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Any Major Favourites 2020 – Vol. 1

January 1st, 2021 6 comments

HAPPY NEW YEAR. May this new year 2021, despite the hangover it carries over from the past annus horribilis, be a great one for us all. Stay healthy, keep others healthy, and please get vaccinated!

As every year, the mixes of the past year (excluding the In Memoriams and Christmas mixes) are revisited by the choice of one favourite song from them — like an annual Greatest Hits of Any Major Dude. I hope it is useful to provide a link to the relevant mix in the playlist, so that you might discover a compilation here or there which you might have missed.

The past year seems to have been dominated by Beatles: three Beatles Recovered mixes (first for Let It Be on the 50th anniversary of its release, then Please, Please Me and With The Beatles to mark John Lennon’s 80th birthday and 40th anniversary of his murder respectively), as well as the final Beatles Reunited mix in the series of fictional Beatles album comprising the Fabs’ solo tracks between 1970 and 1980.

There were fewer Originals mixes than in the previous year; still there were five of them: 1960s Vol.2, 1980s Vol. 2, Country, Rat Pack and Burt Bacharach.

Two mixes were tributes to giants in music who died within days of one another: Bill Withers and John Prine, two particular favourites of mine, for whom I wrote what I hope were worthy tributes. The collections were of covers of their songs, but it was a bitter-sweet joy to also revisit their original music with some intensity.

Withers features on this first volume of Any Major Favourites of 2020, representing the Let It Be Recovered mix. That track is followed by Gil Scott-Heron’s stunning reinterpretation of Withers’ wonderful Grandma’s Hands.Ask me which was my favourite mix of 2020? The Any Major Firsts mix in February was the most fun to put together. The most topical was Any Major Pandemic in March (who knew what lay ahead?). Without planning it, the Any Major Cole Porter Vol. 2 mix was also topical: It turned out that I posted it a day before the 30th anniversary of the release of the groundbreaking Red Hot + Blue charity compilation of modern interpretations of Porter songs.

My most-played mixes were Any Major Southern Rock, Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 3, Any Major Falsetto and Any Major Hits From 1970. What were your favourites?

The second volume follows next week, after the In Memoriam for December drops. Both packages include a PDF version of the post, with all the links below, for easy access.

1. The Ronettes – I Can Hear Music (1966)
The Originals: 1960s Vol. 2

2. Gene McDaniels – Tower Of Strength (1961)
The Originals: Burth Bacharach Edition

3. Laura Nyro – Up On The Roof (Live) (1971)
The Brill Building Vol. 1

4. Bill Withers – Let It Be (1971)
Beatles Recovered: Let It Be

5. Gil Scott-Heron – Grandma’s Hands (1981)
Any Major Bill Withers Songbook

6. Blues Image – Ride Captain Ride (1970)
Any Major Hits From 1970

7. Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Jackie Blue (1974)
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 10

8. Poco – A Good Feeling To Know (1972)
Any Major Happy Songs Vol. 2

9. Boondoggle & Balderdash – I’ve Been Delayed (1971)
Any Major Southern Rock

10. Al Kooper – Sam Stone (1972)
Any Major John Prine Songbook

11. The Rolling Stones – Fool To Cry (1976)
Any Major Falsetto Vol. 1

12. Katja Ebstein – Beide Seiten (1973)
Any Major Schlager Covers Vol. 2

13. Elvis Costello – Alison (1977)
Any Major Women Vol. 2

14. Joe Bataan – This Boy (1972)
Beatles Recovered: With The Beatles

15. The Pointer Sisters – Yes We Can Can (1973)
Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 3

16. Stevie Wonder – All I Do (1980)
Any Major Soul 1980

17. The Neville Brothers – Sweet Honey Dripper (1979)
Any Major Disco Vol. 8 – Party Like It’s 1979

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Any Major Disco Vol. 9 – Party Like It’s 1980

December 27th, 2020 10 comments

 

As every year, here’s a collection of disco tracks from 40 years ago. Normally I’d recommend these mixes for New Year’s Eve parties, at least those attended by people of a certain age — though if you played this kind of stuff to young people, they might be surprised to find that this is where Bruno Mars got all his inspiration from. More music of that kind is on previous disco and funk mixes.

This year is different, if you are a sentient human being. There should be no big New Year’s Eve parties at which that virus can be spread, so this year do not party like it’s 1980, unless you did so in a small circle, 40 years ago (I have no memory of my New Year’s Eve 1980, but I recall that 1981 was a great year). Where I live, parties are no option, because the government has imposed a night-time curfew that also (and especially) applies to December 31, as a measure of curbing the spread of the coronavirus (or Trump Virus, as I like to call it, after its most enthusiastic ally). So here the festivities will be kept to a small circle of people who will sleep under the same roof.

But that need not be a dull evening. Spend the evening with those around you, if you have such people, and groove to the music while cooking a meal, frying donuts, mixing cocktails. Dance around the kitchen with the one you love. If ever there was a reason to celebrate the end of a year, it’s now! Kick out 2020, and bring in 2021, which surely — surely! — cannot be any worse than the year that is about to expire.

So, from me, HAPPY NEW YEAR! May your 2021 be filled with great health, good fortune and much love!

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

1. Bobby Thurston – Check Out The Groove
2. Raydio – It’s Time To Party Now
3. Mtume – So You Wanna Be A Star
4. Norman Connors – Take It To The Limit
5. S.O.S. Band – Take Your Time (Do It Right)
6. Average White Band – Let’s Go Around Again
7. Billy Ocean – Stay The Night
8. Skyy – Here’s To You
9. Positive Force – We Got The Funk
10. Locksmith – Far Beyond
11. Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out (Extended Mix)
12. Leon Haywood – Don’t Push It, Don’t Force It
13. Change – A Lovers Holiday
14. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Taste Of Bitter Love
15. Odyssey – Don’t Tell Me, Tell Her
16. The Jacksons – Lovely One
17. Rodney Franklin – The Groove

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Any Major 1940s Christmas

December 17th, 2020 15 comments

 

Retro Christmas vibes are the best, aren’t they? They appear to offer a distraction and alternative to the frantic and overly commercialised Christmas of today. Of course, Christmas always was commercialised. That wonderful 1947 film Miracle On 34th Street bemoaned the excess in commerce in Christmas. Five years earlier, Bing Crosby was dreaming of Christmases as they used to be, appealing to the idealised version of a better past, with more inclement weather.

The nostalgia for the Christmas as it used to be is probably driven by a desire to recapture the innocence of our childhood, a time when the anticipation and arrival of Christmas occupied our minds, rather than bills, relationships and social problems. As adults, that innocence and the certainties that came with it is gone, so the notions of an idealised past are chased for that ephemeral sensation of experiencing Christmas as it used to be, the joy of childhood, maybe a hint of the comfort of a loving mother who is now gone.

And, frankly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. A touch of nostalgia, even if it recalls a past that doesn’t really correspond with reality, can be a great escape — as long as it doesn’t cloud our good judgment on social and political issues. In real money, the past was just as shitty as the present. On this mix, the songs soundtrack a time of war and, in many places, food rationing. In the USA, where all these songs come from, it was a time of war followed by the rise of the HUAC and the McCarthyist hysteria.

Between 2009 and 2013, I posted three mixes of Christmas in Black & White which covered the era of the 1930s to the ’60s, and four years ago we revisited the 1950s specifically. Here we go back to the 1940s, with a passing nod to the first peacetime Christmas after WW2, which this year was 75 years ago.

Will this bring to a close the Christmas-by-decade mixes? We’ve already done the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, besides the ’50s one mentioned above. I don’t really know yet.

I hope you’ll enjoy this 1940s Christmas mix, which brings together the cheesy (which in some cases, such as in the Perry Como track, is accompanied by comedy) and the excellent, with one of the few good versions of Jingle Bells, Nat King Cole doing a silly novelty song with a straight face and a wink, and Amos Milburn telling his baby that he wants to “slide down your chimney” and promising her that she may “ride my reindeer”. I expect square middle-aged people in the 1940s were longing for a Christmas when there still were good, old-fashioned family values…

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-made covers made out of old ration-cards (so this mix could be a nice Christmas present for some people of a certain age). PW in comments.

After the Christmas Blues mix and this second Christmas compilation, I shall take a short time off, but I will be back before the year is out to post the obligatory New Year’s disco mix. If I don’t see you before Christmas, have a very merry one.

1. Glenn Miller and His Orchestra – Jingle Bells (1941)
2. Buddy Clark with The Girl Friends – Winter Wonderland (1949)
3. Vaughn Monroe And His Orchestra – Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (1945)
4. Perry Como and The Satisfiers – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1946)
5. Joe Turner’s Orchestra with Pete Johnson – Christmas Date Boogie (1948)
6. Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers – Merry Christmas Baby (1947)
7. Charlie Spivak and His Orchestra – White Christmas (1942)
8. Doris Day – Ol’ Saint Nicholas (1949)
9. Tony Martin with Earle Hagan’s Orchestra – The Christmas Song (1947)
10. Hugo Winterhalter – Blue Christmas (1949)
11. Gene Autry – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1949)
12. Judy Garland – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1944)
13. Eddy Howard and His Orchestra – I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1947)
14. Nat ‘King’ Cole and His Trio – All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) (1949)
15. Amos Milburn – Let’s Make Christmas Merry, Baby (1949)
16. Willie Lewis and His Negro Ban – Christmas Night In Harlem (1941)
17. Slam Stewart Quintet with Johnny Guarnieri – Santa’s Secret (1944)
18. Sonny Thompson – Not On A Xmas Tree (1949)
19. Frank Sinatra – Christmas Dreaming (1947)
20. Dinah Shore – The Merry Christmas Polka (1949)
21. Jesse Rogers and his 49ers – Here Comes Santa Claus (1948)
22. Les Brown and His Orchestra – When You Trim Your Christmas Tree (1946)
23. Frankie Laine – You’re All I Want For Christmas (1948)
24. Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters – The Twelve Days Of Christmas (1949)
25. Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians – ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas (1947)

GET IT! or HERE!

More Christmas Mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doo Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major X-Mas Blues
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas ABC
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

Any Major X-Mas Blues

December 13th, 2020 6 comments

 

It’s December, and the little corner of the Internet in which we gather presently can’t help but reverberate with the sound of Christmas. And the mix I’ll post later this week — before I go on a little break until after I’ve unwrapped my pretend presents — will be suitable Christmassy.

This mix of Christmas seen through the kaleidoscope of the blues, however, hardly inspires the warm glow of the Victorian Christmas idyll. But what the collection may lack in old-fashioned Christmas spirit it makes up in great music and many fine lyrics. I am but an innocent country boy, so I’m not sure if any of these singers are making sexual innuendo, but I half expect some might. Of course, there is the usual blues theme of being broke, issuing sentiments which in 2020 has a louder echo than it has had for many a decade.

The timeframe this mix covers the years 1930 to 1965, a time that saw a sea-change in music, but blues didn’t change much. I suppose the blues was as it was before rock & roll, and it was as it was after rock & roll. In our money, that time-span is equivalent to 1985 to the present. If you are of a certain age, 1985 feels like the day before yesterday. What’s time anyway when a Christmas song from 1994 tops the UK charts 26 years later.

This mix is a good companion piece to the Any Major Christmas Rhythm & Blues collection from 2012, which in turn accompanies the Any Major Christmas Soul series (Vol. 1 | Vol. 2 | Vol. 3), which in turn goes well with Any Major Smooth Christmas (Vol. 1 | Vol. 2 | Vol. 3).

On Thursday we stay in a black & white mood with a mix of Christmas recordings from the 1940s, which include a few more blues songs.

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

1. Jimmy McCracklin – Christmas Time (Part 1) (1961)
2. Amos Milburn – Christmas Comes Once A Year (1960)
3. Jody Levins – Jingle Bells Boogie (1954)
4. Titus Turner – Christmas Morning Blues (1952)
5. Mabel Scott – Boogie Woogie Santa Claus (1948)
6. J.B. Summers with Doc Bagby’s Orchestra – I Want A Present For Christmas (1949)
7. Tampa Red – Christmas And New Year Blues (1934)
8. Butterbeans & Susie – Papa Ain’t No Santa Clause, Mama Ain’t No Christmas Tree (1930)
9. Bumble Bee Slim – Santa Claus, Bring Me A New Woman (1936)
10. Johnny Moore’s Blazers – Christmas Eve Baby (1947)
11. Cecil Gant – Hello Santa Claus (1950)
12. Charles Brown – Christmas With No One To Love (1961)
13. John Lee Hooker – Blues For Christmas (1960)
14. Freddy King – Christmas Tears (1961)
15. Gus Jenkins and His Orchestra – Remember Last Xmas (1956)
16. Johnny Otis Orchestra with Little Esther & Mel Walker – Faraway Blues (Xmas Blues) (1950)
17. Jimmy Liggins – I Want My Baby For Christmas (1950)
18. Felix Gross and His Orchestra – Love For Christmas (1949)
19. Little Willie Littlefield – Merry Xmas (1949)
20. Lowell Fulson – Lonesome Christmas (1951)
21. Floyd Dixon – Empty Stocking Blues (1951)
22. Julia Lee and Her Boyfriends – Christmas Spirits (1948)
23. Victoria Spivey – I Ain’t Gonna Let You See My Santa Claus (1936)
24. The Honey Dripper – Let Me Hang Your Stockings In Your Christmas Tree (1936)
25. Leadbelly – Christmas Is A-Coming (1940s)
26. Larry Darnell – Christmas Blues (1950)
27. Little Johnny Taylor – Please Come Home For Christmas (1965)
28. Lightnin’ Hopkins – Santa (1965)
29. Chuck Berry – Spending Christmas (1964)

GET IT! or HERE!

More Christmas Mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doo Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas ABC
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

With The Beatles Recovered

December 8th, 2020 6 comments

 

Forty years ago tonight I decided to give the “Blue Album” of The Beatles, the 1967-70 compilation, a spin. Strawberry Fields Forever still skipped, and I still skipped Old Brown Shoe, a song I have never liked. I don’t recall what made me revisit The Beatles that night, but the LP was still on my turntable next morning.

That morning I had just awoken to the news on the radio alarm clock. I was in the motion of sitting up when the news reader announced that John Lennon had been murdered overnight. I sank back. How on earth do Beatles get assassinated? And John Lennon, my favourite who had just released his long-awaited comeback single? Unthinkable.

But I had to rouse myself to go to school. At the age of 14, you don’t have the option of exercising discretion in making grief over the murder of a celebrity the reason for your absence from the reception of an education. True to form, the assholes I went to school with “congratulated” me and the other Beatles fan in our class on the death of Lennon.

That other fan, let’s call him Tommy (it’s close enough), and I had never been friends. Now we bonded over the death of Lennon, and became very good friends, a friendship that lasted until I moved away two years later and we lost touch. Tommy, whom I have encountered again of Facebook, is still a dedicated Beatles fanatic, unconditionally loyal to the cherished memory of St Lennon. I never lost my love for The Beatles, though I’d be hardpressed to join Tommy in canonising John Lennon.

Lennon’s canonisation was inevitable, given his charisma, his musical genius, and the nature of his death. He was one of music’s martyrs, and hagiography allowed for no taint on his tale. I won’t go into the complexities of Lennon’s character, but I’ll say as much as that there was much to admire, and some things that were not. Like JFK, John Lennon had feet of clay.

Two months ago, on Lennon’ 80th birthday in October, I posted the Please, Please Me Recovered mix. Now, on the 40th anniversary of his murder, I offer the final Beatles Recovered collection, of With The Beatles, the group’s second album which was released in the UK on November 22, 1963. This brings to a close a six-year-long series of all Beatles albums in cover versions, in the song sequence of the original LPs (and posted on the 50th anniversary of their release).

It all started in 2014 with Beatles For Sale, which many regard as The Beatles’ weakest album. But it features so many superb tracks that it can’t be dismissed as easily as that. To my mind, With The Beatles is the group’s poorest album, but the one with the best cover (I wrote about the making of the cover some years ago).

Six of the 14 tracks were covers (those featured in this mix all came out after the Beatles versions). Of the own compositions, two of the first three tracks stand out — All My Loving and It Won’t Long — thereafter it’s hard to spot any classics, other, perhaps, than I Wanna Be Your Man, which The Beatles lent to the Rolling Stones for their first Top 20 hit. But, with one exception, those uncelebrated tracks aren’t bad. They just are not the level of genius as some of the songs that followed, and a coupler are improved in the cover versions here. The exception is Harrison’s Don’t Bother Me is a contender for worst Beatles song of all, in lyrics, musically, in production, and in George’s off-key singing. One night argue that Hold Me Tight is not very good either, but on this mix Count Basie turns it into great jazz tune.

I Wanna Be Your Man is represented in this collection by Suzi Quatro, in her 1973 glam rock pomp. Suzi didn’t bother to adapt the gender, though she sings the word “man” with a knowing wink. Well, Ringo sang The Shirelles’ Boys without changing gender, so why shouldn’t Quatro?

Two Beatles classics of songs didn’t find their way on to the album: I Want To Hold Your Hand, with the flip side being the gorgeous This Boy (in the UK and Europe). The former is represented on this mix by the Sparks, but I include another version as a bonus. It’s by Enoch Light and His Orchestra, who I like to think inspired for the name Electric Light Orchestra (who also feature here). This Boy closes the mix, and in Joe Bataan’s version, it is perhaps the highlight of this collection.

And with that, all Beatles albums have been recovered. Homebeatled covers and this whole text in illustrated PDF included. PW in comments.

1. Billy Cross – It Won’t Be Long (1986)
2. Louise Goffin – All I’ve Got To Do (1979)
3. Matt Monro – All My Loving (1965)
4. Gregory Phillips – Don’t Bother Me (1965)
5. Sonny Curtis – Little Child (1965)
6. Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston – Till There Was You (1965)
7. Carpenters – Please Mr Postman (1975)
8. Electric Light Orchestra – Roll Over Beethoven (1972)
9. Count Basie and His Orchestra – Hold Me Tight (1966)
10. William Bell – You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me (1977)
11. Suzi Quatro – I Wanna Be Your Man (1973)
12. Los Reno – Con el diablo en mi corazón (Devil In Her Heart) (1965)
13. Pretenders – Not A Second Time (1990)
14. Flying Lizards – Money (1979)
15. Sparks – I Want To Hold Your Hand (1976)
16. Joe Bataan – This Boy (1972)
Bonus Track:
Enoch Light and His Orchestra – I Want To Hold Your Hand (1964)

GET IT! or HERE!

On earlier versions, the Matt Munro track was corrupted. If your version has a long silence, try this one.

More Beatles Recovered:
Beatles Recovered: Please, Please Me
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Revcovered: Let It Be

MORE BEATLES STUFF!

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In Memoriam – November 2020

December 3rd, 2020 4 comments

By the nasty standards of this awful year, November was a fairly mild month. Perhaps the Grim Reaper was tied up in recounts, lawsuits about counts trying to make him count votes for some victims but not others, and fictionally dead people claiming to be alive and real dead people not conceding, death certificates notwithstanding. With all that in mind, here’s the final count. In the post-truth world, you are free to deny that any of these people are indeed dead.

 

The Heepster
In September we lost Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake; in November long-time keyboardist Ken Hensley followed him. Hensley was part of the classic Heep line-up, serving the band as keyboardist, guitarist, songwriter and occasionally lead singer. After the departure of lead singer David Byron, Hensley took on the leadership of the group, but departed himself in 1980 when he felt Uriah Heep were taking the wrong musical direction. In 1983/84 he was member of Southern rock band Blackfoot, but in 1985 went into semi-retirement. Hensley is regarded by many as a pivotal figure in the development of keyboard-playing in heavy metal.

The Blue-Eyes Soul Man
Blue-eyed soul singer Len Barry might be best remembered for his 1960s classic 1-2-3, which had a bit of a Motown feel. Barry, who cut his hit-making teeth with doo wop band The Dovells and before that with The Bisstones, toured in Britain with the Motown Revue, supported Sam Cooke on tour, and played in black venues such as the Apollo and other legendary black venues. Later he co-wrote the hits Zoom for Fat Larry’s Band and Love Town for Booker Newberry III.

The Great Engineer
Recording engineers don’t always get the credit they deserve, but they are the ones who make the sound come together, and who’ll get the door to creak on Thriller. The latter effect was among the bag of tricks of Bruce Swedien, the multi-Grammy winner who did a lot of work with Quincy Jones, including all Quincy’s albums from The Dude to Q’s Jook Joint, and many of those he produced, such as George Benson’s Give Me The Night, The Bothers Johnson’s Blam and Light Up The Night (with Stomp), and Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad (Swedien engineered all MJ albums from Thriller to 1996’s HIStory).

Swedien’s career started in 1956, with an album for the Bo Davies Quartet. Subsequent clients included Ramsey Lewis, Count Basie (including his LP of Beatles covers), Art Blakey and Buddy Miles. In the 1970s he engineered his first pop hit, Tyrone Davis’ soul classic Turn Back The Hands Of Time. Other soul acts, such as The Chi-Lites (basically all the big hits), Eddie Harris, and Jackie Wilson followed. He also mixed for acts like Rufus & Chaka Khan, Roberta Flack, Herb Alpert, René & Angela, Donna Summer, Sergio Mendes, and Michael McDonald (on Sweet Freedom).

 

Saving Private Radford
English folk-singer Jim Radford was best-known for his song On The Shores Of Normandy, a lament for the fallen soldiers in the D-Day invasion on 6 June 1944. Radford was well-placed to write such a song: he was part of that invasion, as the youngest-known combatant. He went on to become a peace activist, singing the cautionary verse: “As the years pass by, I can still recall the men I saw that day, who died upon that blood-soaked sand where now sweet children play. And those of you who were unborn, who’ve lived in liberty, remember those who made it so on the shores of Normandy.” The Wehrmacht’s bullets didn’t get him; in the end it was Covid-19 that did.

The Iron Curtain Rock Legends
Two members of the classic line-up of Hungarian prog-rock band Omega, pioneers of Eastern European rock, died within just three days of one another: keyboardist László Benkő at 77 on November 19, and then bassist Tamás Mihály at 73.  The former had been an ever-present member from 1962-2017, the former joined in 1967 and stayed the course.

Omega was the first Eastern European rock band to break through internationally, recording at home, in East-Berlin and in London in Hungarian, German and English, and enjoying an international hit with The Girl With Pearls in Her Hair. The communist regime intermittently banned Omega as culturally subversive; strangely the much more hardline East German regime allowed the band to tour there and even record in German. In 1987 the band stopped, but regrouped following the collapse of Soviet communism. Omega are still recording and touring, with three members of the classic line-up forming the core.

As before, this post is included in PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments

 

Gerry Hayes, 86, German jazz multi-instrumentalist, on Nov. 1
Gerry Hayes – Soulgirl (Philly Dog) (1967)

Ronnie Peel, 74, Australian guitarist and singer, on Nov. 1
Rockwell T. James – Roxanne (1977, as Rockwell T. James)

Phil K, 51, DJ with Australian production project Lostep, on Nov. 1

Esteban Santos, 69, singer with Spanish pop group Bravo, on Nov. 1
Bravo – Lady, Lady (1984)

Nikki McKibbin, 42, singer-songwriter, on Nov. 1

Ken Hensley, 75, English singer-songwriter with Uriah Heep, on Nov. 4
Uriah Heep – Lady In Black (1971, as writer on lead vocals)
Uriah Heep – Look At Yourself (1973, as writer on lead vocals)
Ken Hensley – Who Will Sing for You (1975)
Blackfoot – Summer Days (1984, as member on keyboards)

Reynaert, 65, Belgian singer, on Nov. 5

Len Barry, 78, American singer, on Nov. 5
The Bosstones – Mope-Itty Mope (1959, on lead vocals)
The Dovells – Bristol Stomp (1961, on lead vocals)
Len Barry – 1-2-3 (1965)
Booker Newberry III – Love Town (1983, as co-writer)

Stefano D’Orazio, 72, percussionist of Italian rock band Pooh, on Nov. 6
Pooh – Pensiero (1973)

King Von, 26, rapper, shot on Nov. 6

Jim Radford, 92, English folk singer-songwriter, on Nov. 6
Jim Radford – On The Shores Of Normandy

Brian Coll, 79, Irish country singer, on Nov. 7

Cándido Camero, 99, Cuban jazz percussionist, on Nov. 7
Candido Camero feat. Al Cohn – Poinciana (1956)
Candido – Candi’s Funk (1980)

Bones Hillman, 62, bassist of Australian rock band Midnight Oil, on Nov. 7
Midnight Oil – Blue Sky Mine (1990)

Vanusa, 73, Brazilian singer, on Nov. 8

Oscar Benton, 71, Dutch vocalist, on Nov. 8
Oscar Benton – Bensonhurst Blues (1982)

Fred Ape, 67, member of German alternative folk-rock trio ABB, on Nov. 9
Ape, Beck & Brinkmann – Regenbogenland (1982)

Michael Bundesen, 71, singer of Danish pop band Shu-bi-dua, on Nov. 9
Shu-bi-dua – Stærk Tobak (1973)

Dave Zoller, 79, jazz pianist, composer and arranger, on Nov. 9
Dave Zoller Jazz Sextet – A Sketch Of Fred Crane (1995)

Alec Baillie, bassist of punk bands Choking Victim, Leftöver Crack, on Nov. 10

DJ Spinbad, 46, DJ, mixer and producer, on Nov. 10

Andrew White, 78, jazz/R&B saxophonist and bassist, on Nov. 11
The 5th Dimension – Together Let’s Find Love (1971, on bass)
Andrew White – Who Got De Funk (1973)

Mo3, 28, American rapper, shot dead on Nov. 11

Adrian Cionco, 48, bassist of Argentine rock-fusion band La Mosca, on Nov. 11

Jim Tucker, 74, guitarist of The Turtles, on Nov. 12
The Turtles – It Ain’t Me Babe (1965)
The Turtles – So Happy Together (1966)

Lynn Kellogg, 77, singer-actress (original Sheila in Hair), on Nov. 12
Lynn Kellogg – Easy To Be Hard (1968)

Doug Supernaw, 60, country singer, on Nov. 13
Doug Supernaw – Reno (1993, also as co-writer)

Bob Van Staeyen, 84, member of Belgian folk group De Strangers, on Nov. 14

Des O’Connor, 88, English singer and entertainer, on Nov. 14
Des O’Connor – I Pretend (1968)

Eric Hall, 73, Iconic English music agent, on Nov. 16

Bruce Swedien, 86, recording engineer and producer, on Nov. 16
Ramsey Lewis Trio – Wade In The Water (1966, as engineer)
The Chi-Lites – Have You Seen Her (1972, as engineer)
James Ingram & Michael McDonald – Yah Mo Be There (1983, as engineer)
Quincy Jones – The Secret Garden (1989, as engineer)

László Benkő, 77, keyboardist of Hungarian rock band Omega, on Nov. 18
Omega – Nem tilthatom meg (1968)
Omega – Pearls In Her Hair (1969)

Tony Hooper, 77, guitarist of English folk-rock band Strawbs (1968-72), on Nov. 18
Strawbs – Forever (1970, also as co-writer)

Dominic Grant, 71, British pop singer, on Nov. 18
Guys ‘n’ Dolls – There’s A Whole Lot Of Loving (1975, as member)

