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In Memoriam – January 2010

February 3rd, 2010 3 comments

Having rounded up most of the deaths of musicians in 2009, I’ll start to do so monthly as of now. I won’t include everybody who has died. So jazz drummer Ed Thigpen, who died on 13 January at 79, doesn’t feature because I have no music by him. Others won’t feature because their genre is meaningless to me (death metal, for ironic example). And a few will surely slip under my radar, though probably fewer than the numbers ignored by the Grammys. I will include only musicians; songwriters, producers, managers, label bosses and so on are excluded unless they also recorded, as is the case with the man who heads this month’s list and was all these things. The Grim Reaper certainly had a productive month in January…

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Willie Mitchell, 81, soul/jazz musician, producer, boss of Hi Records, on January 5.
Willie Mitchell – Mercy Mercy Mercy

Robert ‘Squirrel’ Lester, 67, second tenor in ’70s soul group The Chi-Lites, on January 22
The Chi-Lites – Stoned Out Of My Mind

Sandra Wright, 61, gospel, blues and soul singer, on January 11.
Canned Soul – Unbelievable

Teddy Pendergrass, 59, soul singer, on January 13
Teddy Pendergrass – It Don’t Hurt Now

Mano Solo, 46, French singer, on January 10
Mano Solo – Je Suis Venu Vous Voir

Lhasa De Sela, 37, American-born cross-genre singer, on January 1.
Lhasa De Sela – El Desierto

Alistair Hulett, 58, Scottish-born and Australia-based socialist folk singer, on January 28.
Alistair Hulett – L’Internationale

Kate McGarrigle, 63, Canadian folk singer, on January 18.
Kate & Anna McGarrigle – I’m Losing You

Carl Smith, 82, country singer and songwriter and ex-husband of June Carter, on January 16.
Carl Smith – Air Mail To Heaven

Bobby Charles, 71, songwriter and country/rockabilly singer, on January 14.
Bobby Charles – Time Will Tell

Shirley Cadell, 78, country singer and ex-wife of Willie Nelson, on January January 27.
Shirley Cadell and the Aristocrats – The Big Bounce

Mick Green, 65, English guitarist with Johnny Kidd and Billy J Kramer, on January 11
Johnny Kidd and the Pirates – Shakin’ All Over

Jay Reatard, 29, American punk musician, on January 13
Jay Reatard – It Ain’t Gonna Save Me

Gregory Slay, 40, drummer of alt-rock band Remy Zero, on January 1.
Remy Zero – Save Me

Pauly Fuemana, 40, singer of New Zealand band OMC, on January 31.
OMC – How Bizarre

Young Cliff, member of rap kreyole group Barrikad Crew, in Haiti’s earthquake on January 12.
Barikad Crew – Toup pou yo

Yabby You, 63, reggae singer and producer, on January 12.
Yabby You – Zion Gate

Lyn Taitt, 75, influential reggae guitarist, on January 20
Lyn Taitt and the Jets – Unity

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Yet more '80s soul

November 20th, 2008 5 comments

I’m not sure whether it is due to popular demand after last week’s compilation, but here is a second ’80s soul mix, with a third and final installment in the works. The first mix was an attempt to create a fairly representative cross-section of the genre. This mix is less self-conscious about that. What we have here, then, are some of my favourite soul tracks from that comparatively barren decade. As in any compilation of favourites, the measure of quality may be secondary to the compiler’s emotional connection to a song. Is Smokey’s Just To See Her any good? I don’t rightly know. It may not be a better song than Being With You. But much as I like Being With You, it does not transport me back to a particular time. Play Just To See Her, however, and I smell the girl’s hair, taste the vegetarian gunk I used to eat, feel the anticipation of going to the club and the anxiety of missing my friends in London. And so it is with many songs in this mix (especially Pendergrass’ wonderfully Marvin-esque Joy). Read more…

The Age of the Afro: '70s Soul Vol. 1

January 29th, 2008 9 comments

My brother is currently visiting me. He has noted with some amused disdain my facility to jump musical genres within minutes. So, one minute I might be listening to a song by AC/DC, then a Motown track, followed by Wilco and Dean Martin. And it’s true, I love music so much, and for so many different reasons, I take joy in hearing a song I love, or even just like. But the one genre I will always return to is the soul music of the 1970s. And so, proceeding from the ’60s soul three-parter, here we inaugurate my series of ’70s soul, revisiting the age of the afro. Read more…