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Any Major Teen Dreams

May 12th, 2022 33 comments

(This mix was originally posted in 2015)

Any Major Teen Dream

The stuff of teenager-oriented pop has occupied me lately, with the birth of the Bravo Posters site on which I post a few posters a day from old editions of Germany’s Bravo magazine. I think it’s fair to say that when we look back on our teenage obsessions with pop music, the questions that will evoke the most nostalgic vibes are what your first record was, and which posters you had hanging on your wall.

Your first record most probably was not cool. But ask your music-loving friends about the first record they bought, chances are that everybody else bought something really sophisticated. They were eight and bought, depending on their generation, Kind Of Blue, Sly & the Family Stone, Big Star, Too Drunk To Fuck by the Dead Kennedys, or NWA’s F*ck Da Police. They might even tell the truth, so you feel like a bit of a chump if you first record was “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window”, “Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool” or “Ice Ice Baby”.

I confess: for years I did not acknowledge that the first record I bought was a German Schlager hit by Roy Black (not his real name) teaming up with a nine-year-old Norwegian girl named Anita. The single, it must be said, was aimed squarely at my demographic at the time, the five-year-old, and at grandmothers, like mine, who financed my debut vinyl purchase. Couldn’t you have guided me to buy Black Sabbath instead of Roy Black, granny?

For a long time I was also embarrassed to admit that my first English-language record was by the Bay City Rollers. Today I feel no more embarrassment at that than if my first single had been an obscure Northern Soul classic. While the late Roy Black may still lack cool, the passage of time has forgiven the Bay City Rollers for their droll tartan outfits and for being adored by barely pubescent girls. The Ramones admitted a long time ago that they took inspiration from the teen-orientated bubble-gum pop promulgated by Leslie, Woody, Alan, Eric and Derek. The rest of us have taken a little longer to appreciate that BCR weren’t as awful as their trousers led us to believe. And so I’ll pronounce while flinching only slightly: I was a BCR fan, even though I was a boy. And I liked Woody the best.

The phenomenon of teen idols precedes the advent of Rock & Roll. There was Bing Crosby, who charmed the girls and their Moms in the 1930s. Then came the Bobbysoxers who screamed for young Frank Sinatra from Hoboken, NJ. Then came rock. Elvis provided many a young girl with her first experience of celebrity-inspired wet knickers. But these were singularities, quite extraordinary performers. True, the combination of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s ascent and the Bobbysoxer legacy (among other social events) created a wave of singers marketed directly to the teen market: the likes of Troy Donahue, Fabian, Frankie Avalon or Paul Anka in the US, Marty Wilde in Britain, or Peter Kraus in Germany.

But arguably the real teen revolution came with the ’60s and Beatlemania. It was a whole new deal which inspired a new culture of teen idolatry; some accidental, some manufactured to cash in on the Beatles.

teen dream gallery 1Early teen idol prodigies of the1960s included Billy J Kramer (whose “Bad To Me” was written by Lennon & McCartney) in Britain, The Monkees in the US, and Herman’s Hermits in both countries. Like the Backsteeet Boys or the Spice Girls and their ilk 30 years later, The Monkees were an assembled group calculated to appeal to diverse constituencies within the projected fanbase. The Beatles provided the template: Paul, the cute happy one; John, the tough cynical one; George, the quiet serious one; Ringo, the pet. And the calculation obviously worked; the Monkees were huge, thanks to their image, and their records were great, thanks to brilliant song selection and the seasoned session musicians of the Wrecking Crew.

In the early 1970s, the pretense of musical authenticity evaporated in the US. The Archies had a worldwide hit in 1969/70 with “Sugar Sugar” (as song The Monkees had turned down). Based on the comic, they weren’t even the group. Where The Monkees were a literary equivalent of a photo novel, The Archies actually were a cartoon. The fiction wouldn’t stop there. The Partridge Family was a TV band, backed by the flair of, again, the Wrecking Crew, and the beauty of the talented David Cassidy and, for the boys, Susan Dey. Things would become charmingly peculiar when the Brady Bunch, whose kids weren’t musicians even in the fiction of the show, started releasing records. At the same time, some groups didn’t bother with instruments, even if one or the other minor Jackson 5 did parade with a guitar occasionally, if that could be choreographed into the dance routine.

In Britain, the teen-oriented acts were more credible. T Rex, the Sweet or Slade played their own instruments and produced some fantastic pop whose appeal conquered the linits of age. Other acts were clearly manipulated or manufactured for marketing purposes. Questions remain about how much Woody, Eric, Alan and Derek contributed to the Bay City Rollers on record (we do know that Leslie did sing, and Alan, Eric and Woody wrote a good number of songs).

Based on the template of the early ’70s, UK record label bosses tried to cash in on presenting acts like Hello and Slik (featuring future Ultravox frontman Midge Ure) as the teen dreams they did not aspire to be. The calculation bombed. Hello and Slik were one hit wonders, groups like the Dead End Kids and Buster never took off, BCR disintegrated slowly after Leslie McKeown left (to be replaced by Duncan Faure of South African teeny giants Rabbit), Sweet grew beards and dabbled with prog rock, Dave Hill of Slade shaved his head, and punk happened. The teen dream was dead. Out of punk grew the New Romantic movement, and with it Smash Hits, giving rise to a new generation of organically grown teen idols: Duran Duran, Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet.

In the US, the family idols gig — Jacksons, Osmonds, “Partridge” — slowly lost its lustre. As the late ’70s neared, the pursuit was on for the next pretty boy in the mold of David Cassidy. And so teens were introduced the charms of David’s half-brother Shaun (whose 1977 song provides the title for this mix), Leif Garrett (like David, a child TV star), Andy Gibb and, of course, John Travolta. The time would come for the rise of the boy band, in the US and Britain, with The Monkees and the Bay City Rollers providing a template, but minus the pretense of members playing instruments in terms of personnel selection, and the Jackson 5 inspiring the idea of four or five chaps harmonising their choreography.

teen dream gallery 2

With all that in mind, here is the Any Major Teen Dreams mix, featuring acts that featured on the postered walls of pre-and freshly-pubescent kids, and were marketed as such, between 1963 and 1978.  As ever, the lot is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-lipsynched covers. You might also enjoy the Any Major Teenagers mix of songs about, well, being teenagers.

Now my question to you: what was the first single you bought?

1. The Beatles – Do You Want To Know A Secret (1963)
2. Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas – Bad To Me (1963)
3. Herman’s Hermits – No Milk Today (1966)
4. The Monkees – Last Train To Clarksville (1966)
5. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – The Legend Of Xanadu (1968)
6. Tommy Roe – Dizzy (1969)
7. The Archies – Sugar Sugar (1969)
8. Bobby Sherman – Little Woman (1969)
9. The Jackson 5 – The Love You Save (1970)
10. The Partridge Family – I Woke Up In Love This Morning (1971)
11. Sweet – Co-Co (1971)
12. T. Rex – Metal Guru (1972)
13. David Cassidy – Daydreamer (1973)
14. The Osmonds – Love Me For A Reason (1974)
15. David Essex – Gonna Make You A Star-old (1974)
16. Hello – Tell Him (1974)
17. Bay City Rollers – Rock & Roll Love Letter (1975)
18. Slik – Forever And Ever (1976)
19. John Travolta – Let Her In (1976)
20. Andy Gibb – I Just Wanna Be Your Everything (1977)
21. Leif Garrett – Surfin’ USA (1977)
22. Buster – Love Rules (1977)
23. Shaun Cassidy – Teen Dream (1977)

GET IT! or HERE!

And don’t forget to check out Bravo Posters!

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Any Major Carole King Songbook Vol. 2

April 28th, 2022 1 comment

 

All she ever wanted to be was a suburban housewife, and yet she wrote some of the greatest hits of the early 1960s, and in a second career released one of the great albums of all time. She inspired Lennon-McCartney, having written as bunch of hits by the time her contemporaries started to record theirs. Carole King wrote or co-write so many sings that her career merits a second Songbook, following on from Any Major Carole King Songbook Vol. 1.

Carole King framed her music around the lyrics created by her songwriting partners — chiefly one-time husband Gerry Goffin and later Toni Stern — or, of course, by herself. Sometimes the melody would be at odds with the lyrics. Take Good Care Of My Baby is far too jolly — but what a tune. It features here in King’s demo version. More often, the melody would give the lyrics their character. Think of Natural Woman, whose gorgeous melody complements those beautiful lyrics (written by a man, Gerry Goffin, and performed on this mix by a man, Bobby Womack), or the percussive thrusting melody of I Feel The Earth Move.

I love King as a singer. I love that intimate, slightly imperfect voice and its economic application. That impeccable phrasing. So it’s rather a pity that King did not record all those great hits of the early and mid-1960s herself: Up On The Roof, I’m Into Something Good, One Fine Day, Chains, The Loco-motion and so on. We have an idea of how that might have been when a decade after it was a #1 for The Shirelles (when King was still 18!), she recorded Will You Love Me Tomorrow on Tapestry. Or, of course, listen to her 1962 single It Might As Well Rain Until September.

Before her solo career, King had a shot at vocal stardom as the lead singer of The City — with future husband Charles Larkey and future Tapestry collaborator Danny Kortchmar — but King’s reluctance to play live and distribution troubles prevented their one album from becoming a hit. But what a star King might have been even before Tapestry (for which she also the Tapestry Recovered mix).

But in those the division of labour was still entrenched: songwriters wrote the songs, singers sang them. Funny enough, it was those guys whom King had inspired — Lennon-McCartney, Brian Wilson — and those whose work opened the way for auteur albums like Tapestry — Dylan et al — who were at the spearhead which broke down that old way of doing things.

In any case, King was not interested in being a pop star. During the Brill Building days, her vision of life was to be a mother in the suburbs. And after Tapestry, she was drawn to the rural life in Idaho (not undramatically; her lifestory had its share of commotion). So here we have the reluctant music legend who resides in music history as one of pop’s greatest treasures

As on Volume 1, the bulk of the songs here were written with Gerry Goffin (tracks 1-3,6-7,10-11,14-24). Others were written with Toni Stern (4 and 8), and the rest were all Carole on her own (5,9, 12-13). The track by The Isley Brothers incorporates their own Keep On Walkin’. There are more covers of Carole King songs on the Brill Building Covered mix.

So, here’s the first lot of Carole King compositions. The lot is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-locomotioned covers and the above text in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. Little Eva – Some Kind-A Wonderful (1962)
2. The Chiffons – One Fine Day (1963)
3. The Monkees – Pleasant Valley Sunday (1967)
4. The City – Now That Everything’s Been Said (1968)
5. Johnny Rivers – So Far Away (1971)
6. Bobby Womack – Natural Man (1973)
7. Isaac Hayes – Hey Girl (1986)
8. The Isley Brothers – Sweet Season/Keep On Walkin’ (1972)
9. Rita Coolidge – Walk On In (1981)
10. The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Never Born To Follow (1996)
11. Nick Lowe – Halfway To Paradise (1977)
12. Jo Mama – Smack Water Jack (1971)
13. Anne Murray – Beautiful (1972)
14. Roberta Flack – Will You Love Me Tomorrow (1971)
15. Turley Richards – Child Of Mine (1971)
16. Paul Davis – When My Little Girl Is Smiling (1971)
17. Sandie Shaw – The Right To Cry (1969)
18. Dusty Springfield – No Easy Way Down (1969)
19. Percy Sledge – So Much Love (1966)
20. The Drifters – At The Club (1965)
21. Betty Everett – I Can’t Hear You (1964)
22. Everly Brothers – Chains (1962)
23. The Righteous Brothers – Just Once In My Life (1965)
24. Carole King – Take Good Care Of My Baby (1961)
BONUS TRACK:
Gene McDaniels – Point Of No Return (1962)
Crusaders – So Far Away (live) (1981)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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Categories: Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs, Songwriters Tags:

Life in Vinyl 1988

April 21st, 2022 2 comments

 

In the 1980s, South Africa suffered shit like apartheid — we didn’t know it yet, but by 1988 that cockroach was soon about to turn on its back and die — but it also had sunshine and a great phenomenon called record libraries. These shops, the most famous chain of these called Disque, were like record stores, except there you could hire records, both latest releases and a great selection of old LPs cutting across genres.

It was a great way of test-driving albums: like them, and buy them in a proper record shop; don’t like them, don’t buy them — and maybe tape them (they might grow on you). Apart from test-driving new releases, these record libraries provided fantastic ways of getting into older music — I remember getting into acts like Little Feat and Van Morrison by that route as a teenager in 1982/83 — or exploring genres I wasn’t familiar with.

Obviously, the record companies and shops didn’t like these places. Hometaping was killing music, as we can see by the absence of music today. I murderously home-taped, but I bought more records because of these shops than I might have otherwise. In 1989 they were finally declared illegal.

The record libraries may explain my genre-hopping ways, which is quite evident on this mix of records I bought in 1988. There’s the indie stylings of Bjork on The Sugarcubes’ hit, the protest folk of Tracy Chapman, the stadium rock of U2 and INXS, the soul music of the unjustly non-famous UK singer Keni Stevens and his compatriot Mica Paris. The mix could also have included jazz fusion and dance tracks.

There are some LPs from this set I longer own: they were lost (The Primitives), weeded out (The Church, U2), or warped in the sun (Will Downing). Some I’d happily listen to if they came on, others I’d not bother (Hothouse Flowers, Tanita Tikaram). A few I still play on occasion: Everything But The Girl’s gorgeous Idlewind, Tracy Chapman’s stunning eponymous debut album, Keni Stevens’ You, and The Pogues’ If I Should Fall From Grace With God.

I think 1988 was the last year when I bought new-release LPs at such a rate and in such diversity. 1989 was a pretty bad year for music, and in 1990 I bought mostly records to play in my role as party DJ. By 1991 vinyl was being phased out in South Africa, and I never fell in love with CDs.

I am adding a bunch of surprise bonus tracks to this lot. So, here is the vibe round my place 34 years ago!

As always, CD-R length, home-hired covers, illustrated PDF, PW in comments.

1. The Primitives – Crash
2. Aztec Camera – Somewhere In My Heart
3. Prefab Sprout – Cars And Girls
4. The Sugarcubes – Birthday
5. The Housemartins – There Is Always Something There To Remind Me
6. The Men They Couldn’t Hang – The Colours
7. The Pogues – Streets Of Sorrow/Birmingham Six
8. The Church – Under The Milky Way
9. Hothouse Flowers – Don’t Go
10. INXS – Never Tear Us Apart
11. Everything But The Girl – Love Is Here Where I Live
12. Sade – Love Is Stronger Than Pride
13. Keni Stevens – 24-7-365
14. Will Downing – A Love Supreme
15. Mica Paris – My One Temptation
16. Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ ‘Bout A Revolution
17. Fairground Attraction – Find My Love
18. Tanita Tikaram – Good Tradition
19. Toto – Pamela
20. U2 – Angel Of Harlem

GET IT! or HERE!

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 12

April 12th, 2022 2 comments

 

 

I have previously expressed my disdain for the term “yacht rock” to describe… well, the kind of music featured in the Not Feeling Guilty series, whose name itself is a play on another hated phrase, “guilty pleasures”. But this 12th volume does sound like sunshine and wind in your hair (if you have any). Like you might experience on a yacht.

Though, since most of us are not oligarchs, the sun and wind effect might be more likely achieved by driving in an open-top car. But since most of us aren’t rich, we may need to make do with riding on a bicycle on a sunny day while playing this mix. But that, in turn, creates health-and-safety problems: firstly, you ought to wear helmet on your hair, and secondly you should be alert to traffic noises, unadulterated by the great music on this collection. Either way, the term yacht rock is crap, even if the music it describes evokes beautiful summer days and sweet summer nights.

On this collection we meet again several acts that featured on previous mixes, and a number which enter the series at this stage. One of these in an English act from Manchester, Sad Café. The featured song, Every Day Hurts, was a UK #3 hit in 1979. Lead singer Paul Young (not that one) later became co-lead singer with Paul Carrack in Michael + The Mechanics. Carrack, in turn, had been the lead singer of Ace, another English band which featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 1 and Vol. 5.

The lead singer of The Doobie Brothers makes a solo appearance here. Having left the band in 1982, Patrick Simmons had a bit of a hit with the disco track So Wrong (and it was). The featured track, Why You Givin’ Up, is from the same album, Arcade. You can almost hear Michael McDonald in that song (there is another song on which you actually do hear McDonald, but more on that later).

Also not exactly obscure, Felix Cavaliere makes his first appearance here. The former singer and organist of the Young Rascals had a successful soft-rock period, scoring a hit in 1980 with Only A Lonely Heart Sees, which is on my Not Feeling Guilty shortlist, but I doubt it will ever feature. The far superior featured track is from 1975.

That’s the same year The Rhinestones issues their eponymous album which includes the happiness-inducing One Time Love. The group was led by Kal David (formerly of Illinois Speed Press) and Harvey Brooks (Electric Flag) and for their first few excellent albums went by the name of The Fabulous Rhinestones. Their R&B-flavoured rock was popular with the critics but that didn’t translate to commercial success. For their last album in 1975, without founding member Marty Gebb (formerly of The Buckinghams) as a permanent member, they dropped the “Fabulous” from their name.  We encounter Kal David a few songs and five years later, doing backing vocals on Robbie Dupree’s It’s Too Late.

It’s a pity Homi & Jarvis released only one album. On their one effort, in 1983, they were backed by some fusion heavyweights, including Marcus Miller, Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour. English-born Amanda Homi, who was of Indian descent, had a lovely voice with an impressive range, reminiscent of Deniece Williams. It was well-complemented by the soft-rock stylings of Brian Jarvis. Homi never achieved commercial success, but has made a career of picking up musical traditions from countries as various as Greece, Jamaica and Senegal.

South Africa’s Karl Kilkillus featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 4 with the excellent Another Shore. Here is the rare flip-side. At the time Kikillus was a popular radio DJ, and he’d go on to become a popular TV presenter of South Africa’s only pop videos show in the 1980s. To my knowledge, he recorded nothing else.

The mix closes with a track from 1980 by the Canadian band Straight Lines. They went on to have a big hit in 1982 with the ballad Letting Go. But when the follow-up singles flopped, the band split later that year. By the time Straight Lines won a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys) for Letting Go in 1983, they no longer were together. Everybody Wants To Be A Star — but they weren’t.

As promised when I posted the Carole Bayer Sager Songbook, here’s her original of It’s The Falling In Love, which is better known in Michael Jackson’s version on Off The Wall. Carole Bayer Sager’s version, which is gloriously arranged, features Michael McDonald on backing vocals.

Bayer Sager co-wrote a few tracks on the album from which Melissa Manchester’s Just Too Many People comes from, titled Melissa, but this featured track was written by Manchester united with producer Vini Poncia. Another track on that album is Party People, with The Rhinestones on backing vocals (they also recorded it on their album).

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R for that retro CD player in the car you’ll cruise down the summer roads as you play this superb mix. Home-sailed covers are included, as well as an illustrated PDF with all the bumph above. PW in comments.

1. The Rhinestones – One Time Love (1975)
2. Felix Cavaliere – Never Felt Love Before (1975)
3. Rita Coolidge – You (1978)
4. Heat – Whatever It Is (1980)
5. Average White Band – For You, For Love (1980)
6. Robbie Dupree – It’s A Feeling (1980)
7. Brooklyn Dreams – Fallin’ In Love (1980)
8. David Roberts – Never Gonna Let You Go (1982)
9. Karl Kikillus – Fallen Angel (1983)
10. Patrick Simmons – Why You Givin’ Up (1983)
11. Homi & Jarvis – I’m In Love Again (1983)
12. Carole Bayer Sager – It’s The Falling In Love (1978)
13. Terence Boylan – Shake It (1977)
14. Pages – If I Saw You Again (1978)
15. Sad Café – Every Day Hurts (1979)
16. Bill Champlin – Gotta Get Back To Love (1981)
17. Melissa Manchester – Just Too Many People (1975)
18. America – You Could’ve Been The One (1980)
19. Exile – Take Me Down (1980)
20. Straight Lines – Everybody Wants To Be A Star (1980)

GET IT! 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
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 10
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 11

Saved! Vol. 6 – The Angels edition

April 1st, 2022 12 comments

Angels cover

Recently I stumbled on this mix from 2015, ad found I enjoyed it very much. And with Easter approaching, the subject matter of angels seems to fit. Originally this mix was part of ther SAVED! series, even though this lot of songs is not particularly riffing on religious themes, even though angels are very much part of religious (and pagan) dogma.

So this mix of songs addresses the subject of angels from different perspectives: as those ethereal beings with wings, of course, but also as goodhearted people, love interests and metaphors. Unlike the angels in heavy metal, who must either bleed or fall or are evil, those represented here mostly are doing saving through acts of love — and that also suits the theme of Easter.

And I managed to cobble together this mix without resort to Robbie Williams, U2, The Eurythmics or Sarah MacLachlan, nor songs about one-night stands. I even had to leave some good songs out. What is remarkable, though, is that three songs about angels here were released posthumously: those by Jimi Hendrix, Gram Parsons and Hank Williams.

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

1. Jimi Hendrix – Angel (1970)
2. The Black Crowes – She Talks To Angels (1990)
3. Delbert McClinton – Sending Me Angels (1997)
4. Aretha Franklin – Angel (1973)
5. Abba – Like An Angel Passing Through My Room (1981)
6. Martina McBride – Wild Angels (1995)
7. Glen Campbell – Angel Dream (2008)
8. Rilo Kiley – The Angels Hung Around (2007)
9. Jordan Trotter – Angels By My Side (2008)
10. Mindy Smith – Angel Doves (2004)
11. Cry Cry Cry – Speaking With The Angel (1998)
12. Jack Johnson – Angel (2008)
13. Chris Rea – God Gave Me An Angel (2000)
14. David Sylvian – When Poets Dreamed Of Angels (1987)
15. Emmylou Harris – Angel Band (1987)
16. Bob Dylan – Three Angels (1970)
17. Kris Kristofferson – Hall Of Angels (2009)
18. The Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys – Angel Band (1955)
19. Hank Williams – Angel Of Death (rel. 1954)
20. Edna Gallmon Cooke – Angels, Angels, Angels (c. 1950)
21. The Crew-Cuts – Angels In The Sky (1955)
22. Bobby Helms – You Are My Special Angel (1958)
23. The Louvin Brothers – The Angels Rejoiced Last Night (1959)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous SAVED! mixes

Categories: God Grooves, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major Elton John & Bernie Taupin Songbook

March 24th, 2022 10 comments

 

Just a couple of hours ago as I write this, Elton John’s 1985 hit Nikita came on the car radio. I hadn’t heard that song for a long while, and I was grateful for that, in as far as I paid the wretched song’s absence in my life any attention. I dislike it now as much as I did when I first heard it in November 1985. And it’s not like I was anti-Elton back in 1985. I bought Act Of War, his duet with Millie Jackson, on 12” that summer, unheard. Which was a mistake. I also bought the follow-up to Nikita, a record called Wrap Her Up featuring the late Wham! bassist Deon Estus. That, too, has not aged well.

Some years later, Elton John had his first solo UK #1 with Sacrifice, a turgid number for the CD generation. Nothing the erstwhile Reg Dwight has produced since has impressed me, other than Hakuna Matata from The Lion King.

In fairness, the man produced some great songs in the 1980s, before he offended with Nikita. I’m Still Standing is a superb piece of songwriting, arrangement and vocal performance (plus, it had a great video). I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues was vintage Elton. And I did like Passengers, in the way of nursery-rhyme-pop. That was intended as an anti-apartheid song, though you had to be told it was to know. Perhaps it was Elton’s way of saying sorry for having helped legitimise apartheid by playing at Sun City in 1983. Which is a lot more than what Queen, The Beach Boys, Linda Ronstadt, Cher, Millie Jackson, Status Quo or Rod Stewart did.

But very little of what Elton John produced in the 1980s comes close to the incredible run of songwriting genius which he and lyricist Bernie Taupin put together from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. And it is this run of genius this collection of covers of John/Taupin songs celebrates, by way of marking Elton John’s 75th birthday on March 25.

So, all of these songs are from the 1970s, except one bonus track: I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues, performed by Major Schiffer & Majories Bundeswehr Showband — a band of the German army. It appeared on a 1985 album titled Tanzweltmeisterschaft (Dancing World Championship). It is surprisingly okay, with the vocals soulful and the arrangement competent, with a heartfelt sax solo. One might have expected a Bundeswehr Showband to go the easy listening route, maybe a bit like James Last, but with more oomp than oomph. Well, not so.

There are plenty of easy listening covers of Elton John’s 1970s tunes; none feature here. But some tracks just don’t have many good covers. Candle In The Wind, for example, is a song so Elton that it’s very difficult to re-interpret well. I suspect the present version, by Sandy Denny, is about the only good cover of the song. For Daniel, I had to go to France (alas, I knew of no good Spanish covers).

Bernie Taupin and Elton John in 1971. (Wikipedia/PD-PRE1978)

Some John/Taupin classics are missing altogether, such as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. The former has already featured on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Recovered set (though I do recycle two tracks from that collection here), so I didn’t recycle that version. And I didn’t expect to find a great cover of Crocodile Rock, the first Elton John song I loved, long before I even knew who the guy was. My older sister had the single, and I loved it as a seven-year-old (mainly the falsetto bits).

An unusual number of covers here are live versions: Neil Diamond reworks Rocket Man (superbly), Ben Folds does Tiny Dancer, Brandi Carlile does Sixty Years On with the Seattle philharmonic orchestra, Heart do the gorgeous Seasons, and George Michael eclipses Elton John in his stunning rendition of Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me from Live Aid, guesting on Elton’s set. The latter is also far superior to the hit version from 1995. The Live Aid version invariably gives goosebumps (and how about that drummer?).

In the 1970s, much was made of the rivalry between Elton John and Rod Stewart; they more lately had a bigger feud about some slight by someone over something or other that was said. On his fine Gasoline Alley album, Rod covered Elton’s 1970 song Country Life, with Jack Reynolds (aka Harry) from the rock band Silver Metre on backing vocals. And then Rod borrowed a little bit of 1970’s The Greatest Discovery (covered here by The Lettermen) for his song The Killing Of Georgie.

One song here is not a cover: Snookeroo was written by John & Taupin for Ringo Starr, who in the US titled it No No Song. Elton John provides the count-in and plays the piano on the song.

Quite a few songs here may be unfamiliar to those who have followed Elton John’s career only casually. By my count, only ten of the featured 28 tracks were UK single releases. Elton John fans, I hope, will enjoy the interpretations of the lesser-known songs; and those who don’t may well be turned on to Elton John’s incredible run of great albums between 1970 and 1974 or 1975 (in my view, everything from 1970s eponymous album to at least 1975’s Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy).

As always, CD-R length, home-tinydancered covers, and the above in PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Who – Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) (1991)
2. George Michael – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (1985)
3. Ben Folds – Tiny Dancer (2002)
4. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Philadelphia Freedom (1991)
5. Billy Paul – Your Song (1972)
6. Walter Jackson – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word (1977)
7. Latimore – Take Me To The Pilot (1973)
8. Bo Diddley – Bad Side Of The Moon (1971)
9. Al Kooper – Come Down In Time (1971)
10. Rod Stewart – Country Comfort (1970)
11. Marie Laforet – Daniel (1974)
12. Sandy Denny – Candle In The Wind (1977)
13. Square Set – Friends (1972)
14. Colin Blunstone – Planes (1976)
15. Neil Diamond – Rocket Man (1978)
16. Heart – Seasons (1995)
17. Mandy Moore – Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters (2003)
18. Brandi Carlile – Sixty Years On (2011)
Bonus:
Lee Ann Womack – Honky Cat (2018)
Ringo Starr – Snookeroo (1974)
Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’77 – Where To Now St Peter (1976)
Kate Taylor – Ballad Of A Well Known Gun (1971)
Three Dog Night – Lady Samantha (1969)
The Letterman – The Greatest Discovery (1971)
Mary McCreary – Levon (1974)
Diana Ross – Harmony (1976)
Major Schiffer & Majories/Bundeswehr Showband – I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues (1985)
Solomon Burke – Three Psalms For Elton (1972)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

Categories: Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs, Songwriters Tags:

Any Major Carole Bayer Sager Songbook

March 8th, 2022 8 comments

 

Today, on March 8, the lyricist Carole Bayer Sager celebrates her 75th birthday, and so it’s good to mark the occasion with Any Major Songbook of songs she has co-written.

Unlike the Carole whose works we enjoyed last month on Any Major Carole King Songbook Vol. 1, this Carole is easily underestimated. Much of it has to do with the music which scores her often exquisite lyrics. Many of the songs were written for movie soundtracks in the 1980s and ’90s, and are arranged according to those requirements, and few lay down the funk or shred with punk. And yet, those movie songs include such greats as Arthur’s Theme and Nobody Does It Better. For the latter, Bayer Sager had to work in the title of the Bond flick it scored without it sounding embarrassing — a task even Paul McCartney found difficult to execute (he, too, succeeded in it).

Bayer Sager is a superb observer of adult relationships especially. Witness this line from On My Own: “Now we’re up to talking divorce and we were not even married”.

Bayer Sager writes the words; the music has been written by legendary composers such as her ex-husband Burt Bacharach, Marvin Hamlisch, Neil Sedaka, Marvin Hamlisch, Michael Masser, and David Foster (the latter has written some relentlessly bad stuff, but he also committed strokes of genius like Cheryl Lynn’s Got To Be Real).

She has also written frequently with Australian soft-rocker Peter Allen and fellow soft-rock auteur Bruce Roberts, whom we encountered on Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 11. And with Albert Hammond, she co-wrote the later Leo Sayer hit When I Need You, and its b-side, which features here as a bonus track (and on which Hammond shamelessly plagiarised himself).

Pleasingly, there was a convergence of the two great Caroles in 1998, when Carole King co-wrote the song Anyone At All with Bayer Sager, and recorded it for the You’ve Got Mail soundtrack.

Like King, Carole Bayer (as she was then) started out on the Brill Building scene, while still a student at New York City’s High School of Music and Art. There she collaborated with Toni Wine, whose voice we heard this month on Sugar Sugar, in the line “I’m gonna make your life so sweet”, on Any Major Sugar. Carole, still only 18, produced one of the earliest uses of the word “groovy” in song lyrics, in A Groovy Kind Of Love, co-written with Wine and first recorded in 1965 by the rather obscure duo Diane & Annita, and soon a global hit for The Mindbenders (and 23 years later for Phil Collins). See Any Major Originals – The Classics for more on that song.

After the Brill Building era, during which she also wrote for The Monkees, she became Carole Bayer Sager, having married record producer Andrew Sager in 1970. She then worked a lot with up-and-coming singer Melissa Manchester. Then she hooked up, in more ways than one, with Marvin Hamlisch, and then with Burt Bacharach, to whom she was married from 1982-91.

In between, Bayer Sager released three albums, which were quite good. One of them featured the song It’s The Falling In Love, which Michael Jackson would later record for Off The Wall. Bayer Sager’s version will feature on the next Not Feeling Guilty mix. In return, Jackson did backing vocals on Carole’s 1981 song Just Friends (see the Michael Jackson Backing Vocals Collection)

Like that song, a few songs here are better known in their cover versions than in the featured originals: Rod Stewart’s bearable version of That’s What Friends Are For from the 1982 Nightshift soundtrack (I do not like the 1985 all-star hit version at all); and Starmaker by Carole’s frequent collaborator Bruce Roberts, which later became famous in The Kids from Fame. I’ve decided to go with the Family Brown soul version of When I Need You, rather than Hammond’s original or Leo Sayer’s hit. (Get Hammond’s original on Any Major Originals – 1970s Vol. 1).

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R (that is, by excluding the “bonus tracks), and includes how-scribbled covers, and the text above in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Monkees – The Girl I Left Behind Me (1969, with Neil Sedaka)
2. The Mindbenders – Groovy Kind Of Love (1965, with Toni Wine)
3. Terry Rice-Milton – Your Heart’s Not In Your Love (1970, with Neil Sedaka)
4. Melissa Manchester – If It Feels Good (Let It Ride) (1973, with Melissa Manchester)
5. Pointer Sisters – The Love Too Good To Last (1980, with Peter Allen & Burt Bacharach)
6. Cheryl Lynn – Come In From The Rain (1978, with Melissa Manchester)
7. Roberta Flack & Peabo Bryson – Maybe (1983, with Burt Bacharach & Marvin Hamlisch)
8. Christopher Cross – Arthur’s Theme (1981, with Peter Allen & Burt Bacharach)
9. Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better (1977, with Marvin Hamlisch)
10. Diana Ross – It’s My Turn (1980, with Michael Masser)
11. Dolly Parton – You’re The Only One (1979, with Bruce Roberts)
12. Elkie Brooks – Don’t Cry Out Loud (1978, with Peter Allen)
13. Carole King – Anyone At All (1998, with Carole King)
14. Aretha Franklin & Michael McDonald – Ever Changing Times (1991, with Burt Bacharach & Bill Conti)
15. Reba McEntire – On My Own (1995, with Burt Bacharach)
16. Family Brown – When I Need You (1978, with Albert Hammond)
17. Thelma Jones – I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love (1978, with Peter Allen)
18. Michael Jackson – It’s The Falling In Love (1979, with David Foster)
19. Peter Allen – Fly Away (1980, with Peter Allen)
20. Chris Hillman – Heartbreaker (1977, with David Wolfert)
21. Bruce Roberts – Starmaker (1977, with Bruce Roberts)
22. Rod Stewart – That’s What Friends Are For (1982, with Burt Bacharach)
Bonus Tracks:
Randy Crawford – One Hello (1982, with Marvin Hamlisch)
Chaka Khan – Stronger Than Before (1984, with Burt Bacharach & Bruce Roberts)
The Moments – I Don’t Wanna Go (1976, with Bruce Roberts)
Albert Hammond – Moonlight Lady (1976, with Albert Hammond)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole King Vol. 1
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

Categories: Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs, Songwriters Tags:

Any Major Sugar

February 24th, 2022 6 comments

Any major health update: recently I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, so with this collection of songs about sugar, honey, candy and sweet things I’m saying goodbye to sugar, honey, candy and sweet things.

Before you make funeral arrangements for me, however, be reassured that my diabetes is of the more managable Type 2. I’m responding well to medication, and my healthier lifestyle is helping shed a few excess pounds (not that I had been struggling with it, but my body was taking on a decidedly middle-age form). So while I’m not exactly thrilled about the diagnosis — this shit can kill you, as it did one of my siblings — I’m rather upbeat about how this condition has forced me to adapt my diet and exercise regimen, to good effect. Plus, my severe reduction on beer and wine consumption is helping keep the bar fridge filled. And before you ask, I take my coffee without sugar.

The songs here may talk about sugar, honey, candy and sweet things, but in most of them, these things are euphemisms, usually for sex or romance or drugs — even my new national anthem, Sugar Free. In fact, if Sammy Davis’ Candy Man isn’t about drugs — and the jury is out on that — the most innocent metaphor here is the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. When I asked my doctor if I should take a spoonful of sugar with my diabetes medicine, she humourlessly replied: “No”. Or maybe she laughed; who knows what goes on behind those Covid masks?So here are 24 sweet songs, timed to fit on a standard CD-R with home-xylotoled covers. PW in comments.

1. The Archies – Sugar Sugar (1969)
2. Four Tops – I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) (1965)
3. The Searchers – Sweets For My Sweet (1963)
4. The Strangeloves – I Want Candy (1965)
5. Brian Poole & The Tremeloes – Candy Man (1964)
6. Rodriguez – Sugar Man (1970)
7. Ernie Hines – Sugar Plum (Gimme Some) (1972)
8. Sugar Billy – Sugar Pie (1975)
9. Vivian Reed – Brown Sugar (1976)
10. Luther Vandross – Sugar And Spice (1981)
11. Juicy – Sugar Free (1985)
12. Don Downing – Sugar & Spice (1978)
13. Stevie Wonder – Sugar (1970)
14. The Beach Boys – Wild Honey (1967)
15. Nancy Sinatra – Sugar Town (1966)
16. Lynsey De Paul – Sugar Me (1972)
17. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Just Like Honey (1985)
18. Joseph Arthur – Honey And The Moon (2002)
19. Brandi Carlile – Sugartooth (2018)
20. Leonard Nimoy – Cotton Candy (1968)
21. Nina Simone – I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl (1967)
22. The Astors – Candy (1965)
23. Sammy Davis Jr. – The Candy Man (1971)
24. Julie Andrews – A Spoonful Of Sugar (1964)

Plus a bunch of bonus tracks by acts like Sam Cooke, The Cure, Mungo Jerry, David Ruffin and more…

GET IT! or HERE!

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Any Major Hits from 1972 – Vol. 1

January 25th, 2022 4 comments

 

1972 was the year I started school. More importantly, it was the year I bought my very first record, at the age of 6. Officially, I’ll claim that “it probably was something like Spoon by Can or Soul Makossa by Manu Dibangu, bought the same day I got Miles Davis’ On The Corner LP”. In reality it was this minor masterpiece of genre-shattering innovation and revolutionary fervour.

I was already keen on music, and at 5-6 years old, my interest was becoming keener. It helped that my mother and older siblings were buying records. My mother bought Poppa Joe by The Sweet, my older sister Elton John’s Crocodile Rock, another sister Beautiful Sunday by the English singer Daniel Boone and Chicago’s Saturday In The Park — though the latter wasn’t a hit in Germany, and Chicago wasn’t generally her style. I suspect a boyfriend bought it for her. And my older brother had a way of turning current hit songs into comedy by changing their lyrics into doggerel which I found amusing, in the way 5-6 year-olds find that kind of thing entertaining. One of them was Dr Hook’s Sylvia’s Mother, which itself was supposed to be comedic in its deliberate overwroughtness.

I can’t say I remember all, or even most, of the songs on the two Any Major Hits from 1972 mixes that are running this year (Volume 2 will drop later this year). But it was a good year for hit singles, as evidenced by the fact of two mixes for 1972.

This first mix concentrates on records that were at least Top 20 hits in the US; the second will cover the UK/Europe. But there was some of cross-pollination, in both directions. Alice Cooper’s School’s Out, The Osmonds’ Crazy Horses and the Carpenters’ I Won’t Last A Day Without You were actually bigger hits in the UK than they were in the US. UK acts on this mix are the above-mentioned Daniel Boone, The Hollies and Badfinger (who were also the originators of the Nilsson hit Without You, as covered in Any Major Originals – 1970s)

Talking of Crazy Horses”: It was a rather unusual song for the otherwise rather tame Osmonds. For one thing, teen idols singing about the environment — the titular equines refer to cars, with their polluting properties. So long before Greta, there was Donny! For another thing, it was young Donny who came up with that crazy whinnying sound on his keyboard. He was not just a pretty face with big teeth.