Mshoza, 37, South African kwaito singer, on Nov. 19

John ‘Molly’ Baron, 68, member of South African soul-pop band The Rockets, on Nov. 19
The Rockets feat. Ronnie Joyce – Situations (1984)

Michael Brooks, 85, jazz producer and historian, on Nov. 20

Corrie van Gorp, 78, Dutch singer and actress, on Nov. 20

Tamás Mihály, 73, bassist/cellist of Hungarian rock band Omega, on Nov. 21
Omega – Live As Long As (1974)
Omega – Break The Chain (1996)

Rufus Rehu, 81, member of New Zealand band Quincy Conserve, on Nov. 21

‘Detroit’ Gary Wiggins, 68, jazz and blues saxophonist, on Nov. 22
Detroit Gary Wiggins – That’s All (2008)

i_o, 30, techno DJ, on Nov. 23

Hal Ketchum, 67, country singer-songwriter, on Nov. 23
Hal Ketchum – I Know Where Love Lives (1991)

James Goode, 76, member of garage rock band The Excels, on Nov. 23
The Excels – Let’s Dance (1965)

Flor Silvestre, 90, Mexican singer and actress, on Nov. 25
Flor Silvestre – Cielo Rojo (1961)

Allan Botschinsky, 80, Danish jazz trumpeter, on Nov. 26

Jamir Garcia, 42, singer of Filipino metal band Slapshock, of suicide on Nov. 26

Herman Green, 90, jazz and blues saxophonist, on Nov. 26
B.B. King – I Stay In The Mood (1966, on saxophone)

Piotr Strojnowski, 62, guitarist of Polish reggae band Daab, on Nov. 28

Miša Aleksić, 67, bassist of Serbian/Yugoslavian rock band Riblja Čorba, on Nov. 29

Othella Dallas, 95, jazz singer and dancer, announced on Nov. 29

Jerry Demara, 45, Mexican banda singer-songwriter, on Nov. 30
Jerry Demara – Déjalo (2020) [BUY]

Anne Sylvestre, 86, French singer-songwriter, on Nov. 30
Anne Sylvestre – Le Pêcheur de Perles (1967)

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The Brill Building Covered Vol. 1

November 25th, 2020 13 comments

A number of people lately commented that they had discovered this corner of the Internet only recently. Some might trawl back a few years to catch up — I think most mixes are still up — but not everybody will. So I shall periodically repost good mixes which time has swallowed. “Recycling Wednesday”, we might call it. Here’s one from seven years ago, which in October 2013 I optimistically dubbed “Vol. 1”; I never got around to do a second volume. Maybe this post will be so popular as to get my sorry ass moving in that regard.

 

Brill Building Covered

 

It might be the greatest hit machine in pop history, in the good company of Tin Pan Alley and Motown; its influence on pop music was pivotal. The Brill Building was in New York, but the songs were recorded on both sides of the US coast, and anywhere in between.

The Brill Building, at 1619 Broadway on 49th Street in Manhattan, serves as the collective term for the song factory that created an incredible string of classic pop hits in the 1960s. It was really an office block of music publishers, housing 165 of them in 1962. The songs were mostly written up the road, such as in the buildings at 1650 Broadway, HQ of Aldon Music, and at 1697 Broadway, the latter also housing the CBS TV auditorium, now known as the Ed Sullivan Theater.

The scene was a veritable hit conveyor belt, with songwriters working their 9-to-5s in cubicles, expected to turn in their masterpieces at regular intervals, often at command. Many of these songwriters, usually teams of two, have become legends in the trade: Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman, Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich, Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield, Cynthia Weil & Barry Mann… Some of these were supervised by another legendary pair of writers, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, or by impresarios such as Don Kirshner, the co-owner of Aldon Music who’d later launch The Monkees. Neil Diamond launched his superstar career from the base of the Brill Buildings, were he started out as a songwriter, as did a youngster named Jerry Landis, whom you’d now address as Paul Simon, and the great, underrated Laura Nyro.

The Brill Building became a byname for a sound in the early 1960s, when producers like Phil Spector recorded them with acts like The Ronettes and The Chiffons (also receiving co-writing credits on some), and bands like the Beach Boys borrowed their songs. Many of the songs were recorded in LA with the backing of The Wrecking Crew, a group of session musicians on whom I intend to spend some time in future posts. In New York, acts like The Drifters relied on the Brill Building to supply their long string of timeless hits. British acts also recorded the Brill Sound. The Searchers did several, The Animals scored a huge hit with one, as did Manfred Mann, and The Beatles played one track, featured here, at their ill-fated Decca audition (they later recorded The Cookies’ “Chains”, written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King).

 

Pomus & Shuman, Goffin & King, Barry & Greenwich, Mann & Weil

Pomus & Shuman, Goffin & King, Barry & Greenwich, Mann & Weil

It is sometimes argued that the Brill Building scene tamed rock & roll. Here music was run by business people as a business. The spontaneity and rebellion of the individualistic rock & roll was now displaced by managed calculation with both eyes on the bottomline, the argument goes.

I don’t quite buy it. When RCA signed Elvis, it calculated on his image. Most labels did the same. In fact, rock & roll had been tamed by the time Phil Spector collaborated with Greenwich and Barry to create hits like “Be My Baby”. Almost concurrent with the Brill Sound, Barry Gordy in Detroit constructed another hit factory that was rooted entirely in commercial calculation. In both instances, the entrepreneurs made their money, and we received a rich legacy of astonishing music.

Rock & roll would soon reassert its rebellion anyway, with the advent of the Rolling Stones, Hendrix, The Who and so on. At the same time, the Brill Building left us with an arsenal of incredible, timeless songs. Featured here are 26 of them, mostly covers. If the mix goes down well, there’ll be a second volume to include all the songs you just cannot believe I have omitted.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-decomposed covers. PW is the same as always.

1. The Beach Boys – I Can Hear Music (1969, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich & Phil Spector)
2. Dion and The Belmonts – Save The Last Dance For Me (1960, Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman)
3. The Four Seasons – Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (1964, Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield)
4. Helen Shapiro – It Might As Well Rain Until September (1964, Carole King & Gerry Goffin)
5. Martha Reeves & The Vandellas – Then He Kissed Me (1963, Barry, Greenwich & Spector)
6. The Searchers – Da Doo Ron Ron (1963, Barry, Greenwich & Spector)
7. Françoise Hardy – Will You Love Me Tomorrow (1968, King & Goffin)
8. Laura Nyro – Up On The Roof (Live) (1971, King & Goffin)
9. Cissy Houston – Be My Baby (1971, Barry, Greenwich & Spector)
10. Peggy Lee – (You Made Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman (1969, King & Goffin)
11. Dusty Springfield – That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho) (1969, King & Goffin)
12. Dobie Gray – River Deep, Mountain High (1973, Barry, Greenwich & Spector)
13. The 5th Dimension – Soul And Inspiration (1974, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil)
14. The Persuasions – Chapel Of Love (1979, Barry, Greenwich & Spector)
15. The Beatles – Take Good Care Of My Baby (1962, King & Goffin)
16. The Walflower Complextion – Hanky Panky (1966, Barry & Greenwich)
17. The Mamas and The Papas – Spanish Harlem (1966, Jerry Leiber & Phil Spector)
18. Carpenters – One Fine Day (1973, King & Goffin)
19. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (1972, Mann, Weil & Spector)
20. Blue Öyster Cult – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (1978, Mann & Weil)
21. Grand Funk Railroad – The Loco-Motion (1974, King & Goffin)
22. Ramones – Needles And Pins (1978, Jack Nitzsche & Sonny Bono)
23. Tracey Ullman – Where The Boys Are (1984, Sedaka & Greenfield)
24. Dave Edmunds – Baby I Love You (1972, Barry, Greenwich & Spector)
25. Bette Midler – Leader Of The Pack (1972, Morton, Barry, Greenwich)
26. Ellie Greenwich – Wait ‘Til My Bobby Gets Home (1973, Barry, Greenwich & Spector)

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Any Major Southern Soul

November 19th, 2020 8 comments

 

After last week’s (pleasingly popular) freebirding mix of Southern Rock, it seems right to follow that up with a dose of soul music. I had two concepts in mind: keeping it geographically consistent with a set of Southern Soul, or congratulating Philadelphia for pushing President-elect Joe Biden over the needed 270 electorate votes. Well, there will be a Philly soul mix before too long, but here we are keeping it south.

Southern Soul is not an easy thing to define, less so because migration north saw similar sounds being created in places like Chicago. There isn’t really one Southern soul sound, though when you hear it, you usually can place it. When you hear horns, especially those striking jubilant tones followed soon by mournful minor notes (or vice versa) by the Memphis Horns, you might have a Southern Soul record. If it features a funky bass even on ballads, you might have a Southern Soul record. If the singer sounds like he or she is shouting, even when they aren’t, you might have a Southern Soul record. And so on…

Or use King Curtis’ recipe for Memphis Soul Stew: half a teacup of bass, a pound of fatback drums, four tablespoons of boiling Memphis guitars, just a little pinch of organ, and half a pint of horn…

For the purposes of this mix, all artists were born in the south, and their songs were recorded in the south, for labels such as Stax, Hi, Goldwax, Murco or Atlantic. I didn’t investigate whether every song here satisfies these criteria (Mitty Collier, for example recorded on Chess in Chicago, but came from the south); if they don’t, return to the previous paragraph.

Some obvious acts are missing — notably Aretha Franklin and Sam & Dave. But Aretha’s sister Erma is represented. And two singers here are cousins: Percy Sledge and Jimmy Hughes.

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

1. The Soul Children – Super Soul (1969)
2. Wilson Pickett – Don’t Fight It (1965)
3. Brenton Wood – Baby You Got It (1967)
4. Clarence Carter – Getting The Bills (But No Merchandise) (1970)
5. Spencer Wiggins – The Power Of A Woman (1967)
6. Bettye Swann – Tell It Like It Is (1968)
7. James Carr – A Lucky Loser (1967)
8. Syl Johnson – That’s Just My Luck (1975)
9. Phillip Mitchell – Turning Over The Ground (1973)
10. Jackie Moore – Precious Precious (1970)
11. Al Green – What a Wonderful Thing Love Is (1972)
12. Erma Coffee – You Made Me What I Am (1973)
13. Eddy ‘G’ Giles – Happy Man (1967)
14. Otis Redding – You Don’t Miss Your Water (1965)
15. Percy Sledge – The Dark End of the Street (1967)
16. Carla Thomas – A Woman’s Love (1964)
17. Don Covay – Everything Gonna Be Everything (1966)
18. Johnnie Taylor – Who’s Making Love (1968)
19. Bobby Rush – Bowlegged Woman, Knock-Kneed Man (1972)
20. Eddie Floyd – Things Get Better (1966)
21. Otis Clay – Brand New Thing (1971)
22. Marion Ester – Not Guilty (1969)
23. O.V. Wright – You’re Gonna Make Me Cry (1965)
24. Mitty Collier – It Looks Like Rain (1965)
25. Reuben Bell & The Casanovas – It’s Not That Easy (1968)
26. Erma Franklin – You’ve Been Cancelled (1969)
27. Jimmy Hughes – Neighbour Neighbour (1964)
28. King Curtis – Memphis Soul Stew (1967)

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Any Major Southern Rock

November 12th, 2020 11 comments

After the events of last week, I thought some people may need a little solace through the medium of music. So here’s a mix of Southern Rock songs which should unite the blue and the red and the orange in displays of face-contorting air-guitar solos.

Of course, one of the great air-guitar songs is Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. That doesn’t feature here. Nor does this mix feature their southern pride anthem Sweet Home Alabama. Nor Charlie Daniels’ The South Is Going To Do It Again — though both acts feature here, naturally.

The closest we come to Confederation flag-waving here is the opening track, which became an earworm whenever US election coverage mentioned Alleghene County in Pennsylvania. I had to remind myself that the song is about the land Dewey Crowe’s cousins from Justified (how would they have voted, I wonder).

Molly Hatchet’s Gator Country cites many of the fellow Southern Rock acts who appear on this mix, by way of humorous one-upmanship in defence of Florida’s superiority. “I’ve been to Alabama, people ain’t a whole lot to see; Skynyrd says it’s a real sweet home but it ain’t nothing to me. Charlie Daniels will tell you the good Lord lives in Tennessee, ha! But I’m going back to gator country where the wine and the women are free.”

Richard “Dickey” Betts gets namechecked, too. The guitarist with The Allman Brothers Band takes the lead vocals and lead guitar on the track featured here, which is also mentioned on Gator Country.

And how exactly do we define Southern Rock? According to Wikipedia, it drives from rock & roll, country and blues, and is focused generally on electric guitars and vocals. So far so easy, but who qualifies for inclusion and who doesn’t? Well, one condition ought to be origin in the southern states of the US, and some kind of lyrical affinity with the region. Some acts that are often (but not invariably) included in lists of Southern Rock acts are Creedence Clearwater Revival (from California) and The Band (Canada). Of course, the latter included Levon Helms, who was from Arkansas and sings lead on the featured track. How purist should one be about such things? I don’t know, but I excluded the Atlanta Rhythm Section and Orleans, because they don’t really sound like the others.

If this mix is popular, there will be a second volume. If so, I might extend it beyond the 1970s (which I do here once) to include acts like Drive-By Truckers, .38 Special, Doc Holliday, Georgia Satellites, Bishop Black or the Black Crowes. If that happens, rest assured that Kid Rock will not feature.

No Confederate flags may be flown while listening to this mix. As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-gatorwrestled covers.  PW in comments.

1. Molly Hatchet – Gator Country (1978)
2. Wet Willie – Country Side Of Life (1974)
3. Little Feat – Dixie Chicken (1973)
4. Marshall Tucker Band – Can’t You See (1973)
5. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man (1973)
6. Charlie Daniels Band – High Lonesome (1976)
7. Boondoggle & Balderdash – I’ve Been Delayed (1971)
8. The Allman Brothers Band – Ramblin’ Man (1973)
9. Ozark Mountain Daredevils – If You Want To Get To Heaven (1973)
10. Black Oak Arkansas – Uncle Lijiah (1971)
11. Barefoot Jerry – Smokies (1975)
12. The Band – Up On Cripple Creek (1969)
13. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Someday Never Comes (1972)
14. Blackfoot – Diary Of A Workingman (1981)
15. The Outlaws – Green Grass & High Tides (1975)
16. Edgar Winter’s White Trash – Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo (1972)
17. ZZ Top – Tush (1974)
18. Elvin Bishop – Have A Good Time (1975)

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In Memoriam – October 2020

November 5th, 2020 6 comments

 

Do you hear the people sing? The remarkable man who wrote those words for the musical Les Misérables died in October, as did two triple-named country outlaw legends, two reggae pioneers, and three men who gave their names to eminent bands. Fans of The Originals will enjoy hearing the first recordings of hits for Waylon Jennings (I’m A Ramblin’ Man), Willie Nelson (Whiskey River) and the classic Mr Bojangles.

The Professor
In his young days, Spencer Davis almost casually came into contact with future music legends, a status he himself attained before he was 30. One of his early bands included future Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman (then still William Perks). Then he got a girlfriend called Christine Perfect, who as Christine McVie became a creative force in Fleetwood Mac. And in 1963, Davis discovered 15-year-old Stevie Winwood and roped him and Stevie’s brother Muff into the band that would became the Spencer Davis Group. The band would rack up for UK Top 10 hits and two consecutive UK #1s, all with Stevie on vocals, all ’60s classics, especially Keep On Running and Gimme Some Lovin’.

The band stopped running in 1969, after Stevie had decamped to form Traffic two years earlier. Davis, known by many as “Professor” due to his university education — he had studied German, a language in which the band recorded a couple of novelty records — went to the US and recorded a couple of success-evading albums, reformed an iteration of the Spencer Davis Group to little interest. By the mid-1970s he was working as an executive for Island Records.

The Axeman
Confession time: much as I admire the technical skills and acknowledge the influence of the guitar soloing of Eddie Van Halen, they never were my cup of vodka & coke. Of course they were quite breathtaking in their technique, as is the expertise in synchronised swimming. But that should not detract from how they, and Eddie’s band, practically set the 1980s “hair rock” craze in motion. Eddie was one of the pivotal figures in rock history, and also in pop: his guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s Beat It, which at the time sounded super-hard, helped metal cross over into pop.

The Soul-Reggae Pioneer
Soul singer Johnny Nash was one of the pioneers of reggae in the UK especially. A superb soul singer, Nash recorded since he was 18 in 1958, but the decisive event was when he moved to Jamaica in the 1965. There he was influenced by the rising rocksteady scene, and recorded in that genre himself. That fusion of what would become known as reggae and US soul brought Nash three Top 10 hits in the UK in 1968/69. Three years later he had a #13 hit with a version of Stir It Up, the song by Bob Marley, who still had to break internationally. But soon came Nash’s own anthem: the much-covered I Can See Clearly Now. Another three years later, he topped the UK charts with the lilting reggae-soul number Tears On My Pillow. But that style wasn’t his only trick: Nash also released some very good soul albums, until he semi-retired from the music business in 1980.

The Drumming Centenarian
We have featured several centenarians over the years, but was any as old as 107? That is the age jazz drummer Viola Smith reached before she died five weeks short of her 108th. Her career went back to the 1920s when her concert hall-owner father set up his eight daughters in an all-girl band which he called the Schmitz Sisters Family Orchestra (later Smith Sisters Orchestra). As her five elder sisters chose all the instruments Viola wanted to play, she settled for drums. The band broke out in the early 1930s, but by 1938 Viola and sister Mildred formed their own all-female swing band, The Coquettes, which lasted till Mildred got married in 1942. Viola then joined the Hour of Charm Orchestra, also all-female, in which she earned the reputation of being “the female Gene Krupa”. All these bands, and some that followed, were stage acts who didn’t put their music to record.

Not surprisingly, starting in the early ‘40s, Viola advocated for equality between men and women in music. In an interview on her 107th birthday last year, Smith said she still drummed on stage occasionally.

The Gospel-Soul Man
In the 1970s, few gospel groups crossed over as well as The Rance Allen Group, a band of three brothers led by, you guessed it, Rance Allen. The lyrics might have been about the Christian faith, though even then many could be taken as inspirational, but the music was soul; channeling Chi-Lites or Sly Stone rather than Andrae Crouch. Indeed, in their performance at the legendary Wattstax festival, Rance and brothers referenced Dance To The Music after delivering a shredding guitar solo. In that way, the group paved the way for acts like Kirk Franklin and The Winans.

Rance himself was a powerful singer with a great range; he could sing ballads and also hit the high notes like the funkiest soul screamer. Later was made a bishop in his church.

The Mr Bojangles Writer
Outlaw country singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker will always be remembered for writing the great Mr Bojangles, a song about a street performer whom he met in a holding cell in 1965. The story of that featured in The Originals: The Classics. Walker never reached the heights of fellow Outlaw singers, like Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings, but he was influential enough to receive a namecheck in Jennings’ Luckenbach, Texas (“Between Hank Williams’ pain songs and Jerry Jeff’s train songs…”).

The Other Outlaw
It was a bad month indeed for outlaw country musicians with three names: shortly after Walker, Billy Joe Shaver died (David Allen Coe and Michael Martin Murphey must be getting nervous now). Like Walker, Shaver was a collaborator with Waylon Jennings. And where Jennings was namechecked by Jennings, Shaver was mentioned in song by Bob Dylan (on 2009’s I Feel a Change Comin’ On). Shaver recorded 17 studio albums in his time, but he was especially prolific as a songwriter whose compositions were recorded by other big names in country.  As it happens, Jerry Jeff Walker was among them, featuring here with one of Shaver’s finest songs.

Shaver certainly was a character: In 2007, he shot a fellow named Billy Bryant Coker in the face with a handgun. Luckily, Coker’s injuries weren’t life-threatening. Shaver said he had acted in self-defence after Coker threatened him with a knife. According to witnesses, Shaver had asked Coker before shooting: “Where do you want it?” Having shot the guy, he demanded: “Tell me you are sorry. Nobody tells me to shut up.” Some years later Shaver told NPR that Coker indeed said “I’m sorry” after being shot. The singer said that Coker had been a bully and “I hit him right between a mother and a fucker.” A court acquitted Shaver.

The Writer
Here’s a thought: the same guy who wrote the lyrics for the silly novelty records by Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren in the early 1960s (including the vaguely racist Goodness Gracious Me) later wrote the profound and moving lyrics for the musical Les Misérables. South African-born English writer Herbert Kretzmer (whose brother went on to become mayor of Johannesburg) also wrote the English lyrics for the Charles Aznavour hit She, the Streisand favourite When You Gotta Go, the much-covered Yesterday When I Was Young, and — within hours of John F Kennedy’s assassination — the tribute song In The Summer Of His Years.

Kretzmer was also an award-winning journalist in Britain, as a long-running TV critic and as an interviewer of the likes of John Steinbeck, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Sugar Ray Robinson, Louis Armstrong, Henry Miller, Cary Grant and Duke Ellington.

As before, this post is included in PDF format in the package.

Lisa Schouw, South African-born singer of Australian band Girl Overboard, on Oct. 2
Girl Overboard – Wrap Your Arms Around Me (1989, also as co-writer)

Cookie Monsta, 31, British dubstep producer, on Oct. 2

Anthony Galindo, 41, Venezuelan singer, suicide on Oct. 3

Béatrice Arnac, 89, French singer, composer and actress, on Oct. 5
Béatrice Arnac – Athée ou à Té (1973)

Eddie Van Halen, 65, Dutch-born guitarist, composer, co-founder of Van Halen, on Oct. 6
Van Halen – Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love (1978)
Nicolette Larson – Can’t Get Away From You (1979, on guitar)
Michael Jackson – Beat It (1982, on guitar)
Van Halen – Hot For Teacher (1984)

Johnny Nash, 80, singer-songwriter, on Oct. 6
Johnny Nash – Love Ain’t Nothin’ (1964)
Johnny Nash – You Got Soul (1968)
Johnny Nash – Say It Ain’t True (1975)
Ray Charles – I Can See Clearly Now (1978, as writer)

Bunny Lee, 79, Jamaican reggae producer, on Oct. 6
Delroy Wilson – Better Must Come (1971, as writer and producer)
Eric Donaldson – Cherry Oh Baby (1971, as producer)

Reverend John Wilkins, 76, blues musician, on Oct. 6
Reverend John Wilkins – Trouble (2020) ORDER

Ray Pennington, 86, country singer-songwriter, in a fire on Oct. 7
Ray Pennington – Ramblin’ Man (1967, also as writer)

Brian Locking, 81, bassist with British guitar band The Shadows (1962-63), on Oct. 8
The Shadows – Dance On (1963)
Donovan – Catch The Wind (1965, on bass)

Pierre Kezdy, 58, punk bass player, on Oct. 9

David Refael ben Ami, 70, Israeli singer, COVID-19 on Oct. 9

Harold Betters, 92, jazz trombonist, on Oct. 11
Harold Betters – Do Anything You Wanna (1969)

Kim Massie, 63, blues singer, on Oct. 12

Saint Dog, 44, rapper with Kottonmouth Kings, on Oct. 13
Kottonmouth Kings – Life Ain’t What It Seems (1998)

Paul Matters, bassist of AC/DC (1975), on Oct. 14

Herbert Kretzmer, 95, South African-born lyricist, on Oct. 14
Peter Sellers & Sophia Loren – Bangers & Mash (1961, as lyricist)
Dusty Springfield – Yesterday When I Was Young (1972, as lyricst)
Charles Aznavour – She (1974, as lyricist)
Les Misérables Cast (London) – One Day More (1985, as lyricist)

Dave Munden, 76, English drummer and singer with The Tremeloes, on Oct. 15
The Tremeloes – Even The Bad Times Are Good (1967)
The Tremeloes – Me And My Life

Johnny Bush, 85, country singer-songwriter, on Oct. 16
Johnny Bush – Whiskey River (1972, also as co-writer)

Toshinori Kondo, 71, Japanese avant garde jazz trumpeter, on Oct. 17

Gordon Haskell, 74, English singer-songwriter and musician, on Oct. 17
King Crimson – Lady Of The Dancing Water (1970l, as member on bass)
Gordon Haskell – How Wonderful You Are (2001)

José Padilla, 64, Spanish DJ, producer of Café del Mar CDs, on Oct. 18
José Padilla feat. Angela John – Who Do You Love (1998)

Chet ‘JR’ White, 40, bassist with Indie band Girls, producer, on Oct. 18
Girls – Lust For Life (2009, also as producer)

Alfredo Cerruti, 78, Italian producer, singer, author, on Oct. 18

Tony Lewis, 62, bassist, songwriter with English band The Outfield, on Oct. 19
The Outfield – Your Love (1985)

Overton Berry, 84, jazz pianist, on Oct. 19

Spencer Davis, 81, Welsh musician, on Oct. 19
Spencer Davis Group – Keep On Running (1965)
Spencer Davis Group – Det war in Schöneberg (1966)
Spencer Davis Group – Mr Second Class (1969)

Viola Smith, 107, American drummer, on Oct. 21
The Coquettes – The Snake Charmer (1939)

Margie Bowes, 79, country singer, on Oct. 22
Margie Bowes – Poor Old Heartsick Me (1959)

Jerry Jeff Walker, 78, country singer-songwriter, on Oct. 23
Jerry Jeff Walker – Mr. Bojangles (1968)
Jerry Jeff Walker – Stoney (1970)
Jerry Jeff Walker – L.A. Freeway (1972)
Jerry Jeff Walker – Pissin’ In The Wind (1975)

Cal Vin, 35, Zimbabwean singer and rapper, in a hit-and-run on Oct. 24

Stan Kesler, 92, songwriter, musician and producer, on Oct. 26
Elvis Presley with Scotty & Bill – I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone (1955, as writer)
Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs – Wooly Bully (1965, as producer)

Dolores Abril, 86, Spanish folkloric singer, on Oct. 26

Cano Estremera, 62, Puerto Rican salsa singer, on Oct. 27

Billy Joe Shaver, 81, country singer and songwriter, on Oct. 27
Billy Joe Shaver – Black Rose (1973)
The Allman Brothers Band – Sweet Mama (1975, as writer)
Jerry Jeff Walker – Old Five And Dimers Like Me (1976, as writer)
Billy Joe Shaver with Kris Kristofferson – No Earthly Good (2007)

Lou Pallo, 86, guitarist with Les Paul and His Trio, on Oct. 27

James Broad, singer, guitarist, songwriter with UK indie band Silver Sun, on Oct. 30
Silver Sun – Golden Skin (1997)

Rance Allen, 71, gospel singer and bandleader, on Oct. 31
The Rance Allen Group – There’s Gonna Be A Showdown (1972)
The Rance Allen Group – Up Above My Head (1972, live at Wattstax)
The Rance Allen Group – Harlem Heaven (1975)
The Rance Allen Group – Some People (1980)

Marc Fosset, 71, French jazz guitarist, on Oct. 31

Sean Connery, 90, Scottish actor, on Oct. 31
Janet Munro & Sean Connery – Pretty Irish Girl (1959)

MF Doom, 49, British-American rapper, on Oct. 31 (announced in December)

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