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Any Major Halloween Vol. 2

October 29th, 2015 6 comments

Any Major Halloween Vol. 2

Another year, another Halloween mix. As with Any Major Halloween Vol. 1, this one is not for fans of novelty monster mashes. If you take a step to the left, it will be because you’re spooked by the music or by unnerving lyrics — not because a fun but rather overplayed showtune instructs you to do so.

The Eels track used to scare my son’s teenage friend, back in 2006, a demonstration in how music doesn’t need lyrics to be frighten. Conversely, lyrics can be all the more petrifying if they are set to pretty melodies, such as two of the murder ballads included here, Down In The Willow Garden and Where The Wild Roses Grow.

If I’m still doing this blog next Halloween, I promise to lighten the mood.

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

1. The Simpsons – Halloween Theme (1990)
2. Alan Price Set – I Put A Spell On You (1966)
3. Godley + Creme – Under Your Thumb (1981)
4. Eels – Marie Floating Over The Backyard (2005)
5. Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians – My Wife And My Dead Wife (1985)
6. October Country – My Girlfriend Is A Witch (1968)
7. Medeski, Martin & Wood – End Of The World Party (2004)
8. Mazzy Star – Taste Of Blood (1990)
9. Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue – Where The Wild Roses Grow (1995)
10. Violent Femmes – Country Death Song (1984)
11. The Never – The Witch (2006)
12. Eddi Reader – Bell, Book And Candle (1998)
13. Ryan Adams – Halloweenhead (2007)
14. The Alan Parsons Project – Raven (1976)
15. Five Man Electrical Band – Werewolf (1974)
16. Alice Cooper – Feed My Frankenstein (1991)
17. Ramones – Pet Sematary (1989)
18. Red Sovine – Phantom 309 (1967)
19. The Everly Brothers – Down In The Willow Garden (1958)
20. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Feast Of The Mau Mau (1969)
21. Howlin’ Wolf – Evil (Is Going On) (1954)
22. The Tarantulas – Black Widow (1961)

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Any Major Glam Vol. 2

October 22nd, 2015 12 comments

Any Major Glam Vol. 2

Two years ago I ran the first Glam Rock mix, the playlist of which was subject to strict criteria to ensure a certain glam purity. I think it was on Facebook that somebody said that the genre could be interpreted more loosely, that even the Bay City Rollers could have a home on such a mix.

So the second volume is stretching the concept of glam to such limits that the purists’ mascara might run from angry exasperation. I mean, Kenny??? What was I thinking? A manufactured teeny group whose musicianship duties might or might not have been assumed by session musicians! And still, The Bump has a definite glam vibe. So in it goes, along with ABBA’s very glam So Long.

Of course, in my generous application of the glam concept, the Bay City Rollers had to feature as well. They do so with their most glam song, Saturday Night. But this is not the hit version from 1976 with Leslie McKeown on vocals, but the slightly rougher 1973 original with Nobby Clark on lead vocals and John Devine on guitar, which failed to bother the charts. Shortly after Clark and Dvine left the group and were replaced by teen dream boys McKeown and Stuart “Woody” Wood.

But take courage, the staples of glam rock are still represented: Slade, Sweet, Suzi Quatro, T. Rex (with the song used as the theme of the hit-and-miss Lip Synch Battle), Wizzard and so on — and Gary Glitter. I had exiled the sex criminal from the first mix, but that was a controversial decision. So here he is; if you can’t stand to listen to him, skip him.

British readers who lived through the 1970s will recognise the template that inspired the covers I made for this set, which is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Password in comments.

1. T. Rex – 20th Century Boy (1973)
2. Slade – Mama Weer All Crazee Now (1972)
3. David Bowie – Sufragette City (1972)
4. Suzi Quatro – Too Big (1974)
5. Sweet – Fox On The Run (1975)
6. Bay City Rollers – Saturday Night (1973)
7. Wizzard – Ball Park Incident (1972)
8. Gary Glitter – I Love You Love Me Love (1973)
9. Abba – So Long (1974)
10. Rubettes – Juke Box Jive (1974)
11. Hello – New York Groove (1975)
12. Kenny – The Bump (1974)
13. The Glitter Band – The Tears I Cried (1975)
14. Alvin Stardust – Red Dress (1974)
15. Chicory Tip – Son Of My Father (1972)
16. Alice Cooper – No More Mr Nice Guy (1973)
17. The Arrows – Touch Too Much (1974)
18. Hound Dog – Rock’n’Roll Show (1973)
19. Mott The Hoople – Roll Away The Stone (1973)
20. Roxy Music – Virginia Plain (1972)
21. Mud – Hypnosis (1973)
22. Iron Virgin – Rebels Rule (1974)
23. The Troggs – Strange Movies (1973)
24. Cozy Powell – Dance With The Devil (1973)

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And while we’re here, please take a look at my new sister blog of posters from Germany’s Bravo magazine from 1975-82, with new posters added every day. Today’s posters are of two acts featured on this mix. Find it at www.bravoposters.wordpess.com

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Any Major Disco Vol. 2 – Pop Edition

October 15th, 2015 11 comments

Any Major Disco Vol. 2

Following the first Any Major Disco, here is a mix of non-disco acts dabbling to good effect in the genre. That is an important distinction: with the disco tsunami in the late 1970s there was a lot of cynical cashing-in, with all manner of decidedly undisco folks — Ethel Merman! — making artificial disco records, polluting the genre already poisoned by rampant exploitation.

Many established acts jumped on the bandwagon. Some did so with credibility, such as The Rolling Stones with Miss You, Blondie with Heart of Gold, or Queen with Another One Bites The Dust; others with ostentatious cynicism, such as Rod Stewart’s Da Ya Think I’m Sexy. Some were decidedly controversial: I believe most Grateful Dead fans resent their band’s foray into funky basslines and that strange rhythm thing of which people speak.

I hope most of the songs here fall more in the former camp than into Rod’s domain of ridiculousness.

Not everything here is disco. Some of the songs here borrow just some elements from disco — a bassline here, a funky guitar there, maybe some disco strings or horns or falsetto, certainly a four-to-the-floor beat. Others are unabashedly disco: Barbra Steisand’s The Main Event, Demis Roussos’ Midnight Is The Time I Need You or Janis Ian’s Fly Tool High (produced by Giorgio Moroder) are disco tracks performed to good effect by singers who wouldn’t have been thought of as natural exponents of the genre.

In some instances, a producer might inspire a visit to discoland. So it was with Mud in 1976. The English group had enjoyed hits with glam songs and rode on the retro rock & roll wave. Produced by Pip Williams, whose work producing the Moody Blues and Status Quo is probably better known than his efforts with the Biddhu Orchestra and Edwin Starr, they then turned out a very good disco single, Shake It Down.

The mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. PW in comments.

1. Barbra Streisand – The Main Event (1979)
2. Electric Light Orchestra – Shine A Little Love (1979)
3. Blondie – Atomic (1979)
4. Janis Ian – Fly Too High (1980)
5. Olivia Newton-John – Totally Hot (1978)
6. Boz Scaggs – Hollywood (1977)
7. Seals & Croft – You’re The Love (1979)
8. Grateful Dead – Shakedown Street (1978)
9. The Hollies – Draggin’ My Heels (1976)
10. Orleans – What I Need (1976)
11. Carly Simon – Tranquillo (Melt My Heart) (1978)
12. Sweet – Funk It Up (David’s Song) (3:27)
13. Mud – Shake It Down (1976)
14. Chicago – Street Player (1979)
15. Alice Cooper – (No More) Love At Your Convenience (1977)
16. Bay City Rollers – Don’t Stop The Music (1977)
17. Leo Sayer – Easy To Love (1977)
18. Santana – One Chain (Don’t Make No Prison) (1978)
19. Demis Roussos – Midnight Is The Time I Need You (1975)

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Beatles Reunited – Everest (1971)

October 8th, 2015 13 comments

Beatles - Everest

On Friday John Lennon would have turned 75; a rather frightening thought, since John has stayed forever young, (no) thanks to Mark Chapman.

So this is a good occasion to begin the alternative history of Beatles album as they might have been had the band not split in 1970. I did something like that a few years ago, but not very well. In revisiting the idea I was inspired by Peter Lee’s marvelous alternative history The Death and Life of Mal Evans: A Novel, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, with a Beatles concert “from 1972”.

In his book, Lee recreates Beatles albums through the 1970s, employing rather stricter criteria than I do (his selection process alone is worth getting the book for). The title of this first imaginary Beatles album, set in 1971, is borrowed from Lee’s book. The Beatles actually considered the title Everest for the LP they’d call Abbey Road, on account of the brand of cigarettes smoked by sound engineer Geoff Emerick (whose 2006 book Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles is a classic in the Beatles canon).

Such was the wealth of quality which the four produced between 1970 and 1972, that this set is a double LP. The “next album” will be released in “1972” (with hold-overs from George’s All Things Must Pass and John’s Imagine albums).

Some of these tracks might have been Beatles tracks. Jealous Guy was demoed under a different title during the White Album sessions; the version of All Things Must Pass featured here is, in fact, a Beatles demo; Apple Scruffs was another Beatles reject.

In Peter Lee’s book, the first imaginary Beatles album included Lennon’s scathing attack on McCartney, How Do You Sleep. To even things out, I’ll let John have that for his solo album but include Paul’s veiled stab at John, Too Many People.

Ringo released two albums in 1970, both comprising cover versions of standards and country songs respectively. The Beatles didn’t do covers after 1965, but we’ll indulge Ringo with one song, Stardust, which was arranged by McCartney. There was one other contender, the Ringo-penned Coochy Coochy. It didn’t make the cut on account of it not being very good.

I tried to keep Yoko and Linda out of these proceedings, which wasn’t entirely possible, since McCartney’s Ram album was credited to him and Linda (so her voice on, say, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, is unavoidable. But imagine all that with John’s harmonies!). But no Oh Yoko, and no Long Haired Lady. However, seeing I let Linda sing, I let John’s song to Yoko, Hold On, pass. It sounds like a Beatles song, and includes the most unexpected Sesame Street reference ever.

The whole thing fits on a standard CD-R. Covers included; PW in comments.

Side 1
1   Instant Karma (We All Shine On) (John)
2   What Is Life (George)
3   Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul)
4   Every Night (Paul)
5   Apple Scruffs (George)
Side 2
7   Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (Paul)
8   Stardust (Ringo)
9   All Things Must Pass (George)
10  Isolation (John)
11  Ram On (Paul)
12  Jealous Guy (John)
Side 3
12  Mother (John)
13  Wah-Wah (George)
14  The Back Seat Of My Car (Paul)
15  Hold On (John)
16  Love (John)
Side 4
17  Too Many People (Paul)
18  Working Class Hero (John)
19  Isn’t It A Pity (George)
20  Junk (Paul)
21  How? (John)

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In Memoriam – September 2015

October 2nd, 2015 7 comments

In memoriam 091With the death of Wilton Felder, only one original Crusader is left standing, Stix Hooper. As the saxophonist of The Crusaders, Felder was responsible for one of my favourite moments in music: the one-minute note he held in the live version of So Far Away. It’s an impressive feat, made greater by how the band falls in at the end of that note. Felder was not only a gifted sax player, but also a sought-after bassist. In that capacity he played on Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On (the song and the LP), Joan Baez’s Diamonds And Rust (also song and album), Billy Joel’s Piano Man and Michael Franks’ Monkey See-Monkey Do, as well as for Randy Newman, Seals & Croft, Shuggie Otis, Jackson Browne, The Four Tops, Steely Dan (Pretzel Logic and Katy Lied), Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell, Anne Murray, Al Jarreau, Minnie Riperton, Millie Jackson, Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr, John Cale, Bobby Womack, Tina Turner (whose version of Help he also produced), James Ingram and many others. He also played on several Motown tracks, including (according to Wikipedia, so caveat emptor) the Jackson 5’s I Want You Back and The Love You Save.

The sole survivor of the plane crash that killed Otis Redding has passed away at the age of 67. Trumpeter Ben Cauley, founding member of The Bar-Kays, also lost four bandmates in the crash on December 10, 1967. The account of his survival is dramatic: he awoke as bandmate Phalon Jones looked out of the window and exclaimed, “Oh no”, realising the impending disaster. Cauley unbuckled himself, freeing him from his seat as the plane crashed into the icy Lake Monona. Clutching his seat pillow, he survived 20 minutes in the water — longer than was deemed possible even for insulated divers. After the crash he and fellow co-founder James Alexander (who is still alive, in large part due to it having been his turn to miss out on the Otis flight) refounded the group, continuing their backing work at Stax and recording in their own right. Cauley left the Bar-Kays in 1971, going on to back acts such as Isaac Hayes, Dobie Gray, Candi Staton, Denise LaSalle, Joe Tex, Bobby Womack, The Doobie Brothers, Donovan, Al Green, Millie Jackson, BB King, Boz Scaggs and more.

Peggy Jones, who has died at 75, was the mother of all rock women with guitars. As rhythm guitarist in Bo Diddley’s band, the affectionately called Lady Bo blazed a trail at a time when women musicians in rock & roll were rare, never mind black teenage girls. Trained in tap, ballet and opera, Jones was also a bandleader, and later backed acts such as and later backed James Brown and Sam & Dave.

In memoriam 092Few pop stars go from a successful career in pop and TV to one in academia teaching law. But so it was with Frederick Greene, who was a singer with Sha Na Na and best known as the brainy “Denny” in the group’s TV show. In the movie Grease, it was Greene who sang Tears On My Pillow at the school dance. He also appeared with his group at Woodstock. In 1971 he had obtained a BA in law from Columbia. After Sha Na Na, he obtained his masters at Harvard and a JD from Yale. For a while he worked as a movie executive. At the time of his death from cancer at 66, Greene was a professor of law at the University of Dayton, Ohio.

Ska fans will have mourned the death of Rico Rodriguez, the Cuban trombonist who played on many records which fed the genre’s revival in Britain in the early 1980s, and played on records of the Two Tone movement’s main purveyors, the Specials and Selecter. A Rastafarian who had moved from Cuba to Jamaica in the 1950s, Rodriguez also played on many reggae records, including by Bob Marley, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Toots & The Maytals, Burning Spear, Prince Buster and Junior English. He also played on pop and rock records, backing among others Joan Armatrading, Godley & Creme, Ian Dury, Jim Capaldi, John Martyn, Paul Young (including the hit Love Of The Common People), Peter Gabriel, Ocean Colour Scene, Super Furry Animals, Amy Winehouse (on Teach Me Tonight), and Tom Jones & Jools Holland

It was a star of the jazz scene who played one of the great sax solos in 1970s pop. Phil Woods had already been an established figure in jazz since the 1950s, as a sideman to some of the biggest names ijn the genre (including the likes of Gillespie and Monk) as well as in his own right. In the 1950s he was seen as a successor to Charlie Parker, whose widow he later married. In the 1970s Woods began to guest on soul and pop songs, backing acts such as Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Phoebe Snow and his old collaborator Quincy Jones on the Sanford & Son theme. But his most famous bit of playing is that marvellous sax solo on Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are in 1977. He also played on Steely Dan’s Doctor Wu, on which fellow sax man Wilton Felder played the bass. So two session musicians on the same song died within a couple of days of one another…

 

Boomer Castleman, 70, singer-songwriter, guitarist, inventor of the palm pedal, on Sep. 1
Boomer Castleman – Judy Mae (1975)

Brianna Lea Pruett, 32, singer and songwriter, suicide on Sep. 2
Brianna Lea Pruett – Shine For You (2014)

Don Griffin, 60, guitarist of The Miracles (1974-78), in traffic accident on Sep. 3
The Miracles – Love Machine (Part 1) (1975)
Anita Baker – Been So Long (1986, on guitar)

Rico Rodriguez, 80, Cuban-born trombonist of British ska band The Specials, on Sep. 4
Rico Rodriguez – Ska Wars (1977)
Specials – A Message To You Rudy (1979)
Godley & Creme – Englishmen In New York (1981)

Graham Brazier, 63, singer of New Zealand group Hello Sailor, on Sep. 4
Hello Sailor – Blue Lady (1977)

Hal Willis, 82, Canadian country singer, on Sep. 4
Hal Willis – My Pink Cadillac (1956)

Frederick ‘Denny’ Greene, 66, singer with Sha-Na-Na, on Sep. 5
Sha Na Na – Tears On My Pillow (1978)

Guillermo Rubalcaba, 88, Cuban pianist, bandleader and composer, on Sep. 7

Augusta Lee Collins, 69, blues musician, in traffic accident on Sep. 7

Bryn Merrick, 56, bassist of British punk band The Damned (1983-88), on Sep. 12
The Damned – Grimly Fiendish (1985)

Gary Richrath, 65, guitarist and songwriter with REO Speedwagon, on Sep. 13
REO Speedwagon – Only The Strong Survive (1979)

Martin Kearns, 38, drummer of British death metal group Bolt Thrower, on Sep. 14

Peggy ‘Lady Bo’ Jones, 75, American guitarist, on Sep. 16
Bo Diddley – Hey! Bo Diddley (1957, on rhythm guitar and backing vocals)
Eric Burdon & The Animals – San Franciscan Nights (1967, on percussions)

Guy Béart, 85, French singer-songwriter, on Sep. 16
Guy Béart – L’eau vive (1958)

Daniel Kyre, 21, member of Internet music-comedy phenomenon Cyndago, suicide on Sep. 18

Ben Cauley, 67, trumpet player and singer with The Bar-Kays, on Sep. 21
The Bar-Kays – Soul Finger (1967)
Doobie Brothers – Here To Love You (1978)

Victor Démé, 53, Burkinabé singer-songwriter, on Sep. 21
Victor Démé – Djôn’maya (2008)

Ray Warleigh, 76, Australian-born saxophonist and flautist, on Sep. 21
Nick Drake – At The Chime Of A City Clock (1970, on alto sax)

Jamie ‘Brooklyn’ Prefontaine, 30, member of Canadian hip-hop group Winnipeg’s Most, on Sep. 22

Wilton Felder, 75, saxophonist of The Crusaders and session bass player, on Sep. 27
The Crusaders – So Far Away (live, 1974)
Steely Dan – Doctor Wu (1975, on bass; Phil Woods on sax)
Wilton Felder feat. Bobby Womack – (No Matter How High I Get) I’ll Still Be Looking Up To You (1984)

Denise Lor, 86, singer and actress, on Sep. 27
Denise Lor – If I Give My Heart To You (1954)

Frankie Ford, 76, pop singer, on Sep. 28
Frankie Ford – Sea Cruise (1959)

Phil Woods, 83, jazz and session saxophonist and clarinetist, on Sep. 29
Phil Woods – How’s Your Mama (1991)
Billy Joel – Just The Way You Are (1977)

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