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The Originals – Elvis Presley Vol. 2

April 30th, 2015 7 comments

The first part of the Elvis Originals covered (as it were) the Rock & Roll years and early post-GI period. Here we have the originals of songs Elvis covered in the 1960s and ’70s.

Elvis Presley’s artistic decline in the1960s is symbolised by the coincidence of his most derided movie, Clambake, which opened at about the same time as The Beatles released their groundbreaking Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP. A year later, in 1968, Elvis’ live TV special marked the comeback of Elvis the Entertainer. Elvis the Recording Artist, however, had not had a #1 hit in seven years when in January 1969 he entered the famous American Sound Studios in Memphis.

suspicious-mind

At first the old soul music veterans at the studio were dubious about working with the washed-up ex-king of rock ‘n’ roll. Elvis soon had them convinced otherwise. Eight days into the session, on January 20, he recorded the Mac Davis-penned In The Ghetto; two days later Suspicious Minds, which by the end of 1969 would top the US charts.

Suspicious Minds was written by American Sound Studios in-house writer Mark James (whose real name was Francis Zambon), who also wrote hits such as It’s Only Love and Hooked On A Feeling for his friend, country singer BJ Thomas. And it was BJ Thomas was in line to record Suspicious Minds, which James had already released on record to no commercial success, before the song was given to Presley. Elvis insisted on recording the song even when his manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, threatened that he wouldn’t over the question of publishing rights (always an issue with Parker).

Elvis would record four more songs written or co-written by James: Always On My Mind, Raised On A Rock, Moody Blue (which James released in 1975) and It’s Only Love. Chips Moman produced James’ 1968 version of Suspicious Minds, thereby creating a handy template which he returned to when producing Elvis’ version.

 

brenda-lee

Depending on where you live and how old you are, Always On My Mind may be Elvis’ song or Willie Nelson’s, or perhaps the Pet Shop Boys’ (who had a hit with it in late 1987 after earlier performing it on a TV special to mark the 10th anniversary of Elvis’ death). Originally it was Brenda Lee’s, released in May 1972. It was not a big hit for her, reaching only #45 in the country charts. Somehow Elvis heard it and found the lyrics expressed his emotions at a time when the marriage to Priscilla was collapsing. He recorded it later in 1972. Released as the b-side to the top 20 hit Separate Ways, Always On My Mind was a #16 hit in the country charts. In the UK, however it was a top 10 hit, and became better know in Europe than in the US.

 

jerry-reed

Another artist whose songs Elvis loved to cover was Jerry Reed, featured here with Guitar Man and US Male, originally released by Reed in 1966 and covered by Elvis two years later. Jerry Reed was a country singer who toiled for a dozen years before scoring a hit in 1967 with Tupelo Mississippi Flash — a song about Elvis. The same year Elvis chose to record Reed’s Guitar Man (the composer is listed as Jerry Hubbard, the singer’s real surname), and Reed played guitar on it. For Elvis, Guitar Man was a redemption of sorts after the degradation of Clambake. His performance of the song at the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special is one of the best moments of the show.

 

bossa-nova-baby

The writers most associated with Elvis are Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller. Their Bossa Nova Baby has been unjustly regarded by some as a novelty number from an Elvis movie (1963’s Fun In Acapulco). Even Elvis is said to have been embarrassed by it. If so, he had no cause: it may not be a bossa nova — it’s too fast for that — but it has an infectious tune and a genius keyboard riff which begs to be sampled widely. Perhaps it was the lyrics which had Elvis allegedly shamefaced, but the lines “she said, ‘Drink, drink, drink/Oh, fiddle-de-dink/I can dance with a drink in my hand’” are not much worse than some of the doggerel our man was forced to croon in his movie career as singing racing driver/pineapple heir/bus conductor. Or perhaps Elvis was embarrassed by the idea of including a notional bossa nova number in a movie set in Mexico.

Tippie & the Clovers, who were signed to Leiber and Stoller’s Tiger label, recorded it first in 1962 to cash in on the bossa nova craze. Apparently the composer’s preferred the Clovers’ version over Elvis’. These were the same Clovers, incidentally, who had scored a #23 hit with Love Potion No. 9 (also written by Leiber & Stoller and later covered to greater chart effect by the Searchers) on Atlantic in 1959.

 

crying-in-the-chapel

Elvis was greatly influenced by the sounds of Rhythm & Blues on the one hand and country music on the other — Arthur Crudup and Hank Snow. A third profound influence was gospel. Here, too, Elvis drew from across the colour line. Often he was one of the few white faces at black church services (as a youth in Tupelo, he lived in a house designated for white families but located at the edge of a black township), but he also loved the white gospel-country sounds created by the likes of the Louvin Brothers, whom he once regarded as his favourite act.

Indeed, gospel was the genre Elvis loved the most. In recording studios, he would warm up with gospel numbers. When he jammed with Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in the Sun studio (Johnny Cash left before any of the misnamed Million Dollar Quartet session was recorded), much of the material consisted of sacred music. At the height of his hip-gyrating greatness, he recorded an EP of spirituals titled Peace In The Valley. And let’s not forget that the only three Grammies Elvis ever received were for gospel recordings.

Elvis’ biggest gospel hit was Crying In The Chapel, which had been written in 1953 by Artie Glenn for his son Darrell, who performed it in the country genre. The same year, the R&B band Sonny Til & the Orioles — progenitors of the doo wop style of the late ’50s and the first of a succession of bird-themed bandnames — scored a #11 hit with the song (around the same time, a pop version by June Valli reached #4). It was the Orioles’ recording from which Elvis drew inspiration in his version, recorded shortly after he returned from the army in 1960. It was not released, at Tom Parker’s command, because Artie Glenn refused to share the rights to the song with the cut-throat publishing company of Elvis repertoire, Hill & Range. And with good reason, for the song continued to be a hit by several artists. Eventually Hill & Range secured the ownership. When Crying In The Chapel was eventually released in 1965, it was not only a US hit (his first top 10 single in two years), but also topped the UK charts.

 

wonder-of-you

Apparently written for Perry Como, The Wonder Of You was first recorded by Ray Peterson (he of Tell Laura I Love Her notoriety) in 1959, scoring a moderate hit with it. Peterson, who died in 2005, later liked to recount the story of how Elvis sought his permission to record the song. “He asked me if I would mind if he recorded The Wonder Of You. I said: ‘You don’t have to ask permission; you’re Elvis Presley.’ He said: ‘Yes, I do. You’re Ray Peterson.’” Not that Peterson owned the rights to the song, or was particularly famous for singing it.

Elvis recorded the song live on stage in Las Vegas on February 18, 1970. It was released as a single a couple of months later and was a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic, topping the UK charts for six weeks. It was also his last UK #1 during his lifetime.

 

burning-love

Elvis did not particularly like Burning Love; if he didn’t record it under protest, he certainly was not going to spend much time on it. Where 16 years earlier he’d spend 30-odd takes on the spontaneous sounding Hound Dog, he recorded Burning Love in only six takes. The production values were pretty poor: Elvis’ voice sounds tinny, but not for lack of trying. But listen to the drumming! Strange then that this slack recording scored big in the US (#2 on Billboard; the final top 10 hit in his lifetime) and UK (#7).

A year previously, in 1971, the soul singer Arthur Alexander (whom we will meet again when we turn to originals of Beatles songs) recorded Burning Love, releasing it in January 1972, two months before Elvis recorded it. A fine recording in the southern soul tradition, it made no impact. The song’s writer, Dennis Linde, recorded it in 1973 — his version, included here, recalls the sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

 

shannon-runaway

With its Bo Diddley-inspired guitar riff and flamenco-meets-rock ‘n’ roll feel, 1961’s (Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame served as a welcome, albeit temporary, break from Elvis’ succession of easy listening fare such as It’s Now Or Never, Surrender and Are You Lonesome Tonight (though within a few months, he’d top the charts with another standard ballad, Can’t Help Falling In Love). Like all these songs, His Latest Flame was not an original.

The song was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, who wrote some 20 Elvis songs — including Viva Las Vegas, their demo of which is included here — as well as hits for acts such as The Drifters (Save The Last Dance For Me) and Dion (Teenager In Love). Although reportedly written specifically for Elvis, His Latest Flame was first offered to Bobby Vee, who turned it down. Instead Del Shannon recorded the song in May 1961, with a view to releasing it as a follow-up single for his big hit Runaway. In the event, he decided to run with the non-classic Hats Off To Larry instead. His Latest Flame was released on the Runaway With Del Shannon LP in June ’61. The same month Elvis recorded his version, which was released in the US in August. Due to the arcane method of compiling the US charts, the His Latest Flame peaked at #4 and its flip side, Little Sister (another Pomus/Shuman composition) at #5. It topped the charts in Britain.

Shuman tended to tout his co-composition by way of demos on which he sang himself. The demo for His Latest Name is much closer to Elvis’version than Shannon’s, a less smooth, more soulful interpretation which has something of a mariachi band feel, using brass to accentuate the Diddley-style riff (which the Smiths famously sampled 24 years later on Rusholme Ruffians).

 

rockahulababy

It’s Now Or Never and Surender were based on old Italian songs; Can’t Help Falling In Love on an old French melody. This is the song which ignorant callers to radio stations tend to request by the title “Wise Man Say”. The fictitious title is not entirely off the mark: the lyrics were co-written by a pair of alleged mafia associates, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, with George David Weiss. Peretti and Creatore were partners with mafioso Mo Levy in the Roulette record label (named after the game that “Colonel” Tom Parker was addicted to), which the FBI identified as a source of revenue for the Genovese crime family. The trio also wrote the lyrics for The Lion Sleeps Tonight, a song stolen from South African musician Solomon Linda.

The melody of Can’t Help Falling In Love borrows from the old French love song Plaisir d’amour, composed in 1785 by Johann Paul Aegidius Martini. It was first recorded in 1902 by Monsieur Fernand (real name Emilio de Gogorza), and subsequently by a zillion others, including in 1908 by the baritone Charles Gilibert (1866-1910). It may be a little more accurate to describe Can’t Help Falling In Love as an adaptation rather than as a cover. While the similarities are sufficiently evident to mark Plaisir d’amour as the basis for the song, it certainly has been innovated on.

The song was adapted in 1961 for Elvis’ Blue Hawaii movie (the title track was a cover of a Bing Crosby song, of all things). Reportedly, neither the film’s producers nor Elvis’ label, RCA, liked the song much. Elvis, however, insisted on recording it. Elvis often was his best A&R man, and so it was here. The song was initially released as the b-side of Rock-A-Hula Baby (you do know how that one goes, no?). In the event, Can’t Help became the big hit, reaching #2 in the US and #1 in the UK. It also became a signature song for Elvis who would invariably include it in his concerts. Indeed, it was the last song he performed live on stage in Indianapolis on 26 June 1977, Elvis’ final concert.

 

The last five tracks in the mix are demo versions recorded by the songs’ composers. And in the case of A Little Less Conversation, Elvis was the progenitor for the later version which became a hit in 2002 under the Elvis vs JXL moniker.

1. Del Shannon – His Latest Flame (1961)
2. Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters – Such A Night (1956)
3. The Coasters – Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962)
4. Tippie & the Clovers – Bossa Nova Baby (1962)
5. Jerry Reed – Guitar Man (1967)
6. Mark James – Suspicious Minds (1968)
7. Arthur Alexander – Burning Love (1972)
8. Tony Joe White – I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby (1972)
9. Jerry Reed – U.S. Male (1966)
10. Wynn Stewart – Long Black Limousine (1958)
11. Brenda Lee – Always On My Mind (1972)
12. Ferlin Husky – There Goes My Everything (1966)
13. Ray Peterson – The Wonder Of You (1959)
14. Micky Newbury – An American Trilogy (1971)
15. Tony Joe White – Polk Salad Annie (1968)
16. Mark James – Moody Blue (1975)
17. Buffy Sainte-Marie – Until It’s Time For You To Go (1965)
18. Les Paul & Mary Ford – I Really Don’t Want To Know (1954)
19. Darrell Glenn – Crying In The Chapel (1953)
20. Bing Crosby – Blue Hawaii (1937)
21. Charles Gilibert – Plaisir d’amour (1908)
22. Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation (1968)
23. Laying Maetine Jr. – Way Down (1976)
24. Mort Shuman – His Latest Flame
25. Mort Shuman – Viva Las Vegas
26. Bill Giant – Devil In Disguise
27. Dennis Linde – Burning Love

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The Bobby Graham Collection

April 23rd, 2015 13 comments

Bobby Graham Collection

Some session drummers build up a colossal body of work over many years of tireless slog, but English drummer Bobby Graham did so in the space of three or so years before going away to do his own thing. In that time he drummed on pop classics such as You Really Got Me, Downtown, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, Gloria, The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, Tossin’ And Turnin’, I Only Want To Be With You, Green Green Grass Of Home and loads more.

As part of the British equivalent of The Wrecking Crew — which also included the likes of Jimmy Page (yes, that one), Big Jim Sullivan, Vic Flick, Andy White — Graham played on 13 UK chart-toppers and 40 more Top 5 hits, all within a couple of years of one another. He claimed to have played on 15,000 tracks — many of those presumably in the genre that was his first love, jazz — and nobody has challenged that number. It is not without cause that the producer Shel Talmy described Graham as “the greatest drummer the UK has ever produced”.

His reputation, built up as part of producer Joe Meek’s set-up, was such that by 1962 Brian Epstein reportedly asked Graham to replace Pete Best in The Beatles, probably without John, Paul and George’s knowledge. The North Londoner, then just 22, turned Epstein down since he was a member of a group that was more famous than The Beatles, Joe Brown and The Bruvvers.

label_collection_2As a session drummer, Graham took over Mick Avery’s part when The Kinks recorded their double whammy of 1964 hits, You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night. (Avery played the tambourine.) His drumming at the end of Them’s Gloria — Morrison was not happy about the presence of session musicians — was something quite new.

Graham might also have played on the Dave Clark Five’s Glad All Over, although Clark denied that. According to Graham, Clark didn’t want to produce and drum at the same time, and so roped in Graham, telling him to keep his drumming simple, so that Clark could reproduce it in concerts.

After 1966, Graham first worked in France, without great success, and then moved to the Netherlands, where he stayed until 1971. By then he had acquired a debilitating alcohol addiction. Having beaten that, he produced Christian music bands, then opened a North London record shop named The Trading Post, produced training videos and gigged in a jazz band. He died on 14 September 2009 of stomach cancer, aged 69.

Read more about Bobby Graham.

label_collection_1As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes banged-together covers. PW in comments.

1. The Outlaws/Joe Meek – Crazy Drums (1961)
2. The Ivy League – Tossin’ and Turnin’ (1965)
3. Herman’s Hermits – Silhouettes (1965)
4. The Walker Brothers – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (1966)
5. Petula Clark – I Know A Place (1965)
6. Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (1966)
7. Françoise Hardy – Je n’attends plus personne (1966)
8. Lulu – Here Comes The Night (1964)
9. Them – Gloria (1964)
10. The Kinks – All Day And All Of The Night (1964)
11. Jimmy Page – She Just Satisfies (1965)
12. The First Gear – A Certain Girl (1964)
13. The Pretty Things – Don’t Bring Me Down (1964)
14. The Sneekers – Bald Headed Woman (1964)
15. The Animals – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (1964)
16. Rod Stewart – Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl (1964)
17. Brian Poole & The Tremeloes – Candy Man (1964)
18. Joe Cocker – I’ll Cry Instead (1964)
19. Chad & Jeremy – Yesterday’s Gone (1963)
20. Marianne Faithfull – Come And Stay With Me (1965)
21. The Fortunes – Here It Comes Again (1965)
22. Dave Berry – The Crying Game(1964)
23. David & Jonathan – Lovers Of The World Unite (1966)
24. The John Barry Seven – Zulu Stamp (1964)
25. Antoinette – Jenny Let Him Go (1964)
26. Brenda Lee – What’d I Say (1964)
27. Adriene Poster – Shang A Doo Lang (1965)
28. The Bachelors – No Arms Can Ever Hold You (1964)
29. The Brook Brothers – Trouble Is My Middle Name (1963)
30. Billy Fury – In Summer (1963)
31. Bobby Graham – Zoom Widge And Wag  (1965)

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Previous session musicians’ collection:
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
The Bobby Keys Collection

 

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

Any Major Soul 1973 – Vol. 2

April 16th, 2015 5 comments

Any Major Soul 1973_2

What a great reception the first volume of Any Major Soul 1973 received! Such nice comments. Be assured that your comments — here and on Facebook (become my friend) — keep this blogging gig going.

I think I’ve mentioned most of the artists featured here before, and I’ve got other deadlines to take care off, so here’s part 2 of the 1973 soul mix, which I think might be even better than the first. Plus, there are two bonus tracks I could not squeeze into the CD-R timed playlist. Enjoy! (PW in comments)

1. Joe Simon – Power Of Love
2. Lamont Dozier – Breaking Out All Over
3. Al Wilson – For Cryin’ Out Loud
4. The Intruders – To Be Happy Is The Real Thing
5. The Dells – My Pretending Days Are Over
6. The Ebonys – You’re The Reason Why
7. Tommie Young – You Came Just In Time
8. William Bell – Gettin’ What You Want (Losin’ What You Got)
9. Bobby Powell – I’m Going To Try You One More Try
10. The Sweet Inspirations – Sweet Inspiration
11. 8th Day – I Gotta Get Home (Can’t Let My Baby Get Lonely)
12. First Choice – Newsy Neighbors
13. Kim Tolliver – Learn To Get Along Without You
14. Jackie Moore – Willpower
15. Claudia Lennear – Goin’ Down
16. Gloria Jones – Tin Can People
17. The Temptations – Law Of The Land
18. The Dynamics – She’s For Real (Bless You)
19. The Main Ingredient – I Am Yours
20. Willie Hutch – I Just Wanted To Make Her Happy
21. The Majestic Arrows – Another Day
22. Marlena Shaw – Waterfall
23. Gladys Knight & The Pips – It’s Gotta Be That Way

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More Any Major Soul

 

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Should Have Been A UK Top 10 Hit – Vol. 1

April 9th, 2015 10 comments

Should Have Been A Top 10 Hit

Every year an American radio DJ invites the public to vote for songs that should have been Top 10 hits in the US. Billing the vote as It Really Shoulda been a Top 10 hit!”, Rich Appel releases the annual list to coincide with 15 April, the big tax day in the US (hence the initials IRS).

Borrowing the concept, here’s the first lot of UK hits that missed the Top 10. More will follow, for UK chart outrages are many. But to keep the number of tracks in check, I instituted certain rules. The songs must have had a shot at the Top 10, so only songs that reached the Top 40 qualified (though on my shortlist there are a couple of exceptions) . If songs were Top 10 hits in the US, they were usually disqualified, so were songs that are now bona fide classics, else the Motown catalogue alone would flood my already long shortlist. And I used the year 1990 as a cut-off, since after that the UK charts gradually lost any meaning, even if the Oasis vs Blur battle for #1 was big news a few years after.

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While promotion strategies and pure chance often decided whether a song would become a Top 10 hit or not, it is inexplicable why some of those included here failed to climb such heights. How did The Whole Of The Moon, a real classic, stagnate at #26, when in the week the song peaked the Top 10 included such garbage as Elton John’s Nikita and Jennifer Rush’s The Power Of Love? How did The Undertones’ utterly glorious Teenage Kicks get stuck at #31 when awfulness such as Frankie Miller’s Darlin’, Smokie’s Mexican Girl and, have mercy, Father Abraham & The Smurfs’ Dippety Day ranked above it?

And what injustice befell The Cure’s Inbetween Days to get stuck behind such horrors as Baltimora’s Tarzan Boy, Opus’ Life Is Live, Amazulu’s Excitable and Tina Turner’s We Don’t Need Another Hero?

One song here that failed to even crack the Top 30 did make it to #1, in a way, when Dexys Midnight Runners hit the top with Geno, a song dedicated to soul singer Geno Washington which references his #39 hit Michael (The Lover) from 1967.

And for the UK election in May, let’s have The Redskins’ song as the anthem, even as the return of the ghastly David Cameron seems inevitable.gallery-1As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-charted covers. PW in comments.

1. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks (#31 1978)
2. Aztec Camera – Oblivious (# 18 1983)
3. Big Sound Authority – This House (Is Where Your Love Stands) (#21 1985)
4. The Blow Monkeys – Diggin’ Your Scene (#12 1986)
5. Hipsway – The Honeythief (#17 1986)
6. The Waterboys – The Whole Of The Moon (#26 1985)
7. The Redskins – Bring It Down (This Insane Thing) (#33 1985)
8. The Jesus And Mary Chain – Darklands (#33 1987)
9. China Crisis – Black Man Ray (#14 1985)
10. Prefab Sprout – When Love Breaks Down (#25 1985)
11. The Colourfield – Thinking Of You (#12 1985)
12. ABC – When Smokey Sings (#11 1987)
13. Geno Washington – Michael (#39 1967)
14. The Foundations – Back On My Feet Again (#18 1968)
15. The Young Rascals – A Girl Like You (#37 1967)
16. Jesse Green – Nice And Slow (#17 1976)
17. The Beginning Of The End – Funky Nassau (Part 1) (#31 1974)
18. Osibisa – Sunshine Day (#17 1976)
19. Kiki Dee – Star (#13 1981)
20. Susan Fassbender – Twilight Cafe (#21 1981)
21. The Alarm – Sixty-Eight Guns (#17 1983)
22. The Cure – In Between Days (#15 1985)

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Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Non-Top 10 hits Tags:

In Memoriam – March 2015

April 2nd, 2015 3 comments

The mind that co-wrote one of the great rock classics is no more: Andy Fraser, bass player of Free, has died at 62. He was a founding member of Free at 15, having had a previous (!) stint with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. He was not yet 18 when he wrote All Right Now, with the help of Paul Rodgers (himself barely 20 years old). His career after Free couldn’t reach the heights of his time with Free.

Something similar can be said of Michael Brown of the Left Banke, who co-wrote the classic Walk Renee and follow-up hit Pretty Ballerina at the age of 16 and 17. By 18 he left the group and never really had notable success again. It is said that Brown wrote the lyrics of both songs about Renée Fladen, the platinum blonde girlfriend of The Left Banke’s guitarist Tom Finn, on whom he had a crush. Tony Sansone, who co-wrote the lyrics for Walk Away Renée, claimed that the titular name was just a random riff on French names in the aftermath of the Beatles’ Michelle, which had come out a year before Renee was released in 1966.

gallery1It was no shock to learn of the death at 59 of Mike Porcaro, the bassist in the Porcaro family dynasty that also included brothers Steve on keyboards, the late drummer Jeff, and percussionist/drummer father Joe. Mike had been ill with Lou Gehrig’s disease for many years. He began his career as a young session bassist for acts like Seals & Croft, Lee Ritenour, Christopher Cross, Donna Summer and Michael McDonald (including on That’s Why, which I nearly featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 4, posted three days before Porcaro’s death). He also played on the Grease soundtrack. In 1982 he finally appeared with Jeff, Steve and Joe on a Toto album — on one track, playing the cello. But after that hit album, Toto IV, came out, bassist David Hungate left the group, and Mike finally joined his brothers’ band. He stayed with Toto until illness forced his retirement in 2007, while still continuing his session work.

British singer and songwriter Jackie Trent was a fine interpreter of songs by the likes of Jimmy Webb and Burt Bacharach, but she also co-wrote with Tony Hatch a string of hit songs, much in the vein of Burt and Webb, for herself and others. These include her UK #1 hit Where Are You Now (My Love) and the masterpiece that is Scott Walker’s Joanna. Trent and Hatch wrote prolifically for Petula Clark — including Don’t Sleep in the Subway and I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love (about Hatch and Trent’s affair before they got married in 1966)— as well as for the likes of including Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Bassey and Dean Martin. In the 1970s Trent and Hatch turned to writing musicals, as well as Stoke City’s run-out song We’ll Be With You. Having emigrated to Australia in 1980, they composed the theme for the soap opera Neighbours.

The trouble with trumpeters is that they rarely work alone, and therefore don’t get much attention as soloists, the way a saxophone player might. One way of determining how good they are is by looking at their catalogue: who worked with them, and on what. By that standard, Lew Soloff must rank among the greats. He was a member of Blood, Sweat & Tears’ great brass section in the group’s heyday. As a session man he played on hits such as Chaka Khan’s What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me, Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al and Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero. He backed artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Boz Scaggs, George Benson, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Art Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, The Four Tops, Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Eric Clapton, Herbie Mann, Mongo Santamaria, Bob James, Stanley Clarke, Chuck Mangione, Spyro Gyra, Roy Ayers, O’Donnel Levy, Frankie Valli, Odyssey, Ian Hunter, John Mayall, Angela Bofill, Marlena Shaw, Peter Tosh, Marianne Faithfull, Michael Franks and especially Gil Evans, with whom he released a number of albums.

The list of Jewish soul singers is fairly short, more so those who recorded at Stax with Booker T & The MG’s and Isaac Hayed backing them. But so it was with Sharon Tandy, who was born in Johannesburg as Sharon Finkelstein. She had early success in South Africa, including an appearance in the country’s first beat movie , Africa Shakes. In 1964 she moved to England, where she released several singles, none of which charted. In 1966 she became the first white singer and first non-American to record for Stax, a gig arranged by her connected manager and husband, Frank Fenter. Only one song from that session was ever released. In 1967 she opened for the 1967 Stax/Volt Tour of Europe. Fenter then hooked her up with another one his acts, the British psychedelic rock outfit The Fleur de Lys. In 1970, frustrated by lack of a commercial breakthrough and having split with Fenter, Tandy returned to South Africa, where she had sporadic hits in the 1970s. In the 1990s her work was rediscovered in Britain, and Tandy was delighted to be performing again.

For a rock musician, checking out while touring might be second best only to checking out while playing. So it was with AJ Pero, drummer of Twisted Sister in their heyday, who was touring with his latest band, Adrenaline Mob, when his bandmates couldn’t wake him. While driving, he had died in his sleep, at only 55.

gallery2Country musician Billy Block, who has died of skin cancer at 59, might not have hit the big times as a recording artist, but as a mentor and patron to many musicians, he helped form the alt.country scene that is often referred to as Americana. His long-running live radio show was alt.country’s equivalent to the Grand Ole Opry. Artists such as Buddy Miller, Lucinda Williams, Elizabeth Cook were showcased by Block who also helped mainstream stars such as Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves on their road to success.

Don Robertson, who has died at 92, will best remembered for the impossibly catchy The Happy Whistler, a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic. His greater contribution was his songwriting, which included Hummingbird (Les Paul & Mary Ford, Frankie Laine), Help Me I’m Falling (Hank Locklin), Ringo (Lorne Greene), and several songs Elvis recorded, including I Really Don’t Want to Know, Anything That’s Part Of You, No More and There’s Always Me.

In Britain, the great guitar instrumental Apache belongs to its original interpreters, The Shadows. In North America, however, it was a big hit in the version by Danish guitar virtuoso Jørgen Ingmann, who has died at 89. Ingmann was quite a star in Europe as well, especially in Germany, where he had a string of hits. In 1963 he won the Eurovision Song Contest for Denmark with his then-wife Grethe.

 

Brian Carman, 69, guitarist of surf rock band The Chantays, on March 1
The Chantays – Pipeline (1963)

Orrin Keepnews, 91, jazz producer and writer, co-founder of Riverside Records, on March 1
Bill Evans Trio – My Man’s Gone Now (1961, as producer)

Ryan Stanek, 42, drummer of death-metal band Broken Hope (1988-97), on March 1

Ted Reinhardt, 62, jazz and prog-rock drummer, in a plane crash on March 4
Spyro Gyra – Morning Dance (1979)

Jim McCann, 70, Irish folk musician (The Dubliners 1974-79), on March 5
Jim McCann – Clare To Here (1979)

Jimmy Sacca, 85, member of vocal group The Hilltoppers, on March 7
The Hilltoppers – Trying (1952)

Lew Soloff, 71, jazz trumpeter (Blood, Sweat & Tears 1968-73), on March 8
Blood, Sweat & Tears – Spinning Wheel (1969)
Bataan – Laughing And Crying (1975)
Chaka Khan – What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me (1981)

Wayne Kemp, 73, country singer and songwriter, on March 9
Johnny Cash – One Piece At A Time (1976, as writer)

Jerry Brightman, 61, pedal steel guitarist (Buck Owens), on March 9
Arlo Guthrie – This Troubled Mind Of Mine (1973, on pedal steel guitar)

Flabba, 38, South African rapper, stabbed to death by his lover on March 9

Jimmy Greenspoon, 67, keyboardist with Three Dog Night, on March 11
Three Dog Night – Shambala (1973)

Billy Block, 59, alt.country musician, showcase host and mentor, on March 11

Daevid Allen, 77, Australian guitarist and singer (Soft Machine, 1966-67), on March 13
The Soft Machine – Hope For Happiness (1968)

Mike Porcaro, 59, session bassist, member of Toto, on March 15
Seals & Crofts – Castles In The Sand (1975, on bass)
Toto – Good For You (1982, on cello)
Natalie Cole – Starting Over Again (1989, on bass)

Don Robertson, 92, country performer and songwriter, on March 16
Don Robertson – The Happy Whistler (1956)
Lorne Greene – Ringo (1964, as co-writer)

Andy Fraser, 62, bassist of Free and songwriter, on March 16
Free – All Right Now (1970, also as co-writer)
Robert Palmer – Every Kinda People (1977, as writer)
Andy Fraser – Obama (Yes We Can) (2008, vocals and as writer)

Bruce Crump, 57, drummer of rock band Molly Hatchet, on March 16
Molly Hatchet – Flirting’ With Disaster (1980)

Michael Brown, 65, keyboardist of The Left Banke and songwriter, on March 19
Left Banke – Walk Away Renee (1966, also as songwriter)

A. J. Pero, 55, drummer of Twisted Sister, on March 20
Twisted Sister – I Wanna Rock (1984)

Paul Jeffrey, 81, jazz saxophonist, on March 20

Sharon Tandy, 71, South African-born soul singer, on March 21
Sharon Tandy – You’ve Gotta Believe It (1968)

Jackie Trent, 74, English singer-songwriter and actress, on March 21
Jackie Trent – Where Are You Now (My Love) (1965)
Scott Walker – Joanna (1968, as co-writer)

Jørgen Ingmann, 89, Danish guitarist, on March 21
Jørgen Ingmann and His Guitar – Echo Boogie (1961)

Lil’ Chris, 24, British singer-songwriter, TV personality and actor, on March 23

Gabriela Maumus, 28, bassist of Argentine rock band Asalto Al Parque Zoológico, in Germanwings crash on March 24
Asalto al Parque Zoologico – Sonnen (2014)

Scott Clendenin, 47, bassist with death metal bands Death and Control Denied, on March 24

John Renbourn, 70, guitarist of British folk-jazz band Pentangle, on March 26
Bert Jansch & John Renbourn – East Wind (1966)

B.J. Crosby, 63, singer, stage and TV actress, on March 27
B.J. Crosby – Hound Dog (1995)

Josie Jones, 57, English singer (The Mighty Wah!), announced March 28
Big Hard Excellent Fish – Imperfect List (1990)

Preston Ritter, 65, drummer, on March 30
The Electric Prunes – I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (1966)

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