Archive for November, 2015

The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 1

November 26th, 2015 11 comments

The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 1

There are many session drummers who are valid contenders for the label “greatest ever” or “most influential”, if one is into these absolutes. Some have featured in this series: Hal Blaine, Jim Keltner and Bernard Purdie might make it into a four-way final with Steve Gadd (and that”s not to mention Earl Palmer).

Gadd is responsible for one of my all-time favourite single drum hits, on Grover Washington”s Be Mine Tonight (with vocals by another fine drummer, Grady Tate). At 5:44 minutes into the song, as Grover is climaxing his sax solo, he hits the cymbals with such exquisite and eloquent timing. The song would be masterful without it; this easily missed moment elevates it to the sublime.

You”ll have heard Gadd on many famous records, and perhaps even seen him in action: he backed Simon & Garfunkel in the famous Concert in Central Park. He also appeared in the Paul Simon movie One Trick Pony (and drummed on the album of that name, including Late In The Evening). If you caught Eric Clapton in concert between 1994 and 2004, or in 2009, chances are you saw Gadd playing live.

Inspired by his uncle, Gadd took up drumming as a seven-year-old. By the time he was 11, in 1956, he reputedly sat in with Dizzy Gillespie. He made his first recording in 1968, backing Gap Mangione.

Apart from the artists that will feature over the three Steve Gadd Collections I have queued up, he has also backed “” deep breath now “”Bette Middler, Bob James, Joe Farrell, Rusty Bryant, Ellie Greenwhich, Jackie DeShannon, O”Donel Levy, Chet Baker, Hubert Laws, Herbie Mann, Deodato, Stanley Clarke, Hank Crawford, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Merry Clayton, David Sanborn, Leon Redbone, Kenny Vance, Chick Corea, Maynard Ferguson, The Brecker Brothers, Jon Lucien, Alessi Brothers, Freddie Hubbard, Ashford & Simpson, Eric Gale, Phoebe Snow, Lou Courtney, Al Di Meola, Harry Chapin, Earl Klugh, Sergio Mendes, Garland Jeffreys, Ringo Starr, Frankie Valli, Lolleatta Holloway, Manhattan Transfer, Weather Report, The Sylvers, Mongo Santamaria, Sadao Watanbabe, Richard Tee, Charles Mingus, Yusef Latif, Meco, Larry Carlton, Herb Alpert, Joe Sample, Jennifer Holliday, Diana Ross, Tania Maria, Paul Shaffer, Laurie Anderson, John Sebastian, Mark Cohn, Edie Brickell, Buddy Rich, Angela Bofill, Stephen Bishop, Eric Clapton, Tracy Chapman, Joss Stone, Randy Crawford, Nils Landgren, Kate Bush “” and many others”¦

And, yes, the Steely Dan track he drummed on will feature in a future mix!

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

1. Steve Gadd – My Little Brother (1984)
2. Paul Simn – 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover (1975)
3. Bill LaBounty – Livin” It Up (1982)
4. George Benson – Love Ballad (1981)
5. Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony – The Hustle (1975)
6. David Ruffin – Walk Away From Love (1975)
7. Al Jarreau – Love Is Waiting (1983)
8. Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – Guilty (1980)
9. Grover Washington Jr. – Be Mine (Tonight) (1981)
10. Michael Franks – When The Cookie Jar Is Empty (1978)
11. Dave Grusin – Anthem Internationale (1982)
12. Diane Schuur – Talkin” “Bout You (1988)
13. Kate Taylor – A Fool In Love (1978)
14. Dr. John – Dance The Night Away With You (1978)
15. Bonnie Raitt – What Is Success (1974)
16. Art Garfunkel – Since I Don”t Have You (1993)
17. Aztec Camera – Paradise (1987)
18. Carol Townes and Fifth Avenue – Number One (1976)


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 Louis Johnson Collection
The Bobby Graham Collection
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 2
The Ringo Starr Collection

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Any Major Paris In Black & White

November 17th, 2015 8 comments

Any Major Paris In Black & White

Here is my tribute to Paris, a city that will not be defeated by terrorists. I wish my music collection would allow me to likewise compile collections in tribute to the people of Beirut, Baghdad, Ankara, Gaza or whichever city the genocidal bastards of Boko Haram are blowing up this week — or, indeed, whichever Afghan hospital the US destroys in a case of couldn’t-give-a-damn.

And on that cheerful note, to the music. Unlike the first Any Major Paris mix, which I posted last year, this one trades bilingually in nostalgia: there are tracks by great French singers such as the majestic Edith Piaf, her ex-lover and protégé Yves Montand, the great entertainers Charles Trénet and Maurice Chevalier, the powerful Gilbert Bécaud, and the godmother of them all, Mistinguett.

Among the English tracks, Petula Clark’s song is a cover of a French chanson which is best heard in Piaf’s version.

A couple of the American artists who sing here in French once scandalised prim Parisian society. Josephine Baker’s story is well-known, that of Joan Warner less so. The tall blonde used to dance in Parisian joints in various stages of nudity. For that she was tried in 1935. Found guilty she fined, just a nominal sum, even though she contended that she had been painted all in white make-up and was partly covered with a transparent silk cloth which served as a “fig leaf” — without that, the judge said, her fine would have been fined eight times as much. Warner is still alive, it seems, at the age of 102.

And speaking of Piaf, should you go to Paris and want a guided tour of Edith Piaf’s life, I know someone who does that. Message me for contact details (ideally via Facebook; become my friend here).

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

1. Dean Martin – I Love Paris (1961)
2. Patachou – Sous le Ciel de Paris (1956)
3. Edith Piaf – Notre-Dame de Paris (1952)
4. Petula Clark – Mademoiselle de Paris (1963)
5. Gilbert Bécaud – Dimanche à Orly (1963)
6. Jacques Dutronc – Il est cinq heures, Paris s’éveille (1968)
7. Mel Tormé – Paris Smiles (1967)
8. Sammy Davis Jr. – April In Paris (1965)
9. Francis Lemarque – Lair de Paris (1957)
10. Mouloudji – Le Mal De Paris (1954)
11. Charles Trénet – Le Coeur de Paris (1946)
12. Maurice Chevalier – Place Pigalle (1946)
13. Yves Montand – À Paris (1948)
14. Kate Smith – The Last Time I Saw Paris (1940)
15. Joan Warner – Etre Parisienne (1936)
16. Mistinguett – La tour Eiffel est toujours là (1942)
17. Django Reinhardt et le Quintette Du Hot Club De France – Belleville (1942)
18. Josephine Baker – Paris Paris Paris (1949)
19. Eartha Kitt – Under The Bridges Of Paris (1953)
20. Les Baxter – The Clown On The Eiffel Tower (1957)
21. Catherine Sauvage – L’Île Saint-Louis (1954)
22. Pierre Dudan – Ciel de Paris (1957)
23. Georgette Plana – Le Dimanche à Paris (1953)
24. Quincy Jones – Evening In Paris (1957)
25. Judy Garland – Paris Is A Lonely Town (1962)
26. Max Steiner – Casablanca: Paris Montage (1942)


Any Major Paris
Any Major London Vol. 1
Any Major London Vol. 2
Any Major London Vol. 3
More Mix-CD-Rs

More Music in Black & White

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Any Major Teen Dreams

November 12th, 2015 31 comments

Any Major Teen Dream

The stuff of teenager-oriented pop has occupied me lately, with the birth of the Bravo Posters site on which I post a few posters a day from old editions of Germany’s Bravo magazine. I think it’s fair to say that when we look back on our teenage obsessions with pop music, the questions that will evoke the most nostalgic vibes are what your first record was, and which posters you had hanging on your wall.

Your first record most probably was not cool. But ask your music-loving friends about the first record they bought, chances are that everybody else bought something really sophisticated. They were eight and bought, depending on their generation, Kind Of Blue, Sly & the Family Stone, Big Star, Too Drunk To Fuck by the Dead Kennedys, or NWA’s F*ck Da Police. They might even tell the truth, so you feel like a bit of a chump if you first record was “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window”, “Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool” or “Ice Ice Baby”. I confess: for years I did not acknowledge that the first record I bought was a German Schlager hit by Roy Black (not his real name) teaming up with a nine-year-old Norwegian girl named Anita. The single, it must be said, was aimed squarely at my demographic at the time, the five-year-old, and at grandmothers, like mine, who financed my debut vinyl purchase.Couldn’t you have guided me to buy Black Sabbath instead of Roy Black, gran?

For a long time I was also embarrassed to admit that my first English-language record was by the Bay City Rollers. Today I feel no more embarrassment at that than if my first single had been an obscure Northern Soul classic. While the late Roy Black may still lack cool, the passage of time has forgiven the Bay City Rollers for their droll tartan outfits and for being adored by barely pubescent girls. The Ramones admitted a long time ago that they took inspiration from the teen-orientated bubble-gum pop promulgated by Leslie, Woody, Alan, Eric and Derek. The rest of us have taken a little longer to appreciate that BCR weren’t as awful as their trousers led us to believe. And so I’ll pronounce while flinching only slightly: I was a BCR fan, even though I was a boy. And I liked Woody the best.

The phenomenon of teen idols precedes the advent of Rock & Roll. There was Bing Crosby, who charmed the girls and their Moms in the 1930s. Then came the Bobbysoxers who screamed for young Frank Sinatra from Hoboken, NJ. Then came rock. Elvis provided many a young girl with her first experience of celebrity-inspired wet knickers. But these were singularities, quite extraordinary performers. True, the combination of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s ascent and the Bobbysoxer legacy (among other social events) created a wave of singers marketed directly to the teen market: the likes of Troy Donahue, Fabian, Frankie Avalon or Paul Anka in the US, Marty Wilde in Britain, or Peter Kraus in Germany.

But arguably the real teen revolution came with the ’60s and Beatlemania. It was a whole new deal which inspired a new culture of teen idolatry; some accidental, some manufactured to cash in on the Beatles.

teen dream gallery 1Early teen idol prodigies of the1960s included Billy J Kramer (whose “Bad To Me” was written by Lennon & McCartney) in Britain, The Monkees in the US, and Herman’s Hermits in both countries. Like the Backsteeet Boys or the Spice Girls and their ilk 30 years later, The Monkees were an assembled group calculated to appeal to diverse constituencies within the projected fanbase. The Beatles provided the template: Paul, the cute happy one; John, the tough cynical one; George, the quiet serious one; Ringo, the pet. And the calculation obviously worked; the Monkees were huge, thanks to their image, and their records were great, thanks to brilliant song selection and the seasoned session musicians of the Wrecking Crew.

In the early 1970s, the pretense of musical authenticity evaporated in the US. The Archies had a worldwide hit in 1969/70 with “Sugar Sugar”. Based on the comic, they weren’t even the group. Where The Monkees were a the literary equivalent of a photo novel, The Archies were actually a cartoon. The fiction wouldn’t stop there. The Partridge Family was a TV band, backed by the flair of, again, the Wrecking Crew, and the beauty of the talented David Cassidy and, for the boys, Susan Dey. Things would become charmingly peculiar when the Brady Bunch, whose kids weren’t musicians even in the fiction of the show, started releasing records. At the same time, some groups didn’t bother with instruments, even if one or the other minor Jackson 5 did parade with a guitar occasionally, if that could be choreographed into the dance routine.

In Britain, the teen-oriented acts were more credible. T Rex, the Sweet or Slade played their own instruments and produced some fantastic pop whose appeal conquered the precincts of age. Other acts were clearly manipulated or manufactured for marketing purposes. Questions remain about how much Woody, Eric, Alan and Derek contributed to the Bay City Rollers on record (we do know that Leslie did sing, and Alan, Eric and Woody write a good number of songs). Based on the template of the early ’70s, UK record label bosses tried to cash in on presenting acts like Hello and Slik (featuring future Ultravox frontman Midge Ure) as the teen dreams they did not aspire to be. The calculation bombed. Hello and Slik were one hit wonders, groups like the Dead End Kids and Buster never took off, BCR disintegrated slowly after Leslie McKeown left (to be replaced by Duncan Faure of South African teeny giants Rabbit), Sweet grew beards and dabbled with prog rock, Dave Hill of Slade shaved his head, and punk happened. The teen dream was dead. Out of punk grew the New Romantic movement, and with it Smash Hits, giving rise to a new generation of organically grown teen idols: Duran Duran, Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet.

In the US, the family idols gig — Jacksons, Osmonds, “Partridge” — slowly lost its lustre. As the late ’70s neared, the pursuit was on for the next pretty boy in the mold of David Cassidy. And so teens were introduced the charms of David’s half-brother Shaun (whose 1977 song provides the title for this mix), Leif Garrett (like David, a child TV star), Andy Gibb and, of course, John Travolta. The time would come for the rise of the boy band, in the US and Britain, with The Monkees and the Bay City Rollers providing a template, but minus the pretense of members playing instruments in terms of personnel selection, and the Jackson 5 inspiring the idea of four or five chaps harmonising their choreography.

teen dream gallery 2With all that in mind, here is the Any Major Teen Dreams mix, featuring acts that featured on the postered walls of pre-and freshly-pubescent kids, and were marketed as such, between 1963 and 1978.  As ever, the lot is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-lipsynched covers.

Now my question to you: what was the first single you bought?

1. The Beatles – Do You Want To Know A Secret (1963)
2. Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas – Bad To Me (1963)
3. Herman”s Hermits – No Milk Today (1966)
4. The Monkees – Last Train To Clarksville (1966)
5. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – The Legend Of Xanadu (1968)
6. Tommy Roe – Dizzy (1969)
7. The Archies – Sugar Sugar (1969)
8. Bobby Sherman – Little Woman (1969)
9. The Jackson 5 – The Love You Save (1970)
10. The Partridge Family – I Woke Up In Love This Morning (1971)
11. Sweet – Co-Co (1971)
12. T. Rex – Metal Guru (1972)
13. David Cassidy – Daydreamer (1973)
14. The Osmonds – Love Me For A Reason (1974)
15. David Essex – Gonna Make You A Star-old (1974)
16. Hello – Tell Him (1974)
17. Bay City Rollers – Rock & Roll Love Letter (1975)
18. Slik – Forever And Ever (1976)
19. John Travolta – Let Her In (1976)
20. Andy Gibb – I Just Wanna Be Your Everything (1977)
21. Leif Garrett – Surfin” USA (1977)
22. Buster – Love Rules (1977)
23. Shaun Cassidy – Teen Dream (1977)


And don’t forget to check out Bravo Posters!

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In Memoriam – October 2015

November 5th, 2015 9 comments

In Memoriam_1Best-known for his hit Down In The Boondocks and the original versions of Deep Purple”s Hush and The Osmonds” Yo-Yo (all written by Joe South), Billy Joe Royal comfortably straddled genres. He was at home in both pop and, as of the 1980s, in country, but his song Heart”s Desire was a popular staple in England”s Northern Soul scene. Royal performed his last concert on September 24 and at the time of his death at 73 had a tour lined up.

In the world of jazz-fusion and of the Internet, Larry Rosen was a pioneer. Starting off as a drummer in the 1960s, Rosen soon moved into production and engineering before setting up a record label with the great musician and composer Dave Grusin, calling it Grusin/Rosen Productions (now better known by its acronym GRP). The label discovered many of big names in fusion, such as Earl Klugh, Tom Browne (whose crossover hit Funkin” For Jamaica Rosen produced), Patti Austin, Lee Ritenour and many others. GRP”s roster grew to include many notable artists, such as Spyro Gyra, Diane Schuur, Ramsey Lewis, Tom Scott, B.B. King, Larry Carlton, Yellowjackets and Diana Krall. Rosen engineered and co-produced Dave Grusin”s 1981 Mountain Dance album, the first ever digitally recorded non-classical album, from which the featured track comes. He left GRP in 1995 to launch, within a year, one of the first Internet e-commerce and content companies, N2K, which pioneered digital downloads long before iTunes.

With the death at 93 of folk singer Leon Bibb, another once blacklisted voice has fallen silent. Bibb said he had never spoken to a white person while growing up in Kentucky. That changed when he moved to New York City in 1941 at the age of 19. A talented baritone, he was a cast member of the first stage performance of the musical Annie Get Your Gun in 1946. He went on to become a star on Broadway in the 1950s, but his left-wing politics, especially in the area of fighting racial discrimination, saw him blacklisted (alongside his idol Paul Robeson). At that time he became a folk singer, keeping the company of the likes of Pete Seeger, and performed at the first Newport Folk Festival. With the blacklist abolished, he appeared many times on American TV, including return engagements of the Ed Sullivan Show. In 1969 he moved to Vancouver. He continued a fruitful career in Canada, but also initiated anti-bullying/discrimination programmes in schools. His son Eric Bibb is a prominent Finland-based blues musician, and his grandson Rennie Mirro is a well-known dancer in Sweden.

In 1982, one of the songs I despised the most was PhD”s I Won’t Let You Down. In 1984, it was the UK #1 hit I Should Have Known Better, by erstwhile PhD member Jim Diamond, which I Read more…

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