In compiling these things — we’ve already covered 1970 and 1971 as well as 1961 and 1944 — the idea isn’t really to pick the best hits of the year, or a representative cross-section — though some songs here may be among the year’s best and the mix may reflect the sound of the era — but a selection that captures the vibe of the year in focus, with some songs now classics and others rather forgotten by time.

If you dig the feel of 1972, take a look at the collection of posters from West-Germany’s Bravo magazine in 1972 (other years are available, too).

The mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-singalonged covers. The text above is included in an illustrated PDF booklet. PW in comments.

1. Alice Cooper – School’s Out (US #7 / UK #1 / GE #5)
2. The Osmonds – Crazy Horses (US #14 / UK #2 / GE #2)
3. Raspberries – Go All The Way (US #5)
4. Chi Coltrane – Thunder And Lightning (US #17)
5. Chicago – Saturday In The Park (US #3)
6. Malo – Suavecito (US #18)
7. Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – Too Late To Turn Back (US #2)
8. The Staple Singers – I’ll Take You There (US #1 / UK #30)
9. Looking Glass – Brandy (US #1)
10. Eagles – Witchy Woman (US #9)
11. Three Dog Night – Never Been To Spain (US #5)
12. The Gallery – Nice To Be With You (US #4 / GE# 28)
13. Mac Davis – Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me (US #1 / UK #29)
14. Seals & Croft – Summer Breeze (US #6)
15. Harry Nilsson – Without You (US #1 / UK #1 / GE #12)
16. Carpenters – I Won’t Last A Day Without You (US #11 / UK #9)
17. Joe Simon – Power Of Love (US #11)
18. Michael Jackson – I Wanna Be Where You Are (US #16)
19. Jackson Browne – Doctor My Eyes (US #8)
20. Badfinger – Day After Day (US #4 / UK #10)
21. Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light (US #16)
22. The Hollies – Long Cool Woman (US #2 / UK #32 / GE #15)
23. Daniel Boone – Beautiful Sunday (US #15 / UK #21 / GE #1)

GET IT! or HERE!

Any Major Hits from 1944
Any Major Hits from 1961
Any Major Hits from 1970
Any Major Hits from 1971

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Any Major Favourites 2021 – Vol. 2

January 18th, 2022 1 comment

I previously posted Volume 1 of the Any Major Favourites 2021, which collects one track from each of the playlists I posted in the past year (except the In Memoriams and Christmas mixes).

Of this lot here, I think I was most pleased with the Any Major Shakespeare mix, of songs that features common phrases introduced by The Bard (“In my mind’s eye”, “My salad days”, “The wheel is come full circle”, that sort of thing). I really hope that an enterprising English teacher might find use for this mix as a class project.

1971 was a remarkable year for albums.  I recovered three of them — Carole King’s Tapestry, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, and Joni Mitchell’s Blue — and managed to put together a very credible Top 40 of albums from that year, over two volumes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2).

I’m still running the Buy Me A Coffee thing, whereby readers can express their appreciation for my work by, well, “buying me a cup of coffee”. An encouraging number of people have kept me running in caffeine — and helped to build up the fund to cover the costs of running this site (hosting, domain renewal, really bloody expensive hacker protection subscription etc). Thank you, thank you, thank you, beautiful Any Major Readers! And please keep commenting! Even a “Enjoyed that, thanks” (or a “What the hell was that crap, you idiot?”) is welcome feedback!

If you still need to catch up with the mixes of 2020, they are reviewed in Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.For your convenience and future reference, these CD-R length mixes include the text above and links below in an illustrated PDF.

1. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Roll Me Away (1983)
The Roy Bittan Collection

2. Crowded House – When You Come (live) (2006)
Any Major Top 75 Acts (35-56)

3. The Pogues – A Rainy Night In Soho (1986)
Any Major Rain

4. Van Morrison – And It Stoned Me (1970)
Any Major Top 75 Acts (18-34)

5. Johnny Cash feat. Tom Petty – Solitary Man (2000)
Neil Diamond Songbook

6. Tift Merritt – Hopes Too High (2008)
Any Maj’r Shakespeare

7. Everything But The Girl – Goodbye Sunday (1988)
Any Major Week Vol. 3

8. SWV – Weak (1992)
Any Major Soul 1990-1992

9. Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out (Extended Mix) (1980)
Any Major Disco Vol. 9 – Party Like It’s 1980

10. The Jones Girls – I Just Love The Man (1981)
Any Major Soul 1981

11. Sister Goose And The Ducklings – Super Shine #9 (1973)
Any Major Blaxploitation Tracks

12. Donny Hathaway – What’s Goin’ On (1971)
Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On LP Recovered

13. Baby Huey – A Change Is Going To Come (1971)
Any Major Albums 1971 – Vol. 2

14. The Crusaders – Keep That Same Old Feeling (1976)
Any Major Fusion Vol. 1

15. Elvis Presley – What A Wonderful Life (1962)
Any Major Movie Elvis

16. Brook Benton – Another Cup Of Coffee (1964)
Any Major Coffee Vol. 3

17. The Jive Five – My True Story (1961)
Any Major Hits from 1961

18. Maurice Chevalier – Le sous-marin vert (1967)
Any Major Beatles in French Vol. 2

GET IT! or HERE!

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