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Any Major Halloween Vol. 3

October 20th, 2016 5 comments

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Being nothing if not seasonal, I have put together a third Halloween mix. This one covers the black & white era of rock & roll, from the mid-’50s to the mid-’60s — which also happened to be the golden era for Halloween novelty songs. Some of these are utter gems; the value of others resides in their novelty.

Billy Lee Riley was a big influence on Bob Dylan Dylan influence. Like Warren Smith, another Dylan favourite, he was on Sun Records at a time when Sam Philips diverted all his promotional resources to Jerry Lee Lewis’ career. Dylan reckons Riley might have been a bigger star than Lewis. Like Smith, Riley left Sun and went west. He had a few minor hits, and worked as a session musician. In the early 1970 Riley quit music and moved into construction. He made a comeback in the 1990s, even earning a Grammy nomination for his 1997 blues album Hot Damn!. Billy Lee Riley died in 2009 at the age of 75.

Another Sun Records alumnus features here: Jumpin’ Gene Simmons who used to open for the young Elvis. He had only one single on Sun. His only hit, Haunted House, was released by Hi Records, future home to soul legends such as Al Green. One of the singer’s fans was young Israeli-American musician named Chaim Witz. When Witz — a name that, quite suitably, means “joke” — needed a cool name, he took that of Gene Simmons. The real Gene Simmons died in 2006 at the age of 73. The long-tongued douchebag is still around.

Not all acts here are rock & roll and R&B acts; some are garage rock bands. The Kingsmen are represented here with the instrumental Haunted Castle, the song that was the flip-side to their massive hit Louie Louie.

The Castle Kings released only two singles, including the track featured here. The writers of the 1961 song did rather better: Atlantic boss Ahmed Ertugun and future Halloween story Phil Spector.

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The Five Blobs were not even a band, but a collection of session musicians assembled by musician Bernie Knee to record the title song for the 1958 Steve McQueen movie The Blob, an early collaboration by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. In the 1970s, Knee recorded a song in support of Richard Nixon as the crook was fighting impeachment charges.

Round Robin does/do some impressive growling on his/their song — except it is not really clear who Round Robin was. Wikipedia suggests it was the songwriter Baker Thomas (who wrote The Wonder Of You); and in absence of any better info, I’ll go with that.

Music wasn’t really Bob McFadden’s claim to fame. He was rather better known as a voice actor on animated shows: his credits include Milton the Monster, Cool McCool and Snarf from the ThunderCats. His appearance here owes to an album he recorded in 1959 with folk-poet Rod McKuen. His background as a cartoon voice shows on the song. McFadden died in 2000 at the age of 76.

If producer/comedian Dickie Goodman sounds like an early version of a white rapper on his 1961 song, consider this: Goodman was the inventor of the “break-in” technique, an early type of sampling.

Of all the weird tracks here, the most bizarre must be Jimmy Cross’ 1964 song. It is a parody of the road death songs that were popular at the time — Dead Man’s Curve, Leader Of The Pack, Tell Laura I Love Her, Teen Angel or Last Kiss by J. Frank Wilson, whose similarly bizarre song in this mix precedes that by Cross. I Want MY Baby Back moves swiftly from the ridiculous to pure WTF. You have to love lines like this: “Well, when I come to I looked around, and there was the leader, and there was the pack, and over there was my baby.” But the denouement… well, it’s the reason the song features on a Halloween mix.halloween-labels_2Some people may think that I have yielded to cliché by including The Monster Mash. But in this collection, the song is placed within its context and very much belongs here.What is striking is how little it actually stand out from the rest of the crowd.

