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Any Major Roads Vol. 3

February 9th, 2017 5 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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Any Major Disco Vol. 5

December 29th, 2016 3 comments

any-major-disco-vol-5

As last year, we are seeing out December with a mix of disco songs, especially for New Year’s Eve. After the annus horribilis we have had — 2016 cannot piss off soon enough — we are going for pure nostalgia with the obvious classics of the genre. Even some which back in the day some of us night have thought of as naff (but how wrong we were about Boney M!).

This mix is set up for dancing — I’ve even sequenced the thing to roughly account for the BPMs — whether in a big group, or with your partner or by yourself. Just put on your dancing shoes and shake your booty to the boogie.

And if you need more to dance to, get multiple fixes of the previous four Any Major Disco mixes and the eight-volume Any Major Funk (which really was mostly disco as well). The whole lot can be found in one handy repository. As far as I can see, all links are still live.

By the way, check out which acts Germany’s Bravo magazine chose as their disco groups of 1978.

And so I wish you, as the Germans say, a good slide into the New Year. May 2017 give us respite from the ceaselessly obnoxious 2016, and may it bring you personally much to be joyful about.

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

1. Kool & the Gang – Ladies’ Night (1979)
2. Sister Sledge – Lost In Music (1979)
3. Chaka Khan – I’m Every Woman (1978)
4. KC & the Sunshine Band – Shake Your Booty (1976)
5. Rose Royce – Car Wash (1977)
6. Chic – Dance Dance Dance (1977)
7. The Jacksons – Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) (1979)
8. Alicia Bridges – I Love The Nightlife (1978)
9. Anita Ward – Ring My Bell (1979)
10. Gibson Brothers – Que Sera Mi Vida (1980)
11. Amii Stewart – Knock On Wood (1979)
12. Patrick Hernandez – Born To Be Alive (1979)
13. Boney M – Ma Baker (1977)
14. Amanda Lear – Queen Of Chinatown (1977)
15. La Bionda – One For You, One For Me (1978)
16. Donna Summer – Bad Girls (1979)
17. Andrea True Connection – More, More, More (1976)
18. Shirley & Co – Shame Shame Shame (1975)
19. Silver Convention – Fly Robin Fly (1975)

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Notable music deaths of 2016

December 27th, 2016 20 comments

all-the-people-whove-died-2016

Readers of the monthly In Memoriam round-up would have spotted 2016 as an annus horribilis in music deaths already in March — by the time Prince went in April, we were just confirmed in that view.

The only nearly comparable year I can think of is 1977, when Elvis Presley, Marc Bolan, Bing Crosby, Sandy Denny and Buddy Johnson went, plus the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the plane crash (1978 was also shitty, so don’t even hope for a milder 2017). Given that the pool of pop musicians of death-appropriate age was still pretty small then, that was some heavy-going. But at least, for all its not insignificant problems, 1977 was not the political clusterfuck which 2016 was. Indeed, 1977 was the post-war 20th century we knew; 2016 put an end to that era.

As always in my end-of-year In Memoriam round-up, I nominate the most significant deaths of the year by categories of 20 (in pop-rock), tens or fives. Some people could have been included in more than one; I might have omitted somebody who you think must be included, but them’s the subjective shakes. There are some I wanted to include, but just couldn’t. The stories of many the people listed here, and many more who aren’t, were told in the monthly In Memoriams — revisit them here.

Some of the people who died were paid tribute to with special mixes:, a mix of songs that Rod Temperton wrote or produced or played on, a mix of covers of Leonard Cohen songs, a DJ setlist compiled by Prince himself, and Ziggy Stardust in cover versions.

And this year, I offer a People Who’ve Died 2016 mix: I’ve chosen the 20 people who died this year whose music meant the most to me. In that, I’ll limit myself to people actually being in the featured band, so no songwriters, producers or session musicians will feature, even if the body of their contributions was weighty.

So, with that to the year’s dead. If anybody meriting inclusion dies within the last few days of the year, I’ll include them in edits, as I did with Natalie Cole in last year’s Notable Music Deaths of 2015. Of course they’ll feature in the monthly In Memoriam list, which will appear in the first week of the new year.

And, 2016, do fuck off.

 

POP/ROCK
David Bowie
, 69, legend, on Jan. 10
Prince, 57, music genius, on April 21
Leonard Cohen, 82, Canadian singer-songwriter and poet, on Nov. 7
George Michael, 53, English singer and songwriter (Wham!), on Dec. 25
Leon Russell
, 74, singer, songwriter and musician, on Nov. 13
im16-rock-pop_1

Glenn Frey, 67, member of Eagles, singer-songwriter, actor, on Jan. 18
Rick Parfitt, 68, rhythm guitarist and singer with Status Quo, on Dec. 24
Greg Lake, 69, English singer and guitarist/bassist (King Crimson, ELP), on Dec. 7
Keith Emerson, 71, English rock keyboardist (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), on March 10
Black/Colin Vearncombe, 53, British singer-songwriter, on Jan. 26
im16-rock-pop_2

Pete Burns, 57, English singer and songwriter (Dead or Alive), on Oct. 23
Henry McCullough, 72, Northern Irish guitarist with Spooky Tooth, Wings, on June 14
Paul Kantner, 74, guitarist, singer, co-founder of Jefferson Airplane/ Starship, on Jan. 28
Signe Toly Anderson, 74, original singer of Jefferson Airplane, on Jan. 28
Alan Vega, 78, half of protopunk duo Suicide, on July 16
im16-rock-pop_3

Dale Griffin, 67, drummer of Mott The Hoople, on Jan. 17
Andy Newman, 73, pianist of British band Thunderclap Newman, announced on March 30
Lennie Baker, 69, singer with Sha Na Na, on Feb. 24
Nick Menza, 51, German-born drummer of Megadeth, on May 21
Steven Young, member of British electronic bands Colourbox and M/A/R/R/S, on July 13
im16-rock-pop_4

 

SOUL/FUNK
Maurice White, 74, singer, drummer, composer, producer, arranger, on Feb. 4
Billy Paul, 81, soul singer, on April 24
Wayne Jackson, 74, legendary trumpeter (The Memphis Horns), on June 21
Bernie Worrell, 72, keyboard player with Parliament-Funkadelic, on June 24
Mack Rice, 82, soul songwriter and singer, on June 27
im16-soul_1

Phife Dawg, 45, member of hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, on March 22
Colonel Abrams, 67, soul/funk singer, on Nov. 25
Nicholas Caldwell, 71, extravagantly bearded singer with The Whispers, on Jan. 5
Kashif (née Michael Jones), 56, soul singer, songwriter and producer, on Sept. 25
Clarence ‘Blowfly’ Reid, 76, soul-funk musician, songwriter and producer, on Jan. 17
im16-soul_2

 

COUNTRY
Merle Haggard, 79, country singer-songwriter, on April 6
Ralph Stanley, 89, bluegrass legend, on June 23
Jean Shepard, 82, country singer and songwriter, on Sept. 25
Steve Young, 73, country singer–songwriter, on March 17
John D. Loudermilk
, 82, singer and songwriter, on Sept. 21
im16-country_1

Red Simpson, 81, country singer and songwriter, on Jan. 8
Sonny James, 87, country singer-songwriter, on Feb. 22
Bonnie Brown, 77, member of country group The Browns, on July 16
Holly Dunn, 59, country music singer-songwriter, on Nov. 14
Joe Clay, 78, rockabilly singer and guitarist, on Sept. 26
im16-country_2

 

FOLK
Guy Clark, 74, folk and country singer-songwriter, on May 17
Fred Hellerman, 89, folk singer-songwriter, guitarist with The Weavers; producer, on Sept. 1
Glenn Yarbrough, 86, folk singer, on Aug. 11
Dave Swarbrick, 75, fiddler with British folk band Fairport Convention, on June 3
Oscar Brand, 96, folk singer-songwriter, author and radio personality, on Sept. 30
Karl Dallas, 85, folk songwriter, writer and peace campaigner, on June 21
im16-folk

 

JAZZ
Mose Allison, 89, jazz pianist, singer and songwriter, on Nov. 15
Toots Thielemans, 94, Belgian jazz harmonica player and guitarist, on Aug. 22
Alphonse Mouzon, 68, jazz fusion drummer, on December 26
Jeremy Steig, 73, jazz-rock flautist, on April 13
Joe Houston, 89, R&B and jazz saxophonist, on Dec. 28, 2015 (didn’t make on last year’s round-up)
Bill Henderson, 90, jazz singer and actor, on April 3
im16-jazz

 

