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In Memoriam – May 2012

June 5th, 2012 4 comments

The Grim Reaper wreaked havoc in May. Robin Gibb, Donna Summer and Adam Yauch were the headliners, but there were also members of The Dillards and Crowded House who left us. Two blues and soul guitarists died: Charles Pitts, who played on so many of Isaac Hayes’ records (his guitar helped make The Theme of Shaft such an iconic track) and Pete Cosey, who played on many Chess records.

In April we lost Andrew Love, who was involved in creating the iconic intro for Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness. In May we lost another co-creator of a famous Otis intro: Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, who died at 70, provided the driving bass of I Can’t Turn You Loose. Fans of the Blues Brothers will know that intro; it’s played during the long introduction of the band as Jake and Elroy are trying to make to the stage. And on that stage was Donald “Duck” Dunn, the bassist with the white Afro and beard, appearing as himself. Check out the man’s discography.

We also lost Doc Watson, who did much to revive and keep alive the flame of traditional country and bluegrass at a time when the genre was tending towards the glossy pop sound.

First on the list this month is Jim McCrary, one of the rare non-musicians who warrant inclusion in this series. His contribution resides in album covers and rock photography. His LP cover portfolio includes Carole King’s Tapestry (and album cover which I will deal with in a couple of week’s time), the Carpenters’ Offering and Now And Then, The Flying Burrito Brothers’ Burrito Deluxe and The Flying Burrito Bros, and Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs And Englishmen. He also took the famous series of photos of Gram Parson in the Nudie suit.

I had never heard of Masud Sadiki before, hut was saddened to hear of another young singer who saw no way out of depression but by committing suicide. The reggae singer from St Kitts leaves a wife and two young children, compounding the tragedy.  Two other mostly unknown musicians are included because they were killed in a shooting in a bar in which they frequently played, alongside three others.

Jim McCrary, 72, photographer of more than 300 LP covers, on April 29
Carole King – So Far Away (1971, live)

Charles Pitts, 65, soul guitarist for Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Isaac Hayes a.o., on May 1
The Isley Brothers – It’s Your Thing (1969)
Isaac Hayes – Theme from Shaft (1973, live at Wattstax)

Lary Donn, 70, rockabilly singer, on May 1
Larry Donn – I’ll Never Forget You (1963)

Lloyd Brevett, 80, double bassist  of The Skatalites, on May 3
The Skatalites – Confucius (1966)

Edith Bliss, 52, Australian pop singer and TV presenter, on May 3

Bobby Thomas, 70, singer with the Vibranaires, Vibes, V-Eights and Orioles, on May 3

Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, 47, rapper with the Beastie Boys, on May 4
Beastie Boys – Pass The Mic (1992)
Beastie Boys – Ch-Check It Out (2004)

Mort Lindsey, 89, orchestra leader, pianist, composer and musical director, on May 4

Jose ‘Tonico’ Perez, 95, member of Brazilian duo Tonico e Tinoco, on May 5
Tonico e Tinoco – Chico Mineiro

‘Sweet Joe’ Russell, 72, singer with a capella group The Persuasions, on May 6
The Persuasions – The Whole World Is A Stage (1970)

Michael Burks, 54, blues and soul guitarist, singer and composer, on May 6
Michael Burks – Make It Rain (2001)

Ernest Warren, 78, doo wop tenor with The Spaniels, on May 7
The Spaniels – Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite (1954)

Everett Lilly, 87, half of bluegrass duo The Lilly Brothers, on May 8
The Lilly Brothers & Don Stover – Sinner, You’d Better Get Ready (1962)

Clive Welham, British drummer and early bandmate of Syd Barrett and Dave Gilmore, on May 9

Celso Chavez, 44, guitarist of alternative rock band Possum Dixon, on May 9

Bernardo Sassetti, 41, Portuguese jazz pianist and film composer, on May 10

Donald  ‘Duck’ Dunn, 70, bass guitarist on Stax, and with The Blues Brothers and Booker T. & the M.G.’s, on May 13
Otis Redding – I Can’t Turn You Loose (1965)
The Blues Brothers – She Caught The Katy (1980)
Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty – Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (1981)

Belita Woods, 63, soul singer, on May 14
Belita Woods – That’s When I’ll Stop Loving You (1970)

Doug Dillard, 75, bluegrass & country musician with The Dillards and Dillard & Clark, on May 16
The Dillards – Lemon Chimes (1965)
Dillard & Clark – Train Leaves Here This Mornin’ (1968)

Chuck Brown, 75, funk singer and musician, on May 16
Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers – Bustin’ Loose (1978)

Donna Summer, 63, disco and pop singer, on May 17
Donna Summer – Last Dance (1978)
Barbra Streisand & Donna Summer – No More Tears (Single Version, 1979)

Peter Jones, 45, drummer of Crowded House (1995-97), on May 18
Crowded House – Sister Madly (live, 1997)

Robin Gibb, 62, member of Bee Gees, on May 20
Bee Gees – Marley Purt Drive (1969)
Robin Gibb – Gone Gone Gone (1970)
Robin Gibb – Another Lonely Night In New York (1983)

Robert Nix, 67, drummer of the Atlanta Rhythm Section and Classics IV, on May 20
Atlanta Rhythm Section – So Into You (1976)

Carrie Smith, 70, blues and jazz singer, on May 20
Carrie Smith – Some Rainy Day (1983)

Eddie Blazonczyk Sr, 71, polka musician and founder of The Versatones, on May 21

Masud Sadiki, 37, reggae and calypso singer from St Kitts & Neves, suicide on May 21

Kuly Ral, 35, member of English-Asian group RDB, on May 23

Roy Wilson, 72, member of Jamaican duo Higgs and Wilson, on May 26.

Doc Watson, 89, bluegrass and folk musician, on May 29
Doc Watson – Talk About Suffering (1964)

Pete Cosey, 68, guitarist for Muddy Waters, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock a.o., on May 30
Muddy Waters – Tom Cat (1968)

Joe “Meshuguna Joe “ Albanese and Drew ‘Shmootzi the Clod ‘ Keriakedes, members of Seattle folk group God’s Favourite Breakfast, shot dead on May 3

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Answer Records Vol. 6

April 27th, 2010 3 comments

I made a generous new friend recently thanks to my post of different versions of By The Time I Get To Phoenix. He claimed that I had left off the best cover, by country singer Roy Drusky, and sent me that version. You’ll decide where it ranks in the hierarchy of Phoenix covers. Shortly after, I posted Volume 5 of the Answer Records, and my new friend Rick had a related song: Wanda Jackson’s answer to By The Time I Get To Phoenix. Besides that, we’ll have Muddy Waters’ mojo set straight, and Miss Chuckle Cherry’s response to Chuck Berry’s disturbing anthem to wanking.

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By the time he’ll get to Tulsa she’ll be banging

Act 1: Roy Drusky – By The Time I Get To Phoenix (1968).mp3
You know the set-up: dude decides to leave town and counts down what he imagines his freshly abandoned woman will be up to when he reaches geographical milestones (the trip is chronologically impossible, but let’s not get waylaid by that). So by the time he crosses the city limits of Phoenix, she’ll be getting up; when he gets to Albuquerque, she’ll be taking her lunch break and try to phone him (the phone will keep ringing, because cellphones are yet to be invented), and when he gets to Oklahoma she’ll be sleeping. With astonishing conceit, our friends imagines his ex-girl crying “just to think I’d really leave her”. Does she?

Act 2: Wanda Jackson – By The Time You Get To Phoenix (1967).mp3
Our friend was quite right: by the time he got to Phoenix, she was rising. She found the note and wasn’t really that surprised because he’d been babbling on about leaving for quite some time (and, yes, she did notice). Wanda fails to fall to pieces and proceeds to go to her 9 to 5 job. Will she call our hero, as he thinks she would? Not exactly: “And at lunch I gave your best friend a call. He told me that he’d love me for so long now, he’s been waiting for you to leave, that’s all.” We are not given time to reflect on a man’s life so bereft of meaningful relationships that his best friend is just waiting, fingers tapping impatiently, for him to disappear so as to move in on his girl. Wanda will get laid tonight, at about the time our hero reaches Oklahoma, where in Wanda’s prediction he’ll realise what a mistake he made: “You’ll cry and you’ll whisper I’m sorry, but it’s too late ’cause I’d found a love that’s true.”

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Blame it on the mojo

Act 1: Muddy Waters – I Got My Mojo Working (1957).mp3
Muddy is a man of remarkable confidence as a laydees man, thanks to the titular mojo which seems to be working for him in general. Except, inexplicably, on the woman whom he is addressing with this song. “Got my mojo working, but it just won’t work on you,” he announces right at the song’s start. It seems to stump our friend: “I wanna love you so bad till I don’t know what to do.” He believes he might acquire some higher octane mojo in Louisiana, whence he shall decamp forthwith to obtain the necessary means to meet his single obsession: “I’m gonna have all you women right here at my command”, including her on whom his standard mojo cannot be fruitfully applied. I believe one Eldrick T Woods might empathise with poor Muddy.

Act 2: Ann Cole – I’ve Got Nothing Working (1958).mp3
Ann Cole, whom we previously encountered in the inaugural Answer Records (she didn’t want to stop the wedding), is having none of that New Orleans voodoo crap. Not that she hasn’t tried it; in fact, she sang about it in the very same terms as Waters on her 1957 record (and therefore is actually responding to herself, but let’s not have the facts spoil our fun). The black cat bones obviously didn’t work, and she was “crazy to think that they would”. So now to Plan B: “I’ve got nothing working now but my real old-fashioned love.” Yup, Muddy, you need no black magic aphrodisiac Rohypnol mojo shit, but nothing more than some human emotion and sincerity (or at least the requisite charm to compensate for these qualities should they be absent). So Ann is waiting to lay her big love on you, because “it’s just you that I’m thinking of”.

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Let’s keep it clean, kids

Act 1: Chuck Berry – My Ding-A-Ling (1972).mp3
One day I’ll feature this awful song in the Originals series, because it does have an interesting story going back to 1952. For our purposes here, we have creepy Chuck — he of candid cameras and watersports fetishes — punning about his no doubt impressive penis which nevertheless did not excite British morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse in any other way but self-righteous outrage. “My Ding-A-Ling, my Ding-A-Ling, I want you to play with my Ding-A-Ling” et cetera, and then the final admonition that those who won’t sing along to this idiotic song must be as big wankers as he is. I can’t see much cause for embarking on a frenzied wank at the sight of grizzled old Chuck singing about his dick, but I grant that I may be unique in that.

Act2: Miss Chuckle Cherry – My Pussycat (1972).mp3
Surveying the answer song’s title and the artist’s name (which possibly is not even be her real name), one may have reasonable doubt as to the requisite serious manner in which Mr Berry’s hymn to onanism will be responded to. It will furthermore serve to surprise that this record is of negligible musical eminence. Moreover, Ms Cherry’s vocal qualities would not suggest that her candidacy for a residency at La Scala (the opera house, not the pizza joint down the road) will be seriously entertained. And the lyrics, astonishingly, are not entirely of an edifying nature. “Now it’s time for our classroom song, and I want all your girls to sing along. No fellas now, only girls.” And the subject matter the female contingent of the classroom is asked to intone about concerns…oh, you know what extravaganza of punnery we shall enjoy, with the uncomfortable tinge of paedophilia when the grandfather describes the texture of Miss Chuckle’s pussycat (which we presume to be feline, not genital), and a startling reference to a pain in the butt. Spoiler alert: it seems that Chuck was not allowed to play with Miss Chuckle’s kitty.

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