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Any Major Disco Vol. 10 – Party Like It’s 1981

December 30th, 2021 1 comment

I call this mix “disco”, but by 1981, we are really in the post-disco era. The “Disco Sucks” movement thought it had vanquished disco, and as a commercial force in the US charts, disco had indeed virtually disappeared. Kool & The Gang’s Celebration was the only song of a disco heritage to top the US charts (one might, on a quibble, add Blondie’s Rapture). Even Nile Rogers was virtually in hiding.

But the genre wasn’t dead; it just kept evolving, and in different directions, with a growing emphasis on keyboards, synth, and drum machines, as well as a greater influence of hip hop. And it wasn’t called disco. Within a year or three, the brothers, sons and daughters of disco — Michael Jackson, Prince, Lionel Richie, Madonna, Whitney Houston — were the world’s biggest stars. And Nile Rogers would bounce back, producing mega hits for the likes of David Bowie, Madonna and Duran Duran.

Disco was dead, but for dance music, 1981 was a mighty year, and one that set the scene for all dance music of the 1980s.

The closing track, Heartbreak Hotel, is by The Jacksons, who had ridden the disco wave to good effect. And Heartbreak Hotel was at the centre of one of my favourite articles about music and journalism, from 1980 by English writer Danny Baker, writing for the New Musucal Express. Titled “The great Greenland mystery”, it concerns a press conference held in LA by The Jacksons to promote their Triumph album (the one with the soaring Can You Feel It). The subject matter lends itself to the bizarre, of course. For the most part of this pretty lengthy article, the Jackson angle is at once central and peripheral.

From experience, I know that Baker’s portrayal of the presser is hilariously accurate — especially so in the context of entertainment writing, as I experienced during a brief excursion into the field in the ’90s. And I suppose every entertainment hack has met guys like the hapless Yoshi, who takes centre-stage in Baker’s very funny piece

Here are the pertinent excerpts, transcribed for your reading pleasure. The whole lot is also in the illustrated PDF which is included in the package with the CD-R length mix and home-shaken-up covers.

Danny Baker, back in the day

I LOVE press conferences. Nobody says anything for the first ten minutes and then, when someone does, questions fly about in little spurts. In the gaps, hungry hacks eye up and down their comrades’ columns to see if someone is going to ask a question a split second before they open their own cake-holes, thus shutting down their own effort in its first syllable.

Then there’s the all-out strain to see who can project the best image of the seen-it-all pressman. Never admit it’s your first PC. Also sort out where the majors are present. No one wants to admit they’re from the Basildon Non-Ferrous Metals Weekly when you’re sandwiched between the Times and the Telegraph.

It’s wonderful to spot potential questioners. You can see their lips moving as they run over and over the question, ironing it out a full quarter-hour before popping it. And worse! If some bastard creep gets in your query first, they usually get approving nods from all around and you feel like screeching, ‘But I was going to ask that!’

[pre-PC preparations]

Then there’s the well-used but still fresh-looking notepad that on every page has the standard four lines of shorthand at the top. You have to rattle a pencil around your teeth — never chew it! — until you get an ‘idea’. Then you add another half line of shorthand culminating in finally slamming your notebook shut with a disturbing air of confidence. Then you just sit back, arms folded, surveying the lesser hacks who’ve yet to complete the preliminaries.
[…]
Once the artists enter you’re treated to a stampede of photographers — forming tight bundles like mating-crazed frogs. […] All the smudges yell ‘This way please, Cecil’ even though Cecil never does. They usually nick a glance from somebody else’s successful bid.
Before photographers do all this, they pick straws to see who will be the one who goes around behind the artists and takes a shot or two of All The Other Photographers Taking Photos of Cecil. The runner-up gets to be the essential smudge who stands firm snapping away after the others have retreated. He carries this on until a bouncer leads him away.
[…]
If you meet someone you know at a press conference, you always ask each other what you’re doing here. The you both decide ‘It’s a giggle’, the subject is only fit to be sent up, and ask who was that berk who asked such and such a question halfway through. Then you destroy the berk’s paper.

Michael Jackson and his brothers have entered, “all sporting huge jamtart sized sunglasses”.

The questions are real tat. ‘Ven fill hue be wisiting Sweden, Michael?’ ‘Are you a close family, Michael? (to which the family Michael showed a keen drollery in snapping back ‘No Sir’), ‘Can you give us information about your new record?’ It was pretty bleak until this one poor wretched Japanese-looking bloke committed the cardinal sin of any press conference — he tried to crack a joke. Oh, but he did. Y’see, there’s a track on their new LP called “Heartbreak Hotel” and this bloke — who had little command of English anyway — thought he had cooked up a real zinger.

‘Ah, Michael’, he stuttered, seizing his chance. ‘Ah if you had not been a hit with your LP, ah, would you have gone to, ah, Heartbreak Hotel?’

In the ensuing silence, the wind blew, crickets chirped and you could hear the guy swallow hard as the apologetic grin froze on his chops. It turns out nobody understood him. Tito asks him to repeat the ‘question’. ‘Ah, Michael, i-if your LP had n-not been success…w-would you have, ah, have gone t-to Heartbreak Hotel?’

By now most of us hacks have caught on to what’s being said and the less valiant turn away and clear their throats. The guy is still grinning although he has stopped blinking by now and is wobbling perceptibly.

A Jacksons aide steps in. ‘Er, Yoshi, what do you mean?’
‘Ah Michael. If your album h-h-had not been su-su-success wouldyouhavegonetoHeartbreakHotel?’

Michael shakes his head and Jackie tries. ‘OK, I got Heartbreak Hotel but that was on our LP — what’s it got to do with Michael?’

Poor Yoshi is drenched in flop-sweat. He is darting his eyes around looking for an ally. His neck has gone to semolina and his palms perspire like the Boulder dam.

‘I-I-I’m playing with words you see.’
Nobody sees and Yoshi’s grasp of the lingo falls an inch short of the word ‘joke’.
‘P-P-Playing with words…words.’

The eyes of the world are burrowing deep inside that tweed jacket of his. He’s trembling like a sapling in monsoon and smoke is starting to belch out of his ears. Then a voice at the back ends the torture. ‘I think the guy’s trying to make a funny.’
‘Yis! Yis! That’s it!’ babbles the released spirit. ‘I’m making funny! Funny!’

As he begins to appeal for clemency, the final cruel blow sounds. Amidst the unnecessary sighing the aide says: ‘Hey Yoshi. This is a press conference, man. Save the funnies, huh?’

The dumb questions resumed but I couldn’t take my eyes from the broken Japanese. Ruined, he never heard another word all afternoon. Today, I suspect he sits in a bathchair in some far off sanatorium, grey-haired and twitching, mumbling to anyone who will listen: ‘The words. Playing with words you see…is funny.’

______________

Pity poor Yoshi. Personally, I reckon he bounced back. So, here’s what people danced to on New Year’s Eve 40 years ago — if they had a good DJ.

So, from me, HAPPY NEW YEAR! May your 2022 be corona-free and  filled with good health, good fortune and much love!

1. Bill Summers & Summers Heat – Call It What You Want
2. Carl Carlton – She’s A Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built, She’s Stacked)
3. Earth Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove
4. Cheryl Lynn – Shake It Up Tonight
5. Brothers Johnson – The Real Thing
6. Patti Austin – Do You Love Me
7. Melba Moore – Take My Love
8. Sister Sledge – All American Girls
9. B B & Q Band – On The Beat
10. Change – Hold Tight
11. Southern Freeze – Freeez
12. Odyssey – Going Back To My Roots
13. Champaign – Can You Find The Time
14. Chaka Khan – What Cha’ Gonna Do for Me
15. Grace Jones – Pull Up To The Bumper
16. The Jacksons – Heartbreak Hotel

Categories: Disco, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major New Year’s

December 24th, 2021 2 comments

How has your 2021 been? Mine? A mixed bag: the pandemic has screwed me over financially (the Rainy Day Fund? Gone), and my health is trying to tell me that I’m getting older. But I’m still loved and I’m still loving. Be that as it may, 2021 can very much piss off, and take that pandemic with it.

So, as we may look forward to a better new year, with the hope it won’t be our last, here’s a mix of New Year’s Eve songs, a week before we do our Auld Lang Synes.

I have managed to compile it without the help of U2, but a couple of obvious tracks have to feature (hello ABBA). Still, I expect that this collection contains some pleasant surprises (one of them being three songs with the same title being sequenced to follow one another, quite unintentionally).

And that’s what I’m hoping for in 2022: pleasant surprises for all of us, and an end to the nightmare of the past two years.

In that spirit, I wish you a good slide into the new year, as the Germans say.

And do pop in on Tursday for the annual year-end disco mix — or post-disco, if we want to pick nits, since it covers songs to boogie on down to from 1981.

As ever, this mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-countdowned covers. PW in comments.

1. Eagles – Funky New Year (1978)
2. Charles Brown – Bringing In A Brand New Year (1964)
3. The Cameos – New Year’s Eve (1957)
4. The Coolbreezers – Hello Mr. New Year (1958)
5. Jo-Ann Campbell – Happy New Year Baby (1958)
6. The Zombies – This Will Be Our Year (1968)
7. Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne (1981)
8. Barry Manilow – It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve (1977)
9. ABBA – Happy New Year (1980)
10. Carole King – New Year’s Day (2011)
11. Mary Chapin Carpenter – New Year’s Day (2012)
12. Taylor Swift – New Year’s Day (2017)
13. Tom Waits – New Year’s Eve (2011)
14. Harry Connick Jr. feat. George Jones – Nothin’ New For New Year (2003)
15. Lightnin’ Hopkins – Happy New Year (1953)
16. Mary Harris – Happy New Year Blues (1935)
17. Vera Lynn – The Happiest New Year Of All (1946)
18. Mae West – My New Year’s Resolutions (1966)
19. The Heartbeats – After New Year’s Eve (1957)
20. Otis Redding & Carla Thomas – New Year’s Resolution (1967)
21. Nancy Wilson – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (1965)
22. Paddy Roberts – Merry X-Mas You Suckers (And A Happy New Year) (1962)
23. Franklin MacCormack – My New Year’s Wish For You (1948)

GET IT! or HERE!

More CD-R Mixes

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, X-Mas Tags:

Any Major Santa Claus

December 16th, 2021 2 comments

A few years ago I put up a mix of traditional Christmas carols as sung by pop artists. In those songs, obviously, the birth of Jesus was at the centre. But for many people, the person at the centre of Christmas is Santa Claus, so here’s a mix of songs about the old reindeer-exploiting face of rampant commercialism. As far as I can tell, none of these songs have featured in previous Any Major Christmas mixes (at least I tried my best to make it so).

Santa Claus, as most people know, is based on the Christian 4th-century Saint Nicholas of Myrna, who was a bishop in Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey. Which means that in the US, UK and Western Europe, there are people who’d prefer to deny the original Santa entry into their country. The Santa of this mix, of course, has special access everywhere, including chimneys, in which he might get stuck from time to time, as Ella Fitzgerald explains.

We also know from The Sensational Little Shana Lynette, as the 10-year-old Kansas kid was billed in 1983, that Santa was in danger of falling victim to international terrorism at the hands of the dastardly Soviets, or “Mr Russian”, as Shana politely says in her Cold War propaganda song. I suspect that agent Father Frost, who had replaced Santa Claus in the festive celebrations in the USSR, would have loved to get a shot at his capitalist rival.

Similar Zeitgeist silliness found expression in other seasonal songs. In 1957, Bobby Helms had “Captain Santa Claus” and his reindeers going on space patrol in a track that served as the b-side to his X-Mas hit, Jingle Bell Rock. And George Jones, still to grow into his sonorous voice and macho persona, involves Santa in the twist craze of the early 1960s.

Santa is at times something of a sex symbol, in ways most overweight and white-haired men of a certain age are not. We had Eartha Kitt trying to seduce the old feller in Santa Baby on the Any Major Gals’ Christmas mix last week. Here we up the ante by having Mae West apply her seductive wiles to ole Nick. And since West was 73 when she issued her version in 1966, it is rather more age-appropriate than that by Kitt, who was 26 when she tried to get Santa and his sack into the sack. Not that one should judge inter-generational sexual attraction between consenting adults, of course.

Most famously, Santa Claus was kissing Mommy underneath the mistletoe. Of course — and here I issue a spoiler alert for the uninitiated — it wasn’t really Santa whose tongue was roaming in Mom’s mouth (and here I wish to introduce you to the great German concept of “Kopfkino”). I’m particularly pleased that on this mix we have John Prine sing this song, giving proof to the fact that Prine could make even the most dreadful songs sound entertaining.

An even more unlikely candidate for the performance of trivial X-Mas songs is Bob Dylan, yet here he is singing Here Comes Santa Claus (which is not a Santa sex songs. Neither is Back Door Santa, nor Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney). The original performer of that song — which featured on Any Major Christmas Originals — was Gene Autry. The “Singing Cowboy” is also represented on this mix, with When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter, the b-side to the original release of Here Comes Santa Claus.

As ever, this mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-ho-ho-hoed covers, and the above text in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments, and links to previous Christmas mixes below.

Next week I’ll post a mix of New Year’s songs, and before New Year’s Eve the traditional disco mix. If I don’t see you before Christmas, let me wish you a very merry, peaceful and healthy Christmas!

1. The Weather Girls – Dear Santa (Bring Me A Man This Christmas) (1983)
2. Bob Dylan – Here Comes Santa Claus (2009)
3. John Prine – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (1993)
4. The Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick (1964)
5. Elvis Presley – Santa Claus Is Back In Town (1957)
6. Bob Seger & The Last Heard – Sock It To Me Santa (1966)
7. James Brown – Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto (1968)
8. Louis Jordan – Santa Claus, Santa Claus (1968)
9. Lou Rawls – Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1967)
10. Mae West – Santa Baby (1966)
11. Ella Fitzgerald – Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney (1950)
12. Nat ‘King’ Cole – The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot (1953)
13. The Mills Brothers – You Don’t Have To Be A Santa Claus (1955)
14. Fats Domino – I Told Santa Claus (1993)
15. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – Is Zat You Santa Claus (2004)
16. Albert King – Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’ (1974)
17. The Holmes Brothers – Back Door Santa (2003)
18. Sufjan Stevens – Get Behind Me, Santa! (2006)
19. Sia – My Old Santa Claus (2018)
20. Dwight Yoakam – Santa Can’t Stay (2015)
21. Homer & Jethro – Santa’s Movin’ On (1956)
22. Jim Reeves – Señor Santa Claus (1963)
23. Gene Autry – When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter (1950)
24. George Jones & The Jones Boys – My Mom And Santa Claus (Twistin’ Santa Claus) (1962)
25. Bobby Helms – Captain Santa Claus (And His Reindeer Space Patrol) (1957)
26. The Di Mara Sisters – Santa’s Italian Wife (1971)
27. Shana Lynette – Mister Russian, Please Don’t Shoot Down Santa’s Sleigh (1983)

GET IT! or HERE!

More Christmas Mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Any Major 1940s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

The Originals: Christmas Edition
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doo Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major X-Mas Blues
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas ABC
Any Major Gals’ Christmas
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

Any Major Gals’ Christmas

December 9th, 2021 9 comments

Today, as I write, I’ve felt unusually Christmassy — thanks to this mix! As the title subtly hints at, this collection comprises Christmas songs sung by women. And if that concept strikes you as a bit sexist (and I’m not sure why it should), let me reassure you that next year I’ll have a mix of songs only by guys.

The festive sense I’ve felt kicked in right from the beginning, with Kylie Minogue’s richly retro version of It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. And while I might not be a dedicated follower of Christina Aguilera’s catalogue — I’m mostly indifferent to it — I find her interpretation of Donny Hathaway’s lovely This Christmas quite outstanding.

This collection covers various eras and styles. The youngest recording here is from 2015; the oldest is Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby from 1954. There’s the lighthearted stuff — Ella Fitzgerald’s Santa Claus Is Coming To Town is great fun; Etta James’ bluesy Merry Christmas Baby is sexy stuff — and some is traditional and reflective. Of the latter, Emmylou Harris’ Light Of The Stable is particularly beautiful.

Almost all of these artists are well-known; only Margie Joseph exists on the margins of popular music. Except for fans of 1970s soul, who’ll readily acclaim her as one of the great singers of her generation. She also featured on the second volume of the Albums of The Year: 1971, which went up a few weeks ago.

I had several contenders for inclusion of women who performed The Christmas Song, and I nearly chose the gorgeous rendition by Anita Baker. In the event, there was no way past Natalie Cole, the daughter of the man who first recorded the song and made it something of a signature tune. Her version is, of course, very lovely, too.

There will be another Christmas mix next week. Check out the previous Christmas mixes in the list below (or the whole lot here). As far as I can see, all links are working. If you need anything re-upped, let me know in the comments.

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

1. Kylie Minogue – It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
2. Christina Aguilera – This Christmas
3. Wilson Phillips – Warm Lovin’ Christmastime
4. Mariah Carey – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
5. Carole King – Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday
6. Nancy Sinatra – We Need A Little Christmas
7. Natalie Cole – The Christmas Song
8. Doris Day – I’ll Be Home For Christmas
9. Julie London – I’d Like You For Christmas
10. Keely Smith – Blue Christmas
11. Darlene Love – Winter Wonderland
12. The Supremes – My Christmas Tree
13. Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby
14. Ella Fitzgerald – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
15. Etta James – Merry Christmas Baby
16. Vanessa Williams – Christmas Is
17. Gladys Knight & The Pips – When You Love Someone (It’s Christmas Everyday)
18. Margie Joseph – Feeling Like Christmas
19. Emmylou Harris – Light Of The Stable
20. Dolly Parton – We Three Kings
21. Olivia Newton-John – Christmas Never Felt Like This Before
22. Nancy Wilson – The Christmas Waltz
23. Dinah Washington – Silent Night
24. Sarah McLachlan – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

GET IT! or HERE!

More Christmas Mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Any Major 1940s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doo Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major X-Mas Blues
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas ABC
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

In Memoriam – November 2021

December 2nd, 2021 4 comments

The Reaper has eased off after a hectic few months. Still, in November he took some musicians who have appeared on songs most of us will profess to love, and he claimed one of Brazil’s brightest talents in a tragic air crash. Personally, I was most saddened by the passing of UB40’s Astro, who was the best thing about the band’s concert I saw back in the 1980s. Remarkably, there was casualty from the world of country music; I hazard to guess that in the long time I’ve done this series — some 11 years — this might be a first.

The Moody Blue
The Moody Blues are probably best remembered for the classic hit Nights In White Satin. With its orchestral arrangement, which in 1967 was still a novelty in rock, the English band’s hit exercised a great influence on other groups. Another pioneering prog rock device was their use of spoken poetry. These poems were written by drummer Graeme Edge, who has died at 80. Apparently the band thought his poetry was a bit too rambling to work as song lyrics.

Edge remained with the band for most of its run, which as a recording concern ended in 2003 and as a live act in 2015. In the 1970s, he took some time out — by his own account, to decompress from his own sense of self-importance — and formed the Graeme Edge Band with Paul and Adam Gurvitz.

The Stage Writer
I’ll be honest about Stephen Sondheim, the musicals lyricist who has died at 91: other than the obvious stuff — West Side Story, Send In The Clowns, bits and pieces of other musicals and films — I know very little about him or his craft. And other than West Side Story, I’m rather lacking in exposure and knowledge to it. At the same time, there are people whose musical judgment I fully respect who swear by Sondheim’s genius. There are those who even argue that Sondheim was our epoch’s Shakespeare.

And when I listen more closely to his lyrics, I can see their point. Aside from the obvious knack for a good turn of phrase, without which nobody would bring up Shakespeare, he also was also courageous and even subversive. The song America from West Side Story is as strong an indictment of US society as you could accommodate in a musical in the 1950s. And Officer Krupke from the same musical include references to drugs, junkies, transvestites and venereal disease, hardly staple subjects for 1950s society.

I suspect that I might be well served to investigate Sondheim’s catalogue with greater attention.

The Wailers’ Percussionist
As its percussionist, Alvin ‘Seeco’ Patterson, who has died at 90, was integral to the sound of Bob Marley & The Wailers in their most commercial phase. He played on all albums, from 1973’s Catch A Fire to Confrontation, released in 1983 after Marley’s death. It’s safe to say that Seeco played on all of the tracks of the ubiquitous Legend compilation. It was also the older Seeco who took the unknown Wailers to their first recording session in 1964 and encouraged the young Bob Marley to become a lead singer.

His friendship with Marley lasted till the singer’s death in 1981. Seeco was there when gunmen tried to assassinate Marley; and when Bob battled cancer, Seeco was constantly at his side. After Bob’s death, Seeco — who was born in Cuba of a Jamaican father and Panamaian mother — continued playing with The Wailers, only rarely doing session work outside.

The Backing Singer
Evette Benton never put out a record under her own name, as far as I know — but you’ll have heard her voice as a backing singer on many hit records. As part of a session trio named the Sweethearts of Sigma, or just The Sweeties, with Barbara Ingram (whom we lost in 1994) and Carla Benson, Benton sung on soul classics such as — deep breath in — Billy Paul’s Me And Mrs Jones and Let’s Make A Baby; on The Spinners’ Could It Be I’m Falling In Love, I’ll Be Around, Ghetto Child, You Make Me Feel Brand New, They Just Can’t Stop It The (Games People Play) and The Rubberband Man; The Manhattans’ Hurt and Kiss And Say Goodbye; Major Harris’ Love Won’t Let Me Wait; Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes’ Don’t Leave Me This Way and Wake Up Everybody; The Trammps’ Disco Inferno; Lou Rawls’ Lay Love and Tradewinds; The O’Jays’ Use Ta Be My Girl and Brandy; Bell & James’ Livin’ It Up (Friday Night); Michael McDonald & Patti LaBelle’s On My Own, and more. That’s aside of her work on many great soul albums, especially those produced for Philly Soul label PIR.

And while she was appearing on hundreds of records, she also worked as a special education teacher and later became director of a pre-school program in Camden, New Jersey, the town where she and her fellow Sweeties hailed from.

The GAP Man
With the death of Ronnie Wilson, only one of the three brothers who made up The Gap Band survives. A multi-instrumentalist, Ronnie was responsible for the trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, synthesizer and percussion. He was also the leading songwriter in the group.

The band’s name is a reference to the Tulsa Riots, the pogrom against African-Americans in the 1920s in the Oklahoma city. The word “Gap” is an acronym of the three worst-affected streets in the racist pogrom: Greenwood, Archer and Pine.

The Reggae Rapper
When it came out, I loved UB40s Red Red Wine, even though it was a departure from their edgier old sound. As it is with the eponymous liquid, too much of a good think isn’t good, and with it being overplayed I came to dislike the song. With the death of UB40’s MC Astro at only 64, I listened to their cover of Red Red Wine again — and found it’s actually a pretty good record, immeasurably enhanced by Astro’s rap.

On stage, Astro was as much frontman as his friend and lead singer Ali Campbell. Behind the scenes, according to a friend of mine who knew him, Astro — real name Terence Wilson — was a gentle soul who kept in touch with his bandmate even after UB40 split amid acrimony. The death of the UB40 co-founder came less than three months after that of UB40 saxophonist Brian Travers.

And the nickname? Apparently it came from the name of a pair of Doc Martens boots he wore, named Astronauts.

The Brazilian Superstar
In Brazil, singer-songwriter Marília Mendonça, who has died at 26 in an air crash, was a sensation and possibly the country’s biggest female singing star, selling multi-platinum records and providing women with a voice through many of her songs. In 2019 she won a Latin Grammy for best sertanejo album.

On November 5, Mendonça entered an air taxi with her uncle/manager and three others. They never reached Caratinga, their destination. The singer leaves behind her husband and a 22-months-old child.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Alvin ‘Seeco’ Patterson, 90, Cuban-born Jamaican percussionist, on Nov. 1
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Trenchtown Rock (Live) (1975, as member)
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus (1977, as member)

Pat Martino, 77, jazz guitarist and composer, on Nov. 1
Pat Martino – Along Came Betty (1974)

Emmett Chapman, 85, jazz musician, inventor of Chapman Stick, on Nov. 1
Emmett Chapman – Back Yard (1985)

Ronnie Wilson, 73, member of funk group The Gap Band, on Nov. 2
The Gap Band – I Don’t Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops Up Side Your Head).mp3 (1979)
The Gap Band – Big Fun (1986)

Ernest Wilson, 69, Jamaican reggae singer, on Nov. 2
Ernest Wilson – Let True Love Be (1976)

Declan Mulligan, 83, Irish-born member of rock group Beau Brummels, on Nov. 2
The Beau Brummels – Laugh, Laugh (1964, on rhythm guitar and harmonica)

Georgie Dann, 81, French party songs singer, on Nov. 3

Marília Mendonça, 26, Brazilian singer-songwriter, in air crash on Nov. 5
Marília Mendonça – Sentimento Louco (2015)
Marília Mendonça – Ciumeira (2019)

Beldina Odenyo Onassis, 31, Kenyan-Scottish singer-songwriter and musician, on Nov. 5

Andy Barker, 53, member of British electronic group 808 State, on Nov. 6
808 State – In Yer Face (1991)

Maureen Cleave, 87, British journalist (Lennon’s ‘more popular than Jesus’ interview), on Nov. 6

Astro, 64, singer, rapper and musician with UB40, on Nov. 6
UB40 – One In Ten (1981)
UB40 – Red Red Wine (1986, also on rap)

Evette Benton, 68, soul backing singer, on Nov. 6
The Spinners – Could It Be I’m Falling In Love (1973, on backing vocals)
Major Harris – Love Won’t Let Me Wait (1976, on backing vocals; moans by Barbara Ingram)
Teddy Pendergrass – All I Need Is You (1979, on backing vocals)

Barry Coope, singer with English folk trio Coope, Boyes & Simpson, on Nov. 6
Coope, Boyes & Simpson – We Got Fooled Again (2010)

Bopol Mansiamina, 72, Congolese singer, musician, composer, producer, on Nov. 7
4 Stars Etoiles – Mayanga (1985, as member and writer)

Kōzō Suganuma, 62, Japanese jazz drummer, on Nov. 8

Margo Guryan, 84, singer-songwriter, on Nov. 8
Margo Guryan – Sunday Mornin’ (1968, also as writer)

Edgardo Gelli, 86, Italian singer, in car crash on Nov. 8

Sean Higgins, 68, synth player and songwriter, on Nov. 9
Australian Crawl – Things Don’t Seem (1981, as member and co-writer)

Mike ‘Bones’ Gersema, rock drummer, on Nov. 10
L.A. Gun – Face Down (1994, as member and co-writer)

Miroslav Žbirka, 69, singer, songwriter of Czechoslovakian rock band Modus, on Nov. 10

Spike Heatley, 88, British jazz and rock double bassist, on Nov. 10
Donovan – Sunshine Superman (1966, on double-bass)
C.C.S. – Whole Lotta Love (1970, as member on bass)

Graeme Edge, 80, drummer of The Moody Blues, songwriter, poet, on Nov. 11
The Moody Blues – Go Now (1964)
The Moody Blues – You And Me (1972, also as writer)
Graeme Edge Band feat. Adrian Gurvitz – Down, Down, Down (1977, also as writer)

Mark Gillespie, Australian singer-songwriter, on Nov. 11

John Goodsall, 68, British rock guitarist with Brand-X, on Nov. 11
Brand X – Euthanasia Waltz (1976, as member)

Greg Mayne, 67, bassist of heavy metal band Pentagram, on Nov. 13

Joe Siracusa, 99, drummer with Spike Jones and His City Slickers, on Nov. 13
Spike Jones and His City Slickers – Yes We Have No Bananas (1950, also on backing vocals)

Philip Margo, 79, singer with vocal group The Tokens, on Nov. 13
The Tokens – He’s In Town (1964)

Heber Bartolome, 73, Filipino folk singer, on Nov. 15

Belinda Sykes, 55, founder of British folk group Joglaresa, on Nov. 16

Keith Allison, 79, bassist and singer with Paul Revere & The Raiders, on Nov. 17
The Raiders – Birds Of A Feather (1971, as member)

Young Dolph, 36, rapper, murdered on Nov. 17

Dave Frishberg, 88, jazz pianist and songwriter, on Nov. 16
Dave Frishberg – I’m Hip (1966, also as lyricist)

Theuns Jordaan, 50, South African singer-songwriter, on Nov. 17

Slide Hampton, 89, jazz trombonist, on Nov. 18
The Slide Hampton Octet – Milestones (1961)

Ack van Rooyen, 91, Dutch jazz trumpeter and flugelhornist, on Nov. 18

Hank von Hell, 49, singer of Norwegian punk group Turbonegro, on Nov. 19

David Longdon, 56, singer and musician with UK rock band Big Big Train, on Nov. 20
Big Big Train – Evening Star (2009, lead vocals, organ, dulcimer, flute, mandolin, glockenspiel)

Billy Hinsche, 70, pop multi-instrumentalist, on Nov. 20
Dino, Desi & Billy – I’m A Fool (1963, as member)

Jim Gallagher, 78, drummer of surf rock band The Astronauts, on Nov. 20
The Astronauts – Baja (1963)

Ted Herold, 79, German rock & roll pioneer and actor, in a fire on Nov. 20
Ted Herold – Hula Rock (1959)

Yul Anderson, 63, soul, jazz and classical musician and inventor, on Nov. 21
Yul Anderson – Eyes Of Music/All Along The Watchtower (1981)

Paolo Pietrangeli, 76, Italian singer-songwriter, film director, on Nov. 22

Joanne Shenandoah, 63, Native-American folk singer and composer, on Nov. 22
Joanne Shenandoah – To Those Who Dream (1991)

Volker Lechtenbrink, 77, German singer and actor, on Nov. 22
Volker Lechtenbrink – Ich mag (1981)

Gared O’Donnell, 44, singer of metal band Planes Mistaken for Stars, on Nov. 24

Marilyn McLeod, 82, soul (Motown) songwriter and singer, announced Nov. 25
Diana Ross – Love Hangover (1976, as co-writer)
High Energy – You Can’t Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On) (1977, as co-writer)

Stephen Sondheim, 91, American composer and lyricist, on Nov. 26
Sammy Davis Jr – West Side Story Medley (1961, as lyricist)
Judy Collins – Send In The Clowns (1975, as lyricist)
Bette Midler – Everything’s Coming Up Roses (1993, as lyricist)

Alexander Gradsky, 72, Russian rock pioneer singer and musician, on Nov. 28

Meñique, 87, Panamanian singer and songwriter, on Nov. 28
Meñique – Manigua (1972)

Martin Wright, guitarist of English indie bands Laugh/Intastella, on Nov. 30
Laugh – Paul McCartney (1987)

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