Any Major Teenagers (and a teen magazine)

September 12th, 2019 2 comments

Over generations, being a teenager in Germany meant that you were likely to read Bravo magazine — and probably get your sex education from its pages.

At its inception in August 1956, Bravo was a magazine about movie and TV stars. This changed in the 1960s as pop music became mainstream. With its target market being teenagers, much of the focus was on the stars whom that age group, especially girls, loved. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones Herman’s Hermits, David Cassidy, Bay City Rollers, Kajagoogoo and so on.

Existing alongside the teeny heroes were the rock acts liked by boys: Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix, Status Quo and Sweet, etc. And sometimes Bravo was pretty cutting edge, featuring punk before it broke big even in Britain. Johnny Rotten happily gave interviews to Bravo, with surprising sincerity. Even Krautrockers like Can and Amon Düül were featured occasionally.

Most German teenagers’ bedroom walls were decorate with posters from Bravo. Every edition had at least one centre-spread poster, several single-page posters, and often double-sided A2-sized posters. The latter led to the Jimi Hendrix vs Dead End Kids stand-off in my household.

Posters of The Sex Pistols (1976), Nastassja Kinski (1979, in Pop), Herman’s Hermits (1969), and Jimi Hendrix (1977)

 

Bravo was more than popular culture, and in that way it set itself apart from competitors such as the Swiss-German Pop or Rocky. The others had better posters, and more detailed music info (especially Pop, which presented a German “edition” of London’s Melody Maker, which did little to reflect the British version’s content), but Bravo was a lifestyle.

Girls especially loved the photo-stories (which often featured some nudity, presumably to keep the boys interested), and serialised pulp novels, which I never read. And there was no way I was going to follow Bravo’s fashion tips without guaranteeing myself a beating from the local ruffians.

Bravo was often criticised for perpetuating a cult of celebrity in an artificial world of stardom, but that seemed an unfair assessment. If anything, Bravo humanised celebrity by presenting the stars as approachable and sometimes even vulnerable. It caught big names in private moments, with dirty coffee mugs on view where today we might see crystal and gold. At one point, Bravo had the popular schlager singer Chris Roberts ask readers for their advice. More than showing stars living it up at celeb parties, Bravo liked to portray them with their families at home.

Bravo was also relevant, featuring real-life stories of young people having gone wrong or having done wrong done to them. Bravo warned convincingly against drugs, without moralising or patronising; destigmatised young offenders; gave sound travel advice for teenagers setting out on their own; guided graduating pupils in how to make career choices; supported the victims of sexual abuse; offered legal advice; and so on. Bravo was like an older sibling; cool, but wiser.

Bravo’s sex education pages. Left, from September 1977, looks at what happens after holiday loves. Right, from 1984, gives a voice to young women who speak about their first time (Dr Korff tells girls to kick out guys who try to pressure them into having sex)

 

And yet, Bravo was the most-confiscated reading material, in schools and homes. The blame for that resided in the magazine’s very frank discourse about sex, usually accompanied by liberal amounts of nudity to illustrate the sex education. The guardians of morality were alarmed!

Make no mistake: Germany was far more relaxed about nudity than the more repressed Anglophone world. There was nudity on TV, nudity on mainstream magazine covers, nudity in advertising. There’s even an unsexy German compound word for the nudism: Freikörperkultur.

It was probably not so much the illustrations that upset the guardians of morality than the message of sex-ed author Dr Alexander Korff (who was really a team of experts led by a chap called Martin Goldstein, who ran his sex-ed column for 40 years from 1969. The same team under Goldstein handled the also very frank and sensible advice column under the name Dr Jürgen Sommer). Dr Korff taught Germany’s youth that masturbation was fine, homosexuality was fine, having sex for the first time was fine (but only if you are really ready for it), and so on. He also taught that you don’t have to masturbate or have sex, but the conservatives missed those bits.

For many German teenagers, that was all the sex education they received. At school, the mechanics of sex were explained in brutally unerotic technical terms. In Bravo it was explained sensitively in a language young people could understand and apply.

Importantly, Dr Korff encouraged young women to assert their sexual autonomy. In a country where not that long before girls had been indoctrinated to serve as breeding vessels for the Aryan race, that was a big deal indeed.

Covers  from 1959, 1965, 1970, 1979, 1980 and 1983.

 

For music fans, Pop had the better and broader information (plus, as mentioned, better posters on better paper quality), and it had LP reviews, though most of those were badly written and uncritical.

Pop was well-connected, but Bravo’s connections were really impressive. The likes of ABBA had exclusive photo sessions with Bravo, and the band’s friendship with Bravo was probably strengthened in 1977, when Bravo found Annifrid’s long-lost German father and facilitated a reunion. Every year, Bravo had a huge giveaways of items donated by stars, some of them personal items which would now be with a good deal of money.

I read Bravo faithfully for about two years, and more or less frequently for another three. From ages 11 to 16, Bravo was part of my life. And that’s how it was for most German teens. That’s why the Bravo Posters site, with one or two posters from between 1957 and 1986 going up every day, is such good fun. There are also loads of Bravo posters and covers and so on at the Bravo Archiv sites, where one can order complete annual volumes of the magazine in PDF format.

Bravo posters of Sonny & Cher (1966), David Cassidy (1973), Connie Francis (1960), and The Bay City Rollers (1977)

 

And to celebrate Bravo, here’s a mix of songs about teenagers, ranging from the time teenagers were invented in the 1950s into the new millennium.

As always, it is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-swooned covers, and the collages above in bigger format. PW in comments.

1. Sweet – Teenage Rampage (1974)
2. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks (1978)
3. The Runaways – School Days (1977)
4. Ramones – Teenage Lobotomy (1977)
5. Alice Cooper – Eighteen (1971)
6. Bruce Springsteen – Growin’ Up (live) (1978))
7. Beach Boys – When I Grow Up To Be A Man (1964)
8. Chuck Berry – School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell) (1957)
9. Joe Houston & His Rockets – Teen Age Boogie (1958)
10. Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent (1957)
11. Sam Cooke – Teenage Sonata (1961)
12. Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)
13. Johnny Cash – Ballad Of A Teenage Queen (1957)
14. Elton John – I’m Gonna Be A Teenage Idol (1973)
15. Janis Ian – At Seventeen (1980)
16. Neko Case – That Teenage Feeling (2006)
17. Dar Williams – Teenagers, Kick Our Butts (1997)
18. The Who – Baba O’Riley (1971)
19. Cockney Rebel – Judy Teen (1974)
20. Eddie and the Hot Rods – Teenage Depression (1977)
21. Wizzard – Angel Fingers (A Teen Ballad) (1973)
22. Ricky Nelson – A Teenager’s Romance (1957)
23. The Big Bopper – Teenage Moon (1958)
24. Gloria Mann – A Teenage Prayer (1955)
25. The Chordettes – Teenage Goodnight (1956)

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In Memoriam – August 2019

September 3rd, 2019 4 comments

Among those we lost in August was Kris Kristofferson’s long time keyboardist, who also wrote a few great songs along the way, the guy who put together the Village People, a pioneering black woman trumpeter, and an actor who put out a couple of records…

The Village Person
The inventor of The Village People has departed for the great discotheque in the sky. Morocco-born French writer, producer and concert promoter Henri Belolo first had success in the 1960s as a producer for acts like Georges Moustaki and F.R. David. He then had success with the disco trio The Ritchie Family, and hit paydirt when he put together The Village People, for whom he produced and co-wrote big hits such as Y.M.C.A., In The Navy, Macho Man, and Go West. Later, Belolo co-wrote and executive produced Eartha Kitt’s HiNRG number Where Is My Man and the early breakdance anthem Street Dance by Break Machine. He also executive produced Patrick Juvet’s disco hit I Love America.

