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In Memoriam – July 2010

August 3rd, 2010 1 comment

The grim reaper evidently is a big football fan, stepping up his reaping only after the World Cup concluded (taking, however, the great South African saxophonist Robbie Jansen before its conclusion), but then with a vengeance. The most notable musician this month may be Harvey Fuqua, whose impact on music was mostly behind the scenes. Fittingly, Marvin Gaye on the last track of his last album paid tribute to his mentor. Just a short while after Big Star’s Alex Chilton, Andy Hummel died.

A couple of session musicians who played on rock classics passed on. I usually don’t include technical staff other than influential producers. But as a sound engineer Bill Porter shaped the Nashville sound. We all know songs that he has produced (many have featured on this blog), including classics by the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Skeeter Davis, Hank Locklin, and Jim Reeves. Also passing on is the relatively obscure funk and soul singer Melvin Bliss, whose 1973 b-side Synthetic Substitution became a staple hip hop sample (for a list, see here)

But the most tragic death came towards the end of the month when the jazz drummer Chris Dagley — who also was a session man (as featured on jazz singer’s Claire Martin’s latest album) — died in a motorbike accident on the way home from playing a gig at London’s famous Ronnie Scott’s. He leaves behind his wife and three kids.

Tracks listed for each entry are on the compilation linked to at the end of this post.

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Ilene Woods, 81, American singer and actress, on Juy 1
Ilene Woods – Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (from Cinderella, 1950)

Harvey Fuqua, 80, singer with The Moonglows and record producer, on July 6
Harvey & The Moonglows – Ten Commandments Of Love (1959)
Marvin Gaye – My Love Is Waiting (1982)

Bill Porter, 79, hugely influential rock & roll and country sound engineer, on July 7
Bobby Bare – 500 Miles Away From Home (1963)
Skeeter Davis – I Can’t Stay Mad At You (1963)
Elvis Presley – (You’re The) Devil In Disguise (1963)

Robbie Jansen, 60, South African jazz saxophonist and singer, on July 7
Robbie Jansen – Praise My Soul (1998)
Tony Schilder Trio – Give Her Back To Me (1995)

More Robbie Jansen here

Sugar Minott, 54, reggae singer, on July 10
Sugar Minott – Good Thing Going (1981)

Walter Hawkins, 61, gospel singer, on July 11
Walter Hawkins – For My Good (1998)

Tuli Kupferberg, 86, poet, cartoonist and musician with folk-group The Fugs, on July 12
The Fugs – The Garden Is Open (1968)

Paulo Moura, 77, Brazilian saxophonist and clarinetist, on July 12
Paulo Moura & Os Batutas – Lamentos (1996)

Olga Guillot, 87, Cuban “Queen of Bolero”, on July 13
Olga Guillot – Sabor a mi

Gene Ludwig, 72, jazz organist, on July 14
Gene Ludwig – Blue Flame (1966)

Hank Cochran, 74, country music singer-songwriter and duo partner of Eddie Cochran, on July 15
Cochran Brothers – Slowdown (1956)
Wanda Jackson – I Fall To Pieces (1988)

Yandé Codou Sène, 78, Senegalese singer, on July 15
Yandé Codou Sène & Youssou N’Dour – Sama Guent Guii (1995)

Carlos Torres Vila, 63, Argentinian folk singer, on July 16
Carlos Torres Vila – Que Pasa Entre Los Dos (1976)

Fred Carter Jr., 76, guitarist (e.g. on The Boxer and bass on Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay), songwriter and producer, on July 17
Marty Robbins – El Paso (1959)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Boxer (1970)

Andy Hummel, 59, founder member of Big Star, on July 19
Big Star – My Life Is Right (1972)

Phillip Walker, 73, blues musician, on July 22
Phillip Walker – Hello My Darling

Harry Beckett, 75, British trumpeter, on July 22
Harry Beckett – Ultimate Tribute (2009)

Al Goodman, 63, singer with The Moments and Ray, Goodman & Brown, on July 26
The Moments – Love On A Two-Way Street (1970)
Ray Goodman Brown – Special Lady (1979)

Melvin Bliss, 75, soul singer, on July 26
Melvin Bliss – Synthetic Substitution (1973)

Bice, 37, Japanese singer-songwriter and producer, on July 26
Bice – An Apple A Day (2001)

Ben Keith, 73, country/folk/rock musician and producer, on July 27
Neil Young – Are You Ready For The Country? (1972)

Chris Dagley, 38, English jazz drummer, on July 28
Claire Martin – Everybody Today Is Turning On (2009)

DOWNLOAD IN MEMORIAM – JULY 2010

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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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More answer records