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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 10

July 23rd, 2020 4 comments

 

Here we reach a decade of these Not Feeling Guilty mixes of 1970s/early-’80s songs that may be labelled AOR or MOR or — that horrible cliché — “yacht rock”. The series started in 2014 (well, in 2009, but it was relaunched six years ago), opening with Kenny Loggins’ song This Is It.

Since then, Loggins has featured four more times. Also featuring five times have been Player, while Ambrosia and Bobby Caldwell have appeared four times. Paul Davis joins them on four with this mix.

The record holder is Boz Scaggs, who has been represented six times; Bill LaBounty equals that record on this mix.

And then there’s the overlord of all AOR, Michael McDonald. He has featured three times solo, twice as a Doobie Brother, and who knows how many times as a backing singer, including on the aforementioned Kenny Loggins song (which is almost a duet with McDonald).

So with so many regulars, it’s notable how much space there has been for artists whom time has largely forgotten. As it was on previous Not Feeling Guilty mixes, there are quite a few of them here.

Lani Hall isn’t exactly obscure, having released 14 solo albums, after serving as lead singer for Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66 on hits like Mas Que Nada and The Fool On The Hill. She also sang the theme of the 1983 Bond film Never Say Never Again.

It would also be wrong to say that Peter McCann is obscure, though he is much better known as a songwriter and producer. As a recording artist he released two LPs. As a songwriter you might know as the co-writer of Whitney Houston’s Take Good Care Of My Heart, Earl Thomas Conley’s Nobody Falls Like A Fool, or Jennifer Warnes’ Right Time Of The Night, which also features on this mix.

You also found Byrne & Barnes more behind the scenes than in front of the microphone. Together they released just one 1981 album, but they made their mark as songwriters. Robert Byrne, who died in 2005, co-wrote hits such as How Do I Turn You On for Ronnie Milsap; and Earl Thomas Conley’s string of hits:  I Can’t Win For Losin’ You, Once In A Blue Moon, That Was A Close One and What I’d Say.

For Dave Raynor, the recording career as a singer also lasted for just one album. After that he made is way as a recording engineer and occasional guitarist.

Turley Richards may be better known as a rockabilly singer, a genre in which he had a classic 1959 hit with Makin’ Love With My Baby. In the 1970s he had some success as a country-rock singer; among the songs he recorded was the original version of You Might Need Somebody, later a hit for Randy Crawford and again for Shola Ama.

After his attempts at a solo career Joseph Williams became the lead singer of Toto between 1986 and 1988. He resumed a solo recording career, but also followed in the footsteps of his father John Wiliams as a film score composer.

English singer-songwriter Ian Gomm made his name as the rhythm guitarist for Brinsley Schwarz, being named “Best Rhythm Guitarist” by the New Musical Express in 1971. He later toured with acts like Dire Straits, while also running a recording studio in Wales, and releasing his own music. In 1979 he had a Top 20 US hit with Hold On, which features here. He also co-wrote Cruel To Be Kind with former Brinsley Schwarz bandmate Nick Lowe, who had a big hit with it in the UK and US in 1979.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-basslined covers. PW in comments. Also, all previous mixes are up.

1. Dave Mason – Let It Go, Let It Flow (1977)
2. Turley Richards – I Will (1976)
3. Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Jackie Blue (1974)
4. Atlanta Rhythm Section – I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight (1978)
5. Marilyn Scott – Highways Of My Life (1979)
6. Heat – Don’t You Walk Away (1980)
7. Dave Raynor – I Can’t Take It (1981)
8. Bill LaBounty – I Hope You’ll Be Very Unhappy Without Me (1975)
9. Peter McCann – Step Right Up (1979)
10. Lani Hall – Where’s Your Angel (1980)
11. Joseph Williams – That First Night (1982)
12. Brooklyn Dreams – I Won’t Let Go (1980)
13. Jennifer Warnes – Right Time Of The Night (1976)
14. Paul Davis – Sweet Life (1977)
15. Michael Johnson – Bluer Than Blue (1978)
16. Fred Knoblock – A Bigger Fool (1980)
17. Ian Matthews – Shake It (1978)
18. Greg Guidry – How Long (1982)
19. Byrne & Barnes – Love You Out Of Your Mind (1981)
20. Ian Gomm – Hold On (1978)
21. Peter Frampton – I Can’t Stand It No More (1979)
22. Stephen Bishop – It Might Be You (1982)

GET! or HERE! or HERE!

Not Feeling Guilty Mix 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 3
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 4
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 5
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 6
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 7
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 8
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 9

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Any Major Hits from 1970

July 9th, 2020 6 comments

 

1970 is — gulp — 50 years ago. The 1960s hadn’t quite ended; and the 1970s were already getting underway: Creedence Clearwater Revival and T. Rex both were relevant.

The scary thing is, 1970 today is as 1920 was to 1970 then. Arguably, the world, and music, had changed much more between 1920 and 1970 than it has changed in the past 50 years. Look, there’s even still a crook in the White House (whereas, the history buff will counter in his killjoy ways, in 1920 a crook was about to be elected unto the White House).

Last year I did a mix of hits from 1944 to mark the 75th anniversary of that year. In many ways, 1970 looks more like today than it did look like 1944, only 26 years earlier.

For many people who’ll hear this mix, I hope the songs will evoke a bit of nostalgia, with any luck of happy memories. I was just a little too young to build many memories of that year, other than two holidays, one in the snow and the other on the beach. I do recall a few of the songs specifically from that time, especially the final one, since I loved music even as a four-year-old. But to me, this mix of big smashes and rather forgotten hits sounds like 1970, which is the effect I tried to go for. Those with more mature memories will be the judges of whether I’ve succeeded in my task.

Some of these songs are, of course, from 1969, but they were hits in the UK, US and/or West-Germany in 1970.

As ever, the mix is timed to be in CD-R (or double LP) length. home-grooved covers. PW in comments.

1. Mungo Jerry – In The Summertime
2. Edison Lighthouse – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
3. Christie – San Bernadino
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Up Around The Bend
5. The Chairmen Of The Board – Give Me Just A Little More Time
6. Freda Payne – Band Of Gold
7. The Tremeloes – Me And My Life
8. Badfinger – Come And Get It
9. McGuinness Flint – When I’m Dead And Gone
10. Kenny Rogers and The First Edition – Something’s Burning
11. Chicago – 25 Or 6 To 4
12. The Ides Of March – Vehicle
13. Blues Image – Ride Captain Ride
14. T. Rex – Ride A White Swan
15. Mr. Bloe – Groovin’ With Mr. Bloe
16. Tyrone Davis – Turn Back The Hands Of Time
17. Jimmy Ruffin – It’s Wonderful (To Be Loved By You)
18. Arrival – Friends
19. White Plains – My Baby Loves Lovin’
20. Stevie Wonder – Never Had A Dream Come True
21. B.J. Thomas – Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
22. Joe Dassin – Les Champs-Elysées
23. Elvis Presley – Kentucky Rain
24. The Beach Boys – Cotton Fields
25. Pickettywitch – That Same Old Feeling
26. Rotation – Ra-Ta-Ta
Bonus: Sugarloaf – Green-Eyed Lady

GET IT! or HERE!

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Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 3

June 9th, 2020 2 comments

 

It’s not only recent events in the USA that make this third mix of Protest Soul overdue. The three years and counting since Donald Trump took office have seen an escalation of extrajudicial killings of black people by police, the weaponisation of white privilege by racists who call the police on black people, the legitimisation of racist rhetoric, and so on.

None of that arrived with Trump, of course. Trayvon Martin was executed by that stand-your-ground scumbag on Obama’s watch, and was declared innocent of murder by a jury of his racist peers before Trump descended that escalator of hate.

But consider this: In 1992, during the presidency of George Bush Sr, the riots in LA broke out because cops got off for assaulting Rodney King. In the fourth year of Trump’s reign, country-wide protests (and some riots) broke out because police murdered George Floyd. And Jamar Clark. And Philando Castile. And Dreasjon Reed. And Breonna Taylor. And Botham Jean. And Michael Brown. And Ezell Ford. And Eric Garner. And Michelle Shirley. And Redel Jones. And Stephon Clark. And 12-year-old Tamir Rice. And. And. And…

And don’t forget the lynching in Brunswick, Georgia, of Ahmaud Arbery, the jogger whose sickening murder by racist thugs who hunted him down was going to be covered up by the authorities until a video of it appeared.

Things have escalated from brutal assault sparking outrage to an endless series of murders of black people by police, as if the US has turned back the clock to the 1960s.

And this is where this mix of songs takes us: the aftermath of the civil rights era, when the freedom promised by the law still was elusive. As recent events have shown, they remain so.

Civil rights march in the 1960s. How much has changed in the 50 years since? (History in HD)

 

If the USA ever was beacon of hope and freedom for the rest of the world, that light has been extinguished by Trump’s America. The rest of the democratic world looks at the USA with sorrow and disdain. Three decades ago, people in Europe marched against the racist regime in South Africa. In 2020, they brave the coronavirus to take to the streets in protest against the systemic racism of the United States.

They see a race war that is being sought and, to some extent, prosecuted by a racist president and his minions, and by drooling specimen of the master race who hide their cowardice behind their guns, their trucks and their white privilege. The free world is saying: they must not win. It is the defeat of systemic racism and injustice that will make America great again.

The hope for that victory was present four or five decades ago, when most of the songs on this mix were made. It is a scandal that the content of these songs still speak to the reality of today.

Ferguson’s gotten me so upset, Brunswick made me lose my rest. And everybody knows about Minneapolis goddam!

1. Camille Yarbrough – All Hid (1975)
2. Nina Simone – Mississippi Goddam (1964)
3. The Staple Singers – We The People (1972)
4. Della Reese – Compared To What (1969)
5. Curtis Mayfield – We’re A Winner (live) (1971)
6. The Pointer Sisters – Yes We Can Can (1973)
7. Dorothy Morrison – Black California (1970)
8. Larry Williams – Wake Up (Nothing Comes To A Sleeper But A Dream) (1968)
9. Hank Ballard – Blackenized (1969)
10. Marion Black – Listen Black Brother (1972)
11. Solomon Burke – I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free) (1968)
12. Lou Bond – Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards (1974)
13. Claudia Lennear – Sister Angela (1973)
14. Gil Scott-Heron – Winter in America (1974)
15. Donny Hathaway – Someday We’ll All Be Free (1973)
16. Syl Johnson – Is It Because I’m Black (1970)
17. The Temptations – 1990 (1973)
18. Eugene McDaniels – Silent Majority (1970)

GET IT! or HERE!

Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 2

Any Major Soul: 1960s
Any Major Soul: 1970s

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Any Major Power Ballads Vol. 1

May 28th, 2020 10 comments

 

 

This mix, dear reader, is going out to Any Major Dudette, who expressed her wish for a mix of power ballads. And with the critical rehabilitation of the genre lately, I shall feel free to share the fruits of her request with you.

And here we don’t need to concern ourselves with the inconvenient truth that her desire was expressed upon hearing a Céline Dion song on the radio (not the Titanic one. The other one). It doesn’t matter, since the stylings of Ms Dion are not to my taste, and therefore do not feature on this mix.

Also very much excluded are Jennifer Rush’s Power Of Love, which I loathe with a special depth of repulsion.  The same applies to Chris de Burgh’s Lady In Red, which I wouldn’t call a power ballad anyway.

The long-time reader may wonder: “But, Any Major Dude With Half A Heart, did you find a place for Michael F. Bolton?” And funny that you should ask, but… no. Having said that, the same wretched radio station which Any Major Dudette tunes into recently played Bolton’s breakthrough hit “How Am I Supposed To Love Without You”. And, I must confess, I was sort of singing along. Not so enthusiastically that I’d include it here, nor to turn me into one of the Bobs from Office Space. Still, I suspect that had it been sung by somebody else, it might have… no, enough. Shudder.

But that is the key to the good power ballad: it allows you to like something by an artist you’d otherwise not engage with.

Surveying the present collection of songs, I find that I own albums by only nine of them; just over half. Half of my total collection of REO Speedwagon’s catalogue is represented here. The other one is also a power ballad.

Let’s not forget: power ballads are white people’s baby-making music. People conceived to Track 4 might have conceived their offspring to Tracks 13, 15 and 16.

So, yes, the power ballad is pop music’s joker: the occasion when even the purist can get out that lighter and wave it from side to side without having to write an excuse to the taste police.

I have enough power ballads for a second volume, if there’s a demand for it. But tell me your favourite power ballads in the comments.

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

1. Aerosmith – I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing (1998)
2. Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart (1983)
3. Phil Collins – Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) (1984)
4. Moody Blues – Nights In White Satin (1967)
5. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man (1973)
6. Boston – Amanda (1986)
7. Styx – Babe (1979)
8. REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You (1981)
9. Heart – Alone (1987)
10. Journey – Open Arms (1981)
11. Whitesnake – Here I Go Again (1987)
12. Meat Loaf – I’m Gonna Love Her For Both Of Us (1981)
13. Maria McKee – Show Me Heaven (1990)
14. Toto – I’ll Be Over You (1986)
15. Roxette – It Must Have Been Love (1990)
16. Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville – I Don’t Know Much (1989)
17. Prince – Purple Rain (1984)

GET IT! or HERE!

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Any Major Happy Songs Vol. 2

April 30th, 2020 2 comments

 

 

In these times of coronavirus it’s easy to fall into moods of anxiety and depression. As every reader of this corner of the Internet will know, music is a good medicine in times of dejection — and also a superb means of accompanying feelings of misery. But right now, we are in need of the former more than of the latter.

So here is a second mix of songs that make me feel happy (or, when I’m down, at least happier). These are tracks that uplift me. Some do so just by the cheerfulness of the sound; others because they make me want to dance, others yet because they make me laugh. The Labi Siffre song, for example, combines all three elements. In one way or another, these are songs that make my heart soar. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

I still return to Any Major Happy Songs Vol. 1 quite frequently; that mix is still up, in case you need more happy music.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes covers made while I was wearing my facemask to avoid any risk of infecting you. And whatever you do, don’t listen to idiots and don’t inject the bleach!

1. Blackstreet – Happy Song (Tonite) (1996)
2. Outkast – Hey Ya (2003)
3. Junior Senior – Move Your Feet (2002)
4. Odyssey – Use It Up And Wear It Out (1980)
5. Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out (1980)
6. New York City – I’m Doing Fine Now (1973)
7. Robert Knight – Love On A Mountain Top (1968)
8. Mango Groove – Special Star (1989)
9. Status Quo – Rockin’ All Over The World (1977)
10. Poco – A Good Feeling To Know (1972)
11. Ambrosia – The Biggest Part Of Me (1980)
12. Rufus & Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody (1983)
13. Sadao Watanabe & Roberta Flack – Here’s To Love (1984)
14. KC & the Sunshine Band – I Betcha Didn’t Know That (1979)
15. Samantha Sang – Emotion (1978)
16. Minnie Riperton – Lovin’ You (1974)
17. Gene Chandler – Groovy Situation (1970)
18. Shalamar – A Night To Remember (1982)
19. Labi Siffre – Love-A-Love-A-Love-A-Love-A-Love (1975)
20. Hello Saferide – I Was Definitely Made For These Times (2007)

GET IT! or HERE!

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Any Major Week Vol. 2

April 23rd, 2020 1 comment

 

Last year — time really flies — I promised a follow-up to the mix of songs about the days of the week, in sequence until time of the standard CD-R runs out; which here is on a Friday night.

And that Friday song is a version of the song that started the idea in 2011, when I wrote a defence of Rebecca Black’s YouTube hit Friday. Here the song — a composition of negligible merit — is performed by Steven Colbert on Jimmy Fallon’s show. It is quite catchy, actually.

If your country is in lockdown, as mine is, you might need to be reminded of the way “the week” used to work. You see, there’s Monday, when we used to go back to work after two days off. It used to be a ghastly day. Then came Tuesday, when things got into swing again. On Wednesday we started to look at the calendar (a numbered chart that gave the days of the week in a sequential order) to behold Friday. On Thursday we might give our work another push, and download the latest mix from Any Major Dude With Half A Heart. Friday would be time to slowly wind things down for the weekend. That period comprised Saturday and Sunday, when we might go to the park, or stroll through the city or the mall, or watch sporting events, or visit friends. And on Monday we’d be back sat work with that nagging sense of inertia. Oh, happy days. Will we ever see them again?

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

1. Earth, Wind & Fire – Saturday Nite (1976)
2. Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Hello Sunday! Hello Road! (1977)
3. Fleetwood Mac – Monday Morning (1975)
4. The Pogues – Tuesday Morning (1987)
5. Majic Ship – Wednesday Morning Dew (1970)
6. Morphine – Thursday (1993)
7. The Easybeats – Friday On My Mind (1966)
8. Cass Elliot – Saturday Suit (1972)
9. Diane Schuur – Louisiana Sunday Afternoon (1988)
10. Stealers Wheel – Monday Morning (1975)
11. Dylan LeBlanc – Tuesday Night Rain (2010)
12. America – Wednesday Morning (1998)
13. Johnny Otis – Thursday Night Blues (1949)
14. Bell & James – Living It Up (Friday Night) (1978)
15. Neil Diamond – Save Me A Saturday Night (2005)
16. Labelle – Sunday’s News (1972)
17. Freda Payne – Rainy Days And Mondays (1973)
18. Stevie Wonder – Tuesday Heartbreak (1972)
19. Emiliana Torrini – Wednesday’s Child (1999)
20. David Bowie – Thursday’s Child (1999)
21. Stephen Colbert feat. Taylor Hicks – Friday (2011)

GET IT! or HERE!

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Any Major John Prine Songbook

April 16th, 2020 9 comments

 

Just days after we learned of the passing of Bill Withers, John Prine left us, a victim of the Covid-19 pandemic. I made a Bill Withers Songbook mix , and here’s one for Prine.

Within their respective genres, Withers and Prine shared similarities. Where Withers never was quite the insider in soul music, so was Prine very much not an insider in country music. Both infused their songs with folk influences. Both had an acute sense of and empathy for the human condition, born of kind hearts, and this found expression in their often poetic lyrics.

Prine knew how to write a good tune and deliver it convincingly, but his genius resided in his lyrics. Like a good country singer, he knew how to tell a story. Sometimes he named his protagonists, and you got to know them in the space of three minutes. From just a few lines, you can picture the drug-addicted Vietnam vet Sam Stone, or the lonely outsiders Lydia and Donald.

He wrote Angel From Montgomery from the perspective of a prematurely aged middle-aged woman, and persuasively so. Extraordinarily, Prine was 24 and from Chicago when he wrote the song. Prine never was a jailbird, but he could imagine himself in prison at Christmas (in a song which really should have been covered by The Pogues).

Hello In There, is another great example of Pine’s empathy, perhaps his best. And that empathy is not just in the lyrics but also in their delivery and the song’s arrangement. Take those matter-of-fact clipped lines about the dispersal of the kids and losing Davy in the Korean War, juxtaposed with the drawn out lines of longing, about old trees growing stronger and old rivers growing wilder every day.

Of course, the song about lonely older people has particular relevance during the health crisis that killed Prine. Fittingly, Brandi Carlile sung that song as a tribute on Stephen Colbert’s show. Prefacing Hello In There, Carlile puts it eloquently: “It reminds us that old people aren’t expendable, that they made us who were are and they’ve given us every single thing that we have. Even though John never got to get old, and we all would’ve liked for him to…at the age of 24, when he wrote this song, he understood this.” Colbert’s heartfelt tribute, preceding Carlile’s performance, is also worth listening to.

Prine had an extraordinary warmth, and a wonderfully wry sense of humour. Happily, he was given a lifetime achievement award by the Grammys just a few weeks before his death. It was overdue, for his exquisite body of work and for the great love and respect he inspired from his fans and his fellow musicians.

Here is a mix of covers of Prine songs. Fans will know the originals, but I hope that people who are not familiar with John Prine’s songbook will give this collection a listen, enjoy it, and then seek out the original recordings.

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

1. Manfred Mann’s Earthband – Pretty Good (1973)
2. Al Kooper – Sam Stone (1972)
3. Bonnie Raitt – Angel From Montgomery (1974)
4. Loretta Lynn – Somewhere Someone’s Falling In Love (2000)
5. 10,000 Maniacs – Hello In There (1989)
6. The Avett Brothers – Spanish Pipedream (2010)
7. Johnny Cash – The Hobo Song (1982)
8. Kris Kristofferson – Late John Garfield Blues (1972)
9. Steve Goodman – Donald And Lydia (1971)
10. Reilly & Maloney – That’s The Way That The World Goes ‘Round (1980)
11. Nanci Griffith – Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness (1993)
12. Justin Townes Earle – Far From Me (2010)
13. The Flying Burrito Brothers – Quiet Man (1976)
14. After The First Gallon – Illegal Smile (1978)
15. The Everly Brothers – Paradise (1972)
16. Priscilla Coolidge-Jones – If You Don’t Want My Love (1979)
17. George Strait – I Just Want To Dance With You (2011)
18. Josh Ritter – Mexican Home (2010)
19. Weeping Willows – Christmas In Prison (2005)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Leonard Cohen
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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Any Major Bill Withers Songbook

April 3rd, 2020 3 comments

With Bill Withers, a giant of soul has left us, at the age of 81. He died on March 30, but his death was reported only today, April 3.

Withers was a superb songwriter — Lovely Day, Ain’t No Sunshine, Lean On Me, Use Me, Grandma’s Hands, Who Is He (And Who Is He To You) and so on are stone-cold soul classics. These and others are perfectly rendered in Withers hands, in their studio versions and often more so in their live performances. But their simplicity allowed other artists great freedom of reinterpretation, especially the slower numbers.

Other than the much-violated Lean On Me, few mediocre acts dared to take on a Withers track. If you dared to, better be prepared to match Withers’ artistry.

Al Jarreau, a tremendous interpreter of other people’s songs, recorded a whole album of Withers songs in 1979. Isaac Hayes included a couple of Withers songs in his live sets, turning Wither’s brief and simple Ain’t No Sunshine into a mini-jazz opera on his Live At The Sahara Tahoe album. Likewise, in this set, The Temptations remold the song, without compromising its integrity.

In my mind, Bill Withers and Gil Scott-Heron were comrades in the trenches. Both were men with something to say  — just hear Withers’ anti-war anthem I Can’t Write Left Handed — and the capacity to do so poetically, and then they set these great lyrics to engaging music. Bill and Gil weren’t the only ones, of course, but they were of a rare breed. Happily, Gil Scott-Heron recorded a Withers track, which features here.

In this present collection, no singer is a mug — there are no pointless covers here. Whether they manage to justice to the originals, you may decide.

Rest in Peace, Bill Withers. May you be reunited with Grandma.

As ever, this mix fits on a standard CD-R, and includes home-made covers, plus a couple of bonus tracks. PW in comments.

1. Georgie Fame – Lovely Day (1979)
2. Al Green – Lean On Me (1984)
3. Gil Scott-Heron – Grandma’s Hands (1982)
4. Marlena Shaw – Just The Two Of Us (2004)
5. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Who Is She (And What Is She To You) (1973)
6. The Temptations – Ain’t No Sunshine (1972)
7. Scott Walker – Use Me (1973)
8. The 5th Dimension – Harlem (1974)
9. Aretha Franklin – Let Me In Your Life (1974)
10. Al Jarreau – Kissing My Love (1979)
11. Elkie Brooks – Paint Your Pretty Picture (1980)
12. Herb Alpert – Love Is (1979)
13. Carolyn Franklin – Sweet Naomi (1973)
14. Carmen McRae – I Wish You Well (1976)
15. Nancy Wilson – Hello Like Before (1997)
16. John Legend & The Roots – I Can’t Write Left Handed (2010)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
Ashford & Simpson
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Leonard Cohen
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

 

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Any Major Pandemic

March 18th, 2020 14 comments

 

There are very few good things about the coronavirus pandemic. But I hope this mix of songs, whose titles refer to this crisis in one way or another, joins clearer skies and balcony-singing in Italy among the few upsides.

Otherwise the effects of this virus are horrible, almost as though scripted by a syndicate of nasty capitalists, possibly headed by a stupid-haired English prime minister with too narrowly-set eyes who believes the culling of old people is good economy.

But all this, too, will pass, and we shall emerge from the Covid-19 wreckage. Possibly unemployed and/or bankrupt (but some tax cuts for the stinking-rich will fix that, I’m sure), but with an experience to tell our grandchildren about. “Yes, Amdwhah III, the US president really said all these idiotic things. Look it up in the hologramnet if you don’t believe me.”

But for now, let’s enjoy this playlist of songs, which effortlessly segues from the hard rock of Hawkwind to hygienic bath-time advice from Ernie and Bert. My one regret is the paucity of suitable songs about toilet paper for inclusion.

Many thanks to commenter “dramref” for song suggestions and making my mind up, on this Wednesday evening, to make this mix.

EDIT: I’m kicking myself for forgetting the song that has given me a conoronavirus earworm (besides The Knack’s My Sharona): Paul Simon’s Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard, with the line, “Goodbye Rosie, Queen of Corona”

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

1. Minutemen – Corona (1984)
2. Ramones – You Sound Like You’re Sick (1981)
3. AC/DC – Touch Too Much (1879)
4. Blue Öyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper (1976)
5. The Smiths – Still Ill (1984)
6. Crowded House – Isolation (2010)
7. The Cardigans – Sick & Tired (1994)
8. Hello Saferide – Get Sick Soon (2005)
9. Ben Lee – Catch My Disease (2004)
10. Ronnie Dyson – Fever (1970)
11. Ringo Starr – All By Myself (1974)
12. Thompson Twins – Doctor Doctor (1984)
13. The The – Infected (1986)
14. Joy Division – Transmission (1979)
15. Warren Zevon – Splendid Isolation (1989)
16. Bob Dylan – Suze (The Cough Song) (1963)
17. Kris Kristofferson – Feeling Mortal (2013)
18. Matchbox 20 – Unwell (2003)
19. The Verve – The Drugs Don’t Work (1997)
20. Manic Street Preachers – Another Invented Disease (1992)
21. Hawkwind – Choose Your Masques (1982)
22. Ernie & Bert – Everybody Wash (1970)

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Any Major Schlager Covers Vol. 2

March 12th, 2020 4 comments

 

In a 1979 interview with the Swiss-German pop magazine, Schlager singer Benny was asked whether recording German versions of foreign songs wasn’t a cop-out for producing good local music. Benny answered along the lines that German versions help listeners with no foreign language skills understand the original song.

But Benny was wrong: at the time the singer himself issued versions of Plastic Bertrand’s Ça Plane Pour Moi and Sham 69’s If The Kids Are Alright, and their lyrics failed to resemble the lyrics of the original. The interviewer had a point: good German tunes were thin on the ground, until the New German Wave hit a couple of years later.

In Any Major Schlager Covers Vol. 1 we looked at German covers of international hits, some of which were pretty good, and others were curious. This second mix repeats that exercise.

It kicks off with the most iconic of the lesser-known cover, a cover of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid by the most quintessential of square Schlager singers, the husband-and-wife duo Cindy & Bert. The Sabbath cover was released when they were still doing music part-time, seeing themselves as serious musicians. Soon Cindy & Bert became staples of clap-along Schlager songs, mostly on Fernweh themes of exotic locations and Spanish guitars in Malaga. Cindy & Bert competed in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, which Sweden’s ABBA won while the German pair finished rock bottom of the table.

Some Schlager singers successfully straddled the line between cultured chanson and banal Schlager. One of them was Greek-born and Germany-raised singer Vicky Leandros, whose father gave up his successful music career to mentor his daughter to stardom. His plan worked: Leandros created two of the great Eurovision classics, both in French representing Luxembourg (no Brexit in the Leandros household): L’amour est Bleu and Aprés Toi (better known in English as Love Is Blue and Then Came You; both featured on Any Major Eurovision). Here Leandros, who also did a fine cover of My Sweet Lord, reinterprets The Box Tops’ The Letter.

Likewise, the great Katja Ebstein was a credible singing artist who had success in Schlager (and in the Eurovision Song Contest, which she finished as runner-up three times). She featured in Vol. 1; here she covers Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. In terms of vocals, I prefer Ebstein’s to those of Mitchell or Judy Collins.

Also part of the Schlager scene but transcending it was the sassy Juliane Werding, who as a 16-year-old landed a huge hit with an anti-drug version of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. Personal problems got in the way of her career which was marked by several comebacks.

The late Jürgen Marcus, on the other hand, was a Schlager singer of the intergenerational clap-along variety, though one always suspected that he could have been much better than that (as did he). His competent but unconvincing cover of the Bee Gees’ Massachussets gives little indication of that, though the arrangement is very nice. Perhaps he was better off singing those catchy Schlager hits.

Also going back to the canon of mid-1960s ballads is Thomas Fritsch’s version of Wichitia Lineman, which also is scored in good taste, with a nice piano solo. Fritsch was an acting star, starting his long career as a child, and never really had great success as a singer.

The weedy voice that croons the Eagles’ New Kid In Town on the old theme of seductive 17-year-olds is that of Frank Farian, who became the male and a female voice of Boney M., and later had Milli Vanilli lip-sync for him.

 

One act here comes from East-Germany, which was not exactly not a mine of pop jewels. So it seems quite fitting that ABBA would be covered by a choir ensemble, the eight-member Gerd Michaelis Chor. Their cover of Waterloo, recorded soon after ABBA won the Eurovision, does the right thing: play it straight, and accept that it won’t be superior to the original.

As a teenager Suzanne Doucet had her first hit with her German take on The Ronettes’ Be My Baby. The daughter of a well-known psychologist went on to become a prolific songwriter, producer and music entrepreneur, as well as an actress. Much of her career was devoted to new age music.

I take no responsibility for some pretty weird covers here. Rock & roll singer John Dattelbaum’s version of Dion’s Runaway is included for its WTF qualities. In it, the singer styles himself as Mädchenschreck (one who frightens off girls); his vocal performance confirms the validity of the title.

Gaby Baginsky recorded her German version of Paul McCartney’s Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey in 1972, a few years before she became a star with traditionally banal Schlager numbers. Incredibly, somebody thought it was a good idea to, firstly, cover that song, and, secondly, to issue her cover as a single. I recently learnt that I had once seen Baginsky in concert, as a support act. I had no memory of that in any way.

At least four acts here are very much not Schlager stars. Christopher & Michael were protest singers in the 1960s, so it seemed obvious that they would cover Barry McGuire’s Eve Of Destruction. The lyrics are certainly heartfelt, and issue a timely reminder that Germans should look at their own society before calling for “Death to Red Russia”. But some in the protest movement saw the twosome as a bit naïve and embarrassing. Joan Baez didn’t think so: she appeared alongside them during a famous protest in Frankfurt in 1966.

I have written before about Jürgen Zeltinger, an overweight, balding, openly gay punk singer often seen in a kaftan who delivered his lyrics in Kölsch, the dialect specific to Cologne. I’ve also posted his cover of the Ramones’ Rockaway Beach before, but include it here because it is so good.

Marius Müller-Westernhagen was better known as an actor before he became a well-known, often quotable rock singer. His voice was not very good, but his lyrics had punch, often of the satirical variety. And then it wasn’t always clear whether he meant it or not, as it was with his song Dicke (“fat people”), which lyrically more than borrowed from Randy Newman’s Short People. Here Müller-Westernhagen adapts Paul McCartney’s sincere but artless Give Ireland Back To The Irish to a call to give Bavaria back to the Bavarians, for the good of West-Germany. For US readers, it’s a bit like telling Texas to secede for the greater good of the USA — except many secession-minded Bavarians would agree with Marius.

Finally, there is The Hunters doing a German cover of the Sweet’s Fox On The Run. The Hunters were already active as an English-language rock band: The Scorpions.

As a bonus track, I offer you the first German rap record, a cover of Rapper’s Delight performed by a trio of German TV music show presenters: Frank Laufenberg, the superbly-named Manfred Sexauer, and Thomas Gottschalk as G.L.S.-United. It is a total disaster as the trio recall their musical influences: other than Gottschalk mentioning “disco, from time to time” and Sexauer remembering Little Richard, they have no black influences. But they rap…

 

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

1. Cindy & Bert – Der Hund von Baskerville (1970 – Paranoid)
2. Gus Ferlin – Es steht ein Haus im Westen (1966 – House Of The Rising Sun)
3. Inga – The Beat Goes On (1967 – The Beat Goes On)
4. Lisa Bauer – Song vom Hilfsarbeiter (1971 – Son Of A Preacherman)
5. Peter Horton – Mrs Robinson (1971 – Mrs Robinson)
6. Christopher & Michael – Wir sind am Ende (1965 – Eve Of Destruction)
7. Jürgen Marcus – Warum kann ich deine Liebe nicht vergessen? (1971 – Massachusetts)
8. Thomas Fritsch – Draht in der Sonne (1969 – Wichita Lineman)
9. Howard Carpendale – Heiss wie Feuer (1971 – Ring Of Fire)
10. Bernd Spier – Memphis Tennessee (1964 – Memphis, Tennessee)
11. John Dattelbaum – Mädchenschreck (1961 – Runaway)
12. Suzanne Doucet – Sei mein Baby (1964 – Be My Baby)
13. Die Five Tops – Frag doch nur dein Herz (1965 – Trains And Boats And Planes)
14. Marion Maerz – Warten und hoffen (1971 – Wishing And Hoping)
15. Vicky Leandros – Er hat mir geschrieben (1971 – The Letter)
16. Anita Traversi – Es ist so schön verliebt zu sein (1965 – As Tears Go By)
17. Katja Ebstein – Beide Seiten (1973 – Both Sides Now)
18. Drafi Deutscher – Weil ich Dich liebe (1970 – Wigwam [by Bob Dylan])
19. Frank Farian – Sie war erst 17 (1977 – New Kid In Town)
20. Gerd Michaelis Chor – Waterloo (1974 – Waterloo)
21. Juliane Werding – Da staunste, was (1977 – Howzat)
22. The Hunters (Scorpions) – Fuchs geh’ voran (1975 – Fox On The Run)
23. Zeltinger Band – Müngersdorfer Stadion (1979 – Rockaway Beach)
24. Benny – Bin wieder frei (1978 – Ça Plane Pour Moi)
25. Marius Müller-Westernhagen – Gebt Bayern zurück an die Bayern (1972 – Give Ireland Back To The Irish)
26. Gaby Baginsky – Von Calais nach Dover (1972 – Admiral Halsey)
Bonus:  G.L.S.-United – Rapper’s Deutsch (1980 – Rapper’s Delight)

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