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Michael Jackson Backing Vocals Collection

June 29th, 2017 3 comments

On Sunday it was eight years since Michael Jackson died. To mark that anniversary, here’s a mix of songs on which MJ sang backing vocals in the 1970s and ‘80s — and a bit of background on those songs.

Right off the bat, I break the promise of the title, for on Paul McCartney’s The Man, from 1983, he is credited as Macca’s duet partner. Say Say Say was the big hit, but I rather prefer this song, which was only an album track. Both collaborations were produced by George Martin, bringing together a triple-threat of genius — albeit without creating a work of genius.

Another meeting of geniuses that doesn’t quite live up to its billing is that of Jackson, Burt Bacharach and his future wife, Carole Bayer Sager (with Jim Keltner on drums). Just Friends was written by Bacharach and Bayer Sager, and was co-produced by Burt and Michael, with the latter also contributing vocals.

Of course, Michael helped the siblings with his vocals. Here he does so very early in his career on Jermaine’s That’s How Love Goes; and on La Toya’s quite strange 1980 disco groover Night Time Lover, co-written with MJ, which halfway through turns into a Latin jam before it becomes a disco groover in the vein of Off The Wall again. Michael also featured on Janet’s 1984 track Don’t Stand Another Chance, which is too awful to feature here.

Michael was also generous in helping people who had played for him. One such people was session keyboard/synth player Bill Wolfer, who did tinkle the keys on Billie Jean, Beat It and Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’. MJ repaid the favour by contributing backing vocals to two tracks on Wolfer’s debut album, the featured So Shy and a cover of Papa Was A Rolling Stone.

Wolfer reappears on the synth on very next track, Diana Ross’ Muscles, which Jackson wrote, produced and sings back-up on. Wolfer also played for Stevie Wonder on Hotter Than July, though, alas, not on All I Do, on which MJ did backing vocals. Six years earlier, Michael also appeared on backing vocals on Stevie’s You Haven’t Done Nothing.

Michael Jackson and the ubiquitous Greg Phillinganes.

Another keyboardist with a Jackson/Wonder connection was Greg Phillinganes, featuring here with a 1984 number co-written by MJ that sounds very much of its time. Phillinganes was discovered by Wonder through an introduction by the legendary session drummer Ricky Lawson (whose works were featured in two retrospectives: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). Through Wonder Phillinganes became the musical director first of The Jacksons, starting in 1978, and remained in that gig for much of Michael’s career.

Phillinganes also played on Donna Summer’s eponymous 1982 album produced by Quincy Jones, including on State Of Independence, which features here, for which Jones assembled an impressive array of backing vocalists, including Lionel Richie, Dionne Warwick, Brenda Russell, Christopher Cross, Dyan Cannon, James Ingram, Kenny Loggins, Stevie Wonder and, of course, Michael Jackson (not all of them were credited). Quincy later claimed that recording this song laid the foundations for his production of We Are The World three years later.

Quincy Jones, of course, would often bring a galaxy of stars together for his albums. On the title track of 1981’s The Dude album, he has Michael Jackson plus Syretta Wright, Jim Gilstrap and LaLomie Washburn backing James Ingram on lead vocals. Stevie Wonder is on the synth, Louis Johnson is on bass, and you’ll never guess who’s on the electric piano…

MJ and QJ

And talking of Louis Johnson — himself the subject of a retrospective here — Quincy also produced The Brothers Johnson’s Light Up The Night album (which featured the hit Stomp, on which our friend Greg Phillinganes played the synth). Michael Jackson co-wrote This Had To Be with the Johnson brothers; so he sang on it, too.

As it sometimes happens, recording an album in a studio next to a big star can create moments of serendipity. This is not to say that Dave Mason wasn’t a star, but his career was on a downward trajectory when he recorded his Old Crest On A New Wave album, while MJ’s was very much on the up. Next door The Jacksons were recording their Triumph album (the one with Can You Feel It, which also featured Greg Phillinganes). For his song Save Me, Mason needed a high-pitched voice, and next door there was just the right guy…

Something similar happened with Joe ‘King’ Carrasco & The Crowns, who were recording in one room of Studio 55 on 5555 Melrose in L.A. in 1981. Michael Jackson was in the other room, and when the Tex Mex band had the bright idea of asking MJ to sing backing vocals on one of their songs, a rather poor faux-reggae number, the future mega deferentially agreed. He wasn’t credited; given the song, he probably didn’t want to be. Read the full story.

Michael Jackson and Joe ‘King’ Carrasco at one of the more unlikely sessions collaborations in 1981.

Jackson was the kind of guy you just had to ask. Kenny Loggins did that in 1979, before Jackson hit the really big time with the Off The Wall album. “I was at a benefit that Michael was at, and I asked him if he would like to sing on the record,” Loggins later recalled. “He said yeah…He was available, he wanted to do it, he was a fan.” Loggins later realised that Who’s Right Who’s Wrong wasn’t the right song on which to use MJ’s vocals. “Had I really thought it through, I should have probably recorded something up-tempo with him. I kick myself and think that was a waste of his talent. Great tune and everything, but just not the right tune for Michael Jackson to be singing on.” True.

