Any Major Week Vol. 1

November 14th, 2019 3 comments

 

This is one of the earlier themed mixes I’ve posted, back in 2011 when young Rebecca Black got heaps of ugly abuse for liking Fridays and ordering seating arrangements in cars (read my defence of Black). I’m re-upping this mix because it’s so good that I still return to it occasionally — what a trio of starter tracks! I’ve made myself a follow-up mix which I also enjoy; it will be posted some time in the future.

The theme is obvious: songs about the days in the week, in sequence until time of the standard CD-R runs out, on a Saturday night.

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

1. Marvin Sease – Friday (2001)
2. Dee Dee Warwick – Another Lonely Saturday (Baby I’m Yours) (1965)
3. Chaka Khan – Any Old Sunday (1981)
4. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – Monday Monday (2006)
5. Cat Stevens – Tuesday’s Dead (1971)
6. Simon & Garfunkel – Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (1964)
7. Harry Nilsson – (Thursday) Here”s Why I Did Not Go To Work Today (1976)
8. Steely Dan – Black Friday (1975)
9. Nick Drake – Saturday Sun (1970)
10. Velvet Underground – Sunday Morning (1967)
11. John Prine – Long Monday (2005)
12. Chairmen Of The Board – Everyday”s Tuesday (1970)
13. Ronnie Dyson – A Wednesday In Your Garden (1973)
14. Matt Costa – Sweet Thursday (2006)
15. The Pale Fountains – Beyond Fridays Field (1984)
16. Josh Rouse – Saturday (2005)
17. Laura Nyro & Labelle – I Met Him On A Sunday (1971)
18. Fats Domino – Blue Monday (1956)
19. Yazoo – Tuesday (1982)
20. Lisa Loeb – Waiting For Wednesday (1995)
21. The Futureheads – Thursday (2006)
22. Jens Lekman – Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo (2007)
23. Walker Brothers – Saturday’s Child (1966)

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In Memoriam – October 2019

November 5th, 2019 2 comments

October’s deaths included a legendary drummer, a barrier-breaking soap star, the Communist Sinatra, and another Kris Kristofferson collaborator.

The Drummer Legend
By all accounts, Cream drummer Ginger Baker, who has joined Cream colleague Jack Bruce in the great beyond, was a volatile and unpleasant person to many people. But the tributes rightly concentrated on the influence he had on many other great stickmen who followed him. Baker brought jazz and African rhythms to rock drumming in ways that scores of English drummers would copy and build on. Long before he was in Cream, Baker had been a jazz drummer; and his love for African music would see him live in Nigeria in the 1970s and record with Fela Kuti. Baker is credited with having a huge influence on heavy metal — a genre the old grump passionately hated.

The ‘First Bitch’
For people of my generation, the first encounter with Diahann Carroll likely was through her role on the 1980s soap Dynasty. It was a groundbreaking for several reasons; one was that Carroll was allowed to be a successful AND unlikeable black woman on a prime-time TV show. She said herself: “I want to be the first black bitch on television.”

Her character played a former singer, and it was reported at the time that the actress once was a singer of some sort, but I didn’t quite understand until much later just how accomplished she was. She was a fine jazz singer, and also a good stage musical vocalist. She became the first black woman to win a best actress Tony for the Rodgers/Hammerstein musical No Strings in 1962. She also was nominated for an Oscar for 1974’s Claudine. The same year she recorded an album on Motown, which included the featured track, I Mean To Shine, a song written by pre-Steely Dan Donald Fagen and Walter Becker.

Guitar Feats
The son of Hollywood stars Paul and Claudia Bryar, Paul Barrere joined Little Feat in 1972, just as the band was hitting its stride, as the second guitarist and backing singer. He also contributed his own compositions, such as All That You Dream, Skin It Back, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, and Down On The Farm. When Little Feat was reformed after Lowell George’s death, Barrere took over lead vocal duties. As a guitarist, he also played with the likes of Robert Palmer, Nicolette Larsson, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon, John Cale, Taj Mahal, and Travis Tritt. In the 1980s he released three solo albums; he was still performing with Little Feat until this year. Four days before Barrerre died, producer Ed Cherney passed on; he had produced Little Feat, with Barrere on lead vocals, in the 1990s.

 

The Venture Guitarist
His guitar work is among of the most iconic in the game of TV themes: Gerry (or Jerry) McGee played the lead on the theme of Hawaii Five-O, just months after he had replaced Nokie Edwards in The Ventures. Edwards then replaced McGee in 1972, and in 1985, McGee again replaced Edwards. He’d stay with the band until 2017.

The son of the famous Cajun fiddle player Dennis McGee, he played guitar (with other guitarists) on classic Monkees tracks such as their theme song, Last Train to Clarksville, Saturday’s Child, Valleri and others. He also did guitar work for people like Kris Kristofferson (whose erstwhile collaborators are having a hazardous 2019), Rita Coolidge, Nancy Sinatra, John Mayall, Delaney & Bonnie, Everly Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, Mac Davis, Jimmy Buffett, Gene Clark, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Michael Franks and more. McGee died four days after collapsing on stage during a gig in Japan.

Oh My Gott!
I previously wrote about the Czech singer Karel Gott in relation to his demented German-language and Slavic-tinged cover of the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black. The ambitiously surnamed singer was the second-squarest of the squarest crooners on the German schlager scene. But if grannies loved him for being such a nice boy, German kids loved him for singing the theme song for the animated Maja the Honey Bee series. Gott had mega hits with his German covers of two movie love themes, Lara’s Theme from Dr Zhivago and Where Do I Begin? From Love Story.

Few people — least of all Germany’s grannies — really knew that Gott was also a communist, loyal to his principles even after the regime fell in 1989. But he was no hardliner. Gott was so disgusted by the Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968 that he later recorded a protest song about the self-immolation of dissident Jan Palach, a Czech cover of All By Myself titled (Kam tenkrát šel) Můj bratr Jan, and before that even considered defecting to West-Germany.

That fact didn’t deter the Czech people from celebrating the life of Karel Gott, who was also an exhibited artist. An estimated 300,000 people turned out for his funeral in Prague, a city of 1,2 million! Voted 42 times Singer of the Year in Czechosvakia/Chech Republic, Karel Gott released around 100 albums.

The Eddie
Just a few weeks ago, Barrie Masters featured on the Any Major Teenagers mix as the singer of Eddie & The Hot Rods. For a brief moment, Eddie & The Hot Rods were riding the punk wave, though they were really a pub rock band. Still, the Sex Pistols played their first London gig supporting the Hot Rods at the Marquee, and the Hot Rods toured the US with the Ramones in 1977.

The band had a UK #9 hit in 1977 with the likable Do Anything You Wanna Do; another minor hit in early 1978, and the band went cold as a charts act. But in changing line-ups around Masters, the band continued to tour and record up to this year. Earlier this year, a one-off gig brought together past and present members.

The Chamber Brother
The Chambers Brothers didn’t do much, but they gave the direction of popular music a mighty push when they scored a 1968 hit with Time Has Come Today, a track that fused soul and funk with psychedelic and acid rock, helping to pave the way for acts like Sly & The Family Stone and The Temptation who were on the same trip. Of the four Chamber Brothers, bassist and oldest sibling George Chambers is the first for whom the time has come. Non-brother and drummer Brian Keenan died in 1985.

 

Beverly Watkins, 80, American blues guitarist, on Oct. 1
Dr Feelgood & The Interns – Mr Moonlight (1962, as member on guitar)
Beverly ‘Guitar’ Watkins – Impeach Me Baby (2007)

Bat McGrath, 73, singer, musician and songwriter, on Oct. 1
Bat McGrath – Blue Eagle (1976)

Karel Gott, 80, Czech schlager singer, on Oct. 1
Karel Gott – Weißt du wohin (1967)
Karel Gott – Rot und Schwarz (1969)
Karel Gott – Můj bratr Jan (1977)

Barrie Masters, 63, singer of English rock band Eddie and the Hot Rods, on Oct. 2
Eddie and the Hot Rods – Do Anything You Wanna Do (1977)
Eddie And The Hot Rods – Telephone Girl (1977)

Morten Stützer, 57, guitarist of Danish trash-metal band Artillery, on Oct. 2

Kim Shattuck, 56, singer, guitarist and songwriter, on Oct. 2
The Muffs – Sad Tomorrow (1995)

Vinnie Bell, 87, guitarist and electric sitar inventor, on Oct. 3
Vinnie Bell – Airport Love Theme (1970)

Diahann Carroll, 84, singer and actress, on Oct. 4
Diahann Carroll – Rebel In Town (1956)
Diahann Carroll, The André Previn Trio – The Party’s Over (1960)
Diahann Carroll – Goin’ Out Of My Head (1966)
Diahann Carroll – I Mean To Shine (1974)

Glenmore Brown, 75, Jamaican reggae musician, producer, on Oct. 4
Glen Brown – Tell It Like It Is (1974)

Ed Ackerson, 54, singer-songwriter of ‘90s rock band Polara, on May 4
Polara – Is This It? (2002)

Peter Stone Brown, 68, singer-songwriter, on Oct. 5
Peter Stone Brown – Before I Go (1996)

Ginger Baker, 80, legendary English drummer, on Oct. 6
Terry Lightfoot And His Band – (What Did I Do To Be) So Black And Blue (1958, on drums)
Cream – Deserted Cities Of The Heart (1968)
Blind Faith – Well All Right (1969)
Public Image Limited – Ease (1986)

Larry Junstrom, 70, bassist of rock band .38 Special, on Oct. 6
.38 Special – Caught Up In You (1982)

Martin Lauer, 81, German schlager singer and athlete, on Oct. 6

Malcolm ‘Molly’ Duncan, 74, Scottish saxophonist of the Average White Band, on Oct. 8
Average White Band – Cut The Cake (1975)
Average White Band – Shine (1980)

Gerry (Jerry) McGee, 81, lead guitarist of The Ventures (1968-72), on Oct. 8
The Monkees – Hey Hey We’re The Monkees (1966, on guitar)
The Ventures – Hawaii Five-O (1968)
Kris Kristofferson – Shandy (The Perfect Disguise) (1974, on guitar and backing vocals)

Thomas Lück, 76, (East-) German schlager singer and actor, on Oct. 10

George Chambers, 88, bassist and singer with The Chambers Brothers, on Oct. 12
The Chambers Brothers – Time Has Come Today (1968)
The Chambers Brothers – Funky (1970)

Dallas Harms, 84, Canadian country musician, on Oct. 12

Kenny Dixon, 27, session drummer, in car crash on Oct. 12

Steve Cash, 73, singer-songwriter with Ozark Mountain Daredevils, on Oct. 14
Ozark Mountain Daredevils – If You Wanna Get To Heaven (1973, also as co-writer)

Cacho Castaña, 77, Argentine singer and actor, on Oct. 15

Ray Santos, 90, Afro-Cuban jazz saxophonist, arranger and composer, on Oct. 17

Peter Hobbs, 58, singer-guitarist of Australian metal band Hobbs’ Angel of Death, on Oct. 21

Garry Koehler, 64, Australian country musician and songwriter, on Oct. 22
The Bobkatz – The Man In The Picture (2006, as writer)

Ed Cherney, 69, producer and engineer, on Oct. 22
Pops Staples – World In Motion (1992, as producer)

Don Baskin, 73, singer of garage-rock band Syndicate of Sound, on Oct. 22
Syndicate of Sound – Little Girl (1966)

Walter Franco, 74, Brazilian singer and songwriter, on Oct. 24
Walter Franco – Feito Gente (1975)

Joe Sun, 76, country singer, on Oct. 25
Joe Sun – Old Flames Can’t Hold A Candle To You (1978)

Paul Barrere, 71, singer, guitarist, songwriter with Little Feat, on Oct. 26
Little Feat – All That You Dream (1975, as songwriter)
Robert Palmer – Every Kinda People (1978, on guitar)
Paul Barrere – Fool For You (1983)
Little Feat – Drivin’ Blind (1995, produced by Ed Cherney; see Oct. 22)

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Any Major Sesame Street Pops

October 31st, 2019 8 comments

 

 

On November 10 it will be 50 years since the Sesame Street theme first announced sunny days on which everything is A-OK on the US public TV channel PBS. And not only has the show kept running ever since 1969, it has also spread across the world.

I remember well watching the pilot aired on West-German TV in 1972, flighted in the English original on regional channels to let parents decide whether they would like to expose their kids to this kind of thing. My mother had me and my brother, 6 and 4 years old, watch it with her, and afterwards asked us what we thought of it. Oh yes, yes, yes, please! A few months later, Sesamstrasse debuted on German TV — except in conservative Bavaria (the German Texas), where all those progressive teaching methods and racial mixing were unwelcome.

 

 

At the age of six going on seven, I was a bit beyond the target audience. But no matter, I loved it. Sesame Street taught me a lot about social empathy. It gave me the idea that most Americans were black. While my home was normatively white (though that was changing already), I learnt that not all places are like that, and I learnt that people of different backgrounds could and should be friends. Thanks to Susan and Gordon and Bon and Mr Hooper (or, in German, Herr Huber).

Obviously, I loved the muppets. I loved Ernie and wanted to be him, though I identified more with Bert’s sensible character. I loved the Cookie Monster, even though I thought he was quite rude and selfish. And above all, I loved Oscar the Grouch — so much so that I dressed as him for a fancy-dress party within weeks of Sesamstrasse debuting. He remains my favourite, and I still find him very funny.

Most of the great songs of early Sesame Street were translated into German for Sesamstrasse: Rubber Duckie; C Is For Cookie, I Love Trash, and so on. When I introduced them in English to Any Minor Dude back in the 1990s, I could relive my childhood as he lived his (though his Sesame experience also included Elmo, who arrived long after my time).

 

 

I don’t remember if the guest appearances by singing stars were part of the German Sesame Street. I discovered them later on, in the age of YouTube. Those are wonderful. Some singers performed their songs straight (more or less): on this mix, Stevie Wonder jams Superstition while name-dropping muppets; José Feliciano croons on the brownstone steps; Paul Simon clearly got annoyed with the kids; Cab Calloway revisits his ancient hits.

Some sang Sesame Street standards. On this mix Lou Rawls grooves the ABC like nobody’s business; Lena Horne sings another alphabet song. Diana Ross builds self-esteem (as does Ray Charles with the same song in a bonus track). Aaron Neville and Ernie duet on I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon. Gladys Knight & The Pips do the Sesame Street theme. And Little Richard sings — obviously! — Rubber Duckie.

 

 

And then there are the adaptations of the guests’ popular hits, which always wink a little at the parents, too. Some are alphabet-based. Norah Jones doesn’t know why Y didn’t come; in Sheryl Crow’s song I soaks up the sun; guess what B.B. King’s favourite letter is.

Most artists riff along with muppets. Stevie Wonder tries to teach Grover how to scat. Johnny Cash and James Taylor revisit their hits in dialogue with Oscar (Cash: “Nasty Dan was a nasty man the whole day long.” Oscar: “Good for him.”). Andrea Bocelli sings Elmo to sleep with the song that had Camilla Soprano nearly jump in the sack with the priest.

This mix is great stuff for families. I’d play it with kids in the car. But, to be honest, I’ll play it in the car on my own as well…

 

 

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

1. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Sesame Street Theme (1988)
2. Lou Rawls – The Alphabet (1970)
3. Ray Charles with Bert & Ernie – I Got A Song (1977)
4. Jesse Jackson – I Am Somebody (1971)
5. Stevie Wonder – Superstition (1973)
6. Stevie Wonder with Grover – Scatting (1973)
7. Four Tops – Please Be Careful (When You Cross The Street) (1986)
8. José Feliciano – A World Without Music (1975)
9. James Taylor with Oscar – Your Smiling Face (1983)
10. Johnny Cash with Oscar – Nasty Dan (1973)
11. Johnny Cash with Biff – Five Feet High (1973)
12. R.E.M. – Furry Monsters Song (1998)
13. Sheryl Crow – I Soaks Up The Sun (2003)
14. Janelle Monáe – Power Of Yet (2014)
15. Queen Latifah with The Prairie Sisters – The Letter O (1992)
16. Norah Jones with Elmo – Don’t Know Y (2004)
17. John Legend with Hoots – I Got A Song (2006)
18. Diane Schuur with Elmo – From Your Head (1996)
19. Lena Horne – The Alphabet (1974)
20. Cab Calloway – Hi De Ho Man (1981)
21. Cab Calloway – Jump Jive (1981)
22. B.B. King – The Letter B (2000)
23. Little Richard – Rubber Duckie (1994)
24. Harry Belafonte with the Count – Coconut Counting Man (1982)
25. Paul Simon – El Condor Pasa (1977)
26. Feist – 1,2,3,4 (2008)
27. Chaka Khan with Elmo and Telly – Faces (2000)
28. Arrested Development – Pride (1995)
29. Dixie Chicks – No Letter Better Than B (2002)
30. Alison Krauss & Union Station – Sesame Jamboree (2005)
31. Diana Ross – Believe In Yourself (1981)
32. Aaron Neville & Ernie – I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon (1994)
33. Andrea Bocelli & Elmo – Time to Say Goodnight (2004)
Bonus Tracks:
Faith Hill & Tim McGraw – Take A Turn (2000)
Ray Charles with Elmo – Believe In Yourself (1996)

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Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 2

October 24th, 2019 3 comments

 

Just in time for Halloween, here’s another mix of murder songs to provide you with holiday-appropriate chills.

Some of these are truly scary. Some of our killers here have serious mental conditions, such as the protagonists in the songs by Warren Zevon and Hall & Oates. In Zevon’s song, the target of the singer’s wrath are the entitled family members who make excuses for their murderous rapist spawn. The Hall & Oates track (in which the duo recalls one of their older hits) is a bit disturbing as our dark anti-hero is into music you or I might listen to.

The darkness of mental disease is captured well in sound in the Wilco song’s distortions. The track was recorded live in Chicago. It’s about a guy dreaming of committing a murder in that city, and coming to the city to make his dreams come true. When Jeff Tweedy sings the name Chicago, the crowd cheers. Audience members: you really don’t want the protagonist of that sing in your city!

Most of our murders here are crimes of passion, with the victim being either a cheating partner, or the person with whom the cheating was committed (including Loretta Lynn, who in the Jack White-produced song will hang for her murder).

However, Rod Stewart uses a murder to deal with homophobia at a time when that was not really a mainstream issue. Think what you will of Rod, but plaudits are due for that song.

Of all our killers here, there’s one we can sort of support, Woody Guthrie’s Pretty Boy Floy, who gunned down an especially unpleasant deputy sheriff (I like to imagine a law enforcer of the Mississippi Burning variety).

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the troubling case of a father pushing his daughter down the well in the Violent Femmes song.

Neil Young is running a theme as old as song itself — the crime of passion; the wronged husband avenging his honour. But this being 1969, and musicians of Young’s ilk more interested in laying down guitar jams than producing lucid lyrics, we must figure out ourselves the circumstances leading to the murder, which the narrator at least admits to: “Down by the river, I shot my baby. Down by the river…Dead, oh, shot her dead.” The rest is just crazy hippie talk about rainbows. So, obviously, youngologists believe the song is about heroin. Which, by Young’s own account, it isn’t.

But of all these songs, Porter Wagoner’s song is the most spine-chilling. It has a real horror-movie vibe. In fact, the only thing that will lift the chill is to look at a picture of Porter in full ludicrous country music regalia. Or it might make things worse…

Again, to be very clear, this mix does not promote, endorse or celebrate murder. Don’t kill, kids.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-first48hoursed covers. PW the same as always.

1. Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy (1978)
The Vic: Suzie from the Junior Prom

2. Tim Rose – Hey Joe (1967)
The Vic: Joe’s “old lady”

3. Nina Simone – Ballad of Hollis Brown (1965)
The Vic: Hollis’ family

4. Fleetwood Mac – Blood On The Floor (1970)
The Vic: The “darling” of the guy about to hang

5. Porter Wagoner – The First Mrs Jones (1967)
The Vic: Mrs Jones

6. Johnny Cash – Joe Bean (live) (1969)
The Vic: Well, Joe Bean, really. An man hanging for a crime be didn’t commit

7. Loretta Lynn – Women’s Prison (2004)
The Vic: The “darling” of the woman about to hang

8. Wilco – Via Chicago (live) (2005)
The Vic: “You”

9. Violent Femmes – Country Death Song (1984)
The Vic: His daughter, the bastard

10. Robber Barons – Music For A Hanging (2004)
The Vic: A killer who is about to hang

11. Neil Young – Down By The River (1969)
The Vic: Neil’s “baby”, down by the river

12. Fairport Convention – Crazy Man Michael (1969)
The Vic: The “raven”

13. Rod Stewart – The Killing Of Georgie (1976)
The Vic: Georgie

14. Hall & Oates – Diddy Doo Wop (I Hear The Voices) (1980)
The Vic: Random strangers at the subway station

15. Tom Jones – Delilah (1968)
The Vic: Delilah, the two-timer

16. Marty Robbins – Streets Of Laredo (1969)
The Vic: The narrator, a cowboy

17. Lloyd Price – Stagger Lee (1958)
The Vic: Billy, a gambler

18. Little Walter – Boom, Boom, Out Goes The Light (1957)
The Vic: His baby who ain’t his no more

19. Louis Armstrong & Louis Jordan – You Rascal, You (1950)
The Vic: The seducer of his wife

20. Carter Family – John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man (1929)
The Vic: A man on the West Virginia line

21. Woody Guthrie – Pretty Boy Floyd (1940)
The Vic: A very rude deputy sheriff

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Any Major Originals: The 1970s Vol. 2

October 17th, 2019 4 comments

 

More 1970s hits were covers than one might think. Here are 25 more lesser-known originals, after the 23 tracks in the 1970s Volume 1.

 

Popcorn
German-born and US-based composer Gershon Kingsley (still alive at 97) wrote classical music and scores for TV and movies, arranged and conducted Broadway musicals — and pioneered electronic music, particularly through the Moog synth. As half of the electronic music duo Perrey and Kingsley, he wrote avant garde music. And part of that synth experimentation was his catchy tune Popcorn, which he recorded for his 1969 album Music to Moog By.

Kingsley re-recorded it in 1971 with his First Moog Quartet. One of the members was Stan Free, himself an accomplished jazz musician, composer, conductor and arranger. He in turn recorded Popcorn with his own band of musicians, named Hot Butter. It was their superior version that became a mega hit all over the world in 1972.

To truly appreciate Popcorn, it has to be experienced in this video from French TV.

 

Mama Told Me Not To Come
The 1970 hit for Three Dog Night was written by Randy Newman — already in the habit of writing lyrics from a character’s point of view — for Eric Burdon and The Animals, who recorded it in 1966 with the intention of releasing as a single. That idea was abandoned, but the song appeared on their 1967 album Eric Is Here.

Three Dog Night picked the song up in 1970, the same year Newman finally recorded it, and had a huge hit with it. US chart fans may be interested to know that it was at #1 when Casey Kasem presented his first Top 40 countdown show on 4 July 1970.

 

Mamy Blue
In the early 1970s you couldn’t move in Europe for versions of Mamy Blue. The most famous of these was the English recording by the Spanish group Pop-Tops. It will get more international yet — a lot. Mamy Blue was written in a traffic jam in Paris by French composer Hubert Giraud (who featured in In Memoriam – January 2016). The first recording was by Italian singer Ivana Spagna, the first record for the then 16-year-old. She later dropped her first name and as Spagna had several dance hits in the 1980s, including the 1987 UK #2 hit Call Me.

The Pop-Tops’ version (recorded by Swiss producer Alain Milhaud with lyrics by Trinidad-born singer Phil Trimm) reached #4 in the UK in 1971; in the US a version by The Stories charted in 1973. Roger Whittaker took his version in French to #2 on Canada’s French charts, while French singer Joël Daydé had a hit with an English take of it in Australia (it was arranged by Wally Stott, who features in his own right on this mix). Whitacker’s English version was also a Top 10 hit in Denmark and Finland (where local-language versions also were Top 10 hits). In France it was hit in French for Nicoletta. In West-Germany, it was a huge hit in German for French singer Ricky Shayne, who also reached the French Top 10 with his English version of the song (in the land of its origin, Mamy Blue was a hit for Nicoletta, Ricky Shayne, Pop-Tops and Daydé). Shayne’s German version was also a hit in the French-speaking regions of Belgium. In South Africa, Mamy Blue topped the charts in a truly terrible version by Charisma.

And Italy, where Ivana Spagna sang the song in Italian? The only hit was the Pop-Tops version.

 

These Foolish Things
It would be a stretch to call These Foolish Things an obscurity made famous in Bryan Ferry’s 1973 cover, but for a certain generation, that is the best-known version; for many the first they’d heard. Before Ferry got his greasy hair all over it, the song had been recorded to good effect by the likes of Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald.

But Ferry took These Foolish Things home: it was written in the mid-1930s for the BBC in England, with the lyrics by Eric Maschwitz, who went on to write A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, and was married to actress Hermione Gingold. His lyrics for These Foolish Things might be about Gingold, though the more widely accepted version suggests it was about cabaret singer Jean Ross, with whom Maschwitz had had a fling (Ross inspired the character of Cabaret’s Sally Knowles).

The song was unloved. Maschwitz couldn’t even get a publisher (so, luckily, he retained the copyrights). In 1936, Grenada-born singer-pianist Leslie Hutchinson, a big star on Britain’s music scene at the time, discovered the sheet music for These Foolish Things on a piano at the BBC. He recorded it, and the song quickly became popular. The same year, it crossed the Atlantic, with Benny Goodman recording it.

It was covered by many big names afterwards, including Sinatra, Crosby and Cole — and James Brown, who recorded it three times. Ferry based is affected take on a version by English actress-singer Dorothy Dickson.

 

Sorrow
It is a vaguely amusing coincidence that albums of cover versions by David Bowie and Bryan Ferry — icons of cool both at the time — entered the British charts on the same day in November 1973. Proof, if any was needed, that the covers project is not a recent phenomenon in pop music.

David Bowie scored only one hit from the Pin Ups album, Sorrow, which had been made popular in the UK seven years earlier by The Merseys. The original version of it, however, was by The McCoys, the US group better known for their big hit Hang On Sloopy (which, in turn, they had covered) that also provided the title for the 1965 album which featured Sorrow.

 

My Ding-a-Ling
Perhaps it is fitting for the unpleasant Chuck Berry that his biggest hit worldwide should have been a novelty number he covered from the guy who wrote hits for Fats Domino. A UK #1 for Berry in 1972, My Ding-a-Ling was first recorded 20 years by Dave Bartholomew, whom we lost in June at 100.

Its tune based on the 19th-century folk song Little Brown Jug, Bartholomew recorded it again as Little Girl Sing Ting-a-Ling, and soon after The Bees recorded it as Toy Bell, though the lyrics were Bartholomew’s. They earned themselves a radio ban for it.

Chuck Berry recorded it as My Tambourine in 1968 (giving himself sole writing credit), though on stage in England he performed Bartholomew’s My Ding-a-Ling. That’s what he did on stage in Coventry when his hit version, with the crowd interaction, was recorded (apparently with The Specials’ Jerry Dammers in the audience; a song covered by The Specials also features here). It became a #1 in the UK, US, Canada and Ireland. Unsurprisingly, the song, which depends on wordplay, fared less well in European countries where audiences were less likely to understand the puns.

 

Could This Be Magic
Several songs here are covered by acts who also recorded the original. So it was with Could This Be Magic. The act that first recorded it in 1971 was Featherbed, which was Barry Manilow and a bunch of session musicians. Written by Manilow with lyrics by producer Tony Orlando, it has the production you’d associate with its producer. It was a flop.

In 1973, Manilow re-recorded the song, with lyrical contributions by Adrienne Anderson. It remained an album track until a remixed version of it was released in 1975.

 

One Love
As the mainman of the Wailers, Bob Marley resurrected an old track from the times when he was a Wailer with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. The first version of One Love was released by The Wailers in 1965, in rocksteady style with all three members providing vocals.

When Marley revived his composition for 1977’s Exodus album, he slowed the song down, added bits of The Impression’s People Get Ready — initially uncredited, until that seemed to be a bad idea — and a reggae classic was born, after a 12-year gestation.

 

Danny’s Song
Also re-recorded by its first singer to good effect was the Loggins & Messina hit Danny’s Boy. Kenny Loggins wrote it for his brother Danny, who had just written him a letter about becoming a father, and recorded it in 1971 with his band Gator Creek, which was — echoes of Manilow’s Featherbed here — Ken and a bunch of session musicians. These included Wrecking Crew regulars such as the great Larry Knechtel (on guitar rather than keys) and Mike Deasy. After one LP Gator Creek was done and Loggins teamed up with Poco alumnus Jim Messina.

 

Saturday Night
Written and produced by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, who created a series of hits for the Bay City Rollers, Saturday Night was first recorded by the band in 1973, with singer Nobby Clark on vocals. The record went nowhere, and Clark soon went his own way — just as follow-up single Remember (Sha-La-La-La) shot up the charts to reach #6.

Saturday Night was re-recorded it in 1974 with new lead singer Les McKeown. In Britain it remained an album track, but in the US, Saturday Night became a #1 hit in 1975 — and inspired the Ramones’ “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go” chant in Blitzkrieg Bop. It also was a huge hit throughout Europe. The McKeown vocals version featured on Any Major Glam Vol. 2.

 

Rock And Roll Love Letter
Another Bay City Rollers classic which evaded the UK charts was Rock And Roll Love Letter, which was huge in Europe and Australia, and reached #28 in the US.

The song was originally recorded by Tim Harris, a musician less loved by fans than he was admired by some big names in music, including Frank Zappa, Donald Fagen, Darryl Hall (with whom Harris worked as a staff songwriter), Michael McDonald, Jeff Porcaro and Timothy B. Schmit. Keith Richards loved Harris guitar work so much that they became friends.

Another admirer was the legendary record executive Clive Davis, who headed the Bay City Rollers’ label Arista. When he heard Rock And Roll Love Letter, he decided that the Scottish band should record it.

Harris never had a big hit but continues to write music. He is also a psychologist and an artist.

 

Come Back My Love
British doo wop/rock & roll revivalists Darts had a knack for picking great but forgotten songs and turning them into late-‘70s hits. So it was with Come Back My Love, a UK #2 hit for the group in early 1978. It was originally recorded in 1954 by The Wrens, a Bronx doo wop trio that never hit the big time. Come Back My Love should have been a massive hit, but (like their other six singles) never was.

The original of the other great Darts cover of the time, Daddy Cool, featured in Any Major Originals: 1970s Vol. 1. The Darts version of Come Back My Love, as the famous cover of the next song, featured on A Life In Vinyl 1978.

 

Davy’s On The Road Again
John Simon had made an inedible mark on popular music as the producer of such classic albums as The Band’s Music from Big Pink and The Band (and later The Last Waltz); Big Brother & the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills, Songs of Leonard Cohen, Blood, Sweat & Tears’ Child Is Father to the Man, and tracks by the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot, Seals & Croft and Mama Cass.

Then in the early 1970s, encouraged by his brother, he released as couple of albums of his own. They did not set the world on fire, and Simon’s pedestrian version of Davy’s On The Road Again from 1971’s  John Simon’s Album seems to indicate why that was so.

Seven years later, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band gave the song, which was written by Simon with The Band’s Robbie Robertson, the treatment it deserved, and had a big hit with it.

 

Love Will Keep Us Together
Forever associated with Captain & Tenille, Love Will Keep Us Together had two previous recordings before Daryl Dragon (the captain’s real name) got his hands on it; playing all instruments on it except the drums, which were played by Hal Blaine. In the fade-out, the song’s co-writer and original performer, Neil Sedaka, gets a shout-out.

The first version of the song, written with Sedaka’s old Brill Building partner Howard Greenfield (the last song they wrote together), appeared on Sedaka’s 1973 The Tra-La Days Are Over album, which was recorded in England, with 10cc backing him. That album was not even released in the US.

Soon after Love Will Keep Us Together was recorded and issued as a single by the West Indian, England-based soul duo Mac and Katie Kissoon. Their version did little business anywhere, except in the Netherlands where it was a hit. It wasn’t the first time that the Kissoons covered an obscure song and soon after see another act score a big hit with it, as we’ll see in the story of the next original.

 

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep
Our old friend Bono, lead singer of Dublin combo U2, likes to tell the story of how seeing Middle of the Road performing Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep on Top of the Pops as a 11-year-old persuaded him that anyone, even little Paul Hewson, could become a pop star. It’s easy, even for Bono, to take a dig at a song called Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, of course. But I submit that, lyrics apart, it is a fine pop song.

Middle of the Road, who thought of themselves more as a folk group than the bubblegum pop combo they are usually remembered as, didn’t want to record the song. It had been a hit in Italy (with the subtitle Cirpi cirpi, cip cip) and Australia for its composer, Liverpudlian Lally (Harold) Stott, and even dented the US charts at #92. The song had greater success there, reaching #20, in a version by Mac and Katie Kissoon (included as a bonus track).

Despite Stott’s success in Italy and Australia, his label, Philips, evidently had little confidence in the recording, so Stott farmed it out to the Middle of the Road, who had just abandoned their previous moniker, Los Caracas, to take up an engagement in Italy.

The band recorded the song reluctantly at singer Sally Carr’s insistence. Bandleader Ken Andrews was initially dismissive: “We were as disgusted with the thought of recording it as most people were at the thought of buying it. But at the end of the day, we liked it.”

Their version, produced by Giacomo Tosti, became a massive hit throughout Europe in early 1971 and was imported to Britain by holidaymakers. At first it seemed that the Kissoons’ version would be a hit there, but influential radio DJ Tony Blackburn championed the Middle of the Road version on his BBC breakfast show, and it eventually reached #1 in June ’71.

Stott went on to work with Middle of the Road, writing their hit Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum. He died in 1977 in an accident while riding his Harley-Davidson — said to have been bought with the royalties of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.

 

Son Of My Father
Chicory Tip’s Son Of My Father, one of the big hits of the 1970s, had its roots in the collaboration between a future disco legend and a German schlager singer. It was written in 1971 by Giorgio Moroder and singer Michael Holm, who had many hits with German versions of English songs.

Holm recorded his collaboration with Moroder as Nachts scheint die Sonne (The sun shines at night) and released it in 1971. The following year Moroder recorded a version of his own, with English lyrics by Pete Bellotte, who later added words to Moroder-written tunes such as Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, Love to Love You Baby and Hot Stuff.

Released under the name of Giorgio, Son Of My Father did moderate business, reaching #47 in Germany (where Holm’s German original stalled at #29); and #46 in the US. It is included as a bonus track.

The song was discovered by British producer Roger Easterby, who got the previously unsuccessful Chicory Tip to record it. It was one of the first UK pop hits to use a Moog synth (as did the Holm and Giorgio versions).

While Giorgio’s modest return in the US was still higher there than that of the Chicory Tip version, also released in 1972, the British band had a huge with it throughout Europe. It topped the charts in the UK, Belgium and Spain, and also was #1 in South Africa and Argentina. But in West-Germany, where the song was born, it got no higher than #18 — though that was still higher than Holm and Moroder.

Holm featured before in The Originals, as the singer of the first vocal version of When A Child Is Born on the Christmas Originals. Moroder has also featured before, as the originator of a schlager hit in Any Major Originals: Schlager Edition.

As ever, CD-R length, home-covered covers, PW in comments.

 

1. Moon Martin – Bad Case Of Lovin’ You (1978)
The Usurper: Robert Palmer (1979)

2. Eric Burdon & Animals – Mama Told Me Not To Come (1967)
The Usurper: Three Dog Night (1970), Tom Jones & The Stereophonics (2000)

3. The McCoys – Sorrow (1965)
The Usurpers: The Merseys (1966), David Bowie (1973)

4. Alex Harvey – Delta Dawn (1971)
The Usurpers: Tanya Tucker (1972), Helen Reddy (1973), Bette Midler (1973)

5. Crazy Horse – I Don’t Want To Talk About It (1971)
The Usurpers: Rod Stewart (1977), Everything But The Girl (1988)

6. Gator Greek – Danny’s Song (1970)
The Usurpers: Loggins & Messina (1971), Anne Murray (1972)

7. Don Williams – Tulsa Time (1978)
The Usurper: Eric Clapton (1978)

8. John Simon – Davy’s On The Road Again (1971)
The Usurper: Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (1978)

9. Michael Holm – Nachts scheint die Sonne [Son Of My Father] (1971)
The Usurper: Chickory Tip (1972, as Son Of The Father)

10. Ivana Spagna – Mamy Blue (1971)
The Usurpers: The Pop Tops (1971) and maby others

11. Lally Stott – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (1971)
The Usurpers: Mac and Katie Kissoon (1971), Middle Of The Road (1972)

12. Tim Moore – Rock And Roll Love Letter (1975)
The Usurper: Bay City Rollers (1976)

13. Bay City Rollers – Saturday Night (1973)
The Usurper: Bay City Rollers (1975)

14. Featherbed – Could It Be Magic (1971)
The Usurper: Barry Manilow (1973/1975), Take That (1992)

15. Neil Sedaka – Love Will Keep Us Together (1974)
The Usurper: Captain & Tennille (1975)

16. Paul Anka – She’s A Lady (1970)
The Usurper: Tom Jones (1971)

17. Allen Toussaint – Southern Nights (1975)
The Usurper: Glen Campbell (1977)

18. Gershon Kingsley – Popcorn (1969)
The Usurper: Hot Butter (1972)

19. Dandy Livingstone – Rudy A Message To You (1979)
The Usurper: The Specials (1979)

20. The Melodians – Rivers Of Babylon (1969)
The Usurper: Boney M (1978)

21. The Wailers – One Love (1965)
The Usurper: Bob Marley & The Wailers (1977)

22. The Wrens – Come Back My Love (1955)
The Usurper: Darts (1978)

23. Dave Bartholomew – My Ding-a-ling (1952)
The Usurper: Chuck Berry (1972)

24. Leslie Hutchinson – These Foolish Things (1936)
The Usurper: Bryan Ferry (1973)

25. Red Patterson’s Piedmont Log Rollers – Down On The Banks Of The Ohio (1927)
The Usurpers: Joan Baez (1959/61), Olivia Newton-John (1971)

Bonus Tracks:
Giorgio – Son Of My Father (1971)
Mac and Katie Kissoon – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (1971)
Chuck Berry – My Tambourine (1968)

GET IT! or HERE!

 

More Originals:
The Originals: The Classics
The Originals: Soul
The Originals: Motown
The Originals: Rock & Roll Years
The Originals: 1960s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1970s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1980s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1990s & 2000s
The Originals: Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 1
The Originals: Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 2
The Originals: Beatles Edition
The Originals: Carpenters Edition
The Originals: Burt Bacharach Edition
The Originals: Schlager Edition
The Originals: : Christmas Edition

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Life In Vinyl 1986 Vol. 2

October 10th, 2019 No comments

 

Part 2 of the 1986 edition of A Life In Vinyl covers, naturally enough, the second half of the year, starting in July (Vol. 1 obviously followed the first half of that year). I’ve tried to keep things in the chronological order in which I bought these records — except the last song; I know I bought the LP late that year but have no memory of exactly when that was. I do remember that the LP was on heavy rotation in December that year, though.

During that summer, British TV presented an all-night pop show. Various artists appeared on that programme; I recall Cameo and The Smiths (introduced by Stephen Fry as Der Schmidts and playing Panic) appearing live. Also part of the show was the song that kicks off this collection. The festival was also broadcast in Europe; possibly made in cooperation with European TV stations. Just a year after Live Aid but just before the domination of globalisation, this was quite an exciting venture. Lunatics were advocating Brexit then already, of course, but they were still an idiotic minority.

I suppose most of the acts here are well-known, certainly to readers of this corner of the Internet. But US readers might not know much about acts like The Housemartins. They were a left-wing Indie group of Christians with the motto, “Take Jesus – Take Marx – Take Hope”. After they broke up in 1988, the lead singer went on to form The Beautiful South; the bassist became a famous dance DJ as Fatboy Slim; the lead guitarist became a children’s author and journalist; and the drummer later went to jail for assaulting a business associate with an axe.

Few people outside their native Ireland will remember Cactus World News, who sounded much like the types of Echo & The Bunnymen, Simple Minds, U2 et al. And it was Bono who first signed them to the U2-owened label Mother, and co-produced the first version of The Bridge, which I bought on single in 1985. The version featured here is that from the 1986 Urban Beaches LP, which was also their final album until 2004.

One feature of the UK charts in 1986 finds no inclusion here, though in one instance I contributed to its manifestation. That year the soap opera Eastenders broke so big that it produced three big hits, two of them related to its storylines. One was a spin-off from a rather bad storyline about three teenage characters forming a band, but the other gripped Britain’s imagination — including, I must confess, mine.

Every Loser Wins, sung by actor Nick Berry as character Wicksy, was a plot device to score a romance that ended with the luckless guy being jilted at the altar. After the aborted wedding episode, which made newspaper headlines, the song topped the charts and ended up being the second-biggest selling single of the year. It even won the Ivor Novello Award for songwriting, even though one of the characters in Eastenders got it perfectly right when in a scene she called it “sentimental garbage”. There are many records I regret buying; this was one of them.

There are many other tracks I might have included here, some have aged well, some haven’t, some were good and some not so much. Maybe a bit like this lot — but these tracks have a way of taking me back to my magical time as a 20-year-old in London in 1986.

As always, CD-R length, home-PVC-trousered covers, PW the same as always.

1. Steve Winwood – Higher Love
2. Phil Fearon – I Can Prove It
3. Daryl Hall – Dreamtime
4. Human League – Human
5. Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk – Love Can’t Turn Around
6. Cameo – Word Up
7. Run DMC & Aerosmith – Walk This Way
8. Cactus World News – The Bridge
9. Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom
10. Julian Cope – World Shut Your Mouth
11. Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia (The Full Horror)
12. The Housemartins – Think For A Minute
13. Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush – Don’t Give Up
14. Swing Out Sister – Breakout
15. Madness – (Waiting For) The Ghost Train
16. Alison Moyet – Is This Love?
17. Luther Vandross – Give Me The Reason

GET IT! or HERE!

More A Life In Vinyl
More Mix-CD-Rs

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In Memoriam – September 2019

October 3rd, 2019 4 comments

 

The Cars’ Driver
The death at 75 of Rik Ocasek reminded me of how when I got my first car in 1984, the tape of the Heartbeat City album by The Cars (appropriately) was on heavy rotation. Much of that album has not dated well, though I still enjoy Magic, Why Can’t I Have You, You Might Think (which featured on A Life In Vinyl 1984 Vol. 1) and the title track. I also loved Drive — the album’s stand-out track — until Live Aid destroyed it for me. The laziness of using that song to illustrate the suffering of famine based on one line taken completely out of context still annoys me.

Besides creating a lot of great power pop with The Cars, Ocasek was also a producer. His best-known work in that area is that with Suicide. He also produced Weezer’s eponymous debut album (and listen to The Cars’ 1978 track Just What I Needed as a precursor to the Weezer sound). He also produced other Weezer classics, including the impossibly catchy Island In The Sun. Ocasek also produced acts like Alan Vega, Nada Surf, Hole, Jonathan Richman, Bad Religion, Guided By Voices

The Session Legend
One of those lesser-known giants of music left us in Muscle Shoals guitarist, engineer and producer Jimmy Johnson. His great body of work is in his session guitar work, as a member of the session players’ collective The Swampers (more on that below). As an engineer, Johnson worked on the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album. He also discovered and produced Lynyrd Skynyrd, whose mention of “The Swampers” on Sweet Home Alabama refers to Johnson’s session group.

As a guitarist Johnson often worked alongside Duane Allman, Bobby Womack, Joe South and/or Eddie Hinton on a great many classics recorded in Muscle Shoals, at the FAME Studios and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, which he co-founded.

I have ascertained that he played on Aretha Franklin tracks such as Chain Of Fools, Natural Woman, I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), Think, Since You’ve Been Gone, Call Me; Wilson Picket’s Land Of 1000 Dances; Boz Scaggs’ Dinah Jo; The Staple Singers’ I’ll Take You There, If You’re Ready Come Go With Me, and Respect Yourself (on rhythm guitar); Bobby Womack’s Harry Hippie; Luther Ingram’s If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right); Millie Jackson’s Hurt So Good;  Paul Simon’s 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, Take Me To The Mardi Gras and Kodachrome; Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s the Night and Sailing (on rhythm guitar); Eddie Rabbit’s Suspicions; and Bob Seger’s We’ve Got Tonight, Night Moves, Old Time Rock and Roll (on rhythm guitar) and Good For Me (he accompanied Seger on almost all his albums between 1972 and 1982).

Wikipedia credits him with playing on a dizzying number of other classics, including When a Man Loves A Woman, Mustang Sally, Sweet Soul Music, I’m Your Puppet, Do Right Woman – Do Right Man, Respect (Aretha’s version), Take A Letter Maria, The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff; When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman and Sexy Eyes by Dr Hook.

The Soprano
The In Memoriam series usually does not include musicians from the field of classical music, but an exception may be made with the soprano Jessye Norman, who blazed many trails in her field. In as far as I can be said to have a “favourite” soprano, Norman was that, ever since I first heard her as a 23-year-old. As a friend of mine who had a friendship with Norman can testify, she was a kind, accessible and generous person.

Occasionally Norman dabbled outside the field of opera and lieder, turning her talents to Cole Porter or Michel Legrand (who preceded her in death by a few months), and singing songs of religion. Norman, who was raised as a Baptist, was a freestyling Christian who found greater religious impulse in the Girls Scouts, of whom she was one, than in church — and every year, like a good scout, she would sell thousands of boxes of cookies.

 

Out of Money
Eddie Money was the kind of singer who was massive in the US and made very little impact in the UK or Europe. Between Britain and Germany — the two biggest markets in Europe — Money had one #59 hit (inevitably, Take Me Home Tonight). His sound, it’s fair to say, was thoroughly American. His life could make for a decent bio-pic, though. Money, whose stage name was a corruption of Mahoney (supposedly a joke on never having any cash), wanted to follow his father and grandfather in becoming a cop, but he dropped that career when he was told that he couldn’t have long hair on the job. In 1980, Money mistook a synthetic barbiturate for the cocaine he was going to take and overdosed. For months after he couldn’t walk.

The Grateful Poet
Rarely does a non-performing member of a group gain membership in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but Robert Hunter was the first to make it, in 2004, thanks to the lyrics he wrote for the Grateful Dead. These include Dark Star, St. Stephen, Alligator, Truckin’, China Cat Sunflower, Terrapin Station, and the lovely Ripple. Later he also wrote with Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Little Feat (on their 2012 comeback), and others. Much of his muse came from his experiences as a volunteer in the early 1960s in CIA research into psychedelic drugs. Getting stoned on The Man’s dime, man!

The Disco Man
How strange that a man who has written or produced some of the great disco classics didn’t even have a Wikipedia page. But so it was with Bob Esty, whose death for a few days was marked almost exclusively on Facebook. The tributes on his Facebook page testify to a quality man. And what music he helped create! He produced, composed or arranged hit songs for the likes of Donna Summer, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Dusty Springfield, The Pointer Sisters, The Beach Boys and more.  He (co-)produced Donna Summer’s Last Dance, Streisand’s The Main Event (which also co-wrote and arranged), Cher’s Take Me Home (ibid), The Weather Girls’ It’s Raining Men, and more.

 

The R&B writer
During the R&B heydays of the late 1990s and early 200s, LaShawn Daniels was responsible for writing for some of the biggest names of the time, and scored a good number of hits with his compositions and productions. He co-wrote Whitney Houston’s It’s Not Right (But It’s Okay), Destiny’s Child Say My Name (which he also produced and earned him a Grammy), Jennifer Lopez’s If You Had My Love, Toni Braxton’s He Wasn’t Man Enough, Monica & Brandy’s ‘s The Boy Is Mine, Michael Jackson’s You Rock My World, Tatyana Ali’s Daydreamin’, Whitney Houston & George Michael’s If I Told You That, Twista’s So Lonely, Janet Jackson’s Feedback, Beyoncé’s Telephone, Tamar Braxton’s Love And War, as well as the Spice Girls’ hits Holler, Let Love Lead The Way and Forever. Several of these he also produced. Daniels died at 41 in a car crash.

Not Risen
Jesus has died. That is, Jeff Fenholt, who played Jesus in the original Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and later recorded a few demos with Black Sabbath. Pope Paul VI might have loved the musical, but a Christian builder who did work on Fenholt’s house didn’t. After the builder reprimanded Fenholt for his portrayal of Jesus on the stage (and, I hope, for his horrible singing), the singer-actor converted to Christianity, kicked his various addictions, and ended up having a show on the televangelist exploitation machine Trinity Broadcasting Network. Among all the conservative brylcreem conservatives, Fenholt sported long hair (like Jesus). But don’t let the long hair fool you: Fenholt was a conservative himself, and towards the end of his life a Trumpian on the deplorable end of that deplorable scale.

The Testament
Earlier this year, country singer Kylie Rae Harris recorded a song for her six-year-old daughter, in case of her death. Twenty Years From Now refers to a road trip and the hope of seeing what the next two decades would bring. In light of Harris’ death at 30 in a car accident (which also killed a teenager and was caused by he singer), the song breaks your heart.

 

Laurent Sinclair, 58, composer, keyboardist with French new wave band Taxi Girl, on Sept. 2
Taxi Girl – Mannequin (1980)

Les Adams, 63, English producer, DJ with dance music outfit L.A. Mix, on Sept. 2
L.A. Mix – Check This Out (1988)

LaShawn Daniels, 41, R&B songwriter and producer, in car crash on Sept. 3
Monica & Brandy – The Boy Is Mine (1998)
Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Jazzy Bass remix) (1999, as co-writer)

Dan Warner, session guitarist and songwriter, on Sept. 4
MIKA – Grace Kelly (2006, as co-writer)

Kylie Rae Harris, 30, country singer, in car crash on Sept. 4
Kylie Rae Harris – Twenty Years From Now (2019)

Jimmy Johnson, 76, session guitarist, engineer and producer, on Sept. 5
Solomon Burke – Uptight Good Woman (1969, as co-writer and on guitar)
The Staple Singers – If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)
Muscle Shoals Horns – Hustle To The Music (1976, as member)
Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More Time (1977, as producer)

Camilo Sesto, 72, Spanish singer-songwriter, on Sept. 8
Camilo Sesto – Algo Más (1973)

Lavrentis Machairitsas, 62, Greek rock musician, on Sept. 9

Gru, 46, Serbian rapper, in paragliding accident on Sept. 9
Gru – Biću tu (1996)

Hossam Ramzy, 65, Egyptian percussionist and composer, on Sept. 10
Peter Gabriel – Digging In The Dirt (1992, on the surdu)
Hossam Ramzy – Samya’s Solo (2000)

Jeff Fenholt, 68, musician, actor and televangelist, on Sept. 10
Jeff Fenholt – Gethsemane (1971, as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar)

Torsten Schmidt, singer of German rock band Virus D, on Sept. 10

Daniel Johnston, 58, cult singer-songwriter, on Sept. 11
Daniel Johnston – Impossible Love (2001)

Eddie Money, 70, rock singer-songwriter, on Sept. 13
Eddie Money – Two Tickets To Paradise (1977)
Eddie Money – Take Me Home Tonight (1986, with Ronnie Spector)
Eddie Money – I’ll Get By (1991)

Mick Schauer, keyboardist of hard rock band Clutch, on Sept. 14
Clutch – Mr. Shiny Cadillackness (2007)

Ric Ocasek, 75, singer-songwriter with The Cars, producer, on Sept. 15
The Cars – My Best Friend’s Girl (1978)
The Cars – Magic (1984)
The Cars – Heartbeat City (1985, at Live Aid)
Weezer – Buddy Holly (1994, as producer)

Roberto Leal, 67, Portuguese-Brazilian singer, on Sept. 15
Roberto Leal – Fim dos tempos (1976)

Vic Vogel, 84, Canadian jazz pianist, composer and conductor, on Sept. 16

John Cohen, 87, folk musician and musicologist, on Sept. 16
New Lost City Ramblers – No Depression In Heaven (1959, as member)

Hans Ingemansson, 54, keyboardist of Swedish group The Creeps, screenwriter, on Sept. 17
The Creeps – Smash! (1990)

Tony Mills, 57, singer of English hard-rock groups Shy, TNT, on Sept. 18
Shy – Can’t Fight The Nights (1987, also as co-writer)

Larry Wallis, 70, English rock guitarist with Pink Fairies, Motörhead (1975-76), on Sept. 19
Larry Wallis – Police Car (1977)

María Rivas, 59, Venezuelan Latin jazz singer, on Sept. 19
Maria Rivas – El Motorizado (1991)

Harold Mabern, 83, jazz pianist and composer, on Sept. 19
Betty Carter – This Is Always (1964, on piano)

Sandie Jones, 68, Irish singer, on Sept. 19
Sandie Jones – Ceol An Ghra (1972)

Yonrico Scott, 63, drummer with The Derek Trucks Band, on Sept. 20
Derek Trucks Band – Something To Make You Happy (2009, on drums and percussion)

Leigh “Little Queenie” Harris, 65, singer of Li’l Queenie & the Percolators, on Sept. 21

Robert Hunter, 78, lyricist of the Grateful Dead and musician, on Sept. 23
Grateful Dead – Ripple (1970, as lyricist)
Robert Hunter – Yellow Moon (1975)
Bob Dylan – Silvio (1988, as lyricist)
Counting Crows – Friend Of The Devil (2003, as lyricist)

Richard Brunelle, 55, death metal guitarist with Morbid Angel, Paths of Possession, on Sept. 23

Jim DeSalvo, 53, producer and composer, traffic collision on Sept. 23

Bob Esty, 72, disco producer, arranger writer, musician, on Sept. 27
Donna Summer – I Love You (1977, as arranger, keyboardist, percussionist, backing singer)
Barbra Streisand – The Main Event (1979, as co-writer, producer, arranger)
Cher – Take Me Home (1979, as co-writer, producer, arranger, backing singer)
Pointer Sisters – We’ve Got The Power (1980, as writer)

Jimmy Spicer, 61, American rapper, on Sept. 27
Jimmy Spicer – Money (Dollar Bill Y’all) (1982)

José José, 71, Mexican singer and actor, on Sept. 28

Dessie O’Halloran, 79, Irish fiddler, on Sept. 28
Dessie O’Halloran – Say You Love Me (2004)

busbee, 43, songwriter, producer, musician, label executive, on Sept. 29
Lady Antebellum – Our Kind Of Love (2010, as writer)

Louie Rankin, 55, Jamaican-born Canadian reggae artist and actor, in car crash on Sept. 30
Louie Rankin – Typewriter (1992)

Jessye Norman, 74, soprano, on Sept. 30
Jessye Norman – There Is A Man Going Round (1978)
Jessye Norman – In The Still Of The Night (1984)
Jessye Norman – Les Moulins De Mon Cœur (The Windmills Of Your Mind) (2000)

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Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road

September 26th, 2019 4 comments

 

September 26 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road, the album which many regard as The Beatles’ true masterpiece. I count myself among those, even as I prefer to listen to Help. Abbey Road certainly was an audacious album, with its collection of half-finished songs on Side 2.

And what a collection of half-finished songs they are. Because none of them were singles or feature on compilations, they are The Beatles’ “hidden” treasures. The people who feature here obviously saw the genius that runs through the medley, and most covered these tracks as songs in their own, full right.

It is Side 2 that deserves genius status, from Here Comes The Sun — the side’s only fully-fledged song — to The End (we’ll disregard McCartney’s silly coda to the queen as the unnecessary gimmick of a royalist toady which it was). Side 1 is rather hit-and-miss. Of course, Something is a stone-cold classic, and Come Together is great, if you don’t get annoyed by it. But until the great slow-burning blues of I Want You, with its moog-created wind effect, there’s a trio of entirely dispensable songs.

Of those, Paul’s attempt at doing soul, Oh Darling, can be said to have some value, but the Yellow Submarine sequel Octopus’s Garden is a weak point on the album. Some suggest that Ringo’s song is still better than Paul’s murder ballad Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Here Paul again went into dancehall mode, as he did on Sgt Pepper’s with When I’m 64 and on the White Album with Honey Pie.

Not surprisingly, few artists have bothered to cover Maxwell’s Silver Hammer with great seriousness. The version here is in German by a Brazilian singer called Teddy Lee who seems to have been part of The Rotations, who had an early 1970s hit in Europe with Ra-Ta-Ta. His version is what the song deserves: not lacking in respect, but nothing that merits huge respect either.

On the other hand, the great a cappella band The Persuasions deliver an appealing version of Octopus’s Garden, and Oh Darling produced three strong contenders. In the event, I picked Roberta Flack’s slow-burning version over those by Joy Unlimited and The Persuasions (whose lead singer Jerry Lawson died shortly after I compiled this mix).

There are four bonus tracks of songs which The Beatles released on single during the Abbey Road timeframe. Of those, Get Back gets a gratuitous airing, since it will reappear (in a different version, obviously) on Let It Be Recovered.

As ever, CD-R mix, home-zebracrossed covers. PW in comments.

1. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Come Together (1975)
2. Isaac Hayes – Something (1970)
3. Teddy Lee – Maxwells Silberhammer (1969)
4. Roberta Flack – Oh! Darling (2012)
5. The Persuasions – Octopus’s Garden (2002)
6. George Benson – I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (1969)
7. Nina Simone – Here Comes The Sun (1971)
8. Gary McFarland – Because (1970)
9. Sarah Vaughan – You Never Give Me Your Money (1981)
10. The Bee Gees – Sun King (1976)
11. Cornershop – Mean Mr. Mustard/Polythene Pam (2009)
12. Los Lonely Boys – She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (2009)
13. Carmen McRae – Golden Slumber/Carry That Weight (1971)
14. London Sympathy Orchestra – The End (1987)
15. Tok Tok Tok – Her Majesty (2005)

Bonus Tracks
Jessi Colter – Get Back (1976)
Randy Crawford – Don’t Let Me Down (1976)
Teenage Fanclub – The Ballad Of John And Yoko (1995)
Leslie West – Old Brown Shoe (2004)

GET IT! or HERE!

More Beatles Recovered:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine

Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70

More Beatles stuff

Categories: Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

Any Major Originals – Motown

September 19th, 2019 7 comments

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of Tamla Motown. I needn’t riff on about the genius and influence of Berry Gordy’s label; for that you are well-advised to watch the recent, marvellous Showtime documentary. Most of Motown’s classic hits were original compositions; a few were versions of previously recorded in-house productions (though far fewer than one might expect); a handful were songs brought in from outside Hitsville — and one was, as we’ll see, brazenly stolen.

If you wish to mark the 60th anniversary by way of covers of Motown hits, Covered With Soul Vol. 17 and Vol. 19 might do the trick.

 

Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone / Smiling Faces Sometimes
In Motown’s happy family it was common that the same songs would be recorded by different artists. Often this involved The Temptations, who sometimes originated a hit for others, and other times had a hit with a song previously recorded by others. And sometimes, there was a straight swap, as it was between The Temptations and The Undisputed Truth.

The Undisputed Truth, who are now mostly remembered for their hit Smiling Faces Sometimes, recorded Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone as a single release in 1971. It did not perform spectacularly well, peaking at #63 in the US charts. A year later, songwriter Norman Whitfield gave the song to the Temptations when he produced their 1972 All Directions album, on which it appeared as a 12-minute workout. The shortened single version went on to top the US charts in 1973.

The song dated the death of the deplorable Papa to “the third of September”, which happened to be the date Temptations singer Dennis Edward’s father died. Edwards was allocated that line, leading him to suspect that Whitfield had written the line knowing of that particular detail. Whitfield denied that (as he well might), but nevertheless exploited Edward’s anger about it by having him sing the line in repeated takes until the singer sounded very irate indeed. For his troubles, the Temptations dismissed Whitfield as their producer.

The group would never record anything better than Whitfield’s epics. And when Whitfield left Motown, the Undisputed Truth followed him.

But still at Motown, The Undisputed Truth took their signature song, Smiling Faces Sometimes, from The Temptations, who released it as a 12-minute track in April 1971 on their Sky’s The Limit LP and later, in as final twist of irony, as a b-side of Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone.

Released a month after The Temptations’ LP version, The Undisputed Truth enjoyed a US #3 hit with the song. The follow-up, Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone, flopped at #63. And then went to The Temptations…

 

War
While The Temptations and The Undisputed Truth scored hits with each others’ songs, Edwin Starr had a hit with a Temps song, War. The anti-Vietnam protest song appeared originally on the Temptations 1970 Psychedelic Shack album.

By popular request, Motown decided to release War as a single — but not by the Temptations, because the label did not want to associate its big stars with political causes.

Indeed, the Temptations themselves were apprehensive about offending some of their fans (though exactly why anybody who would dig the drug-friendly psychedelic grooves of early-’70s Temptations might be offended by an anti-war sentiment is a mystery). So Motown gave the song to a relative unknown who two years earlier had enjoyed his solitary hit.

Edwin Starr’s anthemic, fist-raising version was far more fierce and furious than that of The Temptations. Catching the zeitgeist, Starr’s War was a US #1 hit. And guess who appears on the backing track… The Undisputed Truth.

 

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me
There’s a link between the first recording of I’m Gonna Make You Love Me by Dee Dee Warwick in 1966 and the 1968 hit by Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations: on the original, released on Mercury, Nickolas Ashford provided backing vocals; on the Motown cover, he was a co-producer.

The song was written by future Philly Soul legend Thom Bell and Jerry Ross, the patron of Kenny Gamble (whose sidekick Leon Huff received a writing credit for it on some releases). For Warwick it was a R&B #13 hit. Ross was so convinced of the song, he had it recorded by several other artists under his charge. Ashford and his wife Valerie Simpson did backing vocals on all of them.

But it was only in 1968 that I’m Gonna Make You Love Me dented the US pop charts, when Madeline Bell’s version, recorded in England after Dusty Springfield passed on it, took it to #26 in April that year (also on Mercury, incidentally).

A few weeks later the recordings for the Motown version began, being completed in stages over almost four months. The final product, essentially a duet of Diana Ross and Eddie Kendrick with Otis Williams joining the fun for the spoken interlude, was released in November 1968. It reached #2 on the Billboard pop charts.

 

You Are Everything / Stop Look Listen
Thom Bell also co-wrote You Are Everything, first a hit for The Stylistics before becoming a Motown staple in the version by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. In the US, it was a hit for The Stylistics (#9) while the Ross & Gaye recording wasn’t released as a single there; but in the UK the Motown version did the business, reaching #5 in 1974.

Follow-up Stop Look Listen (Listen To Your Heart), also a cover from a Thom Bell & Linda Creed composition for The Stylistics, reached only #25 in the UK, where the 1971 original had failed to dent the charts. The Motown version wasn’t released on single in the US, but it is probably the better-known version, not least thanks to its inclusion on soundtrack for Bridget Jones’s Diary.

 

Abraham, Martin And John
Another song that features here on strength of its performance in the UK is the idealistic Abraham, Martin And John, which in its folky original was a hit for erstwhile rock & roll idol Dion. Released soon after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr (the only one of the martyred trio who unconditionally and absolutely wanted to free a lot of people), it reached #4 in the US.

In the UK, Dion had enjoyed #10 and #11 hits in 1961/62 (with The Wanderer and Runaround Sue respectively), and nothing since. So when Marvin Gaye released his version of the lament for the trio of unseen friends in early 1970, Britain’s delayed zeitgeist propelled it to #9. It was Gaye’s last solo Top 10 hit there for seven years (Let’s Get It On reached #31!).

 

For Once In My Life
Ron Miller and Orlando Murden were staff writers for the Jobete publishing company which was owned by Motown. In 1966 they wrote For Once In My Life, but were still struggling with it.

Miller asked little-known singer Jean DuShon, signed to Chess Records but then performing in a nightclub, to work with him on the vocal arrangement. He was so impressed with DuShon’s interpretation that he had her record and release the record on Chess.

Alas, Chess didn’t promote the record (some say due to pressure by Motown boss Berry Gordy), and it flopped. Hearing that the songwriters were giving the song to a non-Motown artist, Gordy insisted that it be immediately recorded by an act on his label. The song was given to Barbara McNair (whose stint at Motown was brief and who never was a priority for Gordy), who might have recorded it before DuShon, though the latter’s version was the first to be released. McNair’s version is included as a bonus track.

Over the next few months the song was recorded by several non-Motown artists, including Tony Bennett, who had a minor hit with it, Carmen McCrae, Della Reese, Vicky Carr and Nancy Wilson. On Motown, which regularly produced the same songs by different artists, it was released in 1967 alone by The Temptations, Four Tops and Martha & The Vandellas.

On 15 October 1968, teenager Stevie Wonder gave it an exuberant, uptempo treatment. Gordy didn’t like Stevie’s versions and declined to release it. When, at the urging of Billie Jean Brown, the head of Motown”s Quality Control Department, it was released as a single in late 1968, it became a massive hit, peaking at #2 (topping the charts was another Motown hit Gordy had previously vetoed, Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine).

Ron Miller wrote other hits for Stevie Wonder: Heaven Help Us All, Yester-Me Yester-You Yesterday (see below), and A Place In The Sun, as well as Diana Ross’ Touch Me In The Morning. But before Stevie had a hit with For Once In My Life, it was considered Tony Bennett’s song.

When Ella Fitzgerald introduced it on her 1968 Live in Berlin album (recorded before Stevie’s version was issued), she described it as Bennett’s song. A few years ago, Bennett and Wonder finally sang the For Once In My Life together, on the former’s album of duets. The pair took Grammies home for their efforts, and performed the song at the awards ceremony. Stevie dedicated it to his recently deceased mother, and Bennett… to his sponsors.

 

Someday We’ll Be Together
The Supremes’ sentimental farewell song with Diana Ross proved less than prescient (if we disregard the awkward performance of it on 1983’s Motown 25th anniversary show), and La Ross probably never thought that she “made a big mistake” by leaving.

The song was originally recorded in 1961 by the R&B duo Johnny & Jackie, in a Drifters-style arrangement. The Johnny half of the Detroit duo was Johnny Bristol, and Jackey was his singing and songwriting partner — and ex-air force compadre — Jackey Beavers. They co-wrote Someday We’ll Be Together with the great Harvey Fuqua, on whose Tri-Phi label the single appeared. It was not a big hit, and after several years of trying, Bristol and Beavers went their separate ways, with Jackey signing for Chess Records.

Bristol went on to become a noted producer on Motown, working with Fuqua on songs such as Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and David Ruffin’s My Whole World Ended.

Bristol had the distinction of producing the final singles by both The Supremes and The Miracles before their headliners departed. That means, of course, that Bristol produced the song which he had co-written and first recorded himself for Diana Ross and the Supremes.

The other Supremes didn’t actually appear on it (which makes the decision to play Some Day We’ll Be Together at Florence Ballard’s funeral seem quite odd). Bristol had intended the song for Junior Walker and the All Stars, for whom he had already written the hit What Does It Take (To Make You Love Me). He had laid down the arrangement and backing vocals, by Maxine and Julia Waters, when Gordy decided that this would be the song with which to transition Diana into her solo career. Probably because of the title, he issued it as a farewell song for Diana Ross and the Supremes, rather than as a solo debut for Ross.

The male voice on the song is Bristol’s. Not satisfied with Ross’ performance, he harmonised with her, ad libbing encouragements. The sound engineer accidentally captured these, and since it sounded good, it was decided to keep them in. Diana Ross & the Backing Singers’ single topped the US charts (perhaps fittingly, the last chart-topper of the ‘60s).

Johnny Bristol, who died in 2004, went on to have some success as a singer, most notably with the 1974 hit Hang On In There Baby. He also wrote and recorded the first version of the Osmonds’ hit Love Me For A Reason.

 

Come See About Me
The Supremes hit Come See About Me is one of those records where the earlier recording was released later (as we’ll see, there are a few others in this mix). In keeping with the methodology of this series, we go primarily by release date. And here, it seems, Nella Dodds narrowly scooped The Supremes.

Come See About Me was written by Motown’s hugely successful songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland, and The Supremes recorded it on 13 July 1964, backed by The Funk Brothers. Somehow the song had come into the hands of the people at Wand Records in New York, who had their singer Nella Dodds record it. While The Supremes were still riding high in the charts with Baby Love, their second chart-topper in a row, Wand put out Dodds’ version, a pleasant affair which nonetheless can’t compare to the exquisite vigour of the Supremes’ version.

Although Dodds recorded for a New York label, she was a pioneer of Philadelphia soul — Kenneth Gamble, future Philly soul supremo, and Jimmy Bishop, who would discover many Philly soul acts, appeared on Dodds’ Wand recordings.

Motown were alarmed when they learned that Dodds’ record had been issued, and rush-released The Supremes’ recording. Dodds’ version stalled at #74, and she would never have a breakthrough hit. For The Supremes, Come See About Me became the third in a golden run of five #1 hits.

 

Shop Around
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles covered themselves very soon after releasing the original of Shop Around, Motown’s first million-seller, in 1960. The first version was the bluesy version of the song which features here. It was released only in Detroit (hence it is known as the “Detroit Version”), and credited to The Miracles featuring Bill “Smokey” Robinson.

Co-writer Berry Gordy astutely calculated that the song needed a poppy treatment and had The Miracles re-record it, apparently art something like three in the morning, with Gordy himself on piano — and thereby have their big breakthrough hit.

 

I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Gladys Knight believes she has good reason to be pissed off. There Gladys and her Pips had delivered an excellent dance number with I Heard It Through The Grapevine, scoring a US #2 hit in 1967, and Motown’s best-selling single up to then. And yet, a fair number of people will be surprised to know that the song was in fact not a Marvin Gaye original. One has to feel for poor Gladys, but Marvin’s more bluesy version, though unloved by Berry Gordy, is flawless in every way.

The timeline of the song is a little confusing. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, several Motown stars — including  as well as Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and the Isley Brothers — tested for the song before Gladys Knight’s version was approved for release. It was Smokey who recorded it first, with The Miracles, on 16 August 1966. His version stayed in the vaults until after Knight had her hit with it, as did that recorded by Marvin Gaye, whom Whitfield had in mind when he wrote the song. He had to bug Gordy until the owner relented and had the Gladys Knight version released.

A year later Smokey’s version was released as an LP track, on the Special Occasion LP. On the very same day, on 26 August 1968, Gaye’s version was issued, as track 4 on his In The Groove album (later retitled after Grapevine). Having been recorded in February 1967 (before Gladys did her take), it was not supposed to be a single. But radio DJs picked it up and created the demand which forced Motown to issue it on single, on 30 October 1968.

 

Yester-Me Yester-You Yesterday / All I Do
Two other songs were recorded before their more famous covers, both by Stevie Wonder, but released later. Written by Ron Miller (who also wrote For Once In My Life) and Bryan Wells, Yester-Me Yester-You Yesterday was first recorded by Chris Clark, the white soul singer on the Motown roster, in 1966. Her version didn’t see the light of day until 2005; possibly it was a demo for a sing which would then remain unrecorded for two years.

All I Do Is Think About You went unrecorded even longer. Recorded by Tammi Terrell in 1966, it finally surfaced as All I Do on Stevie Wonder’s 1980 album Hotter Than July. Terrell’s version, and one done around the same time by Brenda Holloway, didn’t get a release until 2002, which is puzzling since it is very good.

For Stevie, one of three co-writers of the song, it wasn’t really a hit either. Which is puzzling since it also is very good.

 

You Got What It Takes
Marv Johnson’s You Got What It Takes was Motown’s first hit — and a case of brazen theft.

The song was written and first recorded in 1958 by blues musician Bobby Parker. It was the b-side of his debut solo single, Blues Get Off My Shoulder. A year later, Berry Gordy took it, literally. He had Marv Johnson record it, and then stole the songwriting credit for himself, with his sister Gwen Gordy (later Fuqua) and Roquel Davis. Poor Bobby Parker, powerless to act against the musical mugging, got nothing from the song, which was a Top 10 hit in both the US and UK.

And the kicker is that Gordy set up Motown and the music publishing wing Jobete because he was sick of getting stuffed by record companies for the work he had done…

As ever, CD-R length, home-handclapped covers, PW in comments…

 

1. Bobby Parker – You Got What It Takes (1958)
The Usurper: Marv Johnson (1959)

2. The Miracles feat. Bill ‘Smokey’ Robinson – Shop Around (Detroit Version) (1960)
The Usurper: The Miracles (1960)

3. The Temptations – Too Busy Thinking About My Baby (1966)
The Usurper: Marvin Gaye (1969)

4. The Isley Brothers – That’s The Way Love Is (1967)
The Usurper: Marvin Gaye (1969); The Temptations (1969)

5. The Miracles – Who’s Lovin’ You (1960)
The Usurper: The Jackson 5 (1969)

6. Johnny & Jackey – Someday We’ll Be Together (1961)
The Usurper: Diana Ross & The Supremes (1969)

7. Dee Dee Warwick – I’m Gonna Make You Love Me (1966)
The Usurper: Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations (1968)

8. Tammi Terrell – All I Do Is Think About You (1965, rel. 2002)
The Usurper: Stevie Wonder (as All I Do, 1980)

9. The Choice 4 – I’m Gonna Walk Away From Love (1975)
The Usurper: David Ruffin (as Walk Away from Love, 1975)

10. The Stylistics – You Are Everything (1971)
The Usurper: Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye (1973)

11. The Stylistics – Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart) (1971)
The Usurper: Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye (1973)

12. Dion – Abraham, Martin & John (1968)
The Usurpers: Marvin Gaye (1970), Tom Clay (1971)

13. The Temptations – War (1970)
The Usurpers: Edwin Starr (1970), Bruce Springsteen (1986)

14. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Beauty Is Only Skin Deep (1964, rel. 1966)
The Usurper: The Temptations (1966)

15. Nella Dodds – Come See About Me (1964)
The Usurper: The Supremes (1964)

16. Chris Clark – Yester-Me Yester-You Yesterday (1966, rel,. 2005)
The Usurper: Stevie Wonder (1969)

17. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1966, rel. 1968)
The Usurpers: Gladys Knight & The Pips (1967), Marvin Gaye (1968)

18. Jean DuShon – For Once In My Life (1966)
The Usurpers: Tony Bennett (1967), Stevie Wonder (1968)

19. Thelma Houston – Do You Know Where You’re Going To (1973)
The Usurper: Diana Ross (1975, as Theme from ‘Mahogany’)

20. The Undisputed Truth – Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone (1973)
The Usurper: The Temptations (1973)

21. The Temptations – Smiling Faces Sometimes (1971)
The Usurper: The Undisputed Truth (1971)

Bonus Tracks:
Barbara McNair – For Once In My Life (1966)
Gladys Knight & The Pips – I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1967)

GET IT! or HERE!

 

More Originals:
The Originals: The Classics
The Originals: Soul
The Originals: Rock & Roll Years
The Originals: 1960s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1970s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1980s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1990s & 2000s
The Originals: Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 1
The Originals: Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 2
The Originals: Beatles Edition
The Originals: Carpenters Edition
The Originals: Burt Bacharach Edition
The Originals: Schlager Edition
The Originals: : Christmas Edition

Categories: 60s soul, The Originals Tags:

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 worth 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)

GET IT! or HERE!

More CD-R Mixes

Categories: Mix CD-Rs Tags: