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Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 2

October 24th, 2019 3 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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Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1

October 25th, 2018 6 comments

 

The Halloween well is now dry, but you can still get your chills on with this delightful collection of songs about murder.

It”s quite surprising how many sings about murder there are, mostly from the perspective of the killer. In the case of Pat Hare, almost literally.

In 1954, blues guitarist Pat Hare (born Auburn Hare!) sang a song — a cover of a 1940s song by Dorothy Clayton — in which he vowed to kill his woman: “Yes, I’m gonna murder my baby / yeah, I’m tellin’ the truth now / ’cause she don’t do nothin’ but cheat and lie.” Eight years later, Hare had just finished a stint as a guitarist in Muddy Waters’ group when he shot dead his girlfriend and a policeman in Minneapolis. Hare was convicted of the murder and died in jail in 1980 at the age of 49.

Many of the murder ballads are folk songs that have been covered many times. A few of the tracks here are also covers, such as country-soul singer Andre Williams reworking of Johnny Paycheck’s song. The weirdest of them, though, has to be Olivia Newton-John singing about murdering her boyfriend.

There are longer discussions on some of the featured songs, and others that will feature, in the eight parts of the Murder Ballads series.

Just to be clear, this mix does not promote murder. Don’t kill, kids.

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

  1. R. Dean Taylor – Indiana Wants Me (1970)
    The Vic: A man who needed dyin’ for what he said about you
  2. Sting – I Hung My Head (1996)
    The Vic: The lone rider
  3. Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues (1969)
    The Vic: A man in Reno
  4. Porter Wagoner – The Cold Hard Facts Of Life (1967)
    The Vic: The folks who taught Porter the cold, hard facts of life
  5. Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger (1975)
    The Vic: The yellow-haired lady
  6. Jim & Jesse – Knoxville Girl (1976)
    The Vic: A little girl in Knoxville
  7. The Everly Brothers – Down In The Willow Garden (1958)
    The Vic: Rose Connolly
  8. Olivia Newton-John – Banks Of The Ohio (1971)
    The Vic: Livvy”s marriage-shy boyfriend (and you see his point)
  9. The Band – Long Black Veil (1968)
    The Vic: “Someone”
  10. The Grateful Dead – Stagger Lee (1978)
    The Vic: Billy, a gambler
  11. Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue – Where The Wild Roses Grow (1997)
    The Vic: Elisa Day
  12. Elvis Costello – Psycho (1981)
    The Vics: His ex, Jackie White, Betty Clark, Momma…and Johnny’s puppy, too
  13. Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska (1982)
    The Vics: Everything in his path
  14. Andre Williams – Pardon Me (I’ve Got Someone To Kill) (2000)
    The Vic: Her and his love rival
  15. Lyle Lovett – L.A. County (1987)
    The Vics: The bride and the groom
  16. Bill Brandon – Rainbow Road (1976)
    The Vic: A man with a knife (so it’s self-defence, your honur)
  17. Dixie Nightingales – Assassination (1965)
    The Vic: The President
  18. Elton John – The Ballad Of Danny Bailey (1973)
    The Vic: Danny Bailey, a gangster, in cold blood
  19. The Buoys – Timothy (1971)
    The Vic: Timothy (because of hunger)
  20. Tony Christie – I Did What I Did For Maria (1971)
    The Vic: Maria’s murderer
  21. Conway Twitty – Ain’t It Sad To Stand And Watch Love Die (1968)
    The Vic: An unfaithful wife
  22. Johnny Darrell – River Bottom (1969)
    The Vic: “That pretty gal of mine”
  23. Clyde Arnold – Black Smoke And Blue Tears (1961)
    The Vic: The gambler
  24. Pat Hare – I’m Gonna Kill My Baby (1954)
    The Vic: In the song, Pat’s baby. In real life, later, the same.

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 4

October 27th, 2017 5 comments

Here is the fourth and most likely final Halloween mix. This lot aims to be a bit spooky for about half of it, and then a little more relaxed, but without going too much novelty, other than that great disco track and that bizarre closing track.

One of the tracks here is in itself slightly spooky: The Doors’ Ghost Song was recorded in 1978, eight years after singer John Morrison”s death. Morrison’s spoken vocals were unscored recordings of his poetry; in 1978 the rest of the band put music to those recordings. The present track has very much a late “70s disco-influenced vibe. This is what the Doors might have been.

So, four mixes of Halloween, and I have managed without the Rocky Horror Show, and didn’t need to consider those other Halloween staples, Ghostbusters and Thriller — though I did use The Monster Mash in the Halloween in black white mix from last year.

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

1. John Carpenter – Halloween Main Theme (1978)
2. Florence And The Machine – My Boy Builds Coffins (2009)
3. Kate Bush – Watching You Without Me (1985)
4. Genesis – Home By The Sea (1983)
5. The Chameleons – Swamp Thing (1986)
6. The Fall – Lucifer Over Lancashire (1986)
7. Ween – Cold Blows The Wind (1997)
8. Team Ghost – Dead Film Star (2013)
9. Menomena – Ghostship (2007)
10. Danny Elfman – This Is Halloween (1993)
11. Steeleye Span – Allison Gross (1973)
12. Tom Waits – Big Joe And Phantom 309 (1975)
13. The Doors – Ghost Song (1978/1970)
14. Oingo Boingo – Dead Man”s Party (1985)
15. Blue Magic – Born On Halloween (1975)
16. Hot Blood – Soul Dracula (1976)
17. Five Man Electrical Band – Werewolf (1974)
18. Iron Butterfly – Real Fright (1969)
19. France Gall – Frankenstein (1972)
20. Lambert, Hendricks and Ross – Halloween Spooks (1961)
Bonus track: Jethro Tull – Flying Dutchman (1979)

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 1
Any Major Halloween Vol. 2
Any Major Halloween Vol. 3
Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 3

October 20th, 2016 7 comments

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Being nothing if not seasonal, I have put together a third Halloween mix. This one covers the black & white era of rock & roll, from the mid-’50s to the mid-’60s — which also happened to be the golden era for Halloween novelty songs. Some of these are utter gems; the value of others resides in their novelty.

Billy Lee Riley was a big influence on Bob Dylan Dylan influence. Like Warren Smith, another Dylan favourite, he was on Sun Records at a time when Sam Philips diverted all his promotional resources to Jerry Lee Lewis” career. Dylan reckons Riley might have been a bigger star than Lewis. Like Smith, Riley left Sun and went west. He had a few minor hits, and worked as a session musician. In the early 1970 Riley quit music and moved into construction. He made a comeback in the 1990s, even earning a Grammy nomination for his 1997 blues album Hot Damn!. Billy Lee Riley died in 2009 at the age of 75.

Another Sun Records alumnus features here: Jumpin’ Gene Simmons who used to open for the young Elvis. He had only one single on Sun. His only hit, Haunted House, was released by Hi Records, future home to soul legends such as Al Green. One of the singer”s fans was young Israeli-American musician named Chaim Witz. When Witz — a name that, quite suitably, means “joke” — needed a cool name, he took that of Gene Simmons. The real Gene Simmons died in 2006 at the age of 73. The long-tongued douchebag is still around.

Not all acts here are rock & roll and R&B acts; some are garage rock bands. The Kingsmen are represented here with the instrumental Haunted Castle, the song that was the flip-side to their massive hit Louie Louie.

The Castle Kings released only two singles, including the track featured here. The writers of the 1961 song did rather better: Atlantic boss Ahmed Ertugun and future Halloween story Phil Spector.

halloween-labels_1

The Five Blobs were not even a band, but a collection of session musicians assembled by musician Bernie Knee to record the title song for the 1958 Steve McQueen movie The Blob, an early collaboration by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. In the 1970s, Knee recorded a song in support of Richard Nixon as the crook was fighting impeachment charges.

Round Robin does/do some impressive growling on his/their song — except it is not really clear who Round Robin was. Wikipedia suggests it was the songwriter Baker Thomas (who wrote The Wonder Of You); and in absence of any better info, I”ll go with that.