There’s something a little weird about the Minnie Riperton track. After Riperton’s untimely death in 1979, her husband passed vocal tracks the great singer had recorded to Quincy Jones who then roped in an array of great musicians to record arrangements or contribute vocals for what would become the 1980 album Love Lives Forever. For I’m In Love Again, Quincy got in Michael Jackson to duet with the late Minnie (Hubert Laws features on flute).

The most famous MJ backing vocal probably is that which turned Rockwell’s mildly interesting Somebody’s Watching Me into one of the great hits of 1984. Michael, a childhood friend of the singer born Kennedy William Gordy, sang the catchy chorus, leaving the boring verses to Rockwell, who was Motown owner Berry Gordy’s son. At the time Rockwell was estranged from Gordy and was living with his mother, the great Ray “Miss Ray” Singleton (who died last year). It was Singleton who produced the song and played it for her ex-husband. Gordy was not impressed and disinclined to release it — until he heard the chorus with that familiar voice.

I don’t know if MJ sang on soul diva Jennifer Holliday’s You’re The One; he co-wrote the song and produced it. And, my goodness, it almost sounds like he is singing it as well. I think the whispered line “You’re the one” is Michael’s voice. Guitar on the track is by Earl Klugh.

And then there was the time Michael Jackson went country. Kenny Rogers in his 1981 album track Goin’ Back To Alabama features on backing vocals not only MJ but also one Lionel B. Richie Jr., who wrote and produced this (unmistakably so) and several other songs on the album it comes from.

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

1. Paul McCartney feat. Michael Jackson – The Man (1983)
2. Stevie Wonder – All I Do (1980)
3. Quincy Jones – The Dude (1981)
4. Kenny Loggins – Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong (1979)
5. Dave Mason – Save Me (1980)
6. La Toya Jackson – Night Time Lover (1980)
7. Brothers Johnson – This Had To Be (1980)
8. Bill Wolfer – So Shy (1982)
9. Diana Ross – Muscles (1982)
10. Jermaine Jackson – That’s How Love Goes (1972)
11. Kenny Rogers – Goin’ Back To Alabama (1981)
12. Carole Bayer Sager – Just Friends (1981)
13. Jennifer Holliday – You’re The One (1984)
14. Minnie Riperton – I’m In Love Again (1980)
15. Donna Summer – State Of Independence (1982)
16. Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me (1984)
17. Greg Phillinganes – Behind The Mask (Who Do You Know) (1984)
18. Joe ‘King’ Carrasco – Don’t Let A Woman (Make A Fool Out Of You) (1982)

GET IT!

Previous session musicians’ collection:
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 1
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 2
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 3
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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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)

GET IT!

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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The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 2

January 21st, 2016 8 comments

The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 2

This is the second mix of songs featuring the great, prolific and versatile session drummer Steve Gadd — and there will be a third mix, the first in this series of compilations in honour of session players. And still there will be loads of artists for whom Gadd has drummed who will be excluded. I ran that list last time; I do so again here.

Bette Middler, Bob James, Joe Farrell, Rusty Bryant, Ellie Greenwhich, Jackie DeShannon, O’Donel Levy, Chet Baker, Hubert Laws, Herbie Mann, Deodato, Stanley Clarke, Hank Crawford, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Merry Clayton, David Sanborn, Leon Redbone, Kenny Vance, Chick Corea, Maynard Ferguson, The Brecker Brothers, Jon Lucien, Alessi Brothers, Freddie Hubbard, Ashford & Simpson, Eric Gale, Phoebe Snow, Lou Courtney, Al Di Meola, Harry Chapin, Earl Klugh, Sergio Mendes, Garland Jeffreys, Ringo Starr, Frankie Valli, Lolleatta Holloway, Manhattan Transfer, Weather Report, The Sylvers, Mongo Santamaria, Sadao Watanbabe, Richard Tee, Charles Mingus, Yusef Latif, Meco, Larry Carlton, Herb Alpert, Joe Sample, Jennifer Holliday, Diana Ross, Tania Maria, Paul Shaffer, Laurie Anderson, John Sebastian, Mark Cohn, Edie Brickell, Buddy Rich, Angela Bofill, Stephen Bishop, Eric Clapton, Tracy Chapman, Joss Stone, Randy Crawford, Nils Landgren, Kate Bush — and many others…

This mix is particularly nice. I’ve had it on frequent rotation over the past few months, and enjoy its chilled out vibe every time it comes on. I hope you’ll like it, too.

As always, CD-R length, home-made covers, PW in comments (and do feel free to tell me whether you like this mix, or find the covers of no use, or what you think about Steve Gadd).

1. Tom Scott – Gotcha (Theme from Starsky & Hutch) (on percussion, 1977)
2. Roberta Flack – I’m The One (1982)
3. Melissa Manchester – I Wanna Be Where You Are (1977)
4. Michael McDonald – Playin’ By The Rules (1982)
5. Carly Simon – You Belong To Me (1978)
6. Christopher Cross – Words Of Wisdom (1983)
7. Bee Gees – Nothing Could Be Good (1981)
8. Janis Ian – Do You Wanna Dance? (1978)
9. Esther Phillips – Living Alone(1974)
10. Maggie Bell – A Woman Left Lonely (1974)
11. Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Kiss And Say Goodbye (1975)
12. Paul McCartney – Take It Away (1982)
13. Joe Cocker – I Broke Down (1976)
14. Everything But The Girl – The Only Living Boy In New York (1993)
15. Dusty Springfield – Beautiful Soul (1974)
16. Nancy Wilson – From You To Me To You (1976)
17. Luther Vandross & Patti Austin – I’m Gonna Miss You In The Morning (1978)
18. NYCC – Make Every Day Count (1978)
19. Bob James – Soulero (1974)

GET IT!

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

November 26th, 2015 11 comments

The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 1

There are many session drummers who are valid contenders for the label “greatest ever” or “most influential”, if one is into these absolutes. Some have featured in this series: Hal Blaine, Jim Keltner and Bernard Purdie might make it into a four-way final with Steve Gadd (and that’s not to mention Earl Palmer).

Gadd is responsible for one of my all-time favourite single drum hits, on Grover Washington’s Be Mine Tonight (with vocals by another fine drummer, Grady Tate). At 5:44 minutes into the song, as Grover is climaxing his sax solo, he hits the cymbals with such exquisite and eloquent timing. The song would be masterful without it; this easily missed moment elevates it to the sublime.

You’ll have heard Gadd on many famous records, and perhaps even seen him in action: he backed Simon & Garfunkel in the famous Concert in Central Park. He also appeared in the Paul Simon movie One Trick Pony (and drummed on the album of that name, including Late In The Evening). If you caught Eric Clapton in concert between 1994 and 2004, or in 2009, chances are you saw Gadd playing live.

Inspired by his uncle, Gadd took up drumming as a seven-year-old. By the time he was 11, in 1956, he reputedly sat in with Dizzy Gillespie. He made his first recording in 1968, backing Gap Mangione.

Apart from the artists that will feature over the three Steve Gadd Collections I have queued up, he has also backed — deep breath now —Bette Middler, Bob James, Joe Farrell, Rusty Bryant, Ellie Greenwhich, Jackie DeShannon, O’Donel Levy, Chet Baker, Hubert Laws, Herbie Mann, Deodato, Stanley Clarke, Hank Crawford, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Merry Clayton, David Sanborn, Leon Redbone, Kenny Vance, Chick Corea, Maynard Ferguson, The Brecker Brothers, Jon Lucien, Alessi Brothers, Freddie Hubbard, Ashford & Simpson, Eric Gale, Phoebe Snow, Lou Courtney, Al Di Meola, Harry Chapin, Earl Klugh, Sergio Mendes, Garland Jeffreys, Ringo Starr, Frankie Valli, Lolleatta Holloway, Manhattan Transfer, Weather Report, The Sylvers, Mongo Santamaria, Sadao Watanbabe, Richard Tee, Charles Mingus, Yusef Latif, Meco, Larry Carlton, Herb Alpert, Joe Sample, Jennifer Holliday, Diana Ross, Tania Maria, Paul Shaffer, Laurie Anderson, John Sebastian, Mark Cohn, Edie Brickell, Buddy Rich, Angela Bofill, Stephen Bishop, Eric Clapton, Tracy Chapman, Joss Stone, Randy Crawford, Nils Landgren, Kate Bush — and many others…

And, yes, the Steely Dan track he drummed on will feature in a future mix!

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

1. Steve Gadd – My Little Brother (1984)
2. Paul Simn – 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover (1975)
3. Bill LaBounty – Livin’ It Up (1982)
4. George Benson – Love Ballad (1981)
5. Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony – The Hustle (1975)
6. David Ruffin – Walk Away From Love (1975)
7. Al Jarreau – Love Is Waiting (1983)
8. Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – Guilty (1980)
9. Grover Washington Jr. – Be Mine (Tonight) (1981)
10. Michael Franks – When The Cookie Jar Is Empty (1978)
11. Dave Grusin – Anthem Internationale (1982)
12. Diane Schuur – Talkin’ ’Bout You (1988)
13. Kate Taylor – A Fool In Love (1978)
14. Dr. John – Dance The Night Away With You (1978)
15. Bonnie Raitt – What Is Success (1974)
16. Art Garfunkel – Since I Don’t Have You (1993)
17. Aztec Camera – Paradise (1987)
18. Carol Townes and Fifth Avenue – Number One (1976)

GET IT!

Previous session musicians’ collection:
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

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

The Ringo Starr Collection

July 7th, 2015 10 comments

Ringo

Today, July 7, is Ringo Starr’s 75th birthday, which gives me a good reason to put up an entirely unscheduled collection of non-Beatles tracks starring Ringo.

If you want to really annoy an expert on drumming, repeat the old John Lennon quip that Ringo wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles, and pronounce it as some sort of fact. Those who know about such things will point out that Ringo was an innovative drummer in the Beatles with perfect timing, pointing to songs such as A Day In The Life, All You Need Is Love, Rain, Ticket To Ride and Here Comes The Sun (the time changes in the latter drive strumming guitarists to madness). If it all sounds ordinary now, it’s because other drummers followed Ringo’s lead.

Even the supposedly better drummer in The Beatles calls Ringo his favourite drummer. George Harrison recalled that Ringo was the final piece in the Beatles jigsaw puzzle — without him the Beatles couldn’t have been The Beatles. So what did John Lennon mean with his assumed put-down of Ringo? Presumably that Paul’s technique was better than Ringo’s. But when he recorded his first proper solo album, Lennon had Ringo backing him on every song.

Great drummers such as Jim Keltner, whose career I chronicled lately over two volumes and who became Lennon’s favoured drummer, point to the influence Ringo had on them. Keltner says that he learned from observing Ringo, whom he describes as his “idol”. This is not an apprentice admiring the elder master; Ringo is only two years older than Jim, whose recording career began around the time The Beatles fitst came yo the US. Max Weinberg, the E-Street Band’s drummer, said in 1984 that Ringo’s “influence in rock drumming was as important and wide spread as Gene Krupa’s had been in jazz”.

Ringo Starr in 1962

Ringo Starr in 1962

Ringo is credited with changing the way drummers hold their sticks. He didn’t invent the matched grip (in which both hands hold the stick the same way, as opposed to the traditional grip, where the left hands holds the stick as you would hold a chopstick), but as the first rock drummer to appear prominently on US television, usually on as raised platform, his preferred method caught on and became the default technique in rock.

What Ringo lacks in technique he makes up in application, perfect timing and innovation, much as in soccer most of the great goalscorers don’t necessarily have the technique of keepy-uppy champions (that analogy, I suppose, makes Gene Krupa Pelé and Hal Blaine Lionel Messi).

As a person, Ringo has had a reputation of being the easy-going, fun guy we knew from The Beatles. Occasionally he has shown a petulant side, but few people seem to have bad things to say about the man. As a driving force behind the anti-apartheid Sun City record, as a co-initiator and musically — drumming with his son Zac on the record — his political heart must be in the right place.

Ringo clearly is also not an egomaniac. Many times he is happy to drum alongside another drummer, often Jim Keltner (who in turn doesn’t really like co-drumming). On this mix, he plays alongside Keltner on the tracks by Manhattan Transfer and Keith Moon (on which Ringo also raps). On B.B. King’s Ghetto Woman, Ringo drums with Jim Gordon, subject of two collections in this series (see Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). Also worth noting is Harry Nilsson’s Daydream, on which Ringo’s drumming is supplemented by the work of George Harrison — on cowbells. Harrison also plays alongside Ringo on Leon Russell’s Delta Lady, and wrote the track by Ringo that opens this collection.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a CD-R and includes home-backbeat covers.

1. Ringo Starr – Sunshine Life For Me (Sail Away Raymond) (1973)
2. Peter Frampton – Alright (1972)
3. Attitudes – Good News (1977)
4. Leon Russell – Delta Lady (1970)
5. B.B. King – Ghetto Woman (1971)
6. John Lennon – Well Well Well (1970)
7. The Band – I Shall Be Released (1978)
8. Carly Simon – More & More (1975)
9. Bobby Hatfield – Oo Wee Baby, I Love You (1972)
10. T. Rex & Elton John – Children Of The Revolution (1972)
11. Keith Moon – Together (1975)
12. Harry Nilsson – Daybreak (1972)
13. George Harrison – When We Was Fab (1987)
14. Paul McCartney – Not Such A Bad Boy (1984)
15. Manhattan Transfer – Zindy Lou (1976)
16. Ian McLagan – Hold On (1979)
17. Tom Petty – Hard To Find A Friend (1993)
18. Guthrie Thomas – Captain Jack (1990)
19. The Alpha Band – Born In Captivity (1977)
20. Artists United Against Apartheid – Sun City (1985)

GET IT!

 

Previous session musicians’ collection:
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

 

Categories: Beatles, Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 2

June 25th, 2015 6 comments

Jim Keltner Collection Vol.2

Here is the second part of the Jim Keltner Collection, featuring more songs on which one of the great session drummers hit the skins, following Volume 1 a few weeks ago.

One of the most surprising of these is the song that opens this compilation, a Crowded House song. The antipodean group, of course, had a fine drummer: the late, lamented Paul Hester. Now We’re Getting Somewhere was the one track on the debut album that didn’t feature Hester — nor bassist Nick Seymour; the bass on the song was played by Jerry Scheff. The session musicians were brought in by producer Mitchell Froom.

The day after recording Now We’re Getting Somewhere, Hester and Seymour were allowed to play; the track they put down was Don’t Dream It’s Over. Hester might have been unhappy about Keltner taking his place, but apparently he learned a lot from observing the drumming legend. Still, Now We’re Getting Somewhere is the one single that didn’t make it on to Crowded House’s greatest hits album, Recurring Dream.

In a few weeks’ time we’ll have reason to remember that Jim Keltner backed John Lennon at his 1972 concert at New York’s Madison Square Gardens and drummed, along with Ringo (from whom he learned by watching), at George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh. He also toured in the late 1980s with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. Around the same time he teamed up with old mates Harrison and Dylan to drum for the Travelin’ Wilburys, taking the name Buster Sidebury. After Harrison’s death, he played at the Concert For George.

Jim Keltner was the punchline to a dig by George and Ringo on Paul McCartney, the only Beatle who hadn’t used Keltner’s services. On the back cover of his Red Rose Speedway LP in 1973, Paul invited fans to join the “Wings Fun Club” by sending in a stamped addressed envelope. The same year both Harrison’s Living In The Material World and Starr’s Ringo albums had spoof notes asking fans to join the “Jim Keltner Fan Club” by sending a “stamped undressed elephant”.

Check out this video interview with Keltner, and listen to this fantastic podcast interview with Keltner on John and his famous Lost Weekend, and the other Beatles (including the story of Paul breaking Ringo’s drum):

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

1. Crowded House – Now We’re Getting Somewhere (1986)
2. Gary Wright – Dream Weaver (1975)
3. Ry Cooder – Boomer’s Story (1972)
4. The Bee Gees – Saw A New Morning (1973)
5. Johnny Rivers – Rock Me On The Water (1971)
6. Martha Reeves – Power Of Love (1974)
7. Roberta Flack – Making Love (1982)
8. Yvonne Elliman – Savannah (1979)
9. Gabor Szabo – Dear Prudence (1969)
10. Shawn Phillips – Golden Flower (1975)
11. Alison Krauss – Forget About It (1999)
12. Maria McKee – I Forgive You (1993)
13. Melissa Manchester – Don’t Cry Out Loud (1978)
14. Dolly Parton – It’s Too Late To Love Me Now (1978)
15. Buckingham Nicks – Lola (My Love) (1973)
16. Leon Russell – Out In The Woods (1972)
17. Pops Staples – Down In Mississippi (1992)
18. John Mayer – Something Like Olivia (2012)
19. John Hiatt – Thank You Girl (1987)
20. Joe Cocker – Long Drag Off A Cigarette (1984)
21. J.J. Cale – Pack My Jack (1980)

GET IT!

Previous session musicians’ collection:
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

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

The Louis Johnson Collection

May 28th, 2015 8 comments

Louis Johnson Collection

We interrupt this series of collections of songs of session drummers to pay tribute to Louis Johnson, the great bassist and half of the Johnson Brothers who died last week at the age of 60.

Louis Johnson, nicknamed “Thunder Thumbs”, gave us basslines to dance to — Stomp and Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough — and to groove to — I Keep Forgettin’ and Baby Come To Me — and to smooch to — One Hundred Ways and Love All The Hurt Away. And he played on the charity behemoth We Are The World.

He is probably best known as one of the Brothers Johnson, whose repertoire included such classics as Stomp, I’ll Be Good To You, Get The Funk Out Ma Face, and a fine cover of Shuggie Otis’ Strawberry Letter 23 (check out the isolated bass of the latter).

Much of the Brothers Johnson material was produced by Quincy Jones, their manager and mentor, who kept returning to Louis for some bass work.

You’ll have heard Louis’ basslines on Quincy productions such as Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall album, on which Louis did bass duty on all but one song (Rock With You; that was Bobby Watson).

On Thriller, where several tracks are driven by synth-based basslines, Louis Johnson featured on Billy Jean, Wanna Be Startin’ Something, Human Nature and P.Y.T.

He played on Quincy’s solo albums, such as Mellow Madness, I Heard That and Live At Budokan, as well as on two star-studded affairs released under the Quincy Jones banner: The Dude and Back On The Block (on the latter he appeared on the Ray Charles & Chaka Khan cover of the Brothers Johnson’s I’ll Be Good To You”) .

Many hip hop artists have sampled Johnson’s basslines, most famously perhaps that of Michael McDonald’s I Keep Forgettin’ for Warren G.’s Regulate.

Apart from those featured on this collection, acts for whom Johnson played include: Gabor Sabo, Grover Washington Jr, Side Effects, Leon Haywood, Sergio Mendes, Harvey Mason, Letta Mbulu, Pointer Sisters, Herb Alpert, Hugh Masekela, Joe Tex, Rufus & Chaka Khan, René & Anngela, Stanley Clarke, Andraé Crouch, Passage, Donna Summer (on State Of Independence), John Cougar Mellencamp, Herbie Hancock, George Duke, The Jacksons, Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson, Paul McCartney, Charlene, Rodney Franklin, Johnny Gill, Dennis Edwards, Angela Bofill, DeBarge, Irena Cara, Angela Winbush, Barbra Streisand, Brian McKnight and more.

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

1. Brothers Johnson – Stomp (1979)
2. Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (1979)
3. George Benson – Love X Love (1980)
4. Quincy Jones – Ai No Corrida (1980)
5. Patti Austin & James Ingram – Baby Come To Me (1981)
6. Karen Carpenter – Lovelines (1879/80)
7. Lee Ritenour feat Bill Champlin – You Caught Me Smilin’ (1981)
8. The Crusaders feat Joe Cocker – This Old World’s Too Funky For Me (1980)
9. Bobby Womack – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (1975)
10. Bill Withers – Sometimes A Song (1975)
11. Billy Preston – Will It Go Round In Circles (1972)
12. Herbie Hancock – Lite Me Up! (1982)
13. Aretha Franklin – What A Fool Believes (1980)
14. Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) (1982)
15. Sweet Comfort Band – Feel Like Singin’ (1981)
16. Sister Sledge – Smile (1983)
17. Earl Klugh – Slippin’ In The Back Door (1976)
18. Quincy Jones feat. Ray Charles & Chaka Khan – I’ll Be Good To You (1989)

GET IT!

Previous session musicians’ collection:
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 Bobby Graham Collection
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

May 21st, 2015 12 comments

Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

One could call session drummer Jim Keltner the fifth ex-Beatles Beatle: he drummed for John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, for all three in the studio and live on stage. He was in Lennon’s circle during the famous “lost weekend”, and partnered Ringo behind drums during Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh.

Keltner might be best remembered for his association with three Beatles, but the list of artists with whom he has played is staggering. Apart from the artists featured on this mix and the second volume, those he drummed for on record include:

like Joe Cocker, James Taylor, Seals & Croft, Carl Tjader, Bonnie & Delaney, Leon Russell, Freddie King, Boots Randolph, Yoko Ono, Sergio Mendes, Don Everley, Earl Scruggs, Donovan, Andy Williams, Van Dyke Parks, Frankie Valli, Dion, Keith Moon, The Steve Miller Band, Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Rick Springfield, Shankar Family, José Feliciano, Harry Chapin, Chuck Girard, Bette Middler, Mr Big, Ian McLagan, Neil Diamind, Bill Wyman, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Chi Coltrane, Lowell George, Carol Bayer Sager, Leonard Cohen, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Jimmy Cliff, Melissa Manchester, Lalo Schifrin, Alice Cooper, Rickie Lee Jones, Manhattan Transfer, Roberta Flack, Leo Kottke, Captain Beefheart, Rod Stewart, Don Henley, Irene Cara, Duane Eddy, Maria McKee, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnett, JD Souther, Aaron Neville, Gillian Welch, Richard Thompson, Johnny Winter, Toto, Toni Childs, Marc Cohn, Lionel Richie, Nick Lowe, Aimee Mann, Mick Jagger, The Waterboys, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Al Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Sheryl Crow, The Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, Chris Isaak, Buddy Guy, Traveling Wilburys, Jack Bruce, Crosby Still, Nash & Young, Rufus Wainwright, Boz Scaggs, Dan Fogelberg, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pink Floyd, Matthew Sweet, Ray Charles, Melissa Etheridge, The Charlatans, Lucinda Williams, The Pretenders, Fiona Apple, Ryan Adams, Robbie Robertson, Dhani Harrison, Sean Lennon, Cassandra Wilson, She & Him, Joseph Arthur, Michael Bublé, Lyle Lovett, Mavis Staples, Alexi Murdoch, John Mayer…

And that list isn’t even complete.

He played on classics such as Nilsson’s Without You and Ringo Starr’s Photograph, though he didn’t play on Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, as some people say. According to the man himself, he observed Al Jackson play drums on that song; Keltner did play on Better Off Dead, a song with just about the most devastating end to an album.

Keltner appeared on many albums which also featured past Collection subject Jim Gordon, and a few which also included work by Hal Blaine or Bernard Purdie (for links take a look at the end of this post).

On several records he played alongside saxophone session man Bobby Keys (another close Lost Weekend Lennon friend), who died last December, and who is the only non-drumming session man so far to have had a mix in this series. Of the tracks featured here, he and Keys play together on two: on BB King’s Ain’t Nobody Home and on Nilsson’s version of Many Rivers To Cross (arranged by John Lennon and with Ringo Starr co-drumming). On the Keys collection, Keltner also appeared on Carly Simon’s Night Owl and Martha Reeves’ Storm In My Soul (Keltner also drums on Reeves’ version of Dixie Highway on the Any Major Roads mix).

Jim Keltner and John Lennon in 1974

Jim Keltner and John Lennon in 1974

Jim Keltner was born in 1942 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His early interest was in jazz, and although his first outing as a session man was backing a pop group (Gary Lewis and the Playboys on She’s Just My Style), most of his early credited work was for jazz artists like Gabor Szabo and Cal Tjader.

It was his involvement with Delaney & Bonnie and Leon Russell that broke him in the world of rock. First Joe Cocker, always astute in appointing session players, engaged him. Very soon almost everybody else did, from Booker T Jones to Carly Simon to BB King to Barbra Streisand — the latter for her version of Lennon’s Mother.

While Keltner had played on several covers of Lennon’s Beatles songs, he didn’t drum for Lennon until the Imagine LP in 1971 (on Jealous Guy and I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier). On Lennon’s next three albums of original material (Mind Games, Some Time In New York and Walls And Bridges), Keltner did all the drumming duties, as he did on several Yoko Ono outings. He also played drums in the 1975 New York concert which was released a few years after Lennon’s death.

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

1. John Lennon – #9 Dream (1975)
2. Art Garfunkel – Break Away (1975)
3. Jackson Browne – Ready Or Not (1973)
4. Rita Coolidge – That Man Is My Weakness (1971)
5. Bobby Womack – Superstar (1975)
6. Bob Dylan – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (1973)
7. Harry Nilsson – Many Rivers To Cross (1974)
8. Dave Mason – If You’ve Got Love (1973)
9. Jim Price – You Got The Power (1971)
10. Carly Simon – Waited So Long (1972)
11. Randy Newman – Short People (1977)
12. Steely Dan – Josie (1977)
13. Roger Tillison – Old Cracked Lookin Glass (1971)
14. BB King – Ain’t Nobody Home (1971)
15. Bobby Lester – Freedom (1972)
16. Bill Withers – Better Off Dead (1971)
17. Claudia Lennear – Goin’ Down (1973)
18. Hoyt Axton – Good Lookin’ Child (1974)
19. Ringo Starr – Goodnight Vienna (1974)
20. George Harrison – Try Some Buy Some (1973)
21. Warren Zevon – Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1991)
22. Roy Orbison – She’s A Mystery To Me (1989)

GET IT!

Previous session musicians’ collection:
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 Bobby Graham Collection

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The Bobby Graham Collection

April 23rd, 2015 13 comments

Bobby Graham Collection

Some session drummers build up a colossal body of work over many years of tireless slog, but English drummer Bobby Graham did so in the space of three or so years before going away to do his own thing. In that time he drummed on pop classics such as You Really Got Me, Downtown, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, Gloria, The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, Tossin’ And Turnin’, I Only Want To Be With You, Green Green Grass Of Home and loads more.

As part of the British equivalent of The Wrecking Crew — which also included the likes of Jimmy Page (yes, that one), Big Jim Sullivan, Vic Flick, Andy White — Graham played on 13 UK chart-toppers and 40 more Top 5 hits, all within a couple of years of one another. He claimed to have played on 15,000 tracks — many of those presumably in the genre that was his first love, jazz — and nobody has challenged that number. It is not without cause that the producer Shel Talmy described Graham as “the greatest drummer the UK has ever produced”.

His reputation, built up as part of producer Joe Meek’s set-up, was such that by 1962 Brian Epstein reportedly asked Graham to replace Pete Best in The Beatles, probably without John, Paul and George’s knowledge. The North Londoner, then just 22, turned Epstein down since he was a member of a group that was more famous than The Beatles, Joe Brown and The Bruvvers.

label_collection_2As a session drummer, Graham took over Mick Avery’s part when The Kinks recorded their double whammy of 1964 hits, You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night. (Avery played the tambourine.) His drumming at the end of Them’s Gloria — Morrison was not happy about the presence of session musicians — was something quite new.

Graham might also have played on the Dave Clark Five’s Glad All Over, although Clark denied that. According to Graham, Clark didn’t want to produce and drum at the same time, and so roped in Graham, telling him to keep his drumming simple, so that Clark could reproduce it in concerts.

After 1966, Graham first worked in France, without great success, and then moved to the Netherlands, where he stayed until 1971. By then he had acquired a debilitating alcohol addiction. Having beaten that, he produced Christian music bands, then opened a North London record shop named The Trading Post, produced training videos and gigged in a jazz band. He died on 14 September 2009 of stomach cancer, aged 69.

Read more about Bobby Graham.

label_collection_1As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes banged-together covers. PW in comments.

1. The Outlaws/Joe Meek – Crazy Drums (1961)
2. The Ivy League – Tossin’ and Turnin’ (1965)
3. Herman’s Hermits – Silhouettes (1965)
4. The Walker Brothers – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (1966)
5. Petula Clark – I Know A Place (1965)
6. Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (1966)
7. Françoise Hardy – Je n’attends plus personne (1966)
8. Lulu – Here Comes The Night (1964)
9. Them – Gloria (1964)
10. The Kinks – All Day And All Of The Night (1964)
11. Jimmy Page – She Just Satisfies (1965)
12. The First Gear – A Certain Girl (1964)
13. The Pretty Things – Don’t Bring Me Down (1964)
14. The Sneekers – Bald Headed Woman (1964)
15. The Animals – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (1964)
16. Rod Stewart – Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl (1964)
17. Brian Poole & The Tremeloes – Candy Man (1964)
18. Joe Cocker – I’ll Cry Instead (1964)
19. Chad & Jeremy – Yesterday’s Gone (1963)
20. Marianne Faithfull – Come And Stay With Me (1965)
21. The Fortunes – Here It Comes Again (1965)
22. Dave Berry – The Crying Game(1964)
23. David & Jonathan – Lovers Of The World Unite (1966)
24. The John Barry Seven – Zulu Stamp (1964)
25. Antoinette – Jenny Let Him Go (1964)
26. Brenda Lee – What’d I Say (1964)
27. Adriene Poster – Shang A Doo Lang (1965)
28. The Bachelors – No Arms Can Ever Hold You (1964)
29. The Brook Brothers – Trouble Is My Middle Name (1963)
30. Billy Fury – In Summer (1963)
31. Bobby Graham – Zoom Widge And Wag  (1965)

GET IT!

Previous session musicians’ collection:
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

 

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The Bobby Keys Collection

December 8th, 2014 8 comments

Bobby Keys Collection

Saxophonist Bobby Keys, who died on 2 December just a couple of weeks short of his 71st birthday, may be best remembered for his contributions with the Rolling Stones, but he also appeared on hundreds of records by others, including some of the biggest names in rock.

His death came a day before that of Ian McLagan, the keyboard player of the Small Faces, with whom Keys collaborated on Faces records, on McLagan solo LPS, and on occasion with both serving on session duty on records by others.

Keys also crossed paths in the studio with the two Wrecking Crew drummers featured in this series, Hal Blaine and Jim Gordon, especially the latter.

Bobby Keys was born on 18 December 1943 in Slaton, Texas, and began his music career as a teenager, hanging out with neighbour Buddy Holly and touring with the likes of Bobby Vee and Little Eva. He claimed to have played the saxophone solo on Elvis’ Return To Sender, but that story is unlikely. Certainly, RCA has no record of his participation (with that in mind this mix includes only songs that specifically credit Keys).

bobby keys gallery

In the 1960s he worked in the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, where some of the greatest soul was produced. It’s also where the Rolling Stones recorded their Sticky Fingers album in 1970, which features Keys on Brown Sugar (recorded in one take), Bitch, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, and I Got The Blues. The year before he made his debut for the Stones on Live With Me, from Let It Bleed.

He had first met the band in 1964, but it was an encounter with Mick Jagger at a Delaney and Bonnie session in the late 1960s that initiated the long relationship with the band, with whom he’d be touring till the end of his life.

He got on well with the Stones personally; Keef and he were born on the same day and had a close bond, which included meeting rock & roll clichés like throwing TV’s out of hotel windows. This month Richards called Keys “greatest pal in the world… We were thick as thieves.” Read his appreciation HERE.

Jagger and Keys also had a close personal friendship. But in the mid-‘70s Keys was fired from the Stones backing band for missing gigs after Richards found him with a bathtub filled with Dom Perignon champagne, a French lady of uncertain virtue and a stash of hash. Still, he maintained a loose relationship with the Stones over the years until he rejoined their roster of backing players in 1982. He toured with them on every tour  until this year.

Keys was also close to the ex-Beatles, especially with John Lennon, in whose famous “lost weekend” Keys played his partying part, having previously played with the Plastic Ono Band on tracks like Power To The People. He also played for Ringo Starr (on whose Ring O’ label he released the funky Gimmie The Key) and George Harrison.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes covers. PW in comments (you are invited to leave a comment there).

1. Bobby Keys – Gimmie The Key (1975)
2. Martha Reeves – Storm In My Soul (1974)
3. The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar (1971)
4. Warren Zevon – Poor, Poor Pitiful Me (1976)
5. Ringo Starr – Photograph (1973)
6. Barbra Streisand – Space Captain (1971)
7. Carly Simon – Night Owl (1972)
8. Graham Nash – There’s Only One (1971)
9. Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Kiss And Say Goodbye (1975)
10. Delaney & Bonnie – When The Battle Is Over (1969)
11. Faces – Had Me A Real Good Time (1970)
12. Humble Pie – Big George (1971)
13. John Lennon – Whatever Gets You Thru The Night (1975)
14. Harry Nilsson – Down (1971)
15. Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane – Tonight’s Number (1976)
16. Keith Moon – Back Door Sally (1975)
17. Third World War – Working Class Man (1971)
18. B.B.King – Caldonia (1971)
19. Eric Clapton – Lonesome And A Long Way From Home (1971)
20. Audience – Seven Sore Bruises (1972)
21. George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (1970)

GET IT!

 

Previous session musicians’ collection (all drummers, so far):
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

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags: