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Any Major Blue-Eyed Soul

June 27th, 2023 6 comments

 

 

(This post is recycled from February 2019)

The term commonly used for white people doing R&B, or music influenced by the genre, is “blue-eyed soul”. I’m not sure I like the term much, because it suggests that only black people are able to produce authentic soul music. This mix shows that this notion is nonsense.

This lot of songs draws from, the period 1964-73, the prime of soul music. For the challenge of it, I’ve even left out some obvious choices, such as the Righteous Brothers, The Four Seasons or Motown’s Chris Clark. And not all of the acts here were strictly or always soul, but they all produced records that nonetheless merit inclusion in the genre. Including the effort by a future country superstar.

 

Linda Lyndell, targetted by racist assholes for singing soul music.

One of the artists here had her career destroyed by the Ku Klax Klan. Linda Lyndell was beginning to enjoy some success on Stax records with the original version of the Salt N Pepa hit What A Man when death threats by the KKK, which objected to a white woman singing black music on a black label, persuaded her to go into retirement. She made a comeback much later, and still performs occasionally.

Another white singer, from a country background, once recorded soul music before selling records by the shedload to audiences which included KKK types. Charlie Rich started his career in the late 1950s as a rock & roll singer. In the mid-1960s he branched out into soul, recording with Willie Mitchell at Hi Records, including the original recording of the Sam & Dave classic When Something Is Wrong With My Baby (which went unreleased until 1988). The Silver Fox escaped commercial success as a soul singer and the wrath of racists, and went on to become the self-appointed guardian of pure country.

Another exponent of blue-eyed soul who went country was Roy Head, whose Treat Her Right is something of a blue-eyed soul anthem, having been kept off the US #1 by The Beatles’ Yesterday.

On December 9, 1967, Mitch Ryder played with Otis Redding on a Cleveland TV station (the song was Knock On Wood.) The following day, Otis Redding died in a plane crash. Had Otis lived, he might well have made a star of a white teenage kid with a real soul voice whom he had discovered in Pittsburgh, Johnny Daye. In the event, Daye released just a few singles on Stax before retiring from music in 1968. The featured song is the flip side of his best-known song, What’ll I Do for Satisfaction (which Janet Jackson covered in 1993 as What’ll I Do).

 

Bob Kuban & The In-Men, with the ill-fated lead singer Walter Scott in front.

Bob Kuban & The In-Men occupy a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s one-hit wonder exhibit for their 1966 #12 hit The Cheater, which features here. The eponymous Bob Kuban was the bandleader and drummer. The singer on The Cheater was Walter Scott. In a cruel twist of irony, Scott was murdered with premeditation in 1983 by his wife’s lover, who had also killed his own wife. There’s another murder coming up later.

We know Robert John better for his 1979 hit Sad Eyes (which featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 1). He had enjoyed his first chart action as a 12-year-old in 1958 under his birth-name, Bobby Pedrick Jr. His claim to blue-eyed soulness dates to his short-lived time at A&M records, which saw the release of only two singles.

Jimmy Beaumont was the lead singer of the doo wop band The Skyliners – who had hits with their superb Since I Don’t Have You and Pennies Of Heaven – before he tried his hand as a soul singer. Commercial success eluded him, but soul aficionados know to appreciate his vocal stylings. Later life Beaumont returned to The Skyliners, whom he fronted until his death in 2017.

We have a few UK artists doing their soulful thing; Dusty Springfield‘s meddling in the genre is well-known, especially her Dusty In Memphis album, whence the featured track comes. Kiki Dee is less celebrated for her soul exploits (and internationally most famous for her 1976 duet with Elton John, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart). Early in her career, Kiki Dee was styled as a Spectoresque girl singer. She also did backing vocals for Dusty Springfield. She was doing well enough as a soul singer to become the first white British artist to be signed by Motown in 1970. Other UK acts featured here are the Spencer Davis Group and Junior Campbell, whom I introduced in the Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 9 post.

 

South African soul singer Una Valli, pictured in 1964.

Geographically most remote is South Africa’s Una Valli, who as a white woman singing black music probably did not earn the love of the apartheid regime. Valli performed almost exclusively cover versions of soul and pop songs. In any other world, she might have become a stone-cold soul legend (she previously featured on Covered With Soul Vol. 6 and Vol. 11 and Covered With Soul: Beatles Edition). Stop Thief is one of her more obscure covers, a Carla Thomas b-side written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. Half of Valli’s 1968 album Soul Meeting was recorded with the backing of a pop group called The Peanut Butter Conspiracy; the other half (including Stop Thief) with a soul-funk band called The Flames, whose Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin later joined the Beach Boys on three albums.

Two years after the featured song by Bill Deal and the Rhondels was released, saxophonist Freddy Owens joined the group. In 1979 the band was playing in Richmond, Virginia, when Owens was shot dead in the pursuit of a man who had raped his wife. Bill Deal never really got over that and four years later quit the music industry. He died in 2003.

Several of the songs featured here were favourites on England’s Northern Soul scene, in which DJs would compete to find the most obscure 1960s soul records to be played in specialist clubs which were located mostly in northern England. The most famous venue in this sub-culture, which had its own dress codes and dancing styles, was the Wigan Casino. When the venue closed in 1981, Dean Parrish‘s I’m On My Way was the last record to be played there. Six years earlier, the popularity of the 1967 tune on the Northern Soul scene had led to its re-release, selling a million copies in the UK – and Parrish earned no money from it.

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

1. The O’Kaysions – The Soul Clap (1968)
2. Soul Survivors – Expressway To Your Heart (1967)
3. The Young Rascals – A Girl Like You (1967)
4. Robert John – Raindrops, Love And Sunshine (1970)
5. Bill Deal and the Rhondels – What Kind Of Fool Do You Think I Am (1969)
6. Charlie Rich – Don’t Tear Me Down (1966)
7. Johnny Daye – I Need Somebody (1968)
8. Linda Lyndell – What A Man (1969)
9. Roy Head – Treat Her Right (1965)
10. Sunday Funnies – Whatcha Gonna Do (When The Dance Is Over) (1967)
11. Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels – Sock It To Me Baby (1967)
12. Bob Kuban & The In-Men – The Cheater (1966)
13. Jimmy Beaumont – I Never Loved Her Anyway (1966)
14. Flaming Ember – The Empty Crowded Room (1971)
15. The Box Tops – Turn On A Dream (1967)
16. Kiki Dee – On A Magic Carpet Ride (1968)
17. Laura Nyro – Stoned Soul Picnic (1968)
18. Dusty Springfield – Just A Little Lovin’ (1969)
19. The Illusion – Falling In Love (1969)
20. Una Valli and The Flames – Stop Thief (1968)
21. The Monzas – Instant Love (1964)
22. Len Barry – 1-2-3 (1965)
23. The Grass Roots – Midnight Confessions (1967)
24. Junior Campbell – Sweet Illusion (1973)
25. Dean Parrish – I’m On My Way (1967)
26. The Spencer Davis Group – I’m A Man (1967)
27. Chi Coltrane – Thunder And Lightning (1971)
28. Tommy James & The Shondells – Crystal Blue Persuasion (1969)

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Any Major Hits from 1973 – Vol. 2

June 15th, 2023 9 comments

 

In Any Major Hits from 1973 Vol. 1, which dropped in January, I noted how few UK hits made it big in the US that year. On the other hand, US acts were very successful in the UK charts, even as the British pop scene was thriving, especially with glam rock peaking.

Where Vol. 1 concentrated on the US charts, the second mix of 1973 hits reflects some of what was happening in the UK. And rightly, it kicks off with a triple whammy of stone cold glam classics featuring Slade, Sweet and Wizzard — and had Gary Glitter not been an unrepentant sexual abuser, it might have been four… The playlist returns to glam towards the end. And if you still need more of a glam fix, try the Any Major Glam Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 mixes.

Junior Campbell had a #15 hit with the blue-eyed soul track Sweet Illusion in the summer of 1973. It was his last chart hit, following on from his first solo hit a year earlier, which reached #10. But Campbell already had his fill of hits as founder member, lead guitarist, keyboard player, vocalist and songwriter with the Scottish band Marmalade. He co-wrote songs like the global hit Reflections Of My Life (on which he played the guitar solo) and I See The Rain, a hit in Europe and now something of a cult classic.

After his solo career, Campbell went to arranging and producing, carving out a fine career for himself.

US soul group Limmie & Family Cookin’ (fronted by the unlikely-named Limmie Snell) were more successful in the UK than at home. Their quite wonderful You Can Do Magic was their only US chart entry, stalling at #86 and getting to only #42 on the R&B charts. In Britain, however, it reached #3 in 1973. The group had another UK Top 10 hit in 1974, with A Walkin’ Miracle.

Jimmy Helms is another US-born soul singer who made it big in Britain. Having signed for a British label, he had a #8 hit with the falsetto classic Gonna Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse. It sounds as if it was recorded by Gamble & Huff in Philadelphia, but the track was in fact produced by a white guy named Mike Moran, who’d later sing the Eurovision classic Rock Bottom with Linsey de Paul.

Helms didn’t bother the UK charts again as a solo artist, but after a few years of doing session work — including backing vocals on the Deacon Blue hit When Will You Make My Telephone Ring and the Fine Young Cannibals’ Good Thing — he made a comeback in the late 1980s as a founding member of Londonbeat, putting his falsetto to good use on tracks such as the huge hit I’ve Been Thinking About You and A Better Love, both of which he also co-wrote.

The track that is probably the most anachronistic in this mix is The Strawbs’ Part Of The Union, an anthem celebrating trade unionism and collective solidarity, which went as high as #2 in early 1973. You’re not likely to hear much political content of that kind in pop hits these days, and Thatcher succeeded in smashing working class solidarity. And with the current Labour leadership, The Strawbs would have little to brag about today. Still, here they are in 1973, performing on the BBC on Top of the Pops, being introduced by a prominent Tory…

Likewise, I doubt that Hot Chocolate could record Brother Louie in quite the same way today as they did 50 years ago. A song about racial prejudice in the face of an interracial romance, the song’s spoken bits (one of them by Alexis Korner) includes racial pejoratives that would not be tolerated today, even if applied to criticise these attitudes (and that might be a good thing). A cover by the US band Stories topped the US charts later in 1973.

As a bonus track I include a Euro hit from 1973, Simon Butterfly’s Rain Rain Rain. The singer and writer of the song was a German, so you will not be shocked to learn that his real name wasn’t Butterfly but Bernd Simon. His song, on which he sounds a lot like the great, late singer-songwriter Udo Jürgens, was a big radio hit in West Germany, though it peaked at a lowly #20. Oddly, Simon released his song only in English. But it was a success in France, where Marie Laforêt recorded it as Viens Viens, and in Italy, where Dalida rendered it as Lei Lei. Simon released a few more records, but without success, and also did some producing. He died in 2017 at the age of 71.

A companion series to the Hits of the Year series is A Life In Vinyl, which goes back to 1977, when I started to invest seriously in records. .

If you dig the feel of 1973, take a look at the collection of posters from West-Germany’s Bravo magazine in 1973 (other years, from 1957 to 1985, feature too).

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

1. Slade – Cum On Feel The Noize
2. Sweet – Ballroom Blitz
3. Wizzard – See My Baby Jive
4. Mungo Jerry – Alright Alright Alright
5. Junior Campbell – Sweet Illusion
6. Hot Chocolate – Brother Louie
7. Limmie & Family Cookin’ – You Can Do Magic
8. The Spinners – Could It Be I’m Falling In Love
9. Jimmy Helms – Gonna Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse
10. David Cassidy – Daydreamer
11. David Bowie – Sorrow
12. Argent – God Gave Rock & Roll To You
13. The Faces – Cindy Incidentally
14. Wings – Hi Hi Hi
15. The Strawbs – Part Of The Union
16. Albert Hammond – The Free Electric Band
17. Geordie – All Because Of You
18. Nazareth – Broken Down Angel
19. Mott The Hoople – Roll Away The Stone
20. Suzi Quatro – 48 Crash
21. Mud – Dyna-mite
22. Barry Blue – Dancing (On A Saturday Night)
23. Jackson 5 – Hallelujah Day
Bonus Track
Simon Butterfly – Rain Rain Rain

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Any Major Hits from 1944
Any Major Hits from 1947
Any Major Hits from 1961
Any Major Hits from 1970
Any Major Hits from 1971
Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 1
Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 2
Any Major Hits from 1973 Vol. 1

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In Memoriam – May 2023

June 5th, 2023 13 comments

After a brutal start, with Gordon Lightfoot and Linda Lewis leaving us within a couple of days of one another, May ambled along relatively easily, and then became hectic again three weeks in, before the Reaper took his foot of his lethal pedal.

It was a bad month for bassists: within one week, we lost Smiths bassist Andy Rourke, heavy metal bassist Algy Ward (who in 1979 also was a member of The Damned), session bassist John Giblin (who played on many songs you probably know), South African jazz bassist Musa Manzini — and Chas Newby.

Chas Newby might have been a member of the Fab Five! After Stu Sutcliffe dropped out of the Beatles to stay in Hamburg, Newby filled in on bass for him. Before the group’s second trip to Hamburg, Chas was asked to join the band. Newby declined in order to go to university, and McCartney reluctantly took over bass duties. Newby went on to become a maths teacher. But it might have been John, Paul, George, Chas and Ringo…

The Acid Queen
There really isn’t much left to say about Tina Turner. I posted a mix of covers by Tina Turner (with and without Ike) the day after her death at 83, and offered some thoughts about Tina (whose name I stubbornly mistyped as Tuna). Get it here.

Featured here is her first-ever released single from 1958, on which she was billed as Little Ann, given that her real name was Anna Mae Bullock. Not very well known is that Tina was also a songwriter, especially towards the end of her time with Ike. Much of their 1974 album Sweet Rhode Island Red was written by Tina. Two of her works feature here, including a track on which we hear the singer in full-blown soul-gospel mode.

The Singer-Songwriter
Likewise, I have already paid tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, who died on May 1 at 84, by way of a Songbook. Lightfoot was one of many legends in the field of singing-songwriting, at a time when that genre was in its prime. Canada gave us four of these legends: Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Lightfoot.

I don’t know whether the Turner and Lightfoot mixes were in any way welcome (or the Prince Songbook, or the Power Ballads). The new filehosting service I use provides no stats, unlike Zippyshare, which used to give me a good idea as to what was popular and what was more niche. And without comments from readers, and that function has not been used much lately, I have no idea what hits and what misses.

The Songbird
As mentioned, the month of May kicked off in a nasty way. First Lightfoot died, two days later Linda Lewis. The English singer had an incredible range, in terms of voice — it is said that her range topped even that of Minnie Riperton — and of musical styles. She fused folk, soul and funk effortlessly.

On some of her early songs, Linda’s voice is just a little too high, too childlike for my taste. I call it the Joni Syndrome. Take the chorus of her hit Rock A Doodle Doo, which spoils a decent song for me. When she dropped her voice a little, it was gorgeous. Check out the featured Love Love Love from the aptly titled and very good Not A Little Girl Anymore album from 1975. It also shows off her fine songwriting skills.

Later she had a superb dance track in 1984 with Class/Style (I’ve Got It), which should have been a huge hit but inexplicably wasn’t.

Lewis also sang back-up for acts like David Bowie (on the Aladdin Sane album), Cat Stevens, Rick Wakeman, Steve Harley And Cockney Rebel, Rod Stewart, and later Joan Armatrading, Turin Brakes, Fatboy Slim, Paul Weller and Oasis.

The Smith
With the death at only 59 of Andy Rourke, bassist of The Smiths, huge numbers of Gen-Xers have lost a co-creator of a sound that accompanied them in dark times. No matter that Morrissey these days is an insufferable ass, The Smiths are giants in 1980s music.

Of course, the focus was on the frontman and guitarist Johnny Marr. Quite likely, only Smiths fans could easily name the other two (can you name the drummer?). But make no mistake Rourke’s bass drives the music. Just think of the oppressive bassline in How Soon Is Now, without which Marr’s meowing guitar would seem gratuitous. Marr has acknowledged Rourke’s huge contribution to the Smiths sound, noting that the two funk fans played off one another.

After the band split, Rourke was involved in various projects, including a Mancunian supergroup called Freebass with fellow bass players Mani (Stone Roses) and Peter Hook (New Order). He backed acts like the Pretenders, Killing Joke, Badly Drawn Boy and Ian Brown, as well as his old Smiths colleague Morrissey on hits like November Spawned A Monster, Interesting Drug, and The Last Of The Famous International Playboys. Rourke’s last band was the rock band D.A.R.K., with the late ex-Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan on lead vocals

Oh, and the drummer was Mike Joyce.

The Session Bassist
Not only The Smiths mourned the loss of a bassist, but also acts like Kate Bush, Phil Collins, Chris de Burgh, and Peter Gabriel. Scottish bassist Jon Giblin, who has died at 71, played on hits such as Bush’s Babooshka, and Collins’ In The Air Tonight and You Can’t Hurry Love, Annie Lennox’s Why, and De Burgh’s Don’t Pay The Ferryman and Lady In Red. He was especially active on many Kate Bush albums since 1980.

Giblin also backed acts like Simple Minds, Elkie Brooks, Paul McCartney, Stephen Bishop, Hugh Masekela, Jon Anderson, Marcia Hines, John Martyn, Donovan, Johnny Hallyday, Judie Tzuke, Jim Capaldi, Annie Lennox, Mavis Staples, Alan Parsons, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Richard Ashcroft, Papa Wemba, The Everly Brothers, Brand X, Scott Walker, David Sylvian, Fish, Tanita Tikaram, Joan Armatrading, and many others.

The Soul Blower
If you hear any number of Stax or Stax-recorded tracks that feature horns by the likes of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, King Curtis, Carla Thomas, Aretha Franklin and so on, you’ll probably hear the baritone sax of Floyd Newman, who has died at 91. Newman was a member of the Stax houseband The Mar-Keys and the Memphis Horns.

Newman played in the 1940s with BB King and toured in the 1950s with Sam Cooke before he formed a live band that also included future Stax legend Isaac Hayes, whom he later backed on many albums. Hayes also played on Newman’s one single release, 1964’s Frog Stomp, on Stax.

The Ska Pioneer
With the passing of alto saxophonist Lester Sterling, only one of the ten founding member of Jamaica’s influential band The Skatalites is still alive. Apart from pioneering ska music, the band also backed many future reggae legends, including Prince Buster and, on their first single (titled Simmer Down), Bob Marley & The Wailers.

After The Skatalites first split in 1965, Sterling joined up with Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, and also released several solo records and other collaborations. When The Skatalites reformed in the mid-1970s, Sterling rejoined the band and remained its one constant member over the next few decades.

The In-Crowd Drummer
With the death of drummer Redd Holt, all three members of the Ramsey Lewis Trio are now gone into the Great Jazz Club in the Sky. Holt and double-bassist Eldee Young, who died in 2007, played with Lewis (whom we lost in September last year) for ten years, scoring hits such The In-Crowd, Wade In The Water and Hang On Sloopy.

In 1967 Holt and Young split from Lewis to form their own group, Young-Holt Unlimited. They had a huge hit in 1969 with Soulful Strut, basically the instrumental backing track plus piano solo of Barbara Acklin’s song Am I The Same Girl — on which neither Young or Holt are said to have played (blame the record company for that scheme). Young and Holt continued to record together for several years, and Holt also released a number of solo albums.

The Teenage Pioneer
He was only 15 years old when Dickie Harrell drummed on one of rock & roll’s defining pioneer hits, 1956’s Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps. Vincent’s vocals and Cliff Gallup’s guitar solo are the focal of this great rockabilly song. But Harrell’s two screams, at 37 seconds and again at 1:31, help give it that anarchic rock & roll sensibility. Harrell later said that he screamed so that his mom could hear him on record.

Dickie toured with Vincent for just a year, and left the Blue Caps after scoring another huge hit with Blue Jean Bop. He released one album, a Latin dance effort titled Drums And More Drums, in 1961, and would occasionally play with surviving Blue Caps. But much of his life was spent in the less glamorous domain of hazardous waste.

The Spike Composer
Perhaps Bill Lee is best-known as the composer of the scores for the first four films of his son Spike Lee, with whom he had a complicated relationship. But by then, Bill had accumulated an impressive string of credits as a session man, especially on folk records in the 1960s. As a bassist, he backed Odetta, Bob Dylan, Ian & Sylvia, Peter Paul & Mary, Theodore Bikel, Tom Rush, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, The Chad Mitchell Trio, Tom Paxton and others. He also played on Gordon Lightfoot’s debut album, including the featured For Lovin’ Me.

Outside folk, he backed acts like (pre-soul) Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington, Ray Bryant Trio, and John Lee Hooker. But his revival came when he scored Spike’s films She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, and Mo’ Better Blues. The scoring ended when Bill and Lee had a falling out.

The Cream Poet
Pete Brown is probably best remembered as the lyricist of Cream hits such as Sunshine Of Your Love, White Room, I Feel Free, and SWLABR. Before all that he was a performance poet; after writing for Cream, he became a recording artist.

The first band he founded was Pete Brown and His Battered Ornaments. The day before the band was to open for the Rolling Stones at Hyde Park, the band fired its founder — and with that the first part of its name. He was replaced by Chris Spedding. Brown kept recording, releasing his final album in 2010. In 2017, he contributed lyrics Procol Harum’s final album, Novum.

The Ames Brother
With the death at 95 of Ed Ames, all of easy listening quartet The Ames Brothers are now gone. They started their recording career in 1948 and had their biggest hits in the early and mid-1950s, including Rag Mop, Sentimental Me, You You You, Undecided, The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane, and Tammy (their version and Debbie Reynolds’ both featured in the film of that name).

Ed Ames went on to have a number of easy listening solo hits in the 1960s, but was maybe more famous for playing the Native American Mingo in the TV series Daniel Boone. (Casting the son of Ukrainian Jews as an indigenous American made perfect sense in the ’60s, apparently.)

It is with that background that in 1965 Ames appeared on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show, tasked with showing off his tomahawk-throwing skills. Aiming at the drawn outline of a cowboy, the tomahawk got stuck almost exactly in the cowboy’s crotch — handle pointing upwards. It got one of the longest laughs in TV history, milked by Carson, who then riffed on the notion of circumcision. “I didn’t even know you were Jewish,” Carson exclaimed — which, of course, Ames was.  See the clip here.

The Net Slipper
Some deaths slip through the net. I learnt only in May of the passing on January 27 of Daniel Boone, who had a massive global hit in 1972 with Beautiful Sunday. His death was reported only in March. Beautiful Sunday featured on Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 1, which was posted almost exactly a year before Boone’s death at the age of 80. It was his second and final big hit; the first had been in 1971 with Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast, a hit in the US for Wayne Newton, which in Boone’s original recording reached #17 in the UK and topped the charts in South Africa. By all accounts, Boone (born Peter Green) was a delightful person to know6.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.

Daniel Boone, 80, English pop singer, on January 27
Daniel Boone – Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast (1971)
Daniel Boone – Beautiful Sunday (German Version) (1972)

Gordon Lightfoot, 84, Canadian singer-songwriter, on May 1
Gordon Lightfoot – For Lovin’ Me (1966)
Gordon Lightfoot – Looking At The Rain (1972)
Gordon Lightfoot – Carefree Highway (1974)
Gordon Lightfoot – Triangle (1982)

Pugh Rogefeldt, 76, Swedish musician, on May 1

Linda Lewis, 72, English singer-songwriter, on May 3
Linda Lewis – You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet (1967)
Linda Lewis – On The Stage (1973)
Linda Lewis – Love, Love, Love (1975)
Linda Lewis – Class/Style (I’ve Got It) (1984)

John Albert, 58, ex-member of punk band Bad Religion, music journalist, on May 3

Rob Laakso, 44, indie multi-instrumentalist and producer, on May 4
Kurt Vile – Lost My Head There (2015, on bass and as producer and engineer)

Jack Wilkins, 78, jazz guitarist, on May 5

Seán Keane, 76, fiddler with Irish folk band The Chieftains, on May 7
The Chieftains – Lord Mayo (1973)
The Chieftains with Jackson Browne – The Rebel Jesus (1991)

Rita Lee, 75, singer with Brazilian rock band Os Mutantes, on May 8
Rita Lee – Calma (1970)

Jon Povey, 80, keyboardist of UK rock band The Pretty Things, on May 9
The Pretty Things – Baron Saturday (1969)

Stu James, 77, lead singer of British beat group The Mojos, music executive, on May 10
The Mojos – Everything’s Al’right (1964)

Rolf Harris, 93, Australian entertainer, singer, convicted sex offender, on May 10
…no fucking way…

Francis Monkman, 73, musician and co-founder of Curved Air, Sky, and composer, on May 11
Curved Air – Melinda (More Or Less)
Sky – Toccata (1980)

Dum-Dum, 54, rapper with Brazilian hip hop group Facção Central, on May 12

John ‘Doc’ Wilson, 96, jazz trumpeter and arranger, on May 13

John Giblin, 71, Scottish bass player, on May 14
Kate Bush – Babooshka (1980, on bass)
Phil Collins – Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away (1982, on bass)
David Sylvian – Wanderlust (1999, on bass)

Bernt Rosengren, 85, Swedish jazz tenor saxophonist, on May 14

Musa Manzini, 52, South African jazz bassist, on May 15
Musa Manzini – Renaissance Song (2000)

Richard Landis, 77, singer-songwriter, producer, label executive, on May 16
Richard Landis – Natural Causes (1972, also as writer)
Juice Newton – Queen Of Hearts (1981, as producer)

Lester Sterling, 87, Jamaican saxophonist, co-founder of The Skatalites, on May 16
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Simmer Down (1963, as backing musician)
Prince Buster & The Skatalites – Mule Train (1964)
Lester Sterling & Stranger Cole – Bangarang (1969, also as writer)

Akwaboah Snr., Ghanaian singer-songwriter, on May 16

Algy Ward, 63, English heavy metal and punk bassist, on May 17
Tank – Turn Your Head Around (1982, also as co-writer)

Andy Rourke, 59, bassist of The Smiths, on May 19
The Smiths – This Charming Man (1984)
The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (1986)
Freebass – You Don’t Know (This About Me) (2010, as member on guitar & co-writer)

Pete Brown, 82, lyricist, singer and poet, on May 19
Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love (1967, as lyricist)
Pete Brown & Piblokto! – Living Life Backwards (1969, on vocals and as lyricist)
Pete Brown & Phil Ryan – Dark City Coals (1993, on vocals and as lyricist)

Josef Aichberger, 87, Austrian trombone and flugelhorn player in dance hall/jazz band Die Rhythmiker, on May 20

Ed Ames, 95, singer and TV actor, on May 21
Ames Brothers – If You Had All The World And Its Gold (1948, as member)
Eddie Ames – The Bean Song (Which Way To Boston) (1956)
Ed Ames – Timeless Love (1967)

Peter Luboff, 77, soul songwriter, on May 21
Bobby Womack – I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much (1985, as co-writer)

Kirk Arrington, 61, drummer of metal band Metal Church, on May 22

James Lewis, 63, singer with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, on May 22
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Who I Am (2015)

Sheldon Reynolds, 63, funk and soul guitarist, vocalist, on May 23
The Commodores – Night Shift (1985, as member on guitar
Earth, Wind Fire – Wanna Be The Man (1990, as member and co-writer)

Floyd Newman, 91, soul saxophonist with the Mar-Keys, on May 23
Mar-Keys – Last Night (1961, also on vocals)
Floyd Newman – Frog Stomp (1963, also as writer)
Etta James – I’d Rather Go Blind (1967, on baritone sax)
Otis Redding – I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (1967, live at Monterrey)

Redd Holt, 91, jazz drummer (Ramsey Lewis Trio; Young-Holt Unlimited), on May 23
James Moody – Last Train From Overbrook (1958, on drums)
Ramsey Lewis Trio – Hang On Sloopy (1965)
Young-Holt Unlimited – Who’s Making Love Strut (1968)

Mark Adams, 64, bassist of metal band Saint Vitus, on May 23

Tina Turner, 83, soul, rock and pop singer, on May 24
Ike Turner, Carlson Olivier & Little Ann – Boxtop (1958, as Little Ann)
Ike & Tina Tuner – I Am A Motherless Child (1968, also as co-writer)
Ike & Tina Turner – Feel Good (1972, also as writer)
Tina Turner – Let’s Stay Together (1983)

Bill Lee, 94, jazz and folk musician and film composer, father of Spike, on May 24
Odetta – Jumpin’ Judy (1959, on string-bass)
Bob Dylan – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (1965, on bass)
Gordon Lightfoot – For Lovin’ Me (1966, on bass; see above)
Bill Lee feat. Branford Marsalis – Malcolm And Martin (1989, as composer and conductor)

George Maharis, 94, actor and singer, on May 24
George Maharis – Teach Me Tonight (1962)

Jean-Louis Murat, 71, French singer-songwriter, on May 25
Jean-Louis Murat – Si je devais manquer de toi (1987)

Joy McKean, 93, Australian country singer and songwriter, wife if Slim Dusty, on May 25
Slim Dusty – The Biggest Disappointment (1974, as writer)

Juan Carlos Formell, 59, Cuban singer and songwriter, on May 26

Reuben Wilson, 88, jazz organist, on May 26
Reuben Wilson – Got To Get Your Own (1975)

Eris O’Brien, Australian country songwriter, announced May 31

Dickie Harrell, 82, drummer of Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, announced May 31
Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps – Be-Bop-A-Lula (1956)
Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps – Bluejean Bop! (1957)
Dickie Harrell – Rock-Rock-Cha-Cha (1961)

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

Any Major Prince Songbook Vol. 1

June 1st, 2023 3 comments

On June 7, Prince would have reached the retirement age of 65. Which is as good a reason as any to issue the first of two Prince Songbooks. It is remarkable that the three most iconic (a rare occasion when this word finds correct application) pop stars of the 1980s were born within a few months of one another in 1958: Prince in June, Michael Jackson and Madonna in August (29th and 16th respectively).

The mix kicks off with Sheila E.’s wonderful Love Bizarre, which features Prince on vocals and various instruments. It was co-written with Sheila E. Likewise, Martika’s 1991 hit Love…Thy Will Be Done was produced by Prince, and co-written with the singer. Prince wrote Sheena Easton’s Sugar Walls under the pseudonym Alexander Nevermind, and did backing vocals on it, played several instruments, and co-produced.

When you contemplate the obvious candidates for doing Prince songs, the name Kenny Rogers will not come to mind immediately. Yet there he was in 1986, recording a Prince song titled You’re My Love that hitherto had been unreleased (of which there were, and apparently still are, many). It is not true, as the popular story goes, that Prince wrote the song for Rogers specifically.

Prince had demoed You’re My Love — a title you’d expect rather from Ken’s other soul friend, Lionel Richie — in 1982. When Prince fan Rogers called the man to ask for a song, the Purple One dug into his vaults and gave him this power ballad, demo and all. It was an astute choice; the song suited Rogers well. Hear Prince’s version. The songwriting credit was Joey Coco, one of the many pseudonyms Prince used.

The cover of Raspberry Beret is credited here to Warren Zevon. I must confess, it is a bit of a honey trap. To be sure, Zevon sings the song, and it has appeared on at least two best-of-type compilations. But it was first released in 1990 by the supergroup Hindu Love Gods, which included members of REM and Zevon.

In 1984, Chaka Khan had a mega-hit with I Feel For You, a song that appeared on Prince’s eponymous sophomore album in 1979. But two years before Khan turned a decent song into a minor masterpiece, The Pointer Sisters tried their hands at it. Their version features here, and it’s a fine cover.

Chaka Khan would later work with Prince. She features here with a track from her 1988 album, CK. Eternity is a Prince composition, but originally for Sheena Easton. Prince contributed another track to CK, Sticky Wicked, which he also produced, on which Chaka raps (hear it here — or check out Prince’s unreleased recording).

I imagine the track many will skip to first will be Patti Smith’s version of When Doves Cry. It takes courage or foolhardiness (or both) to cover a song like that, possibly Prince’s greatest. Smith was so confident that she pulled it off that she released it as a single. Her confidence was not misplaced, even if nobody could possibly eclipse Prince’s astonishing original.

On her debut album in 2001, Alicia Keyes covered How Come You Don’t Call Me, which in Prince’s hands was the b-side of his big hit 1999. It was, however, a regular in his live shows, from 1982, when it was first released, until his last concert on 14 April 2016 in Atlanta, a few days before his death.

The first Prince songbook closes with Prince’s demo of a song that would become a massive hit for Sinead O’Connor six years later. Prince recorded Nothing Compares 2 U in July 1984 — he had just released Purple Rain — and gave it to his project, The Family (featured on The Originals: 1990s & 2000s). The song made no impact until O’Connor had a hit with her superior version. Incidentally, the subject of the song was Prince’s personal assistant, Sandy Scipioni, who had left his employ after her father’s death.

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

1. Sheila E – Love Bizarre (1985)
2. The Pointer Sisters – I Feel For You (1982)
3. Corinne Bailey Rae – I Wanna Be Your Lover (2011)
4. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – I Would Die 4 U (2015)
5. Warren Zevon – Raspberry Beret (1990)
6. Foo Fighters – Darling Nikki (2003)
7. Lucky Peterson – Purple Rain (1997)
8. Alicia Keyes – How Come You Don’t Call Me (2001)
9. Valerie Carter – Crazy You (2000)
10. Kenny Rogers – You’re My Love (1986)
11. Martika – Love…Thy Will Be Done (1991)
12. Matt Nathanson – Starfish And Coffee (2004)
13. Eels – I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (2006)
14. Marshall Crenshaw – Take Me With U (2004)
15. Patti Smith – When Doves Cry (2002)
16. TLC – If I Was Your Girlfriend (1994)
17. Sheena Easton – Sugar Walls (1984)
18. Chaka Khan – Eternity (1988)
19. Bob Belden feat. Phil Perry & Everette Harp – Diamonds And Pearls (1994)
20. Prince – Nothing Compares 2 U (1984)

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Previous Songbooks:
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
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
George Harrison
Gordon Lightfoot
Holland-Dozier-Holland
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Paul McCartney Vol. 2
Rod Temperton
Sly Stone
Steely Dan

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Categories: Covers Mixes, Songbooks Tags: