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Any Major ABC: 2000s

July 11th, 2019 1 comment

 

The second decade of the 21st century is coming to an end, but, like an old man fighting off change as if it was the Grim Reaper himself, I’m still coming to terms with this new-fangled millennium. I still have clear memories of the Y2K scam, and to me the Noughties (is that what they called?) are still new territory.

The rapid advance of time is unsettling. Today I noticed that the film The Hangover is ten years old! The 2000s, the timespan covered in this instalment of the ABC in Decades, raced by so quickly, I missed time’s transition to the 2010s.

At least with the Noughties, I have a measure of time: it began when Any Minor Dude was a pre-schooler, looking like a pre-schooler, and ended when he was a teenager in full pubescent swing. In the Noughties, the little dude changed a lot physically. Since 2010, he’s not changed that much physically, the occasional facial hirsuteness, a more muscular body and the obligatory tattoos aside.

Talking of tattoos: I suspect that my son’s generation will rebel against body art. Tats will be like the mullet, the stuff of embarrassing dads.

When the timespan of the present mix began, tattoos were not quite mainstream thing yet. I remember seeing a video of some alt.rock band around 2001; the member had tattoo sleeves. I was quite appalled, wondering what these young gentlemen had been thinking when they disfigured their limbs. Against my hopes, that kind of thing caught on.

So, here are 26 songs from A-Z that cover the 2000s, some by long-forgotten acts. If in the late 1970s everything from the 1960s were “oldies”, then all the tracks here are, strictly speaking, oldies. Except, with instant access to any old song through the Internet, nothing released since the MP3 revolution has had the chance to acquire the necessary distance in time to attain the status of “oldie”. Perhaps some forgotten track may evoke nostalgia, such as the Lucy Peal number here.

Because acts in the 2000s didn’t know the virtue of brevity, this mix doesn’t fit on a standard CD-R. I have made a home-zeroed cover anyway. PW in comments.

1. Amy Winehouse – Love Is A Losing Game (2006)
2. Ben Folds – Trusted (2004)
3. Common – Real People (2005)
4. Darkness – I Believe In A Thing Called Love (2003)
5. Eels – Blinking Lights (For Me) (2005)
6. Farryl Purkiss – Better Days (2006)
7. Gabe Dixon Band – All Will Be Well (2004)
8. Hello Saferide – The Quiz (2006)
9. Ian Broudie – Song For No One (2004)
10. Johnny Cash – Hurt (2002)
11. KT Tunstall – Other Side Of The World (2005)
12. Lucy Pearl – Don’t Mess With My Man (2000)
13. Mindy Smith – Fighting For It All (2004)
14. Neil Diamond – Save Me A Saturday Night (2005)
15. OutKast feat. Sleepy Brown – The Way You Move (2003)
16. Phoenix – Long Distance Call (2006)
17. Queens Of The Stone Age – Gonna Leave You (2002)
18. Rilo Kiley – Portions For Foxes (2004)
19. Scarface – On My Block (2002)
20. Tim McGraw – Live Like You Were Dying (2004)
21. Uncle Kracker – Follow Me (2000)
22. Von Bondies – C’mon C’mon (2003)
23. Wilco – Misunderstood (live) (2005)
24. Xavier Rudd – Better People (2007)
25. Yael Naïm – New Soul (2007)
26. Zero 7 – In The Waiting Line (2001)

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The Originals – Soul Vol. 1

June 27th, 2019 2 comments

The theme of this month’s instalment of The Originals is soul classics. The alert reader will notice, with possible alarm, that none of the tracks featured were Motown hits. But that reveals that I’m planning to do a special of lesser-known originals of Motown hits at some point.

 

 

Sweet Soul Music (Yeah Man)
Before Arthur Conley wrote Sweet Soul Music, his tribute to the living soul legends, he just wanted to cover Sam Cooke’s posthumously released Yeah Man. Otis Redding rewrote the lyrics, and got himself a namecheck — but excluded the man who was being plagiarised. It was a strange omission, since Sam Cooke influenced pretty much every soul singer of the 1960s, including and especially Otis Redding.

Try A Little Tenderness
Indeed, it was Cooke’s interpretation of the old standard Try A Little Tenderness which inspired Otis Redding’s reworking of the song. Once Otis was through with the song, with the help of Booker T & the MGs and a production team that included Isaac Hayes, it bore only the vaguest semblance to the smooth and safe standard it once was. Redding in fact didn’t even want to record it, ostensibly because he did not want to compete with his hero Cooke’s brief interpretation of the song on the Live At The Copa set. His now iconic delivery was actually intended to screw the song up so much that it could not be released.

It isn’t quite clear who recorded the original version: the versions by the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra and the Ray Noble Orchestra are both cited as having been recorded on December 8, 1932.

At Last
When Beyoncé Knowles was invited to sing At Last — Barack and Michelle’s special song — at Obama’s inauguration events in January 2009, Etta James was not best pleased. The veteran soul singer stated her dislike for the younger singer, who had portrayed Etta in the film about the Chess label, Cadillac Records. “That woman; singing my song, she gonna get her ass whupped,” James declared (she later relegated her outburst to the status of a “joke”).

It is her song, of course, certainly in the form covered so competently by Beyoncé. But many people recorded it before her, and it was a hit at least twice. The first incarnation came in the 1941 movie Orchestra Wives, in which it was performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra, who also recorded the first version to be released on record on 20 May 1942. It was a #9 hit for Miller. At Last became a hit again ten years later, for Ray Anthony with Tom Mercer on vocals. This version is typical 1950s easy listening fare, done much better in 1957 by Nat ‘King’ Cole (who tended to do music much better than most people).

In 1960 Etta James recorded the song, with Phil and Leonard Chess producing with a view to accomplishing crossover success. Her version, released Read more…

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Any Major Dogs

June 20th, 2019 22 comments

While this site is moving servers, with all the problems this creates, here’s a selection for the dog lovers first posted six years ago: 26 songs about canines — and one by dogs. Excluding some of the obvious choices, they range from the happy to the spooky to the amusing to the sad. I’ve tried to keep the sad ones to a minimum; as any dog or cat owner will know, the time when a pet has to be put down is nearly as traumatic as losing a family member.

Ken-L Ration Commercial – My Dog’s Better Than Your Dog (1960s)
Kids usually brag about whose Dad is the strongest; in this TV commercial, the kids don’t argue: the kids with the Ken-L Ration eating dog win by dietary default. The jingle was based on a song by the great singer-songwriter Tom Paxton.

The Beatles – Martha My Dear (1968)
Martha was Paul’s dog that roamed his overgrown garden in St John’s Wood, London. Paul never wrote as lovingly about Jane Asher…

Harry Nilsson – The Puppy Song (1969)
Lonely Harry wishes for a puppy with whom to “share a cup of tea” and escape from alienating society.

Cat Stevens – I Love My Dog (1967)
Yup, Cat loves his dog.

Johnny Cash – Dirty Old Egg Suckin’ Dog (1969)
Call the pet protection agency! Cash might like his dog, but if he messes with the chicken again, he will visit violence upon the hound. And this is a light-hearted song…

Dolly Parton – Me And Little Andy (1977)
Dark spooky stuff about a death-bound visitor and her dog. One for opening those tear-ducts.

Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians – Ghost Of A Dog (1990)
Some years ago Edie put her dog to sleep – and now he is nocturnally spooking the yard. Cold shivers!

Nellie McKay – The Dog Song (2004)
Adopted dog turns around singer’s pitiful life by being tail-wagging and cute.

Bobby Bare Jr – Your Adorable Beast (2004)
Country giant’s son sings a love song to his dog. All dog owners think about playing it for their pooch.

Bright Eyes – Stray Dog Freedom (2006)
Oberst digs the freedom of the stray dog. Or he means himself. Does anyone ever really know with that guy?

Klaatu – All Good Things (1980)
The band that wasn’t The Beatles after all sing about losing their best friend: “I never had a closer friend than you, but all good things must end.” Start up those tear-ducts again.

Jerry Jeff Walker – Mr. Bojangles (1968)
The original version. Bojangles is sobering up in jail and tells his fellow inmates about his hoofing life on the road, and about his beloved dog. *** SPOILER ALERT *** The dog died.

Anonymous – Your Dog Loves My Dog (1960s)
From an album of recordings from the civil rights movement, the song tells the story of two dogs, one owned by a black person and the other by a white man, who are great friends. The metaphor is patently obvious, but some people still do not get it.

Tom T. Hall – Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine (1972)
An old guy tells Tom about the three things “that’s worth a solitary dime”. Superannuated canines rank among these.

Jean Shepard & Ray Pillow – I’ll Take The Dog (1966)
Jean and Ray are getting divorced and amicably settle on who gets what, until it comes to the custody of the pooch, at which point they turn into Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney – a Pillow fight, so to speak (oh come on, everybody loves a putrid pun!). Watch out for the surprise ending.

Webb Pierce – I’m Walking The Dog (1953)
In questions of romance, Webb values his freedom, preferring to walk his dog. Unless the song’s title serves as a euphemism.

Elvis Presley – Old Shep (1956)
An old country lament for a dog that gone died. Originally recorded by Red Foley, Old Shep was the favourite song of the young boy Elvis down Tupelo way – so much did young Elvis love the song that he sang it at his first ever public performance, as a ten-year-old at a talent show at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. Elvis didn’t win (and the winner either never had to buy a drink again, or felt like a total fraud when Elvis became famous), but he recorded Old Shep on his debut album.

Three Keys – That Doggone Dog Of Mine (1933)
The Three Keys’ mutt cannot do much but it cost only 15 cents, in 1933 money. And what follows is a lovingly compiled doggy CV.

Dolly Dawn and her Dawn Patrol – Where Has My Little Dog Gone (1939)
The nursery rhyme rendered in big band style. It’s quite brilliant.

Hank Williams – Move It On Over (1947)
Hank is in the dog house, now the big, mad dawg is moving in, so scratch it on over, small dog.

Rufus Thomas – Stop Kickin’ My Dog Around (1964)
Rufus, whose moniker is a popular canine name, had a string of songs about man’s best friend: Walk The Dog, The Dog, Somebody Stole My Dog , Can Your Monkey Do The Dog and this song counselling somebody to mind their bad temper.

Nancy Sinatra – Leave My Dog Alone (1966)
People, leave the dog alone. And her cat. And Nancy.

Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia (The Full Horror Mix) (1986)
Because I Want A Dog is much too obvious.

Ferlinghetti & Dorough – Dog (1958)
An existential poem about dogs set to jazz (“Congressman Doyle is just another fire hydrant to him.”). Snoopy would dig it.

The Monkees – Gonna Buy Me A Dog (1966)
The Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart song about getting a pet to recover from a break-up was intended to be performed straight, and The Monkees recorded it thus on a version that went unreleased for the next three decades. On this take, released in 1966, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones certainly don’t play the song straight, instead lacing it with some really bad jokes.

Homer & Jethro – That Hound Dog In The Window (1953)
Yes, we’re well into the novelty section of dog songs now. Comedy duo Homer & Jethro corrupt that nice Patti Page hit about the price for the pooch in the store window. It probably was quite hilarious in 1953.

Don Charles and the Singing Dogs – Oh! Susanna (1955)
Doggies bark a song. There is a reason this song comes at the end of this collection…

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Home-bred covers are included. I borrowed the graphic for the front cover from papillonpalsrescue.com, an adoption agency for dogs. If you are in the market for a canine, please consider adopting a dog.

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Any Major Beach Vol. 3

June 12th, 2019 2 comments

For most of you, summer is on the way. Spare a thought for us in the southern hemisphere for whom winter is about to break. See poor me shiver to near-death when the daytime-high temperature hits 13°C (that’s 56° in Fahrenheit). The brrrrutality of it!

That is when my thoughts turn to warm days at the beach. And that is what the third mix of songs on the beach is for: to prepare the northern hemisphere folks for summer, and for us in the southern half of the earth to remind us that summer is just half a year away.

Of course, there are two previous beach mixes and five summer compilations to fall back on. All links should be working.

As ever, CD-R length, home-tanned covers, PW in comments.

1. Larry & The Loafers – Let’s Go To The Beach (1966)
2. Frankie Avalon – Beach Party (1964)
3. Skeeter Davis – Under The Boardwalk (1966)
4. Tony Orlando & Dawn – Summer Sand (1971)
5. Chairmen Of The Board – Down At The Beach Club (1983)
6. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Pleasure Beach (1978)
7. Van Halen – Cabo Wabo (1988)
8. Weezer – Surf Wax America (1994)
9. Ramones – Rockaway Beach (Live) (1979)
10. Jim Steinman – Surf’s Up (1981)
11. Men At Work – Down By The Sea (1981)
12. Chris Rea – On The Beach (Live) (1988)
13. Dierks Bentley – Somewhere On A Beach (2016)
14. Richard Ashcroft – On A Beach (2000)
15. The Cure – A Strange Day (1982)
16. Bob Dylan – Sara (1976)
17. Vanity Fare – I Live For The Sun (1968)
18. The Beach Boys – Surfer Girl (1963)
19. Jan & Dean – Ride The Wild Surf (1964)
20. Stevie Wonder – The Party At The Beach House (1964)
21. Frank & The Top Ten – Beach Bunny (c.1975)

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or: https://rapidgator.net/file/11708b0695487ae967c5269edc1bb584/ambch3.rar.html

Previously in Any Major Summer
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Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Recovered

May 16th, 2019 12 comments

As I have already done with albums by Bruce Springsteen, Carole King, David Bowie and many Beatles albums, here’s another track-by-track covers mix. Except there are some songs on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road for which no covers seem to exist, so I have filled gaps with three live performances by Elton John himself, from his Hammersmith Odeon concert on 22 December 1973. One song had to be omitted altogether, for lack of any alternative versions.

In 1973 there was no indication that one day Elton John would become one of the leading Friends of Dorothy, but he unintentionally hinted at the yet-to-be-invented codeword with the metaphors in the title and on the cover of his double album.

The album’s title, also the name of the lead single, seems to be at odds the artwork on the cover. Both, song and cover, take their imagery from The Wizard Of Oz, in which the yellow brick road played as much a central role as any thoroughfare ever did in the movies. Where the song tells of disillusion at the end of that bright road, the cover promises the beginning of an escape from reality as Elton– spangly mauve platforms instead of ruby slippers – steps into a poster and on to a yellow brick road.

The poster is on a tatty wall, covering a previous poster (the font of which suggests that it might have advertised a music hall), with chimneys in the background telling of a drab existence, quite at odds with Elton’s flamboyant get-up.

The cover was drawn by the illustrator Ian Beck, who was 26 at the time. Beck has since illustrated magazines, greeting cards, packaging and a few children’s books. He has also written a few novels.

Beck came to LP cover design through John Kosh, whose credits included the Abbey Road cover. They shared a studio at 6 Garrick Street in London’s Covent Garden when Kosh arranged for Beck to do illustrations for an LP cover he was designing for Irish folk singer Jonathan Kelly, Wait Till They Change The Backdrop.

Elton John bought that album on strength of the cover, and wanted the same graphic for his new album. Beck told him that this was not possible but offered to create new artwork for the cover.

He was given tapes of the songs (which included future classics like Benny And The Jets, Saturday Night Is Alright For Fighting, Candle In The Wind and the title track), and typed lyrics sheets, and began working on a concept. His friend, fashion illustrator Leslie McKinley Howell, stood in as a model for Elton John in polaroids which Beck took (hence the long legs) in preparation for his watercolour, pastel, and coloured crayon pencils artwork. The piano on the front cover and the teddy bear at the back were placed there at the request of Elsie, as Beck only later realised Elton was known to his staff.

It was the last LP cover Ian Beck designed, though this had nothing to do with his experience of creating the iconic sleeve for one of the great double albums in a decade of many double albums.

The album is regarded by many as Elton John’s finest work. It is indeed filled with many great songs, too many to be released on single, and too many to find inclusion on retrospectives. Songs like Sweet Painted Lady (a song Paul McCartney might have written), I’ve Seen That Movie Too, This Song Has No Title, Roy Rogers and Harmony could have been hits (and Harmony was intended to be the album’s fourth single release); now they are remembered only by fans of the album.

1. Dream Theater – Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding (1995)
2. Sandy Denny – Candle In The Wind (1977)
3. Paul Young – Bennie And The Jets (2006)
4. Sara Bareilles – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (2013)
5. Elton John – This Song Has No Title (Live) (1973)
6. The Band Perry – Grey Seal (2014)
7. Judge Dread – Jamaica Jerk-off (1977)
8. Elton John – I’ve Seen That Movie Too (Live) (1973)
9. Bridget St. John – Sweet Painted Lady (1974)
10. Elton John – The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-1934) (Live) (1973)
11. Emeli Sand̩ РAll The Girls Love Alice (2014)
12. Imelda May – Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n’ Roll) (2014)
13. The Who – Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) (1991)
14. Kacey Musgraves – Roy Rogers (2018)
15. Jesse Malin – Harmony (2008)
Bonus: Diana Ross – Harmony (1976)
Hickoids – Bennie & The Jets (2011)

GET IT: https://rapidgator.net/file/752cea73c43320aecbaec1bf8e769037/GYBR_Rec.rar.html

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Any Major Churches

April 18th, 2019 2 comments

I had no plans to post anything special for Easter, since the Saved! series had run its course. But the fire in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, a place I’ve visited several times, moved me to make a mix of songs about churches. It is not a Saved! mix because the songs here don’t necessarily speak of religious faith. In some songs, such as California Dreaming or For Emily, the churches are just incidental in the narrative.

What has emerged is a remarkably eclectic mix which covers all sorts of things, from French chanson to hip hop, from funk to country, from blues to indie rock. Any Major Dude With Half A Heart is a broad church.

The mix kicks off with a song about Notre-Dame, and the Paris theme returns later with Tift Merrit’s song which references the church of St Sulpice, which also caught fire, though less destructive, this year.

The story of the Johnny Cash song is quite extraordinary: it was written by one of the inmate at Folsom Prison about the jail chapel, “a house of worship in this den of sin”. Apparently the inmate who wrote it, 32-year-old Glen Sherley, sat in the front-row at the Folsom Prison concert, not knowing that Cash would perform his song. Sherley, who was serving time for armed robbery, never caught the curve, despite Cash’s attempts at helping him. In 1978 he died of suicide.

As always, the ix is time to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-hallelujahed covers. PW in comments.

For those who believe, I wish you a Happy Easter. For those who don’t, Happy Feast of the Easter Bunny.

1. Edith Piaf – Notre-Dame de Paris (1952)
2. Ann Cole – In The Chapel (1956)
3. Johnny Rivers – Mountain Of Love (1964)
4. Honey Cone – Sunday Morning People (1971)
5. Box Tops – I Met Her In Church (1967)
6. Lyle Lovett – Church (1992)
7. Drive-By Truckers – Late For Church (1998)
8. Tift Merritt – Tender Branch (2008)
9. Eels – In The Yard, Behind The Church (2005)
10. Ben Harper and The Five Blind Boys of Alabama – Church House Steps (2004)
11. Outkast – Church (2003)
12. James Brown – Bodyheat (1976)
13. Lee Moses – California Dreaming (1971)
14. David Egan – Bourbon In My Cup (2008)
15. Robert Patterson Singers – Crying In The Chapel (1967)
16. Simon & Garfunkel – For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her (1970)
17. Johnny Cash – Greystone Chapel (1969)
18. Porter Wagoner – I’ll Meet You In Church Sunday Morning (1964)
19. Ella Fitzgerald – The Church In The Wildwood (1967)
20. Frank Sinatra – Winchester Cathedral (1966)
21. The Willows – Church Bells Are Ringing (1956)
22. John Lee Hooker – Church Bell Tone (1959)

GET IT: https://rapidgator.net/file/8a5989d25f5b7f826a7c732182a0fb75/church.rar.html

Previous SAVED! mixes
Saved! Vol. 1 (Elvis Presley, Carter Family, LaVern Baker, Marvin Gaye…)
Saved! Vol. 2: Soul edition (Curtis Mayfield, The Supremes, The Trammps,  Jerry Butler…)
Saved! Vol. 3 (Prefab Sprout,  Wilco, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds…)
Saved! Vol. 4 (Sam Cooke, Dixie Hummingbirds, Dinah Washington, Jerry Lee Lewis…)
Saved! Vol. 5 (Donny Hathaway, Holmes Brothers,  Steve Earle, The Bar-Kays…)
Saved! Vol. 6: Angels edition (Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Rilo Kiley, Kris Kristofferson…¦)
Saved! Vol. 7: Soul edition (Earth, Wind & Fire, Billy Preston, Marlena Shaw, Al Green…)
Best of Saved!

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The Originals: Schlager edition

March 21st, 2019 6 comments

At first glance, this edition of The Originals seems narrowly aimed at Germans, but it should appeal to all fans of European and 1970s pop music.

The German Schlager has a reputation for being banal rubbish, and it’s not entirely unmerited. But the genre generated some legit entertainment and even moments of good quality. Often, those moments were the result of the Schlagermachine finding foreign songs and reproducing them for the German market. Sometimes what emerged was superior to the originals, as it was in the case of Danyel Gérard’s 1971 mammoth-hit Butterfly.

That song doesn’t feature here; only one track on this collection is the first version of a German hit sung by its original artist: Belgian singer Salvatore Adamo’s Petit Bonheur, which in German became Ein kleines Glück. The German version disproves the point I just made about teutonic production superiority. It’s a fairly strange bit of music in any version.

 

Before Giorgio Moroder became a pioneering trailblazer in Euro-disco and electronic music, he was a pop singer and Schlager producer. The Italian-born half-German came to Berlin in 1963. In 1969 he had a million-seller as Giorgio with Looky Looky, which topped the French charts. The following year he released Arizona Man, a Moog-driven, temp-changing pop number. His version went nowhere, but a German cover released shortly after gave Mary Roos her first hit.

Arguably the Schlager singer with the best strike-rate in choosing covers was Israeli-born Daliah Lavi. Four of her biggest hits were cover versions: three feature here; two were written by the same man: John Kongos. The South African singer went on to have two UK Top 10 hits (Tokoloshe Man and He’s Going To Step On You Again; both later covered by the Happy Mondays), but in 1970 his Would You Follow Me was translated into German and became a big hit for Lavi as Willst Du mit mir geh’n. The following year, the song was also covered by Olivia Newton-John.

 

Also in 1970, Kongos’ Won’t You Join Me was covered by the improbably-named Emil Dean Zoghby, who was a bit of a star in South Africa in the 1960s. Zoghby, who died in 2014 at 72, went on to be a stage actor in London and, back in South Africa, a record producer. Lavi’s cover, titled Wann kommst Du, was released in 1971.

The third original of a Lavi song is fairly well-known: Rod McKuen‘s catchy 1971 anti-war anthem Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes, which enjoyed some success in Europe, especially in the Netherlands. In Laviâ’s hands, the peace song became a love song with the title Meine Art Liebe zu zeigen, which translates as My Way Of Showing Love.

 

Another astute selector of cover versions was Michael Holm. Most of these were quite well-known, so this mix of lesser-known originals picks the 1969 French song Fernando by Sheila, a singer whom the world of pop would get to know better as the lead of Sheila B. and The Devotions. Fernando – which was co-written by Danyel Vangarde, who’d later co-write hits such as the Gibson Brothers’ Cuba and Ottawan’s DISCO – became a Spanish hit as Un rayo de sol by Los Diablos, and for Michael Holm in Germany as Wie der Sonnenschein. Holm featured himself on the Christmas Originals for doing the first version of When A Child Is Born, which was itself based on an original instrumental, Le Rose blu by Ciro Dammicco (the song became later known as Soleado). Holm might feature again for doing the original of Chickory Tip’s Son Of My Father, which he co-wrote with Giorgio Moroder.

Perhaps the greatest Schlager singer-songwriter was Udo Jürgens, whose songs always stood a few steps above the standard Schlager fare. Jürgens had few needs for the songs of others, but one of his biggest hits, the cheeky seduction number Es wird Nacht Senorita of 1968, was a cover. Originally the song was recorded in 1965 as Le Rossignol Anglais by the popular French chansonnier Hugues Aufray, and the year after by Mireille Mathieu.

 

As a song travels the continent, its meaning can change. When Portuguese Brazilian singer Benito di Paula wrote and recorded his 1975 song Charlie Brown, a hit in Portugal, it was about the Peanuts character. Travelling eastwards it became a discofied number by Belgian outfit Two Man Sound (whose dance moves must be seen). Retaining the original lyrics, it was a huge hit in Belgium and Italy. But when it came to Germany, the hit version by Benny was no longer about the depressed protagonist of Charles M Schulz’s cartoon but about a promiscuous guy who beds every woman “between Mexico and Paraguay”, even your girlfriend.

One song here might just as well have featured in a 1970s edition of The Originals. A cover of Living Next Door To Alice was a big 1977 hit for Smokie. But it features here on strength Read more…

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Any Major Babymaking Music Vol. 1

March 14th, 2019 6 comments

The term “baby-making music” describes the sonic complement to the carnal act, and the stages preceding it, which is usually applied to create an ambience which facilitates the arousal of heightened sensuality. The purpose of such music does not necessarily require the objective of procreation, nor indeed the initiation of the carnal act, but its use may not, by definition, preclude these.

The selection of suitable music for that purpose is, by its nature, subjective. However, the following are not universally considered appropriate propositions to qualify inclusion under the genre “baby-making” music: Marilyn Manson’s This Is The New Shit, Aqua’s Barbie Girl, Sgt Barry Sadler’s Ballad of The Green Berets, Billy Ray Cyrus’ Achy Breaky Heart, Lawrence Welk’s Baby Elephant Walk, Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of, The Buoys’ Timothy Michael Jackson’s Ben, Insane Clown Posse’s Miracles, Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters, Toby Keith’s Courtesy Of The Red, White and Blue, the Carpenters’ Sing, Michael F Bolton’s opera album, anything by Creed, the Birdie Song, and others.

Should you find yourself in a situation where a lover cranks up the sounds of any of the above without the display of any discernible irony, then you might be in the company of a serial killer. Don’t wait to find out where the moment might lead you, regardless of what your libido tells you. Run!

If, however, your partner digs out a CD with the home-smooched cover you see above, you have a reasonable expectation of experiencing the best sex ever.

I do not wish to plant uncomfortable mental images in your head (though, since very few of you know what I look like, such mental images may take the form of the tanned and toned Adonis that I am), so I won’t reveal which of these songs I have made figurative babies to. But all of these songs make me want to make figurative babies.

 

Actually, I’m overegging the point. I think these songs are not so much humping-music (though none preclude that notion either) as they are suited to setting the mood for intense romantic moments, when two people share a deep intimacy. Some songs can express such intimacy, as anybody who has ever made out to, say, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face will know. Such songs are sexy because they feed that intimacy, that essence of being-in-love that is fundamental to the act of making love.

This is why this mix includes tracks like Isaac Hayes’ version of The Look Of Love (the live version on which he is dealing with love on a more personal basis) or Bob Marley’s Turn Your Lights Down Low, but none of Barry White’s advertising jingles for his baby-making prowess (great though these songs are). But if you need some Barry to get you into the groove, don’t despair: he’s doing his thing on Quincy Jones’ star-studded The Secret Garden, alongside the likes of James Ingram, El DeBarge and Al B. Sure.

An automatic choice would have been Earth, Wind & Fire’s I Write A Song For You, but that featured recently already. But if the stand-by is the glorious live version of Reasons, then the baby-making agenda remains uncompromised. The obvious song-choice by Billy Paul is deferred to the inevitable Volume 2.

Of course, the mix can be cheerfully played outside the setting of intimate relations. It’s just as great to listen to when driving, with no hopes of having sex in sight.

So, what are your baby-making songs?

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

1. Al Green – Let’s Stay Together (1972)
2. Isaac Hayes – The Look Of Love (live) (1973)
3. Earth, Wind & Fire – Reasons (live) (1975)
4. Heatwave – Always and Forever (1977)
5. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Turn Your Lights Down Low (1977)
6. Van Morrison – Tupelo Honey (1971)
7. Joan Armatrading – Turn Out the Light (1980)
8. Roberta Flack – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (1969)
9. Randy Crawford – Tender Falls The Rain (1980)
10. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Help Me Make It Through The Night (1972)
11. Luther Vandross – If Only For One Night (1985)
12. Curtis Mayfield – Do Be Down (1990)
13. Derek and the Dominos – Bell Bottom Blues (1970)
14. Santana – Europa (1976)
15. Quincy Jones – The Secret Garden (1989)
16. Marvin Gaye – After The Dance (1976)

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Any Major Music from ‘The Sopranos’ Vol. 2

February 28th, 2019 2 comments

 

 

This is the second mix of songs featured in The Sopranos, a show that helped pioneer the use of eclectic song selections to help drive the plot, sometimes by featuring as part of the story, or to create an atmosphere in the way of a traditional score, or to narrate the story (the first mix lives here).

The music tells us about the characters. Think of Tony Soprano singing along to classic rock tracks like Smoke On The Water or, featured here, Steely Dan’s Dirty Work when he is driving, much as you or I might. Of course, Tony Soprano is not, I hope, like you or me. And yet, he isn’t all that different from you or me.

Songs narrate the state of mind of characters. As Chris Moltisanti is shooting up at the fair, Fred Neil’s The Dolphins plays: “This old world may never change the way it’s been, and all the ways of war, can’t change it back again” And when Tony is strung out after having killed Chris, Lucinda Williams follows him with the question Are You Alright?, which M. Ward soon answers: Outta My Head.

The producers mess with us through music. Van Morrison’s cheery and optimistic Glad Tidings plays as Tony Soprano drives to the farm where his cousin Tony B is hiding. Van sends “glad tidings from New York” as Tony-Uncle-Johnny blows off the face of Tony-Uncle-Al. The song makes a return later when Tony runs through the snow to escape the raid on Johnny Sack’s house. Glad tidings indeed.

That surprise. La, la, la, la la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.

 

As mentioned in the notes for Volume 1, the producers played that contradiction-trick a few times on us. Often acts of uncomfortable violence are accompanied by music that provides a stark contrast. An example of that is the Eagles’ gentle Tequila Sunset scoring the scene in which Tony beats up his old schoolfriend Davey, the gambling-addicted outdoors goods store owner. An added piquance in that choice is that the two men might well have listened to the Eagles together when they were youths.

Some of the tracks clearly were chosen for their own background story. It cannot be a coincidence that the song playing when Tony kills his would-be assassin in the final episode of Season 1, It’s Bad You Know, is sung by a man who served jail time for killing a man, R.L. Burnside.

The same episode closes with Tony and family finding refuge from the rainstorm in Artie Bucco’s new restaurant. Tony tells the family to “enjoy the little moments that were good” – words he repeats in the final scene of the final episode. A guitar begins strumming as the scene fades to the credits. It’s Bruce Springsteen’s 1982 song State Trooper: “License, registration, I ain’t got none. But I got a clear conscience about the things that I done.”

And then there is that final song from that final scene, Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’, from 1981 (preceded by Little Feat’s All That You Dream). Producer David Chase has said that whatever song was going to play, it would be something Tony would have listened to when he was younger – a time when he still had the chance to take an alternative path in life. The choice of Don’t Stop Believin’ was inspired. Clearly Tony has long stopped believing. The last words we hear (and which, perhaps, Tony hears) are “Don’t stop”. Then it stops.

Tony picks the final number.

 

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

1. Brooklyn Funk Essentials – Bop Hop (1994)
2. R.L. Burnside – It’s Bad You Know (1998)
3. Bruce Springsteen – State Trooper (1982)
4. Fred Neil – The Dolphins (1966)
5. Steely Dan – Dirty Work (1972)
6. Little Feat – All That You Dream (1978)
7. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man (1973)
8. Eagles – Tequila Sunrise (1973)
9. Lucinda Williams – Are You Alright (2007)
10. Gretchen Wilson – He Ain’t Even Cold Yet (2005)
11. Shawn Colvin – Sunny Came Home (1996)
12. M. Ward – Outta My Head (2003)
13. The Shins – New Slang (2004)
14. Van M – Glad Tidings (1970)
15. Santana – Jingo (1969)
16. Rubén Gonzalez – Chanchullo (2000)
17. Weezer – Island In The Sun (2001)
18. Creeper Lagoon – Wonderful Love (1998)
19. Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’ (1981)

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Previous Music from TV shows:
The Sopranos Vol. 1
The Deuce
Freaks & Geeks
The Wonder Years
Soul Train
Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 1 (full versions of TV themes)
Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 2
Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 3
Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 4
Any Major TV Themes (as featured in the titles)

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Any Major Blue-Eyed Soul

February 21st, 2019 5 comments

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

South African soul singer Una Valli, pictured in 1964.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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