Archive for December, 2015

Notable music deaths of 2015

December 31st, 2015 2 comments

As 2015 comes to an end, there will be the usual roll-calls of the year”s notable deaths. Regular readers will know that this blog has a monthly round-up of recent music deaths; I think it might be the most comprehensive such list on the Internet. The list for December will run next week.

Here are the most notable music deaths of the past year, in my subjective opinion, sorted by category in leagues of five or ten. Here is hoping nobody worthy of inclusion dies before the year is out (seven names that will appear next week are already included here). EDIT: An 8th December death occurred on New Year’s Eve: Natalie Cole’s. I’ve added her name to this round-up.

No music this time; instead we have lots of pictures. The story of many the people listed here were told in the monthly In Memoriams “” revisit them here.

Demis Roussos
, 68, Greek/Egyptian singer, on Jan. 25
Steve Strange
, 55, Welsh New Wave musician (Visage), on Feb. 12
Lesley Gore, 68, pop singer, on Feb. 16
Cilla Black
, 72, English singer and TV presenter, on August 1
Cory Wells, 74, singer with Three Dog Night, on Oct. 20

2015 pop 1
Billy Joe Royal, 73, pop and country singer, on Oct. 6
Jack Ely, 71, co-founder and original lead singer of The Kingsmen, on April 27
Jackie Trent, 74, English singer-songwriter and actress, on March 21
Trevor “˜Dozy” Ward-Davies, 70, bassist of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, on Jan. 13
Michael Brown, 65, keyboardist of The Left Banke and songwriter, on March 19

2015 pop 2


Lemmy Kilmister, 70, singer of Motörhead, Hawkwind, on Dec. 28
Andy Fraser, 62, bassist of Free and songwriter, on March 16
Scott Weiland, 48, singer of Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver, on Dec. 3
Edgar Froese, 70, leader of German electro-rock band Tangerine Dream, on Jan. 20
Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, 61, drummer of Motörhead, on Nov. 112015 rock 1Lew Soloff, 71, jazz trumpeter (Blood, Sweat & Tears 1968-73), on March 8
Stevie Wright, 68, singer of The Easybeats, on Dec. 27
A. J. Pero, 55, drummer of Twisted Sister, on March 20
Bob Burns, 64, drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd (1966-74), car crash on April 3
Chris Squire, 67, bass guitarist of Yes, on June 28
2015 rock 2


Ben E. King
, 76, soul legend, on April 30
Percy Sledge
, 74, soul legend, on April 14
Allen Toussaint, 77, musician, songwriter, producer and arranger, on Nov. 10
Louis Johnson, 60, legendary bassist; half of Brothers Johnson, on May 21
Natalie Cole, 65, soul singer, on December 31
Errol Brown, 71, singer of Hot Chocolate, on May 62015 soul 1Andraé Crouch, 72, gospel singer, songwriter and producer, on Jan. 8
William Guest, 74, singer with Gladys Knight & the Pips, on Dec. 24
Kenneth “Wally” Kelley, 72, founding member of The Manhattans, on Feb. 17
Don Covay, 76, soul singer and songwriter, on Jan. 30
Charmayne “Maxee” Maxwell, 46, singer with R&B trio Brownstone, in a fall on Feb. 27

2015 soul 2


Lynn Anderson
, 67, country singer, on July 30
Little Jimmy Dickens, 94, country singer, on Jan. 2 Read more…

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

Any Major Disco Vol. 3

December 28th, 2015 4 comments

Any Major Disco Vol. 3 - front

And in time for your New Year’s Eve party, or preparation for one, here”s the third Any Major Disco. Of course, if you take the seven Any Major Funk mixes as well, you could take over DJ duties — provided your fellow guests are of a certain age and disposition.

In Any Major Disco Vol. 1 I discussed how the “Disco Sucks” movement was a reaction not only to the music but also to the impact of disco on culture. Now, to be clear, I am not suggesting that those who didn’t dig disco — the music or its scene — were reactionary bigots. But if you chucked a Bill Withers LP into the Comiskey Park bonfire, I might just call you out. Hell, if you blew up a Chic record, we ought to have words.

Disco certainly had an impact against which your average bigot might wish to act. Disco changed things. In fact, it was more revolutionary in the US than punk was in the UK. But where punk was angry and uncompromising, disco was all about finding refuge in joy (and don”t we need that today?).

