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Any Major MLK

March 29th, 2018 4 comments

On April 4 we will observe the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of Rev Martin Luther King Jr. There doubtless will be many tributes being paid and many opinions aired about the great man”s life and legacy. Here, I shall let the music do the talking by way of a mix of songs about MLK.

The two most obvious songs to include would be Stevie Wonder”s Happy Birthday and U2″s Pride (In The Name Of Love). You”ll know how to find them. There were too many good tacks I already had to exclude, because CD-R length. A few of them I include as bonus tracks.

The mix begins with a number of songs that mourn the assassination in Memphis, soon after the event. One song in that lot is of indeterminate date. The Norfleet Brothers, a gospel outfit, tell in two parts the story of Martin Luther King; part 2 features here. They note the 1958 assassination attempt by Izola Ware Curry in New York, but don”t refer to the murder by James Earl Ray. Either it was recorded before that awful day, or so soon after that it was not necessary to mention the glaring obvious, just as at a funeral you needn”t point out that the deceased has died.

In the song after, Shirley Wahls (like Minnie Riperton, another the Rotary Connection member) issues the reminder that the struggle must continue even after King”s death. The Impressions did likewise in 1968, to keep on pushing and moving on up. Curtis Mayfield would sing We”re A Winner on stage into the 1970s.

 

 

There aren”t an awful lot of songs about MLK that precede his death. Bob Dylan namechecked him, among many other celebs, in 1962″s I Shall Be Free, but another Dylan song features here. Jerry Moore“s The Ballad of Birmingham from 1967. Based on a poem by Dudley Randall, it recalls the 1963 bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The lyrics imagine a girl asking her mother whether she may take part in a freedom march. Citing the dangers, mother sends the girl to church “” which is then firebombed by the Ku Klax Klan terrorists.

In a coda, in 2002 a couple of these terrorists were convicted thanks to the work of Doug Jones who in late 2017 defeated the racist scumbag, alleged sexual predator and thinly disguised instrument of the devil Roy Moore in a senatorial election.

Some songs don”t need to refer to King to be about him. The lyrics of Minnie Riperton“s The Edge Of A Dream read like a King speech. The tangential link to MLK is, of course, the concept of the “Dream”, of which the martyr had one. Indeed, many lyrics obliquely refer to him as “The Man With The Dream”, to the point of that being a bit of a cliché. On such song, a catchy number by Tom Jones, features here. One of the more unusual representations of MLK here is in his Young New Mexican Puppeteer, wherein the eponymous marionette handler carves images of such bringers of hope as Lincoln, Twain and King.

Incidentally, it was a singer, the gospel legend Mahalia Jackson, who urged King to deliver his “I Have A Dream” speech. Sitting near him on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, Jackson reportedly told King, “Tell them about the dream, Martin”. So he did”¦

 

 

On some songs, King has to share the star billing. Most famously, on Dion”s 1968 hit Abraham, John And Martin he does so with Lincoln and John F Kennedy. The version featured here is by Tom Clay, a radio DJ who cut together spoken bits and pieces of the Bacharach composition What The World Needs Now with very 1960s vocals about JFK, MLK and Bobby Kennedy, who was assassinated just a couple of months after King. For the record, King thought that John F Kennedy”s commitment to civil rights was only “token”, and Bobby authorised the FBI to tap King”s phone.

On Bob Dylan“s 1986 song They Killed Him, MLK”s assassination stands alongside the execution of Jesus Christ and the murder of the Mahatma Ghandi.

Elvis Presley wasn”t much of a political guy, but two months after the murder of King he recorded a song written and tribute of and quoting from MLK. If I Can Dream was written at the last moment for Elvis” 1968 televised comeback special by Walter Earl Brown. On hearing it, Elvis reportedly exclaimed: “I”m never going to sing another song I don”t believe in. I”m never going to make another picture I don”t believe in.” His manager “Colonel” Parker wasn”t keen on Elvis doing that kind of song, but The King put all his soul into this tribute to King, apparently making his backing singers weep.

Remember when that nice guy John McCain opposed the institution if the Martin Luther King holiday? Six years after Stevie Wonder launched the MLK holiday campaign in song, the 1980s custom of bringing together a conglomeration of stars to raise money or highlight a cause found expression in a single by the cumbersomely-named King Dream Chorus and Holiday Crew. There were some impressive artists behind those names. The King Dream Chorus included Whitney Houston, J.T. Taylor, El DeBarge, Stacy Lattisaw, Lisa Lisa with Full Force, Stephanie Mills and teen bands Menudo and New Edition. The Holiday Crew was rappers Run”“D.M.C., Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Whodini and The Fat Boys. As so often, the sum of all the great talent is much less than its parts. That”s why it is a bonus track.

That nice guy McCain came around to The Fat Boys” point of view in 1990. A year later Public Enemy turned their anger towards McCain”s home state Arizona, which along with New Hampshire refused to recognise the national Martin Luther King holiday. In the video Public Enemy showed the governor of Arizona being blown up in a car bomb. Presumably they referred to racist fuck Evan Mecham, a car salesman who was the first Arizona governor to be impeached, rather than his successor, Rose Perica Mofford, who seems to have been a decent person. A plebiscite in Arizona in 1991 confirmed Mecham”s refusal to recognise the MLK holiday.

Funeral procession of Martin Luther King in Atlanta, Georgia, on 9 April 1968.

 

Ben Harper“s track from 1994 draws a parallel between two Kings: Martin and Rodney. The assault on Rodney King by LA Police “” which now, in an age where police killing black people has become so frequent, seems almost minor “” was a betrayal of the promise of progress after the civil rights movement. Like the next track, it features here as a bonus track.

Brad Paisley sang his 2008 song Welcome To The Future in the White House for Barack Obama. The US had just elected its first black president and, as Steve Colbert (as his idiot right-wing alter ego) used to remind us: Racism has been solved. So our country-singing friend was just as naively optimistic as many people a decade ago when he observed: “I had a friend in school, running-back on a football team. They burned a cross in his front yard for asking out the home-coming queen. I thought about him today, everybody who”s seen what he”s seen ““ From a woman on a bus to a man with a dream. Hey, wake up Martin Luther, welcome to the future. Hey, Glory glory hallelujah, welcome to the future.”

Alas, in 2018, there is Trump and the racist establishment that supports him, both actively and by neglect. Fifty years after he was murdered, Rev Martin Luther King Jr would still look from the mountain top at the Promised Land, and say: “One day”¦”.

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

1. Big Maybelle – Heaven Will Welcome You, Dr. King (1968)
2. James Chapmen – In Memory Of Martin Luther King (1969)
3. The Norfleet Brothers – The Story of Martin Luther King (Part II) (c.1968)
4. Nina Simone – Why (The King Of Love Is Dead) (1968)
5. Shirley Wahls – We”ve Got To Keep On Movin” On (1969)
6. The Impressions – We”re A Winner (1968)
7. Billy Paul – Let “Em In (1976)
8. Leroy Hutson – Time Brings On A Change (1973)
9. Minnie Riperton – The Edge Of A Dream (1976)
10. Elvis Presley – If I Can Dream (1968)
11. Billy Bragg – Days Like These (1985)
12. UB40 – King (1980)
13. Public Enemy – By The Time I Get To Arizona (1991)
14. Bobby Womack – American Dream (1984)
15. Mavis Staples – MLK Song (2016)
16. Lyle Lovett – Good-Bye To Carolina (1994)
17. Bob Dylan – They Killed Him (1986)
18. Patty Griffin – Up To The Mountain (2007)
19. Tom Jones – The Young New Mexican Puppeteer (1972)
20. Tom Clay – What The World Needs Now-Abraham, Martin & John (1971)
21. U2 – MLK (1984)
Bonus Tracks: Ben Harper – Like A King (1993)
King Dream Chorus & Holiday Crew – King Holiday (1986)
Black Oak Arkansas – You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down (1976)
Brad Paisley – Welcome To The Future (2009)
James Taylor – Shed A Little Light (1991)

GET IT: https://rapidgator.net/file/9bda44663e72f27524abb8b15d841a44/MLK.rar.html

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Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 4

March 22nd, 2018 5 comments

This fourth mix of full-length versions of popular TV themes has been sitting almost ready to go for a couple of years. I was reminded to complete it a couple of months ago with the death of French composer and innovator Pierre Henry, whose 1967 song Psycho Rock served as the template for the theme from Futurama.

Good thing it went unposted, so as to include a couple tracks from newish TV shows, Bloodline (the first season of which was superb) and Big Little Lies (ditto).

This batch also features the extended versions of themes of two all-time great TV series: Game Of Thrones and The Shield. The latter tends to be overshadowed by The Wire; I think The Shield is The Wire’s equal — and that is not to underestimate the latter, which was a landmark TV show. But, my goodness, if you have never seen The Shield, do whatever you must to fill that gap.

All but one theme here is from the US; the exception is CCS’ cover of Led Zep’s A Whole Lotta Love, which served as the theme of the weekly BBC music show Top Of The Pops from 1970-77. For British youths, TOPT was required viewing. Its cultural and social impact was so immense that there is a highly entertaining podcast discussing — no, surgically dissecting — random old episodes from the 1970s and ’80s. Titled Chart Music, it is presented with much humour by Al Needham with a rotating team of veteran music journalists such as David Stubbs, Simon Price, Sarah Bee and Neil Kulkarni. I recommend it.

This mix features a couple of familiar names. Mike Post was on Vol. 1 with the theme from Hill Street Blues and twice on Vol. 3, with the themes from Magnum and Quantum Leap. Here he returns with the theme from The A-Team and, as co-writer, with the theme from The Greatest American Hero, sung by Joey Scarbury under the title Believe It Or Not, which reached #2 on the US charts. One Mike Post theme of which there’s unlikely to be a full version is that of Law & Order. It”s shorter than many a ringtone, but it is instantly recognisable, and therefore spoofable.

Bill Conti appeared on Vol. 3 with theme from Cagney & Lacey, which always puts me in a happy mood, even though I was no fan of the show (still, with nothing else on TV I watched that as well). Here he returns with the theme from Dynasty, which in retrospect was probably the best thing about that load of drivel.

Anybody who has ever taken an interest in TV themes will know David Portnoy’s voice well: he wrote and sang the theme from Cheers. TV themes was his thing, it seems. Here he is with the title song of 1980s show Punky Brewster. Portnoy also composed the theme from Mr Belvedere, sung by Leon Redbone.

Some themes are not properly credited (or, in the case of that from The Shield, awkwardly credited). One that doesn’t have a proper credit is of a show with a really good theme, Night Court. Where it appears, it is uncredited, so I’ve given the composer the headliner credit, featuring the saxophonist. Composer Jack Elliott also co-wrote the themes for shows such as Charlie’s Angels (on Vol. 1) and Barney Miller (Vol. 3). Saxophonist Ernie Watts has backed a Who”s Who of jazz; you might have heard him on Marvin Gaye’s LPs Let”s Get It On and I Want You. I don’t know who the bassist was; he certainly deserves a credit, too.

Few themes are sung by their stars, but so it was with the 1980s series The Fall Guy, whose lead, Lee Majors, sang the title song, entitled The Unknown Stuntman. In it, the narrating Stuntman namedrops the stars for whom he has stuntmanned, such as Burt Reynolds, Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood. He also kisses and tells (after telling us that he”s not the type to do that) about his conquests — including Farrah Fawcett, to whom he used to be married in real life. So, old Lee advertising his bedpost notches when he names Sally Fields, Bo Derek, “Jackie” Smith and Cheryl (presumably Ladd)?

I’ve linked already to Volumes 1 and 3 of the extended themes mixes. Volume 2 is still available, of course.

Short versions of TV themes (that is, as you knew them when you saw them on the gogglebox) are gathered together HERE, which also includes a mix of German TV themes.

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

1. Ray Anthony and his Orchestra – Dragnet Theme (1953, Dragnet)
2. CCS – Whole Lotta Love (1970, Top Of The Pops)
3. Christopher Tyng – Theme of Futurama (2007, Futurama)
4. Michael Kiwanuka – Cold Little Heart (2017, Big Little Lies)
5. Book Of Fears – The Water Let”s You In (2016, Bloodline)
6. Ramin Djawadi – Main Theme of Game Of Thrones (2011, Game Of Thrones)
7. Vivian Ann Romero, Ernesto J. Bautista & Rodney Ale – Just Another Day (2006, The Shield)
8. The Refreshments – Yahoos And Triangles (2009, King Of The Hill)
9. The Rembrandts – I’ll Be There For You (1994, Friends)
10. Paula Cole – I Don’t Want To Wait (1997, Dawson”s Creek)
11. David Schwartz – Theme from Northern Exposure (1992, Northern Exposure)
12. Vonda Shepard – Searchin’ My Soul (1998, Ally McBeal)
13. Dr. John – My Opinionation (1991, Blossom)
14. Joey Scarbury – Believe It Or Not (1981, The Greatest American Hero)
15. Jack Elliott feat. Ernie Watts – Night Court Theme (1984, Night Court)
16. José Feliciano – Chico And The Man (Main Theme) (1974, Chico And The Man)
17. The Mash – Suicide Is Painless (1970, M*A*S*H)
18. Bill Conti – Theme From Dynasty (1982, Dynasty)
19. Jack Jones – Love Boat Theme (1979, The Love Boat)
20. Maureen McGovern – Different Worlds (1979, Angie)
21. Lee Majors – The Unknown Stuntman (1982, The Fall Guy)
22. Thom Pace – Maybe (1977, The Life And Times Of Grizzly Adams)
23. Gary Portnoy – Every Time I Turn Around (1984, Punky Brewster)
24. Mike Post & Pete Carpenter – Theme from The A-Team (1983, The A-Team)

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Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 5

March 15th, 2018 4 comments

The final collection in the series of Bob Dylan covers reveals which song I”ve chosen to represent Joan Baez: North Country Blues; his former lover covered it in 1968. At last, there are also Peter, Paul & Mary with a track from 1967.

Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs covers Dylan”s Song For Woody. Likely, Scruggs might have known Guthrie since they were contemporaries. His version comes from a star-studded 1975 album (which also starred Baez and Roger McGuinn, both of whom appear on this mix). On Song For Woody, he plays with Johnny Cash, New Riders Of The Purple Sage (including ex-Byrds bassist Skip Battin) and Ramblin” Jack Elliott.

In Volume 1 of this series I promised that one track would appear twice. That song is Mr Tambourine Man, and when you hear William Shatner”s version you”ll know why it had to feature twice.

But Shatner”s plaintive cry at the end of his offering doesn”t quite conclude the series. There are a few bonus tracks that somehow failed to make it on any of the mixes, mostly owing to the CD-R length limit I set.

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

1. Dave Alvin – Highway 61 Revisited (2013)
2. The Black Crowes – When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky (1998)
3. The Waterboys – Nobody “Cept You (1985)
4. Terence Trent D”Arby – It”s Alright Ma (I”m Only Bleeding) (1989)
5. Ben E. King – Tonight I”ll Be Staying Here With You (1970)
6. Bettye LaVette – Everything Is Broken (2012)
7. Luther Johnson – Pledging My Time (1995)
8. Taj Mahal – Bob Dylan”s 115th Dream (2012)
9. Sonic Youth – I”m Not There (2007)
10. Frank Black and The Catholics – Changing Of The Guards (1998)
11. Transvision Vamp – Crawl Out Your Window (1991)
12. Jeff Buckley – If You See Her, Say Hello (1993)
13. The Angels Of Light – I Pity The Poor Immigrant (2005)
14. Roger McGuinn – Up To Me (1976)
15. Joan Baez – North Country Blues (1968)
16. Earl Scruggs Revue – Song To Woody (1975)
17. Peter, Paul & Mary – Bob Dylan”s Dream (1967)
18. William Shatner – Mr Tambourine Man (1968)

Bonus tracks:
Julie Felix – Gates Of Eden (1968)
Spooky Tooth – Too Much Of Nothing (1968)
Manfred Mann”s Earthband – Father Of Day, Father Of Night (1973)
The Boo Radleys – One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later) (1992)

GET IT: https://rg.to/file/f30ac81c9782695a7b121bcf66172c0e/_DylCov5.rar.html

 

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In Memoriam – February 2018

March 6th, 2018 4 comments

After last month’s mayhem, the Reaper took it a little easier in February “” but still managed to rob us of a few legends. Oddly enough, two profiled deaths had a connection to songs featuring the words Rolling Stone.

Son of a Rollin” Stone

With the death Dennis Edwards, all the leads on Papa Was A Rollin” Stone are now dead. Only bass Otis Williams is still alive, but all he did on the song was do the “And Mama” bits. Indeed, of all eight members of the two legendary Temptations line-ups “” 1960s and early-to mid-“70s”” only Otis Williams is now still alive. Dennis Edwards was a more than able replacement for the great David Ruffin; his gruffer voice lent itself especially to the funkier and more psychedelic-flavoured songs, such as Cloud Nine. He did less crooning than Ruffin, with others taking the lead on songs like Just My Imagination. On Papa Was A Rolling Stone, producer Norman Whitfield played mind games with Edwards to coax out of him the right delivery for the opening, “it was the third of September”¦”cause that was the day my Daddy died.” The irony was that Edwards father had in fact died on a September 3, a coincidence which nevertheless left the singer with some explaining to do to Mother Edwards. (Also see the Papa Was A Rolling Stone song swarm).

Pioneer of hip hop

The etymology of the term “hip hop” has two versions; one has it that Lovebug Starski invented the term in the 1970s, when he was a DJ in the legendary Disco Fever club in New York and the genre was still known as Disco Rap. According to Grandmaster Flash, who in the 1970s was already a legendary DJ at Disco Fever, Starski was the first to both DJ and rap at the same time; a skill that would become standard. It is said that Sylvia Robinson, the singer who founded the Sugar Hill label, got the idea to release rap records when she heard Starski perform at a party. Starski was one of the early pioneers of rap, though internationally his big hit came later, with something of a novelty number, Amityville (House On The Hill), in 1986. It was his recording swansong. A year later, the British house act M/A/R/R/S sampled his 1980 track Positive Life to have a UK #1 with Pump Up The Volume. Starski, whose real name was Kevin Smith, died of a heart attack at 57.

The girl band star

When The Crystals recorded their first hit, There”s No Other (Like My Baby), three of the girls were still wearing their prom dresses, having come straight from the school”s dance to the studio. One of them was that night”s lead singer, Barbara Alston, who has died at 76. Alston also took lead on The Crystals” big breakthrough hit, Uptown. She sang lead with great concern on the controversial and widely disowned He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss). Because of her shyness, she later ceded the frontwoman duties to La La Brooks (and, at one point, all the Crystals had to make way for The Blossoms, with Darlene Love, when Phil Spector released He”s A Rebel under the Crystals moniker). On the mega hits And Then He Kissed Me and Da Doo Ron Ron, Alston was on backing vocals. By 1968, it was all over for The Crystals.

Crooning with the mob

One fine day, crooner Vic Damone (born Vito Rocco Farinola) found himself hanging upside down a window, held up only by the hands of a mafioso. Apparently Damone had been engaged to the gangster”s daughter but dumped her after she was rude to his mother. The spurned father-in-law relented and Damone went on to live to the ripe age of 89. A singer blessed with an extraordinary voice, he had a fan in Frank Sinatra, who”d be available for assistance when Damone had mob problems. Out of respect to Sinatra, Damone turned down the role of Johnny Fontane in The Godfather.

The funky drummer

The series on session musicians has featured some great drummers — including Hal Blaine, Steve Gadd, Bernie Purdie, and Bobby Keys. Leon “Ndugu” Chancler wouldn”t be out of place in that company. It”s especially with the late Ricky Lawson, a fellow drummer, Read more…

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Any Major Happy Songs Vol. 1

March 1st, 2018 8 comments

Is there a scientific formula to create a song that makes you happy, that lifts your spirits to take you to another place where the sun shines and people always smile? If there is, I suppose Pharrell Williams figured it out when he wrote Happy, his mega hit from a couple of years ago.

I’ve tried to make Happy seem unhappy by singing along to a karaoke track of it with lyrics straight out of the Sad Country Songbook: my wife is a-cheatin’ with my best friend, I’m as broke as a rat in mud, the bossman fired me, them kids be ill etc. It didn’t work: I was still happy. The experiment was, of course imperfect. Not only was I in on the joke but I was also its perpetrator, having rather too much fun with my excruciating rhyme (or distinct lack thereof). I could have tried my experiment on unsuspecting bystanders, but I cannot escape the conclusion that their emotion would have been neither happy nor unhappy but excessively violent.

Still, Happy is self-evidently happy. So is Chuck Mangione’s Feels So Good or Bill Withers’ Lovely Day. They are upbeat and happy songs, and would be understood to have those qualities even if their titles didn’t give us emotional instructions.

Many songs on this mix fit the definition of the “happy song”; the Young Rascals even insert birdsong into their groove of chilled-out joy on this mix. Others suggest the happiness by their lyrics, such as Stoned Cold Picnic. But that can deceive. To me The Delfonics’ Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) has a giddily cheery sound but it is actually a pretty brutal break-up song (of course, it doesn’t feature). Likewise The Five Stairsteps’ O-o-h Child sounds like a happy number but the lyrics make only a promise in a time of darkness that things will get better — which might qualify it for this series, should there be one, anyway.

Some others may express my personal, subjective experience of being uplifted by a piece of music, perhaps even by a happy memory. Saturday In The Park is one such selection.

So, here”s a first batch of my happy songs. What would be yours?

As ever, CD-R length, home-happydanced covers, PW in comments.

1. Bill Withers – Lovely Day (1977)
2. Andy Gibb – I Just Wanna Be Your Everything (1977)
3. Earth, Wind & Fire – In The Stone (1979)
4. Chuck Mangione – Feels So Good (1977)
5. Fatima Rayney – Hey (1997)
6. Corinne Bailey Rae – Put Your Records On (2006)
7. Colbie Caillat – Bubbly (2007)
8. Hedwig and the Angry Inch – Wig in a Box (2001)
9. Lenny Kravitz – It Ain’t Over Till It”s Over (1991)
10. TLC – Diggin’ On You (1994)
11. Gwen Guthrie – (They Long To Be) Close To You (1986)
12. Blow Monkeys – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way (1986)
13. John Lennon – Instant Karma (1970)
14. Young Rascals – Groovin’ (1967)
15. The 5th Dimension – Stoned Soul Picnic (1968)
16. Stevie Wonder – Uptight (Everything’s Alright) (1965)
17. Four Tops – I Can’t Help Myself (1965)
18. Mood Mosaic – A Touch Of Velvet-A Sting Of Brass (1966)
19. Chicago – Saturday In The Park (1972)
20. Mungo Jerry – Mighty Man (1970)

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