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Song Swarm – Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down

September 26th, 2013 16 comments

smcd

If you were to put me on the spot and demand that I choose one all-time favourite song, I suppose my default answer would be “Sunday Mornin” Comin” Down”, the Kris Kristofferson version.

One may argue about whether it would feature in a shortlist of best song ever; still it resonates with me on many levels, including as a soundtrack in a particular time in my life. And it is, of course, a great song which ought to feature in a shortlist of best song ever.

Like many early Kristofferson songs, it was first recorded not by the composer but by others, because early in his career KK didn”t regard himself primarily as a singer. In fact, he thought he was a terrible singer. In the event, his limitations are also his strength, with that whisky-soaked, soulful voice giving his lyrics a sense of having been lived. But KK knew he had good tunes and that he wanted to write songs for a living.

It might have been different. The son of an army officer, Kristofferson was earmarked for a military career, and served a stint as a helicopter pilot for Uncle Sam. Before that he was a Rhodes scholar, graduating from Oxford with a degree in philosophy. He was offered a job lecturing at the military academy at West Point. Instead, he left the army, and, having been inspired by a meeting with Johnny Cash after a concert, Kristofferson moved with his family to Nashville to try his hand at the music business.

Things did not start promisingly: in 1966 he landed a job at Columbia Records “” as a janitor.  But in between sweeping floors and polishing door handles, he gave Cash some of his songs, thereby violating strict company policy. Cash was encouraging but didn”t use any of the songs “” in fact, according to Kristofferson, Cash said that he threw them into a lake. Still, it was the genesis of a profound friendship.

kristoffersonA year later, Kristofferson flew helicopters again, for an oil company. He also began a tentative recording career with Epic Records, and finally his songs were started to be recorded by other artists. One day, Kristofferson decided to try and impress Cash again, so he flew a helicopter to Cash”s house to give him some tapes. Cash wasn”t home, though that didn”t stop him from telling a great tale about Kristofferson exiting the chopper with a demo in one hand and a beer in the other.

Still, Cash started to create a buzz around KK, referring to him repeatedly on his TV show. Cash”s introduction of Kristofferson at the Newport Folk Festival especially helped kickstart KK”s recording career.

Cash, of course, recorded “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (as he corrected the title) in 1970, and won a Grammy for it. Cash resisted pressure to change the line “wishing, Lord, that I was stoned” to “”¦I was home” in deference to the song”s writer; he however had the kid “playing with”, not “cussing at”, the can that he was kicking.

The song was originally recorded the previous year by Ray Stevens, who had a minor hit with it. Following Cash”s hit and KK”s version, several artists tried their hand at the song, with varying degrees of accomplishment. Some are featured here, and many tend to play loose with the lyrics.

So, here are 36 versions of Sunday Mornin” Comin” Down, some of them live recordings.

Ray Stevens (1969) “¢ Johnny Cash (live “¢ 1970) “¢ Johnny Cash (1970) “¢ Kris Kristofferson (1970) “¢ Roy Clark (1970) “¢ Freddy Weller (1970) “¢ Lynn Anderson (1970) “¢ Mark Lindsay (1970) “¢ Sammi Smith (1970) “¢ Janis Joplin (1970) “¢ Hank Ballard (1970) “¢ Tom Jones “¢ Glen Campbell & Nancy Sinatra (1970) “¢ R. Dean Taylor (1971) “¢ Waylon Jennings (1971) “¢ Hank Snow (1971) “¢ Margie Brandon (1971) “¢ Ernie Smith (1971) “¢ John Mogensen (as Søndag morgen 1971) “¢ Kristofferson & Friends (1973) “¢ Pavel Bobek (as NedÄ›lní ráno “¢ 1973) “¢ Frankie Laine (1978) “¢ Johnny Cash & Kris Kristofferson (live “¢ 1980) “¢ Johnny Paycheck (1980) “¢ Louis Neefs (as Zondagmiddag “¢ 1980) “¢ David Allan Coe (1998) “¢ Shawn Mullins (1998) “¢ Alvin Youngblood Hart (2003) “¢ Kris Kristofferson & Foo Fighters (2005) “¢ Floyd Red Crow Westerman (2006) “¢ Jeff Walker und Die Flüffers (2006) “¢ Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (2006) “¢ Mark Chesnutt (2010) “¢ Jerry Lee Lewis (2010) “¢ Marissa Nadler (2010) “¢ Willie Nelson (2011) “¢ Brandi Carlile (live “¢ 2012) “¢ Gretchen Wilson (2012)

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The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2

September 19th, 2013 6 comments

Purdie 2

The first mix of tracks featuring the great drummer Bernard Purdie concentrated on his contributions to soul and jazz; this mix is more eclectic. There is still great soul (even today, I still adore Cheryl Lynn”s “You”re The One”) and jazz (Herbie Mann, Gene Ammons), but there is also material that comes from a rock and folk tradition, by the likes of Robert Palmer, Steely Dan and Cat Stevens. And then there is a fantastic slice of gospel from Marion Williams, and a long-unreleased masterpiece by Dusty Springfield.

It’s worth mentioning that Purdie is doing drumming duties here for another fne drummer, Grady Tate, a man with a voice so wonderful that it is good that he did not limit himself to beating the skins.

Some have commented that they cautious about believing any claim Purdie makes about tracks he has played on, referring to Purdies” reported boast about having played overdubs on early Beatles tracks. He certainly did overdub Pete Best in the sessions for the Tony Sheridan album on which the pre-Ringo Beatles played. His claim to have played on early Beatles records requires verification.

On almost all songs on the two mixes Purdie has received official credit. Where possible, I have verified these on Discogs.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-skinned covers.

1. Cornell Dupree – Teasin’ (1974)
2. Joe Cocker – I Get Mad (1974)
3. Robert Palmer – How Much Fun (1974)
4. Steely Dan – Deacon Blues (1977)
5. Cat Stevens – 100 I Dream (1973)
6. Grady Tate – Sack Full Of Dreams (1969)
7. Dusty Springfield – In The Winter (1974)
8. Cheryl Lynn – You’re The One (1978)
9. Roy Ayers – Melody Maker (1978)
10. Herbie Mann – What’s Going On (1971)
11. Quincy Jones – Oh Happy Day (1969)
12. Letta Mbulu – Music Man (1976)
13. Joe Bataan – I’m No Stranger (1972)
14. Freddie McCoy – Funk Drops (1966)
15. Marion Williams – Wicked Messenger (1971)
16. Ronnie Foster – Sweet Revival (1973)
17. Hummingbird – Fire And Brimstone (1976)
18. Hall & Oates – I’m Just A Kid (Don’t Make Me Feel Like A Man) (1973)
19. Gene Ammons – Feeling Good (1969)
20. Mongo Santamaria – Baby What You Want Me To Do (1968)

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Any Major TV Themes

September 12th, 2013 9 comments

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As we prepare to say goodbye to two of the finest shows of this new Golden Age of Television, Breaking Bad and Dexter, it seems a good thing to have a TV themes compilation.

On this mix of 84 television themes, most from the US and a few from the UK, I am giving you an overview of my television-watching habits over a lifetime. These themes were not chosen for quality (though many are very good), but because they announced the beginning of a new journey in a succession of one might call appointment TV shows “” programmes which I have made it a point to watch, at least for some stages of their run.

Some I persevered with for the duration (such as Hill Street Blues, The Wonder Tears, Seinfeld, The West Wing, Sopranos, Homicide, The Shield, etc), others I followed faithfully before becoming bored with them (such as Desperate Housewives, LA Law, Mad About You and Curb Your Enthusiasm). Some I followed when I didn”t know better, until I did (Dallas, Dynasty).

The most obscure inclusion here might be Kaz, in which Ron Leibman (Rachel”s dad, Friends fans) played an ex-con lawyer. I have no idea if it actually was any good “” it lasted only one season “” but I watched it faithfully every Friday night when I was in my mid-teens.

Towards the end are the themes of the international shows I loved as a child in Germany in the early “70s, most of them being shown then as re-runs. My favourite at the time was Bonanza. I”ve not included the themes of my favourite German-language shows, but I”m running them here as separate mix. It does, however, include a few themes from British TV shows. I have also omitted cartoon shows, hence the absence of The Simpsons.

The composers” names, if I could find them, are in the ID3 Tags. The mix is timed to fit on a CD-R, so it might come in useful as an addition to a trivia night. It includes home-tuned covers. PW in comments.

L.A. Law (1986-94) “¢ Magnum PI (1980-88) “¢ Hill Street Blues (1981-87) “¢ thirtysomething (1987-91) “¢ Night Court (1984-92) “¢Â  Cheers (1982-93) “¢ Frasier (1993-2004) “¢ Mad About You (1992-99) “¢ Murphy Brown (1988-98) “¢ Spin City (1996-2002) “¢ Seinfeld (1989-99) “¢ Quantum Leap (1989-93) “¢ Law & Order (1990-2010) “¢ NYPD Blue (1993-2005) “¢ Homicide – Life On The Street (1993-99) “¢Â  The Practice (1997-2004) “¢ The West Wing (1999-2006) “¢ The Sopranos (1999-2007) “¢ Six Feet Under (2001-05) “¢ The Shield (2002-08) “¢ The Wire (S4) (2002-08) “¢ Freaks & Geeks (1999) “¢ Veronica Mars (2004-07) “¢ Entourage (2004-11) “¢ Arrested Development (2003-9,13) “¢ Flight Of The Conchords (2007-08) “¢ Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-11) “¢ Desperate Housewives (2004-12) “¢ Prison Break (2005-09) “¢ Justified (2010-  ) “¢ True Blood (2008-  ) “¢ Breaking Bad (2008-13) “¢ Dexter (2006-13) “¢ Mad Men (2007-  ) “¢ The Walking Dead (2010- ) “¢ Lie To Me (2009-11) “¢ Shameless (US) (2011-  ) “¢ Louie (2010-  ) “¢ Everybody Hates Chris (2006-09) “¢ The Big Bang Theory (2007-  ) “¢ Modern Family (2009-  ) “¢ Pushing Daisies (2007-09) “¢ Downton Abbey (2010-  ) “¢ The Office (UK) (2001-03) “¢ The Inbetweeners (UK) (2008-10) “¢ Father Ted (1995-98) “¢ Bottom (1991-95) “¢ Blackadder II (1986) “¢ Blackadder The Third (1987) “¢ Fawlty Towers (1975/79) “¢ Three’s Company (1977-84) “¢ Police Squad (1982) “¢ Sledge Hammer (1986-88) “¢ Just Shoot Me (1997-2003) “¢ Friends (1994-2004) “¢ Wings (1990-97) “¢ The Wonder Years (1988-92) “¢ Wiseguy (1987-90) “¢ Matlock (1986-92) “¢ Moonlighting (1985-89) “¢ Family Ties (1982-89) “¢ Taxi (1978-83) “¢ Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-79) “¢ Soap (1977-81) “¢ Dallas (1978-91) “¢ Dynasty (1981-89) “¢ Family (1976-79) “¢ Kaz (1978-79) “¢ Petrocelli (1974-76) “¢ Streets of San Francisco (1972-77) “¢ The Waltons (1972-81) “¢ The Partridge Family (1970-74) “¢ The Brady Bunch (1969-74) “¢ Riptide (Australia) (1969) “¢ Star Trek (1966-69) “¢ Gunsmoke (1955-75) “¢ Bonanza (1959-73) “¢ The Virginian (1962-71) “¢ Get Smart (1965-70) “¢ Daktari (1966-69) “¢ Tarzan (1966-68) “¢ Flipper (1964-67) “¢ Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo (1966-68) “¢ Lassie (1954-73)

And the listing for the German themes:
Der Kommissar (1968-74) “¢ Derrick (1974-97) “¢ Tatort (1970- ) “¢  Der Bastian (1973) “¢  ZDF Hitparade (1969-2000) “¢  Das aktuelle Sport-Studio (1964- ) “¢  Sportschau (1962- ) “¢  Der Grosse Preis (1974-93) “¢  Dalli (1971-86) “¢  Die Montagsmaler (1974-79) “¢  Aktenzeichen XY…Ungelöst (1967-  ) “¢  Ein Herz und eine Seele (1973-76) “¢  Pan Tau (1970-78) “¢  Die Sendung mit der Maus (1971-  ) “¢  Dick und Doof (1970-73) “¢  Percy Stuart (1969-72) “¢  Pippi Langstrumpf (1969-70) “¢  Sesamstrasse (1973-  ) “¢  Sandmännchen (West; 70s-80s)

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In Memoriam – August 2013

September 5th, 2013 12 comments

im-aug13On 4 December  1956 a Tuesday, rockabilly star Carl Perkins came to the Sun Records studios in Memphis to record a new single ““ a song called “Matchbox” which a few years later the Beatles would cover. Sun Records owner Sam Phillips had arranged for a new signing of his to back up Perkins on the piano, a wild man called Jerry Lewis. In the afternoon, Sun Records alumn Elvis Presley, who had just signed for RCA, popped in for a visit. Seeing that his friend Carl Perkins was in the studio, he joined him and Jerry Lee for a jam session. The producer that day had the presence of mind to record the jam, even though he knew it couldn”t be released because of the contractual problems that would arise. That producer was Cowboy Jack Clement, who died on August 8 at the age of 82.

The recording was finally released in 1981 under the moniker The Million Dollar Quartet, though it probably was just a trio. The fourth member was Johnny Cash, who also visited, posed around the piano for a photo with the other three guys, and went on his merry way for Christmas shopping.

It was Clement who had discovered Jerry Lee Lewis and recorded his breakthrough hit, “A Whole Lotta Shakin” Goin” On”, a couple of months after that jam session. Clement went on to produce many other legends, ranging from Charley Pride to Townes Van Zandt to U2, and wrote for many more, especially for Johnny Cash.

One of the original country outlaws departed this month. Tompall Glaser never attained the stardom of the likes of Waylon Jennings or Willie Nelson, but he was among those who paved the way for the movement. With Jennings, Nelson and Jessi Colter, Glaser appeared on the iconic 1976 compilation album Wanted! The Outlaws.

The headline death of the month, however, is that of jazz-funk keyboardist George Duke. To define Duke by his primary genre or instrument is a bit unfair. He was also a session musician who played with the likes of Frank Zappa, and he was a skilled producer and arranger. An anti-apartheid activist, Duke was the musical director of the concert for Nelson Mandela”s 70th birthday at London”s Wembley Stadium in 1988, an event that helped solidify the international resistance to the racist regime in South Africa.

The man who brought The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Herman”s Hermits, The Kinks and other British acts to the US, Sid Bernstein, has died at 95. Obviously he was the general of the British invasion; by booking The Beatles into sports arenas he also helped invent stadium rock. Before that, he was one of the first white promoters to introduce black artists such as Ray Charles and James Brown to white audiences. Two years ago, at the age of 93, Bernstein brought out his first album.

British folkie Louis Killen, it”s fair to say, had one of the more unconventional lives. He was big name in the Newcastle folk scene and collaborator with The Clancy Brothers and Ewan MacColl, the pope of British folk. In the 1990s he moved to the US to live as a transgendered person, and in 2010 had a sex-change operation, becoming Louisa Jo Killen. She still performed, but health problems cut these engagements short.

Jazz fans will have been saddened to learn of the death of the South African vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin, not only because of the loss of her great talent, but also in sympathy for her husband Abdullah Ibrahim, the jazz pianist who used to be Dollar Brand. The couple was based for decades in New York, having exiled themselves from apartheid in 1960. Benjamin and Ibrahim first went to Zurich, where they met Duke Ellington, who took the couple under his wing, with Benjamin eventually joining his band. After a brief return to Cape Town in the mid-“˜70s the couple resettled in New York for the next quarter century, a time during which Benjamin released a string of acclaimed jazz albums, including the Grammy-nominated Dedications in 1982. She returned to South Africa in 2001.

Dutch singer Jetty Paerl probably was not known widely beyond the borders of the Netherlands. Her death is noteworthy not for her music “” I have no idea about it “” but because she was one of the last few anti-Nazi resistance activists left today. When the Germans occupied the Netherlands, Paerl went into exile in London, from where she broadcast on Radio Oranje, the station of the Dutch government in exile. She was known as “Jetje van Radio Oranje” and featured in episode 18 of the BBC series The World At War.

Murray Gershenz was not a pop musician, but one of (most of) us: a record collector. Gershenz, who has died at 91, will probably be best remembered as the old man who got naked in The Hangover, one of the several movies and TV shows he appeared in after taking up acting at the age of 79. The one-time opera singer was also the subject of a 2011 documentary about his record shop, Music Man Murray, also the title of the film, which covered Gershenz”s attempt to sell off his vast record collection in order to have it preserved (watch it HERE). Having begun his collection as a 16-year-old in 1938, he amassed 300,000 records. The collection is valued at $1.5 million, though Gershenz was willing to accept a million less. Considering that the lot included German records from 1895 and original Edison cylinders among its many rarities, one suspects that a buyer would have scored a bargain.

 

Sharon Mosby, 70, jazz/blues singer, on July 30

John Dengate, 74, Australian folk singer and songwriter, on August 1

Pixie Williams, 85, New Zealand singer, on August 2

Tim Wright, 61, bass guitarist for Pere Ubu, DNA, on August 4
Pere Ubu ““ Real World (1978)

George Duke, 67, jazz fusion keyboardist, on August 5
Frank Zappa ““ Road Ladies (1970)
George Duke – Just For You (1977)
Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (1979)

James Gray, 52, keyboardist for Canadian country rock band Blue Rodeo, on August 5
Blue Rodeo – Bad Timing (1992)

William Dunn, 70, Canadian folk musician, film maker and politician, on August 5
Willie Dunn – I Pity The Country (1973)

Bill Putt, member of Australian prog rock bands Spectrum, Ariel, on August 6

Marilyn King, 82, last surviving member of The King Sisters, on August 7
The King Sisters – Gobs Of Love (1943)

Nick Nixon, 74, country singer and songwriter, on August 7

Jack Clement, 82, producer, songwriter and singer, on August 8
The Million Dollar Quartet – I Shall Not Be Moved (1956)
Johnny Cash – The One On The Right Is On The Left (1966, as songwriter)
U2 – Angel of Harlem (1988, as producer)

Karen Black, 74, actress and sometime singer, on August 8
Karen Back ““ Memphis (1976)

Eduardo Falú, 90, Argentine folk guitarist and composer, on August 9
Eduardo Fal̼ РNo te puedo olvidar (1969)

Louis Killen, 79, British folk singer and songwriter, on August 9
Louis Killen & The Clancy Brothers – The Irish Rover (2000)

Eydie Gormé, 84, easy listening and jazz singer, on August 10
Eydie Gorm̩ РGod Bless The Child (1981)

Jody Payne, 77, country sinher and guitarist of Willie Nelson”s backing band Family, on August 10
Willie Nelson – Hands On The Wheel (1975, on guitar)

Phil Baheux, 45, drummer of Belgian heavy metal band Channel Zero, on August 10

Jason Rosenthal, 35, rock singer with rock band On the Might of Princes, on August 12

Tompall Glaser, 79, country singer and songwriter, on August 13
Tompall Glaser – When It Goes, It’s Gone Girl (1975)

Jon Brookes, 44, drummer of British indie-rock group The Charlatans, on August 13
The Charlatans ““ How High (1997)

Allen Lanier, 67, keyboardist and guitarist with Blue Öyster Cult, on August 14
Blue Öyster Cult – Lonely Teardrops (1979)

Jane Harvey, 88, jazz singer, on  August 15
Benny Goodman and his Orchestra feat. Jane Harvey – Close As Pages In A Book (1945)

Eyob Mekonnen, 37, Ethiopian reggae singer, on August 18

Donna Hightower, 86, soul and jazz singer, on August 19
Donna Hightower – This World Today Is A Mess (1972)

Fritz Rau, 83, legendary German concert promoter, on August 19

Cedar Walton, 79, jazz pianist, on August 19
Art Farmer & Benny Golson Jazztet – The Cool One (1960, on piano)

Marian McPartland, 95, British jazz pianist and composer, on August 20
Marian McPartland – Easy Blues (1958)

Sathima Bea Benjamin, 76, South African jazz singer, wife of Abdullah Ibrahim, on August 20
Sathima Bea Benjamin – I’ll See You Again (1990)

Gabriel Balachsan, 37, Israeli rock singer and songwriter, on August 20

Sid Bernstein, 95, American music producer and promoter, on August 21
The Beatles – Twist And Shout (Live at Shea Stadium, 1965)

Jetty Paerl, 92, Dutch singer and anti-Nazi activist, on August 22

Chris Friedrich, 33, bassist of instrumental rock band Caspian, on August 25

Murray Gershenz, 91, record collector and actor, on August 28
Ian Hunter – Old Records Never Die (1981)

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