 

KK’s Keyboardist
Keyboardist and songwriter Donnie Fritts got shout-outs on record by two music legends: Kris Kristofferson (on The Pilgrim-Chapter 33) and Tony Joe White (on Pissin’ In The Wind). Fritts played with Kristofferson for four decades, and appeared in three movies starring KK. He co-wrote Kristofferson’s classic Border Lord. Fritts also co-wrote classics such as Breakfast In Bed (for Dusty Springfield; later a regrettable hit for UB 40 and Chrissie Hynde), Choo Choo Train (Box Tops), We Had It All (Dolly Parton and loads others), You’re Gonna Love Yourself in The Morning (Bonnie Koloc; Charlie Rich), and the great murder ballad Rainbow Road, which was first recorded by soul singer Bill Brandon (featured on Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1) and was later covered by many singers, including Joe Simon, Percy Sledge, Steve Goodman, Arthur Alexander, and Joan Baez.

 

The SNL Director
Soul fans from the 1980s might remember Katreese Barnes as half of the brother-sister duo Juicy (I bought the featured track in 1986, and had it on my shortlist for A Life In Vinyl 1986 Vol. 1). But she became better known as the musical director on Saturday Night Live, winning two Emmys for Justin Timberlake cameos, 2006’s Dick In A Box (with The Lonely Island) and 2010’s compulsively rewatchable I’m Not Gonna Sing Tonight. Barnes died at only 56 of breast cancer.

The Trumpet Pioneer
Jazz was a man’s game when Clora Bryant made her career, and women on the trumpet or behind the drums were very rare. Bryant, whose reputation rests on her trumpeting skills, was a member of the first integrated female jazz ensemble, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, in the mid-1940s. Mentored by Dizzy Gillespie, she backed the likes of Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong and Harry James. In 1951, her The Queens of Swing became the first female jazz band to appear on US television. In 1957 released her only solo album, Gal With A Horn, and after that was a touring musician. That culminated in Mikhail Gorbachev inviting her to become the first woman jazz musician to tour in the Soviet Union in 1989.

 

The Woodstock Vet
Just a few days after the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, Canned Heart bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor died at 77. Taylor performed with Canned Heat at Monterrey and Woodstock. In 1970, Taylor left Canned Heat to play with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and in 1974 joined The Hollywood Fats Band. But he always came back to Canned Heat whenever there was a call for him, touring with the band as recently as 2009-13. He also worked as a session bassist for acts such as The Monkees (including on Last Train To Clarksville and The Monkees Theme), Jerry Lee Lewis, Wanda Jackson, Leo Kottke, Albert King, John Lee Hooker, Ry Cooder, JJ Cale, Bruce Cockburn, Buddy Guy, Tracy Chapman, and Tom Waits (on all his 1980s albums).

 

The Easy Rider
And it was during the anniversary of Woodstock that another icon of the counterculture died in actor Peter Fonda. The Easy Rider actor merits inclusion in the music In Memoriam on strength of his two records, in 1967 under his own name (with a Gram Parsons song co-produced by Hugh Masekela!) and a 1977 effort brought out under the moniker Bobby Ogden, his character in the movie Outlaw Blues, and written by Joan Oates (Hall’s sidekick). Fonda isn’t terrible, but it’s safe to say that Fonda’s thespian career represented no substantial loss to the world of music.

 

Ian Gibbons, 67, keyboardist of The Kinks (1979-89), on Aug. 1
The Kinks – Lola (live, 1980)
The Kinks – Don’t Forget To Dance (1983)

Katreese Barnes, 56, soul singer; former SNL musical director, on Aug. 3
Juicy – Beat Street Strut (1984)
Juicy – Sugar Free (1985)
Lonely Island with Justin Timberlake – Dick In A Box (2006)

Damien Lovelock, 65, singer of Australian rock band Celibate Rifles, on Aug. 3
The Celibate Rifles – Sometimes (I Wouldn’t Live Here If You Payed Me) (1984)

Joe Longthorne, 64, English singer and impressionist, on Aug. 3
Joe Longthorne – Hurt (1988)

Willi Tokarev, 84, Russian-US singer-songwriter, on Aug. 4

Bob Wilber, 91, jazz clarinetist and bandleader, on Aug. 4
Bob Wilber and His Wildcats – Willie The Weeper (1947)

Henri Belolo, 82, French producer and songwriter, on Aug. 5
Georges Moustaki – Le Métèque (1969, as producer)
Ritchie Family – American Generation (1978, as co-writer)
Village People – Go West (1979, as co-writer)
Break Machine – Street Dance (1983, as co-writer)

Jimi Hope, 62, Togolese musician, on Aug. 5

Lizzie Grey, 60, hard rock singer, guitarist, songwriter, on Aug. 5
Mötley Crüe- Public Enemy #1 (1981, as co-writer)
Spiders & Snakes – So Far So Good (1993)

Paul Grace, 63, member of Canadian dance collective Boomtang Boys, on Aug. 7
Boomtang – 59 Ways To Funk (2002, as co-producer, co-writer)

David Berman, 52, singer-songwriter of indie band Silver Jews, on Aug. 7
Silver Jews – Random Rules (1998)

Francesca Sundsten, 59, bassist of art-punk band The Beakers, on Aug. 7
The Beakers – Football Season Is In Full Swing (1980)

Nicky Wonder, 59, guitarist of pop band The Wondermints, Brian Wilson, on Aug. 7
The Wondermints – So Nice (2002)

Danny Doyle, 79, Irish folk singer, on Aug. 7
Danny Doyle – The Rare Old Times (1977)

Erling Wicklund, 75, Norwegian jazz trombonist, on Aug. 8

Claudio Taddei, 52, Urugayan Swiss rock singer and artist, on Aug. 9
Claudio Taddei – Estoy Contento, Nena (1995)

Jim Cullum Jr., 77, jazz cornetist, on Aug. 11
The Jim Cullum Jazz Band – Shake That Thing (2007)

DJ Arafat, 33, Ivorian DJ and musician, in motorcycle crash on Aug. 12

Claire Cloninger, 77, Christian contemporary music songwriter, on Aug. 15

Peter Fonda, 79, actor and occasional singer, on Aug. 16
Peter Fonda – November Night (1967)
Bobby Ogden (alias Peter Fonda) – Outlaw Blues (1977)

Larry ‘The Mole’ Taylor, 77, bassist of Canned Heat, on Aug. 19
The Monkees – Last Train To Clarksville (1966, on bass)
Canned Heat – Down In The Gutter But Free (1969, on lead guitar)
Canned Heat – A Change Is Gonna Come (live at Woodstock) (1969)
Tom Waits – Jockey Full Of Bourbon (1985, on double bass)

Fred Rister, 58, French producer, composer, remixer, DJ, on Aug. 20

Timothy Walsh, guitarist of English rock band Northside, announced Aug. 20
Northside – My Rising Star (1990)

Billy Bacon, singer, bassist and songwriter of The Flying Pigs, on Aug. 20
Billy Bacon & The Forbidden Pigs – Una Mas Cerveza (1988)

Celso Piña, 66, Mexican cumbia singer, accordionist, composer, on Aug. 21
Celso Piña – Cumbia Sobre El Río (Suena) (2001)

Hubert ‘Tex’ Arnold, 74, pianist, arranger, music director and composer, on Aug. 22

Clora Bryant, 92, jazz trumpeter, drummer and singer, on Aug. 23
The International Sweethearts Of Rhythm – She’s Crazy With The Heat (1945)
Clora Bryant – This Can’t Be Love (1957)

Anne Grete Preus, 62, Norwegian rock singer, on Aug. 25

Isaac ‘Bro Mnca’ Mtshali, drummer of South African afro-pop band Stimela, on Aug. 25
Stimela – Where Did We Go Wrong (1986)

Neal Casal, 50, guitarist, songwriter, singer (Ryan Adams & the Cardinals), on Aug. 26
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Follow The Lights (2007)
Neal Casal – White Fence Round House (2011)

Donnie Fritts, 76, keyboardist and songwriter, on Aug 27
Dusty Springfield – Breakfast In Bed (1969, as co-writer)
Kris Kristofferson – The Pilgrim Chapter 33 (1971, on keyboard; gets namecheck)
Arthur Alexander – Rainbow Road (1972, as co-writer)
Donnie Fritts – You’re Gonna Love Yourself (In The Morning) (1974)

Paz Undurraga, 89, Chilean singer and composer, on Aug. 28

Nancy Holloway, 86, US-born France-based soul-pop singer and actress, on Aug. 28
Nancy Holloway – T’en vas pas comme ça (1963)

Jimmy Pitman, 72, singer and guitarist with Strawberry Alarm Clock, on Aug. 29
Strawberry Alarm Clock – Good Morning Starshine (1969)

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Any Major Babymaking Music Vol. 2

August 29th, 2019 3 comments

 

 

In the first volume of “baby-making music” I suggested that the mix need not necessarily lead up to the carnal act. On volume 2, the mix literally climaxes with copulation.

The indications for where this collection of songs will lead to are there at the start, with Billy Paul’s suggestion to go and make a baby. I don’t suppose that proposal works for purposes of more casual and less consequential sexual relations. Readers who might employ this mix for such purposes might want to skip track 1 in their endeavours, lest the opening song sends the wrong message. If, however, procreation is the objective, you could express your appreciation by naming the resultant bundle of joy Halfhearteddude (if it’s a boy) or Amdwhah (for a girl).

Minnie Riperton’s song, which follows Billy Paul’s bright idea, likewise leaves little doubt as to the destination of our journey here. But when Minnie asks her man to come inside her, she means more than just the obvious thing. Here, the idea of sex is unitive, not prurient.

Teddy Pendergrass is another advocate of letting things lead up to copulation, but admirably he places a premium on hygiene accompanying the passionate goings-on. Whereas Sylvia – who was owner of the record label that launched rap music on vinyl – just gets dirty.

But not everything here is just sex. Some tracks here have lyrics that preclude the idea of proceedings ending up in whoopee. The Rolling Stones’ Angie is one such song (“with no living in our souls”!). The sex is in the past tense. Yet, it has the sound of eroticism.

One singer on this collection breaks my one-artist-per-series rule: Roberta Flack, who on her own can provide for a whole making-out music mix on her own.

As ever, this mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-groaned covers.

1. Billy Paul – Let’s Make A Baby (1975)
2. Minnie Riperton – Inside My Love (1975)
3. Boz Scaggs – Harbor Lights (1976)
4. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Closer I Get To You (1977)
5. Santa Esmeralda – You’re My Everything (1977)
6. Rolling Stones – Angie (1973)
7. Jimi Hendrix – Angel (1970)
8. Gary Moore – Parisienne Walkways (1978)
9. Tony Toni Toné – Lay Your Head On My Pillow (1993)
10. Alexander O’Neal – If You Were Here Tonight (1985)
11. Teddy Pendergrass – Turn Off The Lights (1979)
12. Sylvia – Pillow Talk (1973)
13. Cameo – I’ll Never Look For Love (1985)
14. Bob Seger – Good For Me (1980)
15. Eagles – Take It To The Limit (1975)
16. Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg – Je t’aime moi non plus (1969)

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The Originals: Rock & Roll Years

August 22nd, 2019 5 comments

 

This edition of The Originals covers the Rock & Roll Years: the 1950s and very early 1960s.  Not every song is rock & roll, but the better-known versions of these songs would have been bought by those who also bought rock & roll records. And, having already covered the lesser-known originals of Elvis Presley hits (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), the story must begin with Bill Haley & His Comets. Poor yourself a cup of coffee, or a long drink, sit back, and read about the lesser-known covers of the Rock & Roll Years.

 

Rock Around The Clock
It is indisputable that Bill Haley was a key figure in converting rock & roll into the mainstream — or, if we prefer to stray from euphemistic rationalisation, make a black genre infused with some country sensibility palatable to white audiences (so that’s a doctoral thesis delivered in 13 glib words). Haley was no more the father of rock & roll as the Bee Gees were the “Kings of Disco”. Rock Around The Clock wasn’t the first rock & roll single either (if there is such an originating record; on the original label it is categorised as a foxtrot), or even Haley’s first rock & roll song.

But it was the first rock & roll #1 hit, and the song’s pivotal influence is undeniable, even if it ripped off a 1947 hit, Hank Williams’ Move It On Over (which Chuck Berry also seems to have borrowed from for Roll Over Beethoven).

Rock Around The Clock was written for Haley, but due to various complications involving a feud between record company and authors, it was recorded first by Sonny Dae and His Knights, an Italian-American band, released on a label co-owned by Haley. The original version — quite distinct from the more famous version — made no impression, and there is no evidence that Haley referred to it in his interpretation. Indeed Haley and his Comets played it frequently on stage before they recorded it.

Haley’s Rock Around The Clock (recorded on 12 April 1954 as Sammy Davis Jr sat outside the studio awaiting his turn in the studio) features one of the great guitar solos of the era, by Danny Cedrone. Alas, Cedrone didn’t live to see his work become a seminal moment in music history — he died on 17 June 1954 in a fall, three days short of his 34rd birthday. Perhaps Cedrone might be regarded as the first rock & roll death. Which would give the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame two reasons to admit him.

As a footnote, Rock-A-Beatin’ Boogie, which also features here, was written by Haley in 1952, but was first recorded by Cedrone’s band The Esquires. Haley recorded, to greater commercial effect, after Cedrone’s death, in 1955.

 

Shake, Rattle And Roll
In its original version by Big Joe Turner, Shake Rattle And Roll is a salacious song about sexual intercourse (“a one-eyed cat peepin’ in a seafood store”). Haley — a man who did not particularly inspire thoughts of wild sex — defanged the song of its carnal suggestions and made it acceptable to halfway respectable folks.

The song was written by Jesse Stone (under a pseudonym), who also wrote The Drifters’ breakthrough hit Money Honey and arranged The Crew Cuts mega-hit Sh-Boom.  Turner recorded it for Atlantic on February 15, 1954, with Sam “The Man” Taylor on saxophone (he also played on the mentioned Jesse Stone-produced tracks). Stone, and Atlantic bosses Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegün did the backing vocals.

It was released in April 1954 and did respectable business. Haley’s version, released in August that year, made it a classic. One night think that Turner would have resented the white guy getting the big success with the song. But the two soon became close friends, with Haley later helping out a struggling Turner.

Turner, who had enjoyed a career as a blues act in the 1940s (he was Esquire magazine’s male vocalist in 1945) and was a huge influence on rock & roll pioneers like Little Richard and Buddy Holly, died in 1985 at the age of 74.

 

See You Later Alligator
See You Later Alligator, the final of Haley’s trilogy of million-sellers, was a cover of Bobby Charles’ Cajun blues number. Born Robert Charles Guidry in Louisiana, Charles recorded the song as Later Alligator in 1955 at the age of 17. It was released in November 1955 without making much of a commercial impact. His hero, Fats Domino, also recorded a couple of his songs, first Before I Grow Too Old and in 1960 the hit Walking To New Orleans.

Haley recorded See You Later Alligator on December 12, 1955, apparently allowing his drummer Ralph Jones to play on it, instead of the customary random session musician. Released in January 1956, Haley’s version sold more than a million copies, but reached only #6 in the Billboard charts.

Contrary to popular perception, the catchphrase “See you later, alligator”— with the response “in a while, crocodile”— was not coined by the song, neither in Bobby Charles’ nor Bill Haley’s version. It was an old turn of phrase, used by the jazz set already in the 1930s, along the same lines as “What’s the story, morning glory?”, “What’s your song, King Kong?” and “What’s the plan, Charlie Chan?”. It was, however, due to Haley’s hit that the phrase spread more widely throughout the US and internationally.

 

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On
One day in 1956, Jerry Lee Lewis and his father Elmo were passing through Memphis. Aware of how Elvis Presley had emerged from Sam Philips’ Sun studio, Jerry Lee decided to drop in and audition, at the suggestion of his cousin Mickey Gilley (who later would become a big country star; another cousin, Jimmy Swaggart would become a notorious televangelist).

The audition didn’t go very well: nobody wanted a piano player. According to sound engineer Cowboy Jack Clement, Lewis sounded like country guitar legend Chet Atkins on piano. Jerry Lee was dynamic, to be sure, but he was country and boogie woogie — not rock & roll. A month later Lewis returned, with Clement’s encouragement. This time Sam Philips was in the studio. Lewis played a country hit, Ray Price’s Crazy Arms, in blues style. Philips was sold. Before too long, Lewis’ version of Crazy Arms became his debut single, on Sun.

In May 1957, Clement and Philips were seeking a follow-up single. The session to record the Clement composition I’ll Be Me did not go well. During a break, bassist JW Brown — Jerry’s cousin and future father-in-law (13-year-old Myra Gale’s dad) — suggested they play A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On, a cover of a song that had gone over well live. It took just one take for a pivotal moment in rock & roll to be created.

A Whole Lotta Shakin’ had been written by Dave “Curlee” Williams, half black and half Native American, and Roy Hall, a nightclub owner from Nashville who had been recording intermittently in the country genre for 11 years. Or maybe Roy Hall didn’t write it; as so often with songs in the 1950s, there’s no single accepted narrative.

The song became a minor hit in 1955 after the R&B singer Big Maybelle (real name Mabel Louise Smith) recorded it, produced by a young Quincy Jones. Though Big Maybelle’s version was better known, Lewis had picked up the song from a version by Hall, whom he had seen performing it with country star Webb Pierce in Nashville.

Perhaps more than any rock & roll classic, A Whole Lotta Shakin’ embodies the spirit of the nascent genre: a song created by a multi-racial team which first was a rockabilly number, then an R&B song, and then became something different altogether when performed by a singer who had a love for country, blues, and gospel and infused the stew with his own unique anarchic sensibility and lecherous sexuality.

Initially the song was banned, but after Lewis appeared on the Steve Allen Show, which had also provided Elvis with an early platform, the airplay ban was gradually lifted, and the song became a big hit. Suitably, it topped both R&B and country charts.

 

Walkin’ In The Rain
Not many pop classics were written in jail. Johnny Bragg and Robert Riley were incarcerated in 1952 at the Tennessee State Penitentiary when a chance conversation about the wet weather — Bragg, the story goes Read more…

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Any Major Woodstock

August 15th, 2019 1 comment

 

This week it will be the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival. No reader of this site needs to be lectured about the cultural impact of the festival, though musically the Monterrey festival two years earlier offered much greater rewards, and musical impact, than Woodstock (which, it must be said, was a bit light on black music).

The genius of Woodstock didn’t reside so much in the music as it did in the nature of the event: nearly half a million people coming together and just getting along with one another and helping the neighbour — even in times of crisis, such as the rainstorm or the food crisis.

Remarkable, when food ran out, the local people collected food to feed these crowds of the counterculture; their political opposites. Imagine that today!

Woodstock made idealism come alive, if only for three days, amid rain, mud, food shortages, unsanitary conditions, traffic chaos, incompetent organisation, financial ruin (for the organisers), and bad smells.

The present mix includes songs of every artist who appeared at Woodstock, in the order they performed. Most of the songs here were played at Woodstock, though here and there I inserted tracks recorded around the time of the festival (some put to record or released after Woodstock but performed at the festival). So this isn’t some kind of recreation of the setlist — which can be read HERE) but more of a selective snapshot of rock music around the time, taking the Woodstock line-up as a framework.

A couple of songs were recorded after Woodstock about the festival: one of the two included by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, obviously, as well as those by Mountain (sort of), Melanie and Bert Sommer.

Getting to Woodstock was difficult, for patrons and acts alike. Traffic to the Max Yasgur’s farm at White Lake in Bethel (which is 70km or 43 miles from Woodstock) was gridlocked, not helped by the rotten weather.

The traffic and rain also played havoc with the organisation. Richie Havens opened the festival at 17:07 on August 15 with the featured song, replacing the act originally slated to kick off the proceedings, Sweetwater, who were still stuck in traffic. Folk singer Melanie, who was unbilled, took to the stage at 22:05 during a rainstorm because the Incredible String Band refused to for obvious reasons of safety.

Next day, Country Joe McDonald had to fill in with an acoustic set for Santana, who were unready to take the stage. Country Joe’s improvised set — he returned later with his band  — was a triumph; three months before Sesame Street debuted, he offered spelling lessons as when he introduced his Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die Rag. It’s one of the few actual Woodstock performances included here, alongside the tracks by Jimi Hendrix (with that breathtaking version of the US anthem, which evokes the horrors of the Vietnam War), Canned Heat, Sha-Na-Na and John Sebastian.

John Sebastian, formerly of Lovin’ Spoonful, was at Woodstock as a spectator. But as organisers waited for scheduled acts to arrive (some by helicopter), he was put on stage for a 25-minute set. Later, the Grateful Dead had to cut short their set when an amp blew. It was just as well, because they had overrun their slot. Creedence Clearwater Revival, who were up next, were unimpressed.

But consider that night: the Dead played into the new day. At half past midnight, CCR took over. At 02:00 Janis Joplin came on; at 3:30 Sly & The Family Stone; at 5:00 The Who, and at 8 in the morning, Jefferson Airplane. No need for sleep.

The show resumed less than six hours later with Joe Cocker’s set and closed at 11:10 next morning when Jimi Hendrix played his encore of Hey Joe. By then the once 400,000-strong crowd had shrunk to 30,000…

As mentioned above, Woodstock didn’t take place at Woodstock at all. The festival had the name before a venue was even found, though initial plans were to stage it around the New York state town of Woodstock as a promotional event for a recording studio that was never built.

And Max Yasgur, on whose farm the licentious vibe and anti-war sentiment found expression… he was a Republican who supported the Vietnam War. But he also supported freedom of thought.

Before the festival, he told the Bethel town council: “I hear you are considering changing the zoning law to prevent the festival. I hear you don’t like the look of the kids who are working at the site. I hear you don’t like their lifestyle. I hear you don’t like they are against the war and that they say so very loudly… I don’t particularly like the looks of some of those kids either. I don’t particularly like their lifestyle, especially the drugs and free love. And I don’t like what some of them are saying about our government.

“However, if I know my American history, tens of thousands of Americans in uniform gave their lives in war after war just so those kids would have the freedom to do exactly what they are doing. That’s what this country is all about and I am not going to let you throw them out of our town just because you don’t like their dress or their hair or the way they live or what they believe. This is America and they are going to have their festival.”

Until his death as 52 less than three years after the festival, Yasgur remained an unpopular man in town for having allowed these hippies on his farm.

Woodstock was a celebration of good vibes, the final hurrah of hippie sensibilities (unlike the 20th anniversary event in 1999, no sexual assaults were reported) that became emblematic of the 1960s counterculture. Less than half a year later, as the 1960s were about to give way to the 1970s, Altamont gave flower power the final stamp in the dirt. I wonder how many of those idealistic hippies of Woodstock turned out to be besuited neo-liberals…

This mix is timed to fit on two standard CD-R discs, with two home-grooved covers. PW in comments.

1. Richie Havens – From The Prison (1967)
2. Sweetwater – Why Oh Why (1968)
3. Bert Sommer – We’re All Playing In The Same Band (1969)
4. Tim Hardin – Don’t Make Promises (1966)
5. Ravi Shankar – Improvisation On Charly Theme (5:14)
6. Melanie (with The Edwin Hawkins Singers) – Lay Down (Candles In The Rain) (1970)
7. Arlo Guthrie – Oh, In The Morning (1969)
8. Joan Baez – I Shall Be Released (1968)
9. Quill – Too Late (1970)
10. Country Joe McDonald – Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die Rag (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
11. Santana – Jin-Go-Lo-Ba (1969)
12. John Sebastian – Younger Generation (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
13. Keef Hartley Band – Too Much Thinking (1969)
14. Incredible String Band – This Moment (1970)
15. Canned Heat – Woodstock Boogie (Live at Woodstock, 1969)

16. Mountain – For Yasgur’s Farm 1970)
17. Grateful Dead – St. Stephen (1969)
18. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born On The Bayou (1969)
19. Janis Joplin – Piece Of My Heart (1968)
20. Sly and the Family Stone – Stand! (1969)
21. The Who – Pinball Wizard (1969)
22. Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers (1969)
23. Joe Cocker – Let’s Go Get Stoned (1970)
24. Country Joe And The Fish – Silver And Gold (1970)
25. Ten Years After – Love Like A Man (1970)
26. The Band – The Weight (1968)
27. Johnny Winter – Mean Town Blues (1969)
28. Blood, Sweat & Tears – I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know (1968)
29. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Long Time Gone (1969)
30. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Woodstock (1970)
31. The Butterfield Blues Band – Morning Sunrise (1969)
32. Sha-Na-Na – At The Hop (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
33. Jimi Hendrix – Star Spangled Banner (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
34. Jimi Hendrix – Hey Joe (Live at Woodstock, 1969)

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Any Major Hits From 1944

August 8th, 2019 2 comments

 

This month it will be 30 years since I saw When Harry Met Sally in the cinema. I love almost everything about the film, including the wonderful soundtrack of standards (the soundtrack album by Harry Connick Jr was superb, too).

So I got it into my mind that a doing a compilation of hits from 1944 — 75 years ago — would be great fun. I wasn’t wrong. Putting together this mix of songs that were US hits in the penultimate year of World War II was hugely enjoyable; and I hope listening to it will be agreeable as well.

Maybe you know somebody who was around then. They might well love hearing some favourites and some long forgotten tunes. I’m thinking here of reader Johnny Diego (whom I haven’t heard from for a long while, alas) who played his 90-something year old German-raised mother the mixes of German hits between 1930 and 1945 I posted a few years ago (1930-37 and 1938-45). He reported that she was deeply touched by revisiting her youth.

As for the music, some of it is timeless, and some is much of its time. The joy to be derived from the firmer is self-evident; the joy in the latter resides in its anthropological values.

Two songs here are about the war: Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters are imagining the fun ass-kicking the Nazis will receive when the GIs march into Berlin (in the event, the Soviets got there first, and their version of ass-kicking was fun for nobody).

Where Bing and the Sisters are waxing patriotically with a light heart, Red Foley’s Smoke On The Water is pretty nasty in its jingoism. And it is fairly prescient when Foley predicts of Japan’s fate: “There’ll be nothing left but vultures to inhabit all that land, when our modern ships and bombers
make a graveyard of Japan…” Well, of two cities in Japan. File that song’s inclusion under anthropological value.

Talking of 1944 hits with the titles of future rock classics: Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)… what were the chances?

This mix is presented as a collection of hits of 1944. The concept of “hit” is a little stretched in the case of Stan Kenton’s Artistry In Rhythm, which was first recorded in 1943 and released on Capitol in February the following year. It was later re-recorded and issued to more successful effect, but in 1944 the single was a bit of a flop. Still, the track, which fuses jazz and (modern) classical music, shows musical innovation amid all the mainstream stuff.

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

1. Woody Herman And His Orchestra – Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me
2. King Cole Trio – Straighten Up And Fly Right
3. Guy Lombardo feat. Skip Nelson – It’s Love-Love-Love
4. Louis Prima And His Orchestra – Angelina
5. Ella Mae Morse – Milkman Keep Those Bottles Quiet
6. Ink Spots & Ella Fitzgerald – Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall
7. Mills Brothers – Till Then
8. Louis Jordan – Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby
9. Cozy Cole Allstars – Jump Street
10. Dick Haymes & Helen Forrest – It Had To Be You
11. Frank Sinatra – Night And Day
12. Les Brown And His Orchestra – Twilight Time
13. Judy Garland – The Trolley Song
14. Jo Stafford – It Could Happen To You
15. Al Dexter & His Troopers – Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
16. Red Foley – Smoke On The Water
17. The Merry Macs – Mairzy Doats
18. Evelyn Knight – Dance With A Dolly (With A Hole In Her Stocking)
19. Dinah Shore – I’ll Walk Alone
20. Andy Russell – What A Difference A Day Made
21. Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra feat. Kitty Kallen & Bob Jimmy – Besame Mucho
22. Glen Gray And Casa Loma Orchestra – My Heart Tells Me
23. Stan Kenton And His Orchestra – Artistry In Rhythm
24. Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters – (There’ll Be) A Hot Time In The Town Of Berlin
25. Benny Carter And His Orchestra feat. Dick Gray – I’m Lost
26. Russ Morgan – Goodnight Wherever You Are

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In Memoriam – July 2019

August 1st, 2019 3 comments

In one month, both Brazil and South Africa lost game-changing icons of their respective music scene. And this little corner of the Interwebs lost a brief friend: a singer who commented on a post in which her had featured.

The Bossa Nova Boss
In the 1950s in Brazil, a father had his son committed to a psychiatric facility because the lad wanted to become a musician and was singing in a strange way. That strange singer’s voice is the first you hear on the timeless classic The Girl From Ipanema, accompanied by his guitar before his wife joins in. João Gilberto, who has died at 88, had been a pioneer of bossa nova long before that iconic song and the album from which it came, a collaboration with US jazz saxophonist Stan Getz, made the genre world famous. That collaboration cost João his marriage with Astrud Gilberto. The story of The Girl From Ipanema and a song-swarm of the song ran in 2016.

 

The Apartheid Slayer
Few artists have exerted such cultural influence that they could change society. English-born South African musician Johnny Clegg certainly made a difference. At the height of apartheid, Clegg fused Zulu music and dance with Western pop and rock with his band Juluka. With that, and his sincere embrace of Zulu culture, he provided his mostly white fanbase with an alternative to the racism of apartheid. In the age of South Africa’s cultural exclusion, Juluka concerts (and later those of Clegg’s next band, Savuka) were an event, comparable to a Springsteen concert. One could not emerge from the experience as a full-blown, die-hard racist (though it would be naïve to claim that all patrons were cured of all their racism). Clegg’s death of cancer was met with near-universal grief in South Africa; in a society still divided by race, Clegg’s legacy briefly united the nation. Few artists have had such power…

 

The Funky Neville
Just over a year ago, we still had all four Neville Brothers with us. With the death of Charles last year and in July of eldest brother and keyboardist Art Neville, only half remain. Aaron might the best-known of them, but Art probably had the best output. In the 1950s and ’60s, Art released a bunch of fine R&B/soul records either side of serving in the navy between 1958 and 1962. He the formed the first incarnation of the family-name band, The Neville Sounds, with Aaron and youngest brother Cyril, among others. Having pioneered the New Orleans funk, Art then founded The Meters (later The Funky Meters), a hugely influential instrumental funk outfit. In 1978, he and his brothers formed The Neville Brothers, whose genre-defying style won them many fans — and many others who didn’t get it. Inbetween, Art also did session work, most famously on LaBelle’s Lady Marmalade. Art was the father of Fox News anchor Arthel Neville.

The Commenter
On rare occasions do people who feature on this site comment on posts. One such artist was Jerry Lawson, the lead singer of the a cappella band The Persuasions, who has died at 75. In 2009 he thanked me for featuring The Persuasions’ version of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. “Thanks again for your support. Keeping the black sheep genre, the dying art of a cappella alive,” he wrote. After his long career with the Frank Zappa-discovered Peruasions which produced 22 albums until he left in 2002, Lawson founded a new a cappella group, Talk of the Town. As it happens, a couple of days before Lawson’s death, I was prepping for the Abbey Road Recovered mix that will drop in September; The Persuasions are represented on the shortlist with two songs.

 

The Rock & Roll Legend
If you played on Rock Around The Clock, you are by definition a rock & roll legend. So it is with Dick Richards, the drummer of Bill Haley & The Comets on the first few groundbreaking hits. When Bill Haley & The Comets became the first rock & roll act to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show on August 7, 1955, Richards manned the drums. By 1955, Richards (whose real name was Dick Boccelli) and two other Comets split from Haley’s band in a salary dispute, and formed a much less successful band called The Jodimars. After two minor hits, the group folded in 1958. Richards then became an actor. He was part of the re-assembled Comets in the 1980s, and continued to perform until recently.

 

The Brassman To Many
Another Dick went in Dick “Slyde” Hyde, session trombonist in the Wrecking Crew collective of session musicians. Usually as part of a brass section, Hyde backed acts like Count Basie, Woody Herman, Harry James , Elvis Presley, Van Dyke Parks, Nancy Sinatra, The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Rita Coolidge, Carole King, Arlo Guthrie, Neil Sedaka, Nancy Wilson, Kris Kristofferson, Glen Campbell, Bonnie Raitt, Thelma Houston, Steely Dan, Supertramp, Cheryl Lynn, The Pointer Sisters, Donna Summer, Jessi Colter, Jackson Browne, Earth, Wind & Fire, Helen Reddy, Liza Minelli, Frankie Valli, The Beach Boys, Tom Waits, Joe Cocker, Diane Schuur, Madonna, The Temptations, The Isley Brothers, Boz Scaggs, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Rick Springfield, Herbie Hancock, Tom Scott, Frank Sinatra, Mary J Blige, and many others.

The Oscar Winner
This month we lost the centenarian composer and arranger Sid Ramin, who won an Oscar in 1962 for co-orchestrated the music for West Side Story. His arranged the music of many stage plays and several music. TV viewers in the US in the 1960s will know his composition of the theme of Candid Camera. Ramin also composed the easy listening classic Music To Watch Girls Go By.

 

The Soundtrack Man
He did not invent the compilation soundtrack album, but as heads of music at Warner Bros., Gary LeMel certainly popularised the concept, especially with the soundtrack of The Big Chill and later The Bodyguard. Earlier, he supervised the soundtrack of the Streisand version of A Star Is Born, one of the biggest-selling film-related album of all time. He also supervised the scores for projects like Batman, The Matrix, Harry Potter and Ocean’s Eleven. Before he was a movie exec, LeMel was a jazz singer who released a few singles in the 1950s and’60s. After he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2010, LeMel joined a jazz group named the Fifth Dementia, which included members diagnosed with dementia.

 

The Greek German
In the 1970s, my mother swooned for Greek-born schlager singer Costa Cordalis, with his flowing black locks, sporty 1,88m tall built, winning Colgate smile and easily escaping chest hair. Cordalis also had an attractive personality which compensated for the banal schlager tunes he sang. But in 1974 behind his happy personality there was the pain of being stateless. Cordalis, who came to West-Germany in 1961 at the age of 16, couldn’t get German citizenship, but had also lost his Greek citizenship because he declined to be drafted into the Greek army, then under fascist control. With the fall of the regime in 1975, that problem was solved. Cordalis remained a cultural icon in Germany, also as an actor playing a Greek tavern owner on the soapie Lindenstrasse. In 2004 he won the German version of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Two decades earlier, in 1985, the then 40-year-old represented Greece in the Nordic World Ski Championships in Innsbruck. He came last — but still was the national champion of the country to which he just a decade earlier couldn’t return.

 

Paul McCallum, bassist of The Wombles, on June 26
The Wombles – The Womble Shuffle (1975)

Sid Ramin, 100, composer, arranger, conductor, on July 1
Barbra Streisand – Draw Me A Circle (1964, as arranger)
Andy Williams – Music To Watch Girls By (1967, as composer)
Sid Ramin – Stiletto (1969)

Oss Kröher, 91, German singer-songwriter, half of duo Hein & Oss, on July 1
Hein & Oss – Brüder, zur Sonne, zur Freiheit (1975)

Costa Cordalis, 75, Greek-born schlager singer, on July 2
Costa Cordalis – Carolina, komm (1973)

Duncan Lamont, 87, Scottish jazz saxophonist, on July 2
Duncan Lamont – Lazy Sunday (1973)

Paolo Vinaccia, 65, jazz percussionist, on July 5

João Gilberto, 88, Brazilian singer-songwriter, guitarist, bossa nova pioneer, on July 6
João Gilberto – Anjo Cruel (1951)
Getz/Gilberto – The Girl From Ipanema (1963)
João Gilberto – Wave (1977)
João Gilberto – Da Cor Do Pecado (2000)

Thommy Gustafsson, 71, keyboardist of Swedish dansband Sven-Ingvars, on July 6

Yannis Spathas, 68, guitarist of Greek blues-rock band Socrates, on July 6
Socrates Drank the Conium – Live In The Country (1972)

Gary LeMel, 80, jazz singer and Warners Bros. head of music, on July 6
Gary LeMel – What’s The Use Of My Cryin’ (1957)

Martin Charnin, 84, lyricist and theatre director, on July 6
Nancy Wilson – Ten Good Years (1965, as lyricist)
Andrea McArdle – The Hard-Knock Life (1977, as lyricist)

Jonathan Hodge, 78, English musician, composer and jingles writer, on July 7
Scott Fitzgerald & Yvonne Keeley – If I Had Words (1978, as writer)

James Henke, 65, music journalist, curator of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, on July 8

Jerry Lawson, 75, singer with a cappella band The Persuasions, on July 10
The Persuasions – It’s Alright (1970)
The Persuasions – I Could Never Love Another (1971)
The Persuasions – Tired And My Soul (2000)

Dick Richards, 95, drummer of Bill Haley & His Comets, on July 12
Bill Haley & The Comets – Shake Rattle And Roll (1954)
The Jodimars – Well Now Dig This (1955)

Arno Marsh, 91, jazz saxophonist, on July 12
Woody Herman and The New Third Herd – Teressita (1952, on tenor sax)

Russell Smith, 70, singer of country-rock band Amazing Rhythm Aces, on July 12
Amazing Rhythm Aces – Third Rate Romance (1975, also as writer)

Dick “Slide” Hyde, 83, trombonist, on July 15
Claudia Lennear – Goin’ Down (1973, on trombone)
Steely Dan – Deacon Blues (1977, on trombone)
Supertramp – Breakfast In America (1979, on tuba)
Joe Cocker – You Can Leave Your Hat On (1986, on trombone)

Johnny Clegg, 66, South African singer and cultural icon, on July 16
Juluka – Scatterlings Of Africa (1982)
Johnny Clegg and Savuka – Asimbonanga (1987)
Johnny Clegg and Savuka – The Crossing (1993)
Johnny Clegg feat. Jesse Clegg – I’ve Been Looking (2017)

Pat Kelly, 70, Jamaican reggae singer, on July 16
Pat Kelly – How Long Will It Take (1969)

Bill Vitt, session drummer, on July 16
Jerry Garcia & Howard Wales – South Side Strut (1971, on drums)

Ruud Jacobs, 81, Dutch jazz bassist and producer, on July 18

Bob Frank, 75, folk singer-songwriter, on July 18
Bob Frank – She Pawned Her Diamond For Some Gold (1972)

Anthony Smith, 61, keyboardist of Australian new wave band Flowers, on July 19
Flowers – Icehouse (1980)

Inger Berggren, 85, Swedish schlager singer, on July 19

Art Neville, 81, singer, keyboardist, songwriter with The Meters, Neville Brothers, on July 22
Art Neville – Cha Dooky-Doo (1957)
Art Neville – All These Things (1962) (1962)
The Meters – Look-Ka Py Py (1970)
LaBelle – All Girl Band (1974, on organ)

Neville Brothers – My Blood (1989)

Daniel Rae Costello, 58, Samoan guitarist, on July 22

John Ferriter, 59, singer, songwriter, talent scout, TV producer, on July 25

Ras G, 39, hip hop DJ and producer, on July 29
Ras G – We Fly Together (2019)

Lol Mason, lead singer of UK bands City Boy, The Maisonettes, on July 30
City Boy – 5.7.0.5. (1978)
The Maisonettes – Heartache Avenue (1982)

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The Originals: Beatles

July 25th, 2019 5 comments

 

With the Beatles’ incredible achievements in mind, it is easy to forget that three of the Beatles’ first four albums were topped up with fillers, many of them cover versions — which is quite ironic since the Beatles went on to become the most covered band ever. Some of these covers are better known in their original versions; the Little Richard and Chuck Berry compositions and Motown classics, for example. Some are generic classics (A Taste Of Honey; Till There Was You), and some are fairly obscure, or would become so.

In this instalment of The Originals, we look at the lesser-known first recordings of songs covered by The Beatles on their albums or singles.

 

Twist And Shout
Twist And Shout is probably the most famous cover by The Beatles, and is most commonly associated with them. And rightly so: their take is rock & roll perfection. It was based on the 1962 cover by the Isley Brothers, who introduced the rhythm guitar riff (which borrows heavily from Richie Valens’ La Bamba) and the “ah-ah-ah” harmonies, to which the Beatles added the Little Richardesque “wooo”.

The song was written by the legendary Bert Berns (sometimes credited to his pseudonym Bert Russell) with Phil Medley. Berns gave Twist And Shout to The Top Notes  —  a Philadelphia R&B group which might have been forgotten entirely otherwise  —  whose recording was produced by a very young Phil Spector.

The result did not please Berns, who accused Spector of “fucking it up”. He was a bit harsh on young Phil; the Top Notes’ version is not bad, but Berns had hoped for something a more energetic. So he took the song to the reluctant Isley Brothers, who had scored a hit two years earlier with the driving Shout, which had the kind of sound Berns imagined for his song.  Their Twist And Shout, which Berns produced, became a US #17 hit and is included here as a bonus track. Read more…

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Any Major Moon

July 18th, 2019 6 comments

 

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first moonlanding, here’s a collection of songs about the moon. Some of them are actually about the moon, upon which Whitey walked; others use the lunar phenomenon that governs our tides as a metaphor. Of course, I could have filled several mixes on this theme.

My memories of the moonlanding… Nothing. I was three years old. I do vaguely recall my surprise at learning at some point in my childhood that men had walked on the moon — which, contrary to literary references I had at hand, was not made of cheese. If, however, there are people who think the moon is, in fact, a dairy product — and voting patterns in democracies around the world seem to suggest that there are many such people — I’d be happy to furnish them with my literary reference, even at the danger that it might be too highbrow for them, so that they can prove their point.

Anyway, for the first few years of my life, I was unaware of that great accomplishment on 20 July 1969, when Neil Armstrong had to take snapshots of Buzz Aldrin, regretting that the selfie culture was still four decades away (to the pedants reading this: yes, I am aware that selfies were not really an option, since the camera was affixed to the astronaut’s spacesuit. And, yes, Armstrong sort of did take a selfie thanks to the reflection in Aldrin’s helmet).

I suppose I missed the last moon landings in 1972, even though by then I was not ignorant of current affairs and have a clear memory of many news events that year. I suppose moon landings were not big news any longer.

There is talk of sending men back to the moon. It’s a stupid idea, also for reasons Gil Scott-Heron succinctly states on this mix.

So, what are your moon landing stories?

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

1. The Waterboys – The Whole Of The Moon (1985)
2. Police – Walking On The Moon (1979)
3. AC/DC – What’s Next To The Moon (1978)
4. Thin Lizzy – Dancing In The Moonlight (1977)
5. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Shame On The Moon (1982)
6. Bobby Womack – Everyone’s Gone To The Moon (1969)
7. Grady Tate – Moondance (1974)
8. Adam Wade – Shine On Silver Moon (1977)
9. Gil Scott-Heron – Whitey On The Moon (1974)
10. The Holmes Brothers – Bad Moon Rising (2007)
11. John Prine – The Moon Is Down (2005)
12. Lyle Lovett – Moon On My Shoulder (1994)
13. The Lilac Time – The Last Man On The Moon (2001)
14. Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1971)
15. Rumer – Moon River (2011)
16. Agnetha Fältskog – Fly Me To The Moon (2004)
17. Fairground Attraction – The Moon Is Mine (1988)
18. Everything But The Girl – Shadow On A Harvest Moon (1988)
19. Sandie Shaw – No Moon (1967)
20. Stackridge – To The Sun And Moon (1974)
21. Neil Young – Harvest Moon (1992)
22. George Harrison – Here Comes The Moon (1979)
23. Cookie Monster – If Moon Was Cookie (1983)

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Any Major ABC: 2000s

July 11th, 2019 1 comment

 

The second decade of the 21st century is coming to an end, but, like an old man fighting off change as if it was the Grim Reaper himself, I’m still coming to terms with this new-fangled millennium. I still have clear memories of the Y2K scam, and to me the Noughties (is that what they called?) are still new territory.

The rapid advance of time is unsettling. Today I noticed that the film The Hangover is ten years old! The 2000s, the timespan covered in this instalment of the ABC in Decades, raced by so quickly, I missed time’s transition to the 2010s.

At least with the Noughties, I have a measure of time: it began when Any Minor Dude was a pre-schooler, looking like a pre-schooler, and ended when he was a teenager in full pubescent swing. In the Noughties, the little dude changed a lot physically. Since 2010, he’s not changed that much physically, the occasional facial hirsuteness, a more muscular body and the obligatory tattoos aside.

Talking of tattoos: I suspect that my son’s generation will rebel against body art. Tats will be like the mullet, the stuff of embarrassing dads.

When the timespan of the present mix began, tattoos were not quite mainstream thing yet. I remember seeing a video of some alt.rock band around 2001; the member had tattoo sleeves. I was quite appalled, wondering what these young gentlemen had been thinking when they disfigured their limbs. Against my hopes, that kind of thing caught on.

So, here are 26 songs from A-Z that cover the 2000s, some by long-forgotten acts. If in the late 1970s everything from the 1960s were “oldies”, then all the tracks here are, strictly speaking, oldies. Except, with instant access to any old song through the Internet, nothing released since the MP3 revolution has had the chance to acquire the necessary distance in time to attain the status of “oldie”. Perhaps some forgotten track may evoke nostalgia, such as the Lucy Peal number here.

Because acts in the 2000s didn’t know the virtue of brevity, this mix doesn’t fit on a standard CD-R. I have made a home-zeroed cover anyway. PW in comments.

1. Amy Winehouse – Love Is A Losing Game (2006)
2. Ben Folds – Trusted (2004)
3. Common – Real People (2005)
4. Darkness – I Believe In A Thing Called Love (2003)
5. Eels – Blinking Lights (For Me) (2005)
6. Farryl Purkiss – Better Days (2006)
7. Gabe Dixon Band – All Will Be Well (2004)
8. Hello Saferide – The Quiz (2006)
9. Ian Broudie – Song For No One (2004)
10. Johnny Cash – Hurt (2002)
11. KT Tunstall – Other Side Of The World (2005)
12. Lucy Pearl – Don’t Mess With My Man (2000)
13. Mindy Smith – Fighting For It All (2004)
14. Neil Diamond – Save Me A Saturday Night (2005)
15. OutKast feat. Sleepy Brown – The Way You Move (2003)
16. Phoenix – Long Distance Call (2006)
17. Queens Of The Stone Age – Gonna Leave You (2002)
18. Rilo Kiley – Portions For Foxes (2004)
19. Scarface – On My Block (2002)
20. Tim McGraw – Live Like You Were Dying (2004)
21. Uncle Kracker – Follow Me (2000)
22. Von Bondies – C’mon C’mon (2003)
23. Wilco – Misunderstood (live) (2005)
24. Xavier Rudd – Better People (2007)
25. Yael Naïm – New Soul (2007)
26. Zero 7 – In The Waiting Line (2001)

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