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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 7

October 13th, 2016 7 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 7

Man, how I enjoy this mix, the seventh in the Not Feeling Guilty series of songs one might call soft rock, or smooth rock, or the dreadful term “yacht rock”. I’ve played it so much in my car, the bitrate is deteriorating!

If you share my view that no such mix is complete without the sound of Michael McDonald’s distinctive baritone but are puzzled by his omission upon perusal of the tracklisting — assuming that this is what you do before you read my blurbs, if you remember to read them — take heart. The half-man, half-beard appears on two songs here: singing with Lauren Wood and helping out former Ambrosia frontman David Pack, alongside his pal James Ingram.

David Pack has featured previously in this series as lead singer of Ambrosia’s great soft rock hits The Biggest Part Of Me (Vol. 3), How Much I Feel (Vol. 1)and You’re The Only Woman (Vol. 5). Pack has since become a successful  producer, and was the music director for the 1993 and 1997 presidential inaugurations of Bill Clinton.

Lauren Wood is perhaps best known for her hit from the 1990 film Pretty Woman, Fallen. Her 1979 debut album featured McDonald, drummers Jim Keltner, Alvin Taylor and Jeff Porcaro (and his Toto mates Lukather and Hungate), bassist Abraham Laboriel, saxophonist Andrew Love (half of the Memphis Horns) and Little Feat’s Fred Tackett  and Bill Payne, the latter of whom contributes a synth solo on Please Don’t Go.

And then there is Pages, a group that sounds like Michael McDonald should be singing backing vocals with. Pages’ two regular members, lead singer-bassist Richard Page and keyboardist Steve George, who would have greater success later in the 1980s as founder members of Mr Mister. Before Pages, the two and other future collaborators backed Andy Gibb on his big 1977 hit I Want To Be Your Everything. Their song Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong was later covered by both Kenny Loggins (on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 4) and to wonderful effect by Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford. That original version might yet appear in a future Not Feeling Guilty mix.

pages

You might wonder whether I’ve lost my sequencing mind, putting Alice Cooper and Seals & Crofts after one another. Isn’t Alice Cooper more liable to bite off Crofts’ head and then proceed to bash Seals? Well, here we catch Cooper in a smooth rock mood, and Seals & Crofts are waking grandma with some relatively loud guitars. But fear not for Cooper, who on his live album of the same year, 1977, sandwiched his soft You And Me between songs titled Devil’s Food, The Black Widow, I Love The Dead and Go To Hell.

Really serious movie buffs may recognise the name Chris Montan. Once a soft-rock singer, Montan is now president of Walt Disney Music, which means that the music in Disney and Pixar movies from Pocahontas and Toy Story in 1995 to more recently Frozen are ultimately Montan’s responsibility.

Richard Clapton is not always a soft-rock kind of guy. The versatile Australian can rock hard, and even dabbled with the sounds of new wave. His The Great Escape LP was a favourite of mine when it came out in 1982. Not all of it has aged well, but The Best Years Of Our Lives, featured here, and the slow-burning Walk On Water are still very good tracks.

You don’t often get a marimba solo in rock music, but there it is on Starbuck’s 1976 hit Moonlight Feels Right. I am glad to know that the corporate coffeehouse chain of similar moniker did not take their name from this Mississippi group (it was borrowed from a minor character in Moby Dick). I trust you downloaded the Any Major Coffee mixes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) and agree with my plea to use independent coffee places instead of McStarbucks.

The coolest name here must be Jim Photoglo, which sounds like the sort of name the bassist of A Flock of Seagulls should have (disappointingly, his name was the rather glamourless Frank Maudsley). Very pleasingly, Photoglo is the singer’s real name. After his career as a soft-rock singer he became the bass player for Dan Fogelberg — another artist whose real name sounds made-up and who features here — and a country songwriter for an impressive list of stars. He still releases records as a folk singer.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes covers. PW in comments. Feel free to leave a comment in that section; even if you have nothing important to say, a hello and thanks is always appreciated.

1. Kenny Loggins & Stevie Nicks – Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’ (1978)
2. Boz Scaggs – Lowdown (1976)
3. James Walsh Gypsy Band – Cuz It’s You Girl (1978)
4. Jim Photoglo – Fool In Love With You (1981)
5. Bobby Caldwell – Carry On (1982)
6. Pages – You Need A Hero (1981)
7. Nicolette Larson – Isn’t It Always Love (1979)
8. David Pack – I Just Can’t Let Go (1985)
9. Dan Fogelberg – Heart Hotels (1979)
10. David Roberts – Anywhere You Run To (1982)
11. Alice Cooper – You And Me (1977)
12. Seals & Crofts – Nobody Gets Over Loving You (1979)
13. America – You Can Do Magic (1982)
14. Starbuck – Moonlight Feels Right (1976)
15. Lauren Wood – Please Don’t Leave (1979)
16. Walter Egan – Magnet And Steel (1978)
17. Chris Montan – Intentions (1980)
18. Richard Clapton – The Best Years Of Our Lives (1982)
19. Bill Champlin – Fly With Me (1978)
20. Bertie Higgins – Just Another Day In Paradise (1982)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 3
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 4
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 5
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 6

 

In Memoriam – August 2016

September 6th, 2016 8 comments

IM-1608aIt was a bad month for jazz musicians. The biggest victim of the Reaper was the Belgian-born harmonica genius Toots Thielemans, whose harmonica riff on the Sesame Street theme in the programmes opening scenes provided the soundtrack for generations of people, at least in the US.

A multi-talented man — Jean Thielemans was also a guitarist and whistler, as well as a composer — he entered the big times while playing with Benny Goodman in the late 1940s and George Shearing in the ‘50s. He recorded many albums, including a number of soundtrack albums, and appeared on a good number of pop records by others. Quincy Jones was a huge fan, and kept using Thieleman’s talents liberally. Other non-jazz acts who featured Thielemans included Billy Joel, Brothers Johnson, John Denver, Paul Simon, Ralph McDonald, Melanie, Julian Lennon (on his hit Too Late For Goodbyes), James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Khadja Nin and so many others. Thielemans also featured on the two Song Swarms In posted in the weeks before his death, for The Girl From Ipanema and By The Time I Get To Phoenix.

At the height of his career with the folk trio The Limeliters — a vocal folk group in the harmonising vein of The Kingston Trio — tenor Glenn Yarbrough decided to leave the music thing behind to become a sailor. That was the end for The Limeliters, though the recording label, CBS, prevailed upon Glen to defer his salty adventures at sea in favour of recording folk records which would become influential in the genre. In the late ’60s Yarbrough decided to sell luxury home, cars and a banana plantation to set up a school for impoverished African-American children. The school went defunct in the early ’70s. It was then that he, his wife and baby-daughter went sailing on a boat he helped build — for half a decade. A free spirit, Yarbrough has died at the age of 86.

Now as the US public is confronted with the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, the election campaigns of George Herbert Walker Bush 26 years ago seems genteel by comparison, even if we acknowledge Lee Atwater’s bilious lies, the involvement of the vomituous sex pest Roger Ayles, and the blatant racism of the Willie Horton saga .  One of George Bush Sr’s campaign songs was the Moe Bandy song Americana, which was co-written by Richard Fagan, who has died at 69. Fagan had a number of country hits under his belt, as well as a minor 1980 chart hit for Neil Diamond. He had a colourful personal life. In 2008 he was involved in a physical fight with his mentor, Tom Oteri, whom Fagan wounded with a knife. After being ejected from Oteri’s house, Fagan was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Released from his cell the next morning, he learnt that his friend had died of a heart attack following their altercartion. Remarkable, the Oteri family stood by the distraught Fagan who then proceeded to clean himself up.

I’ve always thought that the vibraphone is an underrated instrument. With the death of Bobby Hutcherson we have lost a leading exponent of vibes-playing (once voted the world’s best, ahead of the great Vince Montana). Turning professional while still a teenager in the late 1950s, Hutcherson released a long string of jazz albums himself — many on Blue Note, the label on which he was the second longest-running acts — but also played with some of the great names in jazz of his generation, including John Coltrane, Blue Mitchell, Dexter Gordon, Joe Sample (who wrote the featured track), Freddie Hubbard and Herbie Hancock, appearing with the latter on the Round Midnight soundtrack.IM-1608bAnother part-time Blue Note alumni departed inform of the influential recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder. He is widely considered a pioneer in his field; his innovations helped create the sound of American jazz in the 1950s and early ‘60s. His services were used by the likes of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorter. He engineered such groundbreaking albums as John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme , Sonny Rollins’ Saxophone Colossus, A Night At The Village Vanguard and Horace Silver’s Songs For My Father.  Even at 91, he kept working to his last days. Fittingly, his end came while he was at his studio.

When a musician dies after having reached the age of 100, he ought to receive a special mention. So it is with the easy listening pianist and composer Irving Fields, who was something of the fixture in the US in the 1950s. Before that he had written a couple of hits, including Managua, Nicaragua (a hit for Guy Lombardo, Freddie Martin and Kay Kyser and their respective orchestras in 1946/47), Chantez Chantez, a 1957 hit for Dinah Shore, and Miami Beach Rhumba for himself. In 2008, as a nonagenarian, he wrote a theme song for YouTube, titled YouTube Dot Com Theme Song.

It’s hard to say whether the rise in the late 1990s of boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and ‘NSYNC was a good thing, but if anybody thinks their creator should have been jailed for crimes against music, then such people got their wish, of sorts. Lou Pearlman, who has died at 62, was actually jailed for defrauding people in a Ponzi scheme — and never saw freedom again. He was also sued by almost every act he represented. Allegations of molestation of minors were never brought to court; Pearlman denied them. And while the boy bands contributed little to music, they nevertheless gave us Justin Timberlake, a true star of genuine talent.

Among the more unlikely category of people who might enjoy significant chart success are politicians, even less so when they are the foreign minister and future president of a significant country. Don’t fear, Hilary Clinton never recorded a bootie-shakin’ disco hit in 1978, nor is she dead. The politician in question was Walter Scheel, West-Germany’s foreign minister and vice-chancellor from 1969-74 and the president till 1979 who has died at the age of 97. In 1973 Scheel hooked up with the Düsseldorf Men’s Choir to record the German traditional song Hoch auf den gelben Wagen (“Up on the yellow coach”), a song about postal delivery in the pre-automobile age which became a big hit in West Germany. I’ll include it here, for the moments when your particular jam is to groove along to the vocal stylings of a politician (it is quite a contrast to the track which precedes Scheel’s). Take comfort in knowing that Scheel was that rare thing: a decent man in politics.

