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Copy Borrow Steal Vol. 4

May 18th, 2010 7 comments

In the fourth instalment of this series we”ll look at Chuck Berry”s hit that deliberately borrowed from a country tune, a song that made a four-stage transition from crooner standard to soul classic, and Bob Marley”s possibly unintended homage to a kids” TV show. I should stress that I”m not suggesting plagiarism or other unethical actions by anybody (let”s save that for the inevitable mammoth Led Zep post).

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Dykes Magic City Trio – Ida Red (1927).mp3
Bob Wills
& his Texas Playboys – Ida Red (1938).mp3
Bob Wills & his Texas Playboys – Ida Red Likes The Boogie (1949).mp3
Chuck Berry ““ Maybellene (1955).mp3

Chuck Berry himself said that he based Maybellene, his debut record, on country musician Bob Wills” vocal version of the traditional fiddle number Ida Red, recorded in 1938. Released on Chess in July 1955, Maybellene was a breakthrough song for the nascent rock & roll genre. Berry”s debut single was the first rock & roll record performed by a black musician to break the Billboard top 10 (those were pioneer days; bear in mind that Elvis was still a regional star and yet to sign with RCA).

Playing the piano at that session was Johnny Johnson, who had given Berry something of a break in 1952 when he let him join his Sir John Trio, and to whose prodigious drinking Berry”s later hit Johnny B. Goode was dedicated. One of the trio”s staple songs was a take on Ida Red, based on Wills” 1938 recording. Berry, already brimming with charisma and showmanship, had taken that song to Chess in Chicago, and signed for the label as a solo artist. Pragmatically, Johnson and the third member of the trio, drummer Ebby Hardy, became members of Berry”s backing band. Now Leo Chess suggested that Ida Red be remodelled as a 12-bar blues, with different lyrics. Johnson reworked the arrangements, and Berry came up with the lyrics about the car and a girl, those rock & roll staples.

Bob Wills claimed that he played rock & roll decades before the genre was invented. He can”t have meant the sound itself, but the fusion of musical influences from across the racial divide, and the innovative use of instrumentation in the western swing sub-genre of country which Wills helped pioneer. On Ida Red, which preceded Wills breakthrough hit New San Antonio Rose by two years, Wills used drums, which were very unusual in country music (a term which wasn”t even known yet). The song, one of several riffing on the Ida Red character, had first been recorded  in 1924 by Fiddlin’ Powers & Family, and to greater public attention by the Dykes Magic City Trio in 1927. Wills put the tune to a 2/4 beat and gave the it new lyrics, which borrowed from a 1878 song called Sunday Night, written by Frederick W Root. In 1949, Wills revisited Ida Red with a sequel titled Ida Red Likes The Boogie.  Berry and Johnson may well have known that version, and one can imagine how it might have served to inspire Maybellene (just listen to the guitar), but it is the 1938 recording only which they have credited as the template for the song.

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Ruth Etting – Try A Little Tenderness (1933).mp3
Bing Crosby ““ Try A Little Tenderness (1933).mp3
Little Miss Cornshucks – Try A Little Tenderness (1952).mp3
Aretha Franklin – Try A Little Tenderness (1962).mp3
Sam Cooke – Medley-Try A Little Tenderness/(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons/ You Send Me (1964).mp3
Otis Redding – Try A Little Tenderness (1966).mp3

Before it became a soul standard, Try A Little Tenderness was a standard, first recorded by Ray Noble and his Orchestra in 1932, and a year later by Ruth Etting, then by Bing Crosby, and subsequently by vocalists ranging from Frank Sinatra to Jimmy Durante.  Otis Redding is being credited with reinventing the song as a soul tune, but his take was only the fourth (and final) stage of the tune”s evolution as a soul classic.

Before Otis, Sam Cooke recorded a fragment of the song as part of a rather lovely medley on his 1964 Sam Cooke At The Copa album. It was in fact that fragment which gave Stax executives the idea that Redding should cover it in 1966. Otis did so with great reluctance, not because he hated the song, but because he felt he could not measure up to his by now deceased hero Cooke. Produced by Isaac Hayes and backed by Booker T & the MGs, Redding did all he could to mess up the song so that it could not be released. He failed, and the song is now irrevocably his.

Redding apparently knew only Coke”s version (hence the abridged lyrics). Cooke in turn had decided to include Tenderness in his medley having heard the song on Aretha Franklin”s 1962 album The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging Aretha Franklin. As fine as an interpreter of songs as Franklin would become (and already was at the age of 20), her version “” soul-inflected vocals backed with an easy listening string arrangement “” seems to have drawn from that by the forgotten Little Miss Cornshucks, whose 1951 recording was the first to Try A Little Tenderness the R&B treatment.

Born Mildred Cummings in Dayton, Ohio, in 1923, Little Miss Cornshucks came to the notice of future Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun while performing in a Washington club during her 1943 US tour, where her stage appearance was based on the rural shtick her name suggests, wearing the shabby dress she would later sing about. She was the first artist he recorded, and thereby the impetus for what would eventually become Atlantic Records (on which Aretha Franklin would record, though in 1962 she was on Columbia). Little Miss Cornshucks broke through as a recording artist in the latter years of the 1940s, particularly with her signature song So Long. Soon her star faded. In 1952 she recorded on three different labels, including Columbia. Her version of Try A Little Tenderness, however, was released in late May on Coral, a subsidiary of Decca, for whom she had recorded So Long.  Little Miss Cornshucks soon drifted away, just as her imitator Miss Sharecropper started to find success on Atlantic as LaVerne Baker. She died in 1999. (Read the full story of Little Miss Cornshucks at the excellent No Depression archives)

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Banana Splits – The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana) (1968).mp3
Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldier (1980).mp3
This series was inspired by Timothy English”s books Sounds Like Teen Spirit (website and buy), a collection of “stolen melodies, ripped-off riffs”. The book includes a number of surprising instances of soundalikes. One of the least expected is the connection between the theme song of a late 1960s US television kids” show and a Bob Marley hit.

Buffalo Soldiers, a song about a regiment of black soldiers who fought in wars against Native Americans on the side of their oppressor, was recorded during the 1980 sessions for  Marley”s Uprising album (it was a posthumous hit in 1983 after inclusion on the Legend album). English writes that “in the middle, and again at the end of Buffalo Soldier, Marley breaks into a wordless note-for-note rendition of ““ of all things ““ the Banana Splits Theme.” He is referring to the woy-yoy-yoy ad lib, which does indeed sound exactly like the beginning and chorus of the theme song, written by Mark Barkan, who also wrote Manfred Mann”s Pretty Flamingo, and Richie Adams, both of whom also contributed to The Monkees and The Archies (other writers for the Banana Splits show included Gene Pitney, Al Kooper and Barry White).

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was a late “60s kids” TV show modelled loosely on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and The Monkees, with stuffed animals taking the parts of the musicians (yeah, I know). English alleges no plagiarism on Marley”s part, but speculates that a little known passage in the life of Robert Nesta Marley  might have implanted the relatively obscure TV theme “” it just scraped into the Billboard top 100, peaking at #96 in February 1969 “” in the great man”s head. Periodically, the pre-fame Marley would live with his mother Cedella in Wilmington, Delaware, working at the Chrysler assembly line. One such spell, with his kids in tow, was half a year from April to October 1969, just as the Banana Splits show was running on Saturday morning TV and its theme possibly received some residual radio airplay…

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More Copy Borrow Steal

Bouncing back

May 14th, 2010 5 comments

I will hardly reveal myself as the music blogosphere”s slightly less ugly version of Dr Phil when I observe that people recover from the end of serious relationships in very different ways. In this series of songs about love we have looked at various themes, including splitting up. Here we look at how protagonists in ten songs have bounced back, or not, from the death of a liaison.

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Skeeter Davis ““ Gonna Get Along Without You Now (1964).mp3

Well, it”s easier to bounce back when our ex was a bit of a bounder. Look at the ex of Skeeter (or Teresa Brewer or Viola Wills or lately She & Him): one minute he proposes marriage, the next he”s running around “with every girl in town”, masking his two-timing ways by telling everybody that he and Skeeter are just friends. Who needs that? Not Skeeter (or Teresa or Viola or She). “I got along without you before I met you, gonna get along without you now.” And the philosophical lack of concern is followed by the triumphant zinger: “Thought I”d find somebody who is twice as cute , “cause I didn’t like you anyhow.” Bouncebackability score: 10/10

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Ben Folds ““ Landed (Strings version) (2005).mp3
Ben got out of the clutches of a controlling woman (as he tells it anyway). He and the ex moved to the West Coast, and separated from their old social circle. She seems have bullied Ben: “She liked to push me and talk me back down till I believed I was the crazy one. And in a way I guess I was.” She controlled access to him, so when people phoned, she”d not convey the message. Now he has walked out “” “down comes the reign of the telephone tsar” “” and it”s okay to call him. He”s ready to resume his old life, if that is possible: “And if you wrote me off, I”d understand it. “Cause I’ve been on some other planet. So come pick me up, I”ve landed” “” from that “other planet” and from the West Coast. Bouncebackability score: 9/10

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Kris Kristofferson ““ From The Bottle To The Bottom (1969).mp3
Sometimes there is no bounce-back. Whatever solace there can be derived emanates from those friends in low places: Johnny Walker, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels. So it is here. Being asked whether he is happy apparently is bitter a joke. Or at least, “happy” is a concept that needs to be clearly defined before the question is posed. “It seems that since I”ve seen you last I done forgot the meaning of the word. If happiness is empty rooms and drinkin” in the afternoon, well, I suppose I”m happy as a clam. But if it”s got a thing to do with smilin” or forgettin” you, well, I don”t guess that I could say I am.” Happy, that is. Freedom, eh? Living the dream? Not so much: “There”s no one here to carry on if I stay out the whole night long, or give a tinker”s damn if I don”t call. I”m livin” like I wanted to, and doin” things I wanna do, and nothin” means a thing to me at all.” So we might think that Kris is not doing well. In fact, he”s doing worse.

How”s this for being down: “Did you ever see a down and outer waking up alone without a blanket on to keep him from the dew, when the water from the weeds has soaked the paper he”s been puttin” in his shoes to keep the ground from comin’ through, and his future feels as empty as the pocket in his pants because he”s never seen a single dream come true? That”s the way that I”ve been feelin” since the day I started falling from the bottle to the bottom, stool by stool.” He”s lost that bouncing feeling… Bouncebackability score: 1/10

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Rilo Kiley ““ The Execution Of All Things (2002).mp3
There”s no post break-up messing around here: the now defunct relationship must be snuffed out. The split was humiliating to her, as we learn in the first verse, and her business now is to get over that. “Oh god, come quickly, the execution of all things. Let”s start with the bears and the air and mountains, rivers, and streams. Then we”ll murder what matters to you and move on to your neighbours and kids. Crush all hopes of happiness with disease “cause of what you did.” So pretty much a scorched earth policy. And that comes laced with a bit of vengeful anticipation: “And lastly, you”re all alone with nothing left but sleep. But sleep never comes to you; it”s just the guilt and forever wakefulness of the weak.” Bouncebackability score: 7/10

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Damien Rice ““ The Blower”s Daughter (2002).mp3
Here”s a guy not about to bounce back from what might be a broken relationship, unrequited love, unstated love, impossible love. Pretty much a love that has fucked over somebody to whom things tend to come fairly easy. He”s still obsessed: “I can”t take my eyes off of you”. Lisa Hannigan, giving voice the titular blower”s daughter, tries to calm him, pointing out that she didn”t say she loathes him, as he apparently thinks she does. Upshot is that much as he feels like hating her, he doesn”t. So he won”t keep his mind off her, “till I find somebody new”. So there”s hope for the bounce-back yet from whatever love our friend is suffering. Bouncebackability score: 3/10

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Marit Larsen ““ Only A Fool (2006).mp3
Marit”s boyfriend (or perhaps husband; a ring changed hands and unspecified vows were made) betrayed her, and now she has dumped the chump. Our Norwegian songbird has “been changing after what you put me through; there is just no way that I”ll be coming home to you”. She thinks she”d be a bit of an idiot to do so, as she notes with admirable forthrightness in the chorus: “Only a fool would do this again. Only a fool would let you back in. There is no you left to embrace, there is no word would make it feel safe.” Her naive trust was broken, and that must have hurt. But she”s in a better place than her apparently pleading ex: “It feels good here, better than you know. Isn”t it only fair that you try and let it go?”
Bouncebackability score: 10/10

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Mazzy Starr ““ Halah (1990).mp3
Sometimes you need closure before bouncing back. Hope Sandoval, Mazzy Starr”s singer, is still looking for that. Instead, there is a lot of confusion. “It”s like I told you, I”m over you somehow.” Well, that is good. But what”s this? “Before I close the door I need to hear you say goodbye.” Ah, not so much over it then. “Baby won”t you change your mind?” And that awful obstacle to closure and bounce-back: hope. The ex owes Sandoval an explanation which she won”t receive. So there won”t be closure any time soon. Bouncebackability score: 2/10

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Ricky Peterson ““ Livin” It Up (1990).mp3
The song has featured in the songs about love series before, in Bill LaBounty”s original version (though that link is dead. The song is on this mix). Here jazz singer Ricky Peterson is giving vocals to the anthem for the false bounce-back. Our friend admits that he had gone through a tough time since the break-up. He even put a service on the phone. And whatever that is, it sounds like the action of a man in a deep funk. But he”s out of that, he informs us (and, more to the point, her). He scraped his heart up off the floor! Oh, and he”s having a majestic time now. Living it up, he is, “right from the women to the wine. Livin” out all those fantasies I never did get to, crazy things I never got to do”. Now that”s bouncing back like kangaroo on methamphetamine. But all”s not as it seems. “Every now and then I must confess, I’m not up to all this happiness. Sometimes I wonder if the place I”m at is where I do belong.” So what”s missing from making this great life complete? Well, all this livin” it up from women to wine involving crazy fantasies…” it don”t seem like living without you”. Bouncebackability score: 6/10

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Tom Waits ““ Innocent When You Dream (78) (1987).mp3
Oh curse you, wicked self-recrimination. Tom and his girl had something beautiful: “I made a golden promise that we would never part. I gave my love a locket.” Tell me more, tell me more, did you get very far? Evidently not. “And then I broke her heart.” So instead of running through a pollen paradise straight out of a shampoo commercial, Tom now observes that “the bats are in the belfry, the dew is on the moor”. But when he sleeps, he resuscitates the happy memories. “The fields are soft and green”, but “it”s memories that I”m stealing”. The song title will have alerted the reader of Waits” punchline: “But you”re innocent when you dream.” Tom isn”t about to forgive himself for what he has done, is he? Bouncebackability score: 2/10

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Rainbow ““ Since You”ve Been Gone (1979).mp3
Head East – Since You’ve Been Gone (1978).mp3

Written by Russ Ballard, we have two proxies expressing his thoughts (Cherie & Marie Currie”s version must wait for a couple of months to feature in a different context). Our jilted lover can take a lot of punishment, including poison letters and telegrams that just go to show she doesn’t give a damn. And the cause for that readiness to be reconciled? Well, see, “these four walls are closing in” and recurring dreams cause our anti-hero to fall out of his bed at night, possibly as a result of reading her letter at night “beneath the back street light” (is he stalking her?). His mental well-being is on the edge. “Since you been gone, I”m outta my head, can”t take it.” Witchcraft may be involved: “Could I be wrong, but since you been gone, you cast the spell “” so break it.” Oooohwaowaow ohwaowoawoh indeed. Bouncebackability score: 1/10

More Songs About Love (happy, unhappy, ending etc)

Any Major Soul 1984-85

May 11th, 2010 3 comments

This mix should persuade those who believe that soul music was dying by the mid-1980s of their error. There is much that”s great on this mix, and among tracks that did not make the cut.

Some of the songs are surprising. Cameo are more usually associated with funk and camp codpieces, not deep soul music as this duet between Larry Blackmon and Barbara Mitchell of Hi Inergy (who featured on Any Major Soul 1976-77). Denise LaSalle, during the time covered by this mix, had a hit with the awful Don”t Mess With My Toot Toot; the song here, an old-fashioned southern soul number, preceded that atrocity  by a year. And those who associate Amii Stewart only with thumping Euro disco will hear another side to the long-legged Washington-born and Italy-based singer. And if there has been a perception that Deniece Williams had sold out to pop with Johnny Mathis duets and Let”s Hear It For The Boy, Black Butterfly (from the same album on which the latter appeared on) will dispel that notion.

The 1980s saw much collaboration and crossing over between jazz fusion and soul. We saw this on the Any Major Soul 1980-81 mix, on which the great Grady Tate provided vocals for Grover Washington. Likewise, here Roberta Flack guests with Japanese saxman Sadao Watanabe on the very lovely Here”s To Love. Likewise Bobby Womack guests on Crusaders” saxophonist Wilton Felder“s cumbersomely titled but gorgeous (No Matter How High I Get) I”ll Still Be Looking Up You. Womack, who had previously sung on Felder”s Inherit The Wind, was accompanied by Alltrinna Grayson. Grayson was discovered by Womack while singing in a burger joint; when Patti LaBelle dropped out of Womack”s tour, he roped in Grayson (her vocals here suggest that she was an astute replacement for LaBelle).

Bernard Wright, like his childhood friend Tom Browne, had a jazz-funk background and recorded on Dave Grusin”s GRP label, though Mr Wright, on which the featured song appeared, was released on EMI subsidiary Manhattan.

Paris L. Holley is the son of a bandleader for Billie Holliday, and recorded in Chicago, apparently only this one single “” but what a magnificent single! Google reveals that there is a music producer and web developer of that name, but I have no idea if that”s the same person.

A few veterans from the 1970s were making comebacks: The Intruders had been recording since 1961, though their breakthrough came only in 1968. After success through the 1970s, two of the trio left to become Jehovah”s Witnesses, and the other member, Eugene Daugherty, became a truck driver. In 1984, he left the road to reform The Intruders with a new line-up, and scored a hit with Who Do You Love. The Spinners went back even further, when as the Domingos they shared the stage with the Four Ames, who”d become the Four Tops. After a stint with Motown and various personnel changes, the Spinners enjoyed their most successful period in the 1970s. Their last big chart hit was in 1980.

And Teddy Pendergrass made his comeback with Love Language in 1984, two years after the car crash that left him paralysed. Truth be told, Love Language was mostly inferior by TP”s standards (he”d hit a final high in 1988 with his Joy LP). In My Time is standard ’80s soul crooning fare, but I think TP’s understated vocals are rather touching.

If I had to choose favourites from this set, the contenders would certainly include the two opening tracks, and the Cameo song and Patrice Rushen“s High In Me from her Now album, the tape of which I wore out driving on the Autobahn in 1984. Hear a podcast interview with Rushen at the fine jazz blog Straight No Chaser.

PW is amdwhah.

TRACKLISTING
1. Sadao Watanabe & Roberta Flack – Here’s To Love
2. Bill Withers – Oh Yeah
3. Paris – I Choose You
4. Amii Stewart – Friends
5. Alexander O’Neal – A Broken Heart Can Mend
6. Bernard Wright – Just When I Thought You Were Mine
7. Denise LaSalle & Latimore – Right Place Right Time
8. Wilton Felder feat. Bobby Womack & Alltinna Grayson – (No Matter How High I Get) I’ll Still Be Looking Up To You
9. Deniece Williams – Black Butterfly
10. Cameo – I’ll Never Look For Love
11. Patrice Rushen – High In Me
12. The Intruders – Who Do You Love?
13. S.O.S. Band – Just The Way You Like It
14. DeBarge – Time Will Reveal
15. The Spinners – Love Don’t Love Nobody
16. Teddy Pendergrass – In My Time

GET IT

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More mixes
More “80s Soul
“70s Soul

Categories: 80s soul, Any Major Soul Tags:

The Originals Vol. 38

May 7th, 2010 9 comments

May 9 will mark the 21st anniversary of the death of the country singer Keith Whitley, who was just about to break huge when he suddenly died. So it’s appropriate to include in this instalment of The Originals his vastly superior original of the mammoth hit for the ghastly Ronan Keating. In the course of researching this series I come to learn new things. I had always thought that Big Maybelle did the original of Jerry Lee Lewis’ first hit. I thought wrong. The third song featured is The Mindbender’s cover of A Groovy Kind Of Love, the first original song in this series for which I could find no useful graphic illustration.

I’m using another file hosting service, in addition to Mediafire and the increasngly annoying DivShare. Let me know whether the 4shared files are working OK for you.

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Roy Hall ““ Whole Lotta Shakin” Going On (1955).mp3
Big Maybelle ““ Whole Lotta Shakin” Going On (1955).mp3
Jerry Lee Lewis ““ Whole Lotta Shakin” Going On (1957).mp3
Elvis Presley ““ Whole Lotta Shakin” Going On (1972).mp3

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 “˜n” 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 “˜n” 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 intermittentlyin the country genre for 11 years. Or maybe Roy Hall didn”t write it. Though he certainly was the first to record it for Decca in September 1954, when the rockabilly number released in 1955, it was credited to D Williams alone. Only later did Hall get himself a co-writing credit under his pseudonym, Sunny David.

Hall”s version went nowhere, but the song became a minor hit in 1955 when 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 Hall, whom he had seen performing it with country star Webb Pierce in Nashville.

Perhaps more than any rock “˜n” 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.

Also recorded by: The Commodores (1956), Ricky Nelson (1957), Johnny O’Keefe & the Dee Jays (1957), The Tunettes (1957), Carl Perkins (1958), Little Richard (1979), Cliff Richard & the Drifters (1959), Conway Twitty (1960), Bill Haley and his Comets (1960), Chubby Checker (1960),Vince Taylor (1961), Johnny Hallyday (1962), Royale Monarchs featuring Roger Stafford (1962), Sherree Scott and her Melody Rockers (1963), Johnny Rivers (1964), The Rivieras (1964), The Weedons (1964), Mickey Gilley (1964), Wanda Jackson (1964), Sonny Flaharty and the Young Americans (1964), The Rocking Ghosts (1964), The Tremolons (1965), The Hep Stars (1965), Gerry and The Pacemakers (1965), Jerry Jaye (1967), Lucas (1969), Doug Ashdown (1969), John Smith & the New Sound (1970), Wild Angels (1970), Elvis Presley (1971), Vinegar Joe (1972), Mae West (1972), Mott the Hoople (1974), Tony Sheridan (1974), Mountain (1974), Rock House (1974), Lee Hazlewood (1976), Big Star (1978), Shakin’ Stevens (as part of a medley, 1978), Renée (1979), The Flying Lizards (1984), Elton John (1985), Georgia Satellites (1988), Valerie Wellington (1989), Cliff Richard (as part of a medley, 1990), Siren & Kevin Coyne (1994), Johnny Devlin (1998), Sébi Lee (2000), Rock Nalle & The Yankees (2004) a.o.

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Diane & Annita ““ A Groovy Kind Of Love.mp3
The Mindbenders ““ A Groovy Kind Of Love.mp3

A Groovy Kind Of Love was written in 20 minutes in 1965 by Carole Bayer Sager, barely 21, and 17-year-old Toni Wine (who later sang with Ron Dante, Andy Kim and Ellie Greenwich on The Archies” Sugar Sugar; the “I”m gonna make your life so sweet” line is hers) . The song, one of the first to riff on the new buzzword “groovy” , was apparently based on the Rondo from Sonatina in G Major by Muzio Clementi (link from Peter”s Power Pop). It was first recorded by the short-lived duo Diane & Annita “” Diane Hall and Annita Ray. Annita had appeared alongside the likes of Fats Domino and Big Joe Turner in the rock “˜n” roll movie Shake Rattle And Roll, in which she performed the song On A Saturday Night. The song was left off the soundtrack album. She did apparently release three records between 1957 and 1959 before joining Ray Anthony”s Bookends, where she first met Diane Hall. After leaving the Bookends, Annita recorded a solo LP and then hooked up with Diane to release a few singles “” I have counted three, One By One; All Cried Out; and Groovy Kind Of Love “” on Scepter Records (on its Wand subsidiary), which was a home for many early and mid-“60s girl-bands.

Much mystery surrounded the duo. There is very little information about them, and rumours even had it that the Diane & Annita act was in fact Sager recording under a false name. In any case, the single didn”t go anywhere, nor did its second incarnation, a version by Patti LaBelle & the Bluebells, produced by the great Bertie Berns.

The English group The Mindbenders, from Manchester, had enjoyed a US chart-topper with Game Of Love, but by mid-1965 they suddenly were without their frontman, Wayne Fontana, after he walked out in a middle of as concert. As luck would have it, the now Fontana-less band came to record A Groovy Kind Of Love, with future 10cc member Eric Stewart on lead vocals, and had a huge hit with it, reaching #2 both in the UK and US. It was the only real success the group would have before disbanding in 1968, by which time another future 10cc member, Graham Gouldman, had joined. Just to be sure: the next time the presenter on your local oldies radio station attributes A Groovy Kind Of Love to “Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders”, phone the station and educate the presenter.

Also recorded by: Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles (1965), Petula Clark (1966), Graham Bonney (1966), Sonny & Cher (1967), Gene Pitney (1968), Marian Love (1968), Les Gray (1977), Winston Francis (1986), Phil Collins (1988), Neil Diamond (1993), Michael Chapdelaine (1995) a.o.

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Keith Whitley – When You Say Nothing At All (1988).mp3
Alison Krauss & Union Station – When You Say Nothing At All (1995).mp3
The regrettable Ronan Keating scored a huge worldwide hit in 1999 with When You Say Nothing At All, his first single outside Irish boy band Boyzone, on the back of the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts rom-com Notting Hill (Julia Roberts is said to have cried when she first heard the song, no doubt overcome by Keating”s herculean soulfulness).

It”s not as mediocre a song as Keating and the terrible arrangement would make us believe. In the beginning, it was a quite excellent country #1 for the tragic Keith Whitley. Whitley was on the cusp of country superstardom when he died in on 9 May 1989 at the age of 33, one of the many musicians to fall the victim to the bottle. His influence endured in country music for a long time, as did that of his more successful close friend Ricky Skaggs, with whom he got a first break as members of the legendary Ralph Stanley”s bluergrass band. While Skaggs ruled in the country scene in the 1980s, Whitley had a few hits, but didn”t break through until he exercised greater control over his material on his third album, Don’t Close Your Eyes. Released in late 1988, it includes the marvellous It”s All Coming Back To Me Now and When You Say Nothing At All, yielding three country charts #1s before Whitley”s death (he had two more posthumously).

When You Say Nothing At All was written by Paul Overberg and Don Schlitz, both prolific songwriters and occasional recording artists (Schlitz recorded the first version of the Kenny Rodgers hit The Gambler, which he wrote). Whitley heard When You Say Nothing At All and wanted to record it, predicting correctly that he would score a hit with it. Whitley had previously recorded another Overberg/Schlitz composition, On The Other Hand, but that became a big hit for Randy Travis instead.

Alison Krauss, once a child prodigy, recorded When You Say Nothing At All for a Whitley tribute album. Her lovely version was so popular that it was released as a single, providing the bluegrass singer with her first hit, reaching #2 on the country charts.

Also recorded by: Henning Stærk (1997), Roman Keating (1999), Ronan Keating & Deborah Blando (2002), Ronan Keating & Paulina Rubio (2003), Engelbert Humperdinck (2005), Jay H (2007), Susan Wong (2007), Cliff Richard (2007)

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In Memoriam – April 2010

May 5th, 2010 10 comments

The big news death in April obviously was that of Malcolm McLaren, but more shocking perhaps was the suicide of rock singer-songwriter and Grammy-nominated sound engineer Will Owsley at 44. It also was not a good month for jazz keyboardists and drummers.

On a different note, I’d appreciate some feedback as to whether to continue with this series. It takes up a lot of work, but generally there is little comment, and download numbers tend to be modest.

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Malcolm McLaren, 64, haberdasher, musician and punk svengali, on April 8.
Malcolm McLaren – Double Dutch (1983).mp3

Morris Pert, 62, composer, jazz percussionist and session drummer/pianist (for Kate Bush, Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield, John Martyn, Peter Gabriel, Nick Heyward, Talk Talk a.o.), on April 27
Morris Pert – Anthem For The Cuthin.mp3
Nick Heyward – Atlantic Monday (1983).mp3

Susan Reed, 84, folk singer, on April 29.
Susan Reed – The Soldier And The Lady (1947).mp3

(Will) Owsley, 44, singer-songwriter, in an apparent suicide on March 30.
Owsley – Dirty Bird.mp3

Corrado ‘Connie’ Codarini, 80, singer with The Four Lads, on April 28.
The Four Lads – Moments To Remember (1955).mp3

Mike Zwerin, 79, jazz musician in Miles Davis “Birth Of Cool” band, on April 2.
Miles Davis – Move (1949).mp3

Vinnie Chaz, ca. 41, bassist with LA glam metal group Pretty Boy Floyd, on April 6.
Pretty Boy Floyd – Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz (1989).mp3

Peter Steele, 48, singer and bassist with heavy metal band Type O Negative, on April 14
Type O Negative – Cinnamon Girl (1997).mp3

Guru, 48, rapper with Gang Starr, on April 19
Gang Starr – You Know My Steez (1997).mp3

Kenneth McKellar, 82, Scottish singer, on April 9.
Kenneth McKellar – A Man Without Love (1966).mp3

Bo Hansson, 67, Swedish prog rock instrumentalist, on April 24.
Bo Hansson – The Horns Of Rohan/The Battle Of The Pelennor Fields (1972).mp3

Devon Clifford, 30, drummer of Canadian indie band You Say Party! We Say Die!, on April 18
You Say Party! We Say Die! – Cold Hands! Hot Bodies! (1997).mp3

Steve Reid, 66, American jazz drummer and session musician (James Brown, Dionne Warwick, Horace Silver, Motown a.o.), on April 13
Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid – People Be Happy (2007).mp3

Gabriel Ayanniye & Omo Olope, drummer and percussionist with King Sunny Adé”s African Beats, in a car accident on March 26.
Kelvin Henderson, 62, British country musician and radio presenter, on April 2.
Luigi Waites
, 82, American jazz drummer and vibraphonist, on April 6.
Graciela
(Pérez Grillo), 94, Cuban singer, on April 7.
Mississippi Slim
, 66, blues singer, on April 14.
George Melvin
, 63, keyboardist and session musician, on April 15
Mal Perry
, 70, English singer and early friend of John Lennon, on April 16.
Georgia Lee
, 89, Australian jazz and blues singer, on April 23.
Dorothy Provine
, 75, singer and actress, on April 25.

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Intros Quiz: 1980 edition

May 3rd, 2010 5 comments

We continue on our five-yearly cycle of intros quizzes with one of my favourite years in music: 1980. Ah, the trinity of Dexys’ Geno, the Pretenders Brass In Pocket (which was released in 1979, I know), and New Musik’s Living By Numbers. None of which feature in this quiz, of course. Fans of the era, especially veteran Smash Hits readers, will love this blog, with completely scanned issues from 1979 and1980, ads and everything. The single reviews are particularly fascinating. The cover on the right is borrowed from the Like Punk Never Happened blog.

So,  here are 20 intros to hit songs from 1980,  of 5-7 seconds in length. All were singles released that year. The answers will be posted in the comments section by Thursday. And if the pesky number 12 bugs you, e-mail me at halfhearteddude [at) gmail [dot] com for the answers, or  better, message me on Facebook. If you”re not my FB friend, click here.

Intros Quiz ““ 1980 edition

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