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Any Major Springsteen Covers

April 27th, 2017 3 comments

 

When I was 14 I heard Hungry Heart on the radio. It was familiar and yet unlike any other sound I had heard. Looking back, I think it was the keyboards, which I still think are key to giving the E Street Band that distinctive sound (along with Max Weinstein’s booming drumming and, of course, Clarence’s sax). So I heard Hungry Heart and straight after school on a snowy day in February 1981 I rushed to town to find the new LP by this guy Springsteen. On my way home on the bus I could hardly wait to play it. As I held my new purchase, I liked the look of the face that filled the cover. This guy looked like a rock ‘n’ roll Al Pacino. Justice for all!

But before I could play the The River, I had an afternoon appointment with the optician who proceeded to shine a light into my eyes that virtually blinded me for a few hours. How auspicious that on the day my relationship with Bruce Springsteen began, I was blinded by the light.

I played sides 1 and 2 of The River to death. I rarely played the second disc. That first disc was perfect. With time I would become familiar with Bruce’s four previous albums, and come to regard Darkness On The Edge Of Town as one of the greatest LPs ever made. My loyalty to Springsteen began to waver in the 1990s, in as far as I didn’t rush out to buy every new album. But I have most of them.

So I was excited to read Springsteen’s autobiography. My biggest problem with it was the title. Could nobody come up with something less predictable than Born To Run? I like to think the title “Cars And Girls” would have been a great, even if very belated, riposte to the cutting Prefab Sprout song of that title from 1988. But that is my biggest gripe.

True, Bruce at times exceeds the waxing lyrical, and when he goes fan boy with CAPS LOCK switched on he sounds more like his fawning friend Bono than the poet laureate of a generation. But that’s minor quibbling. Born To Run is a welcome extension of the long prologues to songs in his concerts (usually The River). He is at once fully aware of his genius as he is also genuinely self-deprecating. Here is a man who knows his strengths and his limitations, and how to balance them. He knows his value and has no need for false modesty, even when he explains why he took the decision to be the boss of his backing band, the E Street Band. Incidentally, he says that he doesn’t like the nickname “The Boss”, much as Sinatra hated being called “Chairman of the Board”. I wonder what Bono calls Springsteen…

Born To Run mostly confirms that with Bruce, what you see is indeed what you get…mostly. I didn’t know about his battles with depression, and commend him for speaking about them with such honesty. I did know that Springsteen is a funny guy. Some of his songs are good comedy; take, for example, Sherry Darling. The book has some laugh-out-loud moments, such as when he describes his moves with Courtney Cox in the Dancing In The Dark video as “white-man boogaloo” and “dad dancing”.

Springsteen mentions a few memorable concerts he has played. To my delight, all three Springsteen gigs I have attended are included. His Wembley concert on 4 July 1985 might be the best of any act I have seen.

But I don’t want to write a book report on Born To Run, much as I recommend it. It rather serves as an intro to the mix I am presenting here: of covers of Springsteen songs. And it might seem easy to cover Springsteen. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band did so with Blinded By The Light. Patti Smith had a hit with Because The Night, and The Pointer Sisters with Fire. But Mann had his hit before Springsteen was famous, and our man hadn’t yet recorded the Smith or Pointer Sisters hits (the latter itself a cover of a record by Springsteen pal Robert Gordon, who sang it like Elvis might have).

It’s quite different covering Springsteen songs after Springsteen has recorded them, almost invariably producing the definitive version (differently to Bob Dylan). That is, I suppose, why so few dare to do that. It’s a risk, and it doesn’t always pay off. So, in absence of an abundance of any more quality choices, there most certainly will be no second mix of Springsteen covers.

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

1. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Born To Run (1984)
2. Nils Lofgren – Wreck On The Highway (1997)
3. The Band – Atlantic City (1993)
4. The Hollies – 4th Of July Asbury Park (Sandy) (1975)
5. Everything But The Girl – Tougher Than The Rest (1992)
6. Emmylou Harris – The Price You Pay (1981)
7. Cowboy Junkies – Thunder Road (2004)
8. Justin Townes Earle – Glory Days (2014)
9. John Wesley Harding – Jackson Cage (1997)
10. Raul Malo – Downbound Train (2000)
11. Patty Griffin – Stolen Car (2001)
12. Townes Van Zandt – Racing In The Streets (1992)
13. Richie Havens – Streets Of Philadelphia (1997)
14. Minnie Driver – Hungry Heart (2004)
15. Greg Kihn – For You (1977)
16. David Bowie – It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City (1989)
17. PJ Proby – I’m On Fire (1990)
18. Natalie Cole – Pink Cadillac (1987)
19. Big Daddy – Dancing In The Dark (1985)
20. The Flying Pickets – Factory (1984)

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Any Major American Road Trip – 6

April 20th, 2017 4 comments

 

It is high time we move on from beautiful St Louis, where we have been stuck since September (!) and begin our penultimate stage in the American Road Trip by going to Memphis. And we manage to do so without hitching a lift from Marc Cohn, much as I like his song.

To many, Memphis means Elvis, but I’ll leave him on the sidelines, too (other than by lyrical reference in the opening track). And still I was left with a broad choice of songs about Memphis — I should make a mix of Memphis songs at some point —which is only right, since Memphis is central to so many musical genres. One day I want to go there in real life…

Most of the songs here speak for themselves and have my endorsement. One, however, requires an explanation by way of caveat: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ I Care About Detroit was a civic exercise to calm racial tension a year after the 1967 riots and following the uprising that followed the murder of Martin Luther King (in the city where this mix kicks off).

Written by Jimmy Clark and Jack Combs — the former presumably was the Detroit soul singer; I have no idea who Combs was — the lyrics might as well have been written by Governor George Romney. Smokey was a bit of a stooge for agreeing to this exercise. Much as he declares his loyalty to his home city, Smokey soon joined Berry Gordy in upping sticks for sunny LA. The single had only one side — maybe the city was still waiting for Gil Scott-Heron’s song; maybe it was Gordy’s silent protest at the awfulness of the record.

One song here featured on the Right-Wing Pop for Bullshit Mountain mix I posted in happier times. The Pretender’s My City Was Gone, here to represent Akron, is not a right-wing song, of course. Quite the opposite. But it was hijacked, without permission, by the demagogue Rush Limbaugh (who, as it turns out, was not as harmless as those who tolerated his hate-filled propaganda claimed) for the theme of his radio show. In the end, Chrissie Hynde allowed its use because Limbaugh backed an animal rights cause. As I noted in the notes for the right-wing rock mix, Limbaugh has bragged about subverting the liberal Pretenders song, much like a misogynist who brags about having had sex with a woman he despises with the sole objective of defiling her.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes covers and a route-map (more detailed than the one above). PW in comments.
1. Bobby Charles with Delbert McClinton – Last Train To Memphis (2003 – Memphis, TN)
2. Nat ‘King’ Cole – Beale Street Blues (1963 – Memphis, TN)
3. Little Feat – Dixie Chicken (1973 – Memphis, TN)
4. Justin Townes Earle – Memphis In The Rain (2012 – Memphis, TN)
5. Johnny Cash & June Carter – Jackson (1967 – Jackson, TN)
6. Kris Kristofferson – To Beat The Devil (1970 – Nashville, TN)
7. Waylon Jennings – Nashville Bum (1966 – Nashville, TN)
8. Louis Armstrong & Bessie Smith – Nashville Women’s Blues (1925 – Nashville, TN)
9. The Andrews Sisters – Chattanooga Choo Choo (1942 – Chattanooga, TN)
10. Shel Silverstein – Boy Named Sue (1968 – Gatlinburg, TN)
11. The Louvin Brothers – Knoxville Girl (1956 – Knoxville, TN)
12. Leon Redbone – Big Bad Bill (1978 – Louisville, KY)
13. Aimee Mann – Ballantines (2007 – Lexington, KY)
14. Steve Carlisle – WKRP In Cincinnati (1978 – Cincinnati, OH)
15. Randy Newman – Dayton, Ohio 1903 (1978 – Dayton, OH)
16. Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – We Almost Lost Detroit (1977 – Detroit, MI)
17. The Kane Gang – Motortown (1987 – Detroit, MI)
18. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – I Care About Detroit (1968 – Detroit, MI)
19. Simon & Garfunkel – America (1968 – Saginaw, MI)
20. Sufjan Stevens – Flint (For The Unemployed And Underpaid) (2003 – Flint, MI)
21. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Prison Song (1974 – Ann Arbor, MI)
22. Ian Hunter – Cleveland Rocks (1979 – Cleveland, OH)
23. The Pretenders – My City Was Gone (1982 – Akron, OH)

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Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 2

April 6th, 2017 2 comments

The first Protest Soul mix, posted to coincide with the inauguration of Honest Donald in January, seems to have been quite popular. More than that, I hope it brought some kind of relief from the anguish of seeing that sphinctermouthed spluttermachine being heaved into the presidency — and seeing him wreaking his revenge on common decency without having received a clear mandate.

More should be made of this: Trump lost the popular vote, so his mandate is not unambiguous. He won the presidency legitimately, and therefore occupies his office and nominally exercises its authority legitimately — but his mandate is tainted by having been invested in him against the will of the people. So when he drains the swamp and fills it with sewerage, he is doing so without a clear mandate. The question, again and again and again, should be: “What mandate do you have to do what you do without a majority of the popular vote?” Trump has no answer to that; he knows his mandate is mandate is tainted. That’s why he lies about the supposed voter fraud. So say it loud and say it clear: “President Trump, on whose mandate are you acting?”

But this mix is not about Sphinctermouth. I’m posting it to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. The songs here were released in a range of within a year of MLK’s murder to eight years after.

As with the first mix, this is collection of soul songs that make an appeal for social justice, for racial equality and harmony, for black consciousness, or for political activism — some deal with one or two of these issues, some with all of them. There is no party-line, and the sentiments of some songs may clash with those of others. Together, they reflect a conversation in the black politics of the time, even if not comprehensively so — the Black Panthers don’t have an equal voice. These mixes are good companion pieces to the Songs About The Ghetto Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 mixes.

Some of the artists here are well-known for having articulated voices in that conversation — Gil Scott-Heron, Curtis Mayfield, Staple Singers, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye (featuring here with a performance from 1973’s Save The Children concert) — but one who is not widely-known is Bama The Village Poet. Seek out his songs — one, the astonishing I Got Soul, featured on the Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1.

As far as I know, his 1972 Ghettoes Of The Mind album on Chess was his only release. It featured Purdie on drums, Richard Tee on keyboards, Gordon Edwards on bass and Cornell Dupree on guitar. All I know of him is that he was born as George McCord in Birmingham, Alabama (hence, I suspect, the name Bama). Bama’s incisive poetry deals with issues that remain relevant today, but even if one doesn’t dig the black consciousness vibe, the music is magnificent.

I’m adding a bonus track, a funky and much-sampled groove from 1973 by The Honey Drippers who are calling to “Impeach The President”. I’d love to see Trump impeached and, if there is justice, jailed for whatever huckster stuff it is that will get him impeached. But as a pragmatist, I’m not so sure that it is such as good idea. Mike Pence is pretty bad news in his own right. Impeach them both — and clear out the Democratic Party of their lobbyist-beholden, strategy-bereft, courage-eschewing, compromise-making, backbone-lacking deadwood so that the sewerage that holds control of the White House, Senate and Congress can be flushed out.

Fight the Power!

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-fist-raised covers. PW in comments. And feel free to comment, even Trump supporters who provided us with some good laughs in the comments to the last mix.

1. Eddie Floyd – People, Get It Together (1969)
2. Segments Of Time – Song To The System (1972)
3. Marlena Shaw – Woman Of The Ghetto (1969)
4. The Staple Singers – This Old Town (People In This Town) (1971)
5. Brothers Unlimited – A Change Is Gonna Come (1970)
6. The Four Tops – Right On Brother (1974)
7. Funkadelic – If You Don’t Like The Effects, Don’t Produce The Cause (1972)
8. Candi Staton – Clean Up America (1974)
9. Lyn Collins – People Make The World A Better Place (1975)
10. Change Of Pace – People (1971)
11. The Dells – Freedom Means (1971)
12. Bama The Village Poet – Welfare Slave (1972)
13. Lim Taylor – The World’s In A Bad Situation (1974)
14. Johnny Taylor – I Am Somebody (1970)
15. Brother To Brother – Hey, What’s That You Say (1974)
16. Gil Scott-Heron – Whitey On The Moon (1974)
17. Stevie Wonder – You Haven’t Done Nothin’ (1974)
18. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (live) (1973)
19. Curtis Mayfield – Miss Black America (1970)
20. Sounds Of The City Experience – Babylon (1976)
Bonus Track: The Honey Drippers – Impeach The President (1973)

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Any Major Soul: 1960s
Any Major Soul: 1970s
Covered With Soul
Mix CD-R

 

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Any Major Decade: Favourites Vol. 2

March 30th, 2017 11 comments

 

Thank you, all you lovely people, for your kind comments on the first Any Major Decade mix, which marked this site’s 10th birthday. It was so good to read how this site has made a difference to a number of people— some in ways that are incidental, a few more profoundly.

covers-gallery-2

One bit of feedback that I treasure precedes that post by quite a while. Regular commenter Johnny Diego reported back to me that he had made CDs the mixes of the Germany’s Hitparade 1930-37 and Germany’s Hitparade 1938-45 to surprise his aged German mother, who came to the US in 1949, with these compilations of songs from her young days. She received these waves of nostalgia with tears — of joy and, I’m sure, also of memories. Johnny’s feedback, and his words of appreciation, touched me deeply as well.

I must say, I think the posts that came with those mixes — the extensive linernotes, so to speak — are among the best I have produced.

I was pleased to learn from the more recent comments that there are people who appreciate the CD-R length of the mixes and that some actually print out the covers. I play these mixes off my smartphone, so I have no use for the covers. I make them for the fun of it, in the hope that one or the other reader has use for them. So knowing that they are being used is great.

I will post more of these Any Major Decade mixes over the next few months. The songs included in the first two come from what I have selected as my Top 40 Any Major Mixes; thereafter I’ll compile them more randomly, as the mood grabs me.

Thank you all for sticking around. And please keep the comments coming.

This mix is, as always, timed to fit on a standard CD-R. I’ve not made covers for it. PW in comments.

1. The Chi-Lites – Give More Power To The People (1970)
Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 1
2. Honey Cone – Stick-Up (1971)
Any Major Soul 1970/71
3. Young Rascals – Groovin’ (1967)
Any Major Summer Vol. 1
4. The Byrds – All I Really Want To Do (1065)
Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 2
5. Peggy Lipton – Red Clay Country Line (1969)
Any Major Jimmy Webb Collection Vol. 2
6. Richie Havens – Handsome Johnny (1967)
Songs About Vietnam Vol. 1
7. Big Star – Watch The Sunrise (1972)
Any Major Morning Vol. 2
8. Steve Earle – N.Y.C. (1997)
Any Major Road Vol. 2
9. Counting Crows – Richard Manuel Is Dead (live, 2006)
Any Major American Road Trip – Stage 4 (California)
10. Aloe Blacc – I Need A Dollar (2010)
Any Major TV Themes Vol. 2
11. Marlena Shaw – So Far Away (1972)
Covered With Tapestry
12. Carolyn Franklin – Soul Man (1976)
Saved Vol. 2
13. Kenny Loggins – Heart To Heart (1982)
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 3
14. Little River Band – Home On Monday (1977)
Any Major Telephone Vol. 1
15. Kris Kristofferson – Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again) (1971)
Any Major Flute Vol. 3
16. Deb Talan – Cherry Trees (2001)
Any Major Love Vol. 1
17. Ben Folds – Gracie (2004)
Any Major Fathers Vol. 1
18. Bobby Darin – Sunday In New York (1964)
NYC – Any Major Mix Vol. 1
19. Mel Tormé – All Of You (1956)
Any Major Cole Porter
20. Edith Piaf – Notre-Dame de Paris (1952)
Any Major Paris in Black & White

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Any Major Chuck Berry Covers

March 23rd, 2017 26 comments

Rock ‘n’ roll was invented when Marty McFly’s 1980s guitar solo of Johnny B Goode compels Marvin Berry to phone his cousin Chuck for inspiration for the new sound the latter was seeking. The obituaries for Chuck Berry noted his huge contribution to the rise of rock ‘n’ roll. Along with Ike Turner — another nasty individual who, like Berry, is best remembered only for his music — Chuck Berry is often cited as Exhibit A in the claim that rock ‘n’ roll is the white man having stolen the music of the black man.

The argument has merit in some ways — the many hit cover versions by white artists of tracks first recorded by black artists or the exploitation of black musicians by record companies in the ’50s being cases in point. But it doesn’t hold true for the development of rock ‘n’ roll as a musical genre, which from the start was subject to a broad sweep of influences and served as a broad church of musical styles.

And that finds concrete expression in Chuck Berry’s debut hit Maybelline, the record some regard as the birth of rock ‘n’ roll as a thing. And in a way it was: Maybelline was the first rock ‘n’ roll record performed by a black musician to break into the Billboard Top 10. Berry himself said that he had based Maybellene on country legend Bob Wills’ vocal version of the traditional fiddle number Ida Red, recorded in 1938. The foundation of Maybelline was country, but the building was rhythm and blues. In varying formulas, that was the architecture of rock ‘n’ roll. Of course, Wills’ Western Swing sound was itself a fusion — the white music we now call country incorporating black musical forms — which led Wills to claim that he did rock ‘n’ roll two decades before anyone, but that’s another story.

The idea that rock ‘n’ roll started as a “big bang”, ascribable to individuals, or a select groups of individuals, or even a particular point in time, is absurd. The genre, which itself is so diffuse, was the result of a relatively slow evolution. Music that sounded like rock ‘n’ roll was already made more than a decade before Maybelline or Rocket 88. Just listen to Buddy Jones’ Rockin’ Rollin’ Mama from 1939 on A History of Country Vol. 3: Pre-war years – 1937-41.

My proposition is that rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t so much a musical genre than a social movement. And for that a series of big, small and tiny bangs were needed. Chuck Berry being the first black R&B musician to cross over into the Billboard charts was one such seismic moment. Rock Around The Clock and The Blackboard Jungle, Tutti Frutti, Elvis on Ed Sullivan, perhaps even the death of James Dean were others.

Chuck Berry, influencing some white kid in England…or Hill Valley.

So Chuck Berry of course does occupy a central place in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. And other than Elvis, a good case can be made that Berry most influenced the post-war kids who would lead the British invasion in the 1960s — though he was by no means the only one, so the equation that without Berry there’d have been no Beatles or Stones is poor arithmetic.

Unlike Elvis, Berry wrote his own songs, and this is the subject of this mix: 26 covers of tracks written by Chuck Berry between 1954 and 1970 (the mix is a result of me taking the bait from regular reader and radio presenter Martin). What is striking is how few black artists covered Chuck Berry. On this mix I count three. Three other shortlisted covers by black artists — Wilson Picket, Robert Cray and Aaron Neville — didn’t make the cut. Similarly, very few women covered Berry (which the old misogynist might have been pleased about). Which raises the question: Is Chuck Berry music the soundtrack of white maleness? Answers on a postcard, please.

Of my joint-favourite Berry songs, one is covered as one would expect it and as it has to be by the Beach Boys. The other, however, sounds nothing like the original. Taj Mahal does interesting things to Brown-Eyed Handsome Man, though I still prefer the original. I never had much of an opinion either way of Too Much Monkey Business, but Leon Russell’s version here is exquisite — one of the few instances where the cover of a Chuck Berry song is much better than the original.

My choice for the cover of Memphis, Tennessee was obvious — even if I still like Johnny Rivers’ take the best — and there was only ever one choice for Rock And Roll Music. I expect that here and there somebody will regret that I left out some song or other (I’m adding on four bonus tracks that very narrowly didn’t make it on to the CD-R), but one song that I was not going to leave out was the b-side for Maybelline, covered here by Trini Lopez — on the title of which Chuck is declaring his future intent.

Alas, I found no suitable cover of a Chuck Berry song by his lyrical heir, Bruce Springsteen. But I can recommend that, if you are Springsteen fan, you join in the fun with the crowd in Leipzig, Germany, in 2013 on You Can Never Tell, the Berry song that seems to have been written for Springsteen and his E Street Band.

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

1. Electric Light Orchestra – Roll Over Beethoven (1972)
2. The Beatles – Rock And Roll Music (1964)
3. The Rolling Stones – Come On (1963)
4. Elvis Presley – Memphis, Tennessee (1963)
5. Trini Lopez – Wee Wee Hours (1965)
6. Marty Robbins – Maybelline (1955)
7. Ernest Tubb – Thirty Days (To Come Back Home) (1955)
8. Linda Ronstadt – Back In The USA (1978)
9. Emmylou Harris – (You Can Never Tell) C’est La Vie (1977)
10. George Thorogood & The Destroyers – You Can’t Catch Me (1988)
11. Dave Edmunds – Dear Dad (1982)
12. The Animals – Around And Around (1964)
13. The Troggs – The Jaguar And The Thunderbird (1966)
14. The Beach Boys – School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell) (1980)
15. Slade – I’m A Rocker (1981)
16. Status Quo – Carol (1981)
17. Rod Stewart – Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller (1974)
18. David Bowie – Almost Grown (1972)
19. Juicy Lucy – Nadine (1969)
20. Humble Pie – No Money Down (1974)
21. Taj Mahal – Brown-Eyed Handsome Man (1975)
22. Leon Russell – Too Much Monkey Business (1992)
23. Dr. Feelgood – I’m Talking About You (1976)
24. Luther Johnson – Little Queenie (1975)
25. Jimi Hendrix – Johnny B. Goode (1970)
26. Redwing – Bye Bye Johnny (1972)
Bonus Tracks: Conway Twitty – Reelin’ And A Rockin’ (1961)
Ray Manzarek – Downbound Train (1974)
Carlos Santana – Havana Moon (1983)
Levon Helm – Back To Memphis (2011)

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Any Major Bob Dylan Covers Vol. 3

March 9th, 2017 9 comments

It has taken a while for Volume 3 of the Dylan covers to appear — longer than it took for Dylan to respond to the Nobel Literature committee. As it stands, there will be two more Dylan cover mixes after this.

The fun thing about compilations of Dylan covers is to play off the featured versions against the originals: which one is better than the other? In some cases it’s a difficult exercise because the respective versions have their own merits. How do you compare Dylan with Tina Turner?

But for me the surprise winner in this game is Mike Stanley, who turns one of my least favourite Dylan arrangements (and I know I’ll make many eternal enemies and absolutely no friends for thinking so), Subterranean Homesick Blues, into the great song it is. Stanley’s eponymous 1972 album featured the likes of Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, Joe Vitale and Patti Austin, but somehow he failed to make it really big in the mainstream. He is still recording, but is also a popular DJ in Ohio, and appeared as himself on The Drew Carey Show.

Of course, many Dylan songs are so quintessentially Dylan that they cannot be bettered, no matter how good the cover is. Like A Rolling Stone, covered here with imagination by Major Harris, is one such song. Check out the Song Swarm of it; there are many good attempts, but Dylan inhabits the song so much that everything else is just a copy. Frankie Valli doesn’t even try to give Queen Jane Approximately his own voice: he sings it like a Dylan parody.

Dylan recorded Queen Jane Approximately on the same day as Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, which features here in Gordon Lightfoot’s version (a face-off Dylan wins handily). Lightfoot scored a #3 hit with it Canada in 1965, shortly after the song appeared on Highway 61 Revisited. Bob Dylan is a great Lightfoot fan, having once said that when he heard a Lightfoot song, he wished “it would last forever”.

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

1. Randy Crawford – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (1989)
2. Major Harris – Like A Rolling Stone (1969)
3. Freddie King – Meet Me In The Morning (1975)
4. Blood, Sweat & Tears – Down In The Flood (1972)
5. Michael Stanley – Subterranean Homesick Blues (1972)
6. Indigo Girls – Tangled Up In Blue (1995)
7. Townes Van Zandt – Man Gave Names To All The Animals (1992)
8. Chris Whitley – Spanish Harlem Incident (2000)
9. Mary Lou Lord – You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (2002)
10. Cowboy Junkies – If You Gotta Go, Go Now (1992)
11. Moon Martin – Stuck Inside Of Mobile (With The Memphis Blues Again) (1993)
12. George Harrison – If Not For You (1970)
13. The Youngbloods – I Shall Be Released (1972)
14. Waylon Jennings – I Don’t Believe You (1970)
15. The Four Seasons – Queen Jane Approximately (1965)
16. Staple Singers – Masters Of War (1964)
17. Gordon Lightfoot – Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (1965)
18. Tina Turner – Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (1974)
19. The O’Jays – Emotionally Yours (Gospel Version) (1981)
20. The Angels Of Light – I Pity The Poor Immigrant (2005)

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Any Major Decade: Favourites Vol. 1

February 23rd, 2017 32 comments

Any Major Dude With Half A Heart turns 10 years old this week. The first post was a narrative effort about plastic surgery inspired by Smokey Robinson’s rigid smile. But within a couple of weeks it became a music blog, paying tribute to Swedish indie artists, female folk-rock and indie singers and the great Ben Folds. Soon I got a following, especially thanks to Totally Fuzzy, an aggregator site on which music blogs could advertise their latest posts (it still exists, though with a different focus). As the months progressed, I had regular features: pissing off the taste police by defending acts like Barry Manilow or Wet Wet Wet; paying tribute to newer acts from the independent side of things, such as Josh Rouse;  “Music for Bloggers”, wherein I punted blogs and dedicated a suitable song to them. Some of these bloggers have remained friends, most notably Whiteray of Echoes In The Wind (www.echoesinthewind.com). For a couple of years I even ran an annual “award show” for my favourite blogs. Later came the relatively short-lived “Great Moustaches in Pop” series, a series on answer records (that I should turn into a CD-R Mix), and one of songs about murder (ditto).

The biggest project was The Originals, a series of pieces on lesser-known originals of famous songs. It was a mammoth project which I’d like to revise one day (as I did with the Elvis originals, Bacharach originals and Christmas originals), though the workload for it is immense. There are 700 such songs in my collection. For the first few years, I posted individual songs on various filehosting sites. The first of these was Z-Share; the most regular was Mediafire, until that service turned to crap. Around that time it seemed to me that concentrating on CD-R length themed mixes was the better way to go. Most of these mixes I make for my own pleasure, as a creative outlet. I take joy in sharing what I love. A few mixes were made as a means of documentary; most notably the History of Country series, which is still up, with an eBook that can be downloaded free. The mixes are usually accompanied by home-made covers. These are made especially for the readers. I have fun making them, though I have no idea whether anybody ever uses them.

In January 2010 I started the In Memoriam series, which I know many people are looking forward to every month. In the course of researching the monthly departed I’ve come across a number of sites and blogs that chronicle the latest celebrity deaths. I don’t think I’m overstating things when I describe my efforts as the most comprehensive monthly run-down of the latest music folks who have left us. Certainly none I’ve seen pay tribute to them by way of music (though some do so by posting YouTube links). These songs, I must add, aren’t always endorsed by me. Over time, this blog has received many plaudits, which is of course always very nice to hear. Comments are always the lifeblood of the blogger. When a post receives no comments, I am tempted to retire from running this show. It is frustrating when a few hundred people download a mix and have nothing to say. Usually the next post gets engagement, and all’s well again. A couple of times musicians from back when commented to thank me for keeping their music known, which was wonderful. And, of course, there was the time the notable songwriter Norman Gimbel e-mailed me to give me his version of how Killing Me Softly With His Song came about. The most impressive public plaudit was the inclusion of this blog in the Playboy 2013 Music Guide. Mine was the only music blog to feature, alongside artists like My Bloody Valentine, Kendrick Lamar, Caitlin Rose and Richard Thompson. “All blogs have strong opinions, but few have the expertise and imagination of Any Major Dude With Half a Heart,” editor Rob Tannenbaum wrote. “ A champion of the championless, the Dude puts together thematic MP3 playlists. The best posts at HalfheartedDude.com are the R&B compilations from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, which resurrect great songs that should never have been forgotten.” By way of acknowledgment I created a mix of seemingly random songs. The unmentioned punchline was that the covers of the albums from which these songs came featured nudity (because Playboy, y’see).

To celebrate these ten years, I’ll be posting compilations of some of the best songs from the various mixes that have appeared here. I’ll start off with two comps of tracks from my favourite 40 mixes over the years; mixes which I still play regularly (the second mix follows next month). The tracklisting is in random order (well, not random – I take care in sequencing them). If forced to choose, I’d rate the two Any Major Morning mixes as my all-favourites, maybe just ahead of the two Jimmy Webb compilations. cover-gallery_1 This mix is, as always, timed to fit on a standard CD-R. I’ve not made covers for it. PW in comments.

1. Alabama 3 – Woke Up This Morning (1999)
Any Major TV Themes Vol. 1
2. Stephen Duffy & The Lilac Time – Driving Somewhere (2007)
Any Major Roads Vol. 1
3. Marc Cohn – Listening To Levon (2007)
Any Major Radio Vol. 1
4. Little Feat – Willin’ (1972)
Any Major American Road Trip – Stage 3 (Amarillo to the California Coast)
5. Barbara Jean English – So Many Ways To Die (1972)
Any Major Soul 1972/73
6. Webster Lewis – Give Me Some Emotion (1979)
Any Major Funk Vol. 1
7. Bill LaBounty – Living It Up (1982)
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 1
8. Big Sound Authority – This House (Is Where Your Love Stands) (1984)
Should Have Been A Top 10 Hit – Vol. 1
9. Aztec Camera – Walk Out To Winter (1983)
Any Major Winter
10. Brooklyn Bridge – Worst That Could Happen (1969)
Any Major Jimmy Webb Collection Vol. 1
11. Scott Walker – Joanna (1968)
Any Major Summer Vol. 3
12. Carpenters – Road One (1972)
Any Major Flute Vol. 1
13. Fleetwood Mac – Silver Springs (1977)
Any Major B-Sides
14. Townes Van Zandt – I’ll Be Here In The Morning (1968)
Any Major Morning Vol. 1
15. Dave Alvin – Rio Grande (2004)
Any Major Mexico
16. Lyle Lovett – Just The Morning (1994)
Any Major Coffee Vol. 1
17. Bap Kennedy – Please Return To Jesus (2012)
Saved Vol. 3
18. Justin Townes Earle – One More Night In Brooklyn (2010)
Any Major Night Vol. 1
19. Jeff Tweedy – Simple Twist Of Fate (2007)
Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 1
20. Nick Drake – Saturday Sun (1970)
Any Major Week Vol. 1

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Any Major Roads Vol. 3

February 9th, 2017 6 comments

 

Any Major Road Vol.3

The first two Any Major Road mixes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) were so popular, here’s a third one. And this time we let in hitch-hikers, as the cover indicates. I have test-driven this mix for a couple of months now; I really like it.

As I did with the Beach Boys for the summer mixes, I include one Bruce Springsteen song per roads set. Of course, the Beach Boys could also contend having bossed the car song genre. And another one who could stake a claim is, surprisingly, Bob Dylan. But they get only one song, for there’s only one The Boss.

Still, Dylan appears here, on the third volume. And his song is followed by one of the rockabilly artists who had a great influence on the young Robert. Warren Smith never really hit the big time, but I think his Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache is one of the finest songs on any of these road mixes (Dylan recorded a version if it in 2001).

His career at Sun Records having stalled, Smith moved to California and had a couple of minor hits on Liberty records. His career was ruined by a car crash in 1965, in the aftermath of which Smith became addicted to painkillers and then to alcohol, culminating in a prison term for a robbery of a pharmacy. In the late 1970s Smith enjoyed something of a comeback in Britain and Europe, at a time of a rockabilly revival there. After a successful tour of Britain and Europe he was planning another one. He never went: a heart attack killed him on January 30, 1980, about a week before he would have turned 48.

Warren Smith and pal.

Warren Smith and pal.

After Smith had left Sun, another act featured here signed for the label. You may recall The Jesters from the Any American Road Trip – Stage 5 mix. Not to be confused with the New York doo-wop band of the late 1950s, this lot was a mid-1960s Memphis garage rock band. And why were they signed for Sun Records? Because their bassist and producer were label boss Sam Philips’ sons. Cadillac Man from 1966 was their only single. When it tanked, the band broke up.

The Jesters were unmistakably influenced by the rockabilly of their predecessors on Sun. Two more recent acts here draw from the same pool of influences:  Scotty Baker’s 2001 song ‘50 Buick could have been recorded by any number of rockabilly acts in 1958; even his CD cover looks like it was made then. The Little Willies are an Americana band: the title of their Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves sounds like a ’50s country title; the sound is an updated version of that from those days.

Most of the acts here are Americans, but two acts here are from Britain. The Kinks are well-known; sadly, Scottish outfit Hipsway never became really big. They had a UK Top 20 in 1986 with the outstanding The Honeythief. Songs like Ask The Lord and The Broken Years should have been big hits too, as should have been the featured song, Long White Car, which reached #55 in the UK in September 1986. It’s a great shame they never made it big.

On the subject of the covers: I don’t know whether I’m wasting my time making them, but I hope they at least look good. For this mix, both images are from pixabay.com, a very useful royalty-free photo resource (the frontcover photo is by cocoparisienne; the back-cover by Lufina).

Some people made suggestions for future mixes in the comments of previous mixes. Feel free to add to them for a possible readers’ mix.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Home-pimped covers are included. PW the same as always (amdwhah)

1. Willie Nelson – On The Road Again (1980)
2. Janis Joplin – Me And Bobby McGee (1971)
3. Bob Dylan – On The Road Again (1965)
4. Warren Smith – Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache (1957)
5. Chuck Berry – Nadine (Is That You?) (1964)
6. Jean DuShon – Hitch Hike (1964)
7. The Jesters – Cadillac Man (1966)
8. The Kinks – Drivin’ (1969)
9. Sammy Johns – Chevy Van (1975)
10. Tom Waits – Diamonds On My Windshield (1974)
11. Tom Russell – Down The Rio Grande (2001)
12. Bruce Springsteen – Racing In The Street (1978)
13. Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)
14. Hipsway – Long White Car (1986)
15. Black Heat – Drive My Car (1975)
16. Eddie Rabbitt – Drivin’ My Life Away (1980)
17. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Truck Drivin’ Man (1987)
18. Roy Orbison – I Drove All Night (rel. 1992)
19. Scotty Baker – ‘50 Buick (2001)
20. The Little Willies – Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves (2012)
21. Jerry Reed – East Bound And Down (1977)
22. Robert Mitchum – Ballad Of Thunder Road (1960)

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Any Major Favourites 2016 – Vol. 2

January 26th, 2017 7 comments

covers-gallery-2

This is the second mix of one favourite song each from mixes I’ve posted in 2016 (excluding the Christmas mixes, Song Swarms and In Memoriams).

Last time I asked you to tell me which mixes you enjoyed over the year, and if you didn’t do so then, please let me know now.

Of course, the first person I make these compilations for is myself. I listen to some of them for months before I post them. I love sharing them, and I really enjoy it when other people enjoy them too. But I wouldn’t make them if it wasn’t for me listening to them. The home-brewed covers… those I make exclusively for you (though I don’t know if anyone actually uses them).

If I want to know from you what you liked, I should tell you what mixes of 2016 I liked best. I have played the American Road Trip series a lot. I already have the complete collection, and I’ll hold on to that until I can actually make such a road trip. The Any Major Radio, Coffee and Road mixes (especially Road Vol. 1, and the third volume as well, which I have to post) have been frequent companions in my car, as have the Dylan covers mixes. I really love the Any Major Mexico mix as well.

I’ve also enjoyed the one mix that I didn’t make, but Prince. His party playlist was released after his death, and it was splendid (the song I picked for the present mix has been on a playlist I’ve been planning for years. Maybe this February.). He truly was Any Major Prince.

Obviously I stand by the other mixes as well. The Any Major Soul and Not Feeling Guilty mixes are such a joy to compile, because they make me listen to different tracks from albums I’d normally not play. And I really enjoy the research that goes into making the collections of songs involving individuals, such as, this year, the Steve Gadd and Rod Temperton Collections. The vast investment in time is really worth it.

If you didn’t let me know in Any Major Favourites 2016 Vol. 1, I would still love to know which of the mixes posted here in 2016 you have enjoyed the most.

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

1. Steve Earle – Satellite Radio (2007)
Any Major Radio Vol. 2
2. Jim Photoglo – Fool In Love With You (1981)
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 7
3. Billy Preston – She Belongs To Me (1969)
Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 2
4. George Harrison – Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) (1970)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away
5. The Band – It Makes No Difference (1978)
Any Major Unrequited Love
6. Al Jarreau – Could You Believe (1977)
Saved! Vol. 7: The Soul Edition
7. Margie Joseph – Sign Of The Times (1975)
Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 3
8. The Soul Children – We’re Gettin’ Too Close (1974)
Prince Is Your DJ
9. Dusty Springfield – I Can’t Wait Until I See My Baby’s Face (1967)
Any Major Flute Vol. 3
10. Roy Redmond – Good Day Sunshine (1967)
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
11. Lloyd Price – Under Your Spell Again (1962)
Any Major Halloween Vol. 3
12. Anita O’Day & Billy May – I Could Write A Book (1960)
Any Major Love In Black & White
13. Randy Newman – Birmingham (1974)
American Road Trip – Stage 2
14. Hall & Oates – Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song) (1974)
American Road Trip – Stage 5
15. Sugar Billy – Super Duper Love (Parts 1 & 2) (1975)
Any Major Soul: 1975 Vol. 1
16. Sir Mack Rice – Muhammed Ali (1976)
Muhammad Ali: A Musical Tribute
17. The Whispers – It’s A Love Thing (1980)
Any Major Disco Vol. 4
18. Mighty Mo Rodgers – Black Coffee And Cigarettes (2011)
Any Major Coffee Vol. 1
19. The Cars – You Might Think (1984)
A Life In Vinyl: 1984 Vol. 1
20. Nick Heyward – Whistle Down The Wind (1983)
A Life In Vinyl: 1983
21. Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid – Santa Rosa (1972)
American Road Trip – Stage 4

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Any Major Favourites 2016 – Vol. 1

January 12th, 2017 10 comments

As I did last year, I am offering two compilations of the compilations I posted over the past year, with one song chosen from each mix (except for last year’s Any Major Favourites Vol. 1 and Vol .2, the Christmas selections, the Song Swarms for The Girl From Ipanema and By The Time I Get To Phoenix, the Any Major Disco Vol. 3 mix I posted just before New Year’s, All The People Who Died 2016, and In Memoriams). All of the songs here are among my favourite tracks from the respective mixes —  the choice often was tough.

In 2016 I put up 48 mixes, plus a dozen of In Memoriams, and the Purple Rain vs Thriller post with which I think I agitated a couple of Michael Jackson devotees a little.  But, hey, at least they commented. I’m very grateful to those who frequently comment; sometimes these comments tell stories from the commenter’s experience, which are huge fun to read. The nice comments keep this place going; but when there are weeks when virtually nobody comments, I do get discouraged and wonder how long I will keep going at this hobby. But obviously I still have fun doing it, right down to doing the covers which I doubt anybody uses.

covers-gallery-1

There’ll be a second mix like this in two week’s time (next time we will turn our gaze to the inauguration if Little Hands, the mocker of disabled journalists).

Of course, I would love to know which of the mixes of 2016 you have enjoyed the most.

For once, this mix won’t quite fit on a standard CD-R, and there are no home-made covers… PW in comments.

1. Bruce Springsteen – Chimes Of Freedom (1988)
Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 1
2. Warren Zevon – Mohammed’s Radio (1981)
Any Major Radio Vol. 1
3. Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Winter In America (1974)
Any Major Flute Vol. 1
4. Dorothy Morrison – Black California (1970)
American Road Trip – Stage 3
5. Sandra Wright – I’ll See You Through (I’ll Be Your Shelter) (1974)
Any Major Soul 1974 Vol. 2
6. Minnie Riperton – Light My Fire (1979)
Any Major Flute Vol. 2
7. War – All Day Music (1971)
Any Major Beach Vol. 1
8. Boz Scaggs – Miss Sun (1980)
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 6
9. Karen Carpenter – If We Try (1979/80)
Rod Temperton Collection
10. Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Kiss And Say Goodbye (1975)
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 2
11. Billy Joel – Summer, Highland Falls (1976)
American Road Trip – Stage 1
12. Françoise Hardy – Suzanne (1970)
Any Major Leonard Cohen Covers
13. Hoyt Axton – Evangelina (1975)
Any Major Mexico
14. Guy Clark – The Randall Knife (1983)
Any Major Fathers Vol. 2
15. Kris Kristofferson – Thank You For A Life (2006)
Any Major Thanksgiving
16. Drive-By Truckers – George Jones Talkin’ Cell Phone Blues (2009)
Any Major Road Vol. 2
17. Aztec Camera – Still On Fire (1984)
A Life In Vinyl: 1984 Vol. 2
18. Josh Rouse – Wonderful (2006)
Any Major Coffee Vol. 2
19. Richard Hawley – The Nights Are Made For Us (2003)
Any Major Night Vol. 1
Bonus track: David Bowie – Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide (live) (1973)
Great Covers: Ziggy Stardust

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