Ricci Martin, 62, singer, son of Dean Martin, on Aug. 3
Ricci Martin – Stop Look Around (1977)

Snaffu Rigor, 69, Filipino singer and songwriter, on Aug. 4

Richard Fagan, 69, country songwriter, on Aug. 5
Neil Diamond – The Good Lord Loves You (1979)

Vander Lee, 50, Brazilian singer-songwriter, on Aug. 5
Vander Lee – Meu Jardim (2005)

Freddy Sunder, 85, Belgian jazz guitarist and singer, on Aug. 5
Freddy Sunder – Biep! Biep! (1958)

Pete Fountain, 86, jazz clarinetist, on Aug. 6
Al Hirt & Pete Fountain – Blue And Broken Hearted (1957)

E. Taylor, 65, rock musician, on Aug. 7
B.E. Taylor Group – Vitamin L (1984)

Padraig Duggan, 67, Irish folk musician with Clannad, The Duggans, on Aug. 9
Clannad – Theme From Harry’s Game (1982)

Glenn Yarbrough, 86, folk singer, on Aug. 11
The Limeliters – Take My True Love By The Hand (1960)
Glenn Yarbrough – Baby, The Rain Must Fall (1965)

Barbara Gibb, 95, mother of Barry, Robin, Maurice and Andy, on Aug. 12

Ruby Wilson, 68, R&B and gospel singer, on Aug. 12
Ruby Wilson – I’m Coming Home (1999)

Connie Crothers, 75, jazz pianist, on Aug. 13

Gary Watson, 22, singer of Scottish band the Lapelles, drowned on Aug. 13

James Woolley, 49, rock keyboardist (Nine Inch Nails, 1991-94), on Aug. 14
Nine Inch Nails – Wish (1993, on keyboards)

Lorenzo Piani, 60, Italian singer and songwriter, on Aug. 14

DJ Official, 39, Christian hip hop musician, on Aug. 14

Bobby Hutcherson, 75, jazz vibraphone and marimba player, on Aug. 15
Ella Fitzgerald – Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (1970, on vibraphone)
Bobby Hutcherson featuring Harold Land – Goin’ Down South (1971)

Bob Kindred, 76, jazz saxophonist, on Aug. 15

Billy Mitchell, 70, folk-rock singer, on Aug. 16

Preston Hubbard, 63, bass player with the Fabulous Thunderbirds (1985-93), on Aug. 17
The Fabulous Thunderbirds – Powerful Stuff (1988)

Lou Pearlman, 62, producer and impresario (Backstreet Boys, ’NSYNC), on Aug. 19

Matt Roberts, 38, guitarist with alt.rock band 3 Doors Down, on Aug. 20
3 Doors Down – Kryptonite (2000)

Tom Searle, 28, guitarist with British metalcore band Architects, on Aug. 20

Louis Smith, 85, jazz trumpeter, on Aug. 20
Louis Smith – Star Dust (1958)

Louis Stewart, 72, Irish jazz guitarist, on Aug. 20

Irving Fields, 101, pianist and composer, on Aug. 20
Irving Fields Trio – Cha Cha No. 29 (1959)

Derek Smith, 85, British pianist and keyboardist, on Aug. 21
Linda Lewis -This Time I’ll Be Sweeter (1975)

Headley Bennett, 85, Jamaican saxophonist, on Aug. 21
Gregory Isaacs – Poor Natty (1980)

Toots Thielemans, 94, Belgian jazz harmonica player and guitarist, on Aug. 22
Toots Thielemans – Bluesette (1961)
Quincy Jones – Velas (1980)
Billy Joel – Leave A Tender Moment Alone (1983)

Gilli Smyth, 83, singer with psychedelic rock band Gong, on Aug. 22
Gong – I Am Your Fantasy (1971)

Walter Scheel, 97, German politician and chart-topper, on Aug. 24
Walter Scheel – Hoch auf dem gelben Wagen (1973)

Rudy Van Gelder, 91, pioneering recording engineer, on Aug. 25
Horace Silver – Song For My Father (1964, as sound engineer)

Norman Killeen, 38, drummer  of Canadian heavy metal band Threat Signal, on Aug. 25

Ab Tamboer, 65, member of Dutch pop group Earth and Fire, on Aug. 26

Juan Gabriel, 66, Mexican singer and songwriter, on Aug. 28
Juan Gabriel – Querida (1984)

Hoot Hester, 65, bluegrass and country fiddle player, on Aug. 30
Ricky Van Shelton – Life Turned Her That Way (1987, on fiddle)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 6

March 31st, 2016 4 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 6

Six mixes in, and still not feeling guilty. This kind of music has an inexhaustible well.

Most of the artists here have featured before or are well-known, such as Carole King who is making her series debut here.

I’m not quite sure whether Donnie Iris really belongs here; his Do You Compute sounds sufficiently like it might be a Toto song, albeit with a touch of American New Wave. Anyway, I think it fits. The song was used to promote the game console and computer company Atari.

Dave Mason was, of course, a member of Traffic, for whom he wrote the iconic Hole In My Shoe and Feelin’ Alright. As a solo artist he previously featured on The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1. We Just Disagree, the 1977 track featured here, was Mason’s biggest solo hit, peaking at #12 in the US.

Jess Roden also had a Traffic connection: he collaborated with both Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood. Apart from fronting several bands, Roden was a songwriter and backing singer, doing vocals in the late 1960s/early 1970s on albums by the likes of The Who, Jim Capaldi, Sandy Denny and Mott the Hoople, and also backed Grace Jones on her 1981hit Pull Up To My Bumper.

Larry John McNally released very little music himself: three LPs and a clutch of singles. He was more of a songwriter, providing songs for the likes of Bonnie Raitt (Nobody’s Girl; Slow Ride), Rod Stewart (The Motown Song), Joe Cocker (Long Drag Off A Cigarette), Chaka Khan (Sleep On It; A Woman In A Man’s World), Mavis Staples (I Don’t Want To Lose My Real Good Thing), Aaron Neville (Struttin’ On Sunday; Somewhere, Somebody), the Eagles (I Love To Watch A Woman Dance), among others.

The excellent female vocals on Boz Scaggs’ Miss Sun are by Lisa Dal Bello, who had previously sung it on a demo for Toto. When Toto passed the song on to Scaggs, the Canadian singer was invited to repeat her vocals.

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

1. Little River Band – It’s A Long Way There (1975)
2. Player – Silver Lining (1978)
3. Donnie Iris – Do You Compute (1982)
4. Carole King – Lookin’ Out For Number One (1982)
5. Santana – Hold On (1981)
6. Boz Scaggs – Miss Sun (1980)
7. Eric Tagg – Promises Promises (1982)
8. The Doobie Brothers – Real Love (1980)
9. Bobby Caldwell – Coming Down From Love (1980)
10. Dave Mason – We Just Disagree (1977)
11. Chicago – Take Me Back To Chicago (1977)
12. Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg – The Power Of Gold (1978)
13. Pablo Cruise – Love Will Find A Way (1978)
14. Nicolette Larson – Dancin’ Jones (1979)
15. Robbie Dupree – I’ll Be The Fool Again (1981)
16. Gino Vannelli – Living Inside Myself (1980)
17. Larry John McNally – Just Like Paradise (1981)
18. Jess Roden – Brand New Start (1980)
19. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Just A Song Before I Go (1977)
20. Jay Ferguson – Shakedown Cruise (1979)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 3
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 4
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 5

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 5

August 27th, 2015 6 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 5

Still not feeling guilty and the music is still great. Several artists here have featured before in this series; some more than once, such as Boz Scaggs, Bill LaBounty, Player, Michael McDonald, Rupert Holmes or England Dan & John Ford Coley. A fair few appear for the first time, and some of those are not very well known.

Rick Mathews is the most obscure of the lot. All I have on the guy is that he released two albums, 1981’s California Cologne and in 1991 Only The Young. California Cologne is a very good AOR album which seems to have made a bit of an impression in Japan. And that’s all I know. Does anybody know more?

The AOR genre was very male-orientated, and these mixes reflect that. Here we have three female voices: those of Stevie Nicks, Valerie Carter and Cathy Cooper. The latter teamed up with Jimmie Ross as Cooper & Ross, both members of a later version of doo wop group The Skyliners. As Cooper & Ross they released a sole LP in 1982, titled Bottom Line. Ross had been a member the Jaggerz, who had a hit in 1969 with The Rapper (he shared vocals with Donnie Iris, who will possibly feature on Volume 6). He has the reputation of being a fine blue-eyed soul singer, but is also a member of the Beaver County Musicians Hall of Fame. He still performs with the reunited Jaggerz. Cathy seems to be the same Kathy Cooper who co-wrote, with Rupert Holmes, the wonderful Echo Valley 2-6809 for The Partridge Family, which featured on Any Major Telephone Vol. 1.

Silver also released only one LP, a country-rock effort in 1976, produced by Clive Davis with the cover designed by the late comedian Phil Hartman. Their label, Arista, didn’t fancy any of the album’s tracks for single releases and instead gave them a song called Wham Bam to record. Given that these guys were serious musicians, they must have felt a bit silly singing “We’ve got a wham bam, shang-a-lang and a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing”. Still, they turned out a very catchy song with which they had their solitary hit, reaching #16 in the US.

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

1. Ace – The Real Feeling (1975)
2. Boz Scaggs – Still Falling For You (1977)
3. Bill LaBounty – Trail To Your Heart (Sailing Without A Sail) (1979)
4. Chris Christian – Don’t Give Up On Us (1981)
5. Ambrosia – You’re The Only Woman (1980)
6. Valerie Carter – Crazy (1978)
7. Rupert Holmes – One Born Every Minute (1981)
8. The Beach Boys – Sail On, Sailor (1973)
9. Cooper & Ross – You’re The One (1982)
10. Greg Guidry – Are You Ready For Love (1982)
11. Bill Champlin – I Don’t Want You Anymore (1978)
12. Robbie Dupree – Hot Rod Hearts (1980)
13. Silver – Wham Bam (1976)
14. Rick Mathews – Movin’ On Up (1981)
15. Player – It’s For You (1980)
16. Paul Davis – I Go Crazy (1977)
17. England Dan & John Ford Coley – Love Is The Answer (1978)
18. Michael McDonald – That’s Why (1982)
19. Dan Fogelberg – Hard To Say Lyrics (1981)
20. Stevie Nicks & Don Henley – Leather And Lace (1981)
21. Firefall – You Are The Woman (1976)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 3
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 4

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 4

March 12th, 2015 11 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 4

And we’re still not feeling guilty. This is the fourth mix in the series, and I think there are still one or two good ones to come.

Kenny Loggins’ Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong has been done much better by Randy Crawford and Al Jarreau on the wonderful Casino Lights album, but this version is notable for the backing singer: Michael Jackson.

Bill LaBounty has featured on previous mixes — his Living It Up is one of the best tracks on any of these mixes — and he returns here with a 1979 re-recording of a song he had previously released in 1975. Incidentally, LaBounty released what might well be my favourite album of 2014, Into Something Blue.

Very few who’ll hear this mix will have any idea of Karl Kikillus is, and that isn’t surprising. Kikillus was a radio DJ in South Africa, and then the presenter of the country’s first pop video show in 1983, the year his jazzily grooving Another Shore was released, as a b-side to a song called Fallen Angel. As far as I know, that’s all Kikillus released.

Greg Guidry’s story had a sad ending. He wrote for the likes of Climax Blues Band, Robbie Dupree, Exile, Johnny Taylor, Sawyer Brown and Reba McEntire, but his 1982 album Over The Line was his only one for 18 years. In 2003 his charred body was found in his garage in an apparent suicide. He was 53.

Another singer featured here who died relatively young is Paul Davis, who is perhaps most famous for his hit I Go Crazy (covered to superior effect by Lou Rawls). In 1986 he survived being shot in the abdomen in a robbery in Nashville. He died from a heart attack in 2008, a day after his 60th birthday.

Eric Tagg featured before in this series, on Volume 3 with Is It You, though the credit went to jazz-fusion guitarist Lee Ritenour, with whom Tagg recorded several songs (and who produced the Dreamwalking album on which No One There, with a Rit solo, appears).. Indeed, he is probably best known for these, even though he released three LPs between 1975 and ’82, and a fourth in 1997.

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

1. Average White Band – Atlantic Avenue (1979)
2. Steve Winwood – Valerie (1982)
3. Greg Guidry – (I’m) Givin’ It Up (1982)
4. Karl Kikillus – Another Shore (1983)
5. Bobby Caldwell – Can’t Say Goodbye (1978)
6. Bill LaBounty – Lie To Me (1978)
7. Valerie Carter – What’s Become Of Us (1978)
8. Christopher Cross – Never Be The Same (1979)
9. Kenny Loggins – Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong (1979)
10. Firefall – Just Remember I Love You (1977)
11. Paul Davis – Cool Night (1981)
12. Sweet Comfort Band – Don’t Tell Me You Love Me (1979)
13. Michael McDonald – I Gotta Try (1982)
14. Adrian Gurvitz – Untouchable And Free (1979)
15. Eric Tagg – No One There (1982)
16. James Vincent – You’ll Be Right There (1980)
17. Elkie Brooks – Fool If You Think It’s Over (1981)
18. Little River Band – Reminiscing (1978)
19. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Fallin’ In Love (1975)
20. Stephen Bishop – On And On (1976)
21. Deliverance – Leaving L.A. (1979)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 3

 

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 3

October 9th, 2014 15 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 3

After two recycled mixes in this series, here’s a brand-new collection. This one is at least as good as the other two, with some glorious songs one doesn’t hear often today, even on radio stations that specialise in retro stuff. And because I have relaxed the no-duplication-of-artists rule, some acts return with tracks that are as good as those I picked for the first two mixes — Ambrosia are one example; Boz Scaggs, Dan Folgelberg and Player others. And there is Kenny Loggins, a man who is unjustly maligned by some people.

His “Heart To Heart” is mighty, with its great bridge leading to the punchy chorus.  The thing was co-written with David Foster and Michael McDonald, who does backing vocals and keyboard duty. David Sanborn, operating in an era before he was the Kenny G it was sort of OK to like, adds a nice sax solo. It’s good to be alive when one hears that song.

As far as I can see, only one song here is a cover, Carly Simon’s version of The Doobie Brothers’ “You Belong To Me”, later covered to good effect by soul singer Anita Baker.

As previously noted, the genre which some call yacht rock (I’ll watch the satirical series of the name one day, but, the cover above notwithstanding, I hate the moniker) or adult contemporary (yeurgh) was underpinned by top class session work, its practitioners often coming from the world of jazz fusion. Two songs here are in fact credited to fusion people: Lee Ritenour’s “Is It You”, with Eric Tagg on vocals, and Stanley Clarke & George Duke’s “Sweet Baby”. The Internet tells me some people don’t like the latter; I think it has a lovely vibe.

There will be a fourth mix. In the meantime, this lot is timed to fit on a CD-R, and includes home-knitted covers. PW in comments.

1. Boz Scaggs – Lido Shuffle (1976)
2. Hall and Oates – Say It Ain’t So (1983)
3. Kenny Loggins – Heart To Heart (1982)
4. Lee Ritenour with Eric Tagg – Is It You (1981)
5. Eddie Rabbitt – Suspicions (1979)
6. Ambrosia – The Biggest Part Of Me (1980)
7. Jim Messina – Seeing You (For The First Time) (1979)
8. Stanley Clarke/George Duke Project – Sweet Baby (1981)
9. Bill LaBounty – Never Gonna Look Back (1982)
10. Player – Givin’ It All (1980)
11. Dan Fogelberg – Missing You (1982)
12. Robbie Dupree – Steal Away (1980)
13. Carly Simon – You Belong To Me (1978)
14. Gino Vanelli – I Just Want To Stop (1978)
15. Bertie Higgins – Key Largo (1982)
16. England Dan & John Ford Coley – We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again (1978)
17. Orleans – Dance With Me (1975)
18. Nicolette Larson – Give A Little (1978)
19. Elvin Bishop – Fooled Around And Fell In Love (1975)
20. Andrew Gold – Lonely Boy (1976)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 2

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 2

July 31st, 2014 28 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 2

(Time to recycle thus post from 2009. Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 1 re-ran in March. A new, third mix will come soonish.)

The first Not Feeling Guilty mix went down well, and if comments to the post, by e-mail and Facebook (click here to become my friend) are an indication, my rant against the false notion of “guilty pleasures” expressed what many felt.

So here is the second mix. I can’t see much to feel guilty about here. Anyone who might be ashamed of secretly enjoying the sounds of Boz Scaggs does not deserve to hear music. Anyone who dismisses Christopher Cross as a cheesy two-hit wonder self-evidently hates music (yes, VH-1, I mean you). Anyone who fails to funk along, even just a little bit, to the Larsen-Feiten Band, Pablo Cruise or the Climax Blues Band has no ryhthm in their soul. Not that I ought to make anyone feel guilty about not liking music.

The inclusion of Todd Rundgren might raise some eyebrows. Well, I consider his 1970 track a progenitor of the whole soft rock genre. See whether you agree or not.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. PW in comments.

1. Doobie Brothers – Listen To The Music (1972)
2. Boz Scaggs – JoJo (1980)
3. Larsen-Feiten Band – Who Will Be The Fool Tonight (1980)
4. Pablo Cruise – Watcha Gonna Do (1977)
5. Climax Blues Band – Couldn’t Get It Right (1976)
6. Atlanta Rhythm Section – So Into You (1976)
7. JD Souther – You’re Only Lonely (1979)
8. James Taylor – Your Smiling Face (1977)
9. Rickie Lee Jones – Chuck E’s In Love (1979)
10. Andrew Gold – Never Let Her Slip Away (1978)
11. Jay Ferguson – Thunder Island (1977)
12. Boston – Amanda (1986)
13. Kansas – Dust In The Wind (1977)
14. Poco – A Good Feelin’ To Know (1972)
15. King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight (1972)
16. Sutherlands Brothers & Quiver – Arms Of Mary (1975)
17. Albert Hammond – The Peacemaker (1973)
18. Loggins & Messina – Watching the River Run (1977)
19. Christopher Cross – All Right (1983)
20. Todd Rundgren – We Gotta Get You A Woman 1970)
21. Little River Band – The Night Owls (1981)

GET IT!


 

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 1

March 6th, 2014 17 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 1

 

I previously posted this mix and a second volume in January 2009. I’m reposting it now (and Volume 2 later) in preparation for a third mix.

I’m on a mission to expose the notion of “guilty pleasures” in music for the putrid fraud it is. Few things about music annoy me as much as the idea that we should qualify our enjoyment of a song, and compromise or emotional reaction to it. Of course, there is a caveat: our full freedom to enjoy any kind of music should be rooted in what one might call an informed conscience.

It is okay to like Coldplay or James Blunt if you are aware of and open to alternatives to Coldplay or James Blunt (though if you are, chances are you won’t like them that much anyway). If all you have in your collection is Coldplay and James Blunt, if your horizons are so closed and your ambitions so limited that Coldplay and James Blunt and all the other big names on TV and supermarket shelves populate your music collection exclusively, then you ought to feel guilty. But, of course, such people typically exhibit no musical conscience anyway. Their likes have given rise to the description of Coldplay and James Blunt as “music for people who hate music”.

But all that is academic. If you are here, if you read serious music blogs — and please indulge me the illusion that the present blog meets that definition — then you probably do so because you truly love music, engage with music. You most likely have an informed conscience. And thus equipped, I submit, that there is no music you ought to feel guilty about enjoying.

There is much less reason yet to confess to “guilty pleasures” when the music is actually good. The label “guilty pleasures” is applied, on compilation albums and VH-1 countdowns, to much of the music on the mix I am presenting today.

The sound has attracted other dismissive tags. Yacht Rock is one I particularly dislike. The more official terms AOR (adult orientated rock) and MOR (middle of the road) acquired a bad rap in the punk and post-punk eras, and have not quite recovered their credibility. So the critics have bashed the sound, and the marketers have decided to dress it up as something appallingly appealing. By calling it a guilty pleasure, as a Magnum ice cream is to a habitual dieter, they are telling us that we can enjoy what they clearly regard as kitsch only “ironically”.

Their condescension is not only objectionable, but it also betrays a singular lack of appreciation of well constructed music. Being embarrassed about music is for the confused. It’s a dark place to be. Far from feeling guilt, we must embrace the music we like. All of it. Hence the title of the present mix, which these asinine marketers would doubtless categorise as a Guilty Pleasure.

Some of the performers’ names, it must be said, might not inspire confidence: Fogelberg! Vanwarmer!!

Most of these songs put you in a good mood. The lyrics may be sad — the pleading in Baby Come Back, or Bill LaBounty’s post-break posturing — but the music grooves, usually aided by pretty funky basslines; of course, the genre is infused with the jazz fusion sounds of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some songs are happy. Orleans’ Still The One defines the greatest ambition for middle-age. And the late Dan Fogelberg weighs in with a sweetly poignant number. Be sure to listen to Jim Messina’s Love Is Here, as jazzy an AOR track as you’ll ever get. And Messina’s old sidekick Kenny Loggins features as his backing singer Michael McDonald, who later appears on his own right with one of the greatest tracks in the genre.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes covers (which the original mix didn’t). PW in comments.

1. Kenny Loggins – This Is It (1979)
2. Bobby Caldwell – What You Won’t Do For Love (1978)
3. Bill LaBounty – Living It Up (1982)
4. Player – Baby Come Back (1977)
5. Nicolette Larson – Lotta Love (1978)
6. Ace – How Long (1976)
7. Rupert Holmes – Him (1979)
8. Ambrosia – How Much I Feel (1978)
9. England Dan & John Ford Coley – I’d Really Like To See You Tonight (1976)
10. Alessi – All For A Reason (1977)
11. Orleans – Still The One (1976)
12. Gino Vannelli – Feel Like Flying (1978)
13. Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgettin’ (1982)
14. Jim Messina – Love Is Here (1979)
15. Gallagher And Lyle – Heart On My Sleeve (1976)
16. Linda Ronstadt – It’s So Easy (1977)
17. Randy Vanwarmer – Just When I Needed You Most (1974)
18. Robert John – Sad Eyes (1979)
19. Rita Coolidge – We’re All Alone (1977)
20. Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne (1981)

GET IT!

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In the middle of the road: Part 5

November 8th, 2007 6 comments

Big middle of the road update to nearly conclude the series. I still have a handful of suitable tracks in my back pocket, but I think five installments should do for now. I’ll post the others when I can think of something nice to say about Jackson Browne.

Stevie Nicks – Edge Of Seventeen.mp3
Cocaine Rock at its cokest (I take it everybody knows the stories about Nicks’ alleged methods of coke ingestion). A song about the death of Stevie’s uncle in Phoenix, and that of John Lennon, the nervous riff was an obvious sampling choice for that other deeply affecting song about the vagaries of the inevitable mortality that comes to all living things: Destiny’s Child “Bootylicious”. The thing I like best about this song is the clashing cymbals throughout.

Climax Blues Band – Couldn’t Get It Right.mp3
Lyrically, this song — about life on the road — is unremarkable. Musically, it has classic written all over it. The vocals in particular are quite special, with two-octave dual voices and the rest of the sextet joining in the harmonies. So, yeah, one to croon along to.

Gino Vanelli – I Just Want To Stop.mp3
Here’s a bit of trivia: Gino Vanelli was the first white singer to appear on Soul Train. The Canadian veered between creating fusion and straight soul-infused rock which was similar to the sound of the great Boz Scaggs. This soaring ballad, from 1978’s excellent Brother To Brother album, falls in the latter genre. You just have to dig the saxophone solo, but what I really like is the short pause when our man sings the title’s line (for example at 2:04), with the drum beat virtually accentuating the letter p in the word “stop”.

Larsen-Feiten Band – Who Will Be The Fool Tonight.mp3
Neil Larsen and Buzz Feiten were better known as session musicians, highly respected in jazz fusion circles especially, than as recording artists in their own rights. As far as I know, they released only one album, whence came this pretty funky track. Guitar and bass guitar enthusiasts may recognise Buzz’s name from the tuning system he invented.

Loggins & Messina – Danny’s Song.mp3
As I mentioned a couple of episodes ago, Jim Messina is generally regarded as the second banana in this duo, unfairly so. Fact is that Messina — a sound engineer, former drummer of Buffalo Springfield and then of Poco (which he co-founded) — was brought in to help out the budding talent Kenny Loggins, who was struggling getting his debut album together. One thing leading to another, the two decided to form a duo. The best work on the Sittin’ In, from which “Danny’s Song” comes, album is Messina’s. This ballad, a Loggins composition, is the sweetest song, though. Dude is newly-wed and sings about all the bliss and chains of love and there being a family where there once was none et cetera. On my mix-CD in the car, I follow “Danny’s Song” with Gram Parsons’ version of “Love Hurts”, just to remind myself that “Danny” is just a dreamy idealist whose heart is bound to be broken when Mrs Danny goes fogelberging elsewhere.

Hall & Oates – Rich Girl.mp3
How incomplete this series would be without a bit of Hall & Oates. Amid the collective memory of Hall’s mullet and Oates’ moustache, it’s easily forgotten just how good they were back in the day. The trilogy of “Rich Girl”, “Sara Smile” and “She’s Gone” should dispel any notions of our two friends being as naff as their hair suggests. Of these three tracks, I used to like “She’s Gone” the best, until I saw the mindbogglingly, hilariously bad video (even for its time). Instead, here’s “Rich Girl”, which Hall intended as a jibe at an ex-boyfriend of his then girlfriend (the Sara of the smile). Hall’s vocal performance here is quite excellent.

Poco – A Good Feelin’ To Know.mp3
Ah, the harmonies of West Coast country-rock, a genre Poco helped invent. I love the chord changes, and check out the drumming. It seems nobody told the drummer that this was supposed to be a mid-tempo wind-in-the-hair kind of number, because he plays this as a hard rock song. And it works very well, giving the song a bit of edge. Along with Jim Messina, a founding member of Poco was Randy Meisner. He left the group in 1969, unhappy with the musical direction it was taking, presumably the country rock thing. So who did Meisner find fortune and fame with? The Eagles. Of course. Meisner was replaced by Timothy B Schmitt. And when Meisner left the Eagles, guess who replaced him there.

Al Stewart – Year Of The Cat.mp3
More trivia: Al Stewart was the first singer to commit the f-word as part the lyrics of a recorded song, the line “Love being more than a fuck” on “Love Chronicles” in 1969. Soon after, Jefferson Starship used the word “motherfucker”, the first intentional use of an expletive on record (disregarding swearing in the background, as the drummer in the beginning of “Louie Louie”). Anyway, so much for the idea of Al being a little prissy. Fair enough, he did very little to advance the punk revolution, and his music was mild-mannered. It was consistently beautiful though, and at times quite at odds with the lyrics. And any song that references the great Peter Lorre deserves my vote. Though I prefer the Time Passages album, this song is rightly regarded as Stewart’s masterpiece.

Elvin Bishop – Fooled Around And Fell In Love.mp3
He was through about a million girls??? Not disputing Elvin’s charm, sex appeal and stamina here, but I think he’s not levelling with us. Usually the guys who count their conquests in six figures or more actually are still virgins. Anyway, Elvin Bishop doesn’t really sing this. The blues guitarist handed the vocal duties for this West Coast pub song to Mickey Thomas, the singer in Bishop’s band. This is one of those songs you crank up the volume for and sing along to, possibly aggressively out of tune.

Elkie Brooks – Fool If You Think It’s Over.mp3
You wouldn’t guess it, but Elkie Brooks is one of the most successful female British singers of all time. To be honest, I can think of only three songs by her which I’d recognise: “Pearl’s A Singer”, “Only A Fool” and this one. Oh, but the Chris Rea-penned “Fool” is a fine song, with its rich orchestration and gently swinging chorus.

Journey – Who’s Crying Now.mp3
Great keyboard intro, enter Steve Perry, set the song up for the sing-along chorus. Perfect. Randy Crawford covered this song to great effect (Randy Crawford covers any song to great effect). The story has it that guitarist Neal Schon disliked this song so much that, when called to play a guitar solo at the end, he cobbled together what he thought was the most hackneyed bit of guitar wankery, hoping it would offend enough for excision. As it turned out, the other band members liked it so much that it was retained. With Journey you want a bit of cliché CocRock, so the solo is absolutely perfect.

Bad Company – Feel Like Makin’ Love.mp3
Don’t let the torture that moron Kid Rick inflicted upon this great song undermine your enjoyment of it. In its original incarnation, it is near-perfect. I starts out as a West Coast track of the sort the Eagles would have been proud of — remarkable in itself, since Bad Company was an English blues-rock band. Suddenly, as the chorus approaches, the heavy rock guitars kick in, and Paul Rodgers (him of Free) repeatedly roars out the song’s title, before it goes all Eagles again. Marvellous stuff for the long road. The song is from the band’s second album, titled Straight Shooter, the sort of cliché used by people who claim to have fogelberged about a million women.

Andy Gibb – I Just Want To Be Your Everything.mp3
Admittedly, including this song in this series is a bit of a stretch. It’s really a pop song — and one of the finest of the ’70s. Andy’s career, if not his entire life, suffered from living in the shadows of his older brothers (hence the dancing, ho ho). His career certainly was not helped by the reputation the Bee Gees earned when they became the supposed “Kings of Disco”: those who liked the Bee Gees’ disco stuff regarded Andy as Bee Gees Lite; those who hated it would not give Andy a fair shot. Yet, “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” is an exquisite song which swings beautifully and evokes sunshine. A very happy song from a very unhappy man.

Steve Miller Band – The Joker.mp3 (link fixed)
Can one still sing along to this song without launching into a Homer Simpson parody? Recorded in 1973 (it really doesn’t sound as old as that), it is as self-referencing a song as they come. Other Steve Miller Songs were called “Enter Maurice”, “Space Cowboy” and, of course, “Gangster Of Love”. The song caused a bit of a mystery over the lyric “the pompatus of love”. the mystery is solved here. Listen to “The Joker”, and then play “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors to hear a most shameless rip-off.
Homer Simpson – The Joker.mp3

In the middle of the road: Part 4

November 1st, 2007 4 comments

And more songs from the middle of the road, West Coast, yacht club and so on. Hold on before cutting your AOR Mix CD-R — the final installment of the series (for the time being) will run next week.

Average White Band – Atlantic Avenue.mp3
It has always tickled me that the Average White Band is known by the acronym AWB, which it shares with the South African white supremacist Nazi movement, the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging — which doubtlessly would not approve of the band’s multi-racialism or black music influence. “Atlantic Avenue”, from 1979’s excellent Feel No Fret, is a great driving song (preferable over a member of the racist AWB), with its fantastic bassline, horn section, percussions and whistles. The vocals are great for singing along, especially the ad libbed “Oh-ooh-woah-oh-woh-woh-wouooh” before the backing singers repeat the sing title in falsetto.

Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgetting.mp3
Jens Lekman might remember Warren G and the sweet summer of 1993 (though I think it was in ’94); I remember Michael McDonald and the slightly crappy summer of 1982. Warren G and Nate Dogg pulled a masterstroke by sampling “I Keep Forgetting” on their “Regulate”, but the McDonald song remains superior, thanks to the man’s distinctive voice. The song is a cover of a Leiber & Stoller R&B composition, but McDonald very much makes it his own. The highpoint is his impassioned interpretation of the line “everytime you’re near”, which to me sounds influenced by the vocal stylings of the Four Tops’ Levy Stubbs.

Bob Seger – Against The Wind.mp3
Bob is one of the AOR gods, and “Against The Wind” shows why. The lovely keyboard solo at 2:45 with those great guitar chords, the lyrics about lost time…it’s quite perfect. And that line, “wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then” is simply fantastic. To me, this song is a companion piece to Springsteen’s “The River”.

Dan Fogelberg – Longer.mp3
Every AOR collection needs a couple of ballads. It might be Loggins & Messina’s “Danny’s Song” (perhaps next week). Or it could be “Longer” by the man with the rock ‘n rollest of names (there must be colleges where “fogelberging” was a euphemism for acts possibly banned in 23 states). Oh, but “Longer” is a very pretty song, with the little horn solo (is it a flugelhorn?) and the promise of everlasting love. Awwww!

Kansas – Carry On Wayward Son.mp3
I’ll be honest, I have no idea what the good gentlemen of Kansas looked like back in their day, but I should be very disappointed should I find out that there was even just a hint of hirsute deficiency. This is hair rock v1.0 — and much better than the coked up gimps in spandex tights who peddled their comedian music in v2.0 (yes, New Jersey hairspray goon, I mean you). “Carry On Wayward Son” has it all: the West Coast country-rock, the CocRock which anticipated the advent of Journey and Boston, folkish harmonies, the prog guitar solo which just demands that the listener go seriously crazy on that air guitar’s sorry ass…

America – Lonely People.mp3
America’s SoCal country rock is essential for the road (or the yacht, if one seeks to perpetuate the useless cliché). “Lonely People” has that wonderful moment just before the harmonica solo kicks as one the Americans issues the instruction: “Hit it”. I’ve uploaded it before. If you missed it the first time around, there’s more America here.

Linda Ronstadt – It’s So Easy.mp3
The queen of AOR returns with an upbeat country-rock number to offset the heaviness of our possibly very hirsute friends from Kansas. Ronstadt succeeded in translating her country roots into rock (as did the likes of the Eagles and Gram Parsons), thus helping diminish the stereotypes of country being by definition uncool — a definition informed by the caricature of yee-hawing good ole boys who bang their big-haired cousins on pooltables and cry when their doggy gone died. For that, thank you, Ms Ronstadt. Trivia fact: with “It’s So Easy” and “Blue Bayou”, Ronstadt was the first artist since the Beatles to have two simultaneous US top 5 hits.

Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way.mp3
The song for when “Longer” has run its course and you want to go folgelberging elsewhere. Apparently written by Lindsey Buckingham to Stevie Nicks (whom I’d have joyfully fogelberged back in the day) as a break-up song. His guitar solo and the harmonies are quite brilliant. The whole Rumours album is brilliant, in fact.

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