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Any Major Favourites 2021 – Vol. 1

January 10th, 2022 2 comments

HAPPY NEW YEAR! May this new year see the end of this damn pandemic — it was good only for my Any Major Pandemic mix — and may your 2022 be filled with undiluted happiness and uncompromisingly good health!

As every year, the mixes of the past year (excluding the In Memoriams and Christmas mixes) are revisited by the choice of one favourite song from them — like an annual Greatest Hits of Any Major Dude. I hope it is useful to provide a link to the relevant mix in the playlist, so that you might discover a compilation here or there which you might have missed. If you still need to catch up with the mixes of 2020, they are reviewed in Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (this series goes back to 2015).

I haven’t bothered to measure which mixes were the most popular, but the two Beatles in French mixes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) attracted great feedback. Maurice Chevalier doing Yellow Submarine was something of a revelation. There will be more Beatles in foreign languages collections coming up.

The one series I had hoped would get some feedback was the countdown of the Top 75 pop acts, according to myself and Rolling Stone. Did everybody just think, “Yeah, Any Major Dude got all placings spot on”? Surely not.

I had the biggest fun with this year’s Not Feeling Guilty mix, the 11th in the series of soft-rock and AOR numbers from the 1970s and early ’80s. All featured artists had names you might find in a teachers’ register, so I had some fun making a “Our Teachers” gallery for the Any Major Dude High yearbook 1979/80, with Mr D. O’Day as the principal (see it here).

And which mixes have I personally played the most? Well, I had Any Major Hits from 1971 from May on frequent rotation (as I still had the Hits from 1970 installment from 2020). Don’t be surprised if there are not one but two follow-ups covering 1972. The 1961 version on this theme was really enjoyable as well. The Jimmy Webb, Neil Diamond and Barry Gibb Songbooks also had plenty of spins (as is currently the set of Carole King songs, which will drop in February). And for a while I played little else but the mix of tracks from Blaxploitation movies.

Part 2 of this collection follows later. So, which mixes did you enjoy last year?For your convenience and future reference, these CD-R length mixes include the text above and links below in an illustrated PDF.

1. Lemonheads – It’s A Shame About Ray (1992)
Any Major ABC of the 1990s

2. Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next (1998)
Any Major Dude Kills Fascism

3. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands (1987)
Life In Vinyl 1987 Vol. 2

4. Turley Richards – You Might Need Somebody (1979)
Any Major Originals – Soul Edition Vol. 2

5. Alan O’Day – Undercover Angel (1977)
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 11

6. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Don’t Pull Your Love (1971)
Any Major Hits from 1971

7. Dusty Springfield – Magic Garden (1968)
Jimmy Webb Songbook Vol. 3

8. Joy – Paradise Road (1980)
Any Major ABC of South Africa

9. Earth, Wind & Fire – Devotion (1975)
Any Major Live Festival – Soul Vol. 1

10. Richard ‘Dimples’ Fields feat. Betty Wright – She’s Got Papers On Me (1981)
Any Major Soul 1981

11. Prince – A Case Of You (2007)
Joni Mitchell’s Blue Recovered

12. Marlena Shaw – So Far Away (1972)
Carole King’s Tapestry Recovered

13. P.P. Arnold – Bury Me Down By The River (1969)
Barry Gibb Songbook Vol. 1

14. Grateful Dead – Ripple (1970)
Any Major Top 75 Acts (57-75)

15. Judee Sill – The Lamb Ran Away With The Crown (1971)
Any Major Albums of 1971 – Vol. 1

16. Simon & Garfunkel – America (1968)
Any Major Top 75 Acts (1-17)

17. Cisco Houston – The Killers (1968)
Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 3

18. Michèle Torr – Et le l’aime (1965)
Any Major Beatles in French Vol. 1

19. Mocedades – Eres Tu (1973)
Any Major Eurovision

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In Memoriam – December 2021

January 4th, 2022 5 comments

The Reaper was busy in December, in music as well as in other fields (Desmond Tutu! Betty White!). One singer on this list featured on two mixes here in the last few months. Canadian singer Renée Martel, who has died at 74, appeared on The Beatles in French Vol. 1 (with her take on The Night Before) and Vol. 2 (with Good Day Sunshine). The Humblebums, whose lead guitarist Tam Harvey has died, were completed by Gerry Rafferty, soon to become big with Stealers Wheel and later his mega-hit Baker Street, and Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. Another track here set a world record: hip hop outfit UTFO, whose Kangol Kid has died at 55, had a hit with Roxanne Roxanne which provoked a record 25 answer records, in what has become known as “The Roxanne Wars”.

Revisit the In Memoriam series to review who left us in the past year.

The Reluctant Monkee
With the death at 78 of Michael Nesmith, there’s only one Monkee left, Micky Dolenz. Davy Jones departed in 2012, Peter Tork in 2019. Of the four, Nesmith always looked like the one who least gave a shit about The Monkees, which probably had as much to do with his frustration at being denied musical input as it did with his natural nonchalance. Half the time, he looked like he had no idea what on earth he was doing there. And yet, once in a while, his talent for improvisation would be allowed to shine through.

Behind the scenes, he wasn’t quite so nonchalant when it came to the broken promises about his musical input. Dolenz recalled that Nesmith’s exasperation once found expression in a hole, punched into a wall. Nesmith was a fine songwriter; his Different Drums even featured in a Monkees episode, albeit in a comedic manner (he slaughters it on stage). Shortly after, it became a hit for Linda Ronstadt’s Stone Poneys.

Nesmith went on to influence the country-rock scene (some obits exaggerated when they claimed he virtually invented it) with his Second National Band. Perhaps his best work was his 1972 acoustic album And The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, on which he finally recorded his own version of Different Drum (the featured track, with Red Rhodes on pedal steel, is from that set). It’s well worth seeking out. As is its critically panned and commercially rejected album Tantamount To Treason, which proves that critics can be fools.

The Bass Producer
With drummer Sly Dunbbar, bass player Robbie Shakespeare formed the rhythm section of the pivotal reggae band Black Uhuru during its glory days from 1979 to 1987. They also recorded together as Sly & Robbie. But Shakespeare and Dunbar made their greatest impact as producers of acts like Grace Jones (including Pull Up to the Bumper), Gwen Guthrie, Joe Cocker, Ian Dury, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Jackson Browne, Cyndi Lauper, Yoko Ono, Serge Gainsbourg, No Doubt, Simply Red and more. Obviously they also produced a who-is-who of reggae, such as Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Bunny Wailer, Sugar Minott, Jimmy Cliff, Dennis Brown, Ini Kamoze, Yellowman, The Mighty Diamonds, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Shabba Ranks, Beenie Man, and more.

A few days after Shakespeare, Black Uhuru co-founder Garth Dennis passed away; none of his terms in the band coincided with Shakespeare’s. But as 2021 was fading out, guitarist Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung, who played on many Shakespeare productions (including the Grace Jones, Peter Tosh and Gwen Guthrie ones), died at the age of 71.

The Voice
For a long time in the 1960s and ’70s, soul singer Joe Simon was a frequent visitor to the US charts, with his distinctive low tenor voice (which might take some getting used to). He started out as a gospel singer before becoming a secular southern soul singer in the 1960s. Like colleagues such as Brook Benton, Simon would occasionally drift into the world of country music — almost naturally, since he was based in Nashville. One of his biggest hits was 1969’s The Chokin’ Kind, written by country songwriter Harlan Howard. Another example is the featured version of Simon’s cover of  Eddy Arnold’s country classic Misty Blue.

In the 1970s, Simon had the good fortune of becoming an early client of the great Gamble & Huff production team, which updated his sound to great effect (check out his I Found My Fad on the Any Major Fathers Vol. 2 mix). As the 1970s turned into the ‘80s, Simon returned to his gospel roots and became a singing evangelical preacher.

The Marvelette
With the death of Wanda Young, both lead singers of Motown pioneers The Marvelettes are gone. Gladys Horton, who took the lead on the group’s early hits, died in 2011. It was Horton who got her friend Young to join her band, called The Marvels, just as Motown was signing them. At first Horton took the lead vocals (such as on Please Mr Postman or Beechwood 4-5789), then she shared lead with Young on songs like Locking Up My Heart and Too Many Fish In The Sea. From 1965, Young (by now going by her married name Rogers) became the principal singer, taking the lead on hits like I’ll Keep Holding On, Don’t Mess With Bill, The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game, When You’re Young And In Love and My Baby Must Be A Magician.

The JB Drummer
Before James Brown had the mighty drummers Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks, he had the mighty Melvin Parker, brother of Maceo. And JB reckoned that Melvin was the best drummer he’d had. Up against Stubblefield and Jabo, that’s a huge compliment.

You can hear Parker on tracks like I Feel Good, Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag, and Out Of Sight. Then Parker was drafted into the army and left the J.B.s. He returned briefly in 1969/70, but soon left and joined his brother in Maceo & All the King’s Men. In 1976 he briefly returned one more time to Brown, playing on his hit Get Up Offa That Thing.

The Smokie
English pop band Smokie produced some real stinkers in their time, but some of those Chinnichap RAK songs deserve rehabilitation. Living Next Door To Alice has been sent up repeatedly (especially with the 1995 “Who the fuck is Alice?” remix), but is a catchy number. And tracks like Lay Back In The Arms Of Someone, I’ll Meet You At Midnight, If You Think You Know How To Love Me, and Don’t Play Your Rock ‘N Roll To Me are well-crafted pop music, wordy titles notwithstanding. And their harmonies were pretty good. The four members also seemed like perfectly nice guys who always had time for their fans.

Bassist Terry Uttley, who has died at 70, with his white-man afro seemed the most affable of the lot. After his wife Shirley became ill with cancer, he became a fundraiser for cancer charities. Exactly a month after her death on November 17, Terry Uttley died.

The Backing Singer-Songwriter
Even if you don’t know the name David Lasley, who has died at 74, you’ll probably have heard his high tenor voice on the backing vocals of various hits by Chic (such as Dance Dance Dance and Everybody Dance), Odyssey (such as Native New Yorker) or Sister Sledge (We Are Family, Lost In Music, He’d The Greatest Dancer, Thinking About You). He also backed acts like James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, Garland Jeffreys, Boz Scaggs, Cher, Tim Curry, Valerie Carter, Aretha Franklin, Randy Crawford, Teddy Pendergrass, Culture Club, Whitney Houston, Rita Coolidge, and especially his close friend Luther Vandross.

Lasley and Vandross did a lot of the back-up singing together, especially on the Chic collective’s songs. Luther did backing vocals on Lasley’s 1982 solo album. Among the songs on that set was the Lasley composition You Bring Me Joy, later covered by Anita Baker. Other songs Lasley wrote or co-wrote include Boz Scaggs’ JoJo, Randy Crawford’s Nightline, Chaka Khan’s Roll Me Through The Rushes, Maxine Nightingale’s Lead Me On, and more.

The Manager
Music managers don’t usually get included in this series, but I’ll make an exception for Ken Kragen, who has died at 85. A bit of an all-rounder — he was also an author and TV producer (such as for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour), among other things — Kragen managed various acts, especially from the country scene. In 1985, his charges included Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie when he was approached by Harry Belafonte to put together a charity concert to raise funds for the Ethiopian famine, following the efforts by Band Aid in the UK. Kragen didn’t think a concert would work — turns out, he was wrong — but suggested an all-star charity record in the style of Band Aid.

He got Quincy Jones to produce the record, and Kragen’s client Lionel Richie and Belafonte’s mate Michael Jackson wrote We Are The World. In the end, Kragen had to turn away stars who wanted to appear on the single, which was recorded on January 21, 1985, and released on March 7. It became the fastest-selling record in US history, despite being rather rubbish. A year later, Kragen organised the Hands Across America campaign to raise funds for hunger relief.

The Chant Guy
Especially if you follow football (or soccer), you’ll know the crowd’s chant of “olé, olé, olé”. Grand Jojo, the Belgian singer and songwriter who co-wrote and first recorded it, has died at 85. The chant first made its appearance on a 1985 record in honour of Brussel-based team RSC Anderlecht, titled Anderlecht Champions (Allez, Allez, Allez). Grand Jojo, whose Flemish records appeared under the moniker Lange Jojo, was best-known for drinking-type songs.

The Bradman Principle
It’s cruel when a beloved cultural icon dies less than three weeks short of their 100th birthday. So it was with TV actress Betty White. Long before she was famous for her roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls, White hosted her own TV variety show in the 1950s on which she would sing popular songs. In fact, she was right there in the embryonic days of TV, in 1939. With her death, a bigger chunk of entertainment history than we might have thought has departed.

And the heading to this entry? Cricket fans will know. The greatest-ever batsman was an Australian player named Don Bradman (1908-2001). In his last-ever innings, he needed to score more than one run to finish off with the landmark test average of 100 (the greatest-ever players before and after after him had averages in the 60s or 50s). In his last innings, Bradman was bowled for 1 run, meaning he ended his career with the impressive yet agonising average of 99.94. It is a bit like Betty White bowing out less than three weeks before her centenary.

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.

Grand Jojo, 85, Belgian singer and songwriter, on Dec. 1
Grand Jojo – Anderlecht Champions (Allez, Allez, Allez) (1985)

Alvin Lucier, 90, experimental composer, on Dec. 1

Melvin Parker, 77, drummer for James Brown, on Dec. 2
James Brown – Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag
Maceo & All The King’s Men – I Want To Sing (1972, on drums)
James Brown – Get Up Offa That Thing (1976, on drums)

Stonewall Jackson, 89, country singer, on Dec. 4
Stonewall Jackson – Don’t Be Angry (1964)

Toni Santagata, 85, Italian folk singer, on Dec. 5

Bill Staines, 74, folk singer-songwriter, on Dec. 5
Bill Staines – Crossing The Water (1993)

Buddy Merrill, 85, easy listening steel guitarist, on Dec. 5

Enzo Restuccia, 80, Italian drummer, on Dec. 5

John Miles, 72, British singer-songwriter, on Dec. 5
John Miles – Music (1976)
John Miles – No Hard Feelings (1978)

Oleg Emirov, 51, Russian rock composer and keyboardist, on Dec. 5

János Kóbor, 78, lead singer of Hungarian prog-rock band Omega, on Dec. 6
Omega – Stormy Fire (1974)

Margaret Everly, 102, singer and mother of the Everly Brothers, on Dec. 6

Greg Tate, 64, founder & guitarist of jazz-rock collective Burnt Sugar, music critic, on Dec. 7
Burnt Sugar feat Julie Brown & Micah Gaugh – Throw Some Light (2017)

DJ Scholar, former MC of British grime outfit Ruff Sqwad, on Dec. 7

Robbie Shakespeare, 68, Jamaican bassist with Sly & Robbie, Black Uhuru, producer, on Dec. 8
Black Uhuru – Push Push (1980, as member on bass and co-producer)
Grace Jones – I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) (1981, on bass)
Gwen Guthrie – It Should Have Been You (1982, on bass and as co-producer)
Sly & Robbie – Boops (1987)

Ralph Tavares, 79, singer with soul band Tavares, on Dec. 8
Tavares – It Only Takes A Minute (1975)
Tavares – Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel (1976)

Gil Bridges, 80, wind musician and vocalist with soul band Rare Earth, on Dec. 8
Rare Earth – Born To Wander (1970, on flute and backing vocals)
Rare Earth – I Just Want To Celebrate (1971)

Barry Harris, 91, jazz pianist, composer, arranger, on Dec. 8
Barry Harris Trio – Ladybird (1975)

Slim 400, 33, rapper, shot dead on Dec. 9

David Lasley, 74, singer, songwriter, backing singer, on Dec. 9
Chaka Khan – Roll Me Through The Rushes (1978, as writer and on backing vocals)
Boz Scaggs – JoJo (1980, as co-writer and on backing vocals)
David Lasley – You Bring Me Joy (1981, also as writer)

Steve Bronski, 61, Scottish keyboardist of Bronski Beat, announced on Dec. 9
Bronski Beat – Why? (1984, also as co-writer)

Garth Dennis, 72, Jamaican reggae musician with Black Uhuru, Wailing Souls, on Dec. 9
Garth Dennis – Slow Coach  (1974)
Wailing Soul – Soul & Power (1982, as member)

Michael Nesmith, 78, Monkees guitarist, singer-songwriter, on Dec. 10
The Monkees – The Girl I Knew Somewhere (1967, also as co-writer)
The Stone Poneys – Different Drum (1968, as writer)
Michael Nesmith & The First National Band – Joanne (1970)
Michael Nesmith – Two Different Roads (1972)

Les Emmerson, 77, singer of Canadian pop group Five Man Electrical Band, on Dec. 10
Five Man Electrical Band – I’m A Stranger Here (1972)

Thomas ‘Mensi’ Mensforth, singer of English punk band Angelic Upstarts, on Dec. 10
Angelic Upstarts – I’m An Upstart (1979)
Angelic Upstarts – Lust For Glory (1982)

Vicente Fernández, 81, Mexican singer and actor, on Dec. 12
Vicente Fernandez – Volver, Volver (1972)

Toby Slater, 42, singer-songwriter of Britpop band Catch, on Dec. 13
Catch – Dive In (1997)

Blackberri, 76, singer-songwriter, on Dec. 13

Joe Simon, 85, soul singer, on Dec.13
Joe Simon – Misty Blue (1969)
Joe Simon – Drowning In The Sea Of Love (1973)
Joe Simon – It’s Crying Time In Memphis (1975)

John Nolan, 55, guitarist of Australian punk rock band Bored!, Powder Monkeys, on Dec. 13

Phil Chen, 75, Jamaican bassist, on Dec. 14
Rod Stewart – I Was Only Joking (1977, on bass)

Ken Kragen, 85, music manager, on Dec. 14
USA For Africa – We Are The World (1985, as initiator)

Ian Worang, 47, guitarist and singer of Canadian alt.rock band Uncut, on Dec. 15
Uncut – Taken In Sleep (2004)

Leonard ‘Hub’ Hubbard, 62, bassist of The Roots (1992-2007), on Dec. 15
The Roots – What They Do (1996)

Flow La Movie, 38, Puerto Rican producer, in a plane crash on Dec. 15

Wanda Young, 78, lead singer of The Marvelettes, announced on Dec. 16
The Marvelettes – Don’t Mess With Bill (1965)
The Marvelettes – Destination Anywhere (1968)

Robie Porter, 80, Australian producer, singer and lap steel guitarist, on Dec. 16
Robie Porter – Here In My Arms (1966)
Air Supply – Lost In Love (1980, as co-producer)

Terry Uttley, 70, bass guitarist of English pop band Smokie, on Dec. 16
Smokie – Don’t Play Your Rock ‘n Roll To Me (1975)
Smokie – If You Think You Know How To Love Me (1976)

Meg Brazill, 69, bassist and singer of new wave trio Los Microwaves, on Dec. 16
Los Microwaves – T.V. In My Eye (1981)

John Morgan, 80, drummer of English novelty band The Wurzels, on Dec. 17

Vicente Feliú, 74, Cuban folk singer, on Dec. 17
Vicente Feliú – No sé quedarme (1985)

Lindsay Tebbutt, drummer of Australian rock band The Choirboys, on Dec. 17
Choirboys – Run To Paradise (1987)

Enzo Gusman, 74, Maltese singer, on Dec. 18

Tam Harvey, guitarist Scottish folk-rock band The Humblebums, on Dec. 18
The Humblebums – Shoeshine Boy (1969)

Renée Martel, 74, Canadian pop and country singer, on Dec. 18
Renée Martel – Liverpool (1969)

Kangol Kid, 55, rapper with hip hop outfit UTFO, on Dec. 18
U.T.F.O.  – Roxanne, Roxanne (1984)

Drakeo the Ruler, 28, rapper, stabbed to death on Dec. 19

Billy Conway, 65, drummer of Indie rock band Morphine, on Dec. 19
Morphine – Honey White (1995)

Carlos Marín, 53, German-born Spanish baritone with Il Divo, on Dec.19
Il Divo – Wicked Game (Melanconia) (2011)

Elio Roca, 78, Argentine singer and actor, on Dec. 19

Emil Ramsauer, 103, double bassist with Swiss Eurovision band Takasa, on Dec. 20

Paul Mitchell, singer with soul band The Floaters (“Leo, and my name is Paul”), on Dec. 20
The Floaters – I Am So Glad I Took My Time (1977)

Luboš Andršt, 73, Czech rock guitarist, on Dec. 20

Anthony Williams, 90, Trinidadian steelpan musician, on Dec. 21

Nkodo Sitony, 62, Cameroonian bikutsi singer, on Dec. 21

Robin Le Mesurier, 68, British session guitarist, on Dec. 22
Rod Stewart – Every Beat Of My Heart (1986, on guitar)

Marco Mathieu, 57, bassist of Italian punk band Negazione, on Dec. 24

J.D. Crowe, 84, bluegrass banjo player and band leader of New South, on Dec. 24
J.D. Crowe & The New South – Old Home Place (1975)

Oscar López Ruiz, 83, Argentine composer, producer and guitarist, on Dec. 24

Harvey Evans, 80, musicals actor (West Side Story, Mary Poppins), on Dec. 24
Harvey Evans & Joel Grey – All Our Friends (1968)

Janice Long, 66, English disc jockey, on Dec. 25

Guenshi Ever, Beninese singer, on Dec. 25

 ‘Le Général’ Defao, 62, Congolese rhumba singer-songwriter, on Dec. 27
Defao – Amour scolaire (1992)

Raymond Fau, 85, French singer-songwriter, on Dec. 27

Pavel Chrastina, 81, bassist, singer, songwriter with Czech rock group Olympic, on Dec. 28

Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung, 71, Jamaican guitarist and arranger, on Dec. 28
Mike Chung & The Now Generation – Breezing (1972)
Grace Jones – I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) (1981, on guitar; see Robbie Shakespeare)
Gwen Guthrie – It Should Have Been You (1982, on guitar; see Robbie Shakespeare)

Rosa Lee Brooks, soul singer, on December 28

Paolo Giordano, 59, Italian guitarist, on Dec. 29

Betty White, 99, actress, comedian, occasional singer, on Dec. 31
Betty White – Nevertheless (I’m In Love With You) (1954)
Luciana feat. Betty White – I’m Still Hot (2011)

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

December 30th, 2021 1 comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danny Baker, back in the day

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

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

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

[pre-PC preparations]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

______________

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

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

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

Categories: Disco, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major New Year’s

December 24th, 2021 2 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More CD-R Mixes

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Any Major Santa Claus

December 16th, 2021 2 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GET IT! or HERE!

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

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

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

Any Major Gals’ Christmas

December 9th, 2021 9 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GET IT! or HERE!

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

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

In Memoriam – November 2021

December 2nd, 2021 4 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Any Major Hits from 1961

November 25th, 2021 1 comment

 

One last anniversary mix before we leave the Year 2021, a date which must have seemed like the calendar of science fiction 60 years ago, when all the songs on this collection were hits. Where are those flying cars we were promised?

Unlike the Any Major Hits from 1971 mix, which drew from both US and UK (and European) charts, the 1961 selection is very US-centric, though some of these songs charted in Britain, too. It was a strange time for pop music, it seems — an interregnum after the frenzy of Rock & Roll and the advent of the British Invasion, the innovation of bands like The Beach Boys, the rise of soul music and Motown, the anarchic power of garage rock. Within five years, there’d be The Beatles’ Revolver album and Brian Wilson’s Good Vibrations (five years ago, in our money, is 2016). Within six years, there’d be Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townsend doing violence to guitars on stage at Monterey. In 1961, you didn’t see Dick Dale smashing his Fender or Duanne Eddy setting his Gretsch on fire!

But let the record also show that the music of 1961 was the context in which Lennon & McCartney and their cohorts were consumers. In don’t dare to guess how many of these featured songs they knew, but they certainly listened to early Motown, represented here by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, and other R&B records. And Ricky Nelson’s featured Everlovin’, a cover of a record by the Australian band The Crescents, has all the hallmarks of the early Beatles sound. Did George Harrison know the song? Well, it did reach #23 in the UK. And even 35 years later, Van Morrison based his song Days Like This on The Shirelles’ 1961 hit Mama Said.

Of course, at the risk of stating the blatantly obvious, the 1960s were a time of rapid epochal change in the West. But 1961 doesn’t seem part of the 1960s. And some of the music here illustrates this. The musical Grease is generally accepted to be set in 1959, the movie in 1958 (both set at the fictional Rydell High School, named after Bobby Rydell, one of the artists on this mix). Almost any of the tracks here could have featured among the covers on the soundtrack of Grease, the movie.

And one track here was virtually copied for the closing number of Grease, We Go Together, with its doo wop-inspired nonsense lyrics. Barry Mann’s Who Put The Bomp set a template for the Grease song, with its “Boogity boogity boogity” and “Bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop”.

Both songs include the line “Rama lama ding dong” (slightly adapted in the Grease number). That was, of course, the title of the hit for doo wop band The Edsels. I don’t know whether Mann borrowed from the Edsels or they from Mann (who’d become one of the great Brill Building songwriters with his wife, Cynthia Weil). Either way, it sounds more 1950s than 1960s.

Doo wop was still big in 1961, and now black artists actually had hits with their songs, rather than white artists cashing in on their talent. By 1961, the US charts were far more integrate than they had been in the 1950s. On this mix, about half the acts are black. Among them are The Pips, featuring the young Gladys Knight on lead vocals.

I’ll leave you with an observation about vocal styles on two tracks on this mix:  When the UK singer Helen Shapiro recorded her international mega-hit Walkin’ Back to Happiness, she was 14 but sounded twice her age. But when the recently late Sue Thompson had a hit with Sad Movies, she was 36 but sounded like she was 14.

In other words, Thompson was old enough to be Helen’s mother — and in 1961, pop music has something of a mother obsession. On this collection, we have Mama issuing sound counsel to Smokey Robinson and The Shirelles, is lied to by Sue Thompson, provides Kenny Dino (in the bonus tracks) with guilt-inflicting information, and Ernie K-Doe has trouble with his mother-in-law. Still, the CD-R length mix ends with daddy coming home.

So, yes, there are two playlists: the CD-R length one and another with the 18 bonus tracks. I won’t list them, but I’ll point out one: The Impressions’ Gypsy Women, which in its original version already captures the sound of ’60s soul, and so is very much ahead of its time. Other acts among the bonus tracks include Farts Domino, The Shadows, Roy Orbison (with a song that sounds like Only The Lonely recycled), Elvis, Bobby Darin, and a young Tony Orlando.

The mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-ramalamadingdonged covers. The text above is included in an illustrated PDF booklet. PW in comments.

1. Chubby Checker – Let’s Twist Again
2. Bobby Lewis – Tossin’ And Turnin’
3. Chris Kenner – I Like It Like That (Part 1)
4. The Drifters – I Count The Tears
5. Eddie Cochran – Weekend
6. Ray Peterson – Corinna Corinna
7. The Everly Brothers – Walk Right Back
8. Don Gibson – Sea Of Heartbreak
9. Patsy Cline – I Fall To Pieces
10. Sue Thompson – Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)
11. Brenda Lee – Emotions
12. Connie Francis – Where The Boys Are
13. Helen Shapiro – Walking Back To Happiness
14. The Jive Five – My True Story
15. The Shirelles – Mama Said
16. Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry – (I Don’t Know Why) But I Do
17. LaVern Baker – Saved
18. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Shop Around
19. Sam Cooke – That’s It-I Quit-I’m Moving On
20. Bobby Rydell – Good Time Baby
21. Del Shannon – Runaway
22. The Edsels – Rama Lama Ding Dong
23. The Chimes – I’m In The Mood For Love
24. Ricky Nelson – Everlovin’
25. Barry Mann – Who Put The Bomp (In The Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)
26. The Dovells – Bristol Stomp
27. Bobby Vee – Run To Him
28. Curtis Lee – Pretty Little Angel Eyes
29. The Pips – Every Beat Of My Heart
30. Ernie K-Doe – Mother-In-Law
31. The Belmonts – Tell Me Why
32. Shep and The Limelites – Daddy’s Home

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Previously in Any Major Hits:
Any Major Hits From 1944
Any Major Hits From 1970
Any Major Hits From 1971
Life In Vinyl 1981

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Any Major Beatles In French Vol. 2

November 18th, 2021 9 comments

 

 

Here’s the keenly-awaited second volume of The Beatles in French. How do I know it is keenly-awaited? Because The Beatles in French Vol. 1 was unexpectedly popular, with some readers saying they can’t wait for Volume 2.

This second volume covers the French versions of Beatles songs from years 1965 to 1970, or from Rubber Soul to Let It Be. And this means that the new volume includes the French cover of the one Beatles song which practically every Beatles fan of any rank wants to hear performed in French: Michelle. Or, in the case of the cover version, Michel, for in the 1966 rendering by Danielle Denin, Michelle becomes a Michel, and Danielle inserts herself into the proceedings as well. Cependant, les mots vont-ils encore bien ensemble en Français?

The first mix covered the Beatles output over just three years, and the second covers almost six. The compulsion to cover The Beatles was clearly driven by the Yé-yé sub-culture; once that faded, the need to record Beatles songs apparently diminished. One might think that the more mature Beatles songs might lend themselves to the stylings of the chanson, but that doesn’t seem to have panned out that way. There a few exceptions: Johnny Hallyday, still rocking furiously on Volume 1, pulls Girl into that direction on his 1966 recording, Eddy Mitchell (whom we met on Vol. 1) gives us a hint of how good a Gilbert Bécaud version of Fool On The Hill might have been, and Canada’s Gérard Saint Paul shows why The Long And Winding Road is really a chanson. But was there no chansoneer to tackle Something?

If it is your opinion that it is impossible to drag the regrettable Yellow Submarine from the bottom of the ocean, I commend to you the cover by veteran entertainer Maurice Chevalier, who gives the maritime vessel a new coat of paint, and is now travelling on the Green Submarine.

Almost all songs here are more or less contemporaries of the Beatles originals. Anne-Renée took her time, releasing her take of You Won’t See Me nine years after the original appeared on Rubber Soul. By far the newest cover kicks off this mix: Drive My Car, covered in 1998 as Tu peux conduire ma bagnole by German-French synth-pop duo Stereo Total, whose singer Françoise Cactus we lost in February this year.Comme toujours, la compilation est programmée pour tenir sur un CD-R standard, comprend des pochettes faites maison, et ce texte au format PDF. Mot-de-passe dans la section Commentaires.

1. Stereo Total – Tu peux conduire ma bagnole (Drive My Car) (1998)
2. Anne-Renée – Je veux savoir (You Won’t See Me) (1974)
3. Stone – Seul (Norwegian Wood) (1966)
4. François Fabrice – Les Garçons sont Fous (Think For Yourself) (1966)
5. Danielle Denin – Michel (Michelle) (1966)
6. Johnny Halliday – Je l’aime (Girl) (1966)
7. Erick Saint Laurent – Eleonor Rigby (1966)
8. Renée Martel – Entre tes bras (Good Day Sunshine) (1969)
9. Johnny Hallyday – Je Veux Te Graver Dans Ma Vie (Got To Get You Into My Life) (1966)
10. Olivier Despax – Dis-Moi (Here, There And Everywhere) (1967)
11. Maurice Chevalier – Le sous-marin vert (Yellow Submarine) (1967)
12. Les Blue Notes – Tout peut s’Arranger (We Can Work It Out) (1966)
13. F.R. David – Il est plus facile (Strawberry Fields) (1967)
14. Dominique Walter – Penny Lane (1967)
15. Donald Lautrec – L’amour quand tu es là (With A Little Help From My Friends) (1969)
16. Le 25ième Regiment – Lucie Sous un Ciel de Diamants (Lucy In The Sky…) (1967)
17. Erick Saint-Laurent – C’est Devenu Un Homme (She’s Leaving Home) (1967)
18. Marcel Amont – Dans 45 ans (When I’m 64) (1967)
19. Les Baronets – La même chanson (Your Mother Should Know) (1968)
20. Eddy Mitchell – Le fou sur la colline (The Fool On A Hill) (1968)
21. Les Intrigantes – Hello, Goodbye (1968)
22. Bruce Huard – Lady Madonna (1968)
23. Francoise d’Assise & Michel Pagliaro – Hey Jude (1968)
24. Patrick Zabé – Oh! Darling (1969)
25. Marie Jane – Suis-moi (Two Of Us) (1972)
26. Gérard Saint Paul – Let It Be (1970)
27. Gérard Saint Paul – Le Long Chemin Vers Toi (The Long and Winding Road) (1970)

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Any Major Albums of the Year: 1971 Vol. 2

November 9th, 2021 5 comments

Here’s a second lot of “best albums of 1971”, following on from the Top 20 of that year’s LPs. On any other day, half of these albums might have made it into the Top 20, especially the Baby Huey album, which provides the stand-out track on this collection. Huey’s psychedelic cover of Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come is quite extraordinary; I doubt that Cooke had any references to “funny cigarettes” in mind when he wrote the song.

The album, The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend, was released posthumously: James Ramey, as Baby Huey’s mom knew him, died at 26 on 28 October 1970.

For the past 30 years, you’ve been lucky if a your favourite act released a new album every two years; in 1971 it was not uncommon that an act would release two a year. Two such acts feature on both volumes of the best albums of 1971: Isaac Hayes (Black Moses and the Shaft soundtrack) and Carole King (Tapestry and Music, the latter released as the year ended).

I might have afforded a much less known singer the same accolade: soul singer Margie Joseph, who released a pair of superb soul albums in 1971: Makes A New Impression and Phase II. I picked the latter, but there’s little to separate these two sets.

One album that just slipped into the Top 40 is Stevie Wonder’s Where I’m Coming From. It’s a mere training run for that incredible sequence of Wonder albums that would start with 1972’s Music Of My Mind.

Obviously I was too young to buy any of these albums in 1971 (as a five-year-old, I’d probably have bought something by Dutch child-singer Heintje). But by the time I was 18, I had three of them: Led Zep’s unnamed album (generally called IV), The Who’s Who’s Next?, David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. And possibly Little Feat’s eponymous debut on tape.

These two mixes serve as good companions to Any Major Hits from 1971 and Any Major Soul 1971.

As always, CD-R length, home-nostalgiaed covers, text in illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Who – Behind Blue Eyes (Who’s Next?)
2. Led Zeppelin – Misty Mountain Hop (IV)
3. Sly & the Family Stone – Family Affair (There’s A Riot Going On)
4. Shuggie Otis – Strawberry Letter 23 (Freedom Flight)
5. Baby Huey – A Change Is Going To Come (The Baby Huey Story)
6. Stevie Wonder – If Your Really Love Me (Where I’m Coming From)
7. Carole King – Carry Your Load (Music)
8. Rod Stewart – (Find A) Reason To Believe (Every Picture Tells A Story)
9. David Bowie – Oh! You Pretty Things (Hunky Dory)
10. Serge Gainsbourg – Ballade De Melody Nelson (Histoire de Melody Nelson)
11. Leonard Cohen – Famous Blue Raincoat (Songs Of Love And Hate)
12. Little Feat – Strawberry Flats (Little Feat)
13. Don McLean – Empty Chairs (American Pie)
14. Dolly Parton – The Way I See You (Coat Of Many Colors)
15. Carpenters – Let Me Be The One (Carpenters)
16. The Stylistics – Betcha By Golly, Wow (The Stylistics)
17. Margie Joseph – That Other Woman Got My Man And Gone (Phase II)
18. Isaac Hayes – Theme from Shaft (Shaft)
19. S.O.U.L. – Soul (What Is It)
20. The Persuasions – Good Times (Street Corner Symphony)

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