The Originals: Rock & Roll Years

August 22nd, 2019 3 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 Benny 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 5 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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In Memoriam – June 2019

July 4th, 2019 4 comments

It has been a sad month for New Orleans, with two of her greatest sons passing on. And there was the horrible murder of a talented drummer, and the death of the son of an apartheid foreign minister.

The Swamp Doctor
He was around for so long that it seemed he was indestructible. A heart attack showed that Dr. John wasn’t. Death might have claimed Malcolm John Rebennack much earlier: in his young days in New Orleans he had started his music career, but he also was a petty criminal, a pimp and a heroin addict, landing in jail in 1965. Upon release from the clink Rebennack was told to get out of town, so he went to L.A. and, restyled as Dr. John, begun an illustrious career as a swamp-blues singer, session keyboardist (and percussionist, such as on Aretha Franklin’s Rock Steady) and record producer.

New Orleans Legend
One of the strange effects of running, or reading, a series like thus is that sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised that an artist was still alive…until their death. Having reached the great age of 100, the great songwriter and bandleader Dave Bartholomew probably was presumed dead long ago by many people. Even if his name means nothing to you, you’ll have heard his songs: his protégé Fats Domino had hits with Batholomew (co-)compositions such as Ain’t That a Shame, I’m Walking’ and Blue Monday, Elvis Presley’s One Night, Gale Storm/Dave Edmunds’ I Hear You Knocking (like One Night and Blue Monday, originally recorded by Smiley Lewis), and, in a regrettable cover version, Chuck Berry’s My Ding-A-Ling, which Bartholomew had first recorded himself in 1952. A musician, bandleader, composer, arranger, and producer, Bartholomew did much to direct New Orleans’ contribution to rock & roll.

The Session Drummer
If you have listened to country music from the 1960s or ‘70s, you’ll have heard Jerry Carrigan’s drumming along the way. An early member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, he made his name as a session man in Nashville. For once, the cliché of “whom didn’t he play with?” holds true. If they were big in Nashville, Carrigan drummed for them. Besides country stars, he also played for the likes of Elvis Presley, The Monkees, Tony Joe White (also on Polk Salad Annie) and Johnny Mathis.

The Geto Boy
Starting as a dancer for Texan hip-hop outfit Geto Boys, Bushwick Bill graduated to become a rapper in that pioneering group — and perhaps its visual icon. He stood out anyway because of his lack of height — he measured 1,12m (or 3’8) — but eventually perhaps more so for his missing eye in a self-inflicted wound. In 1991 he shot himself in the eye; a photo of the injured Bill on a gurney, pushed by bandmates Scarface and Willie D, became the cover of the Geto Boys’ third album, We Can’t Be Stopped. Bushwick Bill, who later became a born-again Christian, eventually was stopped: undramatically, by cancer.

The Last Brother Standing
Suddenly all members of the country trio Tompall & The Glaser Brothers are dead. Tompall went already in 2013; Jim died in April this year, and just over two months later middle-brother Chuck Glaser died at 83. It was Chuck’s composition Five Penny Nickel that served as the brothers’ debut single in 1958, after they had been discovered by Marty Robbins. The group would go on to back Robbins and others, including Johnny Cash (also on Ring Of Fire) before they broke big as an act in their own right. Chuck wrote for acts like Hank Snow, Johnny Cash and Anita Carter.

Murdered
For New York jazz drummer Lawrence Leathers, the end was grisly. In an argument with his girlfriend and another guy, he was allegedly beaten for half an hour and eventually choked to death. His body was left in the stairwell of the Bronx apartment building where he lived. As a member of the Aaron Diehl Trio, he won two Grammys backing singer Cécile McLorin Salvant.

The Manager
It is not often that managers, music executives and their like feature in the In Memoriam series, but Elliot Roberts merits the exception. Roberts was the life-long manager of Neil Young and, until 1985, Joni Mitchell. He launched the careers of both. Later Roberts helped launch the careers of The Cars and Tracy Chapman. He also managed Crosby, Stills & Nash and Tom Petty. Early in his music career, he helped David Geffen set up Asylum Records.

Son of the Foreign Minister
Lately we’ve had people dying who had moved from punk to being a judge, and from making ska records to being a right-wing prime minister. In June we lost the son of an apartheid-era foreign minister. Blues and rock singer Piet Botha probably loved his dad, Pik Botha, but clearly was not the type to wear khaki suits and jovially justify the murder of children. Piet probably really pissed off his father in the early 1980s when he recorded a song about the Angolan Border War, white South Africa’s version of the Vietnam War. Piet Botha was a pioneer of Afrikaans alternative music, and was one of the first musicians to be included in his country’s Hall of Fame. As frontman of the blues-rock collective Jack Hammer (which at one point included actor Billy Bob Thornton) Botha was also known as The Hammer.

 

MC Reaça, 25, Brazilian singer, suicide on June 1

Lawrence Leathers, 37, jazz drummer and percussionist, strangled on June 2
Cécile McLorin Salvant – Devil May Care (2017, on drums)

Piet Botha, 63, South African rock musician, on June 2
Piet Botha – Suitcase vol winter (2012)
Jack Hammer – Handful Of Rain (2016)

Mikey Dees, singer and guitarist of metal-punk band Fitz of Depression, on June 4

Brian Doherty, 51, guitarist of rock band Big Wreck, on June 5
Big Wreck – That Song (1997)
Big Wreck – All By Design (2001)

Dr. John, 77, singer-songwriter, on June 6
Mac Rebennack – Storm Warning (1959)
Dr. John – I Walk On Guilded Splinters (1968)
Ringo Starr – All By Myself (1974, on piano)
The Band with Dr John – Such A Night (1978)
Dr. John & Chris Barber – Big Bass Drum (On A Mardi Gras Day) (1990)

Spencer Bohren, 69, roots music guitarist, on June 8
Spencer Bohren – Lost Highway (2004)

Tre Da Kid, 32, American rapper, shot dead on June 8

Andre Matos, 47, Brazilian heavy metal singer, on June 8
Angra – Carry On (1993, as lead singer)

Bushwick Bill, 52, Jamaican-born rapper with Geto Boys, on June 9
Geto Boys – Mind Playing Tricks On Me (1991)
Dr. Dre feat. Bushwick Bill – Stranded On Death Row (1992)

Jim Pike, 82, co-founder and lead singer of The Lettermen, on June 9
The Lettermen – Where Or When (1963)

Paul ‘Lil’ Buck’ Sinegal, 75, zydeco & blues guitarist, singer, on June 10

Chuck Glaser, 83, country singer, on June 10
Tompall Glaser & The Glaser Brothers – Five Penny Nickel (1958)
Tompall & The Glaser Brothers – A Girl Like You (1972)
Chuck Glaser – Gypsy Queen (1973)
Tompall & The Glaser Brothers – The Last Thing On My Mind (1981)

Enrico Nascimbeni, 59, Italian singer and writer, on June 11
Enrico Nascimbeni – La Stanza Di Marinella (1979)

Ray Ceeh, 33, Zimbabwean musician, murdered on June 12

Nature Ganganbaigal, 29, founder of Mongolian rock band Tengger Cavalry, on June 13

Bishop Bullwinkle, 70, singer and comedian, on June 16
Bishop Bullwinkel – Hell To The Naw Naw (2014)

Sergey Ostroumov, 53, drummer of Russian rock band Mashina Vremeni, on June 16

Adam Litovitz, 36, Canadian musician and composer, on June 16
JOOJ feat. Sook Yin Lee & Adam Litovitz – Ghost Of Love (2015, also as co-writer)

Philippe Zdar, 50, musician with French electronic duo Cassius and producer, on June 19
Cassius – Cassius 1999 (1999)

Kelly Jay Fordham, 77, Canadian singer-songwriter, keyboard player, on June 21
Crowbar – Oh, What A Feeling (1971, as member and co-writer)

Elliot Roberts, 76, music executive and manager, on June 21
Neil Young – Comes A Time (1978, as “director”)

Eamon Friel, 70, Northern Irish singer-songwriter and broadcaster, on June 21
Eamon Friel – Farewell Mayo (2000)

Jerry Carrigan, 75, country session drummer, on June 22
Arthur Alexander – You Better Move On (1961, on drums)
Eddy Arnold – Make The World Go Away (1965, on drums)
Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner – The Last Thing On My Mind
Kris Kristofferson – Silver Tongued Devil (1971, on drums)
O.B. McClinton – Unluckiest Songwriter In Nashville (1973, on drums)

Paulo Pagni, 61, drummer of Brazilian rock band RPM, on June 22

Dave Bartholomew, 100, musician, bandleader and songwriter, on June 23
Dave Bartholomew and His Sextette – She’s Got Great Big Eyes (1947)
Dave Bartholomew – Little Girl Sing, Ding-A-Ling (1952)
Smiley Lewis – I Hear You Knocking (1955, as co-writer)
Fats Domino – I’m In Love Again (1956, as co-writer)

Jeff Austin, 45, mandolinist and singer of the Yonder Mountain String Band, on June 24
Yonder Mountain String Band – Half Moon Rising (1999)

Davide Galli, bassist of rock band Throw Down Bones, motorbike accident on June 24

Tony Hall, 91, British producer, label executive, manager, journalist, on June 26
Tubby Hayes & Ronnie Scott – Mirage (1958, as producer)
The Locomotive – Rudis In Love (1968, as co-producer)
The Real Thing – Plastic Man (1972, as co-producer)

Astrid North, 45, German soul singer, on June 26

Gualberto Castro, 84, singer with Mexican combo Los Hermanos Castro, on June 27
Los Hermanos Castro – Yo Sin Ti (1966)

Hella Sketchy, 18, rapper, on June 28

Gary Duncan, 72, guitarist of rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service, on June 29
Quicksilver Messenger Service – Pool Hall Chili (1986)

Anne Vanderlove, 75, French singer-songwriter, on June 30

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The Originals – Soul Vol. 1

June 27th, 2019 2 comments

The theme of this month’s instalment of The Originals is soul classics. The alert reader will notice, with possible alarm, that none of the tracks featured were Motown hits. But that reveals that I’m planning to do a special of lesser-known originals of Motown hits at some point.

 

 

Sweet Soul Music (Yeah Man)
Before Arthur Conley wrote Sweet Soul Music, his tribute to the living soul legends, he just wanted to cover Sam Cooke’s posthumously released Yeah Man. Otis Redding rewrote the lyrics, and got himself a namecheck — but excluded the man who was being plagiarised. It was a strange omission, since Sam Cooke influenced pretty much every soul singer of the 1960s, including and especially Otis Redding.

Try A Little Tenderness
Indeed, it was Cooke’s interpretation of the old standard Try A Little Tenderness which inspired Otis Redding’s reworking of the song. Once Otis was through with the song, with the help of Booker T & the MGs and a production team that included Isaac Hayes, it bore only the vaguest semblance to the smooth and safe standard it once was. Redding in fact didn’t even want to record it, ostensibly because he did not want to compete with his hero Cooke’s brief interpretation of the song on the Live At The Copa set. His now iconic delivery was actually intended to screw the song up so much that it could not be released.

It isn’t quite clear who recorded the original version: the versions by the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra and the Ray Noble Orchestra are both cited as having been recorded on December 8, 1932.

At Last
When Beyoncé Knowles was invited to sing At Last — Barack and Michelle’s special song — at Obama’s inauguration events in January 2009, Etta James was not best pleased. The veteran soul singer stated her dislike for the younger singer, who had portrayed Etta in the film about the Chess label, Cadillac Records. “That woman; singing my song, she gonna get her ass whupped,” James declared (she later relegated her outburst to the status of a “joke”).

It is her song, of course, certainly in the form covered so competently by Beyoncé. But many people recorded it before her, and it was a hit at least twice. The first incarnation came in the 1941 movie Orchestra Wives, in which it was performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra, who also recorded the first version to be released on record on 20 May 1942. It was a #9 hit for Miller. At Last became a hit again ten years later, for Ray Anthony with Tom Mercer on vocals. This version is typical 1950s easy listening fare, done much better in 1957 by Nat ‘King’ Cole (who tended to do music much better than most people).

In 1960 Etta James recorded the song, with Phil and Leonard Chess producing with a view to accomplishing crossover success. Her version, released Read more…

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Any Major Dogs

June 20th, 2019 22 comments

While this site is moving servers, with all the problems this creates, here’s a selection for the dog lovers first posted six years ago: 26 songs about canines — and one by dogs. Excluding some of the obvious choices, they range from the happy to the spooky to the amusing to the sad. I’ve tried to keep the sad ones to a minimum; as any dog or cat owner will know, the time when a pet has to be put down is nearly as traumatic as losing a family member.

Ken-L Ration Commercial – My Dog’s Better Than Your Dog (1960s)
Kids usually brag about whose Dad is the strongest; in this TV commercial, the kids don’t argue: the kids with the Ken-L Ration eating dog win by dietary default. The jingle was based on a song by the great singer-songwriter Tom Paxton.

The Beatles – Martha My Dear (1968)
Martha was Paul’s dog that roamed his overgrown garden in St John’s Wood, London. Paul never wrote as lovingly about Jane Asher…

Harry Nilsson – The Puppy Song (1969)
Lonely Harry wishes for a puppy with whom to “share a cup of tea” and escape from alienating society.

Cat Stevens – I Love My Dog (1967)
Yup, Cat loves his dog.

Johnny Cash – Dirty Old Egg Suckin’ Dog (1969)
Call the pet protection agency! Cash might like his dog, but if he messes with the chicken again, he will visit violence upon the hound. And this is a light-hearted song…

Dolly Parton – Me And Little Andy (1977)
Dark spooky stuff about a death-bound visitor and her dog. One for opening those tear-ducts.

Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians – Ghost Of A Dog (1990)
Some years ago Edie put her dog to sleep – and now he is nocturnally spooking the yard. Cold shivers!

Nellie McKay – The Dog Song (2004)
Adopted dog turns around singer’s pitiful life by being tail-wagging and cute.

Bobby Bare Jr – Your Adorable Beast (2004)
Country giant’s son sings a love song to his dog. All dog owners think about playing it for their pooch.

Bright Eyes – Stray Dog Freedom (2006)
Oberst digs the freedom of the stray dog. Or he means himself. Does anyone ever really know with that guy?

Klaatu – All Good Things (1980)
The band that wasn’t The Beatles after all sing about losing their best friend: “I never had a closer friend than you, but all good things must end.” Start up those tear-ducts again.

Jerry Jeff Walker – Mr. Bojangles (1968)
The original version. Bojangles is sobering up in jail and tells his fellow inmates about his hoofing life on the road, and about his beloved dog. *** SPOILER ALERT *** The dog died.

Anonymous – Your Dog Loves My Dog (1960s)
From an album of recordings from the civil rights movement, the song tells the story of two dogs, one owned by a black person and the other by a white man, who are great friends. The metaphor is patently obvious, but some people still do not get it.

Tom T. Hall – Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine (1972)
An old guy tells Tom about the three things “that’s worth a solitary dime”. Superannuated canines rank among these.

Jean Shepard & Ray Pillow – I’ll Take The Dog (1966)
Jean and Ray are getting divorced and amicably settle on who gets what, until it comes to the custody of the pooch, at which point they turn into Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney – a Pillow fight, so to speak (oh come on, everybody loves a putrid pun!). Watch out for the surprise ending.

Webb Pierce – I’m Walking The Dog (1953)
In questions of romance, Webb values his freedom, preferring to walk his dog. Unless the song’s title serves as a euphemism.

Elvis Presley – Old Shep (1956)
An old country lament for a dog that gone died. Originally recorded by Red Foley, Old Shep was the favourite song of the young boy Elvis down Tupelo way – so much did young Elvis love the song that he sang it at his first ever public performance, as a ten-year-old at a talent show at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. Elvis didn’t win (and the winner either never had to buy a drink again, or felt like a total fraud when Elvis became famous), but he recorded Old Shep on his debut album.

Three Keys – That Doggone Dog Of Mine (1933)
The Three Keys’ mutt cannot do much but it cost only 15 cents, in 1933 money. And what follows is a lovingly compiled doggy CV.

Dolly Dawn and her Dawn Patrol – Where Has My Little Dog Gone (1939)
The nursery rhyme rendered in big band style. It’s quite brilliant.

Hank Williams – Move It On Over (1947)
Hank is in the dog house, now the big, mad dawg is moving in, so scratch it on over, small dog.

Rufus Thomas – Stop Kickin’ My Dog Around (1964)
Rufus, whose moniker is a popular canine name, had a string of songs about man’s best friend: Walk The Dog, The Dog, Somebody Stole My Dog , Can Your Monkey Do The Dog and this song counselling somebody to mind their bad temper.

Nancy Sinatra – Leave My Dog Alone (1966)
People, leave the dog alone. And her cat. And Nancy.

Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia (The Full Horror Mix) (1986)
Because I Want A Dog is much too obvious.

Ferlinghetti & Dorough – Dog (1958)
An existential poem about dogs set to jazz (“Congressman Doyle is just another fire hydrant to him.”). Snoopy would dig it.

The Monkees – Gonna Buy Me A Dog (1966)
The Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart song about getting a pet to recover from a break-up was intended to be performed straight, and The Monkees recorded it thus on a version that went unreleased for the next three decades. On this take, released in 1966, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones certainly don’t play the song straight, instead lacing it with some really bad jokes.

Homer & Jethro – That Hound Dog In The Window (1953)
Yes, we’re well into the novelty section of dog songs now. Comedy duo Homer & Jethro corrupt that nice Patti Page hit about the price for the pooch in the store window. It probably was quite hilarious in 1953.

Don Charles and the Singing Dogs – Oh! Susanna (1955)
Doggies bark a song. There is a reason this song comes at the end of this collection…

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Home-bred covers are included. I borrowed the graphic for the front cover from papillonpalsrescue.com, an adoption agency for dogs. If you are in the market for a canine, please consider adopting a dog.

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