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Any Major Flute Vol. 5

November 29th, 2018 12 comments

 

Here’s the fifth flute mix, and unlike the previous four, which had been reposted, this one is totally new.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on as standard CD-R and includes home-blown covers. PW in comments.

1. Eric Burdon and War – Spill The Wine (1970)
Flutetastic Moment: 1:39. What does a Latin-funk proto-rap number need? The flute, giving emphasis to the story building. Check out the great flutey sound effect at 2:44.

2. Little Feat – Juliette (1973)
Flutetastic Moment: 1:09. A gentle flute eases us into the plea to Juliette to not sing sad songs, then returns to implore Juliette further.

3. George Harrison – Dark Horse (1974)
Flutetastic Moment: 1:08. The flute enters for a call-and-response with George.

4. Heart – Love Alive (1977)
Flutetastic Moment: 1:17. A bit of flute to lull us into the idea that this is a folky ballad. It’s a false flag.

5. Richard Torrance – Anything’s Possible (1978)
Flutetastic Moment: 1:13. The flute sets up this mid-tempo track, then returns for a brief solo a minute later, and keeps popping up thereafter.

6. Marshall Tucker Band – Can’t You See (1973)
Flutetastic Moment: 0:11. The flute begins rather mournfully but soon perks up to set up this Southern rock number. It then goes for a smoke and returns to close the song.

7. Moody Blues – Nights In White Satin (1967)
Flutetastic Moment: 2:05. Drum-beat and the flute solo begins.

8. The Association – Along Comes Mary (1968)
Flutetastic Moment: 1:41. The song chugs along merrily with its handclaps when an unexpected, brief flute solo comes along, returning at 2:33 to score the repeated line “Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch”.

9. Joyce Williams – The First Thing I Do In The Morning (1972)
Flutetastic Moment: 0:06. The flute joins this funky groove early on and never lets go.

10. Mike James Kirkland – What Have We Done? (1972)
Flutetastic Moment: 0:04. Kirkland channels Marvin Gaye in this social consciousness groove in which the flute hovers menacingly above, below and behind the tune.

11. Rare Earth – Born To Wander (1970)
Flutetastic Moment: 2:07. The flute introduces this funky number, disappears and returns for a solo two minutes later, and never goes away.

12. S.O.U.L. – Burning Spear (1971)
Flutetastic Moment: 0:18. The flute comes in and dominates the track.

13. James Gilstrap – Put Out The Fire (1975)
Flutetastic Moment: 3:17. The flute arrives to underscore the urgency of Jim’s plea to be rescued from the fire of unrequited love, getting increasingly frenzied.

14. Allspice – Hungry For Love (1977)
Flutetastic Moment: 0:10. The flute enters and sticks around.

15. Camelle Hinds – Sausalito Calling (1995)
Flutetastic Moment: 2:58. The flute creeps in almost unnoticed, grabs a little solo and accompanies this slow-burning groove intermittently.

16. Matt Bianco – Wap Bam Boogie (1988)
Flutetastic Moment: 2:26. Let’s go, let’s go: the house piano threatens to go into a solo when the flute hijacks the situation for a minute-long solo. Don’t worry, the piano still gets its solo in this addictively funky groove.

17. Ron Burgundy – Jazz Flute (2004)
Flutetastic Moment: 0:03. Anchorman character Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) gives us a minute and a half of “baby-making music”. Is that how long he lasts?

18. Bob Dylan – Final Theme (1973)
Flutetastic Moment: 0:30. Mournful backing vocals as the flute (or is it panpipe) kicks in on this theme from the soundtrack of Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, and never leaves us.

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Any Major Flute Vol. 1
Any Major Flute Vol. 2
Any Major Flute Vol. 3
Any Major Flute Vol. 4

More CD-R mixes

Categories: Flute in Pop, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Beatles Recovered: White Album

November 22nd, 2018 5 comments

 

Among my most treasured albums is a limited edition CD of The Beatles’ “White Album” which is a miniature replica of the double LP, including the lyrics sheet/poster and four cardboard posters of the four.

In the original release, released 50 years ago today, on November 22, the packaging was as extravagant as the decision to stretch the material recorded for the album to four sides. That extravagance was offset, of course, by the plain white design of the cover and the singularly unimaginative album title (adopted when the working title, A Doll’s House, was abandoned. Just over a year after the colourful titles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour, the new album’s plain title, simply The Beatles, and white cover were ostentatiously austere. Almost immediately, the informal title was jazzed up to “The White Album”.

Musically, the album had several highlights. Most of them were provided by John Lennon, especially the sublime Happiness Is A Warm Gun. Lennon also provides the low-light, the avant-garde and very much acquired-taste Revolution #9 (represented here in a bearable version). George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps is another contribution of genius, and Long Long Long and Savoy Truffle are fine.

But the White Album is the low-point in Paul McCartney’s Beatles output. That isn’t to say that all of his contributions are poor; Helter Skelter, Back In The USSR and Blackbird are superb, and Mother Nature’s Son is good. But there are also what Lennon called “granny music shit” like Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da and Honey Pie, and disposable tracks such as Martha My Dear and Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?. Had I Will appeared on Revolver or earlier, I’d love it. But on the White Album, it might as well be followed by a “yeah yeah yeah” track.

So, if it wasn’t a double album, what should stay? Making allowance for the formula of two George and a Ringo track, and cutting a few great John tracks (Bungalow Bill, Cry Baby Cry) to accommodate Paul stuff, Id go for the following:

Back In The U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness Is A Warm Gun
I’m So Tired
Blackbird
Don’t Pass Me By I Will
Julia
Birthday
Mother Nature’s Son
Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter
Long Long Long
Revolution
Good Night

But here we have the full two-CD set of cover versions. Many come from the two years after the White Album was released, though Ramsey Lewis was really quick off the mark, bring out an album of interpretations of many of the album’s songs before the year was out.

In several cases, the covers are superior to the originals. In Celia Cruz’s, even Obladi-Oblada is enjoyable. I also prefer Kenny Rankin’s version of Dear Prudence to John’s. The psych-rock of Mud (not the pop band of the mid-1970s) improves Why Don’t We Do It In The Road. Country-rockers Commander Cody sounds very 1978 but is very catchy. And look out for Prince’s guitar solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Finally, including Nina Simone’s Revolution, from 1969, is not really fair. She really samples The Beatles’ song rather than covering it. In fact, the songwriting credit excludes Lennon/McCartney. But, hell, what a track!

The two sides are time to fit on a standard CD-Rs each and include home helter-skeltered covers. PW in comments.

Disc 1
1. John Fred & his Playboy Band – Back In The U.S.S.R. (1970)
2. Kenny Rankin – Dear Prudence (1969)
3. Arif Mardin – Glass Onion (1969)
4. Celia Cruz – Ob-la-di Ob-la-da (1996)
5. Phish – Wild Honey Pie (2002)
6. Young Blood – The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill (1969)
7. Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and others – While My Guitar Gently Weeps (2004)
8. Tori Amos – Happiness Is A Warm Gun (2001)
9. Madeleine Peyroux – Martha, My Dear (2011)
10. Susan Carter – I’m So Tired (1970)
11. Neil Diamond – Blackbird (2010)
12. Theo Bikel – Piggies (1969)
13. Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo – Rocky Raccoon (1970)
14. Georgia Satellites – Don’t Pass Me By (1988)
15. Mud – Why Don’t We Do It In The Road (1970)
16. Tuck & Patti – I Will (1998)
17. Charlie Byrd – Julia (1969)

Disc 2
1. Underground Sunshine – Birthday (1969)
2. Jeff Healey Band – Yer Blues (1995)
3. Harry Nilsson – Mother Nature’s Son (1969)
4. Kristin Hersh – Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey (1999)
5. Ramsey Lewis – Sexy Sadie (1968)
6. Mötley Crüe – Helter Skelter (1983)
7. Tanya Donelly – Long Long Long (2006)
8. Nina Simone – Revolution (1969)
9. Barbra Streisand – Honey Pie (1969)
10. Ella Fitzgerald – Savoy Truffle (1969)
11. Commander Cody – Cry Baby Cry (1978)
12. Kurt Hoffman’s Band of Weeds – Revolution #9 (1992)
13. Linda Ronstadt – Good Night (1996)

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More Beatles Recovered:
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 Revcovered: 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: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles

Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Photographs (1974)
Beatles Reunited: ’77 (1977)
Beatles Reunited: Let It See (1980)

Categories: Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

Any Major Originals: The 1970s

November 15th, 2018 17 comments

 

This is the first mix of lesser-known originals of 1970s hits; truth be told, for the most part the hit versions were a marked improvement on the first versions. I do prefer Badfinger’s version of Without You and Billy Preston’s You Are So Beautiful to the more famous versions. But more interesting than the musical merits are some of the backstories. And few are as dramatic as that of Without You, a mega hit for first Harry Nilsson in 1972 and in the 1990s for Mariah Carey.

Without You

There is something dismal about the notion that a pop classic would be best-known among some people in its incarnation by Mariah Carey. Those with a more acute sense of pop history will have been dismissive of Carey’s calorific cover of Nilsson’s hit. But even Harry Nilsson applied a generous dose of schmaltz to his cover of the Badfinger original.

Without You apart, there is a chain of tragedy which links the Welsh band and Nilsson. Both acts had a Lennon connection (more tragedy here, of course). Badfinger were signed to the Beatles’ Apple label, on which Without You was released in 1970; Nilsson was a collaborator with and drinking buddy of Lennon’s. Nilsson died fairly young, so did two members of Badfinger — both of whom wrote Without You and committed suicide.

Singer Peter Ham killed himself in 1975 (in his suicide note he referred to their “heartless bastard” of a manager), and in 1983, Tom Evans hanged himself after an argument over royalties for the song with former colleague Joey Molland (who both had played on Lennon’s Imagine album and other ex-Beatles solo records).

Nilsson reportedly thought that Badfinger’s Without You had been a Beatles recording — indeed, the Rolling Stone touted Badfinger as the Beatles’ heirs. His version, turning a fairly rough mid-tempo rock song into an orchestral power ballad (at a time when such things were rare) became a massive hit in 1972; Carey’s version hit the charts just a week after Nilsson’s death in 1994. One may fear the worst for Ms Carey should the Nilsson curse strike her: apart from the sad story of Badfinger and Lennon’s death, both Mama Cass and Keith Moon died in Nilsson’s flat.

 

Fernando

ABBA famously did not cover versions; given the songwriting chops of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, they had no need to. But one of the group’s biggest hits was a cover of sorts: Fernando was originally recorded by Anni-Frid for her Swedish-language solo album Frida Ensam (which featured several cover versions, including Life On Mars and Wall Street Shuffle). Fernando, written by Benny and Björn with lyrics by ABBA manager Stig Anderson, was the LP’s lead single and proved very popular. In 1976 ABBA released an English version, with the theme changed from being a break-up song to the reminiscence of freedom fighters.

Video Killed The Radio Star

This slice of sci-fi flavoured nostalgia, inspired by a JG Ballard story, was co-written by Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes (then new members of prog-rock band Yes) with Bruce Woolley. So it seemed right that it should be recorded by the two parties — the Yes contingent and Woolley — in 1979. The latter got in there first, with his Camera Club. It is a breathless version with much energy and a quite nice guitar solo at the end, but none of the bombastic detail which made the Buggles’ synth-fiesta a huge hit.

The Buggles version is sometimes considered a bit naff, which does great injustice to a catchy song which does everything that is required of a very great pop song. The video of the Buggles version was the first ever to be played by MTV. But the Woolley version is all but forgotten.

Hanging On The Telephone

If it is not widely known that Blondie’s 1979 hit Hanging On The Telephone is a cover, then it probably is because the original performers, The Nerves, only ever released a (very good) four-track EP in 1976, which included the song. The Nerves — a trio comprising songwriter Jack Lee, Paul Collins (who’d later join The Beat) and Peter Case (later of the Plimsouls) — were a heavy-gigging LA-based rock band which despite their extremely brief recording career proved to be influential on the US punk scene. The members of Blondie surely have were aware of the song. A year after The Nerves split, Debbie Harry and pals picked up the song and enjoyed a huge worldwide hit with it.

 

Blame It On The Boogie

How many cover versions have been sung by the namesake of the original performer? Mick Jackson was a German-born English pop singer. His Blame It On The Boogie, which he also co-wrote, sounds like a presentable Leo Sayer number. The Jacksons changed little in the song’s structure — Mick’s original has all the touches we know well, such as the “sunshine, moonlight, good time, boogie” interlude — and yet they turned a pretty good song into a disco explosion of joy, presaging Michael’s Off The Wall a year and a bit later.

Mick Jackson actually wrote the song with Stevie Wonder in mind (and it’s easy to imagine how it might have sounded), but was persuaded by a German label to record it himself. When the freshly-minted record was played at a music festival in Cannes, a rep for the Jacksons — no doubt alerted by the performer’s name — secretly taped the song, flew it to the US and had the Jackson brothers record and release it in quick time, to release it before Mick could have a hit with it. With both singles out at the same time, the British press had some fun with the Jackson “Battle of the Boogie”. Mick’s single reached #15 in the UK and #61 in the US. The Jacksons’ version became the classic.

He Ain’t Heavy…

The Hollies’ guitarist Tony Hicks was desperately looking for a song to record when he was played a demo of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. The band decided to record it without great expectations, with Reg Dwight (who would become Elton John) on piano. Of course, Read more…

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, The Originals Tags:

Any Major Soul 1978

November 8th, 2018 2 comments

The Any Major Soul series is nearing the end of the 1970s, with this instalment covering the year 1978. Disco is in the air but not all soulsters got the memo. There are also the first signs of the supersmoothness of 1980s soul, but it’s not yet cloying.

In fact, Teddy Pendergrass might have been a pioneer of ’80s soul, but his brand of baby-making music is still a different animal to the missionary-positioned sounds of the likes of Luther Vandross. When Theodore promises to blow your mind, you know he’s not just bragging in the way of a 1984 jheri-curled 110-pounder with a stupid moustache. Teddy’s gonna steam up a refrigerator.

The sequence here has it that Pendergrass —the link between Philly soul and 1980s soul crooning — is followed by an act that still has 1973 in the back-mirror. Of course, Bloodstone would go on to become one of the great acts of the early 1980s.

On the other end of the spectrum we have a few acts that are on the disco train. But even the most dance-oriented album would have a few soulful ballads. Among the best of those, in my view, were Cheryl Lynn’s You’re The One, which featured on Any Major Soul 1978-79, and Odyssey’s If You’re Looking For A Way Out (on Any Major Soul 1980-81).

On this collection, an example of this is the track by Sassafras, a trio of women (not the hairy Welsh rock band of the early 1970s). They were produced by the Ingram family of session singers and musicians, and released on the label owned by our old pals Luigi Creatore and Hugo Peretti, the mafia associates we previously encountered in The Originals entries for Can’t Help Falling In Love and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. One of the three Sassafras, Vera Brown, went on to become the lead singer of the Ritchie Family.

 

Pacific Express, one of apartheid’s least favourite bands.

 

One act here is not from the US but from South Africa. Pacific Express were funk-rock and jazz-fusion legends in Cape Town before they became nationwide stars with Give A Little Love. At various times throughout the 1970s, unknown musicians went through the “Pacific Express School” to emerge as respected musicians in their own right. These include Jonathan Butler. As a group of people classified as “Coloured” by apartheid — people of mixed-race whose language was English and/or Afrikaans — Pacific Express regularly broke laws that aimed to prevent contact across the colour-lines. As a result, Pacific Express was frequently banned from the state broadcaster — including the video of Give A Little Love, just in case white people twigged that Coloureds were making great music and then sought to see them play live, with all the possibilities of miscegenation that would create. I’m not even joking.

Not featured on this mix is Earth, Wind & Fire, but a few acts here clearly borrow from Maurice White and pals. One of them is a new-fangled funk-soul kid from Minnesota called Prince. On his soul ballad here Prince owes more than a little to EWF, and to the many falsetto-singers of the decade.

Also borrowing from EWF are Mass Production, whose Slow Bump is about traffic safety in densely populated suburbs. The song actually sounds like an EWF track. On other tracks they operate more on the funk tracks of BT Express.

Breakwater was an eight-man outfit blended catchy funk with smooth fusion and soul harmonies — again recalling EWF. The Philadelphia band released only two albums, with their 1980 follow-up regarded as something of a funk classic (Daft Punk sampled from it).

The Patterson Twins also released only two albums: one in 1978 and the follow-up in 2006! They released several singles — some soul, some gospel — throughout the 1980s. Before 1978 they had recorded a series of singles as the Soul Twins.

Thelma Jones, featured here with a Sam Dees-penned track, also recorded her first album in 1978 and the follow-up in the 2000s. Jones released a series of singles between 1966 and ’68 — including the original of the Aretha Franklin song The House That Jack Built — then disappeared, due to being between labels, until 1976 when she enjoyed something of a comeback with Salty Tears (produced at Muscle Shoals). Her self-titled debut album, which featured Gwen Guthrie on backing vocals, is superb but unaccountably was a commercial flop.

Returning to Teddy Pendergrass, the singer of Chicago soul group Heaven And Earth, Dean Williams, shares many vocal mannerism with the great man. The group had some great tunes, and released four LPs between 1976 and 1981, but management issues and our old nemesis, poor promotion, prevented the group from making it big.

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

1. Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. – I Got The Words, You Got The Music
2. Lenny Williams – Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh!
3. The Whispers – Olivia (Lost And Turned Out)
4. Pacific Express – Give A Little Love
5. Thelma Jones – Lonely Enough To Try Anything Now
6. Natalie Cole – Our Love
7. Heaven And Earth – Let’s Work It Out
8. Prince – Baby
9. Mass Production – Slow Bump
10. Breakwater – That’s Not What We Came Here For
11. Patterson Twins – Gonna Find A True Love
12. Denise LaSalle – Talkin’ Bout My Best Friend
13. Sassafras – I Gave You Love
14. Bobby Thurston – Na Na Na Na Baby
15. Roberta Flack – What A Woman Really Means
16. Teddy Pendergrass – Close The Door
17. Bloodstone – Throw A Little Bit Of Love My Way
18. Allen Toussaint – To Be With You
19. Leroy Hutson – They’ve Got Love
20. Al Green – Lo And Behold

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In Memoriam – October 2018

November 1st, 2018 7 comments

Last month’s In Memoriam included Charles Aznavour, who died in October, and this month’s round-up includes a singing actor who died in September. Confused? Read on.

The Studio Wizard

The Beatles benefitted richly from the genius of producer George Martin, but the man who put many of the studio tricks and effects in action was the wizard engineer Geoff Emerick, the sound engineer on several the Fab Four’s albums: Revolver (his first job as chief engineer was top work on Tomorrow Never Knows), Sgt Pepper’s and Abbey Road. As an assistant engineer, he was there right at the start, in the session that produced Love Me Do, and later during the recordings of songs like She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand. Emerick’s 2006 memoir Here, There and Everywhere provides a great insight into the production of that later trilogy of albums that saw The Beatles at their peak of creativity. He later engineered for Paul McCartney, on albums like Band On The Run, London Town, Tug Of War and Pipes Of Peace, as well as on several of the great America hits such as Lonely People, Sister Golden Hair, Tin Man and Daisy Jane. He also produced the original version of Without You by Badfinger, and worked as producer and/or engineer on records by the likes of The Zombies, Peter & Gordon, Climax Blues Band, Gino Vanelli, Robin Trower, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Art Garfunkel, Elvis Costello, Ultravox, Nick Heyward, Big Country, Split Enz, Echo & The Bunnymen and Johnny Cash.

The Swamp Rocker

The title track of Willie Nelson’s 2017 album God’s Problem Child features Leon Russell, Tony Joe White and Jamey Johnson (the latter two wrote it as well). Of Nelson’s three collaborators, only Jamey Johnson is still alive. Tony Joe White, who has died at 75, is best-known for his composition of the Brook Benton hit Rainy Night In Georgia and the Elvis hit Polk Salad Annie. The latter title sounds a bit like a novelty number rather than the sweaty blues-rock workout (Polk Salad is, in fact, a rural vegetable stew. It sounds like a particularly strange dance). Elvis loved covering White’s songs; he also did a version of the wonderful I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby and 1973’s For Ol’ Times Sake. Dusty Springfield also covered his Willie & Laura Mae Jones. Later he wrote Steamy Windows for Tina Turner. Over almost 50 years, he regularly released new albums in swamp-rock genre that was also home to Leon Russell. His last album, Bad Mouthin’, came out on September 28.

The Mighty Wah

To his mom, he was known as Melvin Ragin, but to the world he was Wah Wah Watson, the man who plays that dirty funky guitar which converses with Dennis Edwards in the opening verse of The Temptations’ Papa Was A Rolling Stone. Or as the man who uses the pedal that gave him his nickname to seductive effect in that opening line of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. Or that funky groove on Rose Royce’s Car Wash… Wah Wah Watson/Melvin Ragin (the credits used both names interchangeably) played many times with Quincy Jones, also on Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall album. Apart from the Motown roster of the 1970s, he played on hits like Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis’ You Don’t Have To Be A Star, and Peaches & Herb’s Reunited. He can be heard on records by the likes of Blondie, Billy Preston, Etta James, Boz Scaggs, The Main Ingredient, Barry White, John Lee Hooker, Bill Withers, Pointer Sisters, The Whispers, Webster Lewis, Dizzy Gillespie, Albert King, Lenny Williams, Patrice Rushen, George Duke, Beach Boys, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Womack, Lisa Stansfield, Paula Abdul, Tony! Toni! Toné, George Benson, Read more…

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