MOM’S FAVOURITES
Bobby Vee, 73, pop singer, on Oct. 24
Kay Starr
, 94, pop and jazz singer, on Nov. 3
Marni Nixon, 86, singer (voice-over for Natalie Wood, Audrey Hepburn etc), on July 24
Gogi Grant, 91, pop and musicals singer, on March 10
Frank Sinatra Jr., 72, singer and actor, on March 15
im16-moms-faves

 

PIONEERS
Scotty Moore, 84, pioneering Rock & Roll guitarist, on June 28
Lonnie Mack, 74, singer and guitar pioneer, on April 21
Emile Ford, 78, Saint Lucia-born pop singer and pioneering sound engineer, on April 11
Jean-Jacques Perrey
, 87, pioneering French electronic musician, producer, on Nov. 4
Ray ‘Miss Ray’ Singleton, 79, early Motown songwriter and producer, on Nov. 11
im16-pioneers

 

WORLD
Papa Wemba, 66, Congolese singer, on April 24
Hubert Giraud, 94, French songwriter, on Jan. 16
Naná Vasconcelos, 71, Brazilian jazz percussionist and singer, on March 9
Buckwheat Zydeco, 68, accordionist and bandleader, on Sept. 24
Mandoza
, 38, South African kwaito musician, on Sept. 18
im16-world

 

BLUES/ GOSPEL/REGGAE/SKA
Prince Buster, 78, Jamaican ska musician, on Sept. 8
Joe Ligon, 80, lead singer of gospel group Mighty Clouds Of Joy, on Dec. 11
Long John Hunter, 84, blues guitarist and singer-songwriter, on Jan. 4
Candye Kane
, 54, blues singer-songwriter and porn actress, on May 6
L.C. Ulmer, 87, blues musician, on Feb. 14
im16-blues-etc

 

SESSION MUSICIANS
Harrison Calloway, 75, trumpeter and leader of the Muscle Shoals Horns, on April 30
Bob Cranshaw, 83, jazz bassist, on Nov. 2
Herbert Hardesty, 91, jazz trumpeter & saxophonist, on Dec. 3
Al Caiola
, 96, American guitarist and composer, on Nov. 9
Dennis Davis, session drummer, on April 6
im16-session-players

 

PRODUCERS/ARRANGERS
George Martin, 90, English record producer, composer, arranger and engineer, on March 8
Chips Moman, 79, songwriter, producer, engineer, guitarist, on June 13
Rod Temperton, 66, English keyboardist, songwriter, producer, on Oct. 5
Lewis Merenstein, 81, producer (Van Morrison), on Sept. 6
Giorgio Gomelsky, 81, impresario, band manager, songwriter, producer, on Jan. 13
im16-producers

 

SONGWRITERS
Curly Putman, 85, country songwriter, on Oct. 30
Sonny Sanders, 77, soul songwriter, arranger, producer, on Oct. 12
Jimmy Haskell, 79, arranger, conductor and TV/film composer, on Feb. 2
Gary S. Paxton, 77, producer and singer-songwriter, on July 16
Sandy Pearlman, 72, producer, songwriter and manager, on July 26
im16-songwriters

 

MOVERS & SHAKERS
Phil Chess
, 95, producer and co-founder of Chess Records, on Oct. 19
Robert Stigwood, 81, Australian music, theatre and film impresario, on Jan. 4
Chris Stone, 81, co- owner of the Record Plant studio, on Sept. 10
David Mancuso, 72, DJ and founder of New York club The Loft, on Nov. 12im16-movers-shakers

And so to the tribute mix. CD-R length, home-untertaken covers included. PW in comments.

1. Status Quo – Again And Again (1978)
2. David Bowie – Changes (1971)
3. Leon Russell – Roll Away The Stone (1970)
4. Mott The Hoople – All The Way From Memphis (1973)
5. Prince – Baby I ‘m A Star (1984)
6. Mandoza – Nkalakatha (2001)
7. Sir Mack Rice – Dark Skin Woman (Part 1) (1975)
8. Billy Paul – Let ‘Em In (1974)
9. Earth, Wind & Fire – In The Stone (1979)
10. Heatwave – Boogie Nights (1976)
11. The Whispers – Let’s Go All The Way (1978)
12. Black – Wonderful Life (1987)
13. George Michael – A Different Corner (1986)
14. Eagles – New Kid In Town (1976)
15. Leonard Cohen – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (1967)
16. Papa Wemba – Le Voyageur (1992)
17. Bobby Vee – Run to Him (1961)
18. Guy Clark – Stuff That Works (1995)
19. Merle Haggard – In My Next Life (1994)
20. Ralph Stanley – O Death (2000)

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Any Major Bob Dylan Covers Vol. 2

December 1st, 2016 11 comments

any-major-dylan-covers-vol-2

Only a few weeks after I posted the Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 1 Mix, the Nobel committee announced the Bobster as this year’s literature laureate. Coincidence? I doubt it. The only logical conclusion we can draw is that the folks at Nobel HQ is Stockholm are keen readers of Any Major Dude With Half A Heart, and that my mix persuaded them to give Dylan the gong. Bob, it seems, does not really want the award, and he is unlikely to thank me for my part in his Nobel Prize award. If only I could please everybody…

Anyhow, the first mix attracted a fair number of comments. Some of them addressed one of the great debates in pop history: is Bob Dylan’s voice an instrument of art or is it a punishing aural assault? It’s the kind of question that provokes internecine warfare even between Dylan fans.

My view? I think Dylan’s voice is, in itself, quite unpleasant. In most other artists, that nasal whine might be considered objectively offensive — even Trump supporters, who enthusiastically embrace the objectively offensive, would find it offensive. His lower register on the country-flavoured albums — on songs like Lay Lady Lay and Just Like A Woman — is more tolerable, but you’d be hard-pressed call it beautiful.

But the tone of his voice, however you perceive it, is not really important. Indeed, one can acquire a taste for it, just as people acquire a taste for things as revolting as tequila, broccoli or mayonnaise. What is important is how Bob Dylan uses that voice. At his best, Dylan doesn’t so much sing his songs as he inhabits them — and that is the mark of a great singer. In so many of his songs, his vocals not only drive the narrative, but they are a character in it.

That works best when Dylan has a stake in the songs he sings. There are very few singers who can spit venom quite as Dylan. In Hurricane, that anger is on the verge of boiling over; but this is not just anger. With his delivery, with the encunciation of single syllables, he also communicates an utter contempt for the system which he is singing about. The effect is devastating; no other singer could do Hurricane to such great effect as Dylan does it. What does it matter that his voice isn’t lovely? Likewise, the menacing derision for the subjects of his contempt which he conveys in his vocals on mean-spirited songs like Positively 4th Street, Ballad of A Thin Man or Like A Rolling Stone hits you in the gut. Not many singers can do that.

dylan1-photocopy

Dylan might have an ugly voice, but he has an extraordinary way of delivery — especially, as I’ve said, when he is invested in the words he is singing (which might explain why few of his covers of other people’s music are particularly outstanding). To be sure, there are also many Dylan songs which are immeasurably improved by cover versions.

One such song is All I Really Want To Do, from Dylan’s 1964 LP Another Side of Bob Dylan. I really like Dylan’s version, especially the idea of a songwriter laughing at his own lyrics. But in The Byrds’ version, a comprehensive reinvention, the song becomes a thing of special beauty. As does the lovely Every Grain Of Sand, which is okay when sung by Dylan, but sublime in Emmylou Harris’ treatment.

And this is the genius of Bob Dylan’s music: as it is with Beatles songs, they can be interpreted and reinvented them to good effect in so many ways. This second collection of Dylan covers testifies to this.

Incidentally, in the first post of Dylan covers I promised three mixes. Clearly, that is not enough. I’m up to five mixes now.

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

1. The Band – When I Paint My Masterpiece (1971)
2. The Byrds – All I Really Want To Do (1965)
3. Simon & Garfunkel – The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964)
4. Nina Simone – Ballad of Hollis Brown (1965)
5. Sam Cooke – Blowin’ In The Wind (1964)
6. Solomon Burke – Maggie’s Farm (1965)
7. Billy Preston – She Belongs To Me (1969)
8. The Flying Burrito Brothers – To Ramona (1971)
9. The Hollies – I Want You (1969)
10. The Piccadilly Line – Visions Of Johanna (1967)
11. Arlo Guthrie – When The Ship Comes In (1972)
12. New Riders Of The Purple Sage – You Angel You (1974)
13. Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson – Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (2015)
14. John Mellencamp – Farewell, Angelina (1999)
15. Steve Earle & Lucia Micarelli – One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) (2012)
16. Everly Brothers – Abandoned Love (1985)
17. Thea Gilmore – I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine (2003)
18. Jennifer Warnes – Sign On The Window (1979)
19. Leon Russell – It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (1971)
20. Joan Baez – One Too Many Mornings (1968)
21. Caravelli Orchestra – Wigwam (1977)

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Any Major Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2016 14 comments

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A long-time friend of this place recently contacted me about ideas for a radio playlist of songs for Thanksgiving. Well, even if that holiday is American, and therefore not one I celebrate, I thought that there could be a good mix of songs about being thankful.

And this is such a mix. It kicks off with two songs that riff happily about Thanksgiving (well, one is an instrumental but you’ll know why it’s the opener), and it closes with a couple of tracks that take a more nuanced approach to the holiday.

In between, there are lots of songs about being grateful about all manner of things other than white people in funny hats coming to take land that didn’t belong to them. And I didn’t consider songs about the epicurean side of things, so no songs about pumpkin or apple pie, nor about cold turkey.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-cooked covers. PW in comments. And if you are thankful for this mix, leave a comment there.

1. Vince Guaraldi Trio – Thanksgiving Theme (1973)
2. Johnny Cash – Thanksgiving Prayer (1994)
3. Big Star – Thank You Friends (1975)
4. Sly & the Family Stone – Thankful n’ Thoughtful (1973)
5. Sam & Dave – I Thank You (1968)
6. Bobby Womack – Thank You (1969)
7. Earth, Wind & Fire – Gratitude (1975)
8. William DeVaughn – Be Thankful For What You Got (1974)
9. Ronnie McNeir – I’m So Thankful (1972)
10. Bobby Powell – Thank You (1973)
11. Pat Lundy – Friend Of Mine (I Wanna Thank You So Much) (1973)
12. Donny Hathaway – Thank You Master (For My Soul) (1970)
13. Maze feat. Frankie Beverley – I Wanna Thank You (1983)
14. Crusaders feat. Joe Cocker – I’m So Glad I’m Standing Here Today (1981)
15. Andrew Gold – Thank You For Being A Friend (1978)
16. Statler Brothers – Thank You World (1974)
17. Kris Kristofferson – Thank You For A Life (2006)
18. Charlotte Kendrick – Thank You (2007)
19. Drive-By Truckers – The Thanksgiving Filter (2011)
20. The National – Thanksgiving Song (2012)

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Any Major Cohen Covers

November 17th, 2016 19 comments

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At this year’s Emmy awards in September, some breathy, note-swallowing songstress sang Leonard Cohen’s magnificent though now overcooked Hallelujah over the section listing the year’s departed TV people. I don’t know why she sang that particular song, but it didn’t cross my mind that within a couple of months, Cohen himself would find inclusion on In Memoriam lists.

Cohen himself knew, though. And he checked out the day before Americans rejected notions of respect and decency. His death on November 7 was made public only four days later.

In April this year, Marianne Ihlen (née Jensen), Cohen’s muse who was immortalised in his song So Long Marianne, died. As Marianne lay dying of leukemia, Cohen wrote her a letter. In it he said: “Well, Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom … but now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

Now dab dry those most eyes, and take delight in this mix of covers of Leonard Cohen’s songs. It is a strange thing, but Cohen is not really widely covered, a few select songs aside. Often the same artists would return to the Cohen songbook. And yet, I think his songs are very coverable indeed, as this mix shows.

The most covered song in the Cohen canon is 1984’s Hallelujah. Jeff Buckley’s version is the standard, of course, but I also like the two Shrek versions, John Cale’s in the film, and Rufus Wainwright’s on the soundtrack. Some versions are awful (apparently even Michael F. Bolton has molested the song). Here I’ve gone for Brandi Carlile’s lovely version — she is one of the finest contemporary singers — which was recorded live with The Seattle Symphony (the live album, Live at Benaroya Hall, is superb). Newsweek ranked it at #7 in its entertaining list of Top 60 versions of Hallelujah.

A few singers here are people with whom Cohen had close relationships. He was a mentor to Anjani Thomas and to some extent to Jennifer Warnes (they also wrote some songs together).  Judy Collins was his mentor. When Cohen was still a struggling poet-songwriter with no plans to become a singer, his fellow Canadian folkie recorded a couple of his compositions — and had a hit with Suzanne. I wrote about it in The Originals.

Cohen had some success with his latter albums, stepping in the gerontophile path smoothed by Johnny Cash. There is something about the wisdom of songs being delivered by a worn voice. Three Cohen songs are covered here by such worn voices; those of Johnny Cash, Marianne Faithful and Tom Jones. The latter nails his song especially.

I was going to run the second volume of the Bob Dylan covers this week, to follow up on the first mix. That will now have to wait.

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

1. Nick Cave – I’m Your Man (2006)
2. Pixies – I Can’t Forget (1991)
3. Joe Cocker – First We Take Manhattan (1999)
4. Lloyd Cole – Chelsea Hotel (1991)
5. Johnny Cash – Bird On A Wire (1994)
6. Roberta Flack – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (1969)
7. Françoise Hardy – Suzanne (1970)
8. Bell + Arc – So Long, Marianne (1971)
9. Judy Collins – Famous Blue Raincoat (1971)
10. Pearls Before Swine – Seems So Long Ago, Nancy (1971)
11. Esther Ofarim – You Know Who I Am (1969)
12. Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris – Sisters Of Mercy (1999)
13. Brandi Carlile – Hallelujah (2011)
14. Harvey Milk – One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong (1996)
15. Anjani Thomas – Blue Alert (2006)
16. Tom Jones – Tower Of Song (2012)
17. Marianne Faithfull – Going Home (2014)
18. Jennifer Warnes – A Singer Must Die (1986)
Bonus track: Madeleine Peyroux – Dance Me To The End Of Love (2004)

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Any Major Radio Vol. 2

November 10th, 2016 16 comments

Any Major Radio Vol. 2

The second edition of Any Major Radio has a real radio feel: these songs aren’t just about radio, but sound like they ought to be on the radio.

I never really got the difference between FM and AM types of music on US radio, but I suppose some of these songs could be on the FM movie soundtrack. I particularly like the sequence from Track 5 to 12 on this mix; the whole thing is rather good to drive to.

Some of these songs here were requests from readers in comments to Any Major Radio Vol. 1 — I have a few more suggestions in hand in case the response to this mix indicates interest in a third volume.

As always, CD-R length, covers, PW in comments. (As I was posting this I spotted that the cover says “Vol. 1”. Oops.)

1. Theme – News Radio (1995)
2. The Smiths – Panic (1986)
3. Elvis Costello and The Attractions – Radio Radio (1978)
4. Talking Heads – Radio Head (1986)
5. The Ravyns – Raised On Radio (1984)
6. Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere (2007)
7. Steve Earle – Satellite Radio (2007)
8. Dillard & Clark – The Radio Song (1968)
9. Don Williams – Listen To The Radio (1982)
10. Helen Reddy – Angie Baby (1975)
11. Dr. Hook – The Radio (1976)
12. The Velvet Underground – Rock & Roll (1970)
13. The Clash – Capital Radio One (1980)
14. Cheap Trick – On The Radio (1978)
15. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Roadrunner (1977)
16. Tom Petty – The Last DJ (2002)
17. Rick Mathews – Playin’ On The Radio (1991)
18. The Sports – Who Listens To The Radio (1979)
19. The Blasters – Border Radio (1981)
20. Larry Graham and Graham Central Station – My Radio Sure Sounds Good To Me (1979)
21. Edwin Starr – H.A.P.P.Y. Radio (1979)
22. Donna Summer – On The Radio (1979)
23. Zhané – Request Line (1997)

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Any Major Mexico

October 27th, 2016 14 comments

Any Major Mexico

On Tuesday, November 8, US citizens will have the option to elect as their president a spittle-spewing sphincter-mouthed polemicist who peddles the delusion the USA can build a wall across the long Mexican border — and make Mexico pay for it.

At least a third of Americans think that the streams of excrement that is being pumped into the US political discourse (and not only by old sphincter-mouth) is reasonable, aside from all the other poisonous stench which that bluster-bully has emitted from the putrid cesspool inside his corroded cranial cavity.

I have no idea whether former Mexican President Vicente Fox has any other redeeming features, but I enjoyed that particular Bad Hombre’s response to the crazy clown’s idea: “We’re not paying for that fucking wall.” This angered the bankrupt billionaire so much that he demanded an apology!

So this seems like a good time to observe the US-Mexico relationship via the medium of song, through which no demagogic dickhead can build a barrier.

Mexico has always fascinated songwriters. In Germany’s Schlager scene of the 1960s and ’70s, Mexico was the big thing. The biggest hit of them all was Rex Gildo’s rousing Fiesta Mexicana, which remains a cult hit in Germany, despite (or perhaps because) its cheesy arrangement. Still, Gildo’s exclamations of “Hossa!” rank among the most-inspired moments in ’70s pop, in any language. I include it as a bonus track.

In other songs the dreaded Heino sang about Tampico, Tony Marshall had Adios Amigos, Freddy Quinn chipped in with some Mexico song, Caterina Valente with another, and others with yet more songs about tequila and fiestas and senoritas. The Germany-based Les Humphries Singers sang their 1972 Schlager about Mexico in English (shamelessly ripping off Jimmy Driftwood’s The Battle Of New Orleans), and that is included here.

Old Sphincter mouth.

Old Sphincter mouth.

And Cuban singer Roberto Blanco made a German version of Tom Jones’ The Young New Mexican Puppeteer — and that takes us back to the US elections and the bigotry and fear-mongering and lack of kindness exhibited by the narcissistic nutter and the freak show that is doing his bidding. The song, by Jones or Blanco, isn’t set in Mexico but in a town near Albuquerque (which, of course, was annexed from Mexico), so it doesn’t qualify for inclusion in this mix. But listen to its lyrics HERE; they reference Lincoln, King and Twain. “The young New Mexican puppeteer, he saw the people all lived in fear. He thought that maybe they would listen to a puppet telling them what to do.” Hell, if the US doesn’t need a New Mexican puppeteer right now to bring peace and joy and civil rights, rather than Putin’s or Wall Street’s puppet.

One act German Schlager singers didn’t tend to cover was The Grateful Dead. They feature here in the guise of Bob Weir, from his 1972 Ace LP, which basically was a Dead album. Indeed, Mexicali Blues was a staple of the Deads’ live shows and was included on their 1974 greatest hits collection.

Frank Sinatra confuses matters a little. His 1956 cover of the 1930 hit It Happened In Monterrey takes the spelling of the California town, but the lyrics indicate that the song is still set in the city in Nuevo León state.

To be sure: This set is not intended to showcase Mexican music or Mexican acts, though the set closes with a tejano-fusion act, the Texas Tornados, whose members included Sir Douglas Quintet founders Doug Sahm and Augie Meyers, swamp rocker Freddy Fender, and accordionist Flaco Jiménez, one of those artists who have worked with some of the greatest acts in rock (such as like Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder and the Rolling Stones, who open this set) but whose name isn’t widely known.

Indeed, much of the mix is pretty relaxed, with few sounds of mariachi and no Speedy Gonzalez clichés abounding.

Above I disqualify Tom Jones’ song for being set in Albuquerque, not in Mexico. I also excluded Christopher Cross’ Ride Like The Wind for stopping at the border to Mexico. But at least two songs are not located in Mexico either: James Taylor is singing about his desire to go to Mexico, but he certainly is there already in his mind.

Dave Alvin’s sublime Rio Grande takes various stops in places in Texas and New Mexico, but from there he observes the storm clouds above Juarez and stares at the lights of Mexico before walking to the border bridge where the eponymous river forms the border. The song is wonderful; it also featured on Any Major Country Vol. 20.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R (so there were a few good songs I had to exclude) and includes home-fiestad covers. PW in comments.

1. The Rolling Stones – I’m Going Down (1975)
2. John Prine – Mexican Home (1973)
3. Delbert McClinton – Down Into Mexico (2005)
4. Carbon Leaf – Mexico (2009)
5. Blake Shelton – Playboys Of The Southwestern World (2003)
6. Dave Alvin – Rio Grande (2004)
7. Chris Isaak – South Of The Border (1996)
8. Merle Haggard – Mexican Bands (2010)
9. Steve Earle – Goodbye (1995)
10. Warren Zevon – Veracruz (1978)
11. Hoyt Axton – Evangelina (1975)
12. Emmylou Harris – Spanish Is A Loving Tongue (1981)
13. James Taylor – Mexico (1975)
14. Townes Van Zandt – Pancho And Lefty (1993)
15. Donovan – Sand And Foam (1967)
16. Bob Weir – Mexicali Blues (1972)
17. The Kingston Trio – Tijuana Jail (1959)
18. Long John Baldry – Mexico (1968)
19. Frank Sinatra – It Happened In Monterey (1956)
20. Stan Kenton and His Orchestra feat. June Christy – Tampico (1945)
21. Herb Alpert – Tijuana Taxi (1966)
22. Les Humphries Singers – Mexico (1972)
23. Texas Tornados – Adios Mexico (1990)
Bonus: Rex Gildo – Fiesta Mexicana (1972)

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