this series, Hal Blaine and Jim Gordon, especially the latter.

Bobby Keys was born on 18 December 1943 in Slaton, Texas, and began his music career as a teenager, hanging out with neighbour Buddy Holly and touring with the likes of Bobby Vee and Little Eva. He claimed to have played the saxophone solo on Elvis’ Return To Sender, but that story is unlikely. Certainly, RCA has no record of his participation (with that in mind this mix includes only songs that specifically credit Keys).

bobby keys gallery

In the 1960s he worked in the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, where some of the greatest soul was produced. It’s also where the Rolling Stones recorded their Sticky Fingers album in 1970, which features Keys on Brown Sugar (recorded in one take), Bitch, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, and I Got The Blues. The year before he made his debut for the Stones on Live With Me, from Let It Bleed.

He had first met the band in 1964, but it was an encounter with Mick Jagger at a Delaney and Bonnie session in the late 1960s that initiated the long relationship with the band, with whom he’d be touring till the end of his life.

He got on well with the Stones personally; Keef and he were born on the same day and had a close bond, which included meeting rock & roll clichés like throwing TV’s out of hotel windows. This month Richards called Keys “greatest pal in the world… We were thick as thieves.” Read his appreciation HERE.

Jagger and Keys also had a close personal friendship. But in the mid-‘70s Keys was fired from the Stones backing band for missing gigs after Richards found him with a bathtub filled with Dom Perignon champagne, a French lady of uncertain virtue and a stash of hash. Still, he maintained a loose relationship with the Stones over the years until he rejoined their roster of backing players in 1982. He toured with them on every tour  until this year.

Keys was also close to the ex-Beatles, especially with John Lennon, in whose famous “lost weekend” Keys played his partying part, having previously played with the Plastic Ono Band on tracks like Power To The People. He also played for Ringo Starr (on whose Ring O’ label he released the funky Gimmie The Key) and George Harrison.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes covers. PW in comments (you are invited to leave a comment there).

1. Bobby Keys – Gimmie The Key (1975)
2. Martha Reeves – Storm In My Soul (1974)
3. The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar (1971)
4. Warren Zevon – Poor, Poor Pitiful Me (1976)
5. Ringo Starr – Photograph (1973)
6. Barbra Streisand – Space Captain (1971)
7. Carly Simon – Night Owl (1972)
8. Graham Nash – There’s Only One (1971)
9. Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Kiss And Say Goodbye (1975)
10. Delaney & Bonnie – When The Battle Is Over (1969)
11. Faces – Had Me A Real Good Time (1970)
12. Humble Pie – Big George (1971)
13. John Lennon – Whatever Gets You Thru The Night (1975)
14. Harry Nilsson – Down (1971)
15. Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane – Tonight’s Number (1976)
16. Keith Moon – Back Door Sally (1975)
17. Third World War – Working Class Man (1971)
18. B.B.King – Caldonia (1971)
19. Eric Clapton – Lonesome And A Long Way From Home (1971)
20. Audience – Seven Sore Bruises (1972)
21. George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (1970)

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Previous session musicians’ collection (all drummers, so far):
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2

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In Memoriam – November 2014

December 4th, 2014 8 comments

Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn… Big Bank Hank has died (say what?). The first member of the Sugarhill Gang, whose Rapper’s Delight was the first ever rap hit, to go. Big Bank Hank, or Henry Lee Jackson, had studied oceanography and sought a career in that field. When that didn’t pan out, he became a bouncer, a pizzeria manager and a rap act manager. It was in the latter function that he was discovered by singer and producer Sylvia Robinson (of Pillow Talk fame), who was trying to get a hip hop thing going. Not being an MC himself, Hank got some rhymes from his friend and client Grandmaster Caz, who said he received neither credit nor royalties, and not even a thank you for his troubles. So it was really Caz (as in CASA-NOVA) who “got more clothes than Muhammad Ali” and dressed “so viciously”.

In Memoriam - Nov14This Christmas you may well hear the classic 1973 hit “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” by Roy Woods’ Wizzard. When you do, remember the saxophonist on the song, Mike Burney, who has died at 70. Burney was not only a member of Wizzard but also a session musician, playing on stage or in the studio for the likes of Chaka Khan, The Beach Boys, Sammy Davis Jr., Petula Clark, Steve Winwood, Cliff Richard, Dionne Warwick and Matt Monro.

Jimmy Ruffin’s mercurial younger brother David might have had grabbed all the headlines, but Jimmy was a great soul singer in his own right. His great hit, What Becomes Of The Broken-Hearted, is a highlight among all those outstanding songs produced by Motown in 1966, in no small measure due to Ruffin’s vocals. Jimmy almost joined The Temptations before they hit the big time, but when Motown’s bosses heard the younger brother, David got the gig instead. It must have been vexing when Jimmy’s Beauty Is Only Skin Deep was covered by The Temptations, who had a hit with it. In the 1970s Jimmy decamped to Britain where he collaborated with Heaven 17 and Paul Weller, and also hosted a radio show.

Flamenco musicians don’t really get much attention outside their genre. Manitas de Plata, who was born in 1921 as Ricardo Baliardo to what was then called a gipsy community, was different. And so it should be when your champions included Picasso, Dali and Jean Cocteau. The great photographer Lucien Clergue brought him to the attention of US audiences. Three of his sons and a bunch of nephews are members of the Gipsy Kings.

Same day Gary Lane, the bass player of 1960s rock band The Standells, died. He was the band’s second member in a year to pass away; last December drummer and vocalist Dick Dodd went. The Standells were not a big name; they had a US #11 hit with Dirty Water (featured HERE), and three more Top 100 hits in 1966/67, including the song featured here, Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White. More interesting is that two of their members went on to greater things: drummer Gary Leeds left to become Gary Walker in the Walker Brothers, and in 1968 — by then Lane and Dodds had left the band — future Little Feat frontman Lowell George joined the band.

Dave Appell, who has died at 92, started his career as a musician and arranger in the 1940s with jazz greats like Jimmie Lunceford, Benny Carter and Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines. In the 1950s he was a figure on the rock & roll scene, appearing in the 1956 Alan Freed film Don’t Knock the Rock and scoring a few hits as Dave Appell and the Applejacks. In the early 1960s he was the house band leader at Cameo-Parkway records, where he had played on hit records in the ’50s. As bandleader he arranged records for Chubby  Checker (for whom he co-wrote Let’s Twist Again), The Dovells (he co-wrote their hit Bristol Stomp) and Bobby Rydell. And in the early 1970s he produced Tony Orlando’s megaghits Knock Three Times and Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree.

The next In Memoriam will run very late because I’ll be travelling until mid-January. PW in comments (feel free to leave a comment while you are there).

 

Wayne Static, 48, singer of metal band Static-X, on Nov. 1

Acker Bilk, 85, British jazz clarinetist, on Nov. 2
Mr. Acker Bilk – Stranger On The Shore (1961)

Michael Coleman, 58, blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, on Nov. 2

Augusto Martelli, 74, Italian composer, conductor and arranger, on Nov. 3
Augusto Martelli – Djamballà (1971)

Manitas de Plata, 93, French flamenco guitarist, on Nov. 5
Manitas de Plata – Larmes Gitanes (1976)

Gary Lane, 76, bass player of garage rock band The Standells, on Nov. 5
The Standells – Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White (1966)

Big Paybacc, 38, rapper, shot dead on Nov. 6

Rick Rosas, 65, session bass player (Neil Young, Joe Walsh), on Nov. 6
Neil Young – Don’t Cry (1989, on bass)

Maggie Boyle, 57, English folk singer and musician, on Nov. 6
Maggie Boyle – Lady Margaret (1998)

Hugo Duarte, 59, folk and country singer and guitarist, on Nov. 7

Jonathan Athon, 32, bassist of metal band Black Tusk, after motorbike accident on Nov. 9

Carlos Emilio Morales, 75, Cuban jazz guitarist, on Nov. 11
Grupo Irakere – Taka-Taka-Ta (1974)

Big Bank Hank, 58, rapper with The Sugarhill Gang, on Nov. 11
The Sugarhill Gang – Apache (Jump On It) (1981)

Buddy Catlett, 81, jazz multi-instrumentalist, on Nov. 12
Ella Fitzgerald with the Count Basie Orchestra  – Shiny Stockings (1966, on bass)

Mike Burney, 70, saxophonist for English glam group Wizzard, on Nov. 12
Wizzard – Rob Roy’s Nightmare (A Bit More H.A.) (1973, also as writer)

Johnny Toobad (Johnny Elichaoff), 55, drummer, producer and manager, on Nov. 13
The League Of Gentlemen – Heptaparaparshinokh (1981, on drums)

Little Joe Washington, 75, blues singer, on Nov. 13
Little Joe Washington – The Ghetto (2004)

Jimmy Ruffin, 78, soul singer, on Nov. 17
Jimmy Ruffin – Se Decidi Cosi (What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted) (1966)
Jimmy Ruffin – It’s Wonderful (To Be Loved By You) (1970)
Jimmy Ruffin – Hold On (To My Love) (1980)

Dave Appell, 92, musician, arranger and record producer, on Nov. 18
Dave Appell and the Applejacks – Ooh, Baby, Ooh (1956)
The Dovells – Bristol Stomp (1961, as co-writer)

Claire Barry, 94, half of jazz and klezmer duo The Barry Sisters, on Nov. 22
The Barry Sisters – Bay mir bistu sheyn (1960s)

Clive Palmer, 71, banjo player with British psychedelic folk group Incredible String Band, on Nov. 23
The Incredible String Band – Empty Pocket Blues (1966, also as writer)

Agustín Briolini, 22, Argentinian rock singer, by electrocution on Nov. 23

Sabah, 87, Lebanese singer and actress; Diva of Arab Music, on Nov. 24

Frances Nero, 71, soul and jazz singer, on Nov. 28
Frances Nero – Keep On Lovin’ Me (1966)
Frances Nero – Footsteps Following Me (1991)

Luc De Vos, 52, singer and guitarist of Belgian rock group Gorki, on Nov. 29

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