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Any Major Teenage Tragedy

October 27th, 2022 7 comments

 

For Halloween, no spooky songs nor murder ballads, but a fun mix about death! But the songs in this lot aren’t spooky, nor — caveat emptor — are they generally of great (or any) artistic merit (though some are pretty good). This is a collection spanning the age of teenage tragedy songs; tracks that gave the young people of the 1950s and early ’60s something a bit macabre to cry about. Some of the lyrics are good for a good laugh, even if some of those may be guffaws at the preposterous lyrics.  Above all, this collection represents a time capsule of a particular time in popular music which even some of the biggest names in pop got involved.

Some songs of the teenage tragedy genre are well-known. The Leader Of The Pack is also the leader of the genre, the apex of the genre which would soon be killed off by the British Invasion. Song like the exquisitely manipulative Teen Angel, the appalling Tell Laura I Love Her, Johnny Preston’s pretty racist Running Bear (not running here because of racism) and Pat Boone’s inexcusable Moody River topped the US charts. Others in this mix were cash-ins on the genre, and some were just taking the piss.

The collection kicks off with a satire on the genre, I Want My Baby Back by Jimmy Cross (who says he couldn’t hardly see nuthin’), with the immortal description of a car crash scene: “Over there was my baby, over there was my baby, and way over there was my baby”.

It also ends with what I hope is intended to be a joke, Two Hour Honeymoon by Paul Hampton, a B-side co-written and produced by a pre-fame Burt Bacharach. When I featured the song before as a bonus track on the Lesser-Known Bacharach mix (still up!), I exclaimed: “It must be heard to be believed.” Almost a decade later, I stand by that observation.

The first Teenage Tragedy Song was The Cheers’ Black Denim Trousers And Motorcycle Boots, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and released in 1955, just before James Dean’s death. After that tragic September day which claimed Jimmy, the song became a hit. In France, Edith Piaf had a hit with her cover of it.

The genre would find representation in all genres of popular music, including country, rockabilly, doo wop and, especially, surf rock. But they all drew from the same pool of tropes: lovers in transport accidents, aquatic disasters, suicides because parents don’t approve of the assorted Johnnies and Jimmies…

I suppose especially the latter gave voice to rebellious teenagers. My own mother lived the lovers-torn-apart-by-disapproving-parents trope just as these songs reached the height of their popularity. If my grandparents hadn’t intervened, there’d be no Major Dude With Half A Heart as we know me (Mom’s 1961 loverboy turned out to be a bit of a crook; sometimes the parents were right).There is one bonus track. It’s not quite a teenage tragedy song, and it conveys the absolutely correct message that drink-driving is murderous. It’s also one of the worst records I have ever heard. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ferlin Husky’s The Drunken Driver from 1954!

I might be making light of death here, or rather of the songs that tell story of tragedies. Of course, many of us have known real people who have died in car crashes, or of suicide, or perhaps even in surfing accidents. To those of us who had such a real-life bereavement — I have had some myself —  I apologise if this mix is picking at old (or, God forbid, fresh) scars.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-wept covers, and the text above and below in a PDF. PW in comments.

  1. Jimmy Cross – I Want My Baby Back (1965)
    OMG! What Happened? Car crash after Beatles concert!
  2. The Cheers – Black Denim Trousers And Motorcycle Boots (1955)
    OMG! What Happened? Asshole dies in motorcycle accident!
  3. The Everly Brothers – Ebony Eyes (1961)
    OMG! What Happened? A plan crash!
  4. Mark Dinning – Teen Angel (1961)
    OMG! What Happened? A stalled car, a train, and a class ring!
  5. The Mystics – Star Crossed Lovers (1961)
    OMG! What Happened? Suicide pact!
  6. Del Shannon – The Prom (1961)
    OMG! What Happened? Accident on the way to the prom!
  7. The Breakers – Surfin’ Tragedy (1963)
    OMG! What Happened? Wiped out while surfin’!
  8. Jan & Dean – Dead Man’s Curve (1964)
    OMG! What Happened? Reckless driving!
  9. Susan Lynne – Don’t Drag No More (1964)
    OMG! What Happened? Nobody dies, but boyfriend wears women’s frocks!
  10. The Shangri-Las – Leader Of The Pack (1963)
    OMG! What Happened? Look out! Look out! Look out! A motorcycle tragedy!
  11. Twinkle – Terry (1964)
    OMG! What Happened? Another motorcycle tragedy!
  12. The Beach Boys – A Young Man Is Gone (1963)
    OMG! What Happened? Police shooting? But he’ll live forever more!
  13. Roy Orbison – Leah (1962)
    OMG! What Happened? A pearl-diving accident!
  14. J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers – Last Kiss (1964)
    OMG! What Happened? Car crash and his baby went to heaven!
  15. Dickey Lee – Patches (1962)
    OMG! What Happened? Heartbroken Patches found face-down in river!
  16. The Browns – The Three Bells (1959)
    OMG! What Happened? Death on a wedding day!
  17. Gene Summers – Chapel Bells Ringing (1962)
    OMG! What Happened? Angels weep on a wedding day!
  18. Jody Reynolds – Endless Sleep (1958)
    OMG! What Happened? The sea took his baby away!
  19. Ray Peterson – Tell Laura I Love Her (1959)
    OMG! What Happened? Bad driving and a last-breath declaration!
  20. Johnny Cymbal – The Water Was Red (1961)
    OMG! What Happened? Shark attack! And you should see the shark now!
  21. Pat Boone – Moody River (1961)
    OMG! What Happened? Muddy waters took his baby’s life!
  22. Cathy Carroll – Jimmy Love (1961)
    OMG! What Happened? Lightning struck!
  23. John Leyton – Johnny Remember Me (1961)
    OMG! What Happened? Johnny’s true love haunts him!
  24. Bernadette Carroll – The Hero (1964)
    OMG! What Happened? Johnny and teammates die in bus crash!
  25. Barry Mann – Johnny Surfboard (1963)
    OMG! What Happened? The waves claim surfin’ Johnny!
  26. Kip Tyler – Eternity (A Surfer’s Lament) (1963)
    OMG! What Happened? The sea is calling Kip!
  27. The Four Seasons – No Surfin’ Today (1964)
    OMG! What Happened? The angry sea took his love away!
  28. Paul Hampton – Two Hour Honeymoon (1963)
    OMG! What Happened? Wedding night car crash!

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Any Major Albums of the Year: 1972

October 15th, 2022 3 comments

Once upon a time I thought, instinctively, that 1972 — 50 years ago! — represented an apex in the history of LPs. Last year, I was thoroughly disabused of that idea. The greatest year in LPs clearly was 1971. I was able to compile a Top 20 of 1971, and followed it up with another set of 20 albums which would qualify for inclusion in any other Top 20. And I saw fit to “recover” three albums from 1971 (Tapestry, What’s Going On and Blue). From 1972, I’ve revovered only one, Ziggy Stardust.

Still, 1972 was a great year for albums. I’ve arrived at a Top 20 with plenty “bubbling-under” albums which might even have justified a second volume. But what I’ll do is to tack on tracks from a couple of these “bubbling-under” albums which may be less well-known.

I ignored live albums and compilations; if I had, then Neil Diamond and Donny Hathaway might have been included. Hathaway features anyway, in duet with Roberta Flack. And, of course, such list are entirely subjective. The 20 featured albums are not the best of 1972 —but those I like the best.

The sequence of songs does not suggest a ranking, though the mix starts with a track from the year’s top album. I join the general consensus that Ziggy Stardust is the best album of 1972. My undisputed #2 would be Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together, an album that is a masterpiece of production, arrangement, instrumentation and vocal delivery. All that compensates for whatever deficiencies one may locate in some of the songwriting. At #3 I might place the Carpenters’ A Song For You, a set so full of superb pop songs that it almost looks like a Best Of collection.

One of the Top 20 albums is rather obscure. I discovered Tracks’ Even A Broken Clock Is Right Twice A Day album while researching the Any Major Roy Bittan mix. Tracks was the country-rock band which Bittan was a member of before the great keyboardist hooked up with Springsteen’s E Street Band. I ended up listening to the album on loop. It connected with me. Poco’s Jim Messina was the engineer on the album.

Also less known than is just are The Fabulous Rhinestones, whose co-frontman Kal David we lost in August. I wrote a bit about him in the In Memoriam for August 2022.

One album I battled with was the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. Releasing it as a double LP was an act of self-indulgence. If I want a fix of 1972 blues-rock, I can eat a peach. Half of the set is pretty much gratuitous rubbish. And even when it’s great, there is the hazard of Jagger sounding like he really needs a laxative. The only side I’d play without skipping a track is Side 2; maybe Side 4, too, but without much conviction. Only one track here, Tumblin’ Dice, would make it into my Stones Top 20. But in this age of playlists we no longer are hostage to bad sequencing and artistic incontinence. So if I rejig Exile on Main St., I get a very good album out of it. So it squeezes into my Top 20. I won’t use Tumblin’ Dice on this mix, nor Torn And Frayed — both are among the album’s best tracks but they’re shortlisted for other Any Major Mixes I’m lining up. Instead, I’m using one of the other great songs where Mick is in soulfully constipated mode.

There are a number of albums that failed to make the cut, but might have made it on another day. Bill Withers’ Still Bill leads that pack. Lyn Collins’s Think (About It) and From A Whisper To A Scream by Esther Philips (one of two great albums she released that year) were other agonising omissions. And then there is Ghettos Of The Mind by Bama the Village Poet, an astonishing poetry set-to-beats album. His soulful voice gives the penetrating words extra power. Tracks from the latter two are included as bonus tracks.

Also contending were Kris Kristofferson (Border Lord), Neil Young (Harvest), Van Morrison (Saint Dominic’s Preview), Mike James Kirkland (Doin’ It Right), Barry Ryan (Sanctus), Barbara Jean English (So Many Ways To Die), The O’Jays (Backstabbers and Ship Ahoy), Denise LaSalle (Trapped By A Thing Called Love), Little Feat (Sailing Shoes), The Rance Allen Group (Truth Is Where It’s At), War (The World Is A Ghetto), Marlena Shaw (Marlena), John Denver (Rocky Mountain High) and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Bands (Will The Circle Be Unbroken). I might also have considered Mike Nesmith’s Tantamount To Treason.

One might expect Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book to feature somewhere. I appreciate its place in the history of soul music, I have no cause to disagree with the critics who value it highly, and it obviously includes some killer tracks, but I just can’t love that album.

Another omission worth noting is John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Some Time In New York. I loved it as a teenager, when the political messages met my level of youthful sophistication. It turned me on to the Irish Troubles and to Angela Davis. When I watched Dog Day Afternoon for the first time, and Pacino screams “Attica”, I knew what he was shouting about. And I loved the faux-newspaper album cover. I was happy to ignore the second LP in the double-set, with the self-indulgent jam sessions, and gave the first two sides another listen. Alas, it’s not a very good album, musically or lyrically or artistically.

Any other year or week, Van Morrison’s St Dominic’s Preview might have merited inclusion in my Top 20. For the purposes of this post I listened to it again. It has glistening moment, but I got bored listening to it, except for the lovely Redwood Tree, and the long, intense Listen To The Lion, the album’s centrepiece. A one point Van goes for a bizarre impression of a stoned lion doing an imitation of an inebriated buffoon’s tactless mimicking of a gibbering idiot. A bit like the man today when he pontificates on Covid and other things of the contemporary world he just fails to understand.

These two mixes serve as good companions to Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and Any Major Soul 1972 Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and Any Major Soul 1972/73.

I’ll be intrigued to inspect the releases for 1973 for next year’s 50th anniversary Top 20. I have a hunch that year didn’t reach the heights of 1971-72.As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-ziggied covers and the above text in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments, where you can tell me your favourite albums of 1972 — who knows, I might have forgotten an essential one, or might (re)discover a new favourite…

1. David Bowie – Sufragette City (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars)
2. Big Star – The Ballad Of El Goodo (#1 Record)
3. Steely Dan – Only A Fool Would Say That (Can’t Buy A Thrill)
4. The Allman Brothers Band – Blue Sky (Eat A Peach)
5. The Fabulous Rhinestones – Living On My Own Time (The Fabulous Rhinestones)
6. Allen Toussaint – Soul Sister (Life, Love And Faith)
7. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Be Real Black For Me (Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway)
8. Al Green – La-La For You (Let’s Stay Together)
9. Laura Lee – Women’s Love Rights (Women’s Love Rights)
10. Aretha Franklin – Rock Steady (Young, Gifted And Black)
11. Billy Paul – Am I Black Enough For You (360 Degrees Of Billy Paul)
12. Curtis Mayfield – Superfly (Superfly)
13. The Isley Brothers – Brother, Brother (Brother, Brother, Brother)
14. Carpenters – Hurting Each Other (A Song For You)
15. Elton John – Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters (Honky Château)
16. Nick Drake – Pink Moon (Pink Moon)
17. Lou Reed – Satellite Of Love (Transformer)
18. Tracks – Anyway Anyhow (Even A Broken Clock Is Right Twice A Day)
19. The Rolling Stones – Shine A Light (Exile On Main St.)
20. Staple Singers – We The People (Be Altitude: Respect Yourself)
Bonus Tracks:
21. Esther Phillips – Home Is Where The Hatred Is (From A Whisper To A Scream)
22. Bama The Village Poet – I Got Soul (Ghettos Of The Mind)

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Paul McCartney Songbook Vol. 2

October 11th, 2022 6 comments

On October 11 it is 60 years ago that The Beatles’ first single, Love Me Do, entered the UK charts, the week after its release. It debuted in the Top 50 at #49, the fourth-highest new entry that week, after Swiss Maid by Del Shannon, Bobby’s Girl by Susan Maughan, and He Got What He Wanted by Little Richard. Shannon and Maughan went on to hit the Top 3; The Beatles stalled at #11 (and Little Richard flopped at #38).

The #1 hit that week was Telstar by the Tornados, followed in the Top 5 by Little Eva’s The Loco-motion, Tommy Roe’s Sheila, Carole King’s It Might As Well Rain Until September (a good week for King, with two Top 5 hits), and, down from #2, She’s Not You by Elvis (a song I don’t even know).

It’s strange to think that there was a brief time when The Beatles were selling records but Beatlemania didn’t yet exist. Nobody in October 1962 could have predicted what madness would ensue the following year. Nobody would have had a clue that just over three years later, this group would record something as pioneering as Tomorrow Never Knows, or that this group would become the biggest band in the world for six years.

For all the record-buyers of October 1962 knew, Love Me Do might have been the only thing ever worth buying by these lads from Liverpool — in as far as many people thought even this was worth owning, as the chart position of #11 suggests. Soon they’d know better.

After Please Please Me reached #2 in early 1963, The Beatles notched up 21 more UK Top 5 hits until they split in 1970. Only one of them was not in the Top 2 — Something in 1969 — and 17 topped the charts (including 11 consecutive #1s). In the US, The Beatles broke similar records.

Paul McCartney went solo only after The Beatles group broke up. By then Harrison and Lennon had already released solo stuff. Paul issued is debut solo album, McCartney, exactly a week after he announced the Beatles’ break-up on 10 April 1970. Five tracks from that album feature by way of covers on this second Paul McCartney Songbook. This mix follows the Paul McCartney Songbook Vol. 1, which covered his compositions for The Beatles.

So here we have McCartney’s solo career — actually solo or with the Wings — in covers. It’s surprising that for some well-known hits there are no decent covers, at least none I can think of. These include Hi Hi Hi, which is a pity, and Mull Of Kintyre, which is just as well.

I’m pleased that another recent Songbook subject features here, in Brian Wilson. As mentioned before, Wilson was born only two days after Paul McCartney, which I find extraordinary. Alas, the Brian Wilson Songbook featured no cover by McCartney. And ex-Wings man Denny Laine turns up to do one of the more underrated McCartney numbers.

Many of the songs here featured on my Beatles Reunited series, which put together solo tracks by the respective Beatles alumni to create notional Beatles albums: Everest (1971), Smile Away (1972), Live (1972), Photographs (1974), Reunited 77 (1977), and Let It See (1980).

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-rolled covers, and the above text in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. Maynard Ferguson – Jet (1974)
2. Billy Paul – Let ‘Em In (1976)
3. Sunday’s Child – Maybe I’m Amazed (1970)
4. Richie Havens – Band On The Run (1974)
5. The 5th Dimension – Every Night (1971)
6. Guns N’ Roses – Live And Let Die (1991)
7. Def Leppard – Helen Wheels (2014)
8. Big Sugar – Let Me Roll It (1998)
9. Denny Laine – Listen To What The Man Said (1996)
10. Michael Carpenter – Junior’s Farm (2011)
11. Brian Wilson – Wanderlust (2014)
12. Corinne Bailey Rae – Bluebird (2014)
13. John Pizzarelli feat. Michael McDonald – Coming Up (2015)
14. Ardijah – Silly Love Songs (1999)
15. Nancy Wilson – My Love (1974)
16. Peggy Lee – Let’s Love (1974)
17. John Denver – Junk (1971)
18. Grateful Dead – That Would Be Something (1991)
19. Death Cab For Cutie – Dear Boy (2009)
20. Robert Smith – C Moon (2014)
21. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Monkberry Moon Delight (1979)
Bonus Tracks:
22. Freddie Hubbard – Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (1971)
23. Cass Elliot – My Love (1973)

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ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 1
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 2
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
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Carole King Vol. 2
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Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
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Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Rod Temperton
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In Memoriam – September 2022

October 4th, 2022 3 comments

After last month’s carnage, the Reaper mercifully returned to the normal swing of things. He still took at least three artists who made a huge difference in their respective fields.

One artist who doesn’t get listed is Rommy Hunt Revson, who was a nightclub singer but never released any records (as far as I can ascertain). Her claim to fame resides outside the world of music: she invented the scrunchie, the fabric-covered elastic hair tie. After a year-long marriage to Revlon heir John Revson, then 43-year-old Rommy fashioned the tie to manage her brittle hair for a job interview in 1987. She patented the idea and made millions of it, until the patent expired in 2001. She never needed to return to the stages of smokey nightclubs.

The Game-changer
It can be argued that Coolio helped break a mold when his Gangsta’s Paradise became a massive hit. For the first time, a G-Funk rapper who actually knew life in the ghetto and rapped about it topped the US charts, and his song even became the year’s biggest hit. He was by no means the first credible hip hop artist to have a hit, nor even the first G-Funk rapper. Dr Dre preceded Gangsta’s Paradise in the Top 10 by a couple of years. But the mega-success of Gangsta’s Paradise helped make “gangsta rap” acceptable in polite society and white executives’ offices.

Coolio, despite his uncool name, came from the gangsta rap pool that was inhabited by the likes of Ice Cube and Dr Dre. But Dre wasn’t scoring soundtracks of mainstream movies, Snoop didnkt have Michelle Pfeifer, in his videos, and Ice Cube was yet to become a domesticated family movie actor. After Gangsta’s Paradise was a crossover hit, the mainstream doors were opened for others.

Before he embarked on his solo career, first blowing up with 1994’s great Fantastic Voyage, Coolio had been a member of gangsta rap outfit WC & The Maad Circle, which at one point toured with Ice Cube. Coolio still had a few hits after 1995’s Gangsta’s Paradise, but his career had fizzled out by the end of the 1990s. By 2004, he took part in a German talent TV show featuring artists trying out for a comeback, going up against the likes of Haddaway and eventual winner Smokie singer Chris Norman. Coolio, a man who had his share of legal and drug problems, then made more reality TV appearances than albums, but he remained a stage performer till the end.

The Jazz Hitmaker
Eight years to the day that we lost jazz keyboard legend Joe Sample, another jazz keyboard legend departed in Ramsey Lewis. In the 1960s, Lewis was among the few jazz artists to cross over into the mainstream, enjoying million-selling hits with his interpretations of songs like Wade In The Water, Hang On Sloopy, and especially The In-Crowd (the latter a US #5 hit).

Among the latter members of the Ramsey Lewis Trio was a young Maurice White, who’d go on to lead Earth, Wind & Fire to massive success. White would later produce and co-write Sun Godess, a 1975 hit for Lewis. For a few years Lewis toured with Earth, Wind & Fire, whose members would also guest on his albums.

Lewis wasn’t always loved by the critics or jazz purists, with his eclectic approach and supposed commercialism a source of regular criticism. The musician was unapologetic about “diluting” his jazz with other forms of popular music.

Apart from releasing more than 60 albums, Lewis also hosted a popular smooth jazz radio show from Chicago, and in 2006 presented a 13-episode Legends of Jazz TV series. A keen mentor to younger musicians, he set up a foundation to foster musical education among children.

The Freestyler
There are moments in compiling this monthly feature that I fear: the death of a giant in a field of music with which I have no affinity. This month, this is the case with jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, who has died at 81. I like jazz, but I have little interest in the avant-garde side of the genre, nor in the dissonant interplay of free jazz, even as I acknowledge that these sub-genres require an artistry much greater than my capacity to appreciate it. But there is a flip-side to my apprehension: it forces me to look into the life and work of such an artist.

No doubt, Sanders was a pioneer in his field. He joined John Coltrane’s band just as “Trane” (as his fans call him) went avant-garde. As a solo act, Sanders introduced spiritualism and African rhythms into his free jazz, influencing and playing with many young musicians along the way. There are many who regard as Sanders’ masterpiece the 30-minute free-jazz workout “The Creator Has A Master Plan” from 1969’s Karma LP. I’d never have listened to it had Sanders not died (or if I’d never started this series 12 years ago). But I listened to it, and I‘m very glad I did. This led me to seeking out more of Sanders’ music. Man, I’ve missed out on a lot, just because of that, at least in this instance, misleading “free jazz” label!

In the latter parts of the 1970s, Sanders experimented with a more commercial jazz-fusion and R&B sound, collaborating with the great soul singer Phyllis Hyman, but the great commercial success never came. In addition, Sanders had perpetually strained relationships with the many labels that signed him.

The Doobie Drummer
As a drummer of The Doobie Brothers, which he co-founded, John Hartman played on all the great hit albums and singles throughout the 1970s. Hartman recorded almost exclusively with the Doobies, a two-track excursion on Carly Simon’s 1976 album Another Passenger aside — and those included other Doobie Brothers.

As the group’s co-founder and thanks to his presence, the physically imposing Hartman was considered the Doobies’ leader in the early years of its success. He left the group after the 1978 Minute By Minute album, in order to breed horses. He briefly returned for a tour and two albums in the later 1980s. But Hartman’s dream was to become a policeman. He attended police academy, but his past association with drugs — and presumably having led a band named after drug slang — meant that no police department was willing to give him a job…

Here’s a bizarre twist: Hartman’s death was announced on September 22, but it appears that he had died almost nine months earlier, on December 29, 2021!

The Singing Actress
The noted Greek actress Irene Papas is best known for her roles in films such as as The Guns of Navarone (1961), Zorba the Greek (1964) and Z (1969), but she also was a recording artist, mostly in collaboration with Jon Vangelis, whom we lost in May this year. It was with Vangelis that Papas caused controversy in 1972, when she laid down an orgasmic-sounding chant of “I was, I am, I am to come” to the awkwardly-titled Aphrodite’s Child track ∞ (Infinity). Previous to that, Papas had released an album of songs by Mikis Theodorakis, whom we lost last year in September.

By then she was already in exile. Papas left Greece in 1967, when the right-wing military junta grabbed power. Over the following seven years, Papas campaigned for a cultural boycott of Greece. She returned home after the junta fell in 1974, and never moved away again.

The Reggae Man
Born in London as Angus Gaye to parents from Grenada, Drummie Zeb became a pivotal figure in the UK’s reggae movement as the lead singer and drummer of Aswad. He played on all of the band’s 15 albums. Apart from his work with Aswad, Drummie Zeb also did session work — notably on Janet Kay’s 1979 UK #2 hit Silly Games — and produced other acts, including Ace of Base’s 1994 hit cover  of Aswad’s own Don’t Turn Around. He is the first Aswad alumnus to leave us.

The Nashville A-Teamer
Whenever a member of a session collective dies, there’ll be an opportunity to list loads of pop classics they appeared on. So it is with Ray Edenton, a session guitarist associated with Nashville’s ‘A’ Team, who has died at the age of 95. You may not know the names of these musicians, but you’ve heard the songs. Edenton played on classics such as the Everly Brothers’ Bye Bye Love and Wake Up Little Susie, Johnny Cash’s Orange Blossom Special, Roy Orbison’s In Dreams and Dream Baby, Brenda Lee’s Break It To Me Gently, Patsy Cline’s Sweet Dreams, Roger Miller’s King Of The Road, Lyn Anderson’s Rose Garden, Mac Davies’ It’s Hard To Be Humble, Don McLean’s Crying — and many others on which he wasn’t credited. He also played on clean-shaven Willie Nelson’s recordings of Hello Walls, Crazy and Funny How Time Slips Away, and later on several bearded Nelson albums.

Edenton also backed acts like Marty Robbins, Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn, Roy Orbison, Chet Atkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones, Ray Price, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Faron Young, Country Joe McDonald, Tom T. Hall, Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge, Leon Russell, The Statler Brothers, Kenny Rogers, Don McLean, Charlie Rich, Neil Young, Crystal Gayle, B.J. Thomas, Reba McEntire, Sammy Davis Jr., Merle Haggard, J.J. Cale and many others.

A WW2 veteran, Edenton was closely associated with 1950s country legend Webb Pierce, whom he backed on almost all hits. As a regular backing guitarist at the Grand Ole Opry and a player known for his innovation, especially as a rhythm guitarist, Edenton was a highly sought-after country session musician until his retirement in 1991.

The Holly Writer
Buddy Holly wrote several stone-cold rock & roll classics, but two of his bigger hits were not by his hand. Oh Boy and Rave On were written by rockabilly singer Sonny West with Bill Tilghman. Producer Norman Petty arbitrarily attached his name to the credits, as was his custom.

Previously West — who has died at 85, just weeks after Crickets drummer Jerry Allison — had tried to sign with Sun Records in Memphis, but was rejected. Staying with his sister near Holly’s hometown of Lubbock, Texas, West looked around for other opportunities to make it as a musician, and eventually found one with Petty in his remote studios in Clovis. There he recorded one self-penned single, Rock-Ola Ruby, as Sonee West, before he bumped into Bill Tilghman, who proposed collaborating on songs for which he already had some basic lyrics.

When West presented Oh Boy — initially titled All My Love — to Petty, the manager declined to have the writer record it for release (a demo was recorded in February 1957, but remained unreleased until 2002, when it appeared on West’s Sweet Rockin’ Rock-Ola Ruby album). Instead, Petty gave the song to Buddy Holly and The Crickets. West reported having been a little bitter about it, because he had written the song for himself, not for Holly. Petty also gave Rave On, a song he didn’t rate, to Holly. West’s original recording of that is on The Originals: The 1950s.

West’s recording career would never take off, with a number of cuts remaining unreleased.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.

John Hartman, 72, drummer of the Doobie Brothers, on Dec. 29, 2021 (announced Sept. 22)
Doobie Brothers – Rockin’ Down The Highway (1971)
Doobie Brothers – Another Park, Another Sunday (1974)
Doobie Brothers – Minute By Minute (1978)

Angus ‘Drummie Zeb’ Gaye, 62, lead singer, drummer of UK reggae band Aswad, producer, on Sept. 2
Aswad – Back To Africa (1976)
Janet Kay – Silly Games (1979, on drums)
Aswad – Pull Up (1986)

Pat Stay, 36, Canadian rapper, stabbed on Sept. 4

John Till, 76, Canadian guitarist of Janis Joplin’s backing group Full Tilt Boogie Band, on Sept. 4
Janis Joplin – Cry Baby (released 1971, on guitar and backing vocals)

Art Rosenbaum, 83, folk banjo player and filmmaker, on Sept. 4

Dave Sherman, 55, bassist and singer of doom metal band Earthride, on Sept. 7

Sonny West, 85, roackabilly songwriter and musician, on Sept. 8
Sonee West – Rock-Ola Ruby (1956, also as writer)
Sonny West – All My Love (Oh Boy) (1957, also as co-writer)
Buddy Holly – Rave On (1958, as co-writer)

Marciano Cantero, 62, singer of Argentine pop band Enanitos Verdes, on Sept. 8
Los Enanitos Verdes – Tus Viejas Cartas (1986)

Carol Arnauld, 61, French singer-songwriter, on Sept. 9
Carol Arnauld – C’est pas facile (1986)

Herschel Sizemore, 87, bluegrass mandolinist, on Sept. 9
Hershel Sizemore – Rebecca (1979, also as writer)

Trevor Tomkins, 81, drummer with UK jazz-fusion group Gilgamesh, on Sept. 9
Gilgamesh – Darker Brighter (1978)

Ramsey Lewis, 87, jazz pianist and composer, on Sept. 12
Ramsey Lewis Trio – The ‘In’ Crowd (1965)
Ramsey Lewis with Earth, Wind & Fire – Sun Goddess (1974)
Ramsey Lewis – Whisper Zone (1980)
Ramsey Lewis – Keys To The City (1987, also as co-writer)

Dennis East, 73, South African singer, songwriter and producer, on Sept. 12
Stingray – The Man In My Shoes (1979, as member on lead vocals & as writer)

PnB Rock, 30, rapper, shot in a robbery on Sept. 12
PnB Rock -Selfish (2016)

Jesse Powell, 51, R&B singer, on Sept. 13
Jesse Powell – You (1996)

Brother Cleve, 62, keyboardist of neo-lounge act Combustible Edison, announced Sept. 13
Combustible Edison – Dior (1998)

David Andersson, 47, guitarist of Swedish metal band Soilwork, on Sept. 14

Irene Papas, c.93, Greek actress and singer, on Sept. 14
Aphrodite’s Child – ∞ (Infinity) (1972, on vocals)
Irene Papas – Little Orange Tree (1979)

Paul Sartin, 51, English folk singer, musician and composer, on Sept. 14

Jim Post, 82, folk singer-songwriter, on Sept. 14
Friend & Lover – Reach Out Of The Darkness (1968, as member and writer)

Cherry Valentine, 28, English drag artist, on Sept. 16

Marva Hicks, 66, soul singer and actress, on Sept. 16
Marva Hicks – Never Been in Love Before (1991)

Eddie Pleasant, 95, country songwriter and producer, on Sept. 17

Diane ‘Belgazou’ Guérin, 74, Canadian singer and actress, on Sept. 18
Belgazou – Entre Mozart et Jagger (1987)

Jamie Roy, 33, Scottish DJ and producer, on Sept. 20

Kyle Maite, 37, guitarist of pop-punk band Hit The Lights, on Sept. 20
Hit The Lights – All Messed Up (2018)

Anton Fier, 66, drummer, bandleader, composer and producer, on Sept. 21
The Golden Palominos – Alive And Living Now (1991, as leader; Michael Stipe on vocals)

Ray Edenton, 95, country session guitarist, on Sept. 21
Kitty Wells & Red Foley – One By One (1959, on guitar)
Willie Nelson – Hello Walls  (1962, on rhythm guitar)
Country Joe McDonald – Roll On Columbia (1969, on guitar)

Stu Allan, 60, English dance music DJ, mix compiler and producer, on Sept. 22

Robert Marlow, 60, English new wave singer, on Sept. 22
Robert Marlow – The Face Of Dorian Gray (1983)

Gord Kirchin, 60, lead singer of Canadian metal band Piledriver, on Sept. 22

Pharoah Sanders, 81, jazz saxophonist, on Sept. 24
Pharoah Sanders – Thembi (1971)
Pharoah Sanders feat. Phyllis Hyman – As You Are (1978)
Pharoah Sanders – You’ve Got to Have Freedom (1987)

Sue Mingus, 92, producer and manager, wife of Charles, on Sept. 24

Boris Moiseev, 68, Russian pop singer and dancer, on Sept. 27

Coolio, 59, hip hop artist and actor, on Sept. 28
WC & The Maad Circle – Dress Code (1991, as member)
Coolio – Fantastic Voyage (1994)
Coolio – C U When U Get There (1997)

Joe Chambers, country guitarist, songwriter, Musicians’ Hall of Fame founder, on Sept. 28
Randy Travis – Old 8×10 (1987, as co-writer)

Prins Póló, 45, Icelandic singer-songwriter, on Sept. 28

John Mortensen, singer and bassist of rock band Mono Men, on Sept. 28
Mono Men – Watch Outside (1992)

David Malachowski, 67, blues rock guitarist, on Sept. 29
Savoy Brown – When It Rains (2004, on rhythm guitar)

Keith ‘Wonderboy’ Johnson, 50, gospel singer, on Sept. 30

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