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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 with 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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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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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)

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