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Any Major Women Vol. 1

October 10th, 2018 3 comments

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

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

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

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

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In Memoriam – September 2018

October 4th, 2018 5 comments

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Any Major Friends Vol. 1

September 27th, 2018 9 comments

 

 

Next week it will be exactly 30 years since I met a new group of friends; it was an encounter that by the ways of domino effect changed my life in almost every way. It’s impossible to know what directions my life’s GPS might have taken me on. I might be richer or poorer, single or married or divorced; perhaps in another profession, maybe in another country. I don’t know.

But what I do know is that I am the person today because 30 years ago I unwittingly took a random road at one of life’s many seemingly inconspicuous crossroads, and not a person I might have been had I taken another way. I’m pleased I met these people, and grateful for all that happened because of it. It was through the series of events that followed that chance encounter 30 years ago — caused by a snap decision to go somewhere — that I met my future wife, who is now my best friend.

I’m grateful for all friends I have had over my life. Some of them have gone their own ways; a few are out of my life forever; others live elsewhere; others yet I see every few years. Others I see regularly on Facebook and less in real life. And a couple are still present in my life. But all have a place in my heart, as people I love and/or as people who accompanied me in great or difficult times.

There are also friends one makes on the Internet. In fact, some of my most reliable friends are people I have met on Internet forums (a couple of them have become good family friends); others I had met before good friendships developed through the medium of social media.

And many childhood friends I have rediscovered on Facebook, or they found me. Since I live on a different continent now, it is a joy to reconnect with them.

 

 

As the song says, “Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes”, and so it is with friendships. Some you keep, most you lose. And you keep making new friends. Where once there was a group of friends that always stuck together, one’s circles of friends and acquaintances become increasingly dispersed. Lucky are those cliques that grow old together.

And all that doesn’t even consider the question what exactly a “friend” is. I won’t even attempt to define “friendship”. We’ll all have our own definitions, based on our particular experience of friendship. I hope all of us have at least a few friends.

And if we do, perhaps this mix of songs about friendship serves to express that relationship. Some of the tracks here are declarations of friendship, with the offer of steadfast solidarity (two separate numbers here offer to “lean on me”). Others recall with some nostalgia high jinx from ages past, or speak about reconnecting. Though one imagines that the narrative of Michelle Shocked’s Anchorage might be moot in the age of Facebook, when people I’ve not seen in years know more about my life than old friends who eschew social media.

I have deliberately excluded tracks which I could devote to my very best friend: my wife. No romantic stuff here (other than the Hello Saferide song, which is a bit When Harry Met Sally in mid-movie), so you can happily dedicate the whole mix to your best platonic friend. And to your favourite toy, in the case of the closing song.

So, here’s to all my friends on a mix that is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-palled covers.

1. Gary Portnoy – Where Everybody Knows Your Name (1983)
2. Garth Brooks – Friends In Low Places (1990)
3. Rolling Stones – Waiting On A Friend (1981)
4. The Jam – Thick As Thieves (1979)
5. Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back In Town (1976)
6. The Beatles – Two Of Us (1970)
7. Bill Withers – Lean On Me (live) (1973)
8. The Undisputed Truth – With a Little Help From My Friends (1973)
9. The Housemartins – Lean On Me (1986)
10. Johnny Cash – Bridge Over Troubled Waters (2002)
11. Natalie Merchant – Kind & Generous (1998)
12. Tim McGraw – My Old Friend (2004)
13. Bob Evans – Me & My Friend (2006)
14. Hello Saferide – My Best Friend (2005)
15. Michelle Shocked – Anchorage (1988)
16. Minnie Riperton – It’s So Nice (To See Old Friends) (1974)
17. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – You’ve Got A Friend (1972)
18. Simon & Garfunkel – Old Friends (1968)
19. Randy Travis – Heroes And Friends (1990)
20. Kim Richey – Hello Old Friend (1999)
21. Pat Lundy – Friend Of Mine (I Wanna Thank You So Much) (1973)
22. Ernie – Rubber Duckie (1970)

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NYC – Any Major Mix Vol. 2

September 11th, 2018 7 comments

 

 

This is Volume 2 of the New York mixes, though it is really the third, after the first mix and the New York in Black & White collection.

The photo on the cover comes from a beautiful series of colour photos of New York in the 1940s from the Charles W Cushman collection.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and, as mentioned above, includes home-bronxed covers. PW in comments, where you are invited to say hello.

1. Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Jules Munchin – New York, New York (excerpt) (1949)
NYC hook: It’s our three sailor friends’ first time in New York, and having just arrived on shore leave (happily in New York, not in LA where they might have gone on to beat up Mexicans), they already presume it to be “a helluva town” because “the Bronx is up, but the Battery’s down”. Additionally, “the people ride in a hole in the ground” (as they do in many other cities, so big deal, chums).

2. Frank Sinatra & Tony Bennett – New York New York (1994)
NYC hook: Let’s face it, our boy from Hoboken was a promiscuous man when it came to American cities. Chicago? His kind of town! L.A.? It’s a lady he can’t say goodbye to. Las Vegas? He made it! And New York? Well, more of a challenge than a love affair; it seems. By the way, the song needs no high-kicks, party goers.

3. Theme – Seinfeld (1989)
NYC hook: Would Seinfeld have worked had it been set anywhere else? Nah!

4. Klaatu – Sub-Rosa Subway (1976)
NYC hook: The song that caused speculation about a clandestine Beatles reunion. Alas, it was just a bunch of Canadians with a funny name singing about Alfred Beach, the man who built America’s first subway in New York, based on the London Underground. (More on Beach)

5. NRBQ – Boys In The City (1972)
NYC hook: You might leave New York for the country, but you’ll still sing about “the trees in the Park”.

6. Harry Nilsson – I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City (1969)
NYC hook: New York as the new Jerusalem instead of its usual role as a fetid Babylon. So Harry makes his pilgrimage to the city permanent, leaving all his sorrows behind. Same year, he soundtracked Hoffman and Voight’s exit from bad, bad NYC.

7. John Lennon – New York City (1972)
NYC hook: The Statue of Liberty told Lennon to come. Come to the city where he would be murdered…

8. Kevin Devine – Brooklyn Boy (2006)
NYC hook: The eponymous lad is doing coke on his birthday, prompting Kev — rarely a herald of rampant cheer — to launch into an apocalypso.

9. Ian Hunter – Central Park N West (1981)
NYC hook: Hunter obviously hates living in stinky, crime-ridden, burning New York City. Except he doesn’t: “You’ve got to be crazy to live in the city, and New York city’s the best.”

10. Donavan Frankenreiter – Spanish Harlem Incident (2007)
NYC hook: A rather decent cover of Dylan’s 1964 song about having steamy, casual interracial sex.

11. Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street (1972)
NYC hook: 110th Street is the street that divides Harlem and Manhattan. Bob is not painting a pretty picture of what lies at the other side of Manhattan: pimps and hookers, pushers and junkies jostling on the streets of “the capital of every ghetto town”.

12. Billy Joel – New York State Of Mind (1976)
NYC hook: The New Yorker might leave the city for Miami Beach or for Hollywood, but if they are anything like Bronx-born, Long Island-raised Billiam, they’ll miss the New York Times and Daily News (but not the Post, it seems) so much, they’ll feel compelled to return.

13. Ella Fitzgerald – Manhattan (1956)
NYC hook: On his wonderful radio show, Bob Dylan described the Rodgers & Hart song as a love letter to New York City. Who knew that Zimmerman had a way with words? Ella is full of giddy tenderness as she provides us with a partial road map of the city. Are pushcarts still gliding gently on Mott Street?

14. Hem – Great Houses Of New York (live) (2006)
NYC hook: Native New Yorkers Hem don’t need to mention the city in a song that incorporates its name in the title to prove that it’s set there. It suffices to refer to NYC’s winter climate as a metaphor for a dying relationship, a recurring theme in Hem’s beautiful songs.

15. The Mamas & The Papas – Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon) (1968)
NYC hook: The Mamas and the Papas lived in New York before moving to Hawaii and then to California. It seems fair to say that they didn’t dig New York — “every thing there was dark and dirty “ — and this is their fuck-you note to the city. Most likely, the Daily News won’t be enough to lure them back.

16. Odyssey – Native New Yorker (1977)
NYC hook: Two decades before Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City made her, erm, acute observations about the politics of sex, Odyssey had it already figured out: “No one opens the door for a native New Yorker.” So, like, take charge of your life yourself, girl!

17. Elkow Bones & The Racketeers – A Night In New York (1983)
NYC hook: A sadly ignored club gem whose horns sounds like New York traffic to me. Delicious.

18. Nicole with Timmy Thomas – New York Eyes (1985)
NYC hook: What in the name of all that’s ophthalmological are these New York Eyes that have short-lived soul starlet Nicole attracted to ’70s soulster Timmy Thomas (who I presume provides the groovy keyboard here)? Whatever they are, reciprocally gazing at Nicole’s NY eyes, they make Timmy feel good inside.

19. Beastie Boys – An Open Letter To NYC (2005)
NYC hook: And it’s another love letter: “Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten, from the Battery to the top of Manhattan. Asian, Middle-Eastern and Latin, black, white — New York you make it happen.”

20. LL Cool J feat. Leshaun Williams – Doin’ It (1995)
NYC hook: Six people are credited with writing this droll ode to physical intimacy. None of them have sought to distance themselves from this lyrical gem which surely provides all the required evidence to support the notion that ladies really can’t help themselves but love NCIS agent Cool James. Mr Todd  rattles off the specials on today’s hum menu: “It’s the first time together and I’m feeling kinda horny, conventional methods of makin’ love kinda bore me. I wanna knock your block off, get my rocks off, blow your socks off, make sure your G-spot’s soft” (you get hard G-spots? And, more importantly, how do you get away rhyming “off” with “soft”?). With Cool James, sex is a matter of territorial chauvinism, not unlike the so-called World Series. He points out that he represents Queens, whose residents may well jostle for prime bedside seats, the better to cheer on their local stud muffin. Cool James’ hopefully softly G-spotted friend was raised “out Brooklyn”, where she learnt to yearn for a “Big Daddy” who might “pull my hair and spank me from the back” and finish off with some “candy rain”. Just as the contender from Queens might, if his dick is as big as his braggadocio. Yuk!

21. Jay-Z feat Alicia Keys – Empire State Of Mind (2009)
NYC hook: The national anthem of NYC for the millennial generation.

22. Ben Folds – Rock This Bitch (NYC version) (2004)
NYC hook: Some “motherfucker in Chicago” once shouted out “rock this bitch” at a Ben Folds gig, giving rise to a tradition whereby Folds (evidently reluctantly) improvises a new “Rock This Bitch” version on the spot. As he did in this recording from the 2004 Summerstage concert. “R.O.C.K. with your C.O.C.K. out, in N.Y.C.”

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Any Major Music from ‘The Sopranos’ Vol. 1

August 23rd, 2018 6 comments

 

 

Many TV series have integrated pop songs into their narrative, even before The Sopranos did so to great effect. Shows like The Wonder Years and Ally McBeal helped blaze that trail. The Sopranos used this to great effect. The music Tony Soprano listens to, for example, reveals a lot about who he is (in some ways not that much different from any of us), as does Carmella’s obsession with Andrea Bocelli’s Con Te Partirò communicate much about her real longings.

Sometimes the music is just incidental — a particular kind of track would be expected to play at a particular location — but other times a song can colour the tone of a scene. Take the scene in the final season when Tony comes out of hospital after having been shot by Uncle Junior and beats up his bodyguard as a way of reasserting his manhood. Playing in the background is a merry doo wop tune by The Students titled Every Day Of The Week. It communicates the random absurdity of Tony’s action. The scene would have played differently had the background tune been, say, Voodoo Chile.

Of course, this is Soundtracking 101, and the producers of The Sopranos didn’t invent anything new here, though David Chase set incredibly high standards in the eclectic selection of music. They used single songs, rather than a traditional score, to superb storytelling effect, sometimes even as a form of narration.

And that wealth of music used lends itself to mix-making. And this is what we’re doing here, over two mixes.

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

1. Alabama 3 – Woke Up This Morning (Chosen One Mix) (1997)
2. Cream – I Feel Free (1967)
3. Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul – Inside Of Me (1982)
4. Tom Petty – Free Fallin’ (1989)
5. Alejandro Escovedo – Guilty (1995)
6. The Chesterfield Kings – I Don’t Understand (2003)
7. Shawn Smith – Wrapped In My Memory (2003)
8. Bruce Hornsby & the Range – That’s The Way It Is (1986)
9. Boston – More Than A Feeling (1976)
10. Foghat – Slow Ride (1975)
11. Johnny & The Hurricanes – Red River Rock (1959)
12. The Jive Five – What Time Is It (1962)
13. The Students – Every Day Of The Week (1957)
14. Dean Martin – Powder Your Face With Sunshine (Smile, Smile, Smile) (1949)
15. Percy Faith Orchestra – Theme from ‘A Summer Place’ (1960)
16. The Dells – Oh, What A Night (1969)
17. Freda Payne – Band Of Gold (1970)
18. Chaka Khan feat. Me’ Shell Ndegeocello – Never Miss The Water (1996)
19. Angie Stone – Without You (1999)
20. Pink Martini – Andalucia (1997)
21. Nick Lowe – The Beast In Me (1994)
22. Andrea Bocelli – Con Te Partirò (1996)

https://rg.to/file/73ccf2098a1766698b30eaf130d20183/Sopra1.rar.html

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Aretha Sings Covers

August 16th, 2018 8 comments

What needs to be said about the genius of Aretha Franklin and her influence has been said. One part of that genius was her ability to take possession of other people’s songs. Mention songs like Respect or Say A Little Prayer or Spanish Harlem, and few will say Otis Redding or Dionne Warwick or Ben. E. King. When Aretha took those songs, they became hers.

Many others she re-interpreted in such a way that her version would become virtually a different song, not infrequently eclipsing the almost ineclipsible. Consider what she did with the Beatles ballad The Long And Winding Road or Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water — both fine ballads beloved of crooner types — by giving them a bit of gospel. The Beatles track acquires a depth neither the composition nor Phil Spector’s production suggested in The Beatles hands. The S&G track acquires a spiritual dimension that was hinted at in the original but not quite realised

So by way of tribute, here is a mix of Aretha Franklin singing other people’s songs. In the parentheses I cite the respective song’s original performer.

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

1. Soulville (1968 – Dinah Washington)
2. Groovin’ (1968 – The Young Rascals)
3. Until You Come Back To Me (1973 – Stevie Wonder)
4. You’re All I Need To Get By (1971 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
5. Long And Winding Road (1972 – The Beatles)
6. Young, Gifted And Black (1972 – Nina Simone)
7. People Get Ready (1968 – The Impressions)
8. A Change Is Gonna Come (1967 – Sam Cooke)
9. Drown In My Own Tears (1967 – Sonny Thompson)
10. Bridge Over Troubled Water (1971 – Simon & Garfunkel)
11. Don’t Play That Song (1970 – Ben. E. King)
12. A Brand New Me (1972 – Jerry Butler)
13. Tracks Of My Tears (1968 – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
14. The Weight (1969 – The Band)
15. Dark End Of The Street (1970 – James Carr)
16. Eleanor Rigby (1970 – The Beatles)
17. Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing (1974 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
18. Something He Can Feel (1976 – Irene Cara)
19. Oh Happy Day (with Mavis Staples) (1987 – Edwin Hawkins Singers)
20. Ever Changing Times (with Michael McDonald) (1991)
21. I Dreamed A Dream (1991 – from ‘Les Misérables’)

https://rg.to/file/eaae79e442aff43fb0f1ba612c05a3f1/Arethasc.rar.html

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Covered With Soul
1970s Soul

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Any Major ABC: 1970s

July 26th, 2018 13 comments

 

This week we launch a new series of mixes which take us through a decade through the medium of the alphabet: from A-Z, each letter gets a song. So it’s all quite random and great fun; a bit like listening to an oldies station.

And it was fun — and torture — to choose songs for this mix. None of these are necessarily the best or even favourite tracks by the acts whose name begins with the particular letter. The only set song was the one that will kick off the A-Z of the 1960s, which gave me the idea for the concept. But I can’t run the 1960s yet because I have no representative for the letter X — I can think of no band that begins with X, nor a solo act whose first name begins with that letter.

The 1950s is even tougher: I have an X, but no U and no Z. The 1940s lack a Q — if anybody has any good ideas to fill these gaps, the comments are the place…

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

1. Archie Bell & The Drells – Let’s Groove (1975)
2. Bay City Rollers – You Made Me Believe In Magic (1977)
3. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen The Rain (1970)
4. Darts – Come Back My Love (1977)
5. Electric Light Orchestra – Livin’ Thing (1976)
6. Fortunes – Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again (1971)
7. Giorgio Moroder – From Here to Eternity (1977)
8. Hues Corporation – Rock The Boat (1974)
9. Ike & Tina Turner – Nutbush City Limits (1973)
10. Jam – The Eton Rifles (1979)
11. Kiss – Beth (1977)
12. Love Unlimited – It May Be Winter Outside (1973)
13. Mr. Bloe – Groovin’ With Mr. Bloe (1970)
14. New York City – I’m Doing Fine Now (1973)
15. Osmonds – Crazy Horses (1973)
16. Python Lee Jackson feat. Rod Stewart – In A Broken Dream (1972)
17. Quantum Jump – The Lone Ranger (1979)
18. Rodriguez – I Wonder (1970)
19. Sweet – Fox On The Run (1975)
20. T. Rex – Metal Guru (1972)
21. Undisputed Truth – Smiling Faces Sometimes (1970)
22. Vicky Lawrence – The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia (1975)
23. Wings – Live And Let Die (1973)
24. XTC – Making Plans For Nigel (1979)
25. Yvonne Elliman – If I Can’t Have You (1977)
26. ZZ Top – Tush (1974)

https://rg.to/file/5181e7a4c30152087788b55e98e54f7c/ABC70.rar.html

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Any Major Guitar Vol. 2

July 19th, 2018 3 comments

 

 

The second mix of great guitar bits that I really dig. As with Any Major Guitar Vol. 1, I make no claims of the featured tracks belonging in any hierarchy. It’s all entirely subjective, as it usually is in music.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and it includes home-strummed covers.

 

1. Prince – Let’s Go Crazy (1984)
Byoong moment: 2:40. Prince was such a genius at so many things that his guitar beroics are easily forgotten. But just listen to tracks like When Doves Cry, Purple Rain, I Wanna Be Your Lover or his out-claptoning solo on a live cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps to know that he ranks among the great axemen.

2. Thin Lizzy – Whisky In The Jar (1971)
Byoong moment: 2:19. Before Gary Moore, there was Eric Bell in Thin Lizzy. It’s Bell’s guitar which turns this Irish folk-song into a rock classic, with that opening line, that guitar riff, and that minute-long solo that sounds thoroughly rock as well as faithful to the song’s Irish pipes.

3. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Come Up And See Me (1977)
Byoong moment: 1:50. A false ending, with a rather long pause, then Jim Cregan’s gorgeous flamenco acoustic solo kicks in. A story has it that the solo had been captured on tape during a soundcheck and later inserted by producer Alan Parsons later. A good story but probably not true.

4. Blondie – (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear (1978)
Byoong moment: 1:18. The great musician in Blondie is drummer Clem Burke (just listen to him here), though they were all much more accomplished musicians than the punk label suggested. Chris Stein’s guitar on Presence Dear shimmers and illuminates his girlfriend, Deborah Harry, much as it did on X-Offender, which was another contender.

5. The Smiths – This Charming Man (1984)
Byoong moment: 2:26. I have a theory that it wasn’t so much Morrissey’s lyrics that inspired a generation of alienated, misunderstood youths (many of the lyrics are embarrassingly bad, especially from a man who belittled others for writing “awful poetry”), but Johnny Marr’s guitar which could steer your emotions, from uplifted to dejected (that whine on How Soon Is Now, which might have featured here). There are many Marr moments to pick from; I’ll land on the jolly line he plays at 2:26.

6. Aztec Camera – Oblivious (1983)
Byoong moment: 1:48. A perfect pop song with delightful little guitar arpeggios interspersed throughout, leading us to a joyous guitar solo by singer-songwriter Roddy Frame.

7. Colin Hay – Overkill (acoustic) (2003)
Byoong moment: 1:48. Here the singer of the Men At Work hit cools things down with a superb vocal performance. It’s the simple but lovely acoustic guitar solo, also by Colin Hay, that signals an increase in intensity.

8. John Mayer – Gravity (2006)
Byoong moment: 2:05. Put aside John Mayer’s douchebag persona and you’ll find a very good guitarist. Often, there’s a lot of gurning self-indulgence in Mayer’s white bluesman’s guitar work, but sometimes he shows restraint and it is quite beautiful, as it is here.

9. Chris Isaak – Blue Hotel (1987)
Byoong moment: 1:52. The riff brings to mind the kind of Mexican border settings of shows like Breaking Bad, and James Calvin Wilsey‘s solo could soundtrack the gruesome but satisfactory killing in the desert of an evil drug kingpin. Wilsey also played the solo on Wicked Game, another contender for inclusion.

10. Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street (1977)
Byoong moment: 4:47. The obvious star of Baker Street (featured here in its LP version) is the late Raphael Ravenscroft’s alto sax, so the terrific guitar solo by Hugh Burns often is overlooked. Still, it inspired Slash’s solo for Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child o’ Mine. Hugh Burns’ other famous guitar performance was also on a song dominated by a saxophone: George Michael’s Careless Whispers (he also played on sax-less Faith and Father Figure).

11. Rod Stewart – Sailing (1975)
Byoong moment: 2:15. The first song I slow-danced to with a girl I liked, so the simple but lovely acoustic guitar intro still gives me butterflies; by the time of the guitar solo I’m as deeply in love as a 11-year-old can be. Both guitars are played by Muscle Shoals session man Pete Carr, who also might have featured for Bob Seger’s Against The Wind.

12. Santana – Samba Pa Ti (1970)
Byoong moments: 0:00. It’s all guitar here, starting with those mournful notes and becoming progressively more joyous. Carlos Santana gets great support from keyboardist and co-writer Gregg Rolie.

13. The Allman Brothers Band – Blue Sky (1972)
Byoong moments: 1:07 & 2:37. Two great solos for the price of one. First Duane Allman, in the last thing he played before his death in a motorcycle accident, lets his guitar sing. Then at 2:37 Dicky Betts gets his welcome turn. His distinctive guitar style has, by default, become synonymous with British small-world blokey bigotry through the instrumental Jessica, the theme of Top Gear.

14. The Doobie Brothers – China Grove (1973)
Byoong moment: 2:24. Tom Johnstone’s guitar riff deserves an entry on its own — but then, if you are going down the Doobie route, Long Train Running would be your first stop. But no Doobies song has a solo quite as delicious as that by Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter.

15. Status Quo – Rockin’ All Over The World (1977)
Byoong moment: 0:55 & 2:38. It’s easy to laugh at Status Quo’s three-chord career, as if they were musically limited. Don’t be fooled. Rockin’ All Over The World is a great pop-rock record, and it’s lifted higher by those joyous guitar solos, especially the increasingly insistent solo led by Rick Parfitt towards the end, with Francis Rossi providing the high-pitched fills, that sees out the song.

16. Chuck Berry – Too Much Monkey Business (1957)
Byoong moment: 1:17. It could have been any number of Chuck Berry songs to feature here. Truth be told, I’m a bit tired of the overplayed ones — Johnny B Goode, Roll Over Beethoven etc. Two solos here: the first is classic Berry; the second a throw-away effort.

17. Elvis Presley – Hound Dog (1956)
Byoong moment: 0:50 & 1:22. To white ears reared on Perry Como, Hound Dog must have been a shock: so much ferocious noise! Even now, 62 years later, Hound Dog is punk. Elvis’ raucous vocals, J.D. Fontana’s brutal drum rolls, the relentless bass, and Scotty Moore’s insolent guitar breaks. Moore later didn’t know himself how he produced that sound; he remembers being pissed off at the countless takes Elvis had the musicians play (Presley was the de facto producer of the song). In the end there were 31 takes; Elvis chose Take 18. It may well be the greatest rock & roll record of them all. (See the Hound Dog Song Swarm)

18. Jim Steinman – Love And Death And An American Guitar (1981)
Byoong moment: none. There’s no guitar here, nor any instrument, but it’s all about a guitar. Jim’s guitar has “a heart of chrome and a voice like a horny angel”, but he doesn’t know how “to treat an expensive musical instrument”. Steinman was not famous for his comedy nor for his mastery understatement, so this has to be one of the best unintentionally funny things ever committed to record.

19. Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell (1977)
Byoong moment: 6:09. And from there we move to Steinman’s greatest production, the gloriously overblown, operatic Bat Out Of Hell. Meat Loaf might own the song, but the real star of the show is Todd Rundgren’s guitar which not only scores the emotions and fills solo needs, but most importantly provides the sound-effect for the revving motorbike. It might well be the greatest guitar solo of all time, as this superb account of the recording, mainly true but embellished for effect, claims.

https://rg.to/file/608da0e68d839ce743938f6065228d75/guit_2.rar.html

 

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Great Covers: Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978)

July 12th, 2018 10 comments

 

 

I first wrote this post seven years ago. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of 1978’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town, so it seems a good idea to revive my appreciation for the LP and its cover work, the latter by the words below, the former by a collection of cover versions of its songs, in the proper track order.

One track, Prove It All Night, isn’t a cover, but such a reworking that it might as well be, from Springsteen 1978 tour (from the Agora Ballroom gig in Cleveland, bootleg fans). Just as I was putting this set together, it was announced that Springsteen has released a remastered version of his legendary gig from the same tour at the Roxy in LA. One track here has featured before: the Flying Picket’s a capella version of Factory, which was on the Any Major Springsteen Covers mix that accompanied my review of Bruce’s autobiography.

For many years Darkness On The Edge Of Town, in my view Bruce Springsteen’s greatest album, was rather underrated. The trouble might have been that it produced no hit single, and nothing as exuberant as Born To Run on the preceding album of the same name or Hungry Hearts on 1980’s The River. The album’s title suggests an existential sense of alienation, a loss of hope and a ferocious anger, which is reflected in the songs, in their sound and in their words. The hope of Thunder Road on Born To Run gives way to the despondent resignation of Racing In The Streets on Darkness. The guitar-driven elation of Born To Run here becomes the guitar-driven anger of Candy’s Room or Adam Raised A Cain.

In the publicity blurb for the de luxe CD/DVD set of Darkness, Springsteen describes the album has his “samurai” record. I think of it as his Scorsese album. Mean Streets, the name of Martin Scorsese’s 1973 film, might have been a great alternative title for Springsteen’s only Carter-era LP. The cover complements the feel of the album perfectly. A tired-looking Bruce stands in what looks like a rather dreary apartment. His dishevelled hair calls to mind Al Pacino in Serpico, his penetrating stare Robert de Niro’s. One almost expects John Cazale to lurk behind the closed blinds, ready to embark on some ill-fated adventure or other (alas, that wonderful actor died on 12 March 1978, exactly a week before the completion of the recordings for Darkness , which begun in October 1977).

 

 

Rarely does an album cover condense in one simple photo the whole direction of an album. Photographer Frank Stefanko’s iconic photo of Springsteen did just that – without having heard the songs or knowing what they were about.

Stefanko, who also shot the cover of 1980’s The River, met Springsteen through Patti Smith, who had a big hit in 1978 with Because The Night, one of the many songs Springsteen had recorded for Darkness and then rejected. It was the beginning of a friendship that has survived the intervening three decades. In an interview with Pitchfork, Stefanko recalls doing a test shoot at his home in Haddonfield, New Jersey. More shoots followed, but it was that initial session that generated the cover art for Darkness.

Stefanko told Pitchfork that “the original shoot was just done with my perception of how I thought he wanted to look or how I wanted him to look […] From what I understand, when he looked at the photograph he said, ‘That’s the person that I’m writing about. That’s the person that is the Darkness on the Edge of Town character and that’s what I want on my cover.”

Springsteen recalled the shoot in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian: “He [Stefanko] was a guy who’d worked in a meat-packing plant in south Jersey. He got the 13-year-old kid from next door to hold a light. He borrowed a camera. I don’t know if he even had a camera! But when I saw the picture I said, ‘That’s the guy in the songs.’ I wanted the part of me that’s still that guy to be on the cover. Frank stripped away all your celebrity and left you with your essence. That’s what that record was about.”

In fact, Stefanko, who in 1978 was 32, had owned a camera since he was seven years old, and had been taking photos on a serious basis since the 1960s.

 

 

The Darkness photos may seem casual, snapshots taken on the fly. They were, in fact, the product of a long shoot. On the picture used for the cover, Springsteen wears a white t-shirt. On other photos taken during the same session, he wears a black shirt, and then a hideous purple paisley shirt with the leather jacket he wears on the front cover.

“We were trying to recreate these middle America, working class families; guys that were looking for redemption. It could have been done in the 70s or 50s or even the 40s. The idea was that these people transcended time or space,” Stefanko told Pitchfork. “But we were trying to get something to look like an old Kodacolor snapshot. There were a lot of black and white photographs taken in those sessions too which were very striking in their own right. But the idea of this color photograph that could have been a snapshot in somebody’s drawer worked for the album.”

From all that we learn that Stefanko had pretty awful taste in wallpaper in 1978. The new owners of the house took the right decision to paper over it, but neglected to sell scraps of it, thereby missing one of the great opportunities for profiteering from a photographer’s ugly wallpaper.

Of course this mix easily fits on a standard CD-R. I haven’t made home-gigged covers for this set. PW in comments.

1. Dropkick Murphys – Badlands (2012)
2. Jeff Healey Band – Adam Raised A Cain (1994)
3. Aram – Something In The Night (1997)
4. Maria McKee – Candy’s Room (2005)
5. Emmylou Harris – Racing In The Streets (1982)
6. Frans Pollux – Belaofde Land (Dutch version of Promised Land) (2013)
7. The Flying Pickets – Factory (1984)
8. Graziano Romani – Streets Of Fire (2001)
9. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Prove It All Night (live, 1978)
10. The Winter Blanket – Darkness On The Edge Of Town (2005)

https://rg.to/file/7d16442d45bbe5bdff2b48fb7e8d3f46/Darkness_rec.rar.html

 

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Any Major Soul 1977

June 28th, 2018 1 comment

There was still some great soul music made in 1977, but the fuel of the great age was slowly diminishing, unable to compete with disco and slow to find a new direction.

That’s why after a few years that required two volumes each in the Any Major Soul series, 1977 merits only one. Some great tracks didn’t make the cut, and this mix has plenty of great music. Earth, Wind & Fire’s I’ll Write A Song For You, with Philip Bailey’s astonishing falsetto, in particular is a masterpiece, from the best soul album of the year, All ‘N All.

Two artists here turned out to become pastors. The conversion of Al Green, featured here with a track from his first record produced outside Hi Records — was alluded to in my review of his biography. The other future preacher here is O.C. Smith, who some years earlier scored a big hits with The Son of Hickory Holler’s Tramp and Little Green Apples. He has featured here several times; I especially like his contribution to the first Any Major Fathers mix. Smith died in 2001 at the age of 69.

Frederick Knight appears here with the original of a song which two years later was released by K.C. & The Sunshine Band. Betcha Didn’t Know That, which is superior in the cover version, featured on Any Major B-Side (which also featured Al Green). Knight also wrote Anita Ward’s monster 1979 disco hit Ring My Bell. You can see Knight in the superb Wattstax documentary, on the “Black Woodstock” in 1972 (the full film is on YouTube).

The Joneses, not to be confused with the 1980s California rock band, were a harmonising singing quartet from Pittsburgh who initially were championed by Dionne Warwick. The group, whose members were not called Jones, had a minor hit in 1974 with Sugar Pie Guy and something of a disco hit in 1975 with Love Inflation. They then broke up before being briefly revived by member Glenn Dorsey to bring out an eponymous LP in 1977, of which the track featured here, Who Loves You, was the lead single. And that was it for The Joneses.

There is an interesting family connection for Roger Hatcher; his cousin was Edwin Starr (née Charles Hatcher). His brother Willie was a soul singer, too, and his other brother, Roosevelt, a saxophonist. Roger, a prolific songwriter, began recording in 1968 but he changed labels so often that he never enjoyed a breakthrough. In part this was due to Roger’s uncompromising personality, in part due to the manipulative and/or incompetent ways of record executives. Hatcher died in 2002.

The most obscure artist here must be Bill Brantley. As far as I can see, he released two singles under his name, and a few more singles as the latter half of the duo Van & Titus. The track here could have featured in the Covered With Soul series: it’s a version (in my view superior) of a Dr Hook song. It was recorded in Nashville, and the country vibe is evident.

Bill Brandon, who has featured a few times on this site, is another great singer who never made that great breakthrough.  He made his mark in the late 1960s, when Percy Sledge covered his song Self Preservation. He also got some attention for his superb Rainbow Road, a murder ballad written by Dan Penn which was later covered by Arthur Alexander. After a string of singles he finally released his first and only album in 1977. Brandon left the music business in 1987 and became a truck driver and later a night club owner.

There was also just one album for Allspice, who were produced by the Crusaders’ Wayne Henderson — and the jazz fusion influence runs strongly through it. The band — made up of members of three soul groups — appeared to together on another album, Ronnie Laws’ Fever from 1976, which was also produced by Henderson.

The mix closes with a track from The Memphis Horns, who put out a series of albums besides plating on many soul classics. Led by Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love, their 1977 Get Up And Dance album also featured veteran soul saxophonists James Mitchell and Lewis Collins and trombonist Jack Hale.

1. Crown Heights Affair – Dreaming A Dream
2. The Emotions – A Feeling Is
3. High Inergy – Save It For A Rainy Day
4. Linda Clifford – Only Fooling Myself
5. Marlena Shaw – Look At Me-Look At You (We’re Flying)
6. Minnie Riperton – Stay In Love
7. Earth, Wind & Fire – I’ll Write A Song For You
8. Shirley Brown – Blessed Is The Woman (With A Man Like Mine)
9. Al Green – Belle
10. Bill Brantley – A Little Bit More
11. Natalie Cole – Annie Mae
12. Rose Royce – Ooh Boy
13. William Bell – Tryin’ To Love Two
14. Frederick Knight – I Betcha Didn’t Know That
15. The Joneses – Who Loves You
16. Roger Hatcher – Your Love Is A Masterpiece
17. O. C. Smith – Wham Bam (Blue Collar Man)
18. Teddy Pendergrass – I Don’t Love You Anymore
19. Bill Brandon – No Danger Of Heartbreak Ahead
20. Allspice – Destiny
21. Memphis Horns – Keep On Smilin’
BONUS TRACK: Mark Williams – House For Sale

https://rg.to/file/1cc8fa4b91c039f08795766b2b7741ff/AMS_77.rar.html

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