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The Louis Johnson Collection

May 28th, 2015 8 comments

Louis Johnson Collection

We interrupt this series of collections of songs of session drummers to pay tribute to Louis Johnson, the great bassist and half of the Johnson Brothers who died last week at the age of 60.

Louis Johnson, nicknamed “Thunder Thumbs”, gave us basslines to dance to “” Stomp and Don”t Stop Till You Get Enough “” and to groove to “” I Keep Forgettin” and Baby Come To Me “” and to smooch to “” One Hundred Ways and Love All The Hurt Away. And he played on the charity behemoth We Are The World.

He is probably best known as one of the Brothers Johnson, whose repertoire included such classics as Stomp, I”ll Be Good To You, Get The Funk Out Ma Face, and a fine cover of Shuggie Otis” Strawberry Letter 23 (check out the isolated bass of the latter).

Much of the Brothers Johnson material was produced by Quincy Jones, their manager and mentor, who kept returning to Louis for some bass work.

You”ll have heard Louis” basslines on Quincy productions such as Michael Jackson”s Off The Wall album, on which Louis did bass duty on all but one song (Rock With You; that was Bobby Watson).

On Thriller, where several tracks are driven by synth-based basslines, Louis Johnson featured on Billy Jean, Wanna Be Startin” Something, Human Nature and P.Y.T.

He played on Quincy”s solo albums, such as Mellow Madness, I Heard That and Live At Budokan, as well as on two star-studded affairs released under the Quincy Jones banner: The Dude and Back On The Block (on the latter he appeared on the Ray Charles & Chaka Khan cover of the Brothers Johnson”s I”ll Be Good To You”) .

Many hip hop artists have sampled Johnson”s basslines, most famously perhaps that of Michael McDonald”s I Keep Forgettin” for Warren G.”s Regulate.

Apart from those featured on this collection, acts for whom Johnson played include: Gabor Sabo, Grover Washington Jr, Side Effects, Leon Haywood, Sergio Mendes, Harvey Mason, Letta Mbulu, Pointer Sisters, Herb Alpert, Hugh Masekela, Joe Tex, Rufus & Chaka Khan, René & Anngela, Stanley Clarke, Andraé Crouch, Passage, Donna Summer (on State Of Independence), John Cougar Mellencamp, Herbie Hancock, George Duke, The Jacksons, Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson, Paul McCartney, Charlene, Rodney Franklin, Johnny Gill, Dennis Edwards, Angela Bofill, DeBarge, Irena Cara, Angela Winbush, Barbra Streisand, Brian McKnight and more.

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

1. Brothers Johnson – Stomp (1979)
2. Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (1979)
3. George Benson – Love X Love (1980)
4. Quincy Jones – Ai No Corrida (1980)
5. Patti Austin & James Ingram – Baby Come To Me (1981)
6. Karen Carpenter – Lovelines (1879/80)
7. Lee Ritenour feat Bill Champlin – You Caught Me Smilin” (1981)
8. The Crusaders feat Joe Cocker – This Old World”s Too Funky For Me (1980)
9. Bobby Womack – Everything”s Gonna Be Alright (1975)
10. Bill Withers – Sometimes A Song (1975)
11. Billy Preston – Will It Go Round In Circles (1972)
12. Herbie Hancock – Lite Me Up! (1982)
13. Aretha Franklin – What A Fool Believes (1980)
14. Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgettin” (Every Time You”re Near) (1982)
15. Sweet Comfort Band – Feel Like Singin” (1981)
16. Sister Sledge – Smile (1983)
17. Earl Klugh – Slippin” In The Back Door (1976)
18. Quincy Jones feat. Ray Charles & Chaka Khan – I”ll Be Good To You (1989)

GET IT!

Previous session musicians” collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection
The Bobby Graham Collection
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

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The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

May 21st, 2015 12 comments

Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1

One could call session drummer Jim Keltner the fifth ex-Beatles Beatle: he drummed for John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, for all three in the studio and live on stage. He was in Lennon”s circle during the famous “lost weekend”, and partnered Ringo behind drums during Harrison”s Concert for Bangladesh.

