Archive for December, 2016

Any Major Disco Vol. 5

December 29th, 2016 15 comments


As last year, we are seeing out December with a mix of disco songs, especially for New Year”s Eve. After the annus horribilis we have had “” 2016 cannot piss off soon enough “” we are going for pure nostalgia with the obvious classics of the genre. Even some which back in the day some of us night have thought of as naff (but how wrong we were about Boney M!).

This mix is set up for dancing “” I”ve even sequenced the thing to roughly account for the BPMs “” whether in a big group, or with your partner or by yourself. Just put on your dancing shoes and shake your booty to the boogie.

And if you need more to dance to, get multiple fixes of the previous four Any Major Disco mixes and the eight-volume Any Major Funk (which really was mostly disco as well). The whole lot can be found in one handy repository. As far as I can see, all links are still live.

By the way, check out which acts Germany’s Bravo magazine chose as their disco groups of 1978.

And so I wish you, as the Germans say, a good slide into the New Year. May 2017 give us respite from the ceaselessly obnoxious 2016, and may it bring you personally much to be joyful about.

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

1. Kool & the Gang – Ladies’ Night (1979)
2. Sister Sledge – Lost In Music (1979)
3. Chaka Khan – I’m Every Woman (1978)
4. KC & the Sunshine Band – Shake Your Booty (1976)
5. Rose Royce – Car Wash (1977)
6. Chic – Dance Dance Dance (1977)
7. The Jacksons – Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) (1979)
8. Alicia Bridges – I Love The Nightlife (1978)
9. Anita Ward – Ring My Bell (1979)
10. Gibson Brothers – Que Sera Mi Vida (1980)
11. Amii Stewart – Knock On Wood (1979)
12. Patrick Hernandez – Born To Be Alive (1979)
13. Boney M – Ma Baker (1977)
14. Amanda Lear – Queen Of Chinatown (1977)
15. La Bionda – One For You, One For Me (1978)
16. Donna Summer – Bad Girls (1979)
17. Andrea True Connection – More, More, More (1976)
18. Shirley & Co – Shame Shame Shame (1975)
19. Silver Convention – Fly Robin Fly (1975)


Categories: Disco, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Notable music deaths of 2016

December 27th, 2016 20 comments


Readers of the monthly In Memoriam round-up would have spotted 2016 as an annus horribilis in music deaths already in March “” by the time Prince went in April, we were just confirmed in that view.

The only nearly comparable year I can think of is 1977, when Elvis Presley, Marc Bolan, Bing Crosby, Sandy Denny and Buddy Johnson went, plus the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the plane crash (1978 was also shitty, so don”t even hope for a milder 2017). Given that the pool of pop musicians of death-appropriate age was still pretty small then, that was some heavy-going. But at least, for all its not insignificant problems, 1977 was not the political clusterfuck which 2016 was. Indeed, 1977 was the post-war 20th century we knew; 2016 put an end to that era.

As always in my end-of-year In Memoriam round-up, I nominate the most significant deaths of the year by categories of 20 (in pop-rock), tens or fives. Some people could have been included in more than one; I might have omitted somebody who you think must be included, but them”s the subjective shakes. There are some I wanted to include, but just couldn”t. The stories of many the people listed here, and many more who aren’t, were told in the monthly In Memoriams: revisit them here.

Some of the people who died were paid tribute to with special mixes:, a mix of songs that Rod Temperton wrote or produced or played on, a mix of covers of Leonard Cohen songs, a DJ setlist compiled by Prince himself, and Ziggy Stardust in cover versions.

And this year, I offer a People Who’ve Died 2016 mix: I’ve chosen the 20 people who died Read more…

Categories: In Memoriam, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major 1950s Christmas

December 20th, 2016 12 comments


Over a few years some time ago, I made three mixes of Christmas songs in black-and-white, covering the era 1930s to the “60s with the crooning and novelties of those days. Here we return to the 1950s, but this time adding a good shot of rock & roll, R&B and doo wop into the mix.

So we begin with Elvis, and almost stop with a novelty Christmas song about Elvis, before we let doo wop band The Cameos sing us out with an appropriate Christmas message.

If you missed it on Thursday, this year’s first Christmas mix was of the 1970s.

If I don”t see you before Christmas: have a very merry one. And look in before the New Year, when there”ll be some music to dance to on the menu.

As always: CD-R length, ho-ho-home-made covers, PW in comments (where you may leave a greeting, if you like this mix).

1. Elvis Presley – Santa Claus Is Back In Town (1957)
2. Bobby Helms – Jingle Bell Rock (1957)
3. The Melodeers – Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1960)
4. Jimmy Dean – Little Sandy Sleighfoot (1957)
5. The Sabres – A Cool, Cool Christmas (1955)
6. The Harmony Grits – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1959)
7. Brenda Lee – Rockin” Around the Christmas Tree (1958)
8. The Episodes – The Christmas Tree (1960)
9. The Davis Sisters – Christmas Boogie (1954)
10. Teresa Brewer – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (1959)
11. Bing Crosby – How Lovely Is Christmas (1957)
12. Dean Martin – Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (1959)
13. Dodie Stevens – Merry, Merry Christmas Baby (1960)
14. The Coolbreezers – Let Christmas Ring (1958)
15. Brook Benton – This Time Of The Year (When Christmas is Near) (1960)
16. Jackson Trio with The Ebonaires – Love For Christmas (1955)
17. The Orioles – Lonely Christmas (1954)
18. The McGuire Sisters – Christmas Alphabet (1954)
19. Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby (1953)
20. Louis Prima – Shake Hands With Santa Claus (1951)
21. Kay Starr – (Everybody”s Waitin” For) The Man With The Bag (1950)
22. Gene Autry – Frosty The Snowman (1950)
23. The Fontane Sisters – Nuttin” For Christmas (1955)
24. Nat “˜King” Cole – Mrs. Santa Claus (1956)
25. The De John Sisters – The Only Thing I Want For Christmas (1955)
26. Tennessee Ernie Ford – Christmas Dinner (1951)
27. Rosemary Clooney – Happy Christmas Little Friend (1953)
28. The Falcons – Can This Be Christmas (1957)
29. Red Buttons – Bow-Wow Wants A Boy For Christmas (1954)
30. The Enchanters – Mambo Santa Mambo (1957)
31. Holly Twins with Eddie Cochran – I Want Elvis For Christmas (1956)
32. The Cameos – Merry Christmas (1957)


More Christmas Mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas
Any Major 1950s 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 Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doop Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
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
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place


Categories: X-Mas Tags:

Any Major 1970s Christmas

December 15th, 2016 9 comments


It”s a 1970s Christmas at Any Major Dungeons, and this year we”re doing it without Slade, Wizzard or Elton John.

There are a couple of, well, strange songs on this mix. Judy Storey“s rightly obscure song is about a dead woman singing to her husband from heaven, and what could be more Christmassy than a disco carol “” though The Universal Robot Band“s Disco Christmas is actually pretty good, for a novelty record.

Fred Astaire“s song is his final recording, bringing to an end a recording career of more than 50 years (though he lived for another eight years); written by our old pal Norman Gimbel and produced by Dick Clark, it was originally featured in one of those Christmas TV variety specials they used to have, something called The Man In The Santa Suit on NBC.

One might also wonder at the inclusion of The Wombles, the furry creatures who live in Wimbledon, London, to recycle rubbish. They were hugely popular in Britain and parts of Europe in the 1970s, and had a string of pop hits. The idea of a Wombles Christmas song may seem discouraging, but this Mike Batt-composed Christmas song is a proper “70s stomper.

All that oddness is offset by the weirdness of the recently late Leon Russell and Harry Nilsson singing about Christmas. I made this mix before he deaths of Russell and Greg Lake. A quick word about I Believe In Father Christmas. It is often claimed as an anti-Christmas song or even an atheist anthem. By Lake”s own account, it was a lament over the commercialisation of Christmas. Both Lake and ex-King Crimson colleague Peter Sinfield, who wrote the lyrics, agreed on that. Lake told Mojo magazine: “I find it appalling when people say it”s politically incorrect to talk about Christmas, you”ve got to talk about “˜The Holiday Season”. Christmas was a time of family warmth and love. There was a feeling of forgiveness, acceptance.” With his tongue in cheek, he added:  “And I do believe in Father Christmas.”

And be of good cheer: there is much here that conveys the traditional spirit of Christmas pop, including a near-Monkees reunion.

And more reason to be cheerful: next week (probably on Tuesday) there”ll be another Christmas mix!

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

1. Elvis Presley – It Won”t Seem Like Christmas (Without You) (1971)
2. Carpenters – It”s Christmas Time (1970)
3. Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz & Peter Tork – Christmas Is My Time Of Year (1976)
4. Gilbert O”Sullivan – Christmas Song (1974)
5. Greg Lake – I Believe In Father Christmas (1975)
6. Mike Oldfield – In Dulci Jubilo (1975)
7. Big Star – Jesus Christ (1975)
8. Showaddywaddy – Hey Mr. Christmas (1976)
9. Mud – Lonely This Christmas (1974)
10. The Wombles – Wombling Merry Christmas (1974)
11. Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime (1979)
12. Partridge Family – Rockin” Around the Christmas Tree (1972)
13. Bobby Sherman – Goin” Home (Sing A Song Of Christmas Cheer) (1970)
14. Red Simpson – Truckin” Trees For Christmas (1973)
15. The Band – Christmas Must Be Tonight (1977)
16. Leon Russell – Slipping Into Christmas (1972)
17. Harry Nilsson – Remember Christmas (1972)
18. Emmylou Harris – Light Of The Stable (1979)
19. Roberta Flack – 25th Of Last December (1977)
20. The Impressions – Silent Night (1976)
21. Judy Storey – Christmas Cheer From Heaven (1979)
22. Fred Astaire – Once A Year Night (1979)
23. The Universal Robot Band – Disco Christmas (1977)



More Christmas Mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas
Any Major 1950s 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 Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doop Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
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
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

In Memoriam – November 2016

December 6th, 2016 6 comments

A month of utter carnage, just to top off a bad month for decency in the US. Still, all this prolific work by the Grim Reaper gives us the opportunity to sample great music… gallery-1In 1985 I was living in London. One day in late February that year I accompanied a girl I was trying to impress to a concert by Leonard Cohen at the Hammersmith Odeon. I liked Cohen songs in small doses, but I entered the show with trepidation. Cohen was known to play three-hour sets, and 180 minutes of that monotone seemed a fairly steep price to pay for the attention a girl. It turned out be one of the best gigs I have ever been to. It was long “” 2,5 hours; 28 songs “” but I never noticed. Cohen sang, talked, joked, engaged with the crowd as though we were sitting in an intimate bar. He engulfed the audience with his personality. The girl and I never happened, but Len stayed in my life. Here”s the set list of that gig. I paid a fuller tribute to Cohen on the Any Major Cohen Covers mix I posted a few days after his death.

The Carpenters” genius in re-interpreting other people”s music found full expression in their timeless covers of two songs by Leon Russell: This Masquerade and A Song For You. The former was covered also to great effect by George Benson, the latter also by Donny Hathaway, whose version eclipses even the Carpenters one. It is the sign of great songwriting if your songs can be covered so well in different genres. Leon Russell was a great songwriter who himself travelled easily across genres: from swamp blues-rock to country to gospel to rock and so on. He was an idiosyncratic singer and performer, and a gifted producer and arranger (Joe Cocker”s classic Mad Dogs & Englishmen LP was produced by Russell). He appeared on Harrison”s Concert for Bangladesh, and then backed various acts on the piano. Towards the end of his life, he recorded and toured with Elton John, on whom Russell was a great influence.

And besides all that, he was also a session man, serving as a pianist on the Wrecking Crew, that great collective of LA session players. He played on the classic Phil Spector Christmas album, on The Byrd”s Mr Tambourine Man, Ike & Tina Turner”s River Deep-Mountain High, The Rolling Stones” Shine A Light (which he wrote) and Live With Me, Rita Coolidge”s That Man Is My Weakness, The Flying Burrito Bros”s version of Wild Horses (released before that of the Stones), George Harrison”s You, Eric Clapton”s version of After Midnight, Bob Dylan”s When I Paint My Masterpiece, and many more.

With the death of Kay Starr, the last breath went out of a career that started in 1932 (or even earlier), when the then 10-year-old sang in public to supplement her father”s income during the Great Depression. Starr, whose father was an Iroquois Native-American and mother an Irish-American, was born on a reservation in Oklahoma. Though Starr was known for popular hits such as Wheel Of Fortune, her home was in blues and jazz. Billie Holiday once remarked that Kay Starr was “the only white woman who could sing the blues”. As an adolescent she sang hillbilly music and Western Swing; at 15 she joined the Joe Venuti Orchestra, and cut her first record with Glenn Miller. She went solo in 1946. Before that, she recorded a few songs, included the one featured here, with a bunch of labelmates calling themselves The Capitol International Jazzmen. They featured Nat King Cole on the piano, Max Roach on drums, Bill Coleman on trumpet, Buster Bailey on clarinet, Benny Carter and Coleman Hawkins on the sax, Oscar Moore on the guitar, and John Kirby on double bass “” a true superband.

Smokey Robinson once said that it was Berry Gordy”s second wife, Ray Singleton, who taught the young guns on the nascent Motown label new chords and how to write songs, himself included. Production and mentoring was an expedient: when she joined Motown, she realised that Gordy didn”t rate her band, the Cute-Teens, and wasn”t going to make her a singing sensation. “Miss Ray” never features prominently in Motown histories, but it was she who found that house on Detroit”s 2648 West Grand Boulevard that became known as Hitsville USA and who helped set up the Jobete Music publishing company. She also produced songs and recorded one single herself, as Little Ivy. Her marriage with Gordy soon broke up, and for a while she tried to set up a label with her new husband. Eventually she returned to Motown “” as a personal assistant to Diana Ross. In the 1980s she produced Rockwell”s hit Somebody”s Watching Me for Motown, but left soon after. She then helped her new lover, the late Sherrick, to a promising start to unfortunately short-lived his career, with his 1987 hit Just you grew up with Sesame Street in the 1970s, you”ll have heard the work of jazz bassist Bob Cranshaw, who has died at 83: he was the bass player on all those Sesame Street songs Read more…

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

Any Major Bob Dylan Covers Vol. 2

December 1st, 2016 18 comments


Only a few weeks after I posted the Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 1 Mix, the Nobel committee announced the Bobster as this year”s literature laureate. Coincidence? I doubt it. The only logical conclusion we can draw is that the folks at Nobel HQ is Stockholm are keen readers of Any Major Dude With Half A Heart, and that my mix persuaded them to give Dylan the gong. Bob, it seems, does not really want the award, and he is unlikely to thank me for my part in his Nobel Prize award. If only I could please everybody…

Anyhow, the first mix attracted a fair number of comments. Some of them addressed one of the great debates in pop history: is Bob Dylan”s voice an instrument of art or is it a punishing aural assault? It”s the kind of question that provokes internecine warfare even between Dylan fans.

My view? I think Dylan”s voice is, in itself, quite unpleasant. In most other artists, that nasal whine might be considered objectively offensive “” even Trump supporters, who enthusiastically embrace the objectively offensive, would find it offensive. His lower register on the country-flavoured albums “” on songs like Lay Lady Lay and Just Like A Woman “” is more tolerable, but you”d be hard-pressed call it beautiful.

But the tone of his voice, however you perceive it, is not really important. Indeed, one can acquire a taste for it, just as people acquire a taste for things as revolting as tequila, broccoli or mayonnaise. What is important is how Bob Dylan uses that voice. At his best, Dylan doesn”t so much sing his songs as he inhabits them “” and that is the mark of a great singer. In so many of his songs, his vocals not only drive the narrative, but they are a character in it.

That works best when Dylan has a stake in the songs he sings. There are very few singers who can spit venom quite as Dylan. In Hurricane, that anger is on the verge of boiling over; but this is not just anger. With his delivery, with the encunciation of single syllables, he also communicates an utter contempt for the system which he is singing about. The effect is devastating; no other singer could do Hurricane to such great effect as Dylan does it. What does it matter that his voice isn”t lovely? Likewise, the menacing derision for the subjects of his contempt which he conveys in his vocals on mean-spirited songs like Positively 4th Street, Ballad of A Thin Man or Like A Rolling Stone hits you in the gut. Not many singers can do that.


Dylan might have an ugly voice, but he has an extraordinary way of delivery — especially, as I’ve said, when he is invested in the words he is singing (which might explain why few of his covers of other people”s music are particularly outstanding). To be sure, there are also many Dylan songs which are immeasurably improved by cover versions.

One such song is All I Really Want To Do, from Dylan’s 1964 LP Another Side of Bob Dylan. I really like Dylan’s version, especially the idea of a songwriter laughing at his own lyrics. But in The Byrds’ version, a comprehensive reinvention, the song becomes a thing of special beauty. As does the lovely Every Grain Of Sand, which is okay when sung by Dylan, but sublime in Emmylou Harris” treatment.

And this is the genius of Bob Dylan’s music: as it is with Beatles songs, they can be interpreted and reinvented them to good effect in so many ways. This second collection of Dylan covers testifies to this.

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

1. The Band – When I Paint My Masterpiece (1971)
2. The Byrds – All I Really Want To Do (1965)
3. Simon & Garfunkel – The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964)
4. Nina Simone – Ballad of Hollis Brown (1965)
5. Sam Cooke – Blowin’ In The Wind (1964)
6. Solomon Burke – Maggie’s Farm (1965)
7. Billy Preston – She Belongs To Me (1969)
8. The Flying Burrito Brothers – To Ramona (1971)
9. The Hollies – I Want You (1969)
10. The Piccadilly Line – Visions Of Johanna (1967)
11. Arlo Guthrie – When The Ship Comes In (1972)
12. New Riders Of The Purple Sage – You Angel You (1974)
13. Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson – Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (2015)
14. John Mellencamp – Farewell, Angelina (1999)
15. Steve Earle & Lucia Micarelli – One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below) (2012)
16. Everly Brothers – Abandoned Love (1985)
17. Thea Gilmore – I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine (2003)
18. Jennifer Warnes – Sign On The Window (1979)
19. Leon Russell – It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (1971)
20. Joan Baez – One Too Many Mornings (1968)
21. Caravelli Orchestra – Wigwam (1977)


Previous Songbooks:
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 1
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 2
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Rod Temperton
Sly Stone
Steely Dan

More Dylan covers
More Songwriter Mixes
More Mix-CD-Rs