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The Originals – 1960s Vol. 1

April 25th, 2019 7 comments

 

In this instalment of The Originals we look at some of the lesser-known first releases of songs that would become huge 1960s hits for others, starting with (what I will assume is) the innocence of My Boy Lollipop and ending with the national anthem of Orgasmia. There are 30 songs on the mix; I’m telling the story of 17 of them. Of the remaining 13, it may be noted that two were written by Laura Nyro, the one featured here in her first recording and the later Blood, Sweat & Tears hit And When I Die.

So, get a good cup of the hit beverage of your choice, settle in and enjoy the journey through the originals of 1960s classics.

 

My Boy Lollipop

Millie’s My Boy Lollipop, widely regarded as the first crossover ska hit which helped give reggae a mainstream audience. In its original version, My Boy Lollypop (note the original spelling) was a song recorded in 1956 by the white R&B singer Barbie Gaye, at 15 two years younger than Millie Small was when she had a hit with the cover in 1964.

As so often in pop history, the story of the song’s authorship is cloaked in controversy. By most accounts, it was written by Bobby Spencer of the doo wop band The Cadillacs, with the group’s manager, Johnny Roberts, getting co-writer credit. Barbie Gaye’s single became a very minor hit, championed by the legendary rock & roll DJ Alan Freed. It was Spencer’s misfortune to come into contact with the notorious mafia-connected record executive and music publisher Morris Levy, who implausibly claimed that he had in fact written My Boy Lollypop, using the moniker R Spencer as a pseudonym. The real Spencer was later reinstated on the credits which nonetheless still list Levy as a co-writer. Levy’s name is attached to other classics which he had no hand in writing, such as Lee Dorsey’s Ya Ya, Frankie Lymon’s Why Do Fools Fall In Love, and The Rivieras’ California Sun. We’ll encounter him again in the story of the next song in this post.

My Boy Lollipop was revived in 1964 by Chris Blackwell, boss of the nascent Island Records label in England, which had recorded no big hit yet. He chose young Millicent Small to record it. As half of the duo Roy & Millie she had already enjoyed a hit with We’ll Meet in Jamaica. Her version changed Island’s fortunes: the song became a worldwide hit, reaching #2 in both US and UK. Island, of course, went on to become the label of Bob Marley, Roxy Music, Robert Palmer and U2.

Hanky Panky

Among the inhabitants of cubicles with pianos at the Brill Building in New York were Ellie Greenwich (who in her earlier singing had named herself Ellie Gaye in tribute to Barbie Gaye) and her husband Jeff Barry, who together wrote so many of the songs we now associate with Phil Spector’s girl groups. In 1963, Greenwich and Barry recorded a demo of a song called What A Guy. It was intended for a doo-wop group called The Sensations, but the band’s label, Jubilee, was so impressed with demo’s girl-band style (which was in fact Greenwich’s multi-tracked voice, with Barry providing bass voice) that they decided to release it, in the name of the songwriters’ band, The Raindrops.

Trouble was that Greenwich and Barry had no song for the flip-side, so they thrashed out Hanky Panky in the space of 20 minutes. They were not particularly satisfied with the song, and when a group called The Summits released it soon after as the b-side of He’s An Angel (or it might have been released before What A Guy came out; it’s unclear), it didn’t do brisk business either.

And yet, the song had become popular among garage rock live bands, including one called The Spinners (not the soul band), from whom the teenage musician Tommy Jackson heard it. He recorded it with his band, The Shondells, in 1964 at a radio station in Michigan. It was a local hit, but Tommy decided to break up his band and complete his schooling. The following year he was contacted by a Pittsburgh DJ who had discovered the record and now wanted Tommy and his Shondells to perform it on air. He hurriedly put together a new line-up of Shondells, and changed his name to Tommy James. He then sold the 1964 master to Roulette Records, which released it without remixing, never mind re-recording it. The single went to #1 in July 1966. James later explained in a Billboard interview: “I don’t think anybody can record a song that bad and make it sound good. It had to sound amateurish like that.”

There is a great story of how the small New York-based Roulette label got to release Hanky Panky. It seems that a whole gang of labels, some of them majors, wanted to buy the record. Suddenly, one after another, they withdrew their offers, much to Tommy James’ surprised dismay. In the end Jerry Wexler of Atlantic told the singer, still a teenager, what was going on: Roulette’s Morris Levy (on whom The Soprano’s Hesch Rabkin is based) had called all rival labels telling them that Hanky Panky belonged to him. Intimidated, the rivals bought the bluff, and James had to go with Levy.

Needles And Pins
Needles And Pins was written by Sonny Bono and Jack Nietzsche and first recorded by the vastly underrated Jackie DeShannon in 1963, crossing the Atlantic the same year in Petula Clark’s version before the Searchers finally scored a hit with it in 1964 (DeShannon’s version, while not a hit in the US, topped the Canadian charts). The story goes that The Searchers first heard Needles And Pins being performed by Cliff Bennett at the Star Club in Hamburg and immediately decided that the song should be their next single. It became the second of their three UK #1 hits. They did retain DeShannon’s pronunciation of “now-ah”, “begins-ah” and “pins-ah”.

 

I’m Into Something Good
In the late 1950s Ethel “Earl-Jean” McCrea was a member of the R&B girl group The Cookies, which was absorbed into Ray Charles’ backing band, The Raelettes. Only Earl-Jean didn’t join the backing singer gig, instead becoming part of a new incarnation of The Cookies, who recorded the original of The Beatles’ Chains.

The Cookies did much demo work for Carole King and Gerry Goffin at Aldon Music, doing backing vocals on pop songs such as Little Eva’s The Loco-motion (it was through Earl-Jean’s recommendation that King and Goffin employed Little Eva as a babysitter) and Neil Sedaka’s Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. Along the way, they had a top ten hit with Don’t Say Nothing Bad About My Baby.

Earl-Jean left The Cookies in 1964 to try for a solo career, and it was King and Goffin who wrote her first (and only) solo hit: I’m Into Something Good, released on Colpix Records. It did a creditable job, climbing to #38 in the Billboard charts. Alas, her follow-up single, Randy, didn’t do as well, and when in 1966 Colpix folded, her solo career was over.

In Britain, the record producer Mickey Most – fresh from discovering The Animals – had heard I’m Into Something Good, and decided it was a perfect vehicle for his new protéges, Herman’s Hermits. The single became a UK #1 hit in September 1964, and then went on to reach #13 in the US, ringing in a golden period for Herman’s Hermits, who remarkably became the best-selling act in the United States in 1965, ahead of even The Beatles

Galveston

Jimmy Webb sat on the beach of Galveston on the hurricane-plagued Gulf of Mexico when he wrote this song, which might appear to be about the “Spanish-American War” (which we really should call the Cuban Independence War) but was just as applicable to the Vietnam War, which Read more…

Categories: The Originals Tags:

Any Major Churches

April 18th, 2019 2 comments

I had no plans to post anything special for Easter, since the Saved! series had run its course. But the fire in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, a place I’ve visited several times, moved me to make a mix of songs about churches. It is not a Saved! mix because the songs here don’t necessarily speak of religious faith. In some songs, such as California Dreaming or For Emily, the churches are just incidental in the narrative.

What has emerged is a remarkably eclectic mix which covers all sorts of things, from French chanson to hip hop, from funk to country, from blues to indie rock. Any Major Dude With Half A Heart is a broad church.

The mix kicks off with a song about Notre-Dame, and the Paris theme returns later with Tift Merrit’s song which references the church of St Sulpice, which also caught fire, though less destructive, this year.

The story of the Johnny Cash song is quite extraordinary: it was written by one of the inmate at Folsom Prison about the jail chapel, “a house of worship in this den of sin”. Apparently the inmate who wrote it, 32-year-old Glen Sherley, sat in the front-row at the Folsom Prison concert, not knowing that Cash would perform his song. Sherley, who was serving time for armed robbery, never caught the curve, despite Cash’s attempts at helping him. In 1978 he died of suicide.

As always, the ix is time to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-hallelujahed covers. PW in comments.

For those who believe, I wish you a Happy Easter. For those who don’t, Happy Feast of the Easter Bunny.

1. Edith Piaf – Notre-Dame de Paris (1952)
2. Ann Cole – In The Chapel (1956)
3. Johnny Rivers – Mountain Of Love (1964)
4. Honey Cone – Sunday Morning People (1971)
5. Box Tops – I Met Her In Church (1967)
6. Lyle Lovett – Church (1992)
7. Drive-By Truckers – Late For Church (1998)
8. Tift Merritt – Tender Branch (2008)
9. Eels – In The Yard, Behind The Church (2005)
10. Ben Harper and The Five Blind Boys of Alabama – Church House Steps (2004)
11. Outkast – Church (2003)
12. James Brown – Bodyheat (1976)
13. Lee Moses – California Dreaming (1971)
14. David Egan – Bourbon In My Cup (2008)
15. Robert Patterson Singers – Crying In The Chapel (1967)
16. Simon & Garfunkel – For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her (1970)
17. Johnny Cash – Greystone Chapel (1969)
18. Porter Wagoner – I’ll Meet You In Church Sunday Morning (1964)
19. Ella Fitzgerald – The Church In The Wildwood (1967)
20. Frank Sinatra – Winchester Cathedral (1966)
21. The Willows – Church Bells Are Ringing (1956)
22. John Lee Hooker – Church Bell Tone (1959)

GET IT: https://rapidgator.net/file/8a5989d25f5b7f826a7c732182a0fb75/church.rar.html

Previous SAVED! mixes
Saved! Vol. 1 (Elvis Presley, Carter Family, LaVern Baker, Marvin Gaye…)
Saved! Vol. 2: Soul edition (Curtis Mayfield, The Supremes, The Trammps,  Jerry Butler…)
Saved! Vol. 3 (Prefab Sprout,  Wilco, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds…)
Saved! Vol. 4 (Sam Cooke, Dixie Hummingbirds, Dinah Washington, Jerry Lee Lewis…)
Saved! Vol. 5 (Donny Hathaway, Holmes Brothers,  Steve Earle, The Bar-Kays…)
Saved! Vol. 6: Angels edition (Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Rilo Kiley, Kris Kristofferson…¦)
Saved! Vol. 7: Soul edition (Earth, Wind & Fire, Billy Preston, Marlena Shaw, Al Green…)
Best of Saved!

Categories: God Grooves, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Beatles Reunited 77 (1977)

April 11th, 2019 1 comment

 

In our alternate Beatleverse it’s 1977, and three years after 1974’s classic double album Photographs, the Fabs are finally releasing a follow-up.

By now John is concentrating on his home-life more than he does on The Beatles, and Ringo is enjoying his forays into the movies. Between them, they provide only three songs to the new album, and John.s are hold-overs from the Photographs sessions [real life aside: the featured Lennon tracks are from the Menlove Ave. album of outtakes from the Walls & Bridges sessions]. One might’ve thought that John.s Rock & Roll shtick was something of an anachronism, but by 1977 it was in line with the 1950s revival which a year later would find full expression with the film Grease.

Paul and George have been prolific, however, and their contributions to this LP are quite lovely. Remarkably, The Beatles have not yet succumbed to the influences of disco.

The album title, 77, is a bit lazy. Obviously it refers to the year of its release. One wonders whether it is also an oblique reference to the year being the tenth anniversary of the year in which Sgt Pepper.s was released. The plain red back cover and the font on the front-cover more than hints at that.

 

This series of alternate history mixes pay tribute Peter Lee.s commendable alternative-history novel The Life And Death of Mal Evans which is available in print or eBook from avonypublishing.com or from Amazon or Kobo.

The set fits on a standard CD-R and includes covers (and if you don.t like them, take it up with The Beatles. arts department). PW in comments.

Side 1
1. Let ‘Em In (Paul)
2. Cracker Box Palace (George)
3. Silly Love Songs (Paul)
4. Rock And Roll People (John)
5. Beautiful Girl (George)

Side 2
6. This Song (George)
7. Lady Gaye (Ringo)
8. Girls’ School (Paul)
9. Old Dirt Road (John)
10. You (George)
11. Letting Go (Paul)

GET IT!
OR: https://rapidgator.net/file/94c3713319b8cdd9c6dc891e285dd7ca/BR-77.rar.html

Previous Beatles Reunited albums:
Everest (1971)
Live ’72 (1972)
Smile Away (1972)
Photographs (1974)

More Beatles stuff
More Mix-CD-Rs

Categories: Beatles Tags:

In Memoriam – March 2019

April 2nd, 2019 6 comments

March saw the fall of at least three stone-cold legends, and tragic death of an up-and-coming band.

The Great Baritone
The voice of an Engel has fallen silent with the death at 76 of the versatile Scott Walker. The obits have covered Walker’s life and career, and it needs no rehashing here. But it’s worth noting that few artists have had a career that spans teen idol pop, interpretative chanson, avant-garde and neo-classical music — and fewer still who could pull it off as Walker did (though, in some cases, I have to rely on critical consensus rather than my own judgment).

The Drummer of a Thousand Hits
He might have lived till he was 90 and not contributed anything to pop music in a long time, but to those who knew his role in music history will have grieved the death of Hal Blaine. The two mixes I put together of songs Blaine played on, as part of the Wrecking Crew, tell only a small part of his story. They are, of course, worth revisiting. Blaine was a total pro, knowing when to hold back, when to let go, and when to innovate (with snowchains on Bridge Over Troubled Water, in an elevator shaft on The Boxer, with a glass ashtray on Dean Martin’s Houston).  And he was a total gentleman; his acts of kindness and generosity are legendary. The world was richer with Hal Blaine in it. And look at his “farewell letter” (click to enlarge), issued in January”¦

The Guitar Pioneer
Without Dick Dale, how might things have been for the Beach Boys or Jan & Dean or any of the surf guitar bands? No doubt, Dale was massively influential, not only in producing the sound of surf rock, but also in pushing the limits of guitar and amplifier technology in his cooperation with Leo Fender. Heavy metal owes Dick Dale! Born Richard Mansour, he was from Lebanese stock, and so incorporated his love of Arab music in his sound. His most famous song, Misirlou, is a good example of that (though that song was a cover of a much older Greek tune).

The Top Ranker
For many people of my generation in the UK or Europe, the ska revival spearheaded by bands such as The Specials or The Beat was a cultural marker. The Beat’s co-frontman Rankin Roger was a symbol of that new kind of music that made political statements you could dance to. After The Beat split, Ranking Roger joined General Public, a supergroup comprising fellow Beat frontman Dave Wakeling, Clash guitarist Mick Jones, Specials bassist Horace Panter, and Dexys Midnight Runner keyboardist Mickey Billingham and drummer Stoker. That outfit was more successful in the US than in the UK, partially thanks to the inclusion of the hit Tenderness (more new wave than ska) in John Hughes movies. Ranking Roger continued to perform and record, sometimes with acts like Big Audio Dynamite and Sly & Robbie, also touring with the reformed Police in 2007 as special guest.

The Rock & Roll Writer
As a member of doo-wop band Danny & The Juniors, David White co-wrote one of the great rock & roll classics with At The Hop. He went on to write Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay, then co-wrote Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me, Cubby Checker’s The Fly, and Len Barry’s 1-2-3. He formed The Spokesman with songwriting and production partner John Madara and a radio DJ to issue the right-wing answer record to Barry McGuire’s Eve Of Destruction, titled Dawn Of Correction. The opening verse goes: “The western world has a common dedication to keep free people from Red domination. And maybe you can’t vote, boy, but man your battle stations, or there’ll be no need for votin’ in future generations.”

The Comeback Man
Fans of The Blues Brothers will know at least one song co-written by R&B singer Andre Williams: his Shake A Tailfeather, a 1967 hit for James & Bobby Purify, was sung in the movie by Ray Charles. Williams recorded it towards the end of his long career which produced a number of minor hits but never brought the big breakthrough. In between, he wrote Stevie Wonder’s first-ever song (Thank You For Loving Me), helped produce The Contours and Ike Turner, was a roadie for Edwin Starr, and wrote for the Parliament/Funkadelic collective. Drug addiction in the 1980s ended in a spell of homelessness. The 1990s saw a return to recording, including a 1998 album of rather lewd songs, and a 2000 country-flavoured album (which included a most sinister rendition of Excuse Me, I Have Someone To Kill, featured on Any Major Murder Songs). His last album came out in 2016.

The ‘Punk’ Guitarist
Residing on the shortlist for the Any Major Guitar mixes is the Tom Robinson Band’s 2-4-6-8 Motorway. The superb guitar solo was played by Danny Kustow, who has died at 63 (and played that solo when he was 22). The TRB broke up in 1979, and Kustow did session work with bands like Gen X. He reunited with Robinson for his hit 1984 War Baby.

The Arranger of Classics
Much of the sound of the early 1960s was shaped by Stan Appelbaum, who arranged classic hits of The Drifters (such as Save The Last Dance For Me, There Goes My Baby) and Ben E. King (such as Stand By Me, Spanish Harlem), as well as hits such as Connie Francis’ Where The Boys Are and Brian Hyland’s Sealed With A Kiss and Ginny Come Lately. Others for whom Appelbaum arranged include Lavern Baker, Al Martino, Bobby Vinton, The Coasters, Ray Peterson, Brooke Benton, Lonnie Donegan, Damita Jo, Sam Cooke, Paul Anka, Johnny Preston, Dion, Curtis Lee, Gene Pitney, Cliff Richard, Sammy Davis Jr. and others. Along the way he arranged for jazz musicians like Cal Tjader and Don Cherry, and mentored Neil Sedaka, who first recorded with the Stan Appelbaum Orchestra. Before all that, in the 1950s, he arranged for several jazz greats, including Benny Goodman and Sarah Vaughan. Applebaum was also composed for commercials, with his best-known work being PanAm Airlines Makes the Going Great.

The Blues-Rock Voice
In October we lost Ray Owen, original singer of UK blues-rock band Juicy Lucy. On the first of the month, Owen’s successor in the group, Paul Williams, passed away at 78. With his first band, the Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band, he played alongside future Police guitarist Andy Summers. Next Williams joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, replacing future Fleetwood Mac legend John McVie. He recorded only one album with Juicy Lucy (where he sang alongside future Whitesnake guitarist Mick Moody). In 1973 he joined Tempest, which also included guitarist Allan Holdsworth, whom Williams went on to join in is I.O.U. jazz-fusion outfit.

A Cruel End
Having released two critically well-received albums, the Liverpool duo Her’s was expected to go a long way towards stardom. That was brutally cut short when members Stephen Fitzpatrick, 24, and Audun Laading, 25, died alongside their tour manager, Trevor Engelbrektson, in a head-on traffic collision in Arizona, during a 19-date US tour. They were on their way from a gig the night before in Phoenix to Santa Ana in California when they collided with a pick-up truck which apparently was travelling in the wrong direction. The other driver also died.

 

Stan Applebaum, 97, arranger and conductor, on February 28
Sarah Vaughan & Billy Eckstine – Passing Strangers (1957, as arranger & conductor)
Neil Sedaka with Stan Applebaum and his Orchestra – Stairway To Heaven (1960)
LaVern Baker – No Love So True (1962, as arranger)
Ben E. King – Don’t Play That Song For Me (1962, as arranger)

Paul Williams, 78, English singer, on March 1
Paul Williams & The Big Roll Band – Gin House (1964)
Juicy Lucy – Thinking Of My Life (1970, also as writer)
Allan Holdsworth – Checking Out (1982, on lead vocals)

Al Hazan, 84, musician, producer and songwriter, on March 2
Ritchie Valens – Hi-Tone (1959, as writer)

Janice Freeman, 33, singer, contestant on The Voice (US), on March 2

Leo de Castro, 70, New Zealand soul singer and guitarist, on March 3
Johnny Rocco Band – Heading In The Right Direction (1975, on lead vocals)

Kate Cook, 36, singer, contestant on Australian Idol, on March 3

Keith Flint, 49, singer of The Prodigy, suicide on March 4
The Prodigy – Firestarter (1996)

Sara Romweber, 55, drummer of pop-rock band Let’s Active, on March 5
Let’s Active- Horizon (1988)

Jacques Loussier, 84, French jazz pianist, arranger and composer, on March 5
Jacques Loussier Trio – Bach’s Prelude Nº 1 In C Major (1959)
Go-Betweens – Part Company (1984, on synth)

Mike Grose, original bassist of Queen (in 1970), on March 6

Charlie Panigoniak, 72, Canadian Inuktitut singer and guitarist, on March 6

Raymond ‘Don Ray’ Donnez, 76, French producer and conductor, on March 7
Santa Esmeralda – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood + Esmeralda Suite (1977, as producer, co-writer)
Don Ray – Standing In The Rain (1978)

Eddie Taylor Jr., 46, blues singer and guitarist, on March 8
Eddie Taylor Jr. – The Sky Is Crying (2015)

George “˜Sax”™ Benson, 90, jazz saxophonist, on March 9
Frank Sinatra – Learnin’ The Blues (1955, on trombone)
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971, on tenor saxophone)

Asa Brebner, 65, guitarist, singer and songwriter, on March 10
Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Lover Please (1979, as member)

Charlie Karp, 65, musician and songwriter, on March 10
Joan Jett – Too Bad On Your Birthday (1980, as co-writer)

Hal Blaine, 90, legendary session drummer, on March 11
The Crystals – He’s A Rebel (1962, on drums)
Dean Martin – Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes (1964, on drums)
Beach Boys – Good Vibrations (1967, on drums)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Boxer (1970, on drums)
America – Ventura Highway (1972, on drums)

Danny Kustow, 63, English guitarist with the Tom Robinson Band, on March 11
Tom Robinson Band – Glad To Be Gay (1978)
Tom Robinson – Atmospherics (Listen To The Radio) (1983)

Danny Ben-Israel, 75, Israeli psychedelic rock musician, on March 11

John Kilzer, 62, singer and songwriter, suicide on March 12
John Kilzer – Red Blue Jeans (1988)

Dick Dale, 81, surf music guitarist, on March 16
Dick Dale and his Del-Tones – Lets Go Trippin’ (1962)
Dick Dale and his Del-Tones – Misirlou (1963)
Dick Dale – The Wedge (1963)

Justin Carter, 35, country singer, in accidental shooting on March 16

Dewayne ‘Son’ Smith, half of comedy country duo The Geezinslaws, on March 16
The Geezinslaw Brothers – Peel Me A Nanner (1967)

David White, 79, singer-songwriter with Danny & the Juniors, on March 17
Danny & The Juniors – At The Hop (1957)
Lesley Gore – You Don’t Own Me (1964)
The Spokesmen – The Dawn Of Correction (1965)

Andre Williams, 82, R&B singer, on March 17
Andre Williams – Jail Bait (1956)
Andre Williams – Only Black Man In South Dakota (1998)
Andre Williams – Shake A Tailfeather (2015, also as co-writer)

Yuya Uchida, 79, Japanese singer and actor, on March 17
Flower Travellin’ Band – Hiroshima (1972)

Bernie Tormé, 66, Irish rock guitarist, singer and songwriter, on March 17
Bernie Tormé – Too Young (1983)

Arkadiy Aladyin, 61, drummer of Russian rock band Poyushchiye Gitary, on March 21

Scott Walker, 76, singer-songwriter and producer, on March 22
Scotty Engel – When Is A Boy A Man (1957)
Walker Brothers – Love Her (1965)
Scott Walker – Montague Terrace (In Blue) (1967)
Walker Brothers – No Regrets (1975)
Scott Walker – Only Myself To Blame (1999)

Ranking Roger, 56, singer with English ska band The Beat, General Public, on March 26
The Beat – Stand Down Margaret (1980)
General Public – Tenderness (1984)
Ranking Roger – Mirror In The Bathroom (Dub Mix) (1991)

Stephen Fitzpatrick, 24, half of English rock duo Her’s, in car crash on March 27
Audun Laading, 25, Norwegian-born half of English rock duo Her’s, in car crash on March 27
Her’s – What Once Was (2016)

Joe Flannery, 87, booking manager and friend of The Beatles, on March 28

Billy Adams, 79, rockabilly singer, on March 30

Simaro Lutumba, 81, member of Congolese band TPOK Jazz, on March 30
TPOK Jazz – Zenaba (1973)

Geoff Harvey, 83, Australian musician and music director, on March 30

Nipsey Hussle, 33, American rapper, shot on March 31
Nipsey Hussle – The Hustle Way (2009)

GET IT! or HERE!

Categories: In Memoriam Tags: