Archive

Archive for October, 2019

Any Major Sesame Street Pops

October 31st, 2019 8 comments

 

 

On November 10 it will be 50 years since the Sesame Street theme first announced sunny days on which everything is A-OK on the US public TV channel PBS. And not only has the show kept running ever since 1969, it has also spread across the world.

I remember well watching the pilot aired on West-German TV in 1972, flighted in the English original on regional channels to let parents decide whether they would like to expose their kids to this kind of thing. My mother had me and my brother, 6 and 4 years old, watch it with her, and afterwards asked us what we thought of it. Oh yes, yes, yes, please! A few months later, Sesamstrasse debuted on German TV — except in conservative Bavaria (the German Texas), where all those progressive teaching methods and racial mixing were unwelcome.

 

 

At the age of six going on seven, I was a bit beyond the target audience. But no matter, I loved it. Sesame Street taught me a lot about social empathy. It gave me the idea that most Americans were black. While my home was normatively white (though that was changing already), I learnt that not all places are like that, and I learnt that people of different backgrounds could and should be friends. Thanks to Susan and Gordon and Bon and Mr Hooper (or, in German, Herr Huber).

Obviously, I loved the muppets. I loved Ernie and wanted to be him, though I identified more with Bert’s sensible character. I loved the Cookie Monster, even though I thought he was quite rude and selfish. And above all, I loved Oscar the Grouch — so much so that I dressed as him for a fancy-dress party within weeks of Sesamstrasse debuting. He remains my favourite, and I still find him very funny.

Most of the great songs of early Sesame Street were translated into German for Sesamstrasse: Rubber Duckie; C Is For Cookie, I Love Trash, and so on. When I introduced them in English to Any Minor Dude back in the 1990s, I could relive my childhood as he lived his (though his Sesame experience also included Elmo, who arrived long after my time).

 

 

I don’t remember if the guest appearances by singing stars were part of the German Sesame Street. I discovered them later on, in the age of YouTube. Those are wonderful. Some singers performed their songs straight (more or less): on this mix, Stevie Wonder jams Superstition while name-dropping muppets; José Feliciano croons on the brownstone steps; Paul Simon clearly got annoyed with the kids; Cab Calloway revisits his ancient hits.

Some sang Sesame Street standards. On this mix Lou Rawls grooves the ABC like nobody’s business; Lena Horne sings another alphabet song. Diana Ross builds self-esteem (as does Ray Charles with the same song in a bonus track). Aaron Neville and Ernie duet on I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon. Gladys Knight & The Pips do the Sesame Street theme. And Little Richard sings — obviously! — Rubber Duckie.

 

 

And then there are the adaptations of the guests’ popular hits, which always wink a little at the parents, too. Some are alphabet-based. Norah Jones doesn’t know why Y didn’t come; in Sheryl Crow’s song I soaks up the sun; guess what B.B. King’s favourite letter is.

Most artists riff along with muppets. Stevie Wonder tries to teach Grover how to scat. Johnny Cash and James Taylor revisit their hits in dialogue with Oscar (Cash: “Nasty Dan was a nasty man the whole day long.” Oscar: “Good for him.”). Andrea Bocelli sings Elmo to sleep with the song that had Camilla Soprano nearly jump in the sack with the priest.

This mix is great stuff for families. I’d play it with kids in the car. But, to be honest, I’ll play it in the car on my own as well…

 

 

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

1. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Sesame Street Theme (1988)
2. Lou Rawls – The Alphabet (1970)
3. Ray Charles with Bert & Ernie – I Got A Song (1977)
4. Jesse Jackson – I Am Somebody (1971)
5. Stevie Wonder – Superstition (1973)
6. Stevie Wonder with Grover – Scatting (1973)
7. Four Tops – Please Be Careful (When You Cross The Street) (1986)
8. José Feliciano – A World Without Music (1975)
9. James Taylor with Oscar – Your Smiling Face (1983)
10. Johnny Cash with Oscar – Nasty Dan (1973)
11. Johnny Cash with Biff – Five Feet High (1973)
12. R.E.M. – Furry Monsters Song (1998)
13. Sheryl Crow – I Soaks Up The Sun (2003)
14. Janelle Monáe – Power Of Yet (2014)
15. Queen Latifah with The Prairie Sisters – The Letter O (1992)
16. Norah Jones with Elmo – Don’t Know Y (2004)
17. John Legend with Hoots – I Got A Song (2006)
18. Diane Schuur with Elmo – From Your Head (1996)
19. Lena Horne – The Alphabet (1974)
20. Cab Calloway – Hi De Ho Man (1981)
21. Cab Calloway – Jump Jive (1981)
22. B.B. King – The Letter B (2000)
23. Little Richard – Rubber Duckie (1994)
24. Harry Belafonte with the Count – Coconut Counting Man (1982)
25. Paul Simon – El Condor Pasa (1977)
26. Feist – 1,2,3,4 (2008)
27. Chaka Khan with Elmo and Telly – Faces (2000)
28. Arrested Development – Pride (1995)
29. Dixie Chicks – No Letter Better Than B (2002)
30. Alison Krauss & Union Station – Sesame Jamboree (2005)
31. Diana Ross – Believe In Yourself (1981)
32. Aaron Neville & Ernie – I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon (1994)
33. Andrea Bocelli & Elmo – Time to Say Goodnight (2004)
Bonus Tracks:
Faith Hill & Tim McGraw – Take A Turn (2000)
Ray Charles with Elmo – Believe In Yourself (1996)

GET IT! or HERE!

More Mix CD-Rs

Categories: Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 2

October 24th, 2019 4 comments

 

Just in time for Halloween, here’s another mix of murder songs to provide you with holiday-appropriate chills.

Some of these are truly scary. Some of our killers here have serious mental conditions, such as the protagonists in the songs by Warren Zevon and Hall & Oates. In Zevon’s song, the target of the singer’s wrath are the entitled family members who make excuses for their murderous rapist spawn. The Hall & Oates track (in which the duo recalls one of their older hits) is a bit disturbing as our dark anti-hero is into music you or I might listen to.

The darkness of mental disease is captured well in sound in the Wilco song’s distortions. The track was recorded live in Chicago. It’s about a guy dreaming of committing a murder in that city, and coming to the city to make his dreams come true. When Jeff Tweedy sings the name Chicago, the crowd cheers. Audience members: you really don’t want the protagonist of that sing in your city!

Most of our murders here are crimes of passion, with the victim being either a cheating partner, or the person with whom the cheating was committed (including Loretta Lynn, who in the Jack White-produced song will hang for her murder).

However, Rod Stewart uses a murder to deal with homophobia at a time when that was not really a mainstream issue. Think what you will of Rod, but plaudits are due for that song.

Of all our killers here, there’s one we can sort of support, Woody Guthrie’s Pretty Boy Floy, who gunned down an especially unpleasant deputy sheriff (I like to imagine a law enforcer of the Mississippi Burning variety).

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the troubling case of a father pushing his daughter down the well in the Violent Femmes song.

Neil Young is running a theme as old as song itself — the crime of passion; the wronged husband avenging his honour. But this being 1969, and musicians of Young’s ilk more interested in laying down guitar jams than producing lucid lyrics, we must figure out ourselves the circumstances leading to the murder, which the narrator at least admits to: “Down by the river, I shot my baby. Down by the river…Dead, oh, shot her dead.” The rest is just crazy hippie talk about rainbows. So, obviously, youngologists believe the song is about heroin. Which, by Young’s own account, it isn’t.

But of all these songs, Porter Wagoner’s song is the most spine-chilling. It has a real horror-movie vibe. In fact, the only thing that will lift the chill is to look at a picture of Porter in full ludicrous country music regalia. Or it might make things worse…

Again, to be very clear, this mix does not promote, endorse or celebrate murder. Don’t kill, kids.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-first48hoursed covers. PW the same as always.

1. Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy (1978)
The Vic: Suzie from the Junior Prom

2. Tim Rose – Hey Joe (1967)
The Vic: Joe’s “old lady”

3. Nina Simone – Ballad of Hollis Brown (1965)
The Vic: Hollis’ family

4. Fleetwood Mac – Blood On The Floor (1970)
The Vic: The “darling” of the guy about to hang

5. Porter Wagoner – The First Mrs Jones (1967)
The Vic: Mrs Jones

6. Johnny Cash – Joe Bean (live) (1969)
The Vic: Well, Joe Bean, really. An man hanging for a crime be didn’t commit

7. Loretta Lynn – Women’s Prison (2004)
The Vic: The “darling” of the woman about to hang

8. Wilco – Via Chicago (live) (2005)
The Vic: “You”

9. Violent Femmes – Country Death Song (1984)
The Vic: His daughter, the bastard

10. Robber Barons – Music For A Hanging (2004)
The Vic: A killer who is about to hang

11. Neil Young – Down By The River (1969)
The Vic: Neil’s “baby”, down by the river

12. Fairport Convention – Crazy Man Michael (1969)
The Vic: The “raven”

13. Rod Stewart – The Killing Of Georgie (1976)
The Vic: Georgie

14. Hall & Oates – Diddy Doo Wop (I Hear The Voices) (1980)
The Vic: Random strangers at the subway station

15. Tom Jones – Delilah (1968)
The Vic: Delilah, the two-timer

16. Marty Robbins – Streets Of Laredo (1969)
The Vic: The narrator, a cowboy

17. Lloyd Price – Stagger Lee (1958)
The Vic: Billy, a gambler

18. Little Walter – Boom, Boom, Out Goes The Light (1957)
The Vic: His baby who ain’t his no more

19. Louis Armstrong & Louis Jordan – You Rascal, You (1950)
The Vic: The seducer of his wife

20. Carter Family – John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man (1929)
The Vic: A man on the West Virginia line

21. Woody Guthrie – Pretty Boy Floyd (1940)
The Vic: A very rude deputy sheriff

GET IT! or HERE!

More Mix CD-Rs
Murder Ballads
Halloween mixes

Categories: Halloween, Mix CD-Rs, Murder Songs Tags:

Any Major Originals: The 1970s Vol. 2

October 17th, 2019 4 comments

 

More 1970s hits were covers than one might think. Here are 25 more lesser-known originals, after the 23 tracks in the 1970s Volume 1.

 

Popcorn
German-born and US-based composer Gershon Kingsley (still alive at 97) wrote classical music and scores for TV and movies, arranged and conducted Broadway musicals — and pioneered electronic music, particularly through the Moog synth. As half of the electronic music duo Perrey and Kingsley, he wrote avant garde music. And part of that synth experimentation was his catchy tune Popcorn, which he recorded for his 1969 album Music to Moog By.

Kingsley re-recorded it in 1971 with his First Moog Quartet. One of the members was Stan Free, himself an accomplished jazz musician, composer, conductor and arranger. He in turn recorded Popcorn with his own band of musicians, named Hot Butter. It was their superior version that became a mega hit all over the world in 1972.

To truly appreciate Popcorn, it has to be experienced in this video from French TV.

 

Mama Told Me Not To Come
The 1970 hit for Three Dog Night was written by Randy Newman — already in the habit of writing lyrics from a character’s point of view — for Eric Burdon and The Animals, who recorded it in 1966 with the intention of releasing as a single. That idea was abandoned, but the song appeared on their 1967 album Eric Is Here.

Three Dog Night picked the song up in 1970, the same year Newman finally recorded it, and had a huge hit with it. US chart fans may be interested to know that it was at #1 when Casey Kasem presented his first Top 40 countdown show on 4 July 1970.

 

Mamy Blue
In the early 1970s you couldn’t move in Europe for versions of Mamy Blue. The most famous of these was the English recording by the Spanish group Pop-Tops. It will get more international yet — a lot. Mamy Blue was written in a traffic jam in Paris by French composer Hubert Giraud (who featured in In Memoriam – January 2016). The first recording was by Italian singer Ivana Spagna, the first record for the then 16-year-old. She later dropped her first name and as Spagna had several dance hits in the 1980s, including the 1987 UK #2 hit Call Me.

The Pop-Tops’ version (recorded by Swiss producer Alain Milhaud with lyrics by Trinidad-born singer Phil Trimm) reached #4 in the UK in 1971; in the US a version by The Stories charted in 1973. Roger Whittaker took his version in French to #2 on Canada’s French charts, while French singer Joël Daydé had a hit with an English take of it in Australia (it was arranged by Wally Stott, who features in his own right on this mix). Whitacker’s English version was also a Top 10 hit in Denmark and Finland (where local-language versions also were Top 10 hits). In France it was hit in French for Nicoletta. In West-Germany, it was a huge hit in German for French singer Ricky Shayne, who also reached the French Top 10 with his English version of the song (in the land of its origin, Mamy Blue was a hit for Nicoletta, Ricky Shayne, Pop-Tops and Daydé). Shayne’s German version was also a hit in the French-speaking regions of Belgium. In South Africa, Mamy Blue topped the charts in a truly terrible version by Charisma.

And Italy, where Ivana Spagna sang the song in Italian? The only hit was the Pop-Tops version.

 

These Foolish Things
It would be a stretch to call These Foolish Things an obscurity made famous in Bryan Ferry’s 1973 cover, but for a certain generation, that is the best-known version; for many the first they’d heard. Before Ferry got his greasy hair all over it, the song had been recorded to good effect by the likes of Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald.

But Ferry took These Foolish Things home: it was written in the mid-1930s for the BBC in England, with the lyrics by Eric Maschwitz, who went on to write A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, and was married to actress Hermione Gingold. His lyrics for These Foolish Things might be about Gingold, though the more widely accepted version suggests it was about cabaret singer Jean Ross, with whom Maschwitz had had a fling (Ross inspired the character of Cabaret’s Sally Knowles).

The song was unloved. Maschwitz couldn’t even get a publisher (so, luckily, he retained the copyrights). In 1936, Grenada-born singer-pianist Leslie Hutchinson, a big star on Britain’s music scene at the time, discovered the sheet music for These Foolish Things on a piano at the BBC. He recorded it, and the song quickly became popular. The same year, it crossed the Atlantic, with Benny Goodman recording it.

It was covered by many big names afterwards, including Sinatra, Crosby and Cole — and James Brown, who recorded it three times. Ferry based is affected take on a version by English actress-singer Dorothy Dickson.

 

Sorrow
It is a vaguely amusing coincidence that albums of cover versions by David Bowie and Bryan Ferry — icons of cool both at the time — entered the British charts on the same day in November 1973. Proof, if any was needed, that the covers project is not a recent phenomenon in pop music.

David Bowie scored only one hit from the Pin Ups album, Sorrow, which had been made popular in the UK seven years earlier by The Merseys. The original version of it, however, was by The McCoys, the US group better known for their big hit Hang On Sloopy (which, in turn, they had covered) that also provided the title for the 1965 album which featured Sorrow.

 

My Ding-a-Ling
Perhaps it is fitting for the unpleasant Chuck Berry that his biggest hit worldwide should have been a novelty number he covered from the guy who wrote hits for Fats Domino. A UK #1 for Berry in 1972, My Ding-a-Ling was first recorded 20 years by Dave Bartholomew, whom we lost in June at 100.

Its tune based on the 19th-century folk song Little Brown Jug, Bartholomew recorded it again as Little Girl Sing Ting-a-Ling, and soon after The Bees recorded it as Toy Bell, though the lyrics were Bartholomew’s. They earned themselves a radio ban for it.

Chuck Berry recorded it as My Tambourine in 1968 (giving himself sole writing credit), though on stage in England he performed Bartholomew’s My Ding-a-Ling. That’s what he did on stage in Coventry when his hit version, with the crowd interaction, was recorded (apparently with The Specials’ Jerry Dammers in the audience; a song covered by The Specials also features here). It became a #1 in the UK, US, Canada and Ireland. Unsurprisingly, the song, which depends on wordplay, fared less well in European countries where audiences were less likely to understand the puns.

 

Could This Be Magic
Several songs here are covered by acts who also recorded the original. So it was with Could This Be Magic. The act that first recorded it in 1971 was Featherbed, which was Barry Manilow and a bunch of session musicians. Written by Manilow with lyrics by producer Tony Orlando, it has the production you’d associate with its producer. It was a flop.

In 1973, Manilow re-recorded the song, with lyrical contributions by Adrienne Anderson. It remained an album track until a remixed version of it was released in 1975.

 

One Love
As the mainman of the Wailers, Bob Marley resurrected an old track from the times when he was a Wailer with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. The first version of One Love was released by The Wailers in 1965, in rocksteady style with all three members providing vocals.

When Marley revived his composition for 1977’s Exodus album, he slowed the song down, added bits of The Impression’s People Get Ready — initially uncredited, until that seemed to be a bad idea — and a reggae classic was born, after a 12-year gestation.

 

Danny’s Song
Also re-recorded by its first singer to good effect was the Loggins & Messina hit Danny’s Boy. Kenny Loggins wrote it for his brother Danny, who had just written him a letter about becoming a father, and recorded it in 1971 with his band Gator Creek, which was — echoes of Manilow’s Featherbed here — Ken and a bunch of session musicians. These included Wrecking Crew regulars such as the great Larry Knechtel (on guitar rather than keys) and Mike Deasy. After one LP Gator Creek was done and Loggins teamed up with Poco alumnus Jim Messina.

 

Saturday Night
Written and produced by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, who created a series of hits for the Bay City Rollers, Saturday Night was first recorded by the band in 1973, with singer Nobby Clark on vocals. The record went nowhere, and Clark soon went his own way — just as follow-up single Remember (Sha-La-La-La) shot up the charts to reach #6.

Saturday Night was re-recorded it in 1974 with new lead singer Les McKeown. In Britain it remained an album track, but in the US, Saturday Night became a #1 hit in 1975 — and inspired the Ramones’ “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go” chant in Blitzkrieg Bop. It also was a huge hit throughout Europe. The McKeown vocals version featured on Any Major Glam Vol. 2.

 

Rock And Roll Love Letter
Another Bay City Rollers classic which evaded the UK charts was Rock And Roll Love Letter, which was huge in Europe and Australia, and reached #28 in the US.

The song was originally recorded by Tim Harris, a musician less loved by fans than he was admired by some big names in music, including Frank Zappa, Donald Fagen, Darryl Hall (with whom Harris worked as a staff songwriter), Michael McDonald, Jeff Porcaro and Timothy B. Schmit. Keith Richards loved Harris guitar work so much that they became friends.

Another admirer was the legendary record executive Clive Davis, who headed the Bay City Rollers’ label Arista. When he heard Rock And Roll Love Letter, he decided that the Scottish band should record it.

Harris never had a big hit but continues to write music. He is also a psychologist and an artist.

 

Come Back My Love
British doo wop/rock & roll revivalists Darts had a knack for picking great but forgotten songs and turning them into late-‘70s hits. So it was with Come Back My Love, a UK #2 hit for the group in early 1978. It was originally recorded in 1954 by The Wrens, a Bronx doo wop trio that never hit the big time. Come Back My Love should have been a massive hit, but (like their other six singles) never was.

The original of the other great Darts cover of the time, Daddy Cool, featured in Any Major Originals: 1970s Vol. 1. The Darts version of Come Back My Love, as the famous cover of the next song, featured on A Life In Vinyl 1978.

 

Davy’s On The Road Again
John Simon had made an inedible mark on popular music as the producer of such classic albums as The Band’s Music from Big Pink and The Band (and later The Last Waltz); Big Brother & the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills, Songs of Leonard Cohen, Blood, Sweat & Tears’ Child Is Father to the Man, and tracks by the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot, Seals & Croft and Mama Cass.

Then in the early 1970s, encouraged by his brother, he released as couple of albums of his own. They did not set the world on fire, and Simon’s pedestrian version of Davy’s On The Road Again from 1971’s  John Simon’s Album seems to indicate why that was so.

Seven years later, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band gave the song, which was written by Simon with The Band’s Robbie Robertson, the treatment it deserved, and had a big hit with it.

 

Love Will Keep Us Together
Forever associated with Captain & Tenille, Love Will Keep Us Together had two previous recordings before Daryl Dragon (the captain’s real name) got his hands on it; playing all instruments on it except the drums, which were played by Hal Blaine. In the fade-out, the song’s co-writer and original performer, Neil Sedaka, gets a shout-out.

The first version of the song, written with Sedaka’s old Brill Building partner Howard Greenfield (the last song they wrote together), appeared on Sedaka’s 1973 The Tra-La Days Are Over album, which was recorded in England, with 10cc backing him. That album was not even released in the US.

Soon after Love Will Keep Us Together was recorded and issued as a single by the West Indian, England-based soul duo Mac and Katie Kissoon. Their version did little business anywhere, except in the Netherlands where it was a hit. It wasn’t the first time that the Kissoons covered an obscure song and soon after see another act score a big hit with it, as we’ll see in the story of the next original.

 

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep
Our old friend Bono, lead singer of Dublin combo U2, likes to tell the story of how seeing Middle of the Road performing Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep on Top of the Pops as a 11-year-old persuaded him that anyone, even little Paul Hewson, could become a pop star. It’s easy, even for Bono, to take a dig at a song called Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, of course. But I submit that, lyrics apart, it is a fine pop song.

Middle of the Road, who thought of themselves more as a folk group than the bubblegum pop combo they are usually remembered as, didn’t want to record the song. It had been a hit in Italy (with the subtitle Cirpi cirpi, cip cip) and Australia for its composer, Liverpudlian Lally (Harold) Stott, and even dented the US charts at #92. The song had greater success there, reaching #20, in a version by Mac and Katie Kissoon (included as a bonus track).

Despite Stott’s success in Italy and Australia, his label, Philips, evidently had little confidence in the recording, so Stott farmed it out to the Middle of the Road, who had just abandoned their previous moniker, Los Caracas, to take up an engagement in Italy.

The band recorded the song reluctantly at singer Sally Carr’s insistence. Bandleader Ken Andrews was initially dismissive: “We were as disgusted with the thought of recording it as most people were at the thought of buying it. But at the end of the day, we liked it.”

Their version, produced by Giacomo Tosti, became a massive hit throughout Europe in early 1971 and was imported to Britain by holidaymakers. At first it seemed that the Kissoons’ version would be a hit there, but influential radio DJ Tony Blackburn championed the Middle of the Road version on his BBC breakfast show, and it eventually reached #1 in June ’71.

Stott went on to work with Middle of the Road, writing their hit Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum. He died in 1977 in an accident while riding his Harley-Davidson — said to have been bought with the royalties of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.

 

Son Of My Father
Chicory Tip’s Son Of My Father, one of the big hits of the 1970s, had its roots in the collaboration between a future disco legend and a German schlager singer. It was written in 1971 by Giorgio Moroder and singer Michael Holm, who had many hits with German versions of English songs.

Holm recorded his collaboration with Moroder as Nachts scheint die Sonne (The sun shines at night) and released it in 1971. The following year Moroder recorded a version of his own, with English lyrics by Pete Bellotte, who later added words to Moroder-written tunes such as Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, Love to Love You Baby and Hot Stuff.

Released under the name of Giorgio, Son Of My Father did moderate business, reaching #47 in Germany (where Holm’s German original stalled at #29); and #46 in the US. It is included as a bonus track.

The song was discovered by British producer Roger Easterby, who got the previously unsuccessful Chicory Tip to record it. It was one of the first UK pop hits to use a Moog synth (as did the Holm and Giorgio versions).

While Giorgio’s modest return in the US was still higher there than that of the Chicory Tip version, also released in 1972, the British band had a huge with it throughout Europe. It topped the charts in the UK, Belgium and Spain, and also was #1 in South Africa and Argentina. But in West-Germany, where the song was born, it got no higher than #18 — though that was still higher than Holm and Moroder.

Holm featured before in The Originals, as the singer of the first vocal version of When A Child Is Born on the Christmas Originals. Moroder has also featured before, as the originator of a schlager hit in Any Major Originals: Schlager Edition.

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

 

1. Moon Martin – Bad Case Of Lovin’ You (1978)
The Usurper: Robert Palmer (1979)

2. Eric Burdon & Animals – Mama Told Me Not To Come (1967)
The Usurper: Three Dog Night (1970), Tom Jones & The Stereophonics (2000)

3. The McCoys – Sorrow (1965)
The Usurpers: The Merseys (1966), David Bowie (1973)

4. Alex Harvey – Delta Dawn (1971)
The Usurpers: Tanya Tucker (1972), Helen Reddy (1973), Bette Midler (1973)

5. Crazy Horse – I Don’t Want To Talk About It (1971)
The Usurpers: Rod Stewart (1977), Everything But The Girl (1988)

6. Gator Greek – Danny’s Song (1970)
The Usurpers: Loggins & Messina (1971), Anne Murray (1972)

7. Don Williams – Tulsa Time (1978)
The Usurper: Eric Clapton (1978)

8. John Simon – Davy’s On The Road Again (1971)
The Usurper: Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (1978)

9. Michael Holm – Nachts scheint die Sonne [Son Of My Father] (1971)
The Usurper: Chickory Tip (1972, as Son Of The Father)

10. Ivana Spagna – Mamy Blue (1971)
The Usurpers: The Pop Tops (1971) and maby others

11. Lally Stott – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (1971)
The Usurpers: Mac and Katie Kissoon (1971), Middle Of The Road (1972)

12. Tim Moore – Rock And Roll Love Letter (1975)
The Usurper: Bay City Rollers (1976)

13. Bay City Rollers – Saturday Night (1973)
The Usurper: Bay City Rollers (1975)

14. Featherbed – Could It Be Magic (1971)
The Usurper: Barry Manilow (1973/1975), Take That (1992)

15. Neil Sedaka – Love Will Keep Us Together (1974)
The Usurper: Captain & Tennille (1975)

16. Paul Anka – She’s A Lady (1970)
The Usurper: Tom Jones (1971)

17. Allen Toussaint – Southern Nights (1975)
The Usurper: Glen Campbell (1977)

18. Gershon Kingsley – Popcorn (1969)
The Usurper: Hot Butter (1972)

19. Dandy Livingstone – Rudy A Message To You (1979)
The Usurper: The Specials (1979)

20. The Melodians – Rivers Of Babylon (1969)
The Usurper: Boney M (1978)

21. The Wailers – One Love (1965)
The Usurper: Bob Marley & The Wailers (1977)

22. The Wrens – Come Back My Love (1955)
The Usurper: Darts (1978)

23. Dave Bartholomew – My Ding-a-ling (1952)
The Usurper: Chuck Berry (1972)

24. Leslie Hutchinson – These Foolish Things (1936)
The Usurper: Bryan Ferry (1973)

25. Red Patterson’s Piedmont Log Rollers – Down On The Banks Of The Ohio (1927)
The Usurpers: Joan Baez (1959/61), Olivia Newton-John (1971)

Bonus Tracks:
Giorgio – Son Of My Father (1971)
Mac and Katie Kissoon – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (1971)
Chuck Berry – My Tambourine (1968)

GET IT! or HERE!

 

More Originals:
The Originals: The Classics
The Originals: Soul
The Originals: Motown
The Originals: Rock & Roll Years
The Originals: 1960s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1970s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1980s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1990s & 2000s
The Originals: Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 1
The Originals: Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 2
The Originals: Beatles Edition
The Originals: Carpenters Edition
The Originals: Burt Bacharach Edition
The Originals: Schlager Edition
The Originals: : Christmas Edition

Categories: The Originals Tags:

Life In Vinyl 1986 Vol. 2

October 10th, 2019 No comments

 

Part 2 of the 1986 edition of A Life In Vinyl covers, naturally enough, the second half of the year, starting in July (Vol. 1 obviously followed the first half of that year). I’ve tried to keep things in the chronological order in which I bought these records — except the last song; I know I bought the LP late that year but have no memory of exactly when that was. I do remember that the LP was on heavy rotation in December that year, though.

During that summer, British TV presented an all-night pop show. Various artists appeared on that programme; I recall Cameo and The Smiths (introduced by Stephen Fry as Der Schmidts and playing Panic) appearing live. Also part of the show was the song that kicks off this collection. The festival was also broadcast in Europe; possibly made in cooperation with European TV stations. Just a year after Live Aid but just before the domination of globalisation, this was quite an exciting venture. Lunatics were advocating Brexit then already, of course, but they were still an idiotic minority.

I suppose most of the acts here are well-known, certainly to readers of this corner of the Internet. But US readers might not know much about acts like The Housemartins. They were a left-wing Indie group of Christians with the motto, “Take Jesus – Take Marx – Take Hope”. After they broke up in 1988, the lead singer went on to form The Beautiful South; the bassist became a famous dance DJ as Fatboy Slim; the lead guitarist became a children’s author and journalist; and the drummer later went to jail for assaulting a business associate with an axe.

Few people outside their native Ireland will remember Cactus World News, who sounded much like the types of Echo & The Bunnymen, Simple Minds, U2 et al. And it was Bono who first signed them to the U2-owened label Mother, and co-produced the first version of The Bridge, which I bought on single in 1985. The version featured here is that from the 1986 Urban Beaches LP, which was also their final album until 2004.

One feature of the UK charts in 1986 finds no inclusion here, though in one instance I contributed to its manifestation. That year the soap opera Eastenders broke so big that it produced three big hits, two of them related to its storylines. One was a spin-off from a rather bad storyline about three teenage characters forming a band, but the other gripped Britain’s imagination — including, I must confess, mine.

Every Loser Wins, sung by actor Nick Berry as character Wicksy, was a plot device to score a romance that ended with the luckless guy being jilted at the altar. After the aborted wedding episode, which made newspaper headlines, the song topped the charts and ended up being the second-biggest selling single of the year. It even won the Ivor Novello Award for songwriting, even though one of the characters in Eastenders got it perfectly right when in a scene she called it “sentimental garbage”. There are many records I regret buying; this was one of them.

There are many other tracks I might have included here, some have aged well, some haven’t, some were good and some not so much. Maybe a bit like this lot — but these tracks have a way of taking me back to my magical time as a 20-year-old in London in 1986.

As always, CD-R length, home-PVC-trousered covers, PW the same as always.

1. Steve Winwood – Higher Love
2. Phil Fearon – I Can Prove It
3. Daryl Hall – Dreamtime
4. Human League – Human
5. Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk – Love Can’t Turn Around
6. Cameo – Word Up
7. Run DMC & Aerosmith – Walk This Way
8. Cactus World News – The Bridge
9. Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom
10. Julian Cope – World Shut Your Mouth
11. Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia (The Full Horror)
12. The Housemartins – Think For A Minute
13. Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush – Don’t Give Up
14. Swing Out Sister – Breakout
15. Madness – (Waiting For) The Ghost Train
16. Alison Moyet – Is This Love?
17. Luther Vandross – Give Me The Reason

GET IT! or HERE!

More A Life In Vinyl
More Mix-CD-Rs

Categories: A Life in Vinyl, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

In Memoriam – September 2019

October 3rd, 2019 4 comments

 

The Cars’ Driver
The death at 75 of Rik Ocasek reminded me of how when I got my first car in 1984, the tape of the Heartbeat City album by The Cars (appropriately) was on heavy rotation. Much of that album has not dated well, though I still enjoy Magic, Why Can’t I Have You, You Might Think (which featured on A Life In Vinyl 1984 Vol. 1) and the title track. I also loved Drive — the album’s stand-out track — until Live Aid destroyed it for me. The laziness of using that song to illustrate the suffering of famine based on one line taken completely out of context still annoys me.

Besides creating a lot of great power pop with The Cars, Ocasek was also a producer. His best-known work in that area is that with Suicide. He also produced Weezer’s eponymous debut album (and listen to The Cars’ 1978 track Just What I Needed as a precursor to the Weezer sound). He also produced other Weezer classics, including the impossibly catchy Island In The Sun. Ocasek also produced acts like Alan Vega, Nada Surf, Hole, Jonathan Richman, Bad Religion, Guided By Voices

The Session Legend
One of those lesser-known giants of music left us in Muscle Shoals guitarist, engineer and producer Jimmy Johnson. His great body of work is in his session guitar work, as a member of the session players’ collective The Swampers (more on that below). As an engineer, Johnson worked on the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album. He also discovered and produced Lynyrd Skynyrd, whose mention of “The Swampers” on Sweet Home Alabama refers to Johnson’s session group.

As a guitarist Johnson often worked alongside Duane Allman, Bobby Womack, Joe South and/or Eddie Hinton on a great many classics recorded in Muscle Shoals, at the FAME Studios and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, which he co-founded.

I have ascertained that he played on Aretha Franklin tracks such as Chain Of Fools, Natural Woman, I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), Think, Since You’ve Been Gone, Call Me; Wilson Picket’s Land Of 1000 Dances; Boz Scaggs’ Dinah Jo; The Staple Singers’ I’ll Take You There, If You’re Ready Come Go With Me, and Respect Yourself (on rhythm guitar); Bobby Womack’s Harry Hippie; Luther Ingram’s If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right); Millie Jackson’s Hurt So Good;  Paul Simon’s 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, Take Me To The Mardi Gras and Kodachrome; Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s the Night and Sailing (on rhythm guitar); Eddie Rabbit’s Suspicions; and Bob Seger’s We’ve Got Tonight, Night Moves, Old Time Rock and Roll (on rhythm guitar) and Good For Me (he accompanied Seger on almost all his albums between 1972 and 1982).

Wikipedia credits him with playing on a dizzying number of other classics, including When a Man Loves A Woman, Mustang Sally, Sweet Soul Music, I’m Your Puppet, Do Right Woman – Do Right Man, Respect (Aretha’s version), Take A Letter Maria, The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff; When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman and Sexy Eyes by Dr Hook.

The Soprano
The In Memoriam series usually does not include musicians from the field of classical music, but an exception may be made with the soprano Jessye Norman, who blazed many trails in her field. In as far as I can be said to have a “favourite” soprano, Norman was that, ever since I first heard her as a 23-year-old. As a friend of mine who had a friendship with Norman can testify, she was a kind, accessible and generous person.

Occasionally Norman dabbled outside the field of opera and lieder, turning her talents to Cole Porter or Michel Legrand (who preceded her in death by a few months), and singing songs of religion. Norman, who was raised as a Baptist, was a freestyling Christian who found greater religious impulse in the Girls Scouts, of whom she was one, than in church — and every year, like a good scout, she would sell thousands of boxes of cookies.

 

Out of Money
Eddie Money was the kind of singer who was massive in the US and made very little impact in the UK or Europe. Between Britain and Germany — the two biggest markets in Europe — Money had one #59 hit (inevitably, Take Me Home Tonight). His sound, it’s fair to say, was thoroughly American. His life could make for a decent bio-pic, though. Money, whose stage name was a corruption of Mahoney (supposedly a joke on never having any cash), wanted to follow his father and grandfather in becoming a cop, but he dropped that career when he was told that he couldn’t have long hair on the job. In 1980, Money mistook a synthetic barbiturate for the cocaine he was going to take and overdosed. For months after he couldn’t walk.

The Grateful Poet
Rarely does a non-performing member of a group gain membership in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but Robert Hunter was the first to make it, in 2004, thanks to the lyrics he wrote for the Grateful Dead. These include Dark Star, St. Stephen, Alligator, Truckin’, China Cat Sunflower, Terrapin Station, and the lovely Ripple. Later he also wrote with Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Little Feat (on their 2012 comeback), and others. Much of his muse came from his experiences as a volunteer in the early 1960s in CIA research into psychedelic drugs. Getting stoned on The Man’s dime, man!

The Disco Man
How strange that a man who has written or produced some of the great disco classics didn’t even have a Wikipedia page. But so it was with Bob Esty, whose death for a few days was marked almost exclusively on Facebook. The tributes on his Facebook page testify to a quality man. And what music he helped create! He produced, composed or arranged hit songs for the likes of Donna Summer, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Dusty Springfield, The Pointer Sisters, The Beach Boys and more.  He (co-)produced Donna Summer’s Last Dance, Streisand’s The Main Event (which also co-wrote and arranged), Cher’s Take Me Home (ibid), The Weather Girls’ It’s Raining Men, and more.

 

The R&B writer
During the R&B heydays of the late 1990s and early 200s, LaShawn Daniels was responsible for writing for some of the biggest names of the time, and scored a good number of hits with his compositions and productions. He co-wrote Whitney Houston’s It’s Not Right (But It’s Okay), Destiny’s Child Say My Name (which he also produced and earned him a Grammy), Jennifer Lopez’s If You Had My Love, Toni Braxton’s He Wasn’t Man Enough, Monica & Brandy’s ‘s The Boy Is Mine, Michael Jackson’s You Rock My World, Tatyana Ali’s Daydreamin’, Whitney Houston & George Michael’s If I Told You That, Twista’s So Lonely, Janet Jackson’s Feedback, Beyoncé’s Telephone, Tamar Braxton’s Love And War, as well as the Spice Girls’ hits Holler, Let Love Lead The Way and Forever. Several of these he also produced. Daniels died at 41 in a car crash.

Not Risen
Jesus has died. That is, Jeff Fenholt, who played Jesus in the original Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and later recorded a few demos with Black Sabbath. Pope Paul VI might have loved the musical, but a Christian builder who did work on Fenholt’s house didn’t. After the builder reprimanded Fenholt for his portrayal of Jesus on the stage (and, I hope, for his horrible singing), the singer-actor converted to Christianity, kicked his various addictions, and ended up having a show on the televangelist exploitation machine Trinity Broadcasting Network. Among all the conservative brylcreem conservatives, Fenholt sported long hair (like Jesus). But don’t let the long hair fool you: Fenholt was a conservative himself, and towards the end of his life a Trumpian on the deplorable end of that deplorable scale.

The Testament
Earlier this year, country singer Kylie Rae Harris recorded a song for her six-year-old daughter, in case of her death. Twenty Years From Now refers to a road trip and the hope of seeing what the next two decades would bring. In light of Harris’ death at 30 in a car accident (which also killed a teenager and was caused by he singer), the song breaks your heart.

 

Laurent Sinclair, 58, composer, keyboardist with French new wave band Taxi Girl, on Sept. 2
Taxi Girl – Mannequin (1980)

Les Adams, 63, English producer, DJ with dance music outfit L.A. Mix, on Sept. 2
L.A. Mix – Check This Out (1988)

LaShawn Daniels, 41, R&B songwriter and producer, in car crash on Sept. 3
Monica & Brandy – The Boy Is Mine (1998)
Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Jazzy Bass remix) (1999, as co-writer)

Dan Warner, session guitarist and songwriter, on Sept. 4
MIKA – Grace Kelly (2006, as co-writer)

Kylie Rae Harris, 30, country singer, in car crash on Sept. 4
Kylie Rae Harris – Twenty Years From Now (2019)

Jimmy Johnson, 76, session guitarist, engineer and producer, on Sept. 5
Solomon Burke – Uptight Good Woman (1969, as co-writer and on guitar)
The Staple Singers – If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)
Muscle Shoals Horns – Hustle To The Music (1976, as member)
Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More Time (1977, as producer)

Camilo Sesto, 72, Spanish singer-songwriter, on Sept. 8
Camilo Sesto – Algo Más (1973)

Lavrentis Machairitsas, 62, Greek rock musician, on Sept. 9

Gru, 46, Serbian rapper, in paragliding accident on Sept. 9
Gru – Biću tu (1996)

Hossam Ramzy, 65, Egyptian percussionist and composer, on Sept. 10
Peter Gabriel – Digging In The Dirt (1992, on the surdu)
Hossam Ramzy – Samya’s Solo (2000)

Jeff Fenholt, 68, musician, actor and televangelist, on Sept. 10
Jeff Fenholt – Gethsemane (1971, as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar)

Torsten Schmidt, singer of German rock band Virus D, on Sept. 10

Daniel Johnston, 58, cult singer-songwriter, on Sept. 11
Daniel Johnston – Impossible Love (2001)

Eddie Money, 70, rock singer-songwriter, on Sept. 13
Eddie Money – Two Tickets To Paradise (1977)
Eddie Money – Take Me Home Tonight (1986, with Ronnie Spector)
Eddie Money – I’ll Get By (1991)

Mick Schauer, keyboardist of hard rock band Clutch, on Sept. 14
Clutch – Mr. Shiny Cadillackness (2007)

Ric Ocasek, 75, singer-songwriter with The Cars, producer, on Sept. 15
The Cars – My Best Friend’s Girl (1978)
The Cars – Magic (1984)
The Cars – Heartbeat City (1985, at Live Aid)
Weezer – Buddy Holly (1994, as producer)

Roberto Leal, 67, Portuguese-Brazilian singer, on Sept. 15
Roberto Leal – Fim dos tempos (1976)

Vic Vogel, 84, Canadian jazz pianist, composer and conductor, on Sept. 16

John Cohen, 87, folk musician and musicologist, on Sept. 16
New Lost City Ramblers – No Depression In Heaven (1959, as member)

Hans Ingemansson, 54, keyboardist of Swedish group The Creeps, screenwriter, on Sept. 17
The Creeps – Smash! (1990)

Tony Mills, 57, singer of English hard-rock groups Shy, TNT, on Sept. 18
Shy – Can’t Fight The Nights (1987, also as co-writer)

Larry Wallis, 70, English rock guitarist with Pink Fairies, Motörhead (1975-76), on Sept. 19
Larry Wallis – Police Car (1977)

María Rivas, 59, Venezuelan Latin jazz singer, on Sept. 19
Maria Rivas – El Motorizado (1991)

Harold Mabern, 83, jazz pianist and composer, on Sept. 19
Betty Carter – This Is Always (1964, on piano)

Sandie Jones, 68, Irish singer, on Sept. 19
Sandie Jones – Ceol An Ghra (1972)

Yonrico Scott, 63, drummer with The Derek Trucks Band, on Sept. 20
Derek Trucks Band – Something To Make You Happy (2009, on drums and percussion)

Leigh “Little Queenie” Harris, 65, singer of Li’l Queenie & the Percolators, on Sept. 21

Robert Hunter, 78, lyricist of the Grateful Dead and musician, on Sept. 23
Grateful Dead – Ripple (1970, as lyricist)
Robert Hunter – Yellow Moon (1975)
Bob Dylan – Silvio (1988, as lyricist)
Counting Crows – Friend Of The Devil (2003, as lyricist)

Richard Brunelle, 55, death metal guitarist with Morbid Angel, Paths of Possession, on Sept. 23

Jim DeSalvo, 53, producer and composer, traffic collision on Sept. 23

Bob Esty, 72, disco producer, arranger writer, musician, on Sept. 27
Donna Summer – I Love You (1977, as arranger, keyboardist, percussionist, backing singer)
Barbra Streisand – The Main Event (1979, as co-writer, producer, arranger)
Cher – Take Me Home (1979, as co-writer, producer, arranger, backing singer)
Pointer Sisters – We’ve Got The Power (1980, as writer)

Jimmy Spicer, 61, American rapper, on Sept. 27
Jimmy Spicer – Money (Dollar Bill Y’all) (1982)

José José, 71, Mexican singer and actor, on Sept. 28

Dessie O’Halloran, 79, Irish fiddler, on Sept. 28
Dessie O’Halloran – Say You Love Me (2004)

busbee, 43, songwriter, producer, musician, label executive, on Sept. 29
Lady Antebellum – Our Kind Of Love (2010, as writer)

Louie Rankin, 55, Jamaican-born Canadian reggae artist and actor, in car crash on Sept. 30
Louie Rankin – Typewriter (1992)

Jessye Norman, 74, soprano, on Sept. 30
Jessye Norman – There Is A Man Going Round (1978)
Jessye Norman – In The Still Of The Night (1984)
Jessye Norman – Les Moulins De Mon Cœur (The Windmills Of Your Mind) (2000)

GET IT! or HERE!

 

Categories: In Memoriam Tags: