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Life In Vinyl 1987 Vol. 1

February 13th, 2020 1 comment

The first half of my 1987 was tinged by retro, much as the UK charts were. As the year begun, Jackie Wilson was at #1 with Reet Petite; and the follow-up re-releases — The Sweetest Feeling and Higher And Higher — also charted well. In February, Ben E. King topped the charts with Stand By Me, thanks to the Levis 501s commercial. Percy Sledge hit #2 with When A Man Loves A Woman around the same time, also on the back of a Levi’s ad. In April Doris Day’s 1964 hit Move Over Darling returned to the charts, also thanks to a commercial. And so on.

I loved it, especially the soul revival, which found fine expression in Wendy May’s Friday night club Locomotion at the Kentish Town & Country Club in north London, a jog away from my flat. The rules of playlisting were strict: nothing but soul music from the 1960s and ’70s (popular soul, not the specialists’ rare tracks scene of Northern Soul).

If that rule was broken, then I recall only one instance. Local-based Terence Trent D’Arby, a US singer who had just arrived from Germany a few months earlier, had his debut single out. If You Let Me Stay, a superb track with a bit of a ’60s soul vibe, would be played at the Locomotion, doubtless helping it into the charts. I certainly bought the single well before it was a hit.

There were other soul singles which I thought deserved to be hits. Paul Johnson’s When Love Comes Calling, on which the singer hits a hell of a long falsetto note, unaccountably stalled at #52. Produced by Junior Giscombe, it should have been a hit. But, as we have seen in the past few years, the British public is an idiot.

Likewise, the lush Don’t Come To Stay by Hot House barely dented the charts. It spent a week at #74 in February 1987. A reissue troubled the charts in September 1988 to the tune of #70 (the good follow-up to the ’87 release, The Way We Talk, didn’t even chart!). The singer of Hot House was Heather Small, still with an attractive soul voice. She later switched her vocals into foghorn mode for the successful but mostly regrettable M-People.

In April ’87 I saw Johnny Clegg & Savuka at the Kentish Town & Country Club. I had seen Clegg with his previous band Juluka several times in South Africa. There wasn’t much of a difference, and when they played Scatterlings Of Africa, to me it was just one of several Juluka songs they played. But on the Savuka LP Third World Child, it had been re-recorded, and to good effect. The single of it did little to bother the charts: it spent one week at #75 (the Juluka version had peaked at #44 in 1983).

Clegg was, of course, an icon of the struggle against apartheid, though his audience of South African expats at the gig probably didn’t all share his views. Labi Siffre’s Something Inside So Strong riffed along the same lines. A song about apartheid, its single cover showed a segregation sign in South Africa. Songs like these and the cultural boycott helped mobilise international opposition against apartheid. We didn’t know it then, but within less than three years, apartheid would fold. Don’t let anybody say that cultural boycotts of evil regimes don’t work. They do, and that’s why evil regimes don’t like them.

In my memory, I tended to think of Duran Duran’s Skin Trade — a song that was clearly more than a little influenced by Prince — as a comeback single. But it wasn’t. Notorious had been a hit just a few months earlier. But Skin Trade, which stalled at #22, did signal an end to Duran’s run of ten Top 10 hits on the trot.

If you asked me for my favourite track of 1987, I might be tempted to name Sherrick’s Just Call, a soul groover with a great bassline. That would be the emotional answer, rather than one propelled by discernment of artistic merit. Just Call smells like 1987. It’s a fine track, even if Sherrick looked a lot like a 1980s soul singer cliché. Alas, he died in 1999 at the age of only 41.

So, let’s revisit the first eight months of 1987, with a second part coming later this year.

1. Blow Monkeys – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way
2. A-ha – Manhattan Skyline
3. Simply Red – The Right Thing
4. Carly Simon – Coming Around Again
5. Duran Duran – Skin Trade
6. Hot House – Don’t Come To Stay
7. Paul Johnson – When Love Comes Calling
8. Terence Trent D’Arby – If You Let Me Stay
9. Sly & Robbie – Boops
10. Johnny Clegg & Savuka – Scatterlings Of Africa
11. Labi Siffre – Something Inside So Strong
12. Jody Watley – Looking For A New Love
13. ABC – When Smokey Sings
14. The Christians – Hooverville (And They Promised Us The World)
15. The Cure – Catch
16. Echo and the Bunnymen – Lips Like Sugar
17. Heart – Alone
18. Sherrick – Just Call
19. Jonathan Butler – Lies

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Any Major Women Vol. 2

January 23rd, 2020 2 comments

 

Here is a second tribute to all the girls I’ve known before. As with Any Major Women Vol. 1, here I want to be clear that I’m talking about women who have been in my life in some way or another — as family, friends, loves and lovers.

Again, the lyrics of the songs applied to their names obviously don’t necessarily reflect my relationship with or feelings about the women in question. There’s nothing to be inferred from the song choices.

The Nina in my life certainly was not a gay woman trying to use me for a beard, as she is in Jens Lekman’s marvellous song. And “my” Sandra was  definitely not lousy with virginity until she was legally wed. I was quite happy to say good-bye to “my” Nadine. And Dawn must stay around. But I’m sure Peggy doesn’t remember me. I do hope the girl referenced by the Claude King song remembers me for that very brief encounter we shared very many years ago…

I must confess that I have never known a Jolene; the titular character stands in for a for an erstwhile flame with a very similar name.

As always, CD-R length (plus one bonus track), home-cooked covers, PW in comments.

1. Toto – Pamela (1988)
2. Steely Dan – Peg (1977)
3. Hall & Oates – Sara Smile (1975)
4. Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Jennifer She Said (1988)
5. Elvis Costello – Alison (1977)
6. Mindy Smith – Jolene (2004)
7. Indigo Girls – Get Out The Map (Joni, Suzanne & Beth, 1997)
8. Jessi Colter – I’m Not Lisa (Lisa & Julie, 1975)
9. Claude King – Anna (1965)
10. The Four Seasons – Dawn (Go Away) (1964)
11. Four Tops – Bernadette (1967)
12. Sarah Vaughan – Bianca (1949)
13. Paul & Paula – Hey, Paula (1962)
14. The Passions – Gloria (1959)
15. Ray Peterson – Corinna Corinna (1960)
16. Carpenters – Eve (1969)
17. Elton John – Lady Samantha (1974)
18. Jimi Hendrix Experience – The Wind Cries Mary (1967)
19. Neutral Milk Hotel – Naomi (1995)
20. The National – Karen (2005)
21. Jens Lekman – A Postcard To Nina (2007)
22. Mungo Jerry – Hello Nadine (1974)
23. Frank Sinatra – Tina (1963)
24. Stockard Channing – Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee (Sandra, 1978)
Bonus: Boz Scaggs – Simone (1980)

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Any Major Favourites 2019 – Vol. 2

January 16th, 2020 8 comments

This is the second compilation of tracks that appeared on mixes posted in 2019 (and, in one case, in the last days of 2918), with links to the particular posts — just in case you missed something good, following the first collection posted last week.

I have been wondering if I should switch this operation to the posting of Spotify playlists, to keep up with the times. Do you, the reader, have any opinions either way on such a move?

As always, this mix is timed to fit on as standard CD-R, but this time without covers. PW in comments.

  1. The Who – Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) (1991)
    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Recovered
  2. Steely Dan – Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More (1975)
    NYC: Any Major Mix Vol. 3
  3. Giorgio Moroder – Arizona Man (1970)
    The Originals: Schlager edition
  4. Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne – Dance Across The Floor (1978)
    Any Major Disco Vol. 7 – Party Like It’s 1978
  5. New Order – Shell Shock (1986)
    Life In Vinyl 1986 Vol. 1
  6. Chris Rea – On The Beach (Summer ‘88) (1988)
    Any Major Beach Vol. 3
  7. Lucinda Williams – Are You Alright? (2007)
    Any Major Music from ‘The Sopranos’ Vol. 2
  8. Mindy Smith – Fighting For It All (2004)
    Any Major ABC: 2000s
  9. Rusty Wier – High Road, Low Road (1976)
    Any Major ABC of Country
  10. George Harrison – You (1975)
    Beatles Reunited 77 (1977)
  11. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Turn Your Lights Down Low (1977)
    Any Major Babymaking Music Vol. 1
  12. Sly and the Family Stone – Stand! (1969)
    Any Major Woodstock
  13. Tammi Terrell – All I Do Is Think About You (1965)
    Any Major Originals – Motown
  14. The Young Rascals – A Girl Like You (1967)
    Any Major Blue-Eyed Soul
  15. Laura Nyro – Wedding Bell Blues (1967)
    The Originals – 1960s Vol. 1
  16. Arthur Alexander – Anna (Go To Him) (1962)
    The Originals: Beatles
  17. Louis Jordan – Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby (1944)
    Any Major Hits From 1944
  18. Sarah Vaughan – You Never Give Me Your Money (1981)
    Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
  19. Edith Piaf – Notre-Dame de Paris (1952)
    Any Major Churches

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Any Major Favourites 2019 – Vol. 1

January 9th, 2020 5 comments

As every year, the mixes of the past year 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 mix here or there which you missed.

The past year I have focussed especially on the series of lesser-known originals of famous hits, sorted by themes. I’ve posted one a month, except in December and the preceding month, when I posted a mix of samples used in famous hits. I plan to continue with The Originals.

I’ve also been asked to carry on with the Any Major Soul series, which is going to hit the 1980s. One series which is inevitably coming to a close in 2020 is the Beatles Recovered series, whereby I have marked the 50th anniversary of the release of a Beatles LP with a mix of covers of the songs on that album. The final Beatles LP, Let It Be, came out in 1970, so in April that series will end. Or will it? I started the series with A Hard Day’s Night in 2014; so there are two uncovered albums, Please Please Me and With The Beatles. I might still cover them.

Another series I’ll terminate is Life In Vinyl, which saw two volumes for 1986 last year. I might still do a 1987 mix, marking ten years on from the first of these compilations. But I don’t think these mixes are popular anymore.

So, to the first of the Any Major Favourites of 2019 mixes.

  1. Camille Yarbrough – Take Yo’ Praise (1975)
    Any Major Original Samples Vol. 1
  2. Shuggie Otis – Strawberry Letter #23 (1971)
    The Originals – Soul Vol. 1
  3. Jimi Hendrix – Angel (1971)
    Any Major Babymaking Music Vol. 2
  4. Alex Harvey – Delta Dawn (1971)
    Any Major Originals: The 1970s Vol. 2
  5. Jerry Jeff Walker – Mr. Bojangles (1968)
    Any Major Dogs
  6. Robber Barons – Music For A Hanging (2004)
    Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 2
  7. Neil Young – Harvest Moon (1992)
    Any Major Moon
  8. Bruce Springsteen – Growin’ Up (1978)
    Any Major Teenagers
  9. Keith Whitley – When You Say Nothing At All (1988)
    The Originals: 1990s & 2000s
  10. Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom (1986)
    Life In Vinyl 1986 Vol. 2
  11. Carole King – It’s Going To Take Some Time (1970)
    The Originals: Carpenters edition
  12. Chaka Khan – Any Old Sunday (1981)
    Any Major Week Vol. 1
  13. Kool & the Gang – Too Hot (1979)
    Any Major Soul 1979
  14. Lou Rawls – The Alphabet (1970)
    Any Major Sesame Street Pops
  15. Richie Havens – Lady Madonna (1968)
    Beatles Recovered – Yellow Submarine
  16. Country Joe McDonald – Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die Rag (Live, 1969)
    Any Major Woodstock
  17. Stuart Hamblen – This Ole House (1954)
    The Originals: Rock & Roll Years
  18. The Bobettes – Mr. Lee (1957)
    Any Major ABC: 1950s

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Any Major Disco Vol. 8 – Party Like It’s 1979

December 27th, 2019 1 comment

 

As every year, we anticipate New Year’s Eve with a disco mix. Like last year, the theme is the stuff the people boogied down to 40 years ago. So put on your best satin trousers, say goodbye to the heady 1970s and dance into the 1980s.

Some of the songs have run on previous disco and funk mixes.

And so I wish you a good journey into the 2020s. May it be a year and decade of fulfilled dreams, good fortune, excellent health and always good music for us all!

As always, CD-R length, home-shuffled covers, PW in comments (which are also useful for saying hello)…

1. Amii Stewart – Knock On Wood
2. Edwin Starr – H.A.P.P.Y. Radio
3. The Gibson Brothers – Que Sera Mi Vida
4. Earth, Wind & Fire and The Emotions – Boogie Wonderland
5. Al Hudson & The Partners – You Can Do It
6. Deniece Williams – I’ve Got The Next Dance
7. Isaac Hayes – Don’t Let Go
8. Roy Ayers – Don’t Stop The Feeling
9. The Neville Brothers – Sweet Honey Dripper
10. Jackie Moore – This Time Baby
11. Ashford & Simpson – Found A Cure
12. Shalamar – The Second Time Around
13. Sister Sledge – We Are Family
14. Chic – My Feet Keep Dancing
15. Diana Ross – No One Gets The Prize
16. Narada Michael Walden – Tonight I’m Alright
17. Inner Life – I’m Caught Up In A One Night Love Affair
18. Barbra Streisand & Donna Summer – No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)

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Any Major Original Samples Vol. 1

November 21st, 2019 2 comments

 

 

The art of the sample has been diluted by the lazy poaching of popular grooves, hooks and riffs, but it hasn’t always been like that. Some of the best-known samples aren’t even known to be the work of other people.

Not many people know, for example, that the hook of Grandmaster Melle Mel’s White Lines was lifted from a rather obscure piece called Cavern by Liquid Liquid (like all tracks mentioned here, it features on this mix). Or that Tupac & Dr Dre’s California Love took the whole chorus (“California knows how to party, in the city of LA…”) and more from a 1982 track by Ronnie Hudson and The Streetpeople.

A well-deployed sample can suck over the life out of the song it has been taken from. If you listen to the horn blast on the Chi-Lites’ Are You My Woman, try not to do the “oh-oh oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” hic-cupping thing in Beyoncé’s Crazy In Love. Or try not launching into Lauryn Hill mode when the wonderful Fifth Dimension track kicks in, or avoid conversing about sex when you hear the horn hook in The Staple Singers’ I’ll Take You There.

And if you manage to not do any of those, you will still go, “All I want to do is zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zoom and a poom-poom” when you hear the Lafayette Afro Rock Band’s Darkest Light.

 

A couple of songs were more than sampled. Fatboy Slim reworked performance-poet Camille Yarbrough’s delicious 1975 sex anthem Take Yo’ Praise as Praise You, but it’s more cover (though not quite) than sample. In fairness, Yarbrough has received the full writing credit.

Even more a virtual cover is Mariah Carey’s mega-hit Fantasy, which reworks the Tom Tom Club’s 1981 anthem to black musicians, Genius Of Love. Of course, Tina Weymouth and colleagues got a co-writing credit

Some of the tracks that are sampled include themselves samples. For example, the widely-sampled (Not Just) Knee Deep by Funkadelic (for example in De La Soul’s Me Myself And I) references James Brown’s Ants In My Pants.

The mix closes with the godfather of sampled tracks, by the Godfather of Soul: Funky Drummer, by James Brown & The J.B.s., which has provided drum breaks for Public Enemy’s Fight The Power and the Powerpuff Girl’s theme song. Clyde Stubblefield, who played the drum break, didn’t get a writer’s credit on Funky Drummer — the most-reused bit of music, and the creator went empty-handed.

As ever, CD-R length and home-hooked-and-riffed covers. PW in comments.

 

1. Ronnie Hudson and The Streetpeople – West Coast Poplock (1982)
The Borrower: 2Pac feat. Dr. Dre – California Love (Vocals/Lyrics)
Also: Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg – Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang (Vocals/Lyrics)
Also: N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton (Vocals/Lyrics)
Also: Mos Def – Habitat (Vocals/Lyrics)

2. Leon Haywood – I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You (1975)
The Borrower: Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg – Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang (Multiple Elements)

3. Liquid Liquid – Cavern (1983)
The Borrower: Grandmaster Melle Mel – White Lines (Multiple Elements)

4. The Chi-Lites – Are You My Woman (Tell Me So) (1970)
The Borrower: Beyoncé – Crazy In Love (Multiple Elements)
Also: Kool G Rap & DJ Polo feat. Big Daddy Kane – #1 With A Bullet (Hook)

5. The Moments – Love On A Two-Way Street (1970)
The Borrower: Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind (Multiple Elements)

6. The 5th Dimension – Together Let’s Find Love (1971)
The Borrower: Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing) (Hook)

7. Pete Rodriguez – I Like It Like That (1967)
The Borrower: Cardi B – I Like It (Multiple Elements)

8. Peggy Lee – Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay (1969)
The Borrower: Beastie Boys – Ch-Check It Out (Multiple Elements)

9. Bill Withers – Grandma’s Hands (1971)
The Borrower: Blackstreet – No Diggity (Multiple Elements)

10. The Staple Singers – I’ll Take You There (1972)
The Borrower: Salt-N-Pepa – Let’s Talk About Sex (Hook)
Also: Eazy-E – Boyz-N-The-Hood (Hook)

11. Camille Yarbrough – Take Yo’ Praise (1975)
The Borrower: Fat Boy Slim – Praise You (Vocals/Lyrics)

12. Kool & the Gang – Summer Madness (4:17)
The Borrower: DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince – Summertime (Multiple Elements)
Also: Snoop Dogg – Doggy Dogg World (Sound Effect)

13. Tom Tom Club – Genius Of Love (1981)
The Borrower: Mariah Carey – Fantasy (Multiple Elements)
Also: Mark Morrison – Return Of The Mack (Drums)

14. Aerosmith – Dream On (1973)
The Borrower: Eminem – Sing For The Moment (Multiple Elements)

15. The Lafayette Afro Rock Band – Darkest Light (1974)
The Borrower: Wreckx-N-Effect – Rump Shaker (Hook)
Also: Jay-Z – Show Me What You Got (Hook)

16. Funkadelic – (Not Just) Knee Deep (1979)
The Borrower: De La Soul – Me Myself and I (Multiple Elements)
Also: Snoop Dogg – Who Am I (What’s My Name)? (Bass)
Also: Black Eyed Peas – Shut The Phunk Up (Multiple Elements)

17. Sly & the Family Stone – Trip To Your Heart (1967)
The Borrower: LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out (Multiple Elements)

18. James Brown – Funky Drummer (1970)
The Borrower: Public Enemy – Fight The Power / Bring The Noise (Drums)
Also: Dr. Dre – Let Me Ride (Drums)
Also: N.W.A – Fuck Tha Police (Drums)
Also: LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out (Drums)
Also: Fine Young Cannibals – I’m Not the Man I Used To Be (Multiple Elements)
Also: The Powerpuff Girls Theme (drums)

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More Originals:
The Originals: The Classics
The Originals: Soul
The Originals: Motown
The Originals: Rock & Roll Years
The Originals: 1960s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1970s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1970s Vol. 2
The Originals: 1980s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1990s & 2000s
The Originals: Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 1
The Originals: Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 2
The Originals: Beatles Edition
The Originals: Carpenters Edition
The Originals: Burt Bacharach Edition
The Originals: Schlager Edition
The Originals: : Christmas Edition

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Any Major Week Vol. 1

November 14th, 2019 3 comments

 

This is one of the earlier themed mixes I’ve posted, back in 2011 when young Rebecca Black got heaps of ugly abuse for liking Fridays and ordering seating arrangements in cars (read my defence of Black). I’m re-upping this mix because it’s so good that I still return to it occasionally — what a trio of starter tracks! I’ve made myself a follow-up mix which I also enjoy; it will be posted some time in the future.

The theme is obvious: songs about the days in the week, in sequence until time of the standard CD-R runs out, on a Saturday night.

As always, CD-R length, home-dated covers, PW in comments.

1. Marvin Sease – Friday (2001)
2. Dee Dee Warwick – Another Lonely Saturday (Baby I’m Yours) (1965)
3. Chaka Khan – Any Old Sunday (1981)
4. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – Monday Monday (2006)
5. Cat Stevens – Tuesday’s Dead (1971)
6. Simon & Garfunkel – Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. (1964)
7. Harry Nilsson – (Thursday) Here’s Why I Did Not Go To Work Today (1976)
8. Steely Dan – Black Friday (1975)
9. Nick Drake – Saturday Sun (1970)
10. Velvet Underground – Sunday Morning (1967)
11. John Prine – Long Monday (2005)
12. Chairmen Of The Board – Everyday’s Tuesday (1970)
13. Ronnie Dyson – A Wednesday In Your Garden (1973)
14. Matt Costa – Sweet Thursday (2006)
15. The Pale Fountains – Beyond Fridays Field (1984)
16. Josh Rouse – Saturday (2005)
17. Laura Nyro & Labelle – I Met Him On A Sunday (1971)
18. Fats Domino – Blue Monday (1956)
19. Yazoo – Tuesday (1982)
20. Lisa Loeb – Waiting For Wednesday (1995)
21. The Futureheads – Thursday (2006)
22. Jens Lekman – Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo (2007)
23. Walker Brothers – Saturday’s Child (1966)

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Any Major Sesame Street Pops

October 31st, 2019 8 comments

 

 

On November 10 it will be 50 years since the Sesame Street theme first announced sunny days on which everything is A-OK on the US public TV channel PBS. And not only has the show kept running ever since 1969, it has also spread across the world.

I remember well watching the pilot aired on West-German TV in 1972, flighted in the English original on regional channels to let parents decide whether they would like to expose their kids to this kind of thing. My mother had me and my brother, 6 and 4 years old, watch it with her, and afterwards asked us what we thought of it. Oh yes, yes, yes, please! A few months later, Sesamstrasse debuted on German TV — except in conservative Bavaria (the German Texas), where all those progressive teaching methods and racial mixing were unwelcome.

 

 

At the age of six going on seven, I was a bit beyond the target audience. But no matter, I loved it. Sesame Street taught me a lot about social empathy. It gave me the idea that most Americans were black. While my home was normatively white (though that was changing already), I learnt that not all places are like that, and I learnt that people of different backgrounds could and should be friends. Thanks to Susan and Gordon and Bon and Mr Hooper (or, in German, Herr Huber).

Obviously, I loved the muppets. I loved Ernie and wanted to be him, though I identified more with Bert’s sensible character. I loved the Cookie Monster, even though I thought he was quite rude and selfish. And above all, I loved Oscar the Grouch — so much so that I dressed as him for a fancy-dress party within weeks of Sesamstrasse debuting. He remains my favourite, and I still find him very funny.

Most of the great songs of early Sesame Street were translated into German for Sesamstrasse: Rubber Duckie; C Is For Cookie, I Love Trash, and so on. When I introduced them in English to Any Minor Dude back in the 1990s, I could relive my childhood as he lived his (though his Sesame experience also included Elmo, who arrived long after my time).

 

 

I don’t remember if the guest appearances by singing stars were part of the German Sesame Street. I discovered them later on, in the age of YouTube. Those are wonderful. Some singers performed their songs straight (more or less): on this mix, Stevie Wonder jams Superstition while name-dropping muppets; José Feliciano croons on the brownstone steps; Paul Simon clearly got annoyed with the kids; Cab Calloway revisits his ancient hits.

Some sang Sesame Street standards. On this mix Lou Rawls grooves the ABC like nobody’s business; Lena Horne sings another alphabet song. Diana Ross builds self-esteem (as does Ray Charles with the same song in a bonus track). Aaron Neville and Ernie duet on I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon. Gladys Knight & The Pips do the Sesame Street theme. And Little Richard sings — obviously! — Rubber Duckie.

 

 

And then there are the adaptations of the guests’ popular hits, which always wink a little at the parents, too. Some are alphabet-based. Norah Jones doesn’t know why Y didn’t come; in Sheryl Crow’s song I soaks up the sun; guess what B.B. King’s favourite letter is.

Most artists riff along with muppets. Stevie Wonder tries to teach Grover how to scat. Johnny Cash and James Taylor revisit their hits in dialogue with Oscar (Cash: “Nasty Dan was a nasty man the whole day long.” Oscar: “Good for him.”). Andrea Bocelli sings Elmo to sleep with the song that had Camilla Soprano nearly jump in the sack with the priest.

This mix is great stuff for families. I’d play it with kids in the car. But, to be honest, I’ll play it in the car on my own as well…

 

 

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

1. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Sesame Street Theme (1988)
2. Lou Rawls – The Alphabet (1970)
3. Ray Charles with Bert & Ernie – I Got A Song (1977)
4. Jesse Jackson – I Am Somebody (1971)
5. Stevie Wonder – Superstition (1973)
6. Stevie Wonder with Grover – Scatting (1973)
7. Four Tops – Please Be Careful (When You Cross The Street) (1986)
8. José Feliciano – A World Without Music (1975)
9. James Taylor with Oscar – Your Smiling Face (1983)
10. Johnny Cash with Oscar – Nasty Dan (1973)
11. Johnny Cash with Biff – Five Feet High (1973)
12. R.E.M. – Furry Monsters Song (1998)
13. Sheryl Crow – I Soaks Up The Sun (2003)
14. Janelle Monáe – Power Of Yet (2014)
15. Queen Latifah with The Prairie Sisters – The Letter O (1992)
16. Norah Jones with Elmo – Don’t Know Y (2004)
17. John Legend with Hoots – I Got A Song (2006)
18. Diane Schuur with Elmo – From Your Head (1996)
19. Lena Horne – The Alphabet (1974)
20. Cab Calloway – Hi De Ho Man (1981)
21. Cab Calloway – Jump Jive (1981)
22. B.B. King – The Letter B (2000)
23. Little Richard – Rubber Duckie (1994)
24. Harry Belafonte with the Count – Coconut Counting Man (1982)
25. Paul Simon – El Condor Pasa (1977)
26. Feist – 1,2,3,4 (2008)
27. Chaka Khan with Elmo and Telly – Faces (2000)
28. Arrested Development – Pride (1995)
29. Dixie Chicks – No Letter Better Than B (2002)
30. Alison Krauss & Union Station – Sesame Jamboree (2005)
31. Diana Ross – Believe In Yourself (1981)
32. Aaron Neville & Ernie – I Don’t Want To Live On The Moon (1994)
33. Andrea Bocelli & Elmo – Time to Say Goodnight (2004)
Bonus Tracks:
Faith Hill & Tim McGraw – Take A Turn (2000)
Ray Charles with Elmo – Believe In Yourself (1996)

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Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 2

October 24th, 2019 4 comments

 

Just in time for Halloween, here’s another mix of murder songs to provide you with holiday-appropriate chills.

Some of these are truly scary. Some of our killers here have serious mental conditions, such as the protagonists in the songs by Warren Zevon and Hall & Oates. In Zevon’s song, the target of the singer’s wrath are the entitled family members who make excuses for their murderous rapist spawn. The Hall & Oates track (in which the duo recalls one of their older hits) is a bit disturbing as our dark anti-hero is into music you or I might listen to.

The darkness of mental disease is captured well in sound in the Wilco song’s distortions. The track was recorded live in Chicago. It’s about a guy dreaming of committing a murder in that city, and coming to the city to make his dreams come true. When Jeff Tweedy sings the name Chicago, the crowd cheers. Audience members: you really don’t want the protagonist of that sing in your city!

Most of our murders here are crimes of passion, with the victim being either a cheating partner, or the person with whom the cheating was committed (including Loretta Lynn, who in the Jack White-produced song will hang for her murder).

However, Rod Stewart uses a murder to deal with homophobia at a time when that was not really a mainstream issue. Think what you will of Rod, but plaudits are due for that song.

Of all our killers here, there’s one we can sort of support, Woody Guthrie’s Pretty Boy Floy, who gunned down an especially unpleasant deputy sheriff (I like to imagine a law enforcer of the Mississippi Burning variety).

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the troubling case of a father pushing his daughter down the well in the Violent Femmes song.

Neil Young is running a theme as old as song itself — the crime of passion; the wronged husband avenging his honour. But this being 1969, and musicians of Young’s ilk more interested in laying down guitar jams than producing lucid lyrics, we must figure out ourselves the circumstances leading to the murder, which the narrator at least admits to: “Down by the river, I shot my baby. Down by the river…Dead, oh, shot her dead.” The rest is just crazy hippie talk about rainbows. So, obviously, youngologists believe the song is about heroin. Which, by Young’s own account, it isn’t.

But of all these songs, Porter Wagoner’s song is the most spine-chilling. It has a real horror-movie vibe. In fact, the only thing that will lift the chill is to look at a picture of Porter in full ludicrous country music regalia. Or it might make things worse…

Again, to be very clear, this mix does not promote, endorse or celebrate murder. Don’t kill, kids.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-first48hoursed covers. PW the same as always.

1. Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy (1978)
The Vic: Suzie from the Junior Prom

2. Tim Rose – Hey Joe (1967)
The Vic: Joe’s “old lady”

3. Nina Simone – Ballad of Hollis Brown (1965)
The Vic: Hollis’ family

4. Fleetwood Mac – Blood On The Floor (1970)
The Vic: The “darling” of the guy about to hang

5. Porter Wagoner – The First Mrs Jones (1967)
The Vic: Mrs Jones

6. Johnny Cash – Joe Bean (live) (1969)
The Vic: Well, Joe Bean, really. An man hanging for a crime be didn’t commit

7. Loretta Lynn – Women’s Prison (2004)
The Vic: The “darling” of the woman about to hang

8. Wilco – Via Chicago (live) (2005)
The Vic: “You”

9. Violent Femmes – Country Death Song (1984)
The Vic: His daughter, the bastard

10. Robber Barons – Music For A Hanging (2004)
The Vic: A killer who is about to hang

11. Neil Young – Down By The River (1969)
The Vic: Neil’s “baby”, down by the river

12. Fairport Convention – Crazy Man Michael (1969)
The Vic: The “raven”

13. Rod Stewart – The Killing Of Georgie (1976)
The Vic: Georgie

14. Hall & Oates – Diddy Doo Wop (I Hear The Voices) (1980)
The Vic: Random strangers at the subway station

15. Tom Jones – Delilah (1968)
The Vic: Delilah, the two-timer

16. Marty Robbins – Streets Of Laredo (1969)
The Vic: The narrator, a cowboy

17. Lloyd Price – Stagger Lee (1958)
The Vic: Billy, a gambler

18. Little Walter – Boom, Boom, Out Goes The Light (1957)
The Vic: His baby who ain’t his no more

19. Louis Armstrong & Louis Jordan – You Rascal, You (1950)
The Vic: The seducer of his wife

20. Carter Family – John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man (1929)
The Vic: A man on the West Virginia line

21. Woody Guthrie – Pretty Boy Floyd (1940)
The Vic: A very rude deputy sheriff

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Life In Vinyl 1986 Vol. 2

October 10th, 2019 No comments

 

Part 2 of the 1986 edition of A Life In Vinyl covers, naturally enough, the second half of the year, starting in July (Vol. 1 obviously followed the first half of that year). I’ve tried to keep things in the chronological order in which I bought these records — except the last song; I know I bought the LP late that year but have no memory of exactly when that was. I do remember that the LP was on heavy rotation in December that year, though.

During that summer, British TV presented an all-night pop show. Various artists appeared on that programme; I recall Cameo and The Smiths (introduced by Stephen Fry as Der Schmidts and playing Panic) appearing live. Also part of the show was the song that kicks off this collection. The festival was also broadcast in Europe; possibly made in cooperation with European TV stations. Just a year after Live Aid but just before the domination of globalisation, this was quite an exciting venture. Lunatics were advocating Brexit then already, of course, but they were still an idiotic minority.

I suppose most of the acts here are well-known, certainly to readers of this corner of the Internet. But US readers might not know much about acts like The Housemartins. They were a left-wing Indie group of Christians with the motto, “Take Jesus – Take Marx – Take Hope”. After they broke up in 1988, the lead singer went on to form The Beautiful South; the bassist became a famous dance DJ as Fatboy Slim; the lead guitarist became a children’s author and journalist; and the drummer later went to jail for assaulting a business associate with an axe.

Few people outside their native Ireland will remember Cactus World News, who sounded much like the types of Echo & The Bunnymen, Simple Minds, U2 et al. And it was Bono who first signed them to the U2-owened label Mother, and co-produced the first version of The Bridge, which I bought on single in 1985. The version featured here is that from the 1986 Urban Beaches LP, which was also their final album until 2004.

One feature of the UK charts in 1986 finds no inclusion here, though in one instance I contributed to its manifestation. That year the soap opera Eastenders broke so big that it produced three big hits, two of them related to its storylines. One was a spin-off from a rather bad storyline about three teenage characters forming a band, but the other gripped Britain’s imagination — including, I must confess, mine.

Every Loser Wins, sung by actor Nick Berry as character Wicksy, was a plot device to score a romance that ended with the luckless guy being jilted at the altar. After the aborted wedding episode, which made newspaper headlines, the song topped the charts and ended up being the second-biggest selling single of the year. It even won the Ivor Novello Award for songwriting, even though one of the characters in Eastenders got it perfectly right when in a scene she called it “sentimental garbage”. There are many records I regret buying; this was one of them.

There are many other tracks I might have included here, some have aged well, some haven’t, some were good and some not so much. Maybe a bit like this lot — but these tracks have a way of taking me back to my magical time as a 20-year-old in London in 1986.

As always, CD-R length, home-PVC-trousered covers, PW the same as always.

1. Steve Winwood – Higher Love
2. Phil Fearon – I Can Prove It
3. Daryl Hall – Dreamtime
4. Human League – Human
5. Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk – Love Can’t Turn Around
6. Cameo – Word Up
7. Run DMC & Aerosmith – Walk This Way
8. Cactus World News – The Bridge
9. Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom
10. Julian Cope – World Shut Your Mouth
11. Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia (The Full Horror)
12. The Housemartins – Think For A Minute
13. Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush – Don’t Give Up
14. Swing Out Sister – Breakout
15. Madness – (Waiting For) The Ghost Train
16. Alison Moyet – Is This Love?
17. Luther Vandross – Give Me The Reason

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