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Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1

October 25th, 2018 6 comments

 

The Halloween well is now dry, but you can still get your chills on with this delightful collection of songs about murder.

It’s quite surprising how many sings about murder there are, mostly from the perspective of the killer. In the case of Pat Hare, almost literally.

In 1954, blues guitarist Pat Hare (born Auburn Hare!) sang a song — a cover of a 1940s song by Dorothy Clayton —  in which he vowed to kill his woman: “Yes, I’m gonna murder my baby — yeah, I’m tellin’ the truth now — ‘cause she don’t do nothin’ but cheat and lie.” Eight years later, Hare had just finished a stint as a guitarist in Muddy Waters’ group when he shot dead his girlfriend and a policeman in Minneapolis. Hare was convicted of the murder and died in jail in 1980 at the age of 49.

Many of the murder ballads are folk songs that have been covered many times. A few of the tracks here are also covers, such as country-soul singer Andre Williams reworking of Johnny Paycheck’s song. The weirdest of them, though, has to be Olivia Newton-John singing about murdering her boyfriend.

There are longer discussions on some of the featured songs, and others that will feature, in the eight parts of the Murder Ballads series.

Just to be clear, this mix does not promote murder. Don’t kill, kids.

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

  1. R. Dean Taylor – Indiana Wants Me (1970)
    The Vic: A man needed dyin’ for what he said about you
  2. Sting – I Hung My Head (1996)
    The Vic: The lone rider
  3. Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues (1969)
    The Vic: A man in Reno
  4. Porter Wagoner – The Cold Hard Facts Of Life (1967)
    The Vic: The folks who taught Porter the cold, hard facts of life
  5. Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger (1975)
    The Vic: The yellow-haired lady
  6. Jim & Jesse – Knoxville Girl (1976)
    The Vic: A little girl in Knoxville
  7. The Everly Brothers – Down In The Willow Garden (1958)
    The Vic: Rose Connolly
  8. Olivia Newton-John – Banks Of The Ohio (1971)
    The Vic: Livvy’s marriage-shy boyfriend (and you see his point)
  9. The Band – Long Black Veil (1968)
    The Vic: “Someone”
  10. The Grateful Dead – Stagger Lee (1978)
    The Vic: Billy, a gambler
  11. Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue – Where The Wild Roses Grow (1997)
    The Vic: Elisa Day
  12. Elvis Costello – Psycho (1981)
    The Vics: His ex, Jackie White, Betty Clark, Momma…and Johnny’s puppy, too
  13. Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska (1982)
    The Vics: Everything in his path
  14. Andre Williams – Pardon Me (I’ve Got Someone To Kill) (2000)
    The Vic: Her and his love rival
  15. Lyle Lovett – L.A. County (1987)
    The Vics: The bride and the groom
  16. Bill Brandon – Rainbow Road (1976)
    The Vic: A man with a knife (so it’s self-defence, your honor)
  17. Dixie Nightingales – Assassination (1965)
    The Vic: The President
  18. Elton John – The Ballad Of Danny Bailey (1973)
    The Vic: Danny Bailey, a gangster, in cold blood
  19. The Buoys – Timothy (1971)
    The Vic: Timothy (because of hunger)
  20. Tony Christie – I Did What I Did For Maria (1971)
    The Vic: Maria’s murderer
  21. Conway Twitty – Ain’t It Sad To Stand And Watch Love Die (1968)
    The Vic: An unfaithful wife
  22. Johnny Darrell – River Bottom (1969)
    The Vic: “That pretty gal of mine”
  23. Clyde Arnold – Black Smoke And Blue Tears (1961)
    The Vic: The gambler
  24. Pat Hare – I’m Gonna Kill My Baby (1954)
    The Vic: In the song, Pat’s baby. In real life, later, the same.

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Any Major ABC: 1960s

October 18th, 2018 8 comments

 

No other decade offers as much fun in the task of compiling music as the 1960s. Indeed, the idea for the concept of this series — whereby we go through a decade through the medium of the alphabet, from A-Z, each letter geting a song — was prompted by the first song on this mix. One morning on my way to work I heard Amen Corner’s If Paradise Was Half As Nice, and I thought: “How would I accommodate this in a standard CD-R mix with home-made covers; PW in comments”?

This is the result: a jukebox of 1960s joy, completed by a suggestion from reader rntcj (try saying that when you’re drunk) who filled the X-shaped gap. Reader Randy T. has been helpful with filling gaps in other decades; so before I die, I seek to cover the ABCs from the 1940s to the 2000s..

For the most part, the song choices are a bit random. How do you choose between Mamas & Papas, Monkees, Marvin Gaye, Manfred Mann, Marvelettes, Moody Blues, Martha Reeves, McCoys or Mindbenders? There were some difficult choices, often made of the spur-of-the-moment variety. And after sampling a lot of favourites along the way.

And then which Mamas & Papas song? Well, the one featured has always intrigued me: as a declaration of sexual liberation by women in the 1960s, Go Where You Wanna Go must have seemed revolutionary. But there is also the payback of John Philips, who had his wife sing about her affair with songwriter Russ Titelman (other stories suggest that it was about Philips’ affair with Papas singer Denny Doherty). John Philips had a habit of doing that sort of thing to his bandmates.

I’m still looking for a good entry for the letter Y in the 1940s mix. And any bright ideas for an X for the 2000s?

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

Amen Corner – (If Paradise Was) Half As Nice (1968)
Bar-Kays – Soul Finger (1967)
Chris Andrews – Pretty Belinda (1969)
Doris Days – Move Over Darling (1963)
Equals – Soul Groovin’ (1968)
Foundations – Baby Now That I’ve Found You (1967)
Gene Chandler – Duke of Earl (1962)
Hollies – Bus Stop (1966)
Impressions – It’s Alright (1963)
Jay & the Americans – Come A Little Bit Closer (1964)
Kinks – Dandy (1966)
Lemon Pipers – Green Tambourine (1968)
Mamas & The Papas – Go Where You Wanna Go (1966)
Nancy Sinatra – The City Never Sleeps At Night (1965)
Otis Redding & Carla Thomas – Bring It On Home To Me (1967)
Procol Harum – Homburg (1967)
Quicksilver Messenger Service – Dino’s Song (1968)
Ronettes – (The Best Part Of) Breakin’ Up (1964)
Supremes – The Happening (1967)
Tom Jones – It’s Not Unusual (1965)
Unit 4 + 2 – Concrete And Clay (1965)
Velvelettes – He Was Really Saying Somethin’ (1964)
Walker Brothers – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (1966)
X-Cellents – Hey Little Willie (1965)
Young Rascals – Lonely Too Long (1967)
Zombies – She’s Not There (1964)

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Any Major Women Vol. 1

October 10th, 2018 3 comments

This a tribute to all the girls I’ve known before. And here I want to be clear that I’m talking about women who have been in my life in some way or another — as family, friends, loves or, yes, lovers.

The lyrics of the songs applied to their names obviously don’t necessarily reflect my relationship with or feelings about the women in question. So there’s nothing to be inferred from the song choices. And there are enough women to justify a two-volume set.

As always, CD-R length, home-made covers, PW in comments.

1. Liz Phair – Girls’ Room (Tracey & Tricia, 1998)
2. Ben Kweller – On Her Own (Alexandra, 2009)
3. Foo Fighters – What If I Do (Caroline, 2005)
4. Thunder – Carol Ann (2008)
5. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Michelle (1978)
6. Status Quo – Elizabeth Dreams (1968)
7. Velvet Underground – Stephanie Says (1968)
8. Simon & Garfunkel – For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her (1969)
9. Paul McCartney – The Lovely Linda (1970)
10. The Magnetic Fields – Abigail, Belle Of Kilronan (1999)
11. The Icicle Works – Melanie Still Hurts (1990)
12. Ben Folds – Carrying Cathy (2001)
13. James Morrison – Dream On Hayley (2009)
14. Tony Schilder Trio – Madeleine (1985)
15. R.B. Greaves – Take A Letter Maria (1969)
16. Al Stewart – Almost Lucy (1978)
17. 10cc – I’m Mandy Fly Me (1976)
18. Bruce Springsteen – I’ll Work For Your Love (Theresa, 2007)
19. Missy Higgins – Angela (2007)
20. Bright Eyes – Blue Angels Air Show (Claire, 2006)
21. Rufus Wainwright – Natasha (2003)
22. The Rolling Stones – Lady Jane (1966)
23. Donovan – Sweet Beverley (1968)

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In Memoriam – September 2018

October 4th, 2018 5 comments

 

I’m not a friend of big-name deaths at the beginning of the month, before I can even post the previous month’s music deads and their songs. The death of Charles Aznavour at 94 on October 1 creates a dilemma: do I wait until the next In Memoriam — which will come out more than four weeks after he died — or do I include him in September’s lot? In this instance, I’ve opted for the latter.

It’s quite a thought that when Charles Aznavour had a hit in 1974 with She, he was already 50. The man born to Armenian partents in Paris as Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian had enjoyed a long career before that already. He was a child-actor at nine, and performed in Parisian clubs by the mid-1940s. The break came in 1946 when he was discovered by Edith Piaf. His career would last for another 72 years, with his last concert having been on September 18 in Osaka, Japan, as part of a world tour. In September 28 he still appeared on French TV.

Jefferson Airplane’s primary founder and one of its three lead singers Marty Balin has departed; now it’s only Grace Slick left. It was Balin who got knocked unconscious by the Hell’s Angels on stage at the notorious Altamont concert in December 1969. Less than a year later, his friend Janis Joplin died. Spooked by that, in April 1971 the relatively clean-living Balin exited Jefferson Airplane. He joined the Airplane off-shoot Jefferson Starship in 1975, singing lead on several of their hits, but jumped ship again in 1978, shortly after Slick had left the band. He went on to have a few Top 10 hits as a solo artist in the 1980s.

With the death of bassist Max Bennett, we have lost another member of the Wrecking Crew, the informal collective of session players who played on so many records made in LA in the 1960s and ‘70s. Bennett was particularly prolific on records by The Monkees and the Partridge Family, and later by Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez, but at around the same time as he was plucking strings for TV pop groups, he was also part of Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats project (despite not really liking or understanding avant garde music). Before being a pop sideman, Bennett was a jazz sideman. After returning from fighting in the Korean War, he backed acts like Stan Kenton, Mel Tormé, Peggy Lee, Nelson Riddle and Ella Fitzgerald. He also released as series of jazz LPs under his own name in the 1950s. In the 1970s Bennett returned to jazz, but now in the form of fusion, as a member of the L.A. Express alongside Tom Scott, Larry Carlton, John Guerin and Joe Sample.

He was obviously famous for his movies and his moustache, and perhaps also for posing nude in Playgirl, but less well-known is Burt Reynold’s brief career as a singer. In 1973 he released an album of country music titled Ask Me What I Am (well, not much of a singer, to be honest). 1980 saw the release of a follow-up single, Let’s Do Something Cheap And Superficial, which was aptly titled since it came from the sequel to Smokey And The Bandit.

Chas Hodges was best known as half of the London duo Chas & Dave, who enjoyed their biggest success with novelty knees-up folk-rock type numbers. But he was also a serious musician, starting his career as a session bassist for Joe Meek. In the early 1970s Hodges was a member of Heads Hands & Feet, alongside guitarist Albert Lee. In the ‘70s he also did session work on guitar, often with Dave Peacock, the Dave in what would become Chas & Dave. Hodges and Peacock created the riff in Labi Siffre’s I Got The…, which Eminem later sampled for My Name Is. Then they became the “Rockney” pub favourites and Tottenham Hotspur cheerleaders (so condolences to my friend Jeremy Simmonds, author of The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars and a Spurs fan, are in order).

With the death of Donald McGuire, all four members of the 1950s vocal group The Hilltoppers are now gone. The group, initially a trio from Kentucky, has been largely forgotten, but in the 1950s they scored as few huge US hits, including the million-seller PS I Love You. Another claim to fame is that from their ranks emerged the future bandleader Billy Vaughn.

Not really a music death, and yet very much so: Peggy Sue Perron of the Buddy Holly song has died at 78. Originally Holly was going name the song Cindy Lou, after his niece. But drummer Jerry Allison petitioned his friend to change the name in order to impress his girl, Peggy Sue, who had just broken up with him. It worked: Jerry and Peggy Sue went on to get married in 1958 (just before his death, Holly wrote and denied a song called Peggy Sue Got Married, which was released posthumously). They divorced, and Peggy Sue moved to California, got married again, and had kids.

 

Tony Camillo, producer and arranger, on Aug. 29
Gladys Knight & the Pips – Midnight Train To Georgia (1973, as producer)

Randy Weston, 92, jazz pianist and composer, on Sept. 1
Randy Weston Trio – Zulu (1955)

Conway Savage, 58, Australian keyboardist, on Sept. 2
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Willow Garden (1996, on vocals and keyboard)

Rene Garcia, 66, guitarist of Filipino pop band Hotdog, on Sept. 2

Katyna Ranieri, 93, Italian singer and actress, on Sept. 3
Katyna Ranieri – Oh My Love (1971)

Elisa Serna, 75, Spanish protest singer-songwriter, on Sept. 4

Don Gardner, 87, soul singer, on Sept. 4
Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford – I Need Your Loving (1962)

Richard Bateman, 50, bass player of thrash metal band Nasty Savage, on Sept. 5

Burt Reynolds, 82, actor and occasional singer, on Sept. 6
Burt Reynolds – I Like Having You Around (1973)
Burt Reynolds – Let’s Do Something Cheap And Superficial (1980)

Wilson Moreira, 81, Brazilian samba singer and songwriter, on Sept. 6

Donald McGuire, 86, singer with vocal group The Hilltoppers, on Sept. 7
The Hilltoppers – Trying (1952)
The Hilltoppers – The Joker (1957)

Mac Miller, 26, rapper and producer, on Sept. 7

Mr. Catra, 49, Brazilian funk singer, on Sept. 9
Mr. Catra – Vacilão (2015)

Johnny Strike, 70, guitarist and singer of US punk band Crime, on Sept. 10
Crime – Murder By Guitar (1977)

Erich Kleinschuster, 88, Austrian trombonist and bandleader, on Sept. 12

Rachid Taha, 59, Algerian singer of French band Carte de Séjour, on Sept. 12
Carte de Séjour – Douce France (1987)

Marin Mazzie, 57, musical actress and singer, on Sept. 13

Max Bennett, 90, Wrecking Crew and jazz bassist, on Sept. 14
Max Bennett – Max Is The Factor (1957)
The Monkees – Porpoise Song (1968)
Tom Scott & The L.A. Express – Sneakin’ In The Back (1974)
Joni Mitchell – The Hissing Of Summer Lawns (1975, on bass)

Anneke Grönloh, 76, Dutch singer, on Sept. 14
Anneke Grönloh – Brandend Zand (1962)

Maartin Allcock, 61, English multi-instrumentalist and producer, on Sept. 16
Fairport Convention – Meet On The Ledge (1987, as member on lead guitar)

Big Jay McNeely, 91, R&B saxophonist, on Sept. 16
Big Jay McNeely – There Is Something On Your Mind (1957)

Wesley Tinglin, 75, singer with Jamaican reggae group The Viceroys, on Sept. 18
The Viceroys – Slogan On The Wall (1977)

Felton Pruett, 89, country slide guitarist, on Sept 19

Joseph Hookim, 76, Jamaican reggae/ska producer, on Sept. 20
The Mighty Diamonds – Right Time (1976, as producer & co-writer)

Chas Hodges, 74, half of English duo Chas & Dave, on Sept. 22
Heads Hands & Feet – Song For Suzie (1971, as member)
Labi Siffre – I Got The… (1975, on guitar)
Chas & Dave – Ain’t No Pleasing You (1982)

Dale Barclay, 32, singer of Scottish rock band Amazing Snakeheads, on Sept. 25

Marty Balin, 76, co-lead singer of Jefferson Airplane/Starship, on Sept. 27
Jefferson Airplane – Comin’ Back To Me (1967, also as writer)
Jefferson Starship – Miracles (1975, also as writer)
Marty Balin – Hearts (1981)

Sam Spoons, drummer of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, on Sept. 27
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band – Alley Oop (1966)

Michael Weiley, 58, guitarist of Australian rock band Spy vs Spy, on Sept. 29
V. Spy v. Spy – Don’t Tear It Down (1986)

Otis Rush, 84, blues guitarist and singer, on Sept. 29
Otis Rush – I Can´t Quit You Baby (1956)

James ‘Big Jim’ Wright, 52, R&B musician and producer, on Sept. 29
Janet Jackson – I Get Lonely (1997, as arranger and co-writer)
Mary J. Blige – No More Drama (2001, on organ & backing vocals)

Kim Larsen, 72, singer and guitarist of Danish rock band Gasolin’, on Sept. 30
Gasolin’ – Holy Jean (1973)

Angela Maria, 89, Brazilian singer and actress, on Sept. 30
Ângela Maria – Sempre Tu (1955)

Charles Aznavour, 94, French-Armenian singer, on Oct. 1
Charles Aznavour – Sur ma vie (1955)
Charles Aznavour – Les Enfants De La Guerre (1966)
Charles Aznavour – She (1974)

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