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Party Like It’s 1982

December 27th, 2022 3 comments

 

 

As every year since 2016, I see out the old year with a mix of old-school dance tracks which may move you to, as the kids say today, shake your tailfeather. Since 2018, these mixes are themed to cover the corresponding year 40 years previously. So this year, we’re partying like it’s 1982.

By 1982, disco was dead and yet still very much alive. Only, nobody called it “disco” anymore. Rap was starting to make inroads into the genre formerly known as disco, as was the sound that would become known as HiNRG, though not on any of the present tracks.

And while some of the dance music carried echoes of disco, some of it anticipated the future. On this collection, the most interesting example of that is Nasty Girl by Prince-protégées Vanity 6. A trio of female singers, the group anticipated Destiny’s Child by more than 15 years. 1982’s Nasty Girl — written and produced by Prince, though songwriting credit was given to Vanity — sounds like it could have been a Destiny’s Child song in the year 2000. And on her 2016 tour, Beyoncé mashed up the song with her song Blow.

Nasty Girl closes the CD-R length playlist, but there are seven bonus tracks to carry your New Year’s Eve party — be it with booty-shaking guests or just you and your loved one in the kitchen cooking a supper — for two hours. There are many previous Disco and Party Like It’s … mixes to revisit; I think all links are live.

And with that, I wish you a good slide into the New Year, and a 2023 marked by peace, exultations and absurdly good health.

1. Imagination – Music And Lights
2. Gwen Guthrie – It Should Have Been You
3. Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King – Love Come Down
4. Shalamar – A Night To Remember
5. Sharon Brown – I Specialise In Love
6. Fat Larry’s Band – Act Like You Know It
7. Linda Taylor – You And Me Just Started
8. Aretha Franklin – Jump To It
9. Stevie Wonder – Do I Do (Single Version)
10. Patrice Rushen – Number One
11. Skyy – Let Love Shine
12. Alicia Myers – I Want To Thank You
13. Sharon Redd – In The Name Of Love
14. Tony Sherman – Ellovee-Ee
15. Vanity 6 – Nasty Girl
BONUS TRACKS
16. Gap Band – You Dropped A Bomb On Me
17. Carrie Lucas – Show Me Where You’re Coming From
18. Shades Of Love – Keep In Touch (Body To Body)
19. Candela – Love You Madly
20. Melba Moore – Mind Up Tonight
21. Montana Sextet – Heavy Vibes
22. Third World – Try Jah Love

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Any Major Hits From 1947

December 20th, 2022 7 comments

 

 

We had our fix of Any Major Christmas last week, with the multi-lingual festive mix. Today, there’s a chance to get a nice Christmas present for your mom, dad, aunt, uncle, friend, patient etc over 80, who may enjoy a nostalgia trip with hits from 1947 — 75 years ago. Of course, younger people and you might enjoy it, too. I’m enjoying this compilation tremendously.

1947 was just a short seven years before rock & roll exploded on the scene. In some of the featured songs, the rumblings of the nascent genre can be heard, like distant thunder before the lightning. Those tracks must have sounded quite startling 75 years ago.

Other songs are, of course, of their time. But, hell, you can feel how the jumpin’ boogie of the opening songs must have electrified the USA’s youngsters, and horrified their elders. The biggest juke box star of 1947 was Louis Jordan, a black musician to whose music white kids danced, much as their nieces and nephews would dance to Little Richard and Chuck Berry a decade later.

So this mix isn’t necessarily representative of the hits of 1947, though all were US hits. In compiling this collection, I tried to imagine what music I might have listened to, had I been a youngster in 1947 — and filtered out the many boring crooning ballads by tenors who come in only halfway slow big band tootlings. I certainly would have enjoyed the humour in several of these songs; Tex Williams’ Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! especially still makes me laugh. And if the squares thought that libertine attitudes arrived only with rock & roll, let them hear Julia Lee and Her Boy Friends talk about S-E-X.

I don’t know if I would have been able to swerve between genres; I’d be quite interested to know if such boundaries existed, or whether it was natural to hear jump one minute and country the next. For our purposes, let’s assume that it was possible.

This mix is a good companion piece to the Any Major Hits from 1944 collection I posted three years ago. And if you dig your music in black & white, there’s more, including several Christmas mixes. There’s

Any Major Christmas in Black & White Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas in Black & White Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas in Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major 1940s Christmas
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Any Major Doo Wop X-Mas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major ABCs: 1950s
New York in Black & White
Germany’s Hit Parade 1930-37
Germany’s Hit Parade 1938-45
Saved Vol. 1
Saved Vol. 4

And, of course, there are more recent Any Major Hits mixes: 1961, 1970, 1971, 1972 Vol. 1 and 1972 Vol. 2.

 

Beach-goers in California in December 1947.

 

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

And with that, I wish you a Merry Christmas!

1. Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five – Let The Good Times Roll
2. The Five Blazes – Chicago Boogie
3. Bull Moose Jackson and His Buffalo Bearcats – I Love You, Yes I Do
4. Ella Fitzgerald & Delta Rhythm Boys – (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons
5. Margaret Whiting – Old Devil Moon
6. Annie Laurie with Paul Gayten and His Trio – Since I Fell For You
7. Frank Sinatra – I Believe
8. Dorothy Shay – Feudin’ And Fightin’
9. Tex Williams – Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)
10. Merle Travis – So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed
11. Hank Williams – Move It On Over
12. Peggy Lee – It’s A Good Day
13. The Mills Brothers – Across The Alley From The Alamo
14. Johnny Mercer and The Pied Pipers – Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
15. Hoagy Carmichael – Old Buttermilk Sky
16. Tony Pastor and His Orchestra – The Lady From 29 Palms
17. The Andrews Sisters – Near You
18. Art Lund – And Mimi
19. Dinah Shore – How Soon (Will I Be Seeing You)
20. Buddy Clark – Peg O’ My Heart
21. Savannah Churchill and The Sentimentalists – I Want To Be Loved (But Only By You)
22. King Cole Trio – Meet Me At No Special Place (And I’ll Be There At No Particular Time)
23. Julia Lee and Her Boy Friends – Snatch And Grab It
24. The Ink Spots – Ask Anyone Who Knows
25. Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra – Hawk’s Boogie
26. Desi Arnaz and His Orchestra – Babalu’
27. Count Basie and His Orchestra – Open The Door, Richard!

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More Mixes
More A Year In Hits
More Music in Black & White

Any Major Polygot Christmas

December 12th, 2022 3 comments

This year there’ll be only one Any Major Christmas mix, simply because this one took so much time to put together — a compilation of Christmas pop standards covered in different languages: French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese, Finnish, Icelandic, Greek, Czech, Hungarian, Korean… and one dialect, Kölsch, which is spoken in the German city of Cologne.

Apologies if your language didn’t make it. I hope you will enjoy hearing the Christmas songs we know in different languages anyway. Of course, I cannot vouch for it that the artists performing these songs have any kind of cool factor in their country, because most of them I know nothing about.

I do know that Heintje does not meet the definition of cool in Germany or the Netherlands. The Dutch-born boy singer was a superstar in Germany in the late 1960s and early ’70s, as the model-grandson singer of sentimental songs and as an actor in those compellingly bad German Schlager “comedies” (Schatzi haut den Pauker auf die Schnauze). In the 1970s, practically every West German family had Heintje’s first Christmas album rom 1968. The present track was released in 1971, just before poor Heintje’s voice broke. As Hein Simon, he tried to revive his career, but nobody wanted a grown-up Heintje.

Two acts here are superstar-famous, though one of them didn’t know her fame-filled future yet when the featured track was recorded. Céline Dion was a 13-year-old singer in Québec when she recorded her Christmas album, on which the producer must have had a yen for reggae.

The other superstar closes this set: In 1980 Agnetha Fältskog of ABBA recorded an album of Christmas songs in Swedish with her little daughter Linda, whose father was (and still is) Björn Ulvaeus. The album, released in 1981, featured no other ABBA members, but some of the usual studio gang were playing on it.

Next week I’ll help you out with a last-minute Christmas present for family or friends over 80: a mix of hits from 1947 (seeing as it’s 75 years ago). I think people under 80 will enjoy it, too.

I think all Any Major Christmas mixes are still up on Zippy. If you need one that isn’t, post your request in the comments.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and features joyeux-noëled covers. PW in comments.

1. Guy Cloutier – Voici le Père Noël (Here Comes Santa Claus, French) (1964)
2. Gerhard Wendland – Weißer Winderwald (Winter Wonderland, German) (1954)
3. Aldo Donà – Bianco Natale (White Christmas, Italian) (1948)
4. Michèle Richard – Joyeux Noël (The Christmas Song, French) (1966)
5. Fernand Gignac – C’est Noël (Silver Bells, French) (1961)
6. Gals & Pals – Jingeling-tingeling (Sleigh Ride, Swedish) (1963)
7. Castel et Casti – Monsieur la Neige (Frosty The Snowman, French) (1958)
8. Celly Campello – Jingle Bell Rock (Portuguese) (1960)
9. Cho Young Nam – Blue Christmas (Korean) (1971)
10. Vera Špinarová – Až za modrou horou (Merry X-Mas [War Is Over], Czech) (1974)
11. Katy Garbi – Ώρα Χριστουγέννων (I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Greek) (1998)
12. Szandi – Rock a karácsonyfa körül (Rock Around The Christmas Tree, Hungarian) (1993)
13. Willeke Alberti – Ik wil niet alleen zijn met Kerst (Lonely This Christmas, Dutch) (1991)
14. Nada Urbánková – Dlouhá zima (It’s Gonna Be A Cold Cold Christmas, Czech) (1982)
15. Lasse Lindbom Band – Om jag bara fick en elgitarr till jul (I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, Swedish) (1979)
16. Erna Gunnarsdóttir – Enn Jólin (Last Christmas, Icelandic) (1986)
17. Menneisyyden Vangit – Hyvää Joulua Kaikille (Merry Xmas Everybody, Finnish) (2005)
18. Zoe Kluss – El Mejor Regalo Eres Tú (All I Want For Christmas, Spanish) (2017)
19. Köster & Hocker – Weihnachtsmärche us Kölle (Fairytale Of New York, Kölsch) (2017)
20. Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea – Santa Baby (Spanish) (2007)
21. Götz Alsmann  – Der Weihnachtsmann (Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, German) (2006)
22. Jaci Velasquez – Hoy que es Navidad (…Merry Little Christmas, Spanish) (2001)
23. Céline Dion – J’ai Vu Maman Embrasser Le Père Noël (I Saw Mommy…, French) (1981)
24. Eiríkur Hauksson – Jólaþankar (I Believe In Father Christmas, Icelandic) (1986)
25. Heintje – Der kleine Trommler (The Little Drummer Boy, German) (1971)
26. Agnetha & Linda – Bjallerklang (Jingle Bells, Swedish) (1981)

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
Any Major Santa Claus Vol. 1
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

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In Memoriam – November 2022

December 6th, 2022 6 comments

In a busy month for the Reaper, the age-range of victims he claimed was huge: the oldest was 104, the youngest 24. The former first appeared in stage in 1930 and had her first hit in 1939; the latter, Danish singer Hugo Helmig, had his first international hit in 2017. I had never heard of Helmig before, but he clearly was an appealing artist. As I’ll explain later, the In Memoriam series is a good way of discovering new music; I enjoyed checking out Helmig’s music, and feel sad that there won’t be any more of it.

Another death of a singer I had never heard of before touched me this month. Jake Flint, a singer-songwriter in the red dirt sub-genre of country, should have started a tour last Friday. Instead he died in his sleep at the age of 37. The tragic kicker: Flint died a day and a half after his wedding… His widow Brenda wrote: “We should be going through wedding photos but instead I have to pick out clothes to bury my husband in.”

 

The Perfect Christine
Nothing against the name McVie, but why would you take that name when your birth-name was Perfect, literally. When Christine Perfect married Fleetwood Mac’s John McVie she took his surname, to become Christine McVie — even though she had already enjoyed success with her “maiden” name, as a solo act and as the lead singer of Chicken Shack. With the latter, she had a big hit with a cover of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind. In 1969 and 1970, she was voted female vocalist of the year in the UK music weekly Melody Maker.

Few would have bet on it that Christine McVie would become the first of the classic Fleetwood Mac line-up to die, even though at 79, she was the oldest. She just seemed the most grounded of the lot, the one least likely to overdo the drug and the booze.

Her songwriting contribution to Fleetwood Mac was immense, with songs such as Over My Head, Warm Ways, Say You Love Me, Don’t Stop, Songbird, You Make Loving Fun, Oh Daddy, Think About Me, Love In Store, Hold Me, Little Lies, and Everywhere. On the Fleetwood Mac’s 1988 Greatest Hits album, half of the 16 tracks were written or co-written by Christine McVie. Shhe was the centre of Fleetwood Mac.

Remember Her Name
She should have been a superstar, as a singer, an actress and a dancer. The 1980 film Fame set Irene Cara up for both, with her having already made a mark in the title role of the musical drama Sparkle. She played a central role in Fame, performed the superb title song, sang the showstopper Out Her On My Own, and was part of the other great Fame track, I Sing The Body Electric. Cara was the first singer to perform two Oscar-nominated songs at an Academy Awards show. With her talents and beauty, she should have been the biggest star in the world.

It didn’t go that way. Three years after Fame, Cara had a mega-hit with Flashdance…What A Feeling, one of the great pop sings of the 1980s, which she also co-wrote and for which she won an Oscar. But again, the huge success didn’t translate into great, well, fame. In 1984 she had a final US Top 10 hit, with the mediocre Breakdance. Her total US chart history: Three Top 10 hits, two Top 20s, one Top 40, two Top 100s.

Because of a long-running law suit with her record label over unpaid royalties (which she eventually won, after eight years), Cara was effectively blacklisted, with RSO — the label for which she had helped make so much money through the Fame soundtrack — sending out threatening letters to other labels, warning them off Cara. Her recording career ground to a halt after her 1987 Carasmatic album, until in 2011 she formed an R&B group called Hot Caramel, with whom she released one CD. Cara also recorded in Spanish (she was half-black Cuban, half-Puerto Rican). Before she was blackballed, she appeared in a few movies, contributed to soundtracks, and did backing vocals. In the 1990s, she had a few minor dance hits in Europe

The Black Monroe
In the 1950s, Joyce Bryant was known as the “Black Marilyn Monroe”, and inspired singers like Etta James to play with sexuality in their music. Born in 1928, Bryant made her mark as a nightclub singer in the 1940s. One night she decided to paint her hair silver in a bid to upstage Josephine Baker. It became her trademark. A young woman of great courage, she broke the colour barsin Miami when she performed at a whites-only club, despite threats and the KKK burning her in effigy.

Regarded as one of the first black sex symbols, Bryant also had a successful recording career in the early 1950s, scoring a hit with her version of Love For Sale, which got banned from radio for being too raunchy. And suddenly in 1955, she left the music business because it clashed with her fervent religious beliefs as a Seventh Day Adventist, and because she was disgusted with the exploitative club culture, with its gangsters and violence against women (she once was beaten in her dressing room after rejecting the advances of a man). She’d later return in the 1960s as a vocal coach and opera singer.

By then, Bryant was immersed in civil rights activism and social upliftment projects, often working with Rev Martin Luther King Jr.

The Pub Rock Executioner
The roots of UK punk are diverse, but leading among them was the pub rock scene, some of whose exponents, such as The Stranglers, were considered part of the punk vanguard. Perhaps the most influential of those on punk and the post-punk wave was Dr. Feelgood, a blues-rock band formed in 1971. Its co-founder and guitarist was Wilko Johnson, whose moniker is a near anagram of his real name, John Wilkinson. His percussive fingerstyle guitar playing (without a pick) has been so influential that in some circles he became a cult figure.

Johnson, who has died at 75 after a long battle with cancer, founded a string of bands after leaving Dr. Feelgood in 1977, but in 1980 he joined an already successful band, Ian Dury’s Blockheads, for a few years. He was a friend of collaborations, the most high-profile of these may be the one he struck up with Who frontman Roger Daltrey in 2014.

In between, Johnson filled the central part in perhaps the most pivotal scene in the TV series Game Of Thrones: he played the executioner who cut off Ned Stark’s head. He was well-qualified for that role — his BA degree in English and Literature included courses on Anglo-Saxon and ancient Icelandic sagas, which pretty much is the GoT universe.

 

The Sinatra Discoverer
It is quite mind-blowing that until just a couple of weeks ago, a singer who had helped a still quite unknown Frank Sinatra along the way to stardom was still with us. Louise Tobin died on November 26 at the age of 104 — 92 year after she first performed on stage. In the 1930s she was singing with bandleaders like Benny Goodman while being married to another famous bandleader, Harry James. It was on Tobin’s recommendation that James signed Frank Sinatra to his first gig fronting a big band, in March 1939, before the kid moved on to Tommy Dorsey. It was with Harry James and his Orchestra that Sinatra recorded his first record, a commercial flop.

That same year, Tobin had a big hit as the vocalist for Benny Goodman with I Didn’t Know What Time It Was (a Rodgers & Hart song Sinatra would sing in 1954 for the film Pal Joey). Tobin recorded and performed with a string of big bands in the 1940s; her reputation was such that Johnny Mercer wrote a song about her, Louise Tobin Blues. In the 1950s Tobin withdrew from music to raise her sons.

She made a well-received comeback in 1962, and toured extensively for many years. In between, she co-owned a jazz club in Denver with second husband Peanuts Hucko, at which both also performed.

The Bob Marley Keyboardist
Do you remember Grace Jones’ 1983 song My Jamaican Guy? It was about reggae keyboardist Tyrone Downie, who has died at 66. By the time Grace serenaded about him, Downie was already a veteran of Jamaica’s reggae scene, as a recording artist in his own right and as keyboardist for several top acts, including Bob Marley & The Wailers (on albums like Exodus, Babylon By Bus, Kaya, Survival, and Uprising), and Peter Tosh (such as Legalize It, Equal Rights), sometimes also contributing backing vocals. He was also part of the Marley & The Wailer’s live band.

He also backed acts like Burning Spear, Johnny Nash, Dennis Brown, Rita Marley, Grace Jones, Tom Tom Club, Ian Dury, Sly & Robbie, Garland Jeffreys, Deniece Williams, Marcia Griffiths, Freddie McGregor, Gregory Isaacs, Black Uhuru, Ziggy Marley, Youssou N’Dour, Shabba Ranks and many others.

The Lo-Fier
It is a shame that cancer claimed Mimi Parker, singer and drummer of indie band Low, just a few weeks before Christmas, since the band released a string of Christmas-themed songs over a three-decade career, with titles such as Just Like Christmas, If You Were Born Today (Song for Little Baby Jesus), Santa’s Coming Over, and Some Hearts (At Christmas Time). And yet, when it comes to long battles with cancer and the bastard is winning it, release may be a matter of joy. And as a Mormon, Parker believed that death would not be the end. I hope Mimi’s was a good death.

Low were Parker and husband Alan Sparhawk, plus the occasional bassist. Mimi was mostly in charge of the low-fi sound, which is said to have reflected her quiet nature, while Alan was the rockier component.

The Sound Man
Philly Soul is mostly the creation of Gamble, Huff and Bell, but it was also the sound of Joseph Tarsia, in whose Sigma Sound Studios much of the Sound of Philadelphia was created. And often, Tarsia would be involved in the recordings as an engineer, alone or with other engineers.

In the 1960s, Tarsia worked as a recording engineer with Cameo Parkway Records (whose roster included future Philly legends such as Dee Dee Sharp and Bunny Sigler). In 1967 he decided to set up his own studio. He sold his car, house and other possessions, and leased an old studio in Philadelphia, upgrading its equipment from 2-track to 8-track. Among the early clients were The Delfonics, who recorded their 1968 La La I Love You album there. Soon the studio had to run around the clock to accommodate demand that ranged from Aretha Franklin to ZZ Top.

In 1976 Tarsia opened three studios in New York, also named Sigma Sound Studios. Among those who recorded there were Steely Dan, Billy Joel, Whitney Houston, Madonna, and Paul Simon.

 

The Woodwinder
As a session musician who could chip in on the sax, clarinet, flute, oboe, English horn, piccolo or pretty much any woodwind instrument, Gene Cipriano by 2019 had played 58 successive years in the Academy Awards orchestra.

A long-time collaborator with Henry Mancini — for whom he played the flute on the timeless theme of Peter Gunn — and other film composers, going back to the 1950s, Cipriano played on many soundtracks, including the original West Side Story. For Some Like It Hot, Cipriano played the saxophone parts for Tony Curtis’ character. Later film contributions included Hatari!, The Tomas Crown Affair, Escape From Alcatraz, The Wild Bunch, Charade,  And Justice For All, Airplane!, The Right Stuff, Romancing The Stone, The Color Purple, The Goonies, The Karate Kid, Cocoon, The Naked Gun, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Bad Boys, and many others. Add to that a huge list of TV music he played on.

In the 1950s he played for people like Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, Nat King Cole, and Anita O’Day. As a member of the Wrecking Drew, he backed acts like Glen Campbell, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Mason Williams, Frank Zappa, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, Barbra Streisand, Michael Franks, Neil Diamond, Judee Sill, The 5th Dimension, Boodstone, Andy Williams, Dennis Coffey, Etta James, Peggy, Anne Murray, Nancy Wilson and John Denver. Later he played with the likes of Tom Waits, Lionel Richie, Prince, Frank Sinatra (on the Duets album), Natalie Cole (Unforgettable), Lady Gaga, Gregory Porter, and Barry Manilow, Michael Bublé, and Daft Punk.

The Nazareth Singer
In July we lost the lead guitarist of Nazareth’s classic line up, Manny Charlton; in November the Scottish hard rock band’s lead singer, Dan McCafferty, followed him. McCafferty had been a founding member of the group in 1968, and stayed with it until health forced his retirement in 2013. So it his voice that can’t make up its mind whether to love or hate the band’s best-known hit, a cover of the Everly Brothers’ Love Hurts.

Nazareth fun fact: The group didn’t name itself after Jesus’ hometown in Galilee but after the town by the same name in Pennsylvania, which got namechecked in The Band’s song The Weight.

The Post-punk Pioneer
In Public Image Ltd, or PiL, John Lydon and Jah Wobble were the stars, but fans will credit Keith Levene, who has died at 65, with being an at least equally important member of the band, as a guitarist, songwriter and producer. He was a member when PiL was formed as a post-Sex Pistols vehicle for Lydon, who at the same time dropped his Johnny Rotten moniker. Levene left PiL in 1983 over creative differences.

Levene was also a founding member of The Clash, and persuaded Joe Strummer to join the band. He left before The Clash recorded anything, but contributed the song What’s My Name to their first album.

The Star Rapper
I am so out of touch with the latest in popular music that I had no idea who rapper Takeoff was when his death, killed by what seems to be stray bullets in a shoot-out, was announced. It turns out that as a third of the hip hop trio Migos, the 28-year-old had scored a number of US Top 10 hits, including Stir Fry, MotorSport featuring Nicki Minaj & Cardi B, and Walk It Talk It featuring Drake. Her scored two #1 albums, and two Grammy nominations.

Remarkably, the man born as Kirshnik Khari Ball rapped in Migos with his uncle, Quavo, as well as a cousin — a true family affair. Shortly before the rapper’s killing on November 1, Takeoff and Quavo released a video for the song Messy. Apparently at 2:40 one can see a poster with the legend “RIP” next to Takeoff. In a spooky mindfuck, Takeoff was killed in a shooting at 02:40.

 

The Apple Outlaw
As a young record company exec with Capitol in the 1960s, Ken Mansfield oversaw the careers of acts like The Beach Boys, Glen Campbell, Bobbie Gentry, Lou Rawls, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard among others, but his biggest-name charges were The Beatles. And The Fab’s were so impressed with Mansfield’s promotion work for them in the States that they appointed him US manager of their new Apple label in 1968.

In that role Mansfield was one of the organisers of The Beatles’ famous rooftop concert in 1969, an event he later wrote a book about (another book he wrote on The Beatles apparently is the only one that received the approval of Paul, George, Ringo and Yoko, other than the Anthology). In the film footage of the Rooftop Concert, you can spot him wearing the white coat.

It was Mansfield whose intervention persuaded The Beatles to release Hey Jude as a single, instead of Revolution. Hey Jude was thought to be too long, so Mansfield played the two contenders to a sample of US radio DJs. They told him that Hey Jude would be a hit, even at its length. And so it turned out to be…

After the Apple adventure, Mansfield became a prolific, especially records by outlaw country musicians such as Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser. He also produced acts like Claudine Longet, Don Ho and Nick Gilder.

The Discovery
One of the great things about doing this series is to discover artists and music I’d never heard of. If these acts were still a going concern when circumstances conspired to make them known to me, then these discoveries are bitter-sweet, because there won’t be any new music made by them. So it is in the case of English soul singer Noel McKoy, whose death at 62 prompted me to investigate his music. I loved almost everything I heard of his retro-tinged soul music, and the acid jazz stuff he did with the James Taylor Quartet (not that James Taylor).

The Boomtown Rat
Where do #1 artists go when their group sinks? Garry Roberts, who has died at 72, scored a string of hits as guitarist behind Bob Geldof in The Boomtown Rats, including two #1s (Rat Trap; I Don’t Like Mondays) and seven more Top 20 hits between 1977-80. The Boomtown Rats, which Roberts had co-founded with pyjama-clad keyboardist Johnny Fingers, disbanded in 1986.

Subsequently, Roberts gigged as a sound engineer before becoming a financial adviser. After 15 years he was disillusioned with the insurance industry (who can blame him?) and became a central heating engineer. All the while, he kept playing with a reconstituted Boomtown Rats.

The Smurf Xenophobe
Vader Abraham didn’t mind his immigrants small and blue, but the Smurfs singer didn’t like them brown. For a short while, the Dutch singer and songwriter Pierre Kartner, one-time member of 1960s million-selling band Corry & de Rekels, brutalised much of Europe with his grating Smurfs songs. He also turned his talents to writing racist songs. In the 1970s — before he became the beloved father of the Smurfs — he asked in song: “What shall we do with the Arabs here? They can’t be trusted with our pretty women here.” He also warbled about the unemployed being to blame for their own condition since they all are drunks in bars. What a total klootzak! Later Kartner recorded a campaign song with far-right populist Pim Fortuyn. Alas, it wasn’t titled “Alle verdomde Smurfen haten me nu omdat ik een dweper ben”.

In his time Kartner is said to have written thousands of songs. Of those, one, Het kleine café aan de haven, was a hit that merited being recorded in different languages throughout Europe, for singers like Mireille Mathieu, Joe Dassin, Engelbert Humperdinck, Audrey Landers, Demis Roussos, and Peter Alexander (whose ingratiating German version, Unsere kleine Kneipe, was a big hit in Germany in 1977). It wasn’t very good, but at least it wasn’t intrinsically annoying nor did it promote racism.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.

Joseph Tarsia, 88, engineer and owner of Sigma Sound Studios, on Nov. 1
Daddy Kae & Yvonne – Eleven Commandments Of Woman (1966, as engineer)
The Delfonics – La La Means I Love You (1968, as engineer)
The O’Jays – I Love Music (1975, as engineer)

Takeoff, 28, rapper with hip hop trio Migos, murdered on Nov. 1
Migos – Stir Fry (2016)
Migos feat. Drake – Walk It Talk It (2018)

Gerd Dudek, 84, German jazz saxophonist, clarinetist and flautist, on Nov. 3

Noel McKoy, 62, British soul singer, on Nov. 3
James Taylor Quartet with Noel McKoy – Love The Life (1993)
Noel McKoy – Love Under Control (1998)
Noel McKoy – Fly Away With Me (2009)

Nicole Josy, 76, half of Belgian duo Nicole & Hugo, on Nov. 4

Carmelo La Bionda, 73, half of Italian disco duo La Bionda and songwriter, on Nov. 5
La Bionda – One For You, One For Me (1978, also as co-writer)

Mimi Parker, 55, singer and drummer of indie band Low, on Nov. 5
Low – Sleep At The Bottom (1998)
Low – Everybody’s Song (2005)
Low – Some Hearts (At Christmas Time) (2016)

Aaron Carter, 34, pop singer, on Nov. 5
Aaron Carter – Aaron’s Party (Come Get It) (2000)

Tyrone Downie, 66, Jamaican keyboardist, producer and arranger, on Nov. 5
Tyrone Downie – Movie Skank (1972)
Peter Tosh – Legalize It (1976)
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Is This Love (1978, on keyboards)

Tame One, 52, rapper, on Nov. 5

Dan Fawcett, 52, guitarist of Canadian rock band Helix (2202-04), found Nov. 6

Hurricane G, 52, rapper, on Nov. 6
Hurricane G. – Somebody Else (1997)

Joe Baque, 100, jazz pianist, on Nov. 6

Don Lewis, 81, synth pioneer, singer, engineer, on Nov. 6
The Don Lewis Experience – And They’ll Know

Ali Birra, 72, Ethiopian singer, on Nov. 6

Jeff Cook, 73, singer and musician with country band Alabama, on Nov. 7
Alabama – Mountain Music (1982)

Michel Bühler, 77, Swiss chanson singer-songwriter, on Nov. 7
Michel Bühler – Mon Père (1976)

Claes-Göran Hederström, 77, Swedish singer, on Nov. 8

Dan McCafferty, 76, singer of Scottish rock band Nazareth, on Nov. 8
Nazareth – Broken Down Angel (1973, also as co-writer)
Dan McCafferty – The Honky Tonk Downstairs (1978)
Nazareth – Where Are You Now (1983)

Will Ferdy, 95, Belgian singer, on Nov. 8

Garry Roberts, 72, guitarist of The Boomtown Rats, on Nov. 8
The Boomtown Rats – Looking After No 1 (1977)
The Boomtown Rats – Someone’s Looking At You (1979)

PierreVader Abraham’ Kartner, 87, Dutch singer, racist and songwriter, on Nov. 8
Mireille Mathieu – Le vieux café de la rue d’Amérique (1976, as co-writer)

Gal Costa, 77, Brazilian singer, on Nov. 8
Gal Costa – Meu nome é Gal (1969)
Gal Costa – Festa do interior (1982)

Mattis Hætta, 63, Norwegian singer, on Nov. 9

Nik Turner, 82, musician with rock band Hawkwind, on Nov. 10
Hawkwind – Master Of The Universe (1972, also as co-writer)
Nik Turner – The Visitor (Space Gypsy) (2013)

Chris Koerts, 74, guitarist of Dutch pop group Earth and Fire, on Nov. 10
Earth and Fire – Memories (1972)

Keith Levene, 65, English guitarist with Public Image Ltd, songwriter, on Nov. 11
The Clash – What’s My Name (1977, as writer)
Public Image Ltd – Public Image (1978)
Public Image Ltd – Flowers Of Romance (1981, also as co-writer, engineer)

Rab Noakes, 75, Scottish folk singer, songwriter and drummer, on Nov. 11
Rab Noakes – Together Forever (1970)

Sven-Bertil Taube, 87, Swedish folk singer and actor, on Nov. 11

Gene Cipriano, 94, woodwind musician and session musician, on Nov. 12
Henry Mancini – Theme from Peter Gunn (1958, on flute)
Barbra Streisand – Love (1971, on oboe and clarinet)
Claudia Lennear – Goin’ Down (1973, on baritone sax)
Daft Punk – Beyond (2013, on bass clarinet)

Jerzy Połomski, 89, Polish singer and actor, on Nov. 14

Mick Goodrick, 77, jazz guitarist, on Nov. 16

B. Smyth, 28, R&B singer and songwriter, on Nov. 17
B. Smyth – Win Win (2023)

Ken Mansfield, 85, producer and label manager (Apple), on Nov. 17
Claudine Longet – Wake Up To Me Gentle (1972, as writer and producer)
Jessi Colter – What’s Happened To Blue Eyes (1975, as co-producer)

Tommy Facenda, 83, rock & roll singer and guitarist, on Nov. 18
Tommy Facenda – High School USA (1959)

Nico Fidenco, 89, Italian singer and film composer, on Nov. 19
Nico Fidenco – Legata ad un granello di Sabbia (1961; Italy’s first million-seller)

Danny Kalb, 80, guitarist and singer with blues-rock band Blues Project, on Nov. 19
The Blues Project – Two Trains Running (1966, on lead vocals)

DJ Sumbody, South African dance musician and producer, shot on Nov. 20

Joyce Bryant, 95, American singer and civil rights activist, on Nov. 20
Joyce Bryant – Drunk With Love (1950)
Joyce Bryant – Love For Sale (1952)
Joyce Bryant – After You’ve Gone (1953)

David Ornette Cherry, 64, jazz musician, on Nov. 20

Wilko Johnson, 75, guitarist (Dr. Feelgood), songwriter, actor, on Nov. 21
Dr. Feelgood – Roxette (1974, also as writer)
Wilko Johnson – When I’m Gone (1980)
Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey – Ice On The Motorway (2014)

Pablo Milanés, 79, Cuban singer-songwriter, on Nov. 22
Pablo Milanés – El Guerrero (1983)

Erasmo Carlos, 81, Brazilian singer-songwriter, on Nov. 22
Erasmo Carlos – Sentado à beira do caminho (1969)

Hugo Helmig, 24, Danish singer-songwriter, on Nov. 23
Hugo Helmig – Please Don’t Lie (2017)

Shel Macrae, 77, singer, guitarist with British pop band The Fortunes, announced Nov. 23
The Fortunes – Things Go Better With Coke (1967)
The Fortunes – Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again (1971)

Irene Cara, 63, pop/soul singer, songwriter and actress, on. Nov. 25
Irene Cara – Makin’ Love With Me (1979)
Irene Cara – Out Here On My Own (1980)
Irene Cara – Flashdance (What A Feeling) (Extended Version) (1983)
Hot Caramel – Stop Frontin’ (2011, as founder-member, lead singer, synth, producer)

Sammie Okposo, 51, Nigerian gospel singer, on Nov. 25

Don Newkirk, 56, hip-hop and R&B musician, composer and producer, on Nov. 25
Don Newkirk – Do You Feel Like I (2021)

Louise Tobin, 104, jazz singer, on Nov. 26
Benny Goodman and His Orchestra – I Didn’t Know What Time It Was (1939, on lead vocals)
Benny Goodman and His Orchestra – There’ll Be Some Changes Made (1941, on lead vocals)
Peanuts Hucko & Louise Tobin – The Man I Love (1984)

Jake Flint, 37, red dirt country singer-songwriter, on Nov. 27
Jake Flint – Cold In This House (2020)

Galit Borg, 54, Israeli singer, in a traffic accident on Nov. 28

Christine McVie (Perfect), 79, English singer, keyboardist and songwriter, on Nov. 30
Chicken Shack – I’d Rather Go Blind (1969, as member and on lead vocals)
Fleetwood Mac – Songbird (1977, as writer and on lead vocals)
Christine McVie – Got A Hold On Me (1984, also as co-writer)
Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere (1987, as co-writer and on lead vocals)

Steve ‘Cast Iron’ Smith, singer with British punk band Red Alert, on Nov. 30
Red Alert – Third And Final (1980)

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