Keltner might be best remembered for his association with three Beatles, but the list of artists with whom he has played is staggering. Apart from the artists featured on this mix and the second volume, those he drummed for on record include:

like Joe Cocker, James Taylor, Seals & Croft, Carl Tjader, Bonnie & Delaney, Leon Russell, Freddie King, Boots Randolph, Yoko Ono, Sergio Mendes, Don Everley, Earl Scruggs, Donovan, Andy Williams, Van Dyke Parks, Frankie Valli, Dion, Keith Moon, The Steve Miller Band, Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Rick Springfield, Shankar Family, José Feliciano, Harry Chapin, Chuck Girard, Bette Middler, Mr Big, Ian McLagan, Neil Diamind, Bill Wyman, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Chi Coltrane, Lowell George, Carol Bayer Sager, Leonard Cohen, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Jimmy Cliff, Melissa Manchester, Lalo Schifrin, Alice Cooper, Rickie Lee Jones, Manhattan Transfer, Roberta Flack, Leo Kottke, Captain Beefheart, Rod Stewart, Don Henley, Irene Cara, Duane Eddy, Maria McKee, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnett, JD Souther, Aaron Neville, Gillian Welch, Richard Thompson, Johnny Winter, Toto, Toni Childs, Marc Cohn, Lionel Richie, Nick Lowe, Aimee Mann, Mick Jagger, The Waterboys, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Al Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Sheryl Crow, The Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, Chris Isaak, Buddy Guy, Traveling Wilburys, Jack Bruce, Crosby Still, Nash & Young, Rufus Wainwright, Boz Scaggs, Dan Fogelberg, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pink Floyd, Matthew Sweet, Ray Charles, Melissa Etheridge, The Charlatans, Lucinda Williams, The Pretenders, Fiona Apple, Ryan Adams, Robbie Robertson, Dhani Harrison, Sean Lennon, Cassandra Wilson, She & Him, Joseph Arthur, Michael Bublé, Lyle Lovett, Mavis Staples, Alexi Murdoch, John Mayer”¦

And that list isn”t even complete.

He played on classics such as Nilsson”s Without You and Ringo Starr”s Photograph, though he didn”t play on Bill Withers” Ain”t No Sunshine, as some people say. According to the man himself, he observed Al Jackson play drums on that song; Keltner did play on Better Off Dead, a song with just about the most devastating end to an album.

Keltner appeared on many albums which also featured past Collection subject Jim Gordon, and a few which also included work by Hal Blaine or Bernard Purdie (for links take a look at the end of this post).

On several records he played alongside saxophone session man Bobby Keys (another close Lost Weekend Lennon friend), who died last December, and who is the only non-drumming session man so far to have had a mix in this series. Of the tracks featured here, he and Keys play together on two: on BB King”s Ain”t Nobody Home and on Nilsson”s version of Many Rivers To Cross (arranged by John Lennon and with Ringo Starr co-drumming). On the Keys collection, Keltner also appeared on Carly Simon”s Night Owl and Martha Reeves” Storm In My Soul (Keltner also drums on Reeves” version of Dixie Highway on the Any Major Roads mix).

Jim Keltner and John Lennon in 1974

Jim Keltner and John Lennon in 1974

Jim Keltner was born in 1942 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His early interest was in jazz, and although his first outing as a session man was backing a pop group (Gary Lewis and the Playboys on She”s Just My Style), most of his early credited work was for jazz artists like Gabor Szabo and Cal Tjader.

It was his involvement with Delaney & Bonnie and Leon Russell that broke him in the world of rock. First Joe Cocker, always astute in appointing session players, engaged him. Very soon almost everybody else did, from Booker T Jones to Carly Simon to BB King to Barbra Streisand “” the latter for her version of Lennon”s Mother.

While Keltner had played on several covers of Lennon”s Beatles songs, he didn”t drum for Lennon until the Imagine LP in 1971 (on Jealous Guy and I Don”t Wanna Be A Soldier). On Lennon”s next three albums of original material (Mind Games, Some Time In New York and Walls And Bridges), Keltner did all the drumming duties, as he did on several Yoko Ono outings. He also played drums in the 1975 New York concert which was released a few years after Lennon”s death.

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

1. John Lennon – #9 Dream (1975)
2. Art Garfunkel – Break Away (1975)
3. Jackson Browne – Ready Or Not (1973)
4. Rita Coolidge – That Man Is My Weakness (1971)
5. Bobby Womack – Superstar (1975)
6. Bob Dylan – Knockin” On Heaven”s Door (1973)
7. Harry Nilsson – Many Rivers To Cross (1974)
8. Dave Mason – If You”ve Got Love (1973)
9. Jim Price – You Got The Power (1971)
10. Carly Simon – Waited So Long (1972)
11. Randy Newman – Short People (1977)
12. Steely Dan – Josie (1977)
13. Roger Tillison – Old Cracked Lookin Glass (1971)
14. BB King – Ain”t Nobody Home (1971)
15. Bobby Lester – Freedom (1972)
16. Bill Withers – Better Off Dead (1971)
17. Claudia Lennear – Goin” Down (1973)
18. Hoyt Axton – Good Lookin” Child (1974)
19. Ringo Starr – Goodnight Vienna (1974)
20. George Harrison – Try Some Buy Some (1973)
21. Warren Zevon – Things To Do In Denver When You”re Dead (1991)
22. Roy Orbison – She”s A Mystery To Me (1989)

GET IT!

Previous session musicians” collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection
The Bobby Graham Collection

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Any Major Roads Vol. 1

May 14th, 2015 15 comments

Any Major Road Vol.1

Here”s the first of what I think will be two mixes on the subject of driving. Not “driving songs” ““ no Bon Jovi, no Bohemian Rhapsody ““ but songs about people in cars, or who are planning to be in one, or being on the long road. Having said that, I have test-driven this mix in my car, and found it a most agreeable companion on (mostly congested) roads.

The king of car songs is, of course, Bruce Springsteen. I could have chosen so many; just coming to mind as I write are Racing In The Streets, Born To Run, Sherry Darling, Cadillac Ranch, Wreck On A Highway, Stolen Car, Working On The Highway”¦ If you have perused the tracklisting before reading this, as I would, you might either be troubled by the absence of Thunder Road, or delighted by my lack obviousness. The song is, in fact, included by way of prototype.

Before the song was Thunder Road and Bruce planned to take Mary out of this town of losers (the same Mary whom he gets pregnant in The River?), it was called Wings for Wheels, and the girl was Angelina. The recording here is, I think, the only one of Wings for Wheels, put down live in February 1975 at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Just over six months later, Springsteen recorded Thunder Road for the Born To Run album.

Also coming from a bootleg is Simon & Garfunkel“s America, in which the featured motor vehicle is a Greyhound bus. The recording is from the duo”s 1968 concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It is one of the best bootlegs I”ve heard, in terms of sound and performance. Well worth tracking down.

Rocket 88 is regarded by some as “the first rock & roll record”, as if such a thing exists (though Sam Philips, who recorded it, made that pronouncement, and who am I to argue with him?). The recording will usually be attributed to Ike Turner, and the credited performer tends to be forgotten. Jackie Brenston was Ike”s saxophonist, and his Delta Cats were really Turner”s Kings of Rhythm. Branston got the writing credit, though it was written by 19-year-old Ike. On the saxophone is Raymond Hill, who”d later father the future Tina Turner”s first child.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-combusted covers, PW in comments (where you are invited to leave a note).

1. Doobie Brothers – Rockin” Down The Highway (1972)
2. War – Low Rider (1975)
3. Golden Earring – Radar Love (1973)
4. Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway (1977)
5. It”s Immaterial – Driving Away Form Home (Jim”s Tune) (1986)
6. Gabe Dixon Band – Five More Hours (2005)
7. Wilco – Passenger Side (1995)
8. Stephen Duffy & The Lilac Time – Driving Somewhere (2007)
9. John Prine – Automobile (1979)
10. Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band – Wings For Wheels (1975)
11. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Hollywood Nights (1978)
12. Edgar Winter Group – Free Ride (1972)
13. Eagles – Take It Easy (1972)
14. Little Feat – Truck Stop Girl (1970)
15. Martha Reeves – Dixie Highway (1974)
16. Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Hello Sunday! Hello Road! (1977)
17. Simon & Garfunkel – America (live) (1968)
18. Dionne Warwick РDo You Know The Way To San Jos̩ (1968)
19. Lovin’ Spoonful – On The Road Again (1965)
20. Lee Dorsey – My Old Car (1967)
21. Chuck Berry – No Particular Place To Go (1964)
22. Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats – Rocket 88 (1951)
23. The King Cole Trio – (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66 (1946)

GET IT!

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In Memoriam – April 2015

May 7th, 2015 11 comments

gallery1The only soul legend whose hand I”ve ever shaken has died. Percy Sledge enjoyed the privilege of my handshake in London in 1987. Sledge is of course best remembered for his soaring performance of When A Man Loves A Woman, and perhaps for Warm And Tender Love. In South Africa he enjoyed legendary status thanks to several tours there in the 1970s, especially in 1970/71, when he played to segregated audiences. There were of course those who objected, but even a good number of anti-apartheid activists went because, well, it was Percy Sledge. This was a time when the cultural boycott had not got traction yet “” even The Byrds toured South Africa; the reason Gram Parsons gave for leaving the group. Of the featured tracks, two relate to that time: the opening of a 1970 concert for mixed-race audiences at the Luxurama in Cape Town, and the very rare Swazi Lady which appeared only on the soundtrack album of a documentary on his South Africa tour, Percy Sledge In Soul Africa.

Just a fortnight later, Ben E. King left us. Coincidentally, both Sledge and King had UK hits in 1987 with their classic songs on strength of commercials for Levi 501s. King, then still known by his birth name Benjamin Nelson, got his break in the late “˜50s as the frontman of The Drifters. That group”s whole line-up was fired by their manager (who owned the rights to the name) in 1958 and replaced by King”s doo wop group The Five Crowns. Due to a contract dispute King didn”t stay long with the group, recording just 13 songs (11 of them as the lead) before going solo. But what a line-up of songs that was, including There Goes My Baby (which he co-wrote), Save the Last Dance for Me, This Magic Moment and I Count the Tears (on TV King”s vocals were lip synched by Drifters member Charlie Tomas).

As a solo artist King enjoyed several hits, some later covered by others with commercial success, such as Spanish Harlem, Don’t Play That Song (You Lied), So Much Loved and I (Who Have Nothing). But his biggest hit was, of course, Stand By Me, which he wrote with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, based on a gospel song, Lord Stand By Me. King used the royalties for the song for the Stand By Me Foundation, which provides education to disadvantaged youths.

Anybody who has ever played Lynyrd Skynyrd”s Free Bird loudly while driving will have banged out the song”s drum rolls on the steering wheel. The drummer who created these is now gone, at the age of 64. Bob Burns joined Lynyrd Skynyrd”s in 1966 and played on the first two albums, which yielded hits such as Free Bird, Simple Man, Gimme Three Steps, Tuesday”s Gone, Don”t Ask Me No Questions and Sweet Home Alabama. He left the band in 1974 on account of the stress of touring. He died after hitting a tree on the way home from a gig in Bartow County, Georgia.

It is unusual to feature people in this series who never recorded or in some way helped to record music, but in the case of Suzanne Crough I must make an exception. Suzanne played little Tracy on The Partridge Family, a TV show which is still very watchable and the music of which (recorded by members the Wrecking Crew with David Cassidy) is much better than it is given credit for. On the show, Tracy”s job on stage was to play the tambourine, which was rather more believable than Danny playing like Larry Knechtel or either of the Chrises drumming like Hal Blaine. Crough left acting in 1980; she later owned a bookshop and managed an office supply store.

gallery2Jack Ely was responsible for one of the great iconic rock vocals of the 1960s. As a co-founder of The Kingsmen, he slurred the lyrics of their 1963 cover of Richard Berry”s Louie Louie in one take; not helped by wearing braces at the time. The good times hadn”t arrived when Ely got screwed over. The single had just been released, far from being a hit, when drummer Lynn Easton ordered that he”d front the group forthwith, with Ely tasking over drumming duties. Ely refused and left The Kingsmen. Once Louie Louie became a hit, Easton would mime the words to Ely”s recorded voice. Legal action put a stop to that, and secured Ely a slice of royalties, a rather paltry $6,000.

Nobody wrote more songs for Elvis Presley than Sid Tepper, who has died at 94. Tepper wrote 45 songs for Elvis, all of them for his movies; other than GI Blues none of them are very well known (though Tepper said Elvis had particular affection for the featured song). Tepper, a WW2 veteran, got his break in 1948 when he wrote Red Roses For A Blue Lady, with which Guy Lombardo scored a big hit. It was covered many times after, including a version by Frank Sinatra, for whom Tepper later wrote the hit A Long Way From Your House to My House. He also wrote the Cliff Richard hit The Young Ones, which inspired the title of the 1980s British cult comedy of that name.

Few will know the name, but in Bill Arhos the world lost a man who helped boost many careers and brought great joy to many music lovers. He was the founder of the TV programme Austin City Limits, which has showcased a huge number of great artists since 1974, when the pilot was shot “” a gig by Willie Nelson (see a track from the show at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qn8A72wnOZM). In 2010 the show was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Ray Charles has died. And if you are slightly bemused at my failure to keep up with the news, let me hasten to point out that I mean the sighted, white Ray Charles who has died at 96. You”ll have heard his voice, perhaps even sang along to it: “Come and knock on our door”¦.”. This Other Ray Charles, as he self-deprecatingly called himself, sang on the theme song of the sitcom Three”s Company. American readers of a certain age may remember him as the leader of the Ray Charles Singers, who backed Perry Como on his TV show for 35 years. And US school kids may have sung, or still sing, his Fifty Nifty United States, which lists the union”s states in alphabetical order.

 

Ralph Sharon, 91, long-time pianist with Tony Bennett, on March 31
Tony Bennett – Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe (1961)

Billy Butler, 69, soul singer, on April 1
Billy Butler – Play My Music (1977)

Cynthia Lennon, 75, first wife of John Lennon, on April 1

Dave Ball, 65, English guitarist (Procol Harum 1971-72; Bedlam), on April 1
Procol Harum ““ Conquistador (live, 1972)

Bob Burns, 64, drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd (1966-74), car crash on April 3
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man (1973)

Julie Wilson, 90, singer and actress, on April 5
Julie Wilson with Ellis Larkins Trio – The Party”s Over

Ray Charles, 96, singer, songwriter, conductor and arranger, on April 6
The Ray Charles Singers – Love Me With All Your Heart (1964)
Ray Charles & Julia Rinker Miller – Theme of Three’s Company (1977)

Milton Delugg, 96, composer, conductor (Tonight Show), musical director, on April 6
Nat King Cole with Stan Kenton – Orange Colored Sky (1950, as co-writer)

Stan Freberg, 88, comedian, voice actor, novelty hit singer, on April 8
Stan Freberg – Yankee Doodle Go Home (1961)

Tut Taylor, 91, American bluegrass dobro player, on April 9
Tut Taylor – The Old Post Office

Anne Tkach, 48, bassist of alt.country band Hazeldine, in a fire on April 9
Hazeldine – When You Sleep

Keith McCormack, 74, singer and songwriter, on April 10
The String-A-Longs ““ Wheels (1960, as member)
Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs – Sugar Shack (1963, as writer)

Bill Arhos, 80, musician and founder of Austin City Limits, on April 11
Lost Gonzo Band – London Homesick Blues (1977, original theme)

Ronnie Carroll, 80, Northern Irish singer, on April 13

Chuck Sagle, 87, arranger and composer, on April 13
Gene Pitney – Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962, as arranger)

Percy Sledge, 74, soul legend, on April 14
Percy Sledge – What Am I Living For (1967)
Percy Sledge – Cover Me/Knock On Wood (live, 1970)
Percy Sledge – Swazi Lady (1971)

Margo Reed, 73, jazz musician, on April 15

Johnny Kemp, 55, Bahamian singer, body found after drowning on April 16
Johnny Kemp – Just Got Paid (1988)

Eric Allen Doney, 62, musician, musical director (Bob Hope), jazz label founder, on April 17

Richard Anthony, 77, French singer, on April 20

Wally Lester, 73, tenor with doo wop group The Skyliners, on April 21
The Skyliners – Pennies From Heaven (1960)

Pete Phillips, 50, guitarist of synth band Six Finger Satellite, on April 23

Sid Tepper, 96, songwriter, on April 24
Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians – Red Roses For A Blue Lady (1948)

Marty Napoleon, 93, jazz pianist, on April 27
Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra – Kiss Of Fire (1952, on piano)

Jack Ely, 71, co-founder and original lead singer of The Kingsmen, on April 27
The Kingsmen – Louie Louie (1963)

Guy LeBlanc, 54, Canadian keyboard player with prog rock band Nathan Mahl, on April 27

Suzanne Crough, 52, tambourine shaker in The Partridge Family, on April 27
The Partridge Family – Brown Eyes (1971)

Keith Harris, 67, British ventriloquist who had a UK hit with puppet Orville, on April 28

Patachou, 96, French singer and actress, on April 30
Patachou – Mon homme (1951)

Ben E. King, 76, soul legend, on April 30
The Drifters – There Goes My Baby (1958, on lead vocals)
Ben E. King – Don’t Play That Song For Me (1962)
Ben E. King – Cry No More (1965)

GET IT!  (PW in comments)

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