Music wasn’t really Bob McFadden’s claim to fame. He was rather better known as a voice actor on animated shows: his credits include Milton the Monster, Cool McCool and Snarf from the ThunderCats. His appearance here owes to an album he recorded in 1959 with folk-poet Rod McKuen. His background as a cartoon voice shows on the song. McFadden died in 2000 at the age of 76.

If producer/comedian Dickie Goodman sounds like an early version of a white rapper on his 1961 song, consider this: Goodman was the inventor of the “break-in” technique, an early type of sampling.

Of all the weird tracks here, the most bizarre must be Jimmy Cross‘ 1964 song. It is a parody of the road death songs that were popular at the time — Dead Man’s Curve, Leader Of The Pack, Tell Laura I Love Her, Teen Angel or Last Kiss by J. Frank Wilson, whose similarly bizarre song in this mix precedes that by Cross. I Want My Baby Back moves swiftly from the ridiculous to pure WTF. You have to love lines like this: “Well, when I come to I looked around, and there was the leader, and there was the pack, and over there was my baby.” But the denouement”… well, it’s the reason the song features on a Halloween mix.halloween-labels_2Some people may think that I have yielded to cliché by including The Monster Mash. But in this collection, the song is placed within its context and very much belongs here. What is striking is how little it actually stand out from the rest of the crowd.

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

1. Jackie Morningstar – Rockin’ In The Graveyard (1959)
2. Billy Lee Riley – Nightmare Mash (1963)
3. Johnny Fuller – Haunted House (1959)
4. The Duponts – Screamin’ Ball (At Dracula Hall) (1958)
5. Bo Diddley – Bo Meets The Monster (1956)
6. Johnny Otis Show with Marci Lee – Castin’ My Spell (1969)
7. Kip Tyler – She’s My Witch (1958)
8. Little Richard – Heeby Jeebies (1956)
9. David Seville – Witch Doctor (1958)
10. The Monotones – Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958)
11. Round Robin – I’m The Wolfman (1965)
12. The Kingsmen – Haunted Castle (1963)
13. The Diamonds – Batman, Wolfman, Frankenstein Or Dracula (1959)
14. Ronnie Cook and The Gaylads – Goo Goo Muck (1965)
15. The Castle Kings – You Can Get Him – Frankenstein (1961)
16. Dickie Goodman – Horror Movies (1961)
17. Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers – Monster Mash (1962)
18. Jumpin’ Gene Simmons – Haunted House (1964)
19. Lloyd Price – Under Your Spell Again (1962)
20. Lee Ross – The Mummy”s Bracelet (1958)
21. Leroy Bowman – Graveyard (1958)
22. Allen Sherman – I See Bones (1963)
23. Bobby Rydell – That Old Black Magic (1960)
24. The Five Blobs – The Blob (1958)
25. Big Bee Kornegay – At The House Of Frankenstein (1958)
26. The Moontrekkers – Night Of The Vampire (1961)
27. Hollywood Flames – Frankenstein”s Den (1958)
28. J. Frank Wilson – Unmarked And Covered With Sand (1964)
29. Jimmy Cross – I Want My Baby Back (1965)
30. Bob McFadden – The Mummy (1959)
31. Gary “Spider” Webb – The Cave (Part 1) (1961)

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 1
Any Major Halloween Vol. 2
Any Major Halloween Vol. 4
Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 2

October 29th, 2015 6 comments

Any Major Halloween Vol. 2

Another year, another Halloween mix. As with Any Major Halloween Vol. 1, this one is not for fans of novelty monster mashes. If you take a step to the left, it will be because you’re spooked by the music or by unnerving lyrics — not because a fun but rather overplayed showtune instructs you to do so.

The Eels track used to scare my son’s teenage friend, back in 2006, a demonstration in how music doesn’t need lyrics to be frighten. Conversely, lyrics can be all the more petrifying if they are set to pretty melodies, such as two of the murder ballads included here, Down In The Willow Garden and Where The Wild Roses Grow.

If I’m still doing this blog next Halloween, I promise to lighten the mood.

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

1. The Simpsons – Halloween Theme (1990)
2. Alan Price Set – I Put A Spell On You (1966)
3. Godley + Creme – Under Your Thumb (1981)
4. Eels – Marie Floating Over The Backyard (2005)
5. Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians – My Wife And My Dead Wife (1985)
6. October Country – My Girlfriend Is A Witch (1968)
7. Medeski, Martin & Wood – End Of The World Party (2004)
8. Mazzy Star – Taste Of Blood (1990)
9. Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue – Where The Wild Roses Grow (1995)
10. Violent Femmes – Country Death Song (1984)
11. The Never – The Witch (2006)
12. Eddi Reader – Bell, Book And Candle (1998)
13. Ryan Adams – Halloweenhead (2007)
14. The Alan Parsons Project – Raven (1976)
15. Five Man Electrical Band – Werewolf (1974)
16. Alice Cooper – Feed My Frankenstein (1991)
17. Ramones – Pet Sematary (1989)
18. Red Sovine – Phantom 309 (1967)
19. The Everly Brothers – Down In The Willow Garden (1958)
20. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Feast Of The Mau Mau (1969)
21. Howlin’ Wolf – Evil (Is Going On) (1954)
22. The Tarantulas – Black Widow (1961)

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 1
Any Major Halloween Vol. 3
Any Major Halloween Vol. 4
Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 1

October 23rd, 2014 7 comments

Halloween_1

A few years ago I posted a couple of Halloween mixes. Neither exists any longer, so it seems good to revisit the project. So, for this Halloween, the first new mix.

There are spooky and unnerving songs “” The kind of stuff that might freak out Bart, Lisa and Milhouse in their treehouse. “” as well as a few more light-hearted novelty tracks, and a pretty funny comedy song by a young Jimmy Fallon. None of them are The Monster Mash.

One artist features twice: Dr John with 1968″s unsettling Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya, and nine years before that as Morgus & The 3 Ghouls, riffing on a popular TV character of the time.

Stan Ridgway“s Camouflage is as spooky a song as they come with the story of a ghostly soldier in battle; Warren Zevon has a similar theme, with some politics thrown into the stew for good measure.

For a truly sad tale, read the tragic story of Jackson C Frank, who was produced in the mid-“˜60s by Paul Simon and went on to influence artists such as Nick Drake and his ex-girlfriend Sandy Denny. He might well be the most luckless man ever in music history.

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

1. The Go! Team – Phantom Broadcast (2005)
2. Rob Zombie feat. The Ghastly Ones – Halloween (1998)
3. The Pogues – Turkish Song Of The Damned (1988)
4. Tony Joe White – They Caught The Devil And Put Him In Jail In Eudora, Arkansas (1971)
5. Dr John – Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya (1968)
6. The Box Tops – I Must Be The Devil (1969)
7. Donovan – Wild Witch Lady (1973)
8. The Who – Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1968)
9. Fleetwood Mac – The Green Manalishi (1970)
10. Golden Earring – The Devil Made Me Do It (1982)
11. Squirrel Nut Zippers – Hell (1996)
12. Sam the Sham – Haunted House (1964)
13. The Duponts – Screamin’ Ball (At Dracula Hall) (1958)
14. Soupy Sales – My Baby’s Got A Crush On Frankenstein (1962)
15. Big Bopper – Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor (1958)
16. Morgus & The 3 Ghouls – Morgus The Magnificent (1959)
17. The Moon-Rays – Blues For Vampira (2004)
18. Hoodoo Gurus – Hayride To Hell (1985)
19. Stan Ridgway – Camouflage (1986)
20. Warren Zevon – Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner (1978)
21. Jackson C Frank – Halloween Is Black As Night (1960s)
22. Tim Curry – Anything Can Happen On Halloween (1986)
23. Nancy Dupree – Fankenstein (1970)
24. Jimmy Fallon – Happy Halloween (1998)

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 2
Any Major Halloween Vol. 3
Any Major Halloween Vol. 4
Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1

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