Disco brought black music and, to some extent, the gay scene into the mainstream. The genesis of disco can be condensed to black music being played in New York gay clubs. This was in the early 1970s, just after the Stonewall riots. Two men dancing together had been illegal in New York — now there were clubs playing great, dancable music and running vibes that were hot and free. The thing spread, and concurrently sexy music was being produced in Philly, NYC, New Orleans that fit these vibes.

In disco music “” even if it wasn’t called that yet — women could be not only sassy but also sexual. Previously few women in mainstream pop had expressed their sexuality; Tina Turner blazed a trail. Now, in the mid-1970s LaBelle were directly inviting sexual encounters, and former porn star Andrea True wanted More More More. A little later, Grace Jones defined a whole new kind of sexy, and Donna Summer climaxed on a 12 inch.

And Summer”s records were part of the final piece to the disco scene: the Munich Machine/euro disco type of synth-driven dance music — the birth of electronica — produced by the likes of Giorgio Moroder and the unlikely pair of Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze, who created Silver Convention (Fly Robin Fly, Get Up And Boogie).

So disco empowered black musicians (even if the media traded a white band, the Bee Gees, as the “Kings of Disco”), and women in pop, and brought the gay scene not only out of the closet but into the heterosexual world. It was when the countercultural was absorbed into the mainstream — think Ethel Merman singing disco — that disco lost some of its power. The “Disco Sucks” movement succeeded in killing Disco — as a concept, as a thing.

But there was no turning back. Disco didn’t die. It didn’t only survive but went on to thrive, as Michael Jackson”s Thriller showed. By the mid-’80s, black musicians were mega stars: Jackson, Richie, Prince, Houston. By the ’90s, black music set the pop agenda — not under a white guise, as had been the case with rock & roll, but as the driver, in the form of Dr Dre, R Kelly, Janet Jackson and so on.

Thanks to disco, women in pop had become self-aware. Madonna, a direct product of disco, has been followed by many women who will grind their groin not only to turn on the boys but to express their sexual power.

And with disco, homosexuality emerged from the cultural shadows (though the AIDS crisis that coincided with the “death” of disco created some new barriers). Where Liberace had to hide his sexuality, Boy George and Bronski Beat followed in the footsteps of Sylvester, the first out pop star — at least in Britain and Europe. Of course, for all the advances that have been made over the past four decades, the fight for gay rights goes on, especially in the US. But disco helped to bring that fight out into the open.

And with that, here’s the mix to get your feet shuffling and hips shaking, with a bit of everything from the disco buffet, drawing mainly from the glory days of 1977 to the late disco era.

And a happy 2016 to you!

1. Al Hudson and The Partners – You Can Do It (1979)
2. Sharon Redd – Can You Handle It (1981)
3. Earth, Wind & Fire – September (1978)
4. Ozone – Walk On (1980)
5. Kool & The Gang – The Force (1977)
6. Karen Young – Hot Shot (1978)
7. Don Ray – Garden Of Love (1978)
8. Salsoul Orchestra feat. Loleatta Holloway – Runaway (1977)
9. Double Exposure – Ten Percent (1976)
10. Jermaine Jackson – Let’s Get Serious (1980)
11. Bionic Boogie – Risky Changes (1977)
12. Evelyn Champagne King – Shame (1977)
13. Jean Carn – Was That Was All It Was (1979)
14. Anita Ward – Ring My Bell (1979)
15. Sheila B. Devotion – Love Me Baby (1977)
16. Lipps Inc. – Funkytown (1980)
17. Supermax – Lovemachine (1978)
18. Meco – Star Wars Theme (1977)
19. Edwin Starr – Contact  (1978)
20. Sylvester – Dance (Disco Heat) (1978)


More Any Major Funk/Disco
More Mix CD-Rs

Categories: Disco Tags:

Christmas mix, not for mother

December 21st, 2015 18 comments

I am reposting this mix from seven years ago (before I made home-cooked covers) as a way of letting everybody know that all links to the Christmas mixes should be up-to-date now. I re-upped four mixes today.

This mix is most certainly not in keeping with the season to be jolly. As the title suggests, it’s not what you’ll bring to mother for Christmas lunch or dinner.

Some of the stuff is downright strange (TVTV$, Mr Lif), some of it pretty amusing (Ben Folds), some bitter (Rilo Kiley), some sad (Kevin Devine), some scroogey (Waits & Murphy), some classic (Run DMC, Waitresses) and a couple are simply great songs for any time of the year (especially John Prine’s Christmas In Prison).

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. PW in comments.

Santa's image consultants earned their Christmas bonus this year.

Santa’s image consultants earned their Christmas bonus this year.

1. The Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
2. Green Day – Christmas Day
3. Eels – Christmas Is Going To The Dogs
4. Arcade Fire – Jinglebell Rock
5. Ben Folds – The Bizarre Christmas Incident
6. The Young Republic – Merry Christmas Again…
7. Low – Just Like Christmas
8. The Raveonettes – Come On Santa
9. Rufus Wainwright – Spotlight on Christmas
10. John Prine – Christmas In Prison
11. Kevin Devine – Splitting Up Christmas
12. Saint Etienne – I Was Born On Christmas Day
13. The dB’s – Christmas Time
14. The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping
15. Firefox AK & Tiger Lou – Christmas Eve
16. Jill Sobule – (Christmas Is) The Saddest Day Of The Year
17. Rilo Kiley – Christmas Cake
18. Tom Waits & Peter Murphy – Christmas Sucks!
19. Home Grown – Christmas Crush
20. Yo La Tengo – Rock n Roll Santa
21. TVTV$ – Daddy Drank Our Xmas Money
22. Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis
23. Bootsy Collins – Santa’s Coming
24. Mr. Lif – Santa’s Got A Muthafuckin’ Uzi


More Christmas Mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Any Major 1940s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

Any Major Santa Claus Vol. 1
The Originals: Christmas Edition
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doo Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major X-Mas Blues
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas ABC
Any Major Gals’ Christmas
Any Major Polygot Christmas
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

Any Major X-Mas Favourites

December 17th, 2015 12 comments

Any Major X-Mas Favourites

The alert ones among loyal readers of this little corner of he Internet may have picked up that I have a thing for Christmas music. Please be invited to check out past collections posted here. This year I have only one mix to offer, and that one includes many repeats from previous collections — and yet, I think it’s a pretty special mix.

This is the first of my Christmas Greatest Hits, some of my favourites, the songs I play and, in most cases, have long played during my Christmases. Many of these are the songs the young adults in our family grew up with and associate with the feast, and the spirit of love in which we have celebrated it. This is the sound of my Christmas (as will be the follow-up, for which you’ll have to wait a year).

Some of the inclusions are no-brainers. The trio of glam hits by Slade, Wizzard and Elton John are indispensable, so are the pop classics such as those by Springsteen and Mariah Carey, and so are the old chestnuts roasting on an open fire. And I want no other person wishing me a merry little Christmas but Lou Rawls.

One might argue about the versions of the Christmas standards I’m using here. I’m quite certain Perry Como”s rendition of Silver Bells does not represent an apex in the song’s recorded history — but that’s the version I have played for many years, even before blogs and torrents. My attachment to it is emotional, even if the backing vocals are cheesy. Likewise Sinatra’s Jingle Bells. I generally loathe the song, except in this version from 1957, which forms part of my Christmas soundtrack.

And here is a Christmas challenge: sing the very last line of this compilation in the voice of the artist, Billy May.

Finally, if you are of a certain age, you might enjoy this step-by-step comparison of Christmas in the 1970s and Christmas today.

I will take next week off, but hope to have something nice for your New Year’s Eve the week after.

Have a merry Christmas, may your yuletide be bright.

1. The Jackson 5 – Christmas Won’t Be The Same This Year (1970)
2. Rosie Thomas – Why Can’t It Be Christmas All Year? (2008)
3. Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You (1994)
4. Slade – Merry Xmas Everbody (1973)
5. Wizzard – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day (1973)
6. Elton John – Step Into Christmas (1973)
7. Dana – It’s Gonna Be A Cold Christmas (1975)
8. Bruce Springsteen – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1985)
9. Donnie Hathaway – This Christmas (1970)
10. The Flirtations – Christmas Time Is Here Again (1968)
11. William Bell – Everyday Will Be A Holiday (1969)
12. Lou Rawls – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1967)
13. Andy Williams – Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season (1963)
14. Angela Lansbury – We Need A Little Christmas (1966)
15. Frank Sinatra – Jingle Bells (1957)
16. Nat ‘King’ Cole – The Christmas Song (1956)
17. Perry Como – Silver Bells (1968)
18. Jack Jones – Sleigh Ride (1964)
19. Dean Martin – Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer (1959)
20. Sammy Davis Jr – Christmas Time All Over The World (1965)
21. Carpenters – Merry Christmas Darling (1970)
22. Marilyn Monroe – Santa Baby (1954)
23. Bob B Soxx and Blue Jeans – Here Comes Santa Claus (1963)
24. Elvis Presley – Blue Christmas (1957)
25. Billy May – Do You Believe In Santa Claus (1950)


More Christmas Mixes
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Any Major 1940s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

Any Major Santa Claus Vol. 1
The Originals: Christmas Edition
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doo Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major X-Mas Blues
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas ABC
Any Major Gals’ Christmas
Any Major Polygot Christmas
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul

December 10th, 2015 8 comments

Rubber Soul Recovered - front

The progression of The Beatles from mop tops making uncomplicated pop music to the innovators who blew the minds of their peers was at its most dramatic in the 14-month period during which they proceeded from the fine pop of You’re Going To Lose That Girl on Help (recorded on 19 February 1965) to the psychedelic workout that was Tomorrow Never Knows on Revolver (recorded on 6 April 1966).

The link between those two very different albums, whose releases were separated by exactly a year, was Rubber Soul, which was released 50 years ago on December 3. Rubber Soul recalls Help in tracks like Wait (which had been recorded for Help) or You Won’t See Me or Michelle, and it presages the future with songs like In My Life, Nowhere Man, Drive My Car or Norwegian Wood. And then there is George’s If You Needed Someone, which seamlessly incorporates the old sound and the new.

Remarkably, The Beatles wrote and recorded Rubber Soul under immense time pressure, still writing some of the songs as they were recording. In an age when thoroughly unoriginal bands take two or three years to bring out an album, it seems impossible to grasp that The Beatles began recording Rubber Soul on 12 October, less than two months before the scheduled release date. The first track recorded that day was Run For Your Life. The Rubber Soul recordings ended on 11 November with a highly pressured marathon session. The last full song to be recorded that day was Girl, which Lennon had hastily written.

On top of that, they were expected to write and record two non-album tracks for a single release. These songs turned out to be We Can Work It Out and Day Tripper. Lennon wrote the latter virtually off-the-cuff in the studio; he and Paul called it a “forced” composition. And in between all that, The Beatles were expected to create the annual Christmas record, for distribution on flexi-disc to fan club members.

The strength of Rubber Soul does not reside so much in the songs but in the album’s feel. Here our boys are high on pot, not freaked out by LSD, and it shows in the sound. It is also the most country of Beatles albums. What Goes On is the only country song on the set, but some of the covers here show just how well suited these tracks are for that genre.

Rubber Soul Recovered - back

The best cover here is Johnny Cash’s take on In My Life. Lennon sang the song when he had just turned 25; the song’s wistfulness is measured against the fact that the singer memories are still pretty young. Cash sung the song a year before his death. The ravages of age are reflected in his voice, and he sounds like the tired old man her is, looking back at a rich life where some places and some people have indeed gone and some have changed. I think the great video for Hurt would have been even more potent for this song, which appears on the same album.

The most radical reworking of Rubber Soul‘s songs featured here comes right at the top, with the bluesy take on Drive My Car by Humble Pie. It appeared on a 1975 LP, Street Rats, with two other Beatles covers, We Can Work It Out and Rain, as well as a cover of a Beatles cover, Chuck Berry’s Rock & Roll Music.

Nancy Sinatra, appearing here with a Lennon song which the composer despised, also recorded more than one Beatles song. On the Boots LP of 1966, on which Run For Your Life appears (as well the hit song which gave the album its title), she also sang Day Tripper.

Naturally the mix fits on a standard CD-R and includes covers. PW in comments.

1. Humble Pie – Drive My Car (1975)
2. Tangerine Dream – Norwegian Wood (2010)
3. Anne Murray – You Won’t See Me (1974)
4. Randy Travis – Nowhere Man (1995)
5. Francois Fabrice – Les Garcons Sont Fous (Think For Yourself) (1966)
6. Mindy Smith – The Word (2005)
7. King Curtis – Michelle (1966)
8. Charles River Valley Boys – What Goes On (1966)
9. The Brothers Four – Girl (1966)
10. Steve Earle – I’m Looking Through You (1995)
11. Johnny Cash – In My Life (2002)
12. Connie Evingson – Wait (2003)
13. Roger McGuinn – If I Needed Someone (2007)
14. Nancy Sinatra – Run For Your Life (1966)
Bonus tracks:
Dionne Warwick – We Can Work It Out (1968)
Whitesnake – Day Tripper (1978)


Beatles Recovered: Please, Please Me
Beatles Recovered: With The Beatles
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Recovered: Let It Be

Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70

More Beatles stuff

Categories: Albums Recovered, Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

In Memoriam – November 2015

December 3rd, 2015 6 comments

Nov 2015 Gallery 1It isn”t really enough to enumerate the classic songs on which Allen Toussaint had a hand, but let”s do that anyway. As writer, his credits include Lee Dorsey”s Working In A Coalmine and Yes We Can (featured on Any Major Soul 1970 and later covered by the Pointer Sisters), Glen Campbell”s Southern Nights, Dave Clark Five”s I Like It Like That (first released by co-writer Chris Kenner), Ernie K-Doe”s Mother-In-Law, Al Hirt”s Java, Three Dog Night”s Play Something Sweet, among others. As a producer he contributed to LaBelle”s megahit Lady Marmalade, which was recorded in New Orleans” Sea-Saint Studio, owned by Toussaint and Marshall E Sehorn, in which the likes of Dr John, Fats Domino, Taj Mahjal, Aaron Neville, John Mayall, The Meters, Ramsey Lewis and Jean Knights laid down many tracks, as did Paul McCartney for the Wings album Venus And Mars. Toussaint”s songs have a remarkable flexibility. Glen Campbell turned Toussaint”s low key Southern Nights into a country stomper. His wonderful What Do You Want The Girl To Do received three quite distinct treatments in notable covers by Boz Scaggs, Bonnie Raitt and Lowell George.

The subject of a fine Jimmy Webb song (beautifully covered by Rumer), we now know what happened to P.F. Sloan, the singer and songwriter who has died at 70. Sloan was better known for his songwriting, much of which he did in collaboration with Steve Barri, which created US Top 20 hits for the likes of Jan and Dean (I Found A Girl), Herman”s Hermits (A Must to Avoid), Johnny Rivers (Secret Service Man), The Turtles (Let Me Be) and The Grass Roots (Where Were You When I Needed You, Things I Should Have Said), whom they also produced. But his biggest hit was Barry McGuire”s impassioned peace song Eve Of Destruction, a song he described as “a prayer to God in the form of a poem, begging for clarity and understanding about the state of the world, teetering on the edge”. He also collected backing, arranging and producing credits for many of these acts and others.

As a member of the loose collective of LA session musicians, The Wrecking Crew, he also played guitar on many hits. Most notably, Sloan came up with the guitar introduction of the Mamas & the Papas breakthrough hit, California Dreaming. Sloan had recorded it for the prior version by Barry McGuire, the backing track of which was used for the Mamas & Papas version. Sloan”s career faded when he gave up working for other people in order to establish a career as a recording artist. A lovely story precedes his career in music, when Sloan was 13, in 1958, he met Elvis, who went on to give him a music lesson. A year later he released his first single, as “Flip” Sloan.

Sly and the Family Stone were a fiesta of cool and outrageous sartorial styles, never mind the Afros. Sly Stone, of course, was the focal point, but every now and then it would shift to the two female members of the band, one of whom was singer and trumpeter Cynthia Robinson, who has died of cancer at 71. When the Family Stone rolled away in 1975, Robinson was the one member who continued working with Sly. She also worked with Graham Central Station and Funkadelic, as well as with Prince during his Artist Formerly Known As phase.

Nov 2015 Gallery 2Just as The Beatles 1 compilation was being revived, Andy White died. White famously replaced Ringo Starr, at the behest of producer George Martin, on Love Me Do, Read more…

Categories: In Memoriam Tags: