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Any Major Top 75 Acts (57-75)

January 26th, 2021 2 comments

 

 

Notions about the greatest pop acts in history can be fun diversions, prompting the consumer of such lists to compare how these match up with their own. So what we have here is the first of four instalments of the Top 75 pop artists of the Rock & Roll era, as chosen by my good self and my trusty assistants at Rolling Stone magazine.

These four parts of the countdown are then accompanied by mixes featuring my notional “favourite” song of each of the listed acts. For the most part, there are no favourites. The chosen tracks will mostly be the favourite of the day I picked them, or songs I’ve always listed as my “favourites” of that particular artist. Take The Temptations: I picked the song I’ve always considered my “favourite” of theirs, but it might just as well have been My Girl, or Since I Lost My Baby, or Ball Of Confusion. Most chosen tracks will be unsurprising and probably quite obvious, not because I’m unfamiliar with the catalogue of most acts (though some are a bit of a foreign country to me), but because most acts’ best tracks tend to be famous. No pretentiousness here in picking tunes.

So, the method of listing the Top 75 acts… First I took the Rolling Stone list of the Top 100 greatest artists in popular music. Acts placed in the Top 10 got five points, Top 20 acts four, Top 40 three, Top 60 two, Top 100 one.

Then I compiled my own Top 100, allocating points by the same method. Obviously, acts not listed in the Rolling Stone list got zero points, as did acts on the RS list not on my list. Of this Top 75, there are 19 that did not make the RS Top 100.

Next I awarded points on as scale from four to one to reflect how influential an act was. So Nirvana or Chuck Berry would get the maximum four, because they shaped their respective genres. Billy Joel (not included in the RS list) shaped rather little, and received one point for his troubles.

Finally, I awarded points for how many albums of each act I own. A complete collection earned contenders three points; five albums or more two points, 3-4 albums one point.

The rankings were determined by total points. Only the winner scored the maximum 17 points (Spoiler alert: it’s Michael Bolton). The lowest points accumulation to merit inclusion on the list was six (four on the list, plus six bubbling under). I left the rankings by Rolling Stone in their original sequence, but inserted my nominated newcomers where I think they belong.

The final results produced surprising fluctuations. In my list, U2 actually rank higher than on the Rolling Stone list. I was quite startled by that. Half of my Top 10 resided outside the RS Top 20, but the Everly Brothers, whom I like well enough, dropped 41 places. If only I owed more of their albums…

Needless to say, several acts here would not come anywhere near my own Top 100. Their presence owes to their level of influence and the judgment of the editors of the Rolling Stone.

Finally, I did a little weeding on the RS list: I disqualified jazz acts, firstly because this is a pop list, and secondly, Rolling Stone included a few token jazz artists rather than giving the entire genre a fair shake. And I excluded the recently late Phil Spector, who rather stood out as the only producer in the lot. But if producers should qualify, where’s Quincy Jones (who’d merit consideration as a jazz artist as well)? Or Holland-Dozier-Holland?

For some inexplicable reason, Rolling Stone also excluded jazz singers and crooners — no Ella Fitzgerald or Dinah Washington or Frank Sinatra or Nat King Cole or Sarah Vaughn or Tony Bennett — so I couldn’t consider them myself. Maybe those are worth a list of their own.

Lastly, the RS list is fairly old. I suppose an updated list might include the likes of Beyoncé (her husband features, but not on mine) or Lady Gaga or Pharrell Williams or John Legend or Kings of Leon. Much as I like some of the more recent icons of pop, none of them would make my Top 75 anyway.

So, here are places 57 to 75 (Rolling Stone Top 100 ranking in brackets), with featured track:

75 (43) Sly & Family Stone (Family Affair)
74 (33) The Everly Brothers (All I Have To Do Is Dream)
73 (—) The Bee Gees (Marley Purt Drive)
72 (—) Neil Diamond (Brooklyn Roads)
71 (—) Little Feat (Willin’)
70 (—) Ben Folds (Trusted)
69 (98) Curtis Mayfield (No Thing On Me)
68 (90) Santana (Jin-Go-Lo-Ba)
67 (74) Hank Williams (Your Cheatin’ Heart)
66 (70) The Police (So Lonely)
65 (62) Joni Mitchell (Carey)
64 (60) The Sex Pistols (Pretty Vacant)
63 (57) Grateful Dead (Ripple)
62 (49) Elton John (Tiny Dancer)
61 (45) The Byrds (Eight Miles High)
60 (34) Neil Young (Harvest Moon)
59 (30) Nirvana (Smells Like Teen Spirit)
58 (—) Billy Joel (Summer, Highland Falls)
57 (29) The Who (Won’t Get Fooled Again)

The playlist follows a different sequence. The mix is timed to fit on as standard CD-R.  Home-hyped covers included. PW in comments

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Any Major Dude Kills Fascism

January 19th, 2021 6 comments

 

Here’s a mix to celebrate the end of the most toxic US presidency in the past 150 years (or more, depending on how you count these things), with the theme of anti-fascism. It might get me implicated by Rhyming Slang Carlson over in Crazy Town as a provocateur in the actions of seditious Nazis, but that’s the least of my problems. Rhyming Slang and his fellow superannuated school ground bullies think that being anti-fascist is a bad thing, and I can hear the whole Fox gang spitting bile to the effect that of course they are not for fascism. But what are we to call people who on principle — rather than by the misleading slander of Antifa by Rhyming Slang, Sphincter Mouth and friends — actively oppose anti-fascism? Let’s call them, for little want of a better word, what they are: fascists.  If the jackboot fits, wear it comfortably.

Many anti-fascist songs tend to be not up my alley. Much of it is punk or hardcore, genres which I approach with admiration for spirit but musically with a selective mind. Lyrically, many are trite (step up, Graham Nash), or are good but approach the subject matter in such a way that it can be appropriated by assholes in horns or red caps. For example, I might have considered Rage Against The Machines’ left-wing anthem Take The Power Back, but that is exactly what these Ted Nugents would write on their MAGA placards.

I have also excluded songs about racism, racist oppression or civil rights, because there is a series on that theme already underway. I couldn’t include Gil Scott-Heron’s The Revolution Won’t Be Televised, because a couple of weeks ago, an attempt at revolution was televised. I also didn’t include John Fogerty’s track Weeping In The Promised Land, on account of it having just been released. And I excluded the very obvious pick, Dead Kennedy’s Nazi Punks Fuck Off, on account of musical aesthetics, even though it features the important line: “In a real Fourth Reich, you’d be the first to go.”

Lastly, I excluded political songs that are very potent but aim its critique at the entire system which needs overthrowing (such as, say, Public Enemy’s Fight The Power), the crime of racism (which is covered in the Protest Soul mixes: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and Vol. 3) or war (see the anti-Vietnam War mixes: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2).

But we are left with a good selection, ranging from the old Italian anti-Mussolini partisan song Ciao Bella and memories of street battles against fascists in London’s Cable Street or Bob Dylan’s own history lessons to Pink Floyd’s perspective of the fascist to the obvious (like American Idiot, here in a live version), to Curtis Mayfield’s message of hope, which should resonate with every decent American right now. And, of course, Woody Guthrie — whose guitar inspired this mix’s rather hopeful title — features twice, by himself and in his song covered by Billy Bragg & Wilco.

Woody Guthrie and his fascist-killing machine (colourised picture).

 

Most of these songs are sweeping in their anti-fascism —Heaven 17 deliver pretty much what their title promise: informing us that we, in fact, do not need the fascist groove thang (though our interlocutors on the subject may need spelling lessons). Others qualify by dint of a line or two, such as the one in the Pogues song which refers to the protagonist having “decked some fucking blackshirt” (the line ends with a word I’d not like to reproduce, even as I assume it was used ironically in relation to the decked blackshirt).

Bright Blue’s Weeping, released in 1987 at the height of apartheid’s last stand, is a critique of the racist and, indeed, fascist system from which South Africa is still trying to recover, but it can apply to all notions of totalitarianism. Weeping was a hit on white South African radio, despite its subversive sample of the then-banned struggle (and now national) anthem Nkosi Sikeli’ Africa.

In his song, protest-singer Phil Ochs aims his guitar at Richard Nixon, but replace the name of the president who quit before he could be impeached with that of the president who has been impeached twice, and the message barely changes.

A special word for Depeche Mode, whose left-wing members are puzzled by their popularity with the so-called alt.right. Their 1983 song Everything Counts features here, partly idiotic lyrics notwithstanding. But as we wave goodbye to old Sphinctermouth, I think this verse (in which I replace one little word for another) anticipated him by more than three decades: “The graph on the wall / Tells the story of it all / Picture it now / See just how, the lies and deceit / Gained a little more power / Confidence taken in by a spray tan and a grin.”

Fascism isn’t a US problem only, obviously. Almost all of Latin America has suffered from fascism. Democratic systems in Europe and Britain are infected by that disease, Australia is flirting with it, and the Nazis in Chinos have entered the mainstream in France and Germany, two countries whose experience with fascism should serve as a deterrent to that philosophy.

This is not a complete selection of anti-fascist songs, of course, and you are free — for freedom is what we demand! — to list your nominations in the comments section.

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

1. Woody Guthrie – Tear The Fascists Down (1944)
2. Chumbawamba – On The Day The Nazi Died (1993)
3. Heaven 17 – (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang (1981)
4. Depeche Mode – Everything Counts (1983)
5. Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next (1998)
6. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Night Rally (1977)
7. Pink Floyd – Waiting For The Worms (1979)
8. Bright Blue – Weeping (1987)
9. Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes (1971)
10. Curtis Mayfield – Keep On Keeping On (1971)
11. Bama The Village Poet – Justice Isn’t Blind (1972)
12. Stevie Wonder – Big Brother (1972)
13. Phil Ochs – Here’s To The State Of Richard Nixon (1974)
14. Bob Dylan – Only A Pawn In Their Game (1964)
15. Billy Bragg & Wilco – All You Fascists (2000)
16. Sonic Youth – Youth Against Fascism (1992)
17. Green Day – American Idiot (Iive) (2005)
18. The Beat – Two Swords (1980)
19. The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Ghosts Of Cable Street (1986)
20. The Pogues – The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn (1985)
21. Marc Ribot – Bella Ciao (Goodbye Beautiful) (2018)
22. Les Misérables – Do You Hear The People Sing (1987)
BONUS:
Sham 69 – If The Kids Are United (1978)
Woody Guthrie & Sonny Terry – All You Fascists Bound To Lose (1944)

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Any Major Fusion Vol. 1

January 14th, 2021 3 comments

It began with Miles Davis and broke down with Kenny G. Jazz Fusion, and the various guises in which it revealed itself, began with the experimental fusion of jazz and rock of Davis’ 1968 album Miles In The Sky. The likes of John McLoughlin, Herbie Hancock, Al Di Meola, Chick Corea, Bob James and so on continued in that avant garde vein. But other, more funk and soul oriented musicians, emerged in the 1970s, and many of the avant garde crowd also contributed to the rise of the more accessible form of fusion, the kind that would be saddled with the horrible moniker “smooth jazz”.

And it”s from the tradition of that horribly monikered “smooth jazz” that this compilation draws, with the intention to rehabilitate the genre, and to reclaim it from the generic and often utterly dull rubbish that also goes by the horrible (but in their case entirely apt) moniker. Be assured that there’s also some unsmooth material by people like Oliver Sain and Bill Summers, plus a great jazz-disco number by veteran saxophonist Houston Person (and check out his phallocentric LP cover; will the lady blow it?).

There is nothing wrong with smooth. Marvin Gaye was smooth. Many great things are smooth. Smooth can be bad. Kenny G is smooth and bad. Gerald Albright is smooth and dull. But in his day, Grover Washington Jr was smooth and great.

Many of the fusion greats were session musicians. And many great session musicians would play on their colleagues” records. I would wager that the jazz fusion scene was the most racially integrated genre in modern music.

Dave Grusin is probably most famous as the Oscar-winning composer of film scores (he wrote the music for films such as Tootsie, The Milagro Beanfields, The Fabulous Baker Boys and The Firm), but through his GRP label, he fostered much great jazz. His beautiful Anthem International features Lee Ritenour on guitar and Steve Gadd on drums. You’ll have heard Gadd’s drumming: on Steely Dan’s Aja, perhaps, or on Paul Simon’s One Trick Pony (which also featured guitarist Eric Gale), or you might have seen him on DVD, backing Simon & Garfunkel in Central Park and Eric Clapton at Hyde Park. Or, of course, you might have downloaded the three mixes in the Steve Gadd Collections that have been posted here: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 Vol. 3 are all still up.

Gadd also appears on Grover Washington’s East River Drive, alongside the great percussionist Ralph McDonald (who also produced the album it comes from), the brilliant bassist Marcus Miller (who played with Ritenour on Tom Browne’s Funkin’ For Jamaica), keyboard player Richard Tee (whom you’ve also seen on Simon & Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park; but just check out his amazing list of credits, accumulated before his death at 49) and Eric Gale.

Meanwhile, Hugh Masekela guests on Eric Gale‘s equally gorgeous Blue Horizon, and Earth, Wind & Fire turn up on Ramsey Lewis‘ Whisper Zone (whose keyboard solo reaches a note that might shatter crystal). EWF’s Maurice White also co-produced Roy Ayers‘ Everybody Loves The Sunshine.

The Montana Sextet aren’t very famous, though the Heavy Vibes single did fairly well. They were led by and named after Vincent Montana Jr, founder of the Salsoul Orchestra and percussionist of Philadelphia International’s houseband MFSB, who died in 2013. The man’s credits were dizzying.

We encounter Joe Sample in this mix as a member of the Crusaders, but also as the composer of Blue Mitchell‘s catchy Asso-Kam, on which he also did keyboard duty.

All but two of the acts on this mix are American; quite by chance, the exceptions are the opener, Iceland’s Mezzoforte, and the closer, Sadao Watanabe, who is Japanese — and whose track features Dave Grusin, Ralph McDonald, Richard Tee and Steve Gadd.

And if all this sounded familiar, you might have been reading this nine years ago, when I first posted this mix.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and comes with homefused front and back cover. PW in comments

TRACKLISTING:
1. Mezzoforte – Garden Party (1983)
2. Montana Sextet – Heavy Vibes (1982)
3. George Duke – Brazilian Love Affair (1979)
4. Ramsey Lewis – Whisper Zone (1980)
5. Spyro Gyra – Morning Dance (1979)
6. Tania Maria – Come With Me (1982)
7. Blue Mitchell – Asso-Kam (1973)
8. Eric Gale – Blue Horizon (1981)
9. Dave Grusin – Anthem Internationale (1982)
10. Grover Washington Jr. – East River Drive (1981)
11. Crusaders – Keep That Same Old Feeling (1976)
12. Oliver Sain – London Express (1975)
13. Bill Summers & Summers Heat – Brazilian Skies (1977)
14. Houston Person – Do It While You Can (1977)
15. Roy Ayers – Everybody Loves The Sunshine (1976)
16. Sadao Watanabe – Nice Shot (1980)

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Any Major Dylan Covers

January 12th, 2021 1 comment

Between 2016 and 2018, I created five mixes of covers of Bob Dylan songs. All links are dead now, so I have put them in convenient parcels. See the original posts for linernotes (also in text documents in the folders)

Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 1-5 (RG)

Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 1-3 (Zippy)

Any Major Dylan Covers Vol. 4-5 (Zippy)

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Any Major Favourites 2020 – Vol. 2

January 7th, 2021 3 comments

On the first day of 2021, I posted Volume 1 of the Any Major Favourites, which collects one track from each of the playlists I posted in the past year (except the In Memoriams and Christmas mixes).

This collection recalls the typically-2020 event: when this site was hacked and thoroughly messed up. That happened days after I posted a mix on the subject of the colour orange. The accompanying text made no mention of the name of Agent Orange in the White House, but I’ll always claim that my little corner of the Internet was attacked by his friends, probably the Russian.

So for a couple of weeks the site was down. Having just lost my full-time job, I appealed for help on Facebook.  And, wow, did people rally! The Facebook friends of this blog, some still from the earliest days, kept it alive (become my friend here and be notified of all new posts — and, it seems, occasional drama). The Standing Together mix was my thank-you to these kind generous people.

At the same time (even preceding the Russian attack), several people encouraged me to set up something like the Buy Me A Coffee thing, whereby readers can express their appreciation for my work by, well, “buying me a cup of coffee”. An encouraging number of people have kept me running in caffeine — and helped to build up the fund to cover the costs of running this site (hosting, domain renewal, hacker protection subscription etc). Thank you, thank you, thank you, beautiful Any Major Readers!

Thank you also for your comments. These are the oxygen for any blogger. How good it is to read that somebody enjoyed a mix, or read with such attentiveness as to spot a factual error somewhere, or taking the time to commend me on the quality of my writing. And how encouraging it is to hear that my efforts helped somebody through this past year.

So, here are representative tracks of 17 more mixes posted in 2020. Both Any Major Favourites packages include a PDF version of the post, with all the links below, for easy access.

1. Elias & His Zigzag Jive Flutes – Tom Hark (1957)
The Originals: 1980s Vol. 2

2. Johnny Clegg & Savuka – Scatterlings Of Africa (1987)
A Life in Vinyl 1987 Vol. 1

3. John Lennon – Nobody Told Me (rel. 1984)
Beatles Reunited: Let It See (1980)

4. Alexi Murdoch – Orange Sky (2002)
Any Major Orange

5. Warren Zevon – Splendid Isolation (1989)
Any Major Pandemic

6. Smith – Baby, It’s You (1969)
Beatles Recovered: Please, Please Me

7. Carole King – We Are All In This Together (1974)
Any Major Standing Together

8. Phil Collins – Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) (1984)
Any Major Power Ballads Vol. 1

9. Brenton Wood – Baby You Got It (1967)
Any Major Southern Soul

10. Nicole Willis And The Soul Investigators – If This Ain’t Love (2005)
Any Major ABC  of Soul

11. Diane Schuur – Louisiana Sunday Afternoon (1988)
Any Major Week Vol. 2

12. Bobby Caldwell – I Get A Kick Out Of You (1993)
Any Major Cole Porter Vol. 2

13. Merle Travis – Sixteen Tons (1947)
The Originals: Country Edition

14. Buddy Jones – Rockin’ Rollin’ Mama (1939)
Any Major Firsts

15. Lena Horne – One For My Baby (1944)
The Originals: Rat Pack Edition

16. Zarah Leander – Davon geht die Welt nicht unter (1942)
Germany’s Hit Parade 1930-37
Germany’s Hit Parade 1938-45

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In Memoriam – December 2020

January 4th, 2021 8 comments

It was a pretty bad month for bass players, electric or standing. One of the bass thumpers we lost was the last survivor of the Dave Brubeck Quartet that recorded Take Five. Also gone is the last of the McGuire sisters, the one with the most colourful life of the trio.

For a couple of months I stopped marking deaths as being related to Covid-19 but given the second waves in many parts of the world, and the incomprehensibly casual behaviour of some people, some governments and some defeated presidents, noting them might help highlight the need to just be responsible until this pandemic is over.

The Barrier-Breaker
Though I am not a particular fan of his music, I had huge admiration for Charley Pride as a barrier-breaker (even if his career hasn’t produced an excess of black country performers). Apart from a bit of dabbling in gospel, Pride was uncompromisingly country. In that way he reclaimed a little of the black influence on that genre, which in the early days was significant (see my free eBook A Brief History of Country Music). Arguably Pride was not, as the obituaries claimed, country’s first black superstar — that probably was DeFord Bailey, who was a founding member of the Opry until he was abruptly dismissed in 1941. Pride, however, was certainly the biggest black star in country, and he transcended race — without being obsequious, selling out or denying the evil of systemic racism or its effects — as was evidenced when he was named Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards in 1971.

And like some other country singers, Pride had a colourful background story. Born into a poor sharecropper family in Sledge, Mississippi, Pride became a professional baseball player. Injuries prevented a sparkling career, but at his last station as a semi-pro (while working for a lead smelter, shovelling coal into the furnace), the team manager recognised Pride’s singing talent and paid him to sing for 15 minutes at games. This led Pride to revive his old dream of recording music — he tried his luck at Sun Records in the 1950s. Local gigs led him to RCA and what turned out to be a fruitful career in music.

The Zorro Rapper
In the rise of hip hop, Whodini played a pioneering role, as we were reminded of by the death at only 56 of co-vocalist John Fletcher, or Ecstasy. In 1982, Whodini became the first rap act to have a proper music video produced to promote a single, their debut Magic’s Wand (whose bassist and co-writer Matthew Seligmann died in April). Whodini were innovators in drawing from influences beyond hip hop and dance music. They were early adopters of R&B and electronic pop. New wave type Thomas Dolby produced that debut single, and Krautrock giant Conny Plank produced Whodini’s eponymous debut album — not in rap capital New York but a bucolic suburb of ancient Cologne. With that sound, Whodini were among the first hip hop acts to cross over to mainstream black radio. While co-vocalist Jalil Hutchins was the main writer, Fletcher was the focal point, with his Zorro hat.

The British Invader
In the vanguard of the British invasion were a softly-singing duo with the well-mannered names of Chad and Jeremy, the first half of which, Chad Stuart (born David Stuart Chadwick) has died. They first hit on both sides of the Atlantic with Yesterday’s Gone, followed by songs such as A Summer Song, Willow Weep for Me, and Before And After. But by 1966 the hits dried up when Jeremy Clyde went on a year’s break to appear in a stage play in London. Chad meanwhile tried to keep the buzz going in the US with his wife Jill, but with no great success.

Back in the UK, Chad and Jeremy collaborated whenever the latter had the time. They also made friends with a young folk singer from the US who had just split from his own duo partner after their debut album flopped. Paul Simon gave Chad & Jeremy a song titled Homeward Bound to record. A few weeks later, Simon & Garfunkel reunited, following the surprise success of a remixed version of their Sound of Silence. Chad & Jeremy had considered Homeward Bound for a single release, but having got wind of Simon & Garfunkel considering the song as a follow-up to their first hit, the British duo opted for a song titled Teenage Failure. It turned out to be just that, a failure, teenage or not. Chad & Jeremy in the end released Homeward Bound in August 1966 on their Distant Shores album. Simon & Garfunkel had a #5 hit with it earlier that year.

Chad & Jeremy recorded another couple of albums and a movie soundtrack, which were critically praised but commercially unsuccessful. They split in 1968, having sporadic reunions thereafter.

The Five Bassist
The last surviving member of the Dave Brubeck Quartet which recorded the timeless Take Five has departed. Bass player Eugene Wright died at the age of 97. The Chicago-born musician made his recording debut in 1947 as a member of Leo Parker’s All Stars, where he played alongside future jazz great Gene Ammons, whom he later backed. Wright went on to play with acts like Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, Cal Tjader, Buddy de Franco, Kenny Drew, and Sonny Stitt. But Wright’s big break came with the Dave Bubeck Quartet, which he belonged to throughout its glory years from the late 1950s to late-1960s. He also backed by the quartet’s saxophonist Paul Desmond, who wrote Take Five, on his solo records.

In between he released one solo record, The Wright Groove in 1962. Unusually, he recorded it in New Zealand, with a trio of local jazz musicians. After Brubeck, Wright joined the Monty Alexander Trio. Wright rarely ventured outside jazz; one occasion when he did so was to play the double-bass on Simon & Garfunkel’s 59th Street Bridge Song.

The Songwriter
On Christmas Eve I stood in my kitchen preparing seasonal deserts and crooning along to Dana’s It’s Going To Be A Cold, Cold Christmas; it was the day the song’s co-writer died, at the age of 86. Geoff Stephens had his first taste of success as the founder of The New Vaudeville Band, who had a worldwide hit with the Grammy-winning Winchester Cathedral, a Stephens composition, in 1967. Stephens also wrote There’s A Kind Of Hush for his band, though it would be a hit for Herman’s Hermits and in the 1960s for the Carpenters. By then he had already written or co-written hits for Dave Berry (The Crying Game, later a hit for Boy George) and The Applejacks (Tell Me When), and co-produced Donovan’s breakout hits Catch The Wind and Universal Soldier.

Stephens’ list of subsequent hits, most of them co-written with Les Reed, is impressive, regardless of what one might think of their uneven quality. His biggest hit was David Soul’s 1977 Silver Lady. Others included You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me (The New Seekers), Semi-Detached Suburban Mr. James (Manfred Mann), Lights of Cincinnati (Scott Walker), Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast (Wayne Newton), Sorry Suzanne (The Hollies), Daughter of Darkness (Tom Jones), Like Sister And Brother (The Drifters), Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha (Cliff Richard), Knock, Knock Who’s There (Mary Hopkin), It’s Like We Never Said Goodbye (Crystal Gayle), and I’ll Put You Together Again (Hot Chocolate).

The Hard Rocker
With the passing of Leslie West, we have lost another musician who took to the stage at Woodstock in 1969 (see mixes here). As guitarist and singer of hard-rock band Mountain, West played a pivotal part in the development of heavy metal, with songs like the cowbell-anthem Mississippi Queen. After Mountain split in 1972, West and Mountain drummer Corky Laing teamed up with Cream’s Jack Bruce and Al Kooper of Blood, Sweat & Tears to record two studio albums, as well as a live set. Soon the band broke up.

Mountain appeared in 2009 at the Woodstock 40th anniversary concert. After they played their set, Leslie West married his fiancée Jenni Maurer on stage under a canopy of guitars. Two years later, he lost a leg due to diabetes, but West kept performing. He released his final album, Soundcheck, in 2015.

The Last Sister
With the death of Phyllis McGuire at 89, the last McGuire Sister has left the stage, with Dottie dying in 2012 and oldest sister Ruby two years and a day before Phyllis. The trio started performing in 1935, when Phyllis was just four years old, launching a 33-year-long career that included two US #1s, Sincerely and Sugartime. The end came in 1968, with a performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, due to Phyllis’ relationship with mafia boss Sam Giancana, which had seen the sisters widely blacklisted. Phyllis had already released a number of solo singles by then, on the Reprise label founded by, of course, Frank Sinatra.

Phyllis certainly picked up architectural taste from her lovers’ milieu. Her Las Vegas mansion included a swan moat and a replica of the Eiffel Tower which protruded through the structure’s roof. She denied that Giancana had bought her that mansion and claimed that she had invested in oil to produce the wealth which she could flaunt in such absurd ways. The sisters reunited in 1986 and performed on and off for the next two decades. The McGuire Sisters featured a few times here: on Any Major ABC of the 1950s; Any Major Jones Vol. 2; and Any Major 1950s Christmas.

As always, this post is reproduced in PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Dan Morrison, drummer of Australian ska punk band Area-7, on Dec. 1

Ron Mathewson, 76, Scottish jazz double bassist and bass guitarist, of Covid-19 on Dec. 2
Joan Armatrading – Cool Blue Stole My Heart (1975, on double-bass)

Kenny Jeremiah, 77, lead singer of soul group Soul Survivors, of Covid-19 on Dec. 4
Soul Survivors – Expressway To Your Heart (1967)

Franco Bolignari, 91, Italian jazz singer, on Dec. 4
Franco Bolignari – Crudelia De Mon (1961)

Sara Carreira, 21, French-Portuguese singer, traffic collision on Dec. 5

Eric Pacheco, 53, bass guitarist with hard rock band Babylon A.D., on Dec. 6

Howard Wales, 77, keyboardist, on Dec. 7
Grateful Dead – Candyman (1970, on keyboards)
Howard Wales – Rendezvous (Part I) (1976)

Dawn Lindberg, 75, South African folk-singer, of Covid-19 on Dec. 7
Des & Dawn Lindberg – The Seagull’s Name Was Nelson (1971)

LD Beghtol, 55, musician and writer, on Dec. 7
The Magnetic Fields – All My Little Words (1999, vocals)

Harold Budd, 84, avant-garde composer and poet, of Covid-19 on Dec. 8
Harold Budd & Brian Eno – The Silver Ball (1984)

Jason Slater, 49, rock bassist (Third Eye Blind), producer, mixer, on Dec. 9
Snake River Conspiracy – You And Your Friend (2000, as member)
Queensrÿche – All The Promises (2008, as producer, bassist, second drummer)

Sean Malone, 50, bassist with metal bands Cynic, Gordian Knot, Aghora, on Dec. 9

Joseph ‘Mojo’ Morganfield, 56, blues singer (son of Muddy Waters), on Dec. 10
Mojo Morganfield – Who’s Gonna Be Your Sweet Man When I’m Gone (2018)

Barbara Windsor, 83, English actress and singer, on Dec. 10
Barbara Windsor – When I Was A Child (1970)

Ubirany, 80, singer with Brazilian samba band Fundo de Quintal, of Covid-19 on Dec. 11
Fundo de Quintal – Saber Viver (1983)

Dariusz Malinowski, 55, bassist with Polish punk band Siekiera, on Dec. 12

Charley Pride, 86, country legend, of Covid-19 on Dec. 13
Charley Pride – She’s Still Got A Hold On You (1969)
Charley Pride – Kiss An Angel Good Morning (1971)
Charley Pride – Let Me Live (1971)
Charley Pride – Shouldn’t It Be Easier Than This? (1987)

Andrey Sapunov, 64, singer-bassist of Russian rock band Voskreseniye, on Dec. 13

Paulinho dos Santos, 68, singer of Brazilian rock band Roupa Nova, of Covid 19 on Dec. 14
Roupa Nova – Volta pra mim (1987)

Pauline Anna Strom, 74. electronic composer, on Dec. 14

Albert Griffiths, 74, guitarist-singer of Jamaican reggae band The Gladiators, on Dec. 15
The Gladiators – Music Makers From Jamaica (1978)

Sam Jayne, 46, singer of hardcore band Lync, indie band Love as Laughter, found on Dec. 15
Love as Laughter – Don’t Worry (2008)

Carl Mann, 78, rockabilly singer, on Dec. 16
Carl Mann – Mona Lisa (1958)

Emil Cadkin, 100, TV and film composer, on Dec. 16

Stanley Cowell, 79, jazz pianist, co-founder of Strata-East Records, on Dec. 17
Stanley Cowell – Blues For The Viet Cong (1969)
Stanley Cowell – Trying To Find A Way (1975)

Jeff Clayton, 66, jazz saxophonist, on Dec. 17
Patrice Rushen – Wishful Thinking (1978, on oboe)
The Clayton Brothers – Saturday Night Special (1997, on alto sax)

Vinicio Franco, 87, Dominican merengue singer-songwriter, of Covid-19, on Dec. 19

Pepe Salvaderi, guitarist-singer with Italian pop band Dik Dik, on Dec. 19
I Dik Dik – Il Primo Giorno Di Primavera (1969)

Per Alsing, 60, drummer of Roxette, on Dec. 19
Roxette – Sleeping In My Car (1994)

Clay Anthony, 61, bassist of rock band Junkyard (1987-91), traffic accident on Dec. 19
Junkyard – Simple Man (1989)

Chad Stuart, 79, half of English duo Chad & Jeremy, on Dec. 20
Chad & Jeremy – A Summer Song (1964)
Chad & Jeremy – Teenage Failure (1966)
Chad & Jeremy – Homeward Bound (1966)
Chad & Jeremy – Painted Dayglow Smile (1967)

Art DeIrorio, Cajun/country fiddler, on Dec. 20
Link Davis – Have You Heard The News (1948, on fiddle)

K.T. Oslin, 78, country singer-songwriter, on Dec. 21
K.T. Oslin – 80’s Ladies (1987)

Rebecca Luker, 59, musical actress and singer, on Dec. 23
Rebecca Luker – Remember (2009)

Rika Zaraï, 82, Israeli singer and writer, on Dec. 23

Leslie West, 75, singer-guitarist of rock band Mountain, on Dec. 23
The Vagrants – I Can’t Make A Friend (1966)
Mountain – Long Red (Live at Woodstock) (1969)
Mountain – Mississippi Queen (1970)
West, Bruce & Laing – Backfire (1972)

John ‘Ecstasy’ Fletcher, 56, rapper with hip-hop pioneers Whodini, on Dec. 23
Whodini – Friends (1984)
Whodini – Last Night (I Had A Long Talk With Myself) (1986)
Whodini feat. Millie Jackson – Be Yourself (1987)

Geoff Stephens, 86, English songwriter, producer and musician, on Dec. 24
Scott Walker – Lights Of Cincinnati (1969)
Mary Hopkin – Knock Knock Who’s There (1970, as co- writer)
Hot Chocolate – I’ll Put You Together Again (1978)
Boy George – The Crying Game (1992)

Tony Rice, 69, bluegrass musician, on Dec. 25
Tony Rice – Banks Of The Ohio (1977)

Amadeu Casas, 66, Spanish guitarist and blues singer, on Dec. 26

Tito Rojas, 65, Puerto Rican salsa singer, on Dec. 26
Tito Rojas – Siempre Sere (1990)

Víctor Cuica, 71, Venezuelan jazz saxophonist, on Dec. 26
Víctor Cuica  – El Ratón (1993)

Jeff Jacks, singer of rock band The Termites, reported on Dec. 27

Armando Manzanero, 85, Mexican singer-songwriter, Covid-19 on Dec. 28
Armando Manzanero – Somos novios (1968)
Armando Manzanero & Lisset – Nada Personal (1996)

Claude Bolling, 90, French jazz pianist and composer, on Dec. 29
Claude Bolling – Baroque And Blue (1975)

Rudy Salas, 71, member of Latin R&B groups El Chicano, Tierra, on Dec. 29
El Chicano – One More Night (1975)
Tierra – Together (1980)

Gösta Linderholm, 79, Swedish singer and composer, on Dec. 29

Alto Reed, 72, saxophonist in Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band, on Dec. 30
Bob Seger – Turn The Page (Live) (1976, on saxophone)
Bob Seger – The Horizontal Bop (1980, on saxophone)

Phyllis McGuire, 89, third of The McGuire Sisters, on Dec. 30
McGuire Sisters – Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight (1954)
McGuire Sisters – Sugartime (1957)
Phyllis McGuire – That’s Life (1966)

‘Senator’ Eugene Wright, 97, bassist with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, on Dec. 30
Leo Parker’s All Stars – El Sino (1947, on double bass)
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Blue Rondo a La Turk (1959, on double bass)
Eugene Wright – The Wright Groove (1962)
Simon & Garfunkel – 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy) (1969, on double bass)

Frank Kimbrough, 64, jazz pianist, on Dec. 30
Frank Kimbrough Trio – Hymn (2012)

Seaman Dan, 91, Australian musician, on Dec. 30

Mick Bolton, 72, British keyboardist, reported on Dec. 31
Mott The Hoople – Sweet Angeline (Live) (1974, on keyboards)

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Any Major Favourites 2020 – Vol. 1

January 1st, 2021 6 comments

HAPPY NEW YEAR. May this new year 2021, despite the hangover it carries over from the past annus horribilis, be a great one for us all. Stay healthy, keep others healthy, and please get vaccinated!

As every year, the mixes of the past year (excluding the In Memoriams and Christmas mixes) are revisited by the choice of one favourite song from them — like an annual Greatest Hits of Any Major Dude. I hope it is useful to provide a link to the relevant mix in the playlist, so that you might discover a compilation here or there which you might have missed.

The past year seems to have been dominated by Beatles: three Beatles Recovered mixes (first for Let It Be on the 50th anniversary of its release, then Please, Please Me and With The Beatles to mark John Lennon’s 80th birthday and 40th anniversary of his murder respectively), as well as the final Beatles Reunited mix in the series of fictional Beatles album comprising the Fabs’ solo tracks between 1970 and 1980.

There were fewer Originals mixes than in the previous year; still there were five of them: 1960s Vol.2, 1980s Vol. 2, Country, Rat Pack and Burt Bacharach.

Two mixes were tributes to giants in music who died within days of one another: Bill Withers and John Prine, two particular favourites of mine, for whom I wrote what I hope were worthy tributes. The collections were of covers of their songs, but it was a bitter-sweet joy to also revisit their original music with some intensity.

Withers features on this first volume of Any Major Favourites of 2020, representing the Let It Be Recovered mix. That track is followed by Gil Scott-Heron’s stunning reinterpretation of Withers’ wonderful Grandma’s Hands.Ask me which was my favourite mix of 2020? The Any Major Firsts mix in February was the most fun to put together. The most topical was Any Major Pandemic in March (who knew what lay ahead?). Without planning it, the Any Major Cole Porter Vol. 2 mix was also topical: It turned out that I posted it a day before the 30th anniversary of the release of the groundbreaking Red Hot + Blue charity compilation of modern interpretations of Porter songs.

My most-played mixes were Any Major Southern Rock, Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 3, Any Major Falsetto and Any Major Hits From 1970. What were your favourites?

The second volume follows next week, after the In Memoriam for December drops. Both packages include a PDF version of the post, with all the links below, for easy access.

1. The Ronettes – I Can Hear Music (1966)
The Originals: 1960s Vol. 2

2. Gene McDaniels – Tower Of Strength (1961)
The Originals: Burth Bacharach Edition

3. Laura Nyro – Up On The Roof (Live) (1971)
The Brill Building Vol. 1

4. Bill Withers – Let It Be (1971)
Beatles Recovered: Let It Be

5. Gil Scott-Heron – Grandma’s Hands (1981)
Any Major Bill Withers Songbook

6. Blues Image – Ride Captain Ride (1970)
Any Major Hits From 1970

7. Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Jackie Blue (1974)
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 10

8. Poco – A Good Feeling To Know (1972)
Any Major Happy Songs Vol. 2

9. Boondoggle & Balderdash – I’ve Been Delayed (1971)
Any Major Southern Rock

10. Al Kooper – Sam Stone (1972)
Any Major John Prine Songbook

11. The Rolling Stones – Fool To Cry (1976)
Any Major Falsetto Vol. 1

12. Katja Ebstein – Beide Seiten (1973)
Any Major Schlager Covers Vol. 2

13. Elvis Costello – Alison (1977)
Any Major Women Vol. 2

14. Joe Bataan – This Boy (1972)
Beatles Recovered: With The Beatles

15. The Pointer Sisters – Yes We Can Can (1973)
Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 3

16. Stevie Wonder – All I Do (1980)
Any Major Soul 1980

17. The Neville Brothers – Sweet Honey Dripper (1979)
Any Major Disco Vol. 8 – Party Like It’s 1979

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