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Any Major Beatles In French Vol. 1

September 21st, 2021 8 comments

 

The Beatles, to state the obvious, made a big impact throughout Western culture. And in places like France and Spain, they helped give a name to a subculture of 1960s followers of pop culture: Yé-yé. The name derived from the English “Yeah Yeah”, such as in the hit She Loves You.  Building on the already existing rock & roll scene, spearheaded by Johnny Hallyday, yé-yé initially drew from the British “Beat” scene, but expanded to incorporate different genres, from bubblegum pop to baroque pop.

The leading exponents of yé-yé included the likes of Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan (who married Johnny Hallyday in 1965), Claude François and France Gall, with Serge Gainsbourg one of the brains behind the scenes. Hardy actually was the first to sing the words “Yeah yeah yeah yeah” on a French recording, on La fille avec toi in 1962, giving birth to the term yé-yé. The yeahs in She Loves You in 1963 cemented it.

Unlike many other European countries, France had a thriving scene of songs in their own language. This meant that many English-language songs would be recorded in French. As the two collections of The Beatles in French show, that didn’t necessarily extend to only the big hits but also to lesser-known album tracks, such as There’s A Place, It Won’t Be Long, I’m A Loser, The Night Before, You Won’t See Me or Your Mother Should Know.

For the yé-yé period, which lasted till roughly 1967, there was an abundance of Beatles covers. After that, they became less frequent. This first mix covers songs which The Beatles issued between 1962 and 1965, and most of the French covers come from the same timespan.

The majority of the acts here are from France, or, like Petula Clark, recorded in French for the French market. But a few performers represent Québec, which had a thriving beat scene itself. The Canadian acts here are Les Bel Canto, Pierre Lalonde, Les Hou-Lops, Les Baronets, Christian & Getro, Les Monarques, and  Jacques Salvail.

Also not French but a star in France was Nancy Holloway, a US jazz singer who in the late 1950s performed at the Moulin Rouge before opening her own nightclub in Paris. But in the 1960s, already in her early thirties, Holloway had a line of hits with French covers of English-language pop hits, such as Don’t Make Me Over, My Guy, Hit The Road Jack, Sealed With A Kiss, and The Beatles’ She Loves You, which features on this mix. She died in 2019 at 86.

Holloway is not the only black act here. Les Surfs, a group of siblings, were stars in Madagascar when in 1963 they tried their luck in France — and after a TV performance became stars, topping the charts with a French cover of Be My Baby. They also had a string of hits in Spain and Italy before breaking up in 1971.

Two other acts came from afar. Tiny Yong was born in 1944 in present-day Cambodia of Vietnamese ancestry (her proper name is Thiên Hương). After her family moved to Paris in 1958, Yong was a teenage actress on the stage and recorded as a singer of chanson and cabaret. She hit her stride, however, as a yé-yé singer, having a string of hits before quitting the recording studios in 1966 and show business altogether in 1970. She then started a new career as a restaurant owner.

You might think that a group named Les Chaussettes Noires might have black members, but the noir in the name refers to socks. The band helped pioneer rock & roll in France in the early 1960s, with future star Eddy Mitchell as their frontman. Mitchell left in 1962 to pursue his solo career, so by the time the black socks recorded I Wanna Be Your Man in 1964, he was gone. And soon after  recording that, Les Chaussettes Noires split. Eddy Mitchell also features on this mix, with his version of You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.

Les Gam’s was an attempt at a French girl group. The quartet emanated from a popular youth choir called Les Djinns, which even made a couple of appearances of The Ed Sullivan Show. Les Gam’s — their name was an acronym of the members’ first names, plus a gratuitous apostrophe — mostly recorded French of covers of English-language songs, such as All My Loving, which attracted some attention, but by 1964 their time was already up.

In their time, Les Gam’s occasionally collaborated with Les Lionceaux (The Lion Cubs), who were founded in the early 1960s as a mostly instrumental band. They backed Johnny Hallyday, and enjoyed some popularity in the slipstream of The Beatles’ success. By 1965, they split.

Given the war France waged against Algerian independence from 1954-62, the name of the Algerian group here seems, well, interesting: Les Missiles. I haven’t been able to find much information about the group, but they were the sons of colonialism rather than local. The group was active from 1963-68. Their best-known song, Sacré Dollar, is a cover of Hoyt Axton’s Greenback Dollar, but the French lyrics are far more militantly anti-capitalist than those of the original. They feature here with their version of I’m A Loser.

As always, the mix fits on a standard CD-R, includes fait-maison covers, and illustrated PDF of the above text. PW in comments.

1. Les Bel Canto – J’en suis fou (Love Me Do) (1965)
2. Petula Clark – Tu perds ton temps (Please, Please Me) (1963)
3. Claude François – Des bises de moi pour toi (From Me To You) (1963)
4. Lucky Blondo – J’ai un secret a te dire (Do You Want To Know A Secret?) (1965)
5. Les Surfs – Adieu chagrin (There’s A Place) (1964)
6. Johnny Hallyday – Quand je l’ai vue devant moi (I Saw Her Standing There) (1963)
7. Nancy Holloway – Elle t’aime (She Loves You) (1964)
8. Pierre Lalonde – Oh! Donne moi ta main (I Want To Hold Your Hand) (1964)
9. Les Gam’s – Toi l’ami (All My Loving) (1964)
10. Chaussettes Noires – Je Te Veux Toute A Moi (I Wanna Be Your Man) (1964)
11. Martine – Il Faut Revenir (This Boy) (1964)
12. Les Lionceaux – Le temps est long (It Won’t Be Long) (1964)
13. Thierry Vincent – Je n’peux l’acheter (Can’t Buy Me Love) (1964)
14. Frank Alamo – Je me bats pour gagner (A Hard Day’s Night) (1964)
15. Les Hou-Lops – Ces mots qu’on oublie un jour (Things We Said Today) (1965)
16. Richard Anthony – La Corde au Cou (I Should Have Known Better) (1964)
17. Michèle Torr – Et le l’aime (And I Love Her) (1965)
18. Les Baronets – Si je te donne mon cœur (If I Fell) (1964)
19. Christian & Getro – Je suis revenu (I’ll Be Back) (1969)
20. Les Monarques – Elle est si belle (No Reply) (1965)
21. Les Missiles – Il faut oser (I’m A Loser) (1965)
22. Tiny Yong – Huit Jours Par Semaine (Eight Days A Week) (1965)
23. Akim – Hum! Qu’elle est belle (I Feel Fine) (1965)
24. Olivier Despax – Ne me mets pas du bleu (Yes It Is) (1965)
25. Dick Rivers – Prends un ticket avec moi (Ticket To Ride) (1965)
26. Eddy Mitchell – Tu Ferais Mieux De L’oublier (You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away) (1965)
27. Les ‘Faux’ Frères – Une fille pour deux garçons (I Like Too Much) (1965)
28. Renée Martel – Un certain soir (The Night Before) (1970)
29. Jacques Salvail – Y’a pas d’mal (It’s Only Love) (1975)
30. Michèle Arnaud – Je croyais (Yesterday) (1966)

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Any Major Albums of the Year: 1971

September 9th, 2021 7 comments

 

 

Was 1971 the greatest music year? The riveting recent series on the impact of music in that year, titled 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything, made a comprehensive case for 1971 being the greatest year in music, with the release of landmark albums that actually did change music. And the fact that I’ve “recovered” three of these — Tapestry, What’s Going On and Blue — suggests that I might agree with that.

1971 — fifty years ago, FFS! — certainly was a better year for albums than it was for singles, though even among those there were some great cuts. Some of them made it onto the Any Major Hits From 1971 mix.

So here’s my Top 20 of albums released in 1971. As I made my shortlist, I became rather intimidated as its length grew. What would I have to leave out. There are years where I’d struggle to compile a really good Top 20. With 1971, I could have made a Top 40 and feel entirely comfortable commending all of the albums. Just a few 1971 albums that failed to make the cut:

David Bowie – Hunky Dory; Sly & the Family Stone – There’s A Riot Going On; Baby Huey – The Baby Huey Story; Leonard Cohen – Songs Of Love And Hate; Curtis Mayfield – Curtis Live; Serge Gainsbourg – Histoire de Melody Nelson; Dolly Parton – Coat Of Many Colors; Carole King – Music; Little Feat – Little Feat; Don McLean – American Pie; Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells A Story; Isaac Hayes – Shaft;  Shuggie Otis – Freedom Flight; Led Zepellin – IV; The Who – Who’s Next, and others…

Maybe on another day, this or that album from the list above might displace some of the ones I picked for my personal Top 20. But these 20 are the ones I’ve chosen. Some of them are obvious, others betray my particular personal taste. I’m a little bit too young to have known any of these albums from the time of their release. I think I’ve owned Jethro Tull’s Aqualung the longest. I bought it when I was 12, after my older brother played it for me. I also bought Sticky Fingers early enough to own it with the cover that has an actual zipper. And my mother had Cat Stevens’ Teaser & The Firecat album, so I was sort of familiar with it in my childhood (though I didn’t really play LPs until I was 10 or 11).

Other albums crept into my life in the intervening years: some came into my life inspired by some song or other; some because I felt I had to investigate whether they satisfied their big reputation; some I have no idea how I came to them; I just did. Some I fell in love with instantly (John Prine’s eponymous debut, for instance), others were a struggle to fall for initially and required a bit of work (such as What’s Going On or Blue).

I won’t list my Top 20 in order, and the playlist runs in a random sequence, as far as rankings are concerned. If forced to choose a Top 3, I might go with Tapestry, John Prine and Pieces Of A Man. But one contender I deliberately omitted: Kris Kristofferson’s Me And Bobby McGee, which was released in 1971, but in fact was just a retitled release of KK’s sublime self-titled 1970 debut.

So, what are your albums of 1971?

1. The Rolling Stones – Sway (Sticky Fingers)
2. John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth (Imagine)
3. Jethro Tull – Mother Goose (Aqualung)
4. James Taylor – Hey Mister, That’s Me Up On The Jukebox (Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon)
5. Carole King – Home Again (Tapestry)
6. Gil Scott-Heron – When You Are Who You Are (Pieces Of A Man)
7. Isaac Hayes – Never Can Say Goodbye (Black Moses)
8. Bill Withers – Moanin’ And Groanin’ (Just As I Am)
9. Kris Kristofferson – Loving Her Was Easier (The Silver Tongued Devil And I)
10. Judee Sill – The Lamb Ran Away With The Crown (Judee Sill)
11. Joni Mitchell – All I Want (Blue)
12. John Prine – Pretty Good (John Prine)
13. Cat Stevens – Tuesday’s Dead (Teaser & The Firecat)
14. Van Morrison – Tupelo Honey (Tupelo Honey)
15. Roberta Flack – Let Them Talk (Quiet Fire)
16. Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me (What’s Going On)
17. Curtis Mayfield – Keep On Keeping On (Roots)
18. King Curtis – A Whiter Shade of Pale (Live At Fillmore West)
19. Barbra Streisand – Space Captain (Barbra Joan Streisand)
20. Elton John – Razor Face (Madman Across The Water)

As ever, CR-R length, home-grooved covers, text in illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

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In Memoriam – August 2021

September 2nd, 2021 7 comments

The Reaper is back in his ghastly groove, wreaking carnage of a like not seen for many months. He claimed the most likable Rolling Stone — which may not exactly be the toughest contest in the world, but Charlie Watts seems to have been a decent man. The Reaper also took one of the great harmony singers, the last of Bill Haley’s Comets, and the drummer on hits such as Dolly Parton’s Jolene and Dobie Gray’s Drift Away. There are so many write-ups — and I had to restrain myself from not adding more — I suggest you read the lot in the included illustrated PDF.

The Stones Drummer
Practically everything that needs to be said about Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, a jazz drummer in a rock band, has been said — importantly the story about how he responded to Mick Jagger’s reference to him as “my drummer” with a punch in Mick’s face and the response: “You’re my singer!” But I’d like to yield the floor to music journalist and Stones fan Neil Kulkarni, who on Facebook issued this spontaneous and unedited tribute Watts’ often underrated drumming:

“It’s that those beats he made, Satisfaction, Get Off My Cloud, the stealth and menace of Play With Fire, the lunatic clatter and thump of 19th Nervous Breakdown and Mother Baby, We Love You, Jumping Jack Flash, Stray Cat Blues, Jigsaw Puzzle […] He would never admit it, but [he was] such an important teacher-by-proxy to so many musicians in so many different genres. His solidity, steadiness is gonna be mentioned a lot, but don’t forget his rippling rolls on Moonlight Mile, all the moves he makes on something like Monkey Man or Knocking, and how convincing he makes every little shift. Funky, experimental, always giving the songs life. Unique grooves that could only come from him…”

The Everly Brother
As it was with the Louvin Brothers — the country-gospel siblings who set a template for the fraternal harmonies which the Everly Brothers would take to the top of the charts — Phil and Don Everly often didn’t get on with one another. Like Ira and Charlie Louvin, Phil and Don had different temperaments and even worldviews, yin and yang. Their fights were legendary; and after Phil’s death in 2014, Don explained that now he felt free to endorse a Democrat candidate for the presidency, something he felt he couldn’t do while his brother was alive.

Don and Phil brought the tradition of country/country-gospel harmonising into the mainstream of pop music, whence it inspired acts like The Byrds, The Hollies, The Beatles, Crosby Stills & Nash and, above all, Simon & Garfunkel. The Everly Brothers reside in the pantheon of rock & roll but they always returned to their country roots, even at the height of their success, with the 1958 LP Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. Ten years later, they released the intriguing Roots album, a country record that in places incorporated contemporary pop sounds. The featured track, T For Texas, is a bit of a mess, but hear how Don and Phil start it off as a country sing and end up sounding like The Monkees.

In 1962, Don joined up with songwriter Carole King and budding musician Glen Campbell to form The Keestone Family Singers. I’m including a song from that collaboration, but I do so not as an acknowledgment of the musical merits which the collaboration might promise.

The Reggae Pioneer
In reggae, Lee “Scratch” Perry stands as a giant; as a founder of the Upsetter Records label and his band The Upsetters, as a songwriter, and as a producer, especially of Bob Markey & The Wailers on their way to superstardom. He also worked outside his genre to record acts like the Beastie Boys and the Clash. In the 1970s, he helped pioneer dub music, through remixes of existing songs, which has influenced other genres, from rock to hip hop.  In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Perry at #100 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.

The Americana Pioneer
When I shall review the music deaths of 2021, I’ll probably find that the passing of Nanci Griffith will be among those that hurt the most. In the 1980s, Griffith helped pioneer the resurgence of woman folk-rock-country singer-songwriters. By fusing various genres, Griffith was also among those who gave rise to the so-called Americana scene.

Griffith commanded much love and respect from those who knew her music, but she never became a household name. Others had hits with the songs she first recorded and/or wrote: Bette Midler with her horribly cheesy version of From A Distance (which Griffith didn’t write but first recorded; her original featured on The Originals 1990s-2000s); Kathy Mattea with Love At The Five And Dime. In 1994 she received the Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album for Other Voices, Other Rooms, which featured her version of John Prine’s gorgeous Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness (it featured on the John Prine Songbook mix)

The Rock & Roll Sax Legend
With the death at 87 of Joey Ambrose, the classic lineup of Bill Haley’s Comets has now passed. Ambrose played the tenor sax on great hits like Rock Around the Clock and Shake, Rattle and Roll. But in 1955 Ambrose left Haley with drummer Dick Richards (died 2019) and Marshall Lytle (died 2013) over a salary dispute to form the less successful Jodimars. After two minor hits, the group folded in 1958. After that, Ambrose worked for 27 years at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas before teaming up with his former Comets in 1987, with whom he’d perform for the next two decades.

The Country Wit
Country music has a history of superbly witty lyrics, and Tom T. Hall was one of the drivers of the humour train, most famously with his composition Harper Valley PTA, a huge hit for Donna Fargo (but it’s not her version that features here, nor the original by Jeannie C. Riley, which was included on The Originals – Country Edition). But Hall could also write poignant songs of heartbreak, and the occasional reactionary anthem (such as his risible Hello Vietnam). He was known as The Storyteller, and he indeed was that, in the best traditions of his genre.

The Poco Guitarist
After Jim Messina left Poco, guitarist and singer Paul Cotton came in, and made his mark with his guitar work, vocals and compositions, which included classics like Heart Of The Night, Barbados, Indian Summer, Ride The Country, and Bad Weather. He stayed with the band until 2020, with a four-year hiatus between 1987-91. Cotton released five solo albums. His fellow Poco frontman and solo collaborator Rusty Young died in April.

The Producing Engineer
On the very day that producer/engineer Allan Blazek died, I had listened to the 1973 album Freewheelin’ by The Fabulous Rhinestones, which he engineered. As a sound engineer, Allan Blazek was responsible for getting the balance of the duelling guitar solos in Hotel California right. By then, Blazek knew the Eagles well enough, having already mixed much of their 1974 On The Border album. He went on to engineer many of the bands big hits (usually together with his frequent collaborator, producer Bill Szymczyk): Lyin’ Eyes, Take It To The Limit, One Of These Nights, Life In The Fast Lane, New Kid In Town, etc. Later he produced several Glenn Frey records, including Smuggler’s Blues.

Among other acts he produced were Elvin Bishop (including Fooled Around And Fell In Love), REO Speedwagon, Mickey Thomas, The Outlaws, and the J. Geils Band. Blazek engineered those acts as well as the likes of the The Dillaeds, Rick Derringer, Edgar Winter Group, Dan Fogelberg, Wishbone Ash, Karla Bonoff, The Who, and Melissa Etheridge.

The Sidemen
Two sidemen in multiracial English 1980s groups died at 62 on successive days. One was UB40’s saxophonist Brian Travers, the following day it was Simply Red keyboardist Fritz McIntyre.

In UB40, Brian Travers sounded the opening clarion call in Food For Thought, which was the band’s first hit in 1980, alongside King on the nominal A-side. Travers remained with UB40 (or faction thereof) even after the hits dried up. As a redhead, Travers stood out in the group.

Fritz McIntyre backed a redhead. His keyboards kicked off Simply Red’s first hit, Money’s Too Tight To Mention, and the first track of their debut LP, Come To My Aid (which he co-wrote). His keyboards were a key ingredient in the Simply Red arrangements. He remained with Simply Red until 1995, along the way taking shared vocals with Mick Hucknall on Wonderland from 1991’s Stars album. After leaving Simply Red, McIntyre released a solo album and then emigrated to North America to do Christian contemporary music.

The Gadda-Da-Vida Drummer
It’s one of the great drum solos in classic rock: Ron Bushy’s stickwork six minutes into Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, less musclebound fireworks than controlled aggression in a tribal rhythm. Bushy was the one constant in the changing Iron Butterfly line-ups. Of the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida line-up, only one member survives, organist and lead vocalist Doug Ingle.

The Session Drummer
One of the tracks featured in memoriam of Nanci Griffith also showcased a session drummer who died in August. Kenny Malone, who played drums and percussions for Griffith in the 1980s, including the featured track from 1986. He also drummed on most of John Prine’s Sweet Revenge album (and other tracks throughout Prine’s career), as well as for acts like — and this is an abbreviated list — Dolly Parton (including on Jolene), Dobie Gray (including in Drift Away), Johnny Cash, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Billy Jo Shaver, Donna Fargo, Tony Joe White, Moe Bandy, Tompall Glazer, Carl Perkins, Ray Charles, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Crystal Gayle, Charley Pride, Dr. Hook, Barbara Mandrell, Johnny Paycheck, Reba McIntyre, Kenny Rogers, B.J. Thomas, Mac Davis, Bobby Bare, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, J. J. Cale, Townes Van Zandt, Kathy Mattea, Garth Brooks, Guy Clark, Alison Krauss, Steve Earle, Willie Nelon, Allison Moorer, and many others.

The Queen
The first of the Mahotella Queens has gone with the death at 76 of Nobesuthu Mbadu, who has joined growling frontman Mahlatini Nkabinde among the ancestors. The South African mbaqanga group Mahlatini and The Mahotella Queens became international stars after touring with Paul Simon on his “Graceland” tour and appearing at Wembley at the concert for Nelson Mandela in 1988. The following year, they worked with with Art Of Noise on the sublime hit Yebo! (which means simply “Yes”).

By then they were household names in South Africa. The Mahotella Queens first hit their stride in the 1960s, but in 1971 the original trio, including Mbadu, left the band. Twelve years later, the three reunited and begun to have the string of hits that would bring them to international attention. After Mahlathini’s death in 1999, the Mahotella Queens continued to perform and record; their last album, a gospel set, came out in 2007.

The Hit Writer
When Irish-born singer Clodagh Rogers represented the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1971, she received death threats from those charmers in the IRA. That bizarre turn of events was the last thing on the mind of the song’s co-writer Les Vandyke, the hit-maker who has died at 90. Vandyke scored two UK #1 hits for Adam Faith (What Do You Want? and Poor Me in 1959 and 1960), and seven more Top 10 hits. He also topped the charts with Eden Kane’s 1962 hit Well I Ask You.

Altogether, he wrote 16 Top 10 hits. Not all of them were credited to Vandyke: often he used the names John Worsley or John Worth. The former was actually the name he received from is Greek-born father, who in 1929 came to London and changed his name to assimilate more speedily.

The Big Exec
Music execs don’t usually feature in the In Memoriam series, but former CBS bigwig Walter Yetnikoff merits a mention. For one thing, as president of CBS Records International from 1971 to 1975 and then president of CBS Records from 1975 to 1990, he helped guide the careers of some of my favourite acts like, including Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and Earth, Wind & Fire.

But more than that, he seemed a decent sort. When Billy Joel had no control over his own compositions, Yetnikoff bought them and gave them to Joel as a birthday gift. And when MTV refused to play Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, the exec called the nascent video channel out for its racism, and threatened to pull all CBS records from MTV’s playlist. MTV relented, and Billie Jean — and the Thriller album — became a phenomenon, in large part owing to the video. At the 1984 Grammy Awards, Jackson called Yetnikoff up to the stage to receive plaudits. Others might remember Yetnikoff with less warmth — after all, he was a hard-ass music industry executive.

The Organ Man
The death of keyboardist and singer Mike Finnigan brings to three the number of people who have died in August and featured on the soundtrack of Fast Times At Ridgemont High: Finnigan played on Graham Nash’s Love Is The Reason, Allan Blazek co-produced the Ravyns’ Raised On The Radio, and Poco’s Paul Cotton is on the group’s contribution I’ll Leave It Up To You.

In his time, Finnigan worked extensively with Crosby, Stills & Nash, as a band and the trio’s solo efforts, as well as with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Big Brother And The Holding Co, Joe Cocker, Etta James, Dave Mason, Dan Fogelberg, Maria Muldaur,  Ringo Starr, Leonard Cohen, Tower of Power, Eric Burdon, Canned Heat, Rod Stewart, Eddie Money, Tracy Chapman, Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal, among others.

The Soccer Star
One entry I include by exercising my prerogative of authorship of the In Memoriam series: German footballer Gerd Müller was the greatest goalscorer of the last 80 years, perhaps ever. And he gets an entry here on strength of a single he released in 1969, a cash-in on his popularity titled “Dann macht es bum” (which means “Then it goes bang”). It’s a terrible oompah-music record, and Gerd’s singing suggested that he was much better off sticking to his day job of scoring an impossible tally of goals. But it made him a recording artist, so he features here.

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

 

Paul Cotton, 78, guitarist and singer of Poco, on Aug. 1
Poco – Ride The Country (1972, also as writer)
Poco – Indian Summer (1977, also as writer)
Poco – Heart Of The Night (1978, also as writer)

Allan Blazek, 71, producer, mixer and audio engineer, on Aug. 3
The Fabulous Rhinestones – Go With Change (1973, as engineer)
Eagles – Ol’ 55 (1974, as producer)
Ravyns – Raised On The Radio (1982, as producer and engineer)

Kelli Hand, 56, house musician and DJ, on Aug. 3

Jo Jo Bennett, 81, singer and percussionist of Canadian reggae band Sattalites, on Aug. 3
Sattalites – Too Late To Turn Back Now (1989)

Paul Johnson, 50, DJ and producer, on Aug. 4
Paul Johnson – Get Get Down (1999)

Razzy Bailey, 82, country musician, on Aug. 4
Razzy Bailey – She Left Love All Over Me (1981)

Anders Pettersson, 69, Swedish dansband musician, on Aug. 4

Les Vandyke, 90, English songwriter, on Aug. 6
Eden Kane – Well I Ask You (1961, as writer)
Clodagh Rodgers – Jack In The Box (1971, as co-writer)
Jimmy Helms – Gonna Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse (1973, as producer & writer)

Gary Lee Yoder, 75, psychedelic rock musician, on Aug. 7

Dennis Thomas, 70, saxophonist of Kool & the Gang, on Aug. 7
Kool & the Gang – Hollywood Swingin’ (1969)
Kool & The Gang – Too Hot (1979)
Kool & The Gang – Bad Woman (1984)

Walter Yetnikoff, 87, CBS executive, on Aug. 8

Chucky Thompson, 53, hip hop & R&B producer, on Aug. 9
Raheem DeVaughn – Woman (2008, as producer)

Killer Kau, 23, South African rapper and producer, car crash on Aug. 9

Joey Ambrose, 87, saxophonist with Bill Haley & His Comets, on Aug. 10
Bill Haley & The Comets – Shake Rattle And Roll (1954)
Bill Haley & The Comets – Rudy’s Rock (1956)
The Jodimars – Dance The Bop (1956)

Roy Gaines, 83, blues singer, guitarist and songwriter, on Aug. 11
Big Mama Thornton – You Don’t Move Me No More (1950s)
Roy Gaines & The Crusaders – A Hell Of A Night (1981, also as writer)

Mike Finnigan, 76, keyboardist and vocalist,, on Aug. 11
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Still Raining, Still Dreaming (1968, on organ)
Mike Finnigan – Misery Loves Company (1976)
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Southern Cross (1982, on keyboards and backing vocals)

Caroline Peyton, 69, singer-songwriter, on Aug. 11
Caroline Peyton – Call Of The Wild (1977)

Ronnell Bright, 91, jazz pianist, on Aug. 12
Ronnell Bright – Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (1958)

Pil Trafa, 62, singer of Argentine punk band Los Violadores, on Aug. 13

Nanci Griffith, 68, folk-rock singer-songwriter, on Aug. 13
Nanci Griffith – Love At The Five And Dime (1986)
Nanci Griffith & The Blue Moon Orchestra – These Days In An Open Book (1999)
Nanci Griffith – Brave Companion Of The Road (2006)
Nanci Griffith – Just Another Morning Here (2012)

Louie Knuxx, 42, New Zealand hip hop musician, on Aug. 13

Baba Zumbi, 49, rapper, producer, founder of hip hop project Zion I, on Aug. 13
Zion I – Bird’s Eye View (2005)

Jerry Fujio, 81, Japanese singer and actor, on Aug. 14

Charli Britton, 68, Welsh drummer, on Aug. 14

Gerd Müller, 75, German football legend, on Aug. 15
Gerd Müller – Dann macht es bum (1969)

Gary ‘Chicken’ Hirsh, 81, drummer of Country Joe and the Fish, on Aug. 17
Country Joe and The Fish – Superbird (1967)

Tom T. Hall, 85, country singer-songwriter, on Aug. 20
Tom T. Hall – I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew (1967)
Clarence Carter – Harper Valley PTA (1969, as writer)
Tom T. Hall – I Love (1973)
Tom T. Hall – May The Force Be With You Always (1977)

Larry Harlow, 82, salsa musician and composer, on Aug. 20
Larry Harlow – No Hay Amigo (1974)

Ian Carey, 45, house DJ, on Aug. 20
The Ian Carey Project – Get Shaky (2008)

Peter Ind, 93, British jazz double bassist and producer, on Aug. 20
Peter Ind – Blues At The Den (1958)

Don Everly, 84, half of The Everly Brothers and songwriter, on Aug. 21
The Everly Brothers – Cathy’s Clown (1961)
The Keestone Family Singers – Melodrama (1962, as member)
The Everly Brothers – T For Texas (1968)
Emmylou Harris & Don Everly – Everytime You Leave (1979)

Bill Emerson, 83, bluegrass banjo player, on Aug. 21
Emerson & Waldron – Who Will Sing For Me (1979)

Bob Fish, 72, falsetto singer with English rock & roll revival band Darts, on Aug. 22
Darts – Let’s Hang On (1980, on lead vocals)

Eric Wagner, 62, singer of doom metal band Trouble, on Aug. 22

Brian Travers, 62, saxophonist of UB40, on Aug. 22
UB40 – Food For Thought (1980)
UB40 – Tyler (live) (1983)

Olli Wisdom, 63, trance musician, ex-singer of UK goth band Specimen, on Aug. 23
Specimen – Beauty Of Poison (1983)

Powell St. John, 80, singer-songwriter, on Aug. 22
Big Brother & The Holding Company – Bye, Bye Baby (1970)

Sheila Bromberg, 92, orchestral harpist, announced Aug. 23
The Beatles – She’s Leaving Home (1967, on harp)

Fritz McIntyre, 62, keyboardist of Simply Red, on Aug. 24
Simply Red – Come To My Aid (1985, also as co-writer)
Simply Red – Wonderland (1990, also on co-vocals)

Patrick Verbeke, 72, French blues musician, on Aug. 24

Charlie Watts, 80, drummer of The Rolling Stones, on Aug. 24
The Rolling Stones – 19th Nervous Breakdown (1966)
Marianne Faithfull – Something Better (1969, on drums)
The Rolling Stones – Beast Of Burden (1978)
Charlie Watts Quintet – Practising, Practising, Just Great (1991)

Radek Pobořil, 75, member of Czech folk-rock band Čechomor, on Aug. 24

Dave Harper, drummer with English indie band Frankie & The Heartstrings, on Aug. 25
Frankie & The Heartstrings – Hunger (2011)

Mario Gareña, 88, Colombian cumbia singer and composer, on Aug. 25
Mario Gareña – Raza (1978)

George Horn, mastering engineer, producer, announced on Aug. 26
Paul Simon – Mother And Child Reunion (1971, as mastering engineer)

Kenny Malone, 83, country/folk/blues session drummer, on Aug. 26
John Prine – Mexican Home (1973, on drums)
Townes Van Zandt – Snowin’ On Raton (1987, on drums)
Alison Krauss – It’s Goodbye And So Long To You (2017, on drums)

Marcus Birks, 40, ex-singer with English vocal group Cappella, on Aug. 27

Sam Salter, 46, soul singer, on Aug. 27
Sam Salter – It’s On Tonight (1997)

Francesc Burrull, 86, Spanish jazz musician and composer, on Aug. 28

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, 85, Jamaican reggae musician, songwriter, producer, on Aug. 29
Lee ‘King’ Perry – People Funny Boy (1968)
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Soul Rebel (1970, as producer)
Junior Murvin – Police And Thieves (1976, as producer and co-writer)
Lee Scratch Perry – Perry’s Ballad (2006)

Ron Bushy, 79, drummer of Iron Butterfly, on Aug. 29
Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968, full album version)
Juicy Groove – Concert Fever (1974) (1978, on drums)

John Drake, 74, singer of garage rock band The Amboy Dukes, on Aug. 29
The Amboy Dukes – Journey To The Center Of The Mind (1968)

Lee Williams, 75, gospel singer, on Aug. 30
Lee Williams & The Spiritual QC’s – Come See About Me (2007)

Tommy Truesdale, 83, Scottish musician and radio presenter, on Aug. 31

Nobesuthu Mbadu, 76, singer with South African mbaqanga group Mahotella Queens, on Aug. 31
Mahotella Queens – Baphinde Joe (1970)
Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens – Thokozile (1987)
Art of Noise feat. Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens – Yebo! (1989)

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Barry Gibb Songbook Vol. 1 (Shaven Edition)

August 26th, 2021 2 comments

On September 1, Barry Gibb will reach the age of 75 — as did Jimmy Webb a couple of weeks ago — which is a good time to post the first of two compilation of songs which Gibb wrote, by himself or in collaboration with his brothers.

This first mix covers the pre-disco, pre-falsetto, pre-beard-and-blowdried-hair, Gibb period, from the Bee Gees’ 1966 UK debut single Spicks And Specks (covered here by Status Quo in their psych-rock incarnation) to 1974’s Charade. The second period in the Barry Gibb songbook will cover the incredible comeback as a disco act, and the work that followed the genre’s decline, mostly for other artists.

Barry Gibb, clean-shaven with a dandy’s shirt, on the cover of Germany’s Bravo magazine of 5 June 1968. (See more Bravo covers and posters at bravoposters.wordpress.com)

I have little knowledge of Barry Gibb’s personal life. I know he has at times fought with his brothers — which is quite natural; brothers can be assholes to each other — and he has mourned the death of his three younger brothers, which is a lot of heartache. He has been married to the same woman for 51 years, which in showbiz is remarkable.

The Gibb brothers were remarkably mature songwriters when they broke big in the latter half of the 1960s. Their lyrics were marked by a great deal of empathy, if sometimes a bit overambitious and occasionally verging on the mawkish. But even when they did so, the tunes usually compensated for such shortcomings. Still, lyrics such as those of, say, How Can You Mend A Broken Hearts (only one choice of versions for this mix!) or To Love Somebody are accompanied by sweet tunes that tell the song’s story.

Bee Gees lyrics could be cryptic. A lot of the masterpiece album Odessa is impenetrable, for example. But that album also included Marley Purt Drive, a storytelling song which is both empathetic and amusing. Odessa, like most Bee Gees material, was produced by the lads themselves. Barry — with and without Maurice and Robin — produced many of his compositions, especially later in their career. But on this mix we can hear P.P. Arnold — a great interpreter of Gibb songs — call out to Barry call out to Barry at the end of her song.

Many songs here are pop standards — Words, I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You, First Of May, New York Mining Disaster 1941, Massachusetts. I like them all, but there’s one Bee Gees hit I really don’t like: the cheesy Don’t Forget To Remember. There are no good covers of it; I include the most bearable of them as a bonus track, alongside three alternative covers of featured songs.

Ah, yes, the beard distinction… I call this first collection the shaven era (guess how I’ll mark Volume 2), but I’m quite aware that Barry started to dabble with facial hair by around 1970. I might not know a lot about the man, but I do know that.

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

1. Bee Gees – World (1968)
2. Status Quo – Spicks And Specks (1968)
3. Tim Rose – I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You (1970)
4. P.P. Arnold – Bury Me Down By The River (1969)
5. Sweet Inspirations – To Love Somebody (1968)
6. Al Green – How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (1972)
7. Bettye Swann – Words (1969)
8. Nina Simone – I Can’t See Nobody (1969)
9. Sarah Vaughan – Run To Me (1972)
10. José Feliciano – And The Sun Will Shine (1968)
11. Vicky Leandros – Massachusetts (1967)
12. The Marbles – Only One Woman (1968)
13. Ashton, Gardner & Dyke – New York Mining Disaster 1941 (1970)
14. Richie Havens – I Started A Joke (1969)
15. Lulu – Melody Fair (1970)
16. Bonnie St. Claire – Marley Purt Drive (1969)
17. Jennifer Warnes – In The Morning (1972)
18. Olivia Newton-John – Come On Over (1976)
19. Sandie Shaw – Sun In My Eyes (1969)
20. Matt Monro – First Of May (1972)
21. Dean Martin – Sweetheart (1971)
22. Astrud Gilberto – Holiday (1970)
23. Samantha Sang – Charade (1978)
24. Moulin Rouge – Lonely Days (1979)
Bonus Tracks:
John & Anne Ryder – Don’t Forget To Remember (1969)
Percy Sledge – I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You (1970)
Flying Burrito Bros feat. Gram Parsons – To Love Somebody (1973)
The Wallflowers – I Started A Joke (2001)

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Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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Categories: Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs, Songwriters Tags:

Any Major Live Festival – Soul Vol. 1

August 19th, 2021 4 comments

 

This collection of soul acts performing their songs live on stage was inspired by the superb documentary The Summer of Soul, which tells the story of a series of six free music festivals held in Harlem in the summer of 1969 (see the trailer here). Despite drawing an audience of 300,000 and featuring an array of big stars, the Harlem Cultural Festival was practically forgotten — while the mostly white Woodstock was mythologised, in nearly an instant (and not unfairly so, as I suggested at its 50th anniversary).

I knew about 1972’s Operation PUSH Expo’s “Save The Children” festival in Chicago, having cherished the double album soundtrack since the 1980s, and about 1972’s Wattstax festival. Both events provide a number of tracks on this mix. But I had never heard of the Harlem Cultural Festival, and I don’t suppose that this owed to a blind spot in my soul education. The event was filmed, but found no takers. So it languished in a basement for decades.

It was as if a conspiracy of silence suppressed the event. Why? Well, it was an event of black consciousness at which the Panthers provided security (because the NYPD refused to)! There was no place in Nixon’s America for such subversion, even if Republican NYC mayor Lindsey made a turn at the event. And, yes, it was political. Nina Simone alone was so powerful, she’d have Dewey Crow raise his fist in salute. But Wattstax was also political, and in Chicago, even Nixon-supporting Sammy Davis Jr asserted his blackness.

There was little overlap between the three events. Rev Jesse Jackson spoke at all three of them, every time delivering the “I Am Somebody” litany.  Gladys Knight and the Pips were at the Harlem and PUSH events; The Staples Singers at Harlem and Wattstax. And Sly & The Family Stone were at Harlem and Woodstock, that summer of ’69.

I thoroughly recommend The Summer of Soul, which was directed by Qwestlove of The Roots. It is engrossing, exhilarating and emotional. The Guardian called it the best-ever music documentary ever, which is an excited claim. But if it isn’t, it’s certainly right up there among the best.

This mix is bringing together performances by soul acts from 1972 (the first six tracks are from the Wattstax and PUSH events) to 1985 (Maze featuring Frankie Beverley). In that way, it’s a festival across ages. I think the concept works well, and I probably will compile more such mixes for my pleasure. If this mix is getting a good reaction, I shall share those too.

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

1. Isaac Hayes – Theme From Shaft (Los Angeles, 1973)
2. Isaac Hayes – Soulsville (Los Angeles, 1973)
3. The Staple Singers – Respect Yourself (Los Angeles, 1973)
4. The Main Ingredient – Everybody Plays The Fool (Chicago, 1973)
5. The Temptations – Papa Was A Rolling Stone (Chicago, 1973)
6. Rufus Thomas – The Breakdown (Los Angeles, 1973)
7. Curtis Mayfield – Superfly (Chicago, 1973)
8. Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine (New York, 1972)
9. Earth, Wind & Fire – Shining Star (1975)
10. Earth, Wind & Fire – Devotion (1975)
11. Maze feat. Frankie Beverley – Before I Let Go (Los Angeles, 1985)
12. Maze feat. Frankie Beverley – Joy And Pain (Los Angeles, 1985)
13. Al Jarreau – We’re In This Love Together (London, 1984)
14. Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford – Your Precious Love (Montreux, 1981)
15. Randy Crawford & Yellowjackets – Imagine (Montreux, 1981)
16. Rufus and Chaka Khan – Stay (New York, 1982)
17. Rufus and Chaka Khan – What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me (New York, 1982)

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Any Major Jimmy Webb Collection Vol. 3

August 12th, 2021 3 comments

On August 15, one of the great songwriters, of any generation, turns 75. It’s a good occasion to catch up with a long overdue third collection of Jimmy Webb compositions. The Jimmy Webb Collection Vol. 1 ran in May 2013, Vol. 2 a couple of months later.

Both of those mixes provide proof for just how many great songs — some more famous than others —  Webb wrote. Of course, tracks like Wichita Lineman, Galveston, Up Up And Away, Worst That Could Happen, MacArthur Park, or By The Time I Get To Phoenix (which I song-swarmed some time ago) are entrenched classics, but the list of superb Webb songs is so much longer.

Webb had a way of writing melodies that take residence under your skin, and lyrics that belong right up there with those of the likes of Hal David and Cole Porter. And like those two, Webb could do gentle pathos and humour. More than that, Webb could articulate extraordinary ideas in a pithy line. Take, by way of example, this line of If You Must Leave My Life: “Somewhere in my mouth, there’ll always be the taste of you.” Every time I hear it, it evokes a range of emotions from my own life: happy memories, bittersweet nostalgia, reflective regret…Webb enjoyed an astonishing series of hits before he was 25. In the 1970s, commercial success diminished, to the point that Webb wrote songs that expressed his frustration with the music business. The opening track here, Song Seller, is one of them.

The albums Webb recorded himself didn’t perform well, despite great reviews, which is a pity. One song here is sung by Webb. It’s from his excellent 1972 LP Letters, and features his sister Susan on co-vocals. Joni Mitchell fans might want to seek it out for her backing vocals on the song Simile (she also appeared on 1974’s Land’s End).

Jimmy’s vocals feature on another track on this collection, Once In The Morning (And Once At Night) by The Supremes. It comes from a 1972 album with the thoroughly self-explanatory title The Supremes Produced And Arranged By Jimmy Webb. Which brings us to the other Webbian superpower: the arrangements. As it is with Bacharach, you can recognise a Webb arrangement. There certainly is something as the Jimmy Webb sound. Apparently, Webb is the only artist ever to have received Grammy Awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration. I recommend Thelma Houston’s debut album Sunshower as the best representative example of these three qualities at work.

As always, this mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-galvestoned covers, and the above linernotes in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. Raiders – Song Seller (1972)
2. Jimmy Webb – When Can Brown Begin (1972)
3. Johnny Rivers – Carpet Man (1967)
4. Dusty Springfield – Magic Garden (1968)
5. Thelma Houston – Someone Is Standing Outside (1969)
6. Eddie Kendricks – I Did It All For You (1971)
7. Billy Paul – This Is Your Life (1972)
8. Joe Cocker – Just Like Always (1982)
9. Swing Out Sister – Forever Blue (1989)
10. Art Garfunkel – Crying In My Sleep (1977)
11. Cher – Just This One Time (1975)
12. Kenny Loggins – If You Be Wise (1977)
13. David Crosby – Too Young To Die (1993)
14. Tanya Tucker – There’s A Tennessee Woman (1990)
15. Waylon Jennings – If You See Me Getting Smaller (1977)
16. Revelation – One Of The Nicer Things (1970)
17. Brooklyn Bridge – Requiem (1968)
18. Richard Harris – Name Of My Sorrow (1968)
19. Arrival – (Let My Life Be) Your Love Song (1971)
20. Little Janice – Mirror Mind (1969)
21. The Supremes – Once In The Morning (And Once At Night) (1972)

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Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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In Memoriam – July 2021

August 3rd, 2021 3 comments

After an easy previous month, the Reaper was hard at work. Twelve stories of significant deaths; more could have featured. Unusually, two former members of the same group died on the same day, rock band Cinderella’s guitarist Jeff LaBar and former keyboardist Gary Corbett (who also co-wrote Cyndi Lauper’s hit She Bop). Otherwise, two musicians who played on a couple of my first English-language singles — ZZ To and Uriah Heep — were among those who joined the big rock orchestra in the coursed of this round-up.

The ZZ Beard
When in 1976 ZZ Top went on a three-year hiatus, bassist and co-vocalist Dusty Hill took a job at Dallas Airport, just to feel normal. He was rarely recognised, and when he was, he’d say: “No! Do you think I’d be sitting here?” By then, Hill had already been on the Texan blues-rock scene for more than a decade, all of it with drummer Frank Beard. Hill and Beard were joined by guitarist-singer Billy Gibbons in 1969 to start a career as ZZ Top. By the time the hiatus ended, Hill and Gibbons were the instantly recognisable (if you discount airport confusions) faces of ZZ Top. With their long beards, hats and shades, the untrained eye could tell them apart only by their height: Hill was the shorter one. He was also the vocalist with the high tenor (such as on the 1975 hit Tush), as opposed to Gibbons’ gruff rasp.

ZZ Top will carry on without Hill. On his death-bed, Hill anointed Elwood Francis as his successor.

The Frontman
If ever your band needed a frontman, John Lawton was your man. The English singer’s first of many bands was Stonewall, which also included future Roxy Music member Phil Thompson. After an engagement at Hamburg’ Star Club in 1969, Lawton decided to stay in Germany and joined local rock outfit Asterix, which as Lucifer’s Friend would become regarded as heavy metal pioneers. While doing proto-metal and prog rock with Lucifer’s Friend, Lawton also joined the Les Humphries Singers, a Hamburg-based multinational pop choir which enjoyed a string of massive hits in Germany, with Lawton as one of their regular frontmen. That gig took Lawton to the stage of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1976 (to no great effect: their effort for West Germany placed 15th out of 18 entries).

After the Les Humphries Singers split, Lawton also left Lucifer’s Friends to replace David Byron as lead singer of Uriah Heep. His stint with the band was successful, yielding a global hit with Free Me. Lawton is the third of the five members of that line-up to die in less than a year; its sole survivor now is guitarist Mick Box.

Lawton left Uriah Heep in 1979, and later became the singer of the German rock group Zar, with whom he had a few hits. And on the side, he also sung in a series of German TV commercials. Over the years, Lawton would front several groups, many of them in collaboration with former bandmates. Eventually his musical journey took him to Bulgaria, where he died suddenly on June 29.

The Navel-barer
With the death at 78 of Raffaella Carrà, Italy has lost an all-rounder superstar who also enjoyed wide popularity in Europe and Latin America. Carrà began her life in entertainment in the 1950s as a child actress and went on to enjoy a long film career, which in the mid-1960s took her to Hollywood. Homesick, she returned to Italy. In 1970 her second career began, as a TV presenter in Italy and Spain. Soon after, her music career took off, peaking in 1977 with the Europe-wide hit A far l’amore comincia tu, which in the English version, Do It Do It Again, was a #9 hit, and as Hay que venir al sur a hit throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

In 1971, Carrà caused a massive controversy in Italy when she sung her hit Tuca Tuca on TV while showing — deep breath in, easily outraged folks — her bare navel! It broke the barrier for navels on Italian TV. Carrà also advocated for feminist and LGBTQ+ issues. Politically she described herself as a communist, saying in 1977: “I always vote communist. In the struggle between workers and business, I’ll always be on the workers’ side.”

The Original Funky Drummer
According to James Brown, it was Little Richard and his backing band The Upsetters who in the 1950s were “the first to put funk into the rhythm”. The New Orleans-born drummer who drove the funk was Charles Connor, who left us on the last day of the month at 86. It was Connor’s drumming that inspired Little Richard to write what might be rock & roll’s best-known line: “A-wop bop-a loo-bop, a-lop bam-boom”. And his opening 16-bar roll at the beginning of Keep A-Knockin inspired John Bonham’s opening salvo on Led Zeppelin’s Rick And Roll.

Connor’s career began at the age of 15 in 1950 when the son of a seaman from the Dominican Republic drummed for Professor Longhair at Mardi Gras. He played on all the great Little Richard hits, as well as backing acts like James Brown, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Duke Ellington, The Coasters, Big Joe Turner, Larry Williams, Don Covay. Read a 1986 interview with Connor on touring with Little Richard in the 1950s.

The Merengue Mayor
Born Juan de Dios Ventura Soriano, Dominican merengue and salsa singer and bandleader Johnny Ventura was a music legend in his country and beyond when he decided to enter politics. Having started his career as a serial winner of radio talent shows in the late 1950s, Ventura became a household name in his country, and a big star in the US when he went there in 1967. The “Caballo Mayor” (or “Big Horse) was credited with helping to modernise merengue music in the 1960s. In 1999, he was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame; seven years later he received the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his career.

By that time, Ventura had long entered politics. From 1982-86 Ventura sat in the National Congress. In 1994 he was elected Vice-Mayor of the capital Santo Domingo (mainly a ceremonial post), and in 1998 its mayor for the left-of-centre Dominican Revolutionary Party, serving a term until 2002. He’d lose another election for mayor some 18 years later, in 2020. Upon Ventura’s death, the Dominican Republic’s president declared three days of mourning and said the singer would receive military honours.

The Doo Wop Legend
When Willie Winfield retired as lead singer of doo wop pioneers The Harptones two years ago, he brought to an end a career that spanned 66 years, counting from when the band was discovered at amateur night at the Apollo in 1953. Incredibly, The Harptones never had a nationwide hit — not even their signature song, Sunday Kind Of Love — but among doo wop fans they stand among the giants of the genre. And Winfield, with his comfortable tenor, stood out as a vocalists. Yet, he never sought a solo career, and remained faithful to the group until his retirement in 2019. With his death, only one member of the original line-up, William Dempsey, remains with us.

The Singing Violinist
Prog-rock band Kansas had the great keyboards of Steve Walsh and the superb lead guitar of Kerry Livgren, but what set the group apart was the inclusion of the violin, played by the hirsute Robby Steinhardt. The violinist, who at 71 has become (as far as I can make out) the first member of Kansas to die, also contributed some lead vocals and the harmonies with lead singer Steve Walsh (Steinhardt’s vocals are in the lower register to Walsh’s high tenor). Steinhardt left the band in 1982, after a tour. He had a side project called Steinhardt-Moon and recorded with the Stormbringer Band. In 1997 he rejoined Kansas, leaving again in 2006 due to the heavy touring schedule.

Another Fiddler
At a time when traditional country and bluegrass crossed over into rock, master-fiddler Byron Berline was a go-to guy. The Rolling Stones had him play on Country Honk, the song from Let It Bleed they’d re-record as Honky Tonk Woman. Previously he had collaborated with The Dillards; in the early 1970s he played with acts like The Byrds, The Flying Burritos Brothers (of whom he was listed as a member) and Stephen Stills’ Manassas.

He featured prominently on both of Gram Parsons’ solo albums, and fiddled for the likes of Bob Dylan, The Band, Arlo Guthrie, Lamont Dozier, Emmylou Harris, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, James Taylor, Ann Murray, John Denver, Hoyt Axton, Olivia Newton-John, The Doobie Brothers (on their hit Minute By Minute), Rod Stewart, Elton John, Vince Gill, Michelle Shocked, Lucinda Williams, Matthew Sweet and various alumni from the Byrds/Burritios projects. He also released 16 solo albums.

The Producing Pianist
Some of the most joyously upbeat songs of the late 1970s and early 1980s featured the handprints of pianist, arranger, producer and songwriter Clarence McDonald. The best-known of these are Bill Withers’ Lovely Day (as co-producer, arranger and on keyboards), The Emotions’ Best Of My Love (as co-producer), James Taylor’s Your Lovely Face, and Bill LaBounty’s Living It Up (both on keyboards). He worked many times with Deniece Williams, for whom he co-wrote the 1981 classic Silly. He also played keyboards on “Moving On Up,” theme song of the sitcom The Jeffersons.

In his career, he worked with acts like The Temptations, The Jackson 5, Ella Fitzgerald, The Mamas & The Papas, Cheech & Chong, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Carole King, Martha Reeves, The 5th Dimension, Boz Scaggs, Seals & Crofts, Billy Preston, Barbra Streisand, Marlena Shaw, Hall & Oates, Blue Mitchell, Nancy Wilson, Freddie Hubbard, Johnny Mathis, Gloria Gaynor, Helen Reddy, Tina Turner, Pointer Sisters, Kenny Rogers, Rickie Lee Jones, Burt Bacharach, The Memphis Horns, Thelma Houston, Linda Ronstadt, Stanley Turrentine, Bobby Womack, Letta Mbulu, Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Justin Timberlake and many others.

The Singing Lawyer
The remarkable life of South African singing legend Steve Kekana came to a premature end at 62, claimed by Covid-19. Kekana was five years old when he lost his sight. At a school for the blind he discovered his talent for music. As the 1970s turned to the ’80s, Kekana became one of South Africa’s favourite singers, even scoring a hit in Europe with his song Raising My Family. Remarkably, at a time of apartheid, when white stations wouldn’t play music by black South African artists, Kekana had crossover success. In his career, he earned more than 70 gold records and numerous awards.

While still recording, Kekana studied law, and later became a university lecturer in labour law — while still making records. He was in the middle of recording a new album when he died.

The Beat Producer
Astonishingly, British producer, engineer and musician Bob Sargeant didn’t have a Wikipedia page. Yet he helped create some of the most distinctive sounds in English music of the early 1980s. He produced The (English) Beat, including their Top 10 hits Mirror In The Bathroom, Hands Off She’s Mine, Tears Of A Clown, Too Nice To Talk To, and Can’t Get Use To Losing You. Then he produced Haircut 100 to stardom, including the hits Love Plus One and Favourite Shirt. He also worked with acts like XTC, Madness, The Lotus Eaters, The Damned, The Woodentops, and (as remixer) Fine Young Cannibals. Producing the famous John Peel sessions for the BBC, Sargeant helped launch acts like Joy Division, The Specials, Buzzcocks, The Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers, Killing Joke, The Cure, Gary Numan, The Fall and others.

Before all that, in 1974, Sargeant tried his hand at being a recording artist. His one shot at stardom, optimistically titled First Starring Role, was produced by him and Mick Ronson. The two also played many of the instruments on the album.

The Chuck E.
The subject of Rickie Lee Jones’ 1979 hit Chuck E.’s In Love has died at 76. Chuck E. Weiss was a fixture on the New York scene, and in particular a pal of Tom Waits, for whom he had written Spare Parts I (A Nocturnal Emission) on the 1975 Nighthawks At The Diner album. One evening, the story goes, Weiss phoned Waits, explaining a long absence by the circumstance that he was in Denver where he had fallen in love with a cousin. Afterwards Waits announced to girlfriend Rickie Lee Jones: “Chuck E.’s In Love!” Jones like the sound of that line and wrote a song based on it.

It wasn’t the first time Chuck E. got cited in song. Waits namechecks him in the song Jitterbug Boy, on 1976’s Small Change album. By then Weiss had played with a number of blues greats, but he didn’t release his own album until 1981, and then none until 1996. He released six albums altogether, the last in 2018.As always, this post is reproduced in PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

 

John Lawton, 74, English rock singer, on June 29
Lucifer’s Friend – Ride In The Sky (1971, as lead singer and co-writer)
Les Humphries Singers – Mama Loo (1973, as lead singer)
Uriah Heep – Free Me (1977)

Steve Kekana, 62, South African pop singer, on July 1
Steve Kekana – Raising My Family
Hotline With P.J. Powers & Steve Kekana – Feel So Strong (1982)

Louis Andriessen, 82, Dutch classical and jazz composer, on July 1

Bryan St. Pere, 52, drummer of alt.rock band Hum, on July 1
Hum – Stars (1995)

Bill Ramsey, 90, US born German schlager singer, actor and entertainer, on July 2
Bill Ramsey & The Jay Five – An Unknown Quantity (1967)

José Manuel Zamacona, 69, singer of Mexican pop band Los Yonic’s, on July 4
Los Yonic’s – Palabras Tristes (1984)

Sanford Clark, 85, rockabilly singer, on July 4
Sanford Clark – Houston (1964)

Rick Laird, 80, Irish jazz fusion bassist, co-founder of Mahavishnu Orchestra, on July 4
Mahavishnu Orchestra – Miles Beyond (1973)
Richie Cole with Eddie Jefferson – Waltz For A Rainy Bebop Evening (1976, on bass guitar)

Leo van de Ketterij, 70, guitarist of Dutch pop band Shocking Blue, on July 5
Shocking Blue – Mighty Joe (1969)

Raffaella Carrà, 78, Italian singer, TV presenter and actress, on July 6
Raffaella Carrà – Tuca Tuca (1971)
Raffaella Carrà – Rumore (1974)
Raffaella Carrà – A Far L’Amore Comincia Tu (1977)

Angélique Ionatos, 67, Greek-born singer and composer, on July 7
Angélique Ionatos & Photis Ionatos – Chansons des amoureux (2009)

Indian Red Boy, 21, rapper, shot dead on July 8

Andy Williams, 49, ex-drummer of Christian rock band Casting Crowns, on July 9
Casting Crowns – Lifesong (2005)

Chris Hutka, singer of metalcore band The Bunny The Bear, on July 10
The Bunny The Bear – Ocean Floor (2011, clean vocals)

Byron Berline, 77, country and bluegrasss fiddler, on July 10
The Rolling Stones – Country Honk (1969, on fiddle)
Gram Parsons – Return Of The Grievous Angel (1974, on fiddle)
Lamont Dozier – All Cried Out (1974, on violin)
Byrone Berline – Trail Of Tears Waltz (1990)

Sound Sultan, 44, Nigerian rapper, on July 11

Juini Booth, 73, jazz double-bassist, on July 11
McCoy Tyner – Song Of The New World (1973, on double-bass)

Sandra Timmerman, 57, Dutch singer and stage actress, on July 12

Bob Sargeant, British producer, engineer and musician, announced July 13
Bob Sargeant – King Of The Night (1974, also as producer)
The Beat – Mirror In The Bathroom (1980, as producer)
Haircut 100 – Love Plus One (1982, as producer)

Gary Corbett, ex-keyboardist of rock band Cinderella, on July 14
Cyndi Lauper – She Bop (1984, as co-writer)
Cinderella – Through The Rain (1994)

Jeff LaBar, 58, guitarist of rock band Cinderella, on July 14
Cinderella – Nobody’s Fool (1986)

Pyotr Mamonov, 70, frontman of Russian rock band Zvuki Mu, on July 15
Zvuki Mu – Crazy Queen (1989)

Tsepo Tshola, 67, co-lead singer of Lesotho jazz/gospel band Sankomota, on July 15
Sankomota – Papa (1989, on lead vocals)
Tsepo Thsole – Madambadamba (1997)

Biz Markie, 57, rapper and actor, on July 16
Biz Markie – Just A Friend (1989)

Robby Steinhardt, 71, singer and violinist with rock band Kansas, on July 17
Kansas – Dust In The Wind (1977)
Kansas – People Of The South Wind (1979)
Steinhardt-Moon – Too Hard To Handle (1999)

Chuck E. Weiss, 76, songwriter and singer, on July 18
Tom Waits – Spare Parts I (A Nocturnal Emission) (1975, as writer)
Rickie Lee Jones – Chuck E.’s In Love (1979, as song subject)
Chuck E. Weiss – Gina (1981)

Tolis Voskopoulos, 80, Greek singer and actor, on July 19
Tolis Voskopoulos – Agonia (1969)

Jerry Granelli, 80, Canadian jazz drummer, on July 20
Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmas Is Coming (1965, on drums)
We Five – You Were On My Mind (1965, on drums)

Clarence ‘Mac’ McDonald, 76, pianist, composer, arranger & producer, on July 21
Martha Reeves – Dixie Highway (1974, on piano)
Bill Withers – Lovely Day (1977, as co-producer, arranger and on keyboards)
Deniece Williams – Silly (1981, as co-writer)
Bill LaBounty – Livin’ It Up (1982, on keyboards)

Palo Pandolfo, 56, Argentine singer-songwriter and musician, on July 22

Wally Gonzales, 71, guitarist of Filipino rock band Juan de la Cruz, on July 23
Juan de la Cruz – Shake Your Brain (1973)

John Hutchinson, British guitarist and David Bowie collaborator, on July 24
David Bowie with John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson – Space Oddity (1969 Mercury Demo)

Count M’Butu, percussionist of the Derek Trucks Band, on July 25
Derek Trucks Band – Mahjoun (2006)

Johnny Ventura, 81, Dominican merengue musician and mayor, on July 26
Johnny Ventura y Su Combo – ilema (1965)
Johnny Ventura – Si vuelvo a nacer (1987)
Johnny Ventura y Sus Hijos – No Quiero de Eso (1994)

Joey Jordison, 46. co-founder and ex-drummer of nu-metal band Slipknot, on July 26

Mike Howe, 55, singer with of heavy metal group Metal Church, on July 26
Metal Church – Date With Poverty (1991, also as co-writer)

Dusty Hill, 72, bassist of ZZ Top and songwriter, on July 27
ZZ Top – Francine (1972)
ZZ Top – Tush (1975)
ZZ Top – Gimme All Your Lovin’ (1984)

Gianni Nazzaro, 72, Italian singer and actor, on July 27

Willie Winfield, 91, lead singer and tenor of doo wop group The Harptones, on July 27
The Harp-Tones – A Sunday Kind Of Love (1953)
The Harptones – Life Is But A Dream (1955)
The Harptones – Laughing On The Outside (1959)

Peter Janes, folk singer-guitarist, reported on July 29
Peter Janes – Do You Believe (Love Is Built On A Dream) (1968)

Chris Wall, country/folk singer and songwriter, on June 29
Chris Wall – Empty Seat Beside Me (1989)

Gonzoe, 45, rapper with hip hop group Kausion, on July 29
Kausion feat. Ice Cube – What You Wanna Do (1995)

Jacob Desvarieux, 65, Gudeloupean-French singer, musician, producer, on July 30
Jacob Desvarieux & Georges Décimus – Chwazi (1985)

Jerzy Matuszkiewicz, 93, Polish jazz musician and composer, on July 31

Charles Connor, 86, drummer of Little Richard’s The Upsetters, on July 31
Little Richard – Tutti Frutti (1956)
Little Richard – Keep A-Knockin’ (1957)
The Upsetters The Strip (1958)
The Charles Connor Band – Drummer Man (1986, also on vocals)

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Any Major Rain

July 29th, 2021 4 comments

Last week we had really bad weather. Rain, rain and more rain. Which is a blessing, of course, if you are living in regions of drought, but a curse when you have no secure home or live in a territory that floods in times of heavy rains.

So I put together a mix of songs about rain — real the actual meteorological phenomenon, and about wet weather as a metaphor. Some of the tracks are obvious. It was while humming Rainy Night In Georgia in the shower — artificial rain! — that I decided to compile this collection. A few obvious ones are missing: no raindrops keeping falling on heads, no always raining on me, no Beatles backward sound-noodling… Maybe in Volume 2, should here be one.

I think the result is a great way of spending a rainy day — or a hot day when one could do with a downpour. Funny enough, as I’m writing this, the sun is shining!

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

1. Love Unlimited – Walking In The Rain (1972)
2. Lea Roberts – Laughter In The Rain (1975)
3. Randy Crawford – Tender Falls The Rain (1980)
4. Ray Charles – Rainy Night In Georgia (1972)
5. The Pogues – A Rainy Night In Soho (1986)
6. The Jesus And Mary Chain – Happy When It Rains (1987)
7. Jimi Hendrix Experience – One Rainy Wish (1967)
8. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen The Rain (1970)
9. Flying Burrito Brothers – Wind and Rain (1975)
10. Lovin’ Spoonful – Rain On The Roof (1966)
11. Joni Mitchell – Rainy Night House (1970)
12. Keith Whitley – I’m No Stranger To The Rain (1989)
13. Chris Isaak – Waiting For The Rain To Fall (1987)
14. Justin Townes Earle – Memphis In The Rain (2012)
15. Richard Hawley – Early Morning Rain (2009)
16. The Everly Brothers – Crying In The Rain (1961)
17. Johnnie Ray – Just Walking In The Rain (1956)
18. Irma Thomas – It’s Raining (1962)
19. Bobby Womack – It’s Gonna Rain (1969)
20. Marvin Gaye – I Wish It Would Rain (1970)
21. Margie Joseph – How Beautiful The Rain (1971)
22. Carrie Smith – Some Rainy Day (1983)
23. Donald Fagen – Walk Between Raindrops (1982)
24. Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain (1987)

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Any Major Neil Diamond Songbook

July 22nd, 2021 8 comments

 

When I was little, Neil Diamond was one of my mother’s favourite singers, alongside Cat Stevens. She’d also get excited when Engelbert Humperdinck appeared on TV, but she had none of his records. I assume that more than us crooning, she liked Engelbert’s luxuriously blow-dried hair. Of which Neil Diamond had a lot, too. Plus the lamé jackets.

As I became a teenager, I regarded Diamond as lamé and lame. His easy listening music was aimed at my mom, not at me. Forever In Blue Jeans was a boomer hymn, not aimed at my generation. And I assumed the name was a presumptuous moniker (turns out, it’s the guy’s real name).

For a long time, I didn’t dare to go near Diamond. Then I became the age of the people at whom Diamond had aimed his music. I still don’t go for the Forever In Blue Jeans stuff or the Streisand duet, but his 1960s and earlier ’70s stuff… well, that works for me. I also have a lot of time for his 2000s albums, especially the wonderful 12 Songs from 2005.

What a pity, then, that for many people, Neil Diamond means the hackneyed DA-DA-DA inserted by sports crowds into Sweet Caroline.

Diamond (who was born in 1941 and grew up in Brooklyn with future duet partner Barbra Streisand in his orbit) started out as part of a singing duo, Neil & Jack, and as a Brill Building songwriter. The duo flopped, but he made a name as a songwriter for acts like The Monkees, whose mega-hit I’m A Believer he wrote. His first Top 20 composition was in 1965, with Sunday And Me for Jay and the Americans. By 1966 he had a recording contract, recording his first hit, Solitary Man. It was the beginning of a fruitful career.

This mix features covers of songs from that long career. Strangely, some great songs have not been covered (such as the magnificent Brooklyn Roads) or not covered by many acts other than your James Lasts and Hugo Montenegros.

When UB40 had a hit with Neil Diamond’s Red Red Wine in 1983, they apparently had no idea that it was a song by the lame-suited balladeer. The group thought they were covering (and, we may assume, improving) an original by reggae singer Tony Tribe, whose own cover of the song was released in 1969, two years after Diamond’s (Tribe’s version is added here as a bonus track. It might have been inspired by the 1968 soul version of Jamaica’s Jimmy James & The Vagabonds).  Several reggae artists covered Diamond: Holly Holy, for example, was covered to good effect by both Byron Lee & The Dragonaires and Willie Lindo; Bunny Scott did I Am…I Said; Marcia Griffiths did Play Me. As recently as 2013, Third World got their hands on Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon.

This collection includes a handful of songs written by Diamond but first recorded by others:  I’m A Believer and A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You were first hits for The Monkees, but feature here as covers — the latter in Diamond’s version. The Monkees themselves feature with their original of Diamond’s composition Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow), The Box Tops with Ain’t No Way, the Jay & The Americans track, and Glen Campbell with Sunflower.

As ever, CD-R length, home-song-sung-blued covers, linernotes in illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. Neil Diamond – I’m A Believer (1970)
2. Bobby Womack – Sweet Caroline (1972)
3. Jr. Walker & The All Stars – Holly Holy (1970)
4. Deep Purple – Kentucky Woman (1968)
5. David Garrick – I Got The Feelin’ (1967)
6. Elvis Presley – And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind (1970)
7. Glen Campbell – Sunflower (1977)
8. Johnny Cash feat. Tom Petty – Solitary Man (2000)
9. Shane MacGowan & The Popes – Cracklin’ Rosie (1994)
10. The Specials – A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You (1996)
11. Marcia Griffiths – Play Me (1974)
12. Jimmy James & The Vagabonds – Red Red Wine (1968)
13. Millie Jackson – Love On The Rocks (1981)
14. Bunny Walters – Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon (1972)
15. Caterina Caselli – La casa degli angeli (I Am…I Said) (1971)
16. The Box Tops – Ain’t No Way (1969)
17. Wishful Thinking – Cherry, Cherry (1967)
18. The Monkees – Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) (1967)
19. Lafayette – Porcupine Pie (1973)
20. Frank Sinatra – Song Sung Blue (1980)
21. Peggy Lee – Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show (1969)
22. Malcolm & The Les Humphries Singers – Soolaimon (1970)
23. Jay & The Americans – Sunday And Me (1966)
Bonus Tracks:
Elvis Presley – Sweet Caroline (1970)
Willie Lindo – Holly Holy (1974)
Tony Tribe – Red, Red Wine (1969)

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Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Leonard Cohen
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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More Cover Mixes
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Categories: Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs, Songwriters Tags:

Any Major Soul 1990-92

July 15th, 2021 1 comment

 

 

While the Any Major Soul series will continue with the mixes covering the 1980s year-by-year (the most recent being Any Major Soul 1981), we’ll also be jumping ahead to the 1990s.

It was arguably the last “golden age” of soul, and the last decade in which soul was the dominant African-American genre. One might have fruitful arguments about how hip hop and soul have fused to such an extent that they are merchandise in the same bag, symbolised by the union of Beyoncé and Jay-Z. But today is not the time for that discussion, though the flirtation between soul and hip hop had already begun in the 1990s.

As the 1980s turned into the 1990s, soul became more youthful, even as veterans such as Roberta Flack and Luther Vandross were still scoring hits. Indeed, on this mix, several veterans strut their middle-aged stuff: Chaka Khan, Curtis Mayfield, Anita Baker and Gerald Alston (former lead singer of The Manhattans).

At the dawn of the 1990s, there was the New Jack Swing movement, pioneered already in the ’80s by people like Keith Sweat (remarkably, his real name), which drew from the rhythms of hip hop. In its purest form, it was short-lived, but its legacy was heavily felt throughout the decade and beyond. The awful 1980s synthethisers and screeching movie soundtrack guitars were fading away, and the primacy of the bass returned.

Return of the Band

After a decade-and-half of solo singers grabbing most of the success, groups were back. And their influences went way back to doo wop, as outfits like Boyz II Men (featured here with the marvellous Motownphilly), Shai, All-4-One et al showed. Girl bands were also back, and this time they needn’t be families like the Pointers, Sledges or Joneses.  Now there were mostly trios of Sistas: TLC, En Vogue, SWV, Jade, Eternal, Xscape, Brownstone and so on.

Of course, there were still solo singers, and some of them were of the old school, like the singer of this set’s stand-out track, Keith Washington. But new stars emerged, even if for a brief shift at the top. One of them was Johnny Gill, alumnus of New Edition, whose My My My offered the promise of first-rate sex in the class of Teddy Pendergrass. But where TP was all hairy face, Gill was shaved balls. Soul machismo had a new look, all short-sides and flattop, and waxed chests.

Sex ‘n’ Soul

In the 1990s, soul music became more sexually explicit, though not yet in the misogynistic crudeness which would be spearheaded in hip hop with its demeaning rhymes about assorted bitches and ho’s who reportedly ain’t shit. Our soul singers were still cut from the romantic cloth, and their romancing included few sartorial uses, other than the strategic discarding of garments. The vague suggestion of sweet lovin’ through the night, baby, became more specific in the soul mainstream, recalling TP’s radical proposal a decade earlier of showering together for the purpose of mutually administered personal hygiene before sweaty proceedings could commence in the darkness.

Case in point: cunnilingus. Previously all kinds of metaphors would protect the fainthearted from exposure to this particular form of oral sex (and here we welcome the lost porn-googlers. Stick around, new arrivals, and enjoy the music). Pop band Spandau Ballet pushed the tongue out wide when in True, their 1983 hit, they referred to the “pill on my tongue”, which was not a pharmaceutical reference. Ten years later, Tony Toni Toné in their song Put Your Head On My Pillow issued an explicit instruction manual to cunnilingus (you find that track on Any Major Babymaking Music Vol. 2). And we will not even mention that unmentionable Bump n’ Grinder.

Soul Yodel

The 1990s produced the girl groups, but the decade also offered scope to female solo singers. The decade’s two biggest stars in soul were ground-breaking women: Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey (neither feature on this mix, but might well have). Both of them have become symbols for bombastic vocals with an excessive of melisma (the proper term for soul yodelling). Yet. both singers merit a thorough rehabilitation. They were magnificent vocalists with some great pop and a few superb soul songs (and also some unfortunate material). I shall discuss the melisma mania in the linernotes for the next mix, but it would be negligent of me to fail pointing out that summarily dismissing the vocals of I Will Always Love You or Vision Of Love simply because they include vocal gymnastics is an act of foolishness.

Women were taking their place of primacy in soul. I don’t imagine any major soul mix of the 1980s would kick off with five songs by women, or have a female presence of about two-thirds of the playlist. In my selection of tracks, this was entirely unintended. Even on the shortlist, men constituted only half of the volume. But it shows that in the 1990s, things in soul were changing.

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

1. Soul II Soul feat. Kym Mazelle – Missing You (1990)
2. The Chimes – True Love (1990)
3. Mary J. Blige – Real Love (1992)
4. SWV – Weak (1992)
5. Cheryl Pepsii Riley – I Don’t Wanna Be Alone (1991)
6. Keith Washington – Kissing You (1991)
7. Curtis Mayfield – Do Be Down (1990)
8. Gerald Alston – Slow Motion (1990)
9. Chanté Moore – Love’s Taken Over (1992)
10. Jade – Don’t Walk Away (1992)
11. Johnny Gill – My My My (1990)
12. Mica Paris – You Put A Move On My Heart (1992)
13. Lisa Fischer – How Can I Ease The Pain (1991)
14. Anita Baker – Soul Inspiration (1990)
15. Chaka Khan – Love You All My Lifetime (1992)
16. Boyz II Men – Motownphilly (1991)
17. Shai – If I Ever Fall In Love (1992)

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Any Major Soul 1960s
Any Major Soul 1970s
Any Major Soul 1980s

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