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

1. Jackie Morningstar – Rockin’ In The Graveyard (1959)
2. Billy Lee Riley – Nightmare Mash (1963)
3. Johnny Fuller – Haunted House (1959)
4. The Duponts – Screamin’ Ball (At Dracula Hall) (1958)
5. Bo Diddley – Bo Meets The Monster (1956)
6. Johnny Otis Show with Marci Lee – Castin’ My Spell (1969)
7. Kip Tyler – She’s My Witch (1958)
8. Little Richard – Heeby Jeebies (1956)
9. David Seville – Witch Doctor (1958)
10. The Monotones – Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958)
11. Round Robin – I’m The Wolfman (1965)
12. The Kingsmen – Haunted Castle (1963)
13. The Diamonds – Batman, Wolfman, Frankenstein Or Dracula (1959)
14. Ronnie Cook and The Gaylads – Goo Goo Muck (1965)
15. The Castle Kings – You Can Get Him – Frankenstein (1961)
16. Dickie Goodman – Horror Movies (1961)
17. Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers – Monster Mash (1962)
18. Jumpin’ Gene Simmons – Haunted House (1964)
19. Lloyd Price – Under Your Spell Again (1962)
20. Lee Ross – The Mummy’s Bracelet (1958)
21. Leroy Bowman – Graveyard (1958)
22. Allen Sherman – I See Bones (1963)
23. Bobby Rydell – That Old Black Magic (1960)
24. The Five Blobs – The Blob (1958)
25. Big Bee Kornegay – At The House Of Frankenstein (1958)
26. The Moontrekkers – Night Of The Vampire (1961)
27. Hollywood Flames – Frankenstein’s Den (1958)
28. J. Frank Wilson – Unmarked And Covered With Sand (1964)
29. Jimmy Cross – I Want My Baby Back (1965)
30. Bob McFadden – The Mummy (1959)
31. Gary ‘Spider’ Webb – The Cave (Part 1) (1961)

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 1
Any Major Halloween Vol. 2

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 7

October 13th, 2016 7 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Rod Temperton Collection

October 5th, 2016 6 comments

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The man who gave us such classics as Thriller, Rock With You, Off The Wall and Stomp has died, and I won’t wait till the next In Memoriam to pay tribute.

Rod Temperton died of cancer some time last week, about a week short of his 69th birthday, which would have been on Sunday. His death was announced only today (October 5).

English-born Temperton got his start as keyboardist and main songwriter of the British funk and soul group Heatwave. As the writer of hits like the dancefloor burners Groove Line and Boogie Nights, and soul burners like Always And Forever and Mindblowing Decisions, Temperton came to the attention of Quincy Jones.

Quincy quickly collaborated with Temperton on songs for Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall LP, for which the Brit wrote the title track, Rock With You and Burn This Disco Out. And not only did Temperton come up with music and lyrics, but also did the arrangements. On many of the songs he wrote, Temperton would arrange and often also produce.

He co-wrote the Brothers Johnson classic Stomp!, as well as a few other songs for the duo. Bassist Louis Johnson and Temperton often worked together on other projects; it is no coincidence that the Louis Johnson Collection which I put together on Johnson’s death in May 2015 and the present Rod Temperton Collection share many artists and even a few songs.

Temperton wrote the three best tracks on George Benson’s Give Me The Night album (the title track, Love X Love, and Off Broadway), and in 1982 contributed another title track to a classic LP: Michael Jackson’s Thriller, for which he also wrote Baby Be Mine and the frequently forgotten but surprisingly often covered (and sampled) The Lady In My Life.

Later he wrote songs like Yah Mo Be There and Sweet Freedom for Michael McDonald, and Baby Come To Me for Patti Austin. The former McDonald song and the Austin track are duets with James Ingram, who also turns up on Quincy Jones’ The Secret Garden (which surely must have been intended originally for Michael Jackson).

And so to this tribute to Rod Temperton of songs he wrote, or in some instances co-wrote. As always, it is timed to fit on a standard CD-R (without the bonus tracks), and includes hastily home-arranged covers. PW in comments.

1. Michael Jackson – Rock With You (1979)
2. Heatwave – Boogie Nights (1976)
3. Brothers Johnson – Light Up the Night (1979)
4. Herbie Hancock – Gettin’ To The Good Part (1982)
5. George Benson – Love X Love (1980)
6. Patti Austin & James Ingram – Baby Come To Me (1981)
7. Luther Vandross – Always And Forever (1994)
8. Anita Baker – Mystery (1986)
9. Lou Rawls – The Lady In My Life (1984)
10. Karen Carpenter – If We Try (1979/80)
11. Bob James – Sign Of The Times (1981)
12. Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom (1986)
13. Mica Paris – You Put A Move On My Heart (1992)
14. Quincy Jones feat. Barry White, Al B. Sure, James Ingram, El Debarge – The Secret Garden (1989)
15. Randy Crawford – Give Me The Night (Chill Night Mix) (1995)
16. Geno Jordan – Thriller (1983)
17. Marcia Hines – Stomp (2006)
Bonus Tracks:
Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (1979)
Heatwave – Mind Blowing Decisions (1978)
Quincy Jones – Razzamatazz (1980)
Klymaxx – Man Size Love (1986)
Diane Schuur – Nobody Does Me (1991)

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Any Major Flute Vol. 3

September 29th, 2016 12 comments

Any Major Flute Vol. 3

When I initially made these mixes in 2009, I had noted down songs featuring the flute for about a year, and I still stumbled across flutes that had previously passed me by, even in songs I know very well, such as Kris Kristofferson’s Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I Ever Did Before) and The 5th Dimension’s Up Up And Away, a song I have loved since I was a little boy. In the case of the latter I picked up the flute only while watching a clip of the song being performed on the Ed Sullivan Show. There will still be more flute mixes.

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1. Van McCoy – The Hustle (1975)
Flute moment: 0:35 Well, this is the soul anthem of flutology which everyone knows how to whistle, straight after chanting “Do the hustle!”

2. The 5th Dimension – Up-Up And Away (1967)
Flute moment: 1:43  The flute creeps in almost unnoticed in the background at 0:52, disappears and then asserts itself almost a minute later.

3. Dusty Springfield – I Can’t Wait Until I See My Baby’s Face (1967)
Flute moment: 0:01 The alto flute sets up the song with a 17-second intro. The job done it lets Dusty do her lovely thing. Check out Baby Washington’s equally flutetastic version.

4. Aretha Franklin – Until You Come Back to Me (1973)
Flute moment: 2:27   On Aretha’s cover version of Stevie Wonder’s much-neglected song, the flute serves as an occasional member of the rhythm section until it gets to show off its solo chops in the final third.

5. The Style Council – How She Threw It All Away (1988)
Flute moment:0:01  The flute comes in right away and returns periodically throughout, and gets a cool 15-second solo at 2:01, and from 3:41 stays with us till the end.

6. The National – So Far Around The Bend (2009)
Flute moment: 0:49  In 2009, The National show that the flute is not out of fashion. It has the flute (well, I’m not totally convinced it’s a flute, but something flute-ish) and the xylophone. Reader Itallstarted suggested this track in the comments section; thanks for alerting me to my new current favourite song.

7. Mercury Rev – Something For Joey (1993)
Flute moment: 1:57  Amid all the multi-instrumental wall of sound, the flute pipes up merrily, as was Mercury Rev’s wont.

8. Golden Earring – Back Home (1970)
Flute moments: 0:10 & 2:38  Traffic did it. Jethro Tull did it. Moody Blues did it. Why shouldn’t hoary Dutch rock acts?

9. Jeremy Steig – Howling For Judy (1969)
Flute moment: All of it. It is cheating a bit to include a flute-jazz track here, but this is fantastic and more rock than jazz: two flutes and a bit of bass. This tack was the basis for the Beastie Boys track on Any Major Flute Vol. 1. Steig passed away on April 13, 2016 — exactly a week after I re-posted the flute mix with his sample on the Beastie Boys track.

10. Joe Walsh – Days Gone By (1973)
Flute moment: 3:55   The future Eagle kicks off with flute, returning to the flute hook periodically before giving the instrument the opportunity to take over for a minute. Thanks to Johnny Bacardi for sending this to me.

11. Blood, Sweat & Tears – Sometimes In Winter (1969)
Flute moment:0:22  The flute is with us from the start on this track, but really helps set the scene after 22 seconds, staying prominently with us through out the first minute, taking a break for another minute, and returning after the 2-minute mark and never leaves us again.

12. Kris Kristofferson – Loving Her Was Easier (1971)
Flute moment: 0:20  Blink and you might miss it. For a long time, I did not take notice of the three moments of brief flutesomeness, all within in the first minute. And I have listened to this song, an all-time favourite, more than most KK songs.

13. The Dillards – Listen To The Sound (1968)
Flute moment:0:01  The flute is not particularly big in country. But here we’ve had KK and now The Dillards, the hugely influential but largely forgotten country/bluegrass band.

14. The Association – Windy (1967)
Flute moment: 1:07  Flute solo! And the flute returns at 2:27, staying until the song fades out.

15. Billy Joel – Get It Right The First Time (1977)
Flute moment: 0:16  This is possibly the only Billy Joel that features the flute. I can’t think of any other. Funny then that it is my least favourite song from The Stranger.

16. The Isley Brothers – For The Love Of You (1975)
Flute moment: 0:01  Early ’70s soul music frequently incorporated the flute to great profit. For The Love Of You signalled the advent of the much-maligned Quiet Storm genre (named after the Smokey Robinson album, the title track of which will feature in Volume 4). The lovely flute hook accompanies the song discreetly throughout.

17. S.O.U.L. – Burning Spear (1973)
Flute moment: 0:18  Where the flute was inhibited on the previous song, on this funk instrumental it takes the centre stage and sounds as sexy as any wind instrument ever did (oh dear, one could manufacture a terrible double entrendez from that statement).

18. Procol Harum – Pandora’s Box (1975)
Flute moment: 1:39  Borrowing liberally from the Tull, the rock legends turn to the flute in an interplay with the guitar.

19. Stackridge – To The Sun And Moon (1974)
Flute moment: 1:19   Fun fact: Folk outfit Stackridge were the first act to play at the very first Glastonbury Festival. A flute-friendly act, they take their time to bring in the instrument here.

20. Focus – Hocus Pocus (1971)
Flute moment: 4:14  When I asked earlier why Dutch rock bands shouldn’t use the flute, I merely restated what Focus pondered almost 40 years ago. The flute takes its time to turn up in this entirely strange strong which includes prodigious yodelling, a momentary lapse of the singer’s mental faculties as he does speaking in tongues, and all manner of other madness. Odd then that it is the flutes that are best remembered — after the yodels, obviously.

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Any Major Flute Vol. 1
Any Major Flute Vol. 2

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Any Major Coffee Vol. 2

September 22nd, 2016 4 comments

Any Major Coffee_2

Here’s the second mix of songs about coffee, or in which coffee features among the leading cast. As in the first Any Major Coffee mix, the rule is that a featured songs must be about coffee or the act or idea of drinking coffee. In some songs the act of drinking coffee is at the centre of the lyrics, in others coffee plays an incidental but not unimportant role.

Everybody here likes coffee, but not everybody is happy with the quality. The Monkees like the face-warming properties of their streaming cup, but disapprove of the taste — so they drink it slowly. Dave Dudley, on the other hand, clearly is as caffeine addict, in his 1966 version of the Tom T. Hall-penned song. Hall will still feature in this series in his own right. He frequently mentioned coffee in his lyrics; the brew also is included in the list of things he has a particular affection for in his song I Love.

The opener is Afro-funk band’s Osibisa’s take on big band favourite The Coffee Song, which is most famous in Frank Sinatra’s version. Apparently they have an awful lot of coffee in Brazil. The track of the same title by Cream is a different song. It was recorded in 1966 as part of the Fresh Cream sessions. The Coffee Song didn’t make the cut but was included when Fresh Cream was re-released in 1974 as Cream.

I might have used Saint Etienne’s lovely Saturday for the Borrow Copy Steal mix: the intro sounds like Candlewick Green’s 1973 hit Who Do You Think You Are.

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

1. Osibisa – The Coffee Song (1976)
2. Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs – Sugar Shack (1963)
3. The Monkees – Early Morning Blues And Greens (1967)
4. Saint Etienne – Saturday (1999)
5. Josh Rouse – Wonderful (2006)
6. Blur – Coffee + TV (1999)
7. Ryan Bingham – Long Way From Georgia (2007)
8. Don Williams – I Don’t Think About Her No More (1974)
9. Dave Dudley – Coffee Coffee Coffee (1966)
10. Charlie Daniels Band – High Lonesome (1976)
11. Albert Collins – Blue Monday Hangover (1980)
12. Gene Harris & Jack McDuff – Smack Dab In The Middle (1996)
13. Cream – The Coffee Song (1966)
14. Ray Charles – Hallelujah I Love Her So (1957)
15. The Castelles – Over A Cup Of Coffee (1954)
16. Johnnie Ray – Gee, But I’m Lonesome (1952)
17. Barbra Streisand – Deep In The Night (1978)
18. Axelle Red – Mon Café (The Coffee Song) (2007)
19. Mandy Moore – Can’t You Just Adore Her (2007)
20. Michelle Featherstone – Coffee & Cigarettes (2006)
21. Graham Coxon – Latte (2002)
22. Suzanne Vega – Tom’s Diner (1987)
23. Shel Silverstein – Have Another Espresso (1962)

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Any Major Bob Dylan Covers Vol. 1

September 15th, 2016 18 comments

Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 1

A few years ago a reader suggested that a mix of cover versions of sings by Bob Dylan might alleviate the discomfort many feel at hearing the great songwriter’s voice. As a fan of cover versions I was keen on the idea. So I created a Dylan covers folder and began collecting. Something like eight years later I’m ready to present a series of Any Major Dylan Covers.

This will be a series of three CD-R length collections — 62 songs plus three bonus tracks. As always, I set myself strict rules: no artist may feature twice, and no song may be repeated — except one, which will end the series.

Since these are supposed to be covers of Dylan songs, he must have released the songs first. That means that those tracks he wrote for others, or which others recorded before he released them, don’t qualify — except two, which I’ll address in a moment. A song like Blowin’ In The Wind might have been recorded first by others (Dylan historians have no consensus on that), but it is so essentially a Dylan song that it can’t be excluded.

Dylan never released Wanted Man before it was first recorded by Johnny Cash on the St Quentin live album. So it isn’t really a cover. But it broke my heart to consider not including a Dylan/Cash hybrid, so — in best Cash fashion — rules be damned. In the spoken intro Cash says he wrote the song with Dylan at the Cash home, but Dylan has the sole writing credit. Anyway, the great list-song writer has his lyrics performed by the great list-song singer.

The first volume kicks off with the best of all Dylan covers: Jimi Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower. Hendrix had received a pre-release acetate of Dylan’s recording, and his version was recorded only two months after Dylan’s. From there on it was Jimi’s song. Bob was cool about it. In the liner notes to his Biograph collection, he wrote: “Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way. I liked Hendrix’s record, and ever since he died, I’ve been doing it that way.”

But Dylan has also said that the version of any of his songs he treasures most is Elvis Presley’s 1966 interpretation of Tomorrow Is A Long Time, a song Dylan recorded in 1962 but didn’t release until 1971 as a live track from eight years earlier. So Elvis’ version isn’t really a Dylan cover, but rather of the folk singer Odetta’s recording.

But how great is Kris Kristofferson singing Quinn The Eskimo?

Which brings me to two acts who are notably excluded in this series: Odetta and Peter, Paul & Mary had a great reputation for singing Dylan songs (Odetta, in turn, was something of a mentor to the budding songwriter from Minnesota). Their exclusion was not deliberate: where I had candidate songs by them, there were others which were a better fit.

Mr Tambourine Man is covered here by Johnny Rivers — so I’ll leave you to wonder which Dylan cover by The Byrds will feature in this series? And what will we have Joan Baez singing? And whose version of Blowin’ In The Wind will feature?

The mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-busked covers. PW in comments (you are welcome to leave a message there).

1. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – All Along The Watchtower (1968)
2. Merry Clayton – Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (1975)
3. Elvis Presley – Tomorrow Is A Long Time (1966)
4. Johnny Cash – Wanted Man (1969)
5. Hoyt Axton – Lay Lady Lay (1975)
6. Marshall Crenshaw – My Back Pages (1999)
7. Jeff Tweedy – Simple Twist Of Fate (2007)
8. Bruce Springsteen – Chimes Of Freedom (1988)
9. Kris Kristofferson – Quinn The Eskimo (2012)
10. Emmylou Harris – Every Grain Of Sand (1995)
11. The Pretenders – Forever Young (1994)
12. Richie Havens – Just Like A Woman (1968)
13. Them – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (1966)
14. The Grass Roots – Mr. Jones (Ballad Of A Thin Man) (1966)
15. Johnny Rivers – Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)
16. The Turtles – It Ain’t Me Babe (1965)
17. Stereophonics – Positively 4th Street (1999)
18. Eels – Girl From The North Country (2006)
19. Lloyd Cole – You’re A Big Girl Now (2001)
20. Josh Kelley – To Make You Feel My Love (2004)
21. Norah Jones – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (2002)
Bonus track: Ani DiFranco – Hurricane (2000)

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Any Major American Road Trip – 4

September 1st, 2016 1 comment

Any Major American Road Trip - Stage 4

On the fourth stage of our musical road trip through the USA we are staying in California. Parts of the state have a strong country influence because it was in the inland portions of California that many of the southern Dust Bowl refugees from Steinbeck’s Grapes Of Wrath (the greatest novel ever written, in my non-expert opinion) settled. Bakersfield is the place that produced Merle Haggard and Gram Parsons and, though he was a Texan, Buck Owens.

But our journey begins on the coast where the living and the loving is good, places like Big Sur and Santa Cruz and Monterey. The latter was home to the second true rock festival (as opposed to a rock revue), organised in 1967 by the Mamas & the Papas with Lou Adler. Eric Burdon & The Animals, who performed, sing about it here. A week earlier the lesser known Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival was held on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, also in California.

Another performer at Monterey was Otis Redding, who, with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, pretty much stole the show (and if you see his performance of I’ve Been Loving You, you’ll see why). Otis, who was from the South, loved the California scene, and stuck around. He wrote his most famous song about it, Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay. The place where he wrote it, Sausalito, is featured here.

From Sausalito, about half an hour’s drive in easy traffic From San Francisco (crossing the Golden Gate Bridge) we drive another hour to Santa Rosa. I was going to let the Nitty Gritty Band honour the place; in the event I settled for a more unexpected choice: a pre-fame b-side from 1972 by the group we’d come to know as ABBA. Then we drive another hour north to Ukiah, to see if we can get the fresh, clean smell of the pines which The Doobie Brothers are promising us.

Map - Stage 4

At Ukiah we find ourselves at a crossroad: Do we go north to Oregon and then Seattle, or do we turn south-east to make it to Vegas? There’s more music Vegas way, so that’s where we’ll go, via inland California with its capital Sacramento, making a little detour to Folsom prison. We’ll go to Lodi (apparently pronounced low-die) , which Credence Clearwater Revival sang about on the b-side to Bad Moon Rising. The song made the farming town of 60,000 a byword for boredom. Lodi has capitalised on that by hosting “Stuck in Lodi” events.

We end the fourth leg of our road trip in Bakersfield, which gets, due it being the capital of Californian country, two songs — though only one of them is country.

The centrepoint is, of course, San Francisco. I expect to get accusatory looks for giving New Orleans only two songs and Frisco five. Well, folks, that’s the nature of travel: On the leg including The Big Easy I had little time to linger. In San Francisco I have plenty of time because I need to be in Vegas only by the next mix.

In this leg we’ll have traveled 1,000km or 620m miles. It’s another music-less 1,400km or 870 miles to Las Vegas, where the fifth leg will begin.

The next leg will see us travelling close to 5000km or 3000 miles, taking us from Las Vegas via several detours to St Louis. Along the way we’ll encounter more great music.

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

1. The Thrills – Big Sur (2003 – Big Sur)
2. Eric Burdon & The Animals – Monterey (1967 – Monterey)
3. Kris Kristofferson – Me and Bobby McGee (1970 – Salinas)
4. Robert Earl Keen – I’m Comin Home (1994 – Santa Cruz)
5. Dionne Warwick – Do You Know The Way To San José (1968 – San José)
6. Otis Redding – Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay (1968 – San Francisco)
7. Bobby Womack – I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1969 – San Francisco)
8. O.C. Smith – San Francisco Is A Lonely Town (live) (1969 – San Francisco)
9. Counting Crows – Richard Manuel Is Dead (live, 2006 – San Francisco)
10. Chris Isaak – San Francisco Days (1993 – San Francisco)
11. Conor Oberst – Sausalito (2008 – Sausalito)
12. Van Morrison – Snow In San Anselmo (1973 — San Anselmo/San Rafael)
13. Johnny Cash – San Quentin (live, 1969 – San Quentin)
14. Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid – Santa Rosa (1972 – Santa Rosa)
15. The Doobie Brothers – Ukiah (1973 – Ukiah)
16. Middle Of The Road – Sacramento (A Wonderful Town) (1972 – Sacramento)
17. Conway Twitty – Folsom Prison Blues (1968 – Folsom)
18. Credence Clearwater Revival – Lodi (1969 – Lodi)
19. Beck – Modesto (1994 – Modesto)
20. Merle Haggard – One Row At A Time (1971 – Fresno)
21. Buck Owens – Streets Of Bakersfield (1973 – Bakersfield)
22. Social Distortion – Bakersfield (2011 – Bakersfield)

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Previously on American Road Trip

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The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 3

July 21st, 2016 5 comments

The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 3

At last, here’s the third Steve Gadd mix — with the Steely Dan track featuring what many regard as one of the most iconic drum solos ever. It was also the first ever drum solo on a Dan record.

Gadd’s versality is on show here: from the disco-pop of Leo Sayer’s opener and the soul tunes of Bill Withers and Aretha Franklin to the faux-reggae of 10cc to the folk-rock of Judy Collins, and lots of stuff in-between. Don’t be fooled by this being a third Gadd mix, with the notion that this might be a collection of left-overs. Just see the Steve Gadd Collections Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 for the diversity of acts he has drummed for, and then imagine how many more mixes there might have been. But three must suffice, so we can move on to other session giants.

Al Jarreau already featured on the first mix, and policy prevents repeat acts in this series (though I am cheating a little with Grover Washington Jr; it is really Bill Withers I wanted here). But I include Jarreau’s remarkable Spain as a bonus track, partly for Gadd’s superb drumming on it — a masterclass — and partly for Al’s reworking, with his own added lyrics, of Chick Corea’s 1973 instrumental which in turn borrowed from the adagio from Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez.

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

1. Leo Sayer – You Make Me Feel Like Dancing (1976)
2. Andy Gibb – Desire (1980)
3. Rickie Lee Jones – Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue) (1981)
4. Steely Dan – Aja (1977)
5. Lee Ritenour with Bill Champlin – Morning Glory (1978)
6. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Little Bit Of Love (1977)
7. Margie Joseph – Sign Of The Times (1975)
8. Aretha Franklin – Sing It Again – Say It Again (1974)
9. Bill Withers & Grover Washington Jr – Just The Two Of Us (1981)
10. Spyro Gyra – Oasis (1982)
11. Melba Moore – Get Into My Mind (1975)
12. Patti Austin – More Today Than Yesterday (1976)
13. Dionne Warwick – Heartbreaker (1982)
14. 10cc – Oomachasaooma (Feel The Love) (1983)
15. Elliott Randall – Samantha (1977)
16. Judy Collins – Angel, Spread Your Wings (1975)
17. Jim Croce – Five Short Minutes (1973)
18. Arif Mardin – Dark Alleys (1974)
Bonus track: Al Jarreau – Spain (1980)

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Previous session musicians’ collection:
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 1
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 2
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1

The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection
The Louis Johnson Collection
The Bobby Graham Collection
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 2
The Ringo Starr Collection

 

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Any Major Coffee Vol. 1

June 30th, 2016 10 comments

Any Major Coffee

Here’s a mix that has been brewing for a number of years now — on the subject of coffee. There are surprisingly many songs that are in some way about coffee, enough to fill a few mixes.

As always, I set myself rules. These sort of reflect our relationship with coffee (if we have one). The featured songs must be about coffee or the act or idea of drinking coffee. In some songs the act of drinking coffee is at the centre of the lyrics, in others coffee plays an incidental but not unimportant role.

So, no songs about coffee machines that need fixing, or metaphors about clouds in your coffee or your brew gone cold because the one you love does not love you anymore. I do allow one coffee as a metaphor song, as a bonus track, because I think you might like it: LaVern Baker’s wonderful 1958 version of Bessie Smith’s Empty Bed Blues, recorded 30 years after the original.

If you are a coffee drinker and this mix — or the mere reminder of caffeine — motivates you to go out in search for a fix, please do me a kindness and seek out an independent coffee shop. These independents are being squeezed out by the franchise stores, led by the unaccountably popular Starbucks. Help keep the independent coffeeshops going.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on as standard CD-R and includes home-percolated covers. PW = amdwhah.

1. The Ink Spots – Java Jive (1941)
2. Ella Mae Morse – 40 Cups Of Coffee (1953)
3. Scatman Crothers – Keep That Coffee Hot (1955)
4. Peggy Lee – Black Coffee (1956)
5. Otis Redding – Cigarettes And Coffee (1966)
6. Delbert McClinton – Your Memory, Me, And The Blues (2005)
7. Mighty Mo Rodgers – Black Coffee And Cigarettes (2011)
8. The Jayhawks – Five Cups Of Coffee (1989)
9. Fountains Of Wayne – Yours And Mine (2003)
10. Landon Pigg – Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop (2008)
11. David Bowie – When The Wind Blows (1986)
12. Bob Dylan – One More Cup Of Coffee (1979)
13. Gordon Lightfoot – Second Cup of Coffee (1972)
14. Glen Campbell – Truck Driving Man (1971)
15. Hank Locklin – You’re The Reason (1962)
16. Lefty Frizzell – Cigarettes and Coffee Blues (1958)
17. Kris Kristofferson – Here Comes That Rainbow Again (1981)
18. Guy Clark – Instant Coffee Blues (1975)
19. Lyle Lovett – Just The Morning (1994)
20. Cowboy Junkies – Anniversary Song (1993)
21. Simon & Garfunkel – The Dangling Conversation (live) (1968)
22. Walker Brothers – Where’s The Girl (1966)
23. Natalie Cole – Coffee Time (2008)
24. Frank Sinatra – Same Old Saturday Night (1964)
25. Julie London – Sunday Mornin’ (1969)

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Any Major Beach Vol. 1

June 23rd, 2016 8 comments

Any Major Beach

Summer is on its way, in the northern hemisphere, and for many people that means going to the beach — or dreaming of sun, sand and sea. So, having given you five mixes of Any Major Summer already, let’s go to the beach.

On our way, we give a tip of the hat to reader Rob, who suggested this idea as a sequel to the summer mixes. The idea in the Any Major Beach mixes — yes, there will be more — is that the songs must be set on the beach or at the sea, even if only as an idea or memory.

Obviously many beach songs are cheesy, evoking Elvis in modest bathing shorts on Hawaii. There must be space for such banal fun, and The Supremes provide it here with their ditty from a 1965 movie. But many songs here offer a more sober view of the beach.

Of course, a beach mix must include the Beach Boys. They are represented here twice: with a 1968 song, and an exquisite cover of Surfer Girl by the very fine Dave Alvin. The Beach Boys track is as superb as it is pitiable in Mike Love’s desperate appeal for the Beach Boys to return to the old beach, surf and cars tropes of yesteryear, rather than Brian Wilson’s studio doodling. Wilson was game though. He wrote a fantastic melody for Love’s lyrics, and made an arrangement with Carl that would satisfy both Love’s anachronistic sentiments as well as his creative production values, with loads of overdubs. Wilson calls it his best collaboration with Love.

One man we don’t really associate with beaches is Prince; still, here it is suggesting sex on the beach. The song was credited to “The Artist (Formerly Known As Prince)”.

My new friend Rob suggested the inclusion of The Drifters’ On The Boardwalk. That song may feature in another volume in the form of a cover version (not Bruce Willis’ though!); here The Drifters offer something of a sequel to that great hit.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R to play in your transistor radio and includes home-sunburnt covers. PW  in comments.

And don’t forget apply your sunscreen!

1. The Hollies – Postcard (1967)
2. Blondie – In The Sun (1976)
3. Kirsty MacColl – He’s On The Beach (1985)
4. Martha And The Muffins – Echo Beach (1980)
5. Grace Jones – All On A Summer’s Night (1978)
6. Chairmen Of The Board – Beach Fever (1983)
7. The Dazz Band – Do It Again (1980)
8. The Artist (formerly known etc) – Sex In The Summer (1996)
9. George Duke – Brazilian Love Affair (1979)
10. War – All Day Music (1971)
11. Harry Nilsson – Down By The Sea (1975)
12. The Beach Boys – Do It Again (1968)
13. The Supremes – Beach Ball (1965)
14. The Pleasures – Let’s Have A Beach Party (1965)
15. Pat Boone – Love Letters In The Sand (1957)
16. The Drifters – I’ve Got Sand In My Shoes (1964)
17. Ralph McTell – Summer Girls (1992)
18. Jack Johnson – To The Sea (2010)
19. Zac Brown Band – Toes (2008)
20. Dave Alvin – Surfer Girl (2006)
21. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band & Linda Ronstadt – An American Dream (1979)
22. Joan Armatrading – Ma-Me-O-Beach (1980)
23. The B-52’s – Theme For A Nude Beach (1986)

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Any Major Summer
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