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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 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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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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Any Major Teenagers (and a teen magazine)

September 12th, 2019 2 comments

Over generations, being a teenager in Germany meant that you were likely to read Bravo magazine — and probably get your sex education from its pages.

At its inception in August 1956, Bravo was a magazine about movie and TV stars. This changed in the 1960s as pop music became mainstream. With its target market being teenagers, much of the focus was on the stars whom that age group, especially girls, loved. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones Herman’s Hermits, David Cassidy, Bay City Rollers, Kajagoogoo and so on.

Existing alongside the teeny heroes were the rock acts liked by boys: Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix, Status Quo and Sweet, etc. And sometimes Bravo was pretty cutting edge, featuring punk before it broke big even in Britain. Johnny Rotten happily gave interviews to Bravo, with surprising sincerity. Even Krautrockers like Can and Amon Düül were featured occasionally.

Most German teenagers’ bedroom walls were decorate with posters from Bravo. Every edition had at least one centre-spread poster, several single-page posters, and often double-sided A2-sized posters. The latter led to the Jimi Hendrix vs Dead End Kids stand-off in my household.

Posters of The Sex Pistols (1976), Nastassja Kinski (1979, in Pop), Herman’s Hermits (1969), and Jimi Hendrix (1977)

 

Bravo was more than popular culture, and in that way it set itself apart from competitors such as the Swiss-German Pop or Rocky. The others had better posters, and more detailed music info (especially Pop, which presented a German “edition” of London’s Melody Maker, which did little to reflect the British version’s content), but Bravo was a lifestyle.

Girls especially loved the photo-stories (which often featured some nudity, presumably to keep the boys interested), and serialised pulp novels, which I never read. And there was no way I was going to follow Bravo’s fashion tips without guaranteeing myself a beating from the local ruffians.

Bravo was often criticised for perpetuating a cult of celebrity in an artificial world of stardom, but that seemed an unfair assessment. If anything, Bravo humanised celebrity by presenting the stars as approachable and sometimes even vulnerable. It caught big names in private moments, with dirty coffee mugs on view where today we might see crystal and gold. At one point, Bravo had the popular schlager singer Chris Roberts ask readers for their advice. More than showing stars living it up at celeb parties, Bravo liked to portray them with their families at home.

Bravo was also relevant, featuring real-life stories of young people having gone wrong or having done wrong done to them. Bravo warned convincingly against drugs, without moralising or patronising; destigmatised young offenders; gave sound travel advice for teenagers setting out on their own; guided graduating pupils in how to make career choices; supported the victims of sexual abuse; offered legal advice; and so on. Bravo was like an older sibling; cool, but wiser.

Bravo’s sex education pages. Left, from September 1977, looks at what happens after holiday loves. Right, from 1984, gives a voice to young women who speak about their first time (Dr Korff tells girls to kick out guys who try to pressure them into having sex)

 

And yet, Bravo was the most-confiscated reading material, in schools and homes. The blame for that resided in the magazine’s very frank discourse about sex, usually accompanied by liberal amounts of nudity to illustrate the sex education. The guardians of morality were alarmed!

Make no mistake: Germany was far more relaxed about nudity than the more repressed Anglophone world. There was nudity on TV, nudity on mainstream magazine covers, nudity in advertising. There’s even an unsexy German compound word for the nudism: Freikörperkultur.

It was probably not so much the illustrations that upset the guardians of morality than the message of sex-ed author Dr Alexander Korff (who was really a team of experts led by a chap called Martin Goldstein, who ran his sex-ed column for 40 years from 1969. The same team under Goldstein handled the also very frank and sensible advice column under the name Dr Jürgen Sommer). Dr Korff taught Germany’s youth that masturbation was fine, homosexuality was fine, having sex for the first time was fine (but only if you are really ready for it), and so on. He also taught that you don’t have to masturbate or have sex, but the conservatives missed those bits.

For many German teenagers, that was all the sex education they received. At school, the mechanics of sex were explained in brutally unerotic technical terms. In Bravo it was explained sensitively in a language young people could understand and apply.

Importantly, Dr Korff encouraged young women to assert their sexual autonomy. In a country where not that long before girls had been indoctrinated to serve as breeding vessels for the Aryan race, that was a big deal indeed.

Covers  from 1959, 1965, 1970, 1979, 1980 and 1983.

 

For music fans, Pop had the better and broader information (plus, as mentioned, better posters on better paper quality), and it had LP reviews, though most of those were badly written and uncritical.

Pop was well-connected, but Bravo’s connections were really impressive. The likes of ABBA had exclusive photo sessions with Bravo, and the band’s friendship with Bravo was probably strengthened in 1977, when Bravo found Annifrid’s long-lost German father and facilitated a reunion. Every year, Bravo had a huge giveaways of items donated by stars, some of them personal items which would now be worth a good deal of money.

I read Bravo faithfully for about two years, and more or less frequently for another three. From ages 11 to 16, Bravo was part of my life. And that’s how it was for most German teens. That’s why the Bravo Posters site, with one or two posters from between 1957 and 1986 going up every day, is such good fun. There are also loads of Bravo posters and covers and so on at the Bravo Archiv sites, where one can order complete annual volumes of the magazine in PDF format.

Bravo posters of Sonny & Cher (1966), David Cassidy (1973), Connie Francis (1960), and The Bay City Rollers (1977)

 

And to celebrate Bravo, here’s a mix of songs about teenagers, ranging from the time teenagers were invented in the 1950s into the new millennium.

As always, it is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-swooned covers, and the collages above in bigger format. PW in comments.

1. Sweet – Teenage Rampage (1974)
2. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks (1978)
3. The Runaways – School Days (1977)
4. Ramones – Teenage Lobotomy (1977)
5. Alice Cooper – Eighteen (1971)
6. Bruce Springsteen – Growin’ Up (live) (1978))
7. Beach Boys – When I Grow Up To Be A Man (1964)
8. Chuck Berry – School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell) (1957)
9. Joe Houston & His Rockets – Teen Age Boogie (1958)
10. Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent (1957)
11. Sam Cooke – Teenage Sonata (1961)
12. Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)
13. Johnny Cash – Ballad Of A Teenage Queen (1957)
14. Elton John – I’m Gonna Be A Teenage Idol (1973)
15. Janis Ian – At Seventeen (1980)
16. Neko Case – That Teenage Feeling (2006)
17. Dar Williams – Teenagers, Kick Our Butts (1997)
18. The Who – Baba O’Riley (1971)
19. Cockney Rebel – Judy Teen (1974)
20. Eddie and the Hot Rods – Teenage Depression (1977)
21. Wizzard – Angel Fingers (A Teen Ballad) (1973)
22. Ricky Nelson – A Teenager’s Romance (1957)
23. The Big Bopper – Teenage Moon (1958)
24. Gloria Mann – A Teenage Prayer (1955)
25. The Chordettes – Teenage Goodnight (1956)

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Any Major Babymaking Music Vol. 2

August 29th, 2019 3 comments

 

 

In the first volume of “baby-making music” I suggested that the mix need not necessarily lead up to the carnal act. On volume 2, the mix literally climaxes with copulation.

The indications for where this collection of songs will lead to are there at the start, with Billy Paul’s suggestion to go and make a baby. I don’t suppose that proposal works for purposes of more casual and less consequential sexual relations. Readers who might employ this mix for such purposes might want to skip track 1 in their endeavours, lest the opening song sends the wrong message. If, however, procreation is the objective, you could express your appreciation by naming the resultant bundle of joy Halfhearteddude (if it’s a boy) or Amdwhah (for a girl).

Minnie Riperton’s song, which follows Billy Paul’s bright idea, likewise leaves little doubt as to the destination of our journey here. But when Minnie asks her man to come inside her, she means more than just the obvious thing. Here, the idea of sex is unitive, not prurient.

Teddy Pendergrass is another advocate of letting things lead up to copulation, but admirably he places a premium on hygiene accompanying the passionate goings-on. Whereas Sylvia – who was owner of the record label that launched rap music on vinyl – just gets dirty.

But not everything here is just sex. Some tracks here have lyrics that preclude the idea of proceedings ending up in whoopee. The Rolling Stones’ Angie is one such song (“with no living in our souls”!). The sex is in the past tense. Yet, it has the sound of eroticism.

One singer on this collection breaks my one-artist-per-series rule: Roberta Flack, who on her own can provide for a whole making-out music mix on her own.

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

1. Billy Paul – Let’s Make A Baby (1975)
2. Minnie Riperton – Inside My Love (1975)
3. Boz Scaggs – Harbor Lights (1976)
4. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Closer I Get To You (1977)
5. Santa Esmeralda – You’re My Everything (1977)
6. Rolling Stones – Angie (1973)
7. Jimi Hendrix – Angel (1970)
8. Gary Moore – Parisienne Walkways (1978)
9. Tony Toni Toné – Lay Your Head On My Pillow (1993)
10. Alexander O’Neal – If You Were Here Tonight (1985)
11. Teddy Pendergrass – Turn Off The Lights (1979)
12. Sylvia – Pillow Talk (1973)
13. Cameo – I’ll Never Look For Love (1985)
14. Bob Seger – Good For Me (1980)
15. Eagles – Take It To The Limit (1975)
16. Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg – Je t’aime moi non plus (1969)

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Any Major Woodstock

August 15th, 2019 1 comment

 

This week it will be the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival. No reader of this site needs to be lectured about the cultural impact of the festival, though musically the Monterrey festival two years earlier offered much greater rewards, and musical impact, than Woodstock (which, it must be said, was a bit light on black music).

The genius of Woodstock didn’t reside so much in the music as it did in the nature of the event: nearly half a million people coming together and just getting along with one another and helping the neighbour — even in times of crisis, such as the rainstorm or the food crisis.

Remarkable, when food ran out, the local people collected food to feed these crowds of the counterculture; their political opposites. Imagine that today!

Woodstock made idealism come alive, if only for three days, amid rain, mud, food shortages, unsanitary conditions, traffic chaos, incompetent organisation, financial ruin (for the organisers), and bad smells.

The present mix includes songs of every artist who appeared at Woodstock, in the order they performed. Most of the songs here were played at Woodstock, though here and there I inserted tracks recorded around the time of the festival (some put to record or released after Woodstock but performed at the festival). So this isn’t some kind of recreation of the setlist — which can be read HERE) but more of a selective snapshot of rock music around the time, taking the Woodstock line-up as a framework.

A couple of songs were recorded after Woodstock about the festival: one of the two included by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, obviously, as well as those by Mountain (sort of), Melanie and Bert Sommer.

Getting to Woodstock was difficult, for patrons and acts alike. Traffic to the Max Yasgur’s farm at White Lake in Bethel (which is 70km or 43 miles from Woodstock) was gridlocked, not helped by the rotten weather.

The traffic and rain also played havoc with the organisation. Richie Havens opened the festival at 17:07 on August 15 with the featured song, replacing the act originally slated to kick off the proceedings, Sweetwater, who were still stuck in traffic. Folk singer Melanie, who was unbilled, took to the stage at 22:05 during a rainstorm because the Incredible String Band refused to for obvious reasons of safety.

Next day, Country Joe McDonald had to fill in with an acoustic set for Santana, who were unready to take the stage. Country Joe’s improvised set — he returned later with his band  — was a triumph; three months before Sesame Street debuted, he offered spelling lessons as when he introduced his Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die Rag. It’s one of the few actual Woodstock performances included here, alongside the tracks by Jimi Hendrix (with that breathtaking version of the US anthem, which evokes the horrors of the Vietnam War), Canned Heat, Sha-Na-Na and John Sebastian.

John Sebastian, formerly of Lovin’ Spoonful, was at Woodstock as a spectator. But as organisers waited for scheduled acts to arrive (some by helicopter), he was put on stage for a 25-minute set. Later, the Grateful Dead had to cut short their set when an amp blew. It was just as well, because they had overrun their slot. Creedence Clearwater Revival, who were up next, were unimpressed.

But consider that night: the Dead played into the new day. At half past midnight, CCR took over. At 02:00 Janis Joplin came on; at 3:30 Sly & The Family Stone; at 5:00 The Who, and at 8 in the morning, Jefferson Airplane. No need for sleep.

The show resumed less than six hours later with Joe Cocker’s set and closed at 11:10 next morning when Jimi Hendrix played his encore of Hey Joe. By then the once 400,000-strong crowd had shrunk to 30,000…

As mentioned above, Woodstock didn’t take place at Woodstock at all. The festival had the name before a venue was even found, though initial plans were to stage it around the New York state town of Woodstock as a promotional event for a recording studio that was never built.

And Max Yasgur, on whose farm the licentious vibe and anti-war sentiment found expression… he was a Republican who supported the Vietnam War. But he also supported freedom of thought.

Before the festival, he told the Bethel town council: “I hear you are considering changing the zoning law to prevent the festival. I hear you don’t like the look of the kids who are working at the site. I hear you don’t like their lifestyle. I hear you don’t like they are against the war and that they say so very loudly… I don’t particularly like the looks of some of those kids either. I don’t particularly like their lifestyle, especially the drugs and free love. And I don’t like what some of them are saying about our government.

“However, if I know my American history, tens of thousands of Americans in uniform gave their lives in war after war just so those kids would have the freedom to do exactly what they are doing. That’s what this country is all about and I am not going to let you throw them out of our town just because you don’t like their dress or their hair or the way they live or what they believe. This is America and they are going to have their festival.”

Until his death as 52 less than three years after the festival, Yasgur remained an unpopular man in town for having allowed these hippies on his farm.

Woodstock was a celebration of good vibes, the final hurrah of hippie sensibilities (unlike the 20th anniversary event in 1999, no sexual assaults were reported) that became emblematic of the 1960s counterculture. Less than half a year later, as the 1960s were about to give way to the 1970s, Altamont gave flower power the final stamp in the dirt. I wonder how many of those idealistic hippies of Woodstock turned out to be besuited neo-liberals…

This mix is timed to fit on two standard CD-R discs, with two home-grooved covers. PW in comments.

1. Richie Havens – From The Prison (1967)
2. Sweetwater – Why Oh Why (1968)
3. Bert Sommer – We’re All Playing In The Same Band (1969)
4. Tim Hardin – Don’t Make Promises (1966)
5. Ravi Shankar – Improvisation On Charly Theme (5:14)
6. Melanie (with The Edwin Hawkins Singers) – Lay Down (Candles In The Rain) (1970)
7. Arlo Guthrie – Oh, In The Morning (1969)
8. Joan Baez – I Shall Be Released (1968)
9. Quill – Too Late (1970)
10. Country Joe McDonald – Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die Rag (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
11. Santana – Jin-Go-Lo-Ba (1969)
12. John Sebastian – Younger Generation (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
13. Keef Hartley Band – Too Much Thinking (1969)
14. Incredible String Band – This Moment (1970)
15. Canned Heat – Woodstock Boogie (Live at Woodstock, 1969)

16. Mountain – For Yasgur’s Farm 1970)
17. Grateful Dead – St. Stephen (1969)
18. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born On The Bayou (1969)
19. Janis Joplin – Piece Of My Heart (1968)
20. Sly and the Family Stone – Stand! (1969)
21. The Who – Pinball Wizard (1969)
22. Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers (1969)
23. Joe Cocker – Let’s Go Get Stoned (1970)
24. Country Joe And The Fish – Silver And Gold (1970)
25. Ten Years After – Love Like A Man (1970)
26. The Band – The Weight (1968)
27. Johnny Winter – Mean Town Blues (1969)
28. Blood, Sweat & Tears – I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know (1968)
29. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Long Time Gone (1969)
30. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Woodstock (1970)
31. The Butterfield Blues Band – Morning Sunrise (1969)
32. Sha-Na-Na – At The Hop (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
33. Jimi Hendrix – Star Spangled Banner (Live at Woodstock, 1969)
34. Jimi Hendrix – Hey Joe (Live at Woodstock, 1969)

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Any Major Hits From 1944

August 8th, 2019 2 comments

 

This month it will be 30 years since I saw When Harry Met Sally in the cinema. I love almost everything about the film, including the wonderful soundtrack of standards (the soundtrack album by Harry Connick Jr was superb, too).

So I got it into my mind that a doing a compilation of hits from 1944 — 75 years ago — would be great fun. I wasn’t wrong. Putting together this mix of songs that were US hits in the penultimate year of World War II was hugely enjoyable; and I hope listening to it will be agreeable as well.

Maybe you know somebody who was around then. They might well love hearing some favourites and some long forgotten tunes. I’m thinking here of reader Johnny Diego (whom I haven’t heard from for a long while, alas) who played his 90-something year old German-raised mother the mixes of German hits between 1930 and 1945 I posted a few years ago (1930-37 and 1938-45). He reported that she was deeply touched by revisiting her youth.

As for the music, some of it is timeless, and some is much of its time. The joy to be derived from the firmer is self-evident; the joy in the latter resides in its anthropological values.

Two songs here are about the war: Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters are imagining the fun ass-kicking the Nazis will receive when the GIs march into Berlin (in the event, the Soviets got there first, and their version of ass-kicking was fun for nobody).

Where Bing and the Sisters are waxing patriotically with a light heart, Red Foley’s Smoke On The Water is pretty nasty in its jingoism. And it is fairly prescient when Foley predicts of Japan’s fate: “There’ll be nothing left but vultures to inhabit all that land, when our modern ships and bombers
make a graveyard of Japan…” Well, of two cities in Japan. File that song’s inclusion under anthropological value.

Talking of 1944 hits with the titles of future rock classics: Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)… what were the chances?

This mix is presented as a collection of hits of 1944. The concept of “hit” is a little stretched in the case of Stan Kenton’s Artistry In Rhythm, which was first recorded in 1943 and released on Capitol in February the following year. It was later re-recorded and issued to more successful effect, but in 1944 the single was a bit of a flop. Still, the track, which fuses jazz and (modern) classical music, shows musical innovation amid all the mainstream stuff.

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

1. Woody Herman And His Orchestra – Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me
2. King Cole Trio – Straighten Up And Fly Right
3. Guy Lombardo feat. Skip Nelson – It’s Love-Love-Love
4. Louis Prima And His Orchestra – Angelina
5. Ella Mae Morse – Milkman Keep Those Bottles Quiet
6. Ink Spots & Ella Fitzgerald – Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall
7. Mills Brothers – Till Then
8. Louis Jordan – Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby
9. Cozy Cole Allstars – Jump Street
10. Dick Haymes & Helen Forrest – It Had To Be You
11. Frank Sinatra – Night And Day
12. Les Brown And His Orchestra – Twilight Time
13. Judy Garland – The Trolley Song
14. Jo Stafford – It Could Happen To You
15. Al Dexter & His Troopers – Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
16. Red Foley – Smoke On The Water
17. The Merry Macs – Mairzy Doats
18. Evelyn Knight – Dance With A Dolly (With A Hole In Her Stocking)
19. Dinah Shore – I’ll Walk Alone
20. Andy Russell – What A Difference A Day Made
21. Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra feat. Kitty Kallen & Bob Jimmy – Besame Mucho
22. Glen Gray And Casa Loma Orchestra – My Heart Tells Me
23. Stan Kenton And His Orchestra – Artistry In Rhythm
24. Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters – (There’ll Be) A Hot Time In The Town Of Berlin
25. Benny Carter And His Orchestra feat. Dick Gray – I’m Lost
26. Russ Morgan – Goodnight Wherever You Are

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Any Major Moon

July 18th, 2019 6 comments

 

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first moonlanding, here’s a collection of songs about the moon. Some of them are actually about the moon, upon which Whitey walked; others use the lunar phenomenon that governs our tides as a metaphor. Of course, I could have filled several mixes on this theme.

My memories of the moonlanding… Nothing. I was three years old. I do vaguely recall my surprise at learning at some point in my childhood that men had walked on the moon — which, contrary to literary references I had at hand, was not made of cheese. If, however, there are people who think the moon is, in fact, a dairy product — and voting patterns in democracies around the world seem to suggest that there are many such people — I’d be happy to furnish them with my literary reference, even at the danger that it might be too highbrow for them, so that they can prove their point.

Anyway, for the first few years of my life, I was unaware of that great accomplishment on 20 July 1969, when Neil Armstrong had to take snapshots of Buzz Aldrin, regretting that the selfie culture was still four decades away (to the pedants reading this: yes, I am aware that selfies were not really an option, since the camera was affixed to the astronaut’s spacesuit. And, yes, Armstrong sort of did take a selfie thanks to the reflection in Aldrin’s helmet).

I suppose I missed the last moon landings in 1972, even though by then I was not ignorant of current affairs and have a clear memory of many news events that year. I suppose moon landings were not big news any longer.

There is talk of sending men back to the moon. It’s a stupid idea, also for reasons Gil Scott-Heron succinctly states on this mix.

So, what are your moon landing stories?

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

1. The Waterboys – The Whole Of The Moon (1985)
2. Police – Walking On The Moon (1979)
3. AC/DC – What’s Next To The Moon (1978)
4. Thin Lizzy – Dancing In The Moonlight (1977)
5. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Shame On The Moon (1982)
6. Bobby Womack – Everyone’s Gone To The Moon (1969)
7. Grady Tate – Moondance (1974)
8. Adam Wade – Shine On Silver Moon (1977)
9. Gil Scott-Heron – Whitey On The Moon (1974)
10. The Holmes Brothers – Bad Moon Rising (2007)
11. John Prine – The Moon Is Down (2005)
12. Lyle Lovett – Moon On My Shoulder (1994)
13. The Lilac Time – The Last Man On The Moon (2001)
14. Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1971)
15. Rumer – Moon River (2011)
16. Agnetha Fältskog – Fly Me To The Moon (2004)
17. Fairground Attraction – The Moon Is Mine (1988)
18. Everything But The Girl – Shadow On A Harvest Moon (1988)
19. Sandie Shaw – No Moon (1967)
20. Stackridge – To The Sun And Moon (1974)
21. Neil Young – Harvest Moon (1992)
22. George Harrison – Here Comes The Moon (1979)
23. Cookie Monster – If Moon Was Cookie (1983)

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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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