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American Road Trip: New York Mix Vol. 5

November 25th, 2010 10 comments

And this will be the final New York mix. There are still plenty of songs that I have not used, but 92 New York-related tracks should suffice. In fact, I’ll add on eight tracks to round the number up to 100.

The timeline on this mix spans 116 years, which surely is quite unusual as far as mixes go. So we have the U.S. Marine Band from 1894 and two songs from outstanding 2010 albums, by the wonderful Caitlin Rose and Ray Lamontagne. I owe the Ben Sidran track to reader Marivic (thank you).

TRACKLISTING:
1. Velvet Underground – I’m Waiting For The Man (1967)
2. Death Cab For Cutie – Marching Bands Of Manhattan (2005)
3. Wallflowers – 6th Avenue Heartache (1996)
4. Bob Dylan – Hard Times in New York Town (1962)
5. John Lennon – New York City (1972)
6. Hank Ballard and the Midnighters – Broadway (1962)
7. Ella Fitzgerald – Manhattan (1956)
8. Grover Washington Jr. – East River Drive (1981)
9. Tyrone Thomas and the Whole Darn Family – New Yorkin’ (1976)
10. Ben Sidran – New York State Of Mind (1975)
11. Albert Hammond – New York City Here I Come (1974)
12. Ray Lamontagne and the Pariah Dogs – New York City’s Killing Me (2010)
13. Dar Williams – Southern California Wants To Be Western New York (1996)
14. Caitlin Rose – New York City (2010)
15. Rufus Wainwright – Poses (2001)
16. Al Stewart – Broadway Hotel (1992)
17. Cat Stevens – New York Times (1978)
18. Eagles – In A New York Minute (1994)
19. Simon & Garfunkel – At The Zoo (1968)
20. U.S. Marine Band – Manhattan Beach (1894)

GET IT
or HERE or HERE or HERE or HERE

And here are eight more, to make it a century of NYC songs:
Christy Moore – Fairytale Of New York (1994).mp3
Ben E. King – Spanish Harlem (1961).mp3
B.J. Thomas – Eyes Of A New York Woman (1968).mp3
Counting Crows – Sullivan Street (live, 1998).mp3
Swift Jewel Cowboys – Coney Island Washboard (1939).mp3
Sex Pistols – New York (1977).mp3
Shinehead – Jamaican In New York (1992).mp3
Billy Murray – Take Me Back To New York Town (1907).mp3

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NYC ““ Any Major Mix Vol. 1
NYC ““ Any Major Mix Vol. 2
NYC ““ Any Major Mix Vol. 3 ““ New York in Black & White
NYC ““ Any Major Mix Vol. 4

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, New York City Tags:

Murder Songs Vol. 5

November 18th, 2010 6 comments

In this instalment of Murder Songs, we look at three real-life characters, from the 1890s, 1930s and 1950s.

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Woody Guthrie – Pretty Boy Floyd (1940).mp3
Charles Arthur “˜Pretty Boy” Floyd was a real-life criminal who came a cropper at the hands of law enforcement officers in 1934, at the age of 30. Wikipedia tells his story in some detail, including murders he might have committed or not. His fame rested with his career as a bankrobber. Like his contemporary John Dillinger, Floyd was regarded as something of a Robin Hood, stealing from those that steal from the poor, and then giving back to the poor; a victim of circumstance rather than a perpetrator of greed. This is how Woody Guthrie regards Floyd. He credits Floyd with one killing (the chainsaw beating the gun), but never mind that, because he redistributed the wealth. Anyhow, society”s anger should not be directed at the likes of Floyd, but at the bankers. In the age of enthusiastic foreclosures, Guthrie”s conclusion rings true even today: “Yes, as through your life you roam, you won”t never see an outlaw drive a family from their home.” So Floyd might have been involved in the killing of a couple of Feds and bootleggers, but, Guthrie suggests, that shouldn”t be held against him: “Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen.” The latter and their supporters are the bad guys here. Oh, to hear Guthrie sing about bail-outs and bonuses today…

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Long before Mickey and Mallory, there were these two...

Bruce Springsteen ““ Nebraska (1982).mp3
Where Bruce killed a man in Wyoming just to see him die…  Here, Springsteen”s narrator is teenage serial killer Charles Starkweather. The story begins in 1958 as the narrator picks up his cheerleader girlfriend in his car (so far, so Bruce), and from here on in, “ten innocent people died”.  The girlfriend was 14-year-old Caril Ann Fugate. The killing spree kicks off in Lincoln, Nebraska, “with a sawed-off .410 on my lap. Through to the badlands of Wyoming I killed everything in my path”. In real life, the first three victims were Fugate”s mother, stepfather and baby step-sister. The natural born killers are caught, and in the song, our friend isn”t really sorry, because it was all good fun. Now he is facing his execution (Caril Ann was jailed until 1976), and he isn”t in a mood for repentance. “They wanted to know why I did what I did. Well, Sir, I guess there”s just a meanness in this world.” Murder songs don”t come much more chilling than that.

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The hanging of John Hardy on 19 January 1894

Carter Family – John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man (1928).mp3
A traditional folk ballad, the tale of John Hardy has been told many times in various versions since it was first recorded in 1924. The version by the Carter Family may be the definitive one. The real story of John Hardy is quickly summarised: John Hardy kills one Thomas Drews in a gambling dispute in West Virginia in 1893, is arrested, tried, and sentenced to hang, as he did on 19 January 1894 before a crowd of 3000. The song imagines Hardy in his cell, now, as the title tells us, “a desperate little man”. The devil alcohol was to blame, as Hardy pronounced from the gallows. In fact, he was so drunk as to be oblivious to being arrested in a bar. Seems that Hardy has killed more than one person, but they all must have deserved it, because “my six-shooters never told a lie”. He gets visitors, from as girl in blue and a girl in red. The former stands by him, but the girl in red “said, “˜Johnny, I had rather see you dead”.” And, whether she is a metaphor or not, shortly she will get her wish.

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More Murder Songs

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Step back to 1978 – Part 1

November 11th, 2010 11 comments

In 1977 I started to build a record collection; in 1978, the year I turned 12, I began to be really serious about music, buying singles by the Sex Pistols and Jethro Tull alike. And I became a Blondie fan before anyone else I knew was even aware of them. In early 1978 I had my first kiss (which also was the last for a while), went to my first rock concert (ditto), and made a friend whom I recently met again for the first time in 29 years (but more of that at a later stage). The first part of my 1978 nostalgia trip ““ on which songs are chosen only if they have the power to transport me back to the time ““ covers the first three months or so of the year.

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Blondie – X-Offender.mp3
What a difference a couple of months make when you”re 11. In the autumn I had bought a single by teen herbert Leif Garrett; in winter I bought a single by NYC punk scene regulars Blondie. Or, better put, my not yet impressive penis bought it. I saw the cover of the re-released X-Offender single (it had originally been issued in 1976), and fell for Debbie Harry. Like a week or so before with the Runaways record, I tingled with excitement at the thought of hearing Debbie Harry sing. The very sexy spoken intro followed by the rapid drums and that guitar which sounded unlike anything I had heard before instantly broadened my musical horizon. I am still impressed with my nascent trendspotting talents: Blondie”s breakthrough with Denis was still a couple months off, but I already was a fan, even if I knew only X-Offender and the rather good b-side, Man Overboard.

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Long Tall Ernie & the Shakers – Do You Remember.mp3
A few years before Stars on 45 afflicted us, fellow Dutch nostalgia merchants Long Tall Ernie and the Shakers visited their Sha Na Na stylings upon us in medley format. Actually, it isn”t at all bad, as these things go. In the song lead singer Arnie Treffers introduces the notion of nostalgia and memories of Buddy Holly, and then the rest of the band lets go with songs like Little Richard”s Lucille, the New Beats” Bread And Butter and the Everly Brother”s excellent Bird Dog (one of my constant earworms), occasionally enquiring of us whether we can remember. Obviously I couldn”t, having been not even nearly alive in the 1950s. In fact, those early days of rock & roll seemed very distant to me in 1978, so that the song was something of a history lesson for me. Considering that the songs in the medley were all about 20 years old at the time, today”s corollary medley might include songs by Tracy Chapman, U2, Kylie Minogue, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Crowded House and Babyface.

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Uriah Heep – Lady In Black.mp3
Uriah Heep – Free Me.mp3

Originally from 1971, Lady In Black was re-released in Germany in 1977, and became a Top 20 hit. This and Free Me, which I bought in March or thereabouts, are the only Heep records I have ever acquired. But Lady In Black is important for a very good reason: it reminds me of my first kiss. I would like to say that it was a beautiful moment, like Kevin and Winnie”s first kiss in The Wonder Years. Alas, it was more the product of a bet. My friend, who was just half a year older than me but much more advanced, dared me and my “girlfriend” to French kiss. So we accepted the dare, rather unsure about what to do with our tongues once our open mouths met. Our tongues touched lightly before we both withdrew them in mild disgust, yet excited by the sensation. It was dark and it was winter. I felt her warm breath exhaling on my face, which was probably more sensual than the meeting of lips. And, er, her long hair was blowing in the mid-winter wind”¦

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Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway.mp3
Around the time I bought this, Tom Robinson was causing a bit of a furore with his song Glad To Be Gay, sentiments that were not often publicly expressed. At a time when punk was finally seeping into the German consciousness, Robinson”s proclamation was so counter-cultural as to include him in the movement. Of course, like many others who were included under the punk banner, Robinson was more of a pub rocker. Or pop rocker. Still, his lyrics were militant for their time (Motorway itself has a gay subtext, of course), and I think I can credit Robinson for making an important contribution to my unconditional rejection of homophobia.

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Bonnie Tyler – It”s A Heartache.mp3
In February 1978 I saw my first live concert, a multiple bill organised by Bravo magazine, headed by Slade. It was not in our city, so my friends Jens and Andreas and I took a train to the town where the gig was held, about 250km away. Jens, the leader was 12, Andreas and I were 11 (and some fraction which I”m sure we were willing to state as an indication that we were, in fact, closer to being 12 than 11). Times have changed, I think. I have no memory of how we found our way from the station to the arena, but we got there. The bill included a British teen outfit called The Busters (whose identifying gimmick consisted of having black hair and wearing identical denim jackets), Schlager singer Bernhard Brink (who had a white man”s “fro) and Bonnie Tyler, who was just then having a big hit with It”s A Heartache. A year previously ““ hell, two months previously ““ I would have liked the song. Now I had tasted Blondie, and Jens and I were into punk. Tyler was for the housewives. We enjoyed Slade though. Dave Hill, he of the stupid haircut, no longer had a stupid haircut: he was now completely bold, at a time when shaved heads were very unusual. I cannot say whether it was a good gig, but I remember emerging from the hall into the cold winter’s evening air soaked in sweat.

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Sweet – Love Is Like Oxygen.mp3
My affection for Sweet was such that I bought the Level Headed LP when they made their comeback on the Polydor label, a big financial outlay which requireed much sacrifice (that is, at least that of three singles). By now, Andy Scott was wearing a middle-aged men”s beard, as though he was going to join the Beach Boys; Steve Priests looked sober and serious, and Mick Tucker and Brian Connolly were about to shear their locks. The music now was much more prog than pop rock. The lads obviously wanted to be taken seriously. Well, they might have been, had they not produced an album that was even more boring than one by Barclay James Harvest, and less deprived of the Zeitgeist than Emerson Lake Palmer. The lead single, however, was pretty good, like a song by the Electric Light Orchestra.

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Darts – Come Back My Love.mp3
The inclusion of Long Tall Ernie may have tipped off the reader that I rather enjoyed the odd bit of retro-rock & roll, even if I fancied myself at the time as a bit punk (though I didn”t dress punk, or act  punk, or hated society any more than my non-punk mates). Among the revivalists, The Darts were the greatest. I remember buying the Darts LP, alongside The Tubes” What Do You Want from Live, on a trip to Stockholm. I still have the Darts album; the Tubes LP was lost long ago. Daddy Cool/The Girl Can”t Help It was the bigger hit, and it was that song which turned me on to Darts. But soon I preferred the cover of the Wrens 1954 song, which featured in The Originals Vol. 3 (as did the original of Daddy Cool by The Rays).

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Sex Pistols – No One Is Innocent.mp3
Sex Pistols – My Way.mp3
At the time it seemed the height of impertinence: Sid Vicious ““ we didn”t know yet just how undeserving of adulation that miscreant junkie was ““ first warbling and then quite amusingly violating My Way, by way of telling Sinatra: “Oi, old geezer, your song is shit!” We had no idea at the time that Sinatra himself hated the song and, if he had cared to acquaint himself with Mr Vicious” interpretation, he probably applauded its defilement, in the principle of it, if not in execution. My Way just is too easy and obvious a target to be subversive, really. Roping in Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs for what was initially presumed to be the a-side was a touch more seditious. Musically, the song was, well, not very good. Biggs deserved to be locked up just for singing in public.

Of course, at the time I also had The Sex Pistols” Never Mind The Bollocks LP. It is fair to say that my brother, two years younger than I, did not like their music much. So one day he scribbled on the vinyl with a ballpoint pen, apparently in retaliation to my alleged act of iconoclasm involving his poster of Winnetou, the noble Native American friend of Old Shatterhand dreamt up by the 19th century German author Karl May (who had never been to the USA, never mind the Wild West, but whose stories are still hugely popular in Germany). As far as disproportionate responses go, my brother belonged in the camp of those who sought to exterminate and subjugate Winnetou and his people”¦

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The Stranglers – Nice “n Sleazy.mp3
My friend Jens had a fine collection of punk albums, which I tried to match with punk singles. Of course, time would show that most of the stuff we called punk wasn”t punk at all. Still, Jens had albums by the Damned, Boomtown Rats, Ultravoxx and so on. I had Holiday In The Sun and later No One Is Innocent/My Way. And I had this single, a fine track with expert sneering featuring one of my favourite rock riffs ever, though I had no idea what sleazy was (till I looked it up and found the answer richly satisfying). The pun, of course, passed me by, seeing as I was still learning English. Same day I bought a single by an outfit called The Killers (not to be confused with the currently successful band). That single “” it had a German shepherd on the cover ““ was utterly horrible.

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Brian & Michael – Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats & Dogs.mp3
One of the great discoveries in 1978 was the weekly radio broadcast of the latest UK charts ““ it might have been the Top 10 or Top 20 ““ by which I got to know all the latest tunes (like Brian & Michael”s number) before they would finally make it in West-Germany. So I would sit with my grandmother”s cassette-radio portable and recorded most songs. The recorder very usefully had a fade-out button, so the shock of the inevitable cut forced by jabbering DJs was not as brutal as it otherwise might have been. At the time, I might have bought records by the Sex Pistols and the Stranglers, and by Gerry Rafferty and Kate Bush and the Rolling Stones ““ but I was still 12. Of course I liked Matchstick Men & Matchstick Cats & Dogs, even if I didn”t buy the record, because that certainly would not have been at all cool. And how could a song featuring a children”s choir be cool? Here it was the St Winifred”s School Choir, who would later torment Britain with songs about their collective grandma. On Matchstalk Men, they are singing the children”s song The Big Ship Sails On The Alley-Alley-O. Matchstalk Men, incidentally, was a tribute to the northern English artist LS Lowry, who died in 1976 and is mentioned in the song.

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Wings – With A Little Luck.mp3
I admit it: I liked Mull Of Kintyre, which I bought the week it came out in 1977. By the time With A Little Luck was released, Kintyre was still a massive hit in Germany, and I was beginning to get sick of it. In fact, I liked With A Little Luck better; so much so that I bought the London Town album (or it might have been on the Greatest Hits album, which I think came out before that, and which I also bought. Anyone know which came first?). It’s a charming little tune, with a synth that actually sounded warm. I liked the “with a-little-luck-a-little-luck-a-little-luck” bit, and the double “we can do it”, which sounds like it was a production mistake. Now, do I have an unnecessarily dirty mind when I detect a sexual meaning in this line: “With a little love, we could shake it up, don”t you feel the comet exploding”?

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More Stepping Back

In Memoriam – October 2010

November 4th, 2010 4 comments

The Grim Reaper had another busy month. He took from us the soul legend Solomon Burke, who only a few months ago delivered a new album, and the brilliant General Johnson, a wonderful vocalist whose Chairmen of the Board shone in the early “70s, and who wrote such hits as Patches (Clarence Carter), Want Ads (Honey Cone) and Freda Payne’s Bring The Boys Home  (the video for You Got Me Dangling On A String is rather nice). Reggae fans will mourn the soulful Gregory Isaacs, and post-punk fans the passing of The Slits” German-born punster Ari Up.

A handful of artists died young this month, perhaps the saddest of these deaths is that by suicide of Dutch singer Antonie Kamerling. I usually don”t include classical music people, but I am making one exception this month. As always, all songs listed are compiled in one mix.

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Trevor Fleming, guitarist of Northern Irish heavy metal band Sweet Savage, on October 2
Sweet Savage – Killing Time (1981)

Ed Wilson, 65, Brazilian pop star and founder of “60s rock band Renato e Seus Blue Caps, on October 3
Renato e Seus Blue Caps – Fruit Cake (1965)
Ed Wilson – Vou Partir (A Fool Such As I) (1966)

Eddie Platt, 88, pop saxophonist, on October 3
Eddie Platt and his Orchestra ““ Tequila (1958)

Anibal Arias, 88, Argetinian tango guitarist, on October 3
Anibal Arias & Osvaldo Montes – Milonga de mis amores (2000)

Norman Wisdom, 95, British comedian and some-time singer, on October 4
Norman Wisdom – The Wisdom Of A Fool (1957)

William Shakespeare, 61, Australian glam rocker, on October 5

Steve Lee, 47, singer of Swiss hard rock band Gotthard, on October 5
Gotthard ““ Anytime Anywhere (2005)

Jack Berntsen, 69, Norwegian folk singer, on October 5

Colette Renard, 85, French singer and actress, on October 6
Colette Renard – Irma la douce (1956)

Antonie Kamerling, 44, Dutch actor and singer, on October 6

T Lavitz, 54, keyboard player with jazz-rock band The Dixie Dregs and Jazz Is Dead, on October 7
Jazz Is Dead – Scarlet Begonias  (1998)

Ian Morris, 53, guitarist of New Zealand  band Th’ Dudes, on October 7

Albertina Walker, 81, gospel singer and member of The Caravans, on October 8
Albertina Walker with James Cleveland – Lord Keep Me Day By Day (live, 1990)

Reg King, 65, singer of mod band The Action, on October 8

Joan Sutherland, 83, opera soprano, on October 10
Joan Sutherland & Luciano Pavarotti – Perdona, o mia diletta (from Bellini’s La Sonnambula) (1990)

Solomon Burke, 70, soul legend, on October 10
Solomon Burke – Go On Back To Him (1962)

General Norman Johnson, 69, singer of soul group Chairmen of the Board, songwriter and producer, on October 13
Chairmen Of The Board – Everyday’s Tuesday (1970)

Huddy Combs, 33, rapper with Harlem World, on October 13
Harlem World feat Ma$e & Kelly Price – I Really Like It (1999)

Dennis Taylor, 56, American session saxophonist and author, on October 17

Eyedea, 28, hip hop musician, on October 17
Eyedea & Abilities ““ By The Throat (2009)

Marion Brown, 79, jazz saxophonist and John Coltrane collaborator, on October 18

Bino, 57, Italian pop singer, on October 19
Bino ““ Mama Leone (1978)

Ari Up, 48, German-born member of post-punk band The Slits, on October 20
The Slits – I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1979)

José Carbajal “El Sabalaero”, 66, Uruguayan singer, guitarist and composer, on October 21
José Carbajal ‘El Sabalero’ – Borracho pero con flores (1991)

Denis Simpson, 60, singer with Canadian band The Nylons, on October 22
The Nylons ““ Kiss Him Goodbye (1987)

Linda Hargrove (a.k.a. Bartholomew), 61, country singer and songwriter, on October 24
Linda Hargrove – All Alone In Austin (1975)

Gregory Isaacs, 59, reggae legend, on October 25
Gregory Isaacs – Number One (1978)

James Phelps, 78, gospel and R&B singer, on October 26
James Phelps – Love Is A 5- Letter Word (1965)

Jack Brokensha, 84, Australian jazz vibraphonist/percussionist and member of Motown”s Funk Brothers, on October 28
Martha and the Vandellas ““ (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave (1963)

Walter Payton Jr., 68,  New Orleans jazz bassist and sousaphonist, on October 28
Lee Dorsey – Working In The Coal Mine (1967)

DOWNLOAD IN MEMORIAM – OCTOBER 2010

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