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In Memoriam – August 2020

September 3rd, 2020 7 comments

This month we lost one of my favourite contemporary singers, and one of the last survivor of the 1921 Tulsa pogrom. The latter died at 100 on August 18, when this list records seven music deaths in one day.

There’s a lot great music to discover this month; I am surprised that the drum break that opens Steve Grossman’s Zulu Stomp has not been widely sampled. As in the last few months, I’ve created playlists in order of the listings below, and a playlist I have made for myself. This month’s is particularly good.

The Saint Of Lost Causes
The law of averages dictate that most of our favourites musicians tend to die when they are past their prime. It’s very rare that I’m looking forward to the next album of a newly-departed performer, even in the case of somebody like Prince. But in August I was devastated by the sudden death of Justin Towne Earle, one of the few contemporary singers I’d call myself a fan of, more so even than I am of his father, Steve Earle.

He never made a bad album I heard, and his Harlem River Blues album is a contender for my favourite of the 2010s, and Track 2 from it, One More Night in Brooklyn, one of my favourites of the decade. Last year’s The Saint Of Lost Causes was solid with some fine moments. It has his typical warmth and tinge of sadness, and is an agreeable companion. Justin Townes Earle’s music is generally classified as “Americana”, and Earle did justice to the concept: he drew his influences from almost every musical genre of the USA.

Earle was just 38, younger even than the fine musician he was named after, Townes van Zandt. Police say it might have been a drug overdose that claimed Earle, and reportedly he had been on-and-off drugs since he was 12.

The Texan Mexican
Strange paths crossed with Trini Lopez, the son of Mexican person growing up in Texas. In the mid-1950s, Lopez and is band played in the Dallas nightclub owned by Jack Ruby, who’d later murder Harvey Oswald. Then it was Buddy Holly’s father at whose advice Lopez and his band, The Big Beats, were recorded by Buddy’s producer Norman Petty in 1957. They released one instrumental single, and Trini tried his hand at a solo career as a singer. A long string of singles went nowhere, and an idea for Trini to succeed Buddy Holly as the singer of The Crickets fell through. So he returned to club singing — where he was discovered in 1962 by Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra signed Lopez to his Reprise label, and Lopez rewarded Sinatra with a hit, a live recording of If I Had A Hammer. He continued to have a run of hit singles through the 1960s. In between that he designed two guitars for Gibson, both models now much sought-after by collectors, and appeared in a handful of movies, including The Dirty Dozen.

The Rock Opera Writer
We can thank Mark Wirtz and his collaborator Keith West for the concept of the rock opera, one which they pioneered in 1967 with their unfinished A Teenage Opera, from which West released the track often called Grocer Jack, which became a #2 hit in 1967. Wirtz — who was born in in the French city of Strasbourg, grew up in Cologne and moved to England in 1962 — also wrote and recorded the infectious A Touch Of Velvet-A Sting Of Brass in 1966 under the moniker Mood Mosaic (with vocals by The Ladybirds). It later served as the theme of the legendary German music TV show Musikladen.

In 1970 he moved to the US, where he arranged for a number of big-name acts, but left the business in the late 1970s. He tried his hands at various careers: working a telemarketer, maître d’, blood-stock agent, interpreter, voice-over artist, undercover agent, seminar leader and sales manager. He then moved into comedy, with success, and also became an award-winning newspaper columnist and writer.

The Pogrom Survivor
As a toddler, Hal “Cornbread” Singer survived the Tulsa race massacre, when whites razed a whole thriving district in the black suburb of Greenwood in a pogrom against African Americans. When he died at 100 on August 18, he was one of the last survivors of that act of genocide.

Singer grew up in Greenwood before he became a jazz musician, especially as a tenor saxophonist. He played with acts like Oran “Hot Lips” Page, Roy Eldridge, Marion Abernathy, Coleman Hawkins and Wynonie Harris and recorded under his own name, scoring a 1948 hit with the instrumental Corn Bread, which gave him his nickname.

The Hard Rock Producer
Martin Birch, who has died at 71, was a young recording engineer when he twiddled the buttons for the blues-era Fleetwood Mac, and more as they transitioned towards AOR (he played an acoustic guitar solo on their 1973 track Keep On Going, which he produced and has Christine McVie on vocals). But he made his name as the producer and engineer on all the great Deep Purple albums, and the successor bands such as Rainbow and Whitesnake. From Deep Purple he moved on to Iron Maiden, producing their golden 1980s run. He also worked on albums by Black Sabbath, Wayne County and Blue Öyster Cult.

The Mindbender
As the nominative frontman of ’60s British pop band The Mindbenders, Wayne Fontana has legitimate expectations of striking it big as a solo artist. So after a couple of UK Top 10 hits in 1964 and ‘65 (both featured here), Fontana left the band to go solo. While Fontana had a pair of Top 20 hits (on the Fontana label, coincidentally), the band he left behind scored a huge hit in 1966 with A Groovy Kind Of Love. That’s as good as it ever got for Fontana, by 1976 he quit the music business.

And if you ever thought Austin Powers was anything less than a documentary, listen to the Coca-Cola jingle featuring Fontana and The Mindbenders included in this collection.

The Last Hatchet Man
With Steve Holland, the last of the original line-up of Southern Rock outfit Molly Hatchet has died. The guitarist stuck with the band from its founding until a big fall-out moved Holland and two other members to drop out of a tour in 1983. Two decades later they joined up with former Molly Hatchet singer Jimmy Farrar to form Gator Country, named after their old band’s great 1978 song. They released one live album in 2008. All founding members of Gator Country are now all dead.

The Dealer
The contribution made by Cathy Smith to the canon of music is negligible — backing vocals for Hoyt Axton (harmonising with Nicolette Larsson) and Dan Hill — but her unexemplary life story is tied in with various acts, not always for the better. Born in 1947 in Canada, she went to the US as a teenager and hooked up with Levon Helms and his pre-Band group The Hawks, and then with members of The Band. When the paternity of her newborn couldn’t be established, the kid was known as “The Band Baby”. She had an on-off affair with fellow Canadian Gordon Lightfoot, whose big hit Sundown is about his troubled affair with Smith (the possessive Lightfoot was not just a victim of Smith’s wiles but also an abuser, once breaking Smith’s cheekbone).

In 1976 Smith became a heroin addict and dealer. Among her clients, according to Bob Woodward in his book Wired, were Ron Wood and Keith Richards. Another client was John Belushi, into whom she injected the drug cocktail that killed him. In a contender for Greatest Backfires of the 1980s, Smith gave an interview about it in the National Enquirer, under the headline “I killed John Belushi. I didn’t mean to, but I am responsible”. As a result of that, she was charged with murder and drug-dealing. Out on bail, she fled to Canada. She later served a 15-month sentence in a plea bargain.

 

Randy Barlow, 77, country singer, on July 30
Randy Barlow – No Sleep Tonight (1978)

Wilford Brimley, 85, actor and singer, on Aug. 1
Wilford Brimley – My Funny Valentine (1990)

Larry Novak, 87, jazz pianist, on Aug. 2

Steve Holland, 66, guitarist with Molly Hatchet, Gator Country, on Aug. 2
Molly Hatchet – Gator Country (1978)
Molly Hatchet – Bloody Reunion (1981)

Michael Peter Smith, 78, singer-songwriter and author, on Aug. 3
Steve Goodman – The Dutchman (1972, as writer)
Michael Smith – Three Monkeys (1987)

Tony Costanza, 52, drummer with metal bands Machine Head, Crowbar, on Aug. 4

Billy Goldenberg, 84, TV theme writer, musical director (Elvis ‘68), on Aug. 4
Barbra Streisand ‎- If I Close My Eyes (1973, as co-writer, arranger, producer)
Theme of ‘Kojak’ (full version) (1973, as writer)

FBG Duck, 26, rapper, shot dead on Aug. 4

Jan Savage, 77, guitarist of garage rock band The Seeds, on Aug. 5
The Seeds – Pushin’ Too Hard (1965)

Agathonas Iakovidis, 65, Greek folk singer, on Aug. 5
Koza Mostra & Agathonas Iakovidis – Alcohol Is Free (2013)

Vern Rumsey, 47, bassist and recording engineer, on Aug. 6

Wayne Fontana, 74, English singer, on Aug. 6
Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders – Um, Um, Um, Um (1964)
Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders – Game Of Love (1965)
Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders – Coca-Cola commercial (1960s)
Wayne Fontana – Pamela, Pamela (1966)

Mark Wirtz, 76, French-born musician and producer, on Aug. 7
Mood Mosaic – A Touch Of Velvet-A Sting Of Brass (1966)
Keith West – Excerpt From ‘A Teenage Opera’ (1967, as co-writer, producer)

Alain Delorme, 70, French singer, on Aug. 7
Alain Delorme – Romantique avec toi (1975)

Paul Dokter, 59, singer, guitarist of Dutch indie band The Serenes, on Aug.7
The Serenes – Rebecca (You’re Gonna Be Alright) (1990)

Martin Birch, 71, British producer and engineer. On Aug. 9
Deep Purple – Hush (1968, as engineer)
Fleetwood Mac – Keep On Going (1973, as producer, engineer and on acoustic guitar)
Rainbow – Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll (1978, as producer/engineer)
Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills (1982, as producer/engineer)

Salome Bey, 80, Canadian jazz singer, on Aug. 9
Salome Bey – Hit The Nail Right On The Head (1970)
Salome Bey – Lover Man (1992)

Don Martin, bassist of New Zealand new wave band Mi-Sex, on Aug. 10

Waldemar Bastos, 66, Angolan musician, on Aug. 10
Waldemar Bastos – Teresa Ana (1983)
Waldemar Bastos – Sofrimento (1998)

Trini Lopez, 83, singer and actor, on Aug. 11
The Big Beats – Clark’s Expedition (1957, as member on guitar)
Trini Lopez – A-me-ri-ca (1963)
Trini Lopez – Lemon Tree (1964)

Pat Fairley, 76, bassist of Scottish pop band Marmalade, on Aug. 11
Marmalade – Baby Make It Soon (1969)

Belle du Berry, 54, singer of French group Paris Combo, on Aug. 11
Paris Combo – Moi, mon âme, ma conscience (1997)

Carlos Burity, 67, Angolan semba musician, on Aug. 12

Steve Grossman, 69, jazz saxophonist, on Aug. 13
Steve Grossman – Zulu Stomp (1974)

Ewa Demarczyk, 79, Polish singer and poet, on Aug. 14

Pete Way, 69, bass guitarist with rock band UFO, on Aug. 14
UFO – Young Blood (1980, also as co-writer)

Valentina Legkostupova, 54, Russian pop singer, on Aug. 14

Ron Heathman, guitarist with rock band Supersuckers, on Aug. 18
The Supersuckers – Rock-n-Roll Records (Ain’t Selling This Year) (2003)

Jack Sherman, 64, guitarist with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (1983-84), on Aug. 18
Red Hot Chilli Peppers – True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes (1984, also as co-writer)

Sean Pentecost, drummer of Australian metal band Superheist, on Aug.18.

Roger Quigley, 51, singer-songwriter with indie duo Montgolfier Brothers, on Aug. 18
The Montgolfier Brothers – Between Two Points (1999)

Steve Gulley, 57, bluegrass singer-songwriter, on Aug. 18

Cathy Smith, 73, Canadian-born backup singer, on Aug. 18
Hoyt Axton – Evangelina (1976)

Hal ‘Cornbread’ Singer, 100, jazz tenor saxophonist, on Aug 18
Wynonie Harris – Good Rockin’ Tonight (1947, on tenor sax)
Hal Singer Orchestra – Easy Living (1953)
Hal Singer – Cloud Nine (1964)

Lou Ragland, 78, soul singer and producer, on Aug. 19
Lou Ragland – Understand Each Other (1978)

Todd Nance, 57, drummer of rock band Widespread Panic, on Aug. 19

Justin Townes Earle, 38, singer-songwriter, on Aug. 20
Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues (2010)
Justin Townes Earle – Am I That Lonely Tonight (2012)
Justin Townes Earle – Burning Pictures (2014)
Justin Townes Earle – The Saint Of Lost Causes (2019)

Piotr Szczepanik, 78, Polish singer and actor, on Aug. 20

Frankie Banali, 68, drummer of Quiet Riot, WASP, on Aug. 20
Quiet Riot – Metal Health (Bang Your Head) (1983, also as co-writer)
W.A.S.P. – Mean Man (1983)

Ron Tudor, 96, Australian producer and label owner (Fable Records), on Aug. 21

Bryan Lee, 77, blues musician, on Aug. 21
Bryan Lee – I’ll Play The Blues For You (1993)

Steve Sample Sr., 90, jazz bandleader, arranger and educator, on Aug. 22

J. Rogers, 72, soul singer and producer, on Aug. 22
D.J. Rogers – Listen To The Message (1973)
D.J. Rogers – Say You Love Me (1975)

Ulla Pia, 75, Danish singer, on Aug. 22

Walter Lure, 71, guitarist with The Heartbreakers, on Aug. 22
Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers – To Much Junkie Business (1992, also as writer)

Giannis Poulopoulos, 79, Greek singer-songwriter, on Aug. 23

Charlie Persip, 91, jazz drummer, on Aug. 23
Dizzy Gillespie Sextet – Devil And The Fish (1954, on drums)
Dinah Washington – Someone’s Rocking My Dreamboat (1957)

Peter King, 80, English jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, composer, on Aug. 23
Everything But The Girl – The Night I Heard Caruso Sing (1988, on saxophone)

Riley Gale, 34, singer of metal band Power Trip, on Aug. 24

Itaru Oki, 78, Japanese jazz trumpeter and flugelhornist, on Aug. 25

Mick Hart, Australian folk-rock musician, on Aug. 25
Mick Hart – Watching It Fade (2001)

Gerry McGhee, 58, singer of Canadian rock band Brighton Rock, on Aug. 25

Chet Himes, 73, recording engineer, reported on Aug. 26
Christopher Cross – Ride Like The Wind (1979, as engineer)

Mike Noga, 43, Australian rock multi-instrumentalist, on Aug. 27
The Drones – The Minotaur (2008, as member on drums)

Ronnie Kole, 89, jazz pianist, New Orleans French Quarter Festival founder, on Aug. 27

Mark Colby, 71, jazz fusion saxophonist, on Aug. 31
Mark Colby – On And On (1979)

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The Originals: 1980s Vol. 2

August 25th, 2020 5 comments

In this instalment of The Originals, we return to the 1980s with a second volume. As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, plus a handful of bonus tracks, coming to a playlist of 32 lesser-known originals of 1980s hits.

 

Holding Back The Years
Simply Red’s Holding Back The Years sounds like a cover version of an obscure 1960s soul number, and the versions by Randy Crawford and Angie Stone show just how good a soul song it is. But it is, in fact, a Mick Hucknall composition.

Before Hucknall became Simply Red (would you recognise any of the other interchangeable members in the street?), he was the lead singer of the Frantic Elevators, a punk group whose formation was inspired by the Sex Pistols’ 1976 Manchester gig. They stayed together for seven years of very limited success, releasing four non-charting singles and recording a Peel session at the BBC.

The last of their four singles, released in 1982, was Holding Back The Years, a song Hucknall had mostly written as a 17-year-old about his mother’s desertion when he was three (he added the chorus later). Their version is understated and almost morose, in a Joy Division sort of way. Although released independently, as the cut-and-paste artwork on the slightly disturbing sleeve suggests, they had high hopes for the single. Ineffective distribution dashed those hopes.

In 1983, Hucknall left the Frantic Elevators and went on to found Simply Red (who before arriving at that name were called World Service, Red and the Dancing Dead, and Just Red). The first single, Money’s Too Tight To Mention — a cover version of The Valentine Brothers song (featured on Any Major Originals Vol. 1) — was an instant hit. The follow-up single but one was a remake of Holding Back The Years, now rendered as a soul number. On its first release in late 1985 it flopped. Re-released in 1986, it became a worldwide smash, even topping the Billboard charts.

Talk Talk
Another act covering (part of) itself was Talk Talk who recorded their 1993 hit Talk Talk from an original titled Talk Talk Talk Talk. The song was written by the late Mark Hollis, and originally recorded by his previous band, Reaction. It appeared on the Beggars Banquet punk compilation Streets, which was released in late 1977.

I’ve Never Been To Me
The song that has invited much ridicule, especially regarding what exactly a woman isn’t supposed to see, has been widely covered. Among those who’d never been to themselves were Nancy Wilson, Walter Jackson, The Temptations, and Howard Keel. But the first to lament her lifetime of non-hedonism was Randy Crawford, who released it in October 1976 on her debut album, Everything Must Change. Soon after it was recorded by Charlene, a Motown singer.

I’ve Never Been To Me was co-written by Motown songwriter Ron Miller, whose hits included Stevie Wonder’s For Once In My Life, A Place in the Sun, Yester-Me Yester-You Yesterday, and Heaven Help Us All, and Diana Ross’ Touch Me in the Morning.

Charlene was a singer for Motown who also wrote songs and produced. Part of her job was to record demos of songs. In 1976 she teamed up with Miller to release her debut album. Released in December that year, it included three singles which just about reached the 90s in the US Top 100 each. The third of these was I’ve Never Been To Me.

While the song was a minor hit by singer Marti Caine in Canada in 1978, and was recorded by Nancy Wilson and Walter Jackson, both in 1977, for Charlene commercial failure meant the end of the dream of hedonistic stardom. She quit her job and emigrated to England. Then in 1982, a DJ in Florida played I’ve Never Been To Me on the radio, and listeners loved it. Motown re-released the single, and it became a worldwide hit. For Charlene, it would be the only big hit. She scored a minor hit with a duet with Stevie Wonder in 1982.

 

Pass The Dutchie
A drug anthem sung by children, Pass The Dutchie was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic, which was unusual for a reggae number.

Pass The Dutchie was a cover of Pass the Kouchie by the Mighty Diamonds (a trio of adults singing about sharing a marijuana pipe), also from 1982. And both can be said to have borrowed their hook from 1969’s instrumental Full Up by the Sound Dimension.

Tom Hark
A staple these days on English football grounds, the impossibly catchy Tom Hark had its origins in South Africa. There was no Tom Hark: the song’s title was either a pun or more likely a sloppy mis-heard rendering of the word tomahawk, the axes gangs in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township used to carry.

Composer “Big Voice” Jack Lerole and his mates used to record in the pennywhistle-based kwela genre, though it was not yet known by that name — the contemporary term was marabi or pennywhistle jive. The word kwela is Zulu for “Get up”, and as kwela-kwela it was also a township term for a police van (after the cops” command “Kwela! Kwela!”, meaning “get in”), the unwelcome approach of which often was signalled by a lookout blowing his tin flute.

Lerole, commonly known as Jake, learnt to play the pennywhistle as a little boy, observing the flautists from Scottish regiments that often played near Alexandra and which influenced a generation of pennywhistlers who adapted the complex techniques of flute-playing to the simple pennywhistle, thereby enhancing its versatility.

Lerole and his bandmembers recorded under several names, mostly as Alexandra Black Mambazo (mambazo is Zulu for axe — or tomahawk), but were signed by EMI in 1956 as Elias and His Zig Zag Jive Flutes; the Elias of the moniker being Lerole”s brother.

Having recorded Tomahawk, or Tom Hark, EMI sold the rights to the song to British TV to serve as the theme for a series called The Killing Stone. On the back of that, the song became a British hit, reaching #2 in 1958 (a concurrent version by bandleader Ted Heath reached #24). Lerole and his band received £6 for recording the song and not a red cent in royalties, even when the song became an international hit again in 1980 with an affectionate cover by the British ska band The Piranhas, whose frontman Bob Grover put lyrics to the song (“The whole things daft, I don’t know why, you have to laugh or else you cry”). On the single cover The Piranhas paid tribute to the original by emblazoning it with the word “kwela”.

After the Alexandra Black Mambazo split in 1963, Lerole enjoyed a fair career, though more as a gravelly baritone singer and saxophonist than as a pennywhistler, having followed the lead of pennywhistle king Spokes Mashiyane into the new mbaqanga style of music. He made a comeback in the 1980s as a member of the multiracial group Mango Groove (which recorded Tom Hark with their own lyrics), on whose first hit, Dance Sum More (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nlom0-Z0RBE), Lerole provided his distinctive growling vocals. Before Mango Groove became famous in South Africa, he left the group.

In 1998 he and the reformed Alex Black Mambazo were invited by South African-born Dave Matthews to perform with his group in the US. The band performed to international acclaim and total indifference in their home country. Leralo died in 2003 at the age of 63.

In The Army Now
Also from South Africa, though from a very different cultural context, were the Bolland brothers, Rob and Ferdi. The year 1986 was lucrative for the brothers. First their song Rock Me Amadeus, performed by the Austrian cult singer Falco, topped the UK charts (having been a huge hit in Europe the previous year), and then Status Quo hit the UK Top 10 with their cover of the brothers’ 1981 song In The Army Now.

Born in Port Elizabeth, the Bolland brothers had emigrated to the Netherlands, and started their recording career in 1972 as a folk-rock duo. When that genre became passé they hooked into the electronic sounds of the late 1970s. In The Army Now was a big hit in South Africa, where conscription applied to only white men, many of whom were sent to fight in the war with Angola, apartheid’s Vietnam. The single did only moderately well elsewhere, and the Bolland brothers became record producers, counting among their clients Falco, Amii Stewart, Samantha Fox, Suzi Quatro and Dana International.

Meanwhile, Status Quo’s Francis Rossi had heard In The Army Now on the radio while driving in Germany, and proposed it to his band, which by now had lost bassist Alan Lancaster and drummer John Coughlan. The song took the Quo to #2 in the UK.

 

That’s What Friends Are For
Two songs here appeared on the soundtrack of the 1982 comedy Nightshift. That’s What Friends Are For was written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer-Sager, and first appeared on the movie’s soundtrack as a filler in a version by Rod Stewart.

Three years later it was revived by Dionne Warwick, with her friends Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder, as a fundraiser for AIDS research. It was a huge hit and won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group, as well as Song of the Year. The notion of supporting AIDS research in the 1980s was laudable, but musically I prefer Rod’s version.

Harden My Heart
One song from the Nightshift soundtrack that did trouble the charts was Harden My Heart by Quarterflash. By then it already had been a huge hit for the band. Written by its guitarist Marv Ross, the song was first recorded in a sparser arrangement by Seafood Mama, which was a predecessor band for Quarterflash.

Both bands featured Ross on guitar, and his wife, Rindy Ross on vocals and — hello, the 1980s — saxophone. Rindy can be seen holding a saxophone on the single cover of the original Harden My Heart.

Self Control
In Italy one might argue that the original is better known than the internationally more famous cover. The original by Italian singer Raf (or Raffaele Riefoli, as his mom knew him), who also co-wrote it, topped his country’s charts as well as that of Switzerland in the summer of 1984. US singer Laura Branigan’s version was a hit in Europe at the same time, competing with Raf’s version. Her take, for which arranger Harold Faltermeyer traded Raf’s keyboard hook with a guitar riff, became a huge US hit.

Branigan had enjoyed previous success with Italian pop music: her big 1982 hit Gloria was originally recorded in 1979 by Umberto Tozzi, whose 1977 hit Ti Amo she also recorded.  All three songs were co-written by Giancarlo Bigazzi, which explains how Branigan got to record it in time to compete with the original.

 

I Wanna Be Loved
For a prolific songwriter, Elvis Costello has covered other people’s songs widely. His best-known cover perhaps is George Jones’ A Good Year For The Roses, itself a country classic. Others were I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down was first done by Sam & Dave (featured on Any Major Originals – 1980s Vol. 1), and (What’s So Funny ‘bout) Peace, Love and Understanding, covered from the Brinsley Schwarz original.

I Wanna Be Loved, a Costello single in 1984 which appeared on the otherwise underwhelming Goodbye Cruel World album (and features Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside on backing vocals), was plucked from obscurity. That’s what Costello said, and he was not exaggerating.

There is very little information about the song’s original artists, Teacher’s Edition, or about Farnell Jenkins, who wrote the song. I Wanna Be Loved was released in on the Memphis-based Hi Records (which counted Al Green, Ann Peebles and O.V. Wright among its roster) in 1973 as a Willie Mitchell-produced b-side to a song titled It Helps To Make You Strong. For the Teacher’s Edition, that second single was the end of the road.

Jenkins had been around for a while already. Previously his band had been called The Conservatives, but that name was changed after Richard Nixon’s election. Jenkins brought out a gospel album in 1977, and continued to be a Chicago-based writer of Gospel songs.

The Only Way Is Up
Another soul singer who tried to make his way at Hi Records at the same time as Jenkins was Otis Clay. Recording since 1967, Clay had a run of well-received but modestly successful records on Hi. The best-performing of these was Tryin’ To Live My Life Without You, which hit #24 on the R&B charts in 1973. In 1981, Bob Seger scored a big hit with a cover of the song, which is added here as a bonus track.

By then, Clay had changed record labels a couple of times. In 1980 he released his records on his own label, Echo Records. Among these was the single The Only Way Is Up, co-written by soul singer-songwriter George Jackson, whose previous credits included the Osmonds hit One Bad Apple and Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll. The Only Way Is Up wasn’t a hit, but was popular enough to prompt Clay to name his 1982 album after it.

Eight years after Otis Clay recorded the song, it was picked up by English house outfit Coldcut which turned it into a pumping dance number for Yazz and the Plastic Population. It became a mega hit in the UK and in Europe, though it didn’t do much business in the US.

As for Otis Clay, he continued to record and earned himself a reputation as one of the finest blues singers, culminating in a Grammy nomination in 2007 for his album Walk a Mile in My Shoes. Clay died in 2016 at 73.

Wind Beneath My Wings
Between the first recording by whistling apartheid fan Roger Whitaker in 1982 and Bette Midler’s huge hit with it in 1988 on the back of the film Beaches, Wind Beneath My Wings had been recorded by many artists, including Sheena Easton, Gladys Knight and The Pips (as Hero), Lou Rawls, B.J. Thomas, Willie Nelson, Patty LaBelle, and Ray Price. Rawls and Knight, as well as country singer Gary Morris, saw some chart action with their versions.

For Midler, the song was a critically-acclaimed worldwide hit, and US #1. It won the Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

 

1. Otis Clay – The Only Way Is Up (1980)
The Usurper: Yazz and the Plastic Population (1988)

2. Rod Stewart – That’s What Friends Are For (1982)
The Usurper: Dionne Warwick & Friends (1985)

3. Seafood Mama – Harden My Heart (1980)
The Usurper: Quarterflash (1981)

4. Raf – Self Control (1984)
The Usurper: Laura Branigan (1984)

5. Charlie Dore – You Should Hear (How She Talks About You) (1981)
The Usurper: Melissa Manchester (1982)

6. The Textones – Vacation (1980)
The Usurpers: The Go-Go’s (1982)

7. The Mighty Diamonds – Pass The Kouchie (1982)
The Usurper: Musical Youth (1982, as Pass The Dutchie)

8. Elias & His Zigzag Jive Flutes – Tom Hark (1956)
The Usurper: Ted Heath (1956), The Piranhas (1980)

9. Kirsty MacColl – They Don’t Know (1979)
The Usurper: Tracy Ullman (1983)

10. Bolland & Bolland – You’re In The Army Now (1981)
The Usurper: Status Quo (1986)

11. Reaction – Talk Talk Talk Talk (1977)
The Usurper: Talk Talk (1982, as Talk Talk)

12. Frantic Elevators – Holding Back The Years (1982)
The Usurper: Simply Red (1985)

13. Cherrelle – I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On (1984)
The Usurper: Robert Palmer (1986)

14. Randy Crawford – I’ve Never Been To Me (1976)
The Usurper: Charlene (1976)

15. Teacher’s Edition – I Wanna Be Loved (1973)
The Usurper: Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1984)

16. The Applejacks – I Go To Sleep (1965)
The Usurper: Pretenders (1981)

17. Four Preps – Love Of The Common People (1966)
The Usurpers: Nicky Thomas (1970), Paul Young (1983)

18. The Crickets – More Than I Can Say (1960)
The Usurpers: Bobby Vee (1961), Leo Sayer (1980)

19. Barry Mann – Don’t Know Much (1980)
The Usurper: Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville (1989)

20. Albert Hammond – To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before (1975)
The Usurper: Julio Iglesias & Willie Nelson (1984)

21. Roger Whittaker – Wind Beneath My Wings (1982)
The Usurper: Bette Midler (1988)

22. George Benson – Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You (1985)
The Usurper: Glen Medeiros (1987)

23. Bonnie Tyler – The Best (1988)
The Usurper: Tina Turner (1989)

Bonus:
Otis Clay – Trying To Live My Life Without You (1973)
The Usurper: Bob Seger (1981)

Jon & Vangelis – State of Independence (1981)
The Usurper: Donna Summer (1982)

Neil Diamond – Red Red Wine (1968)
The Usurper: UB 40 (1983)

Priscilla Bowman & Spaniels – A Rockin’ Good Way (1958)
The Usurper: Shakin’ Stevens & Bonnie Tyler (1983)

Jack Lee – Come Back And Stay (1981)
The Usurper: Paul Young (1983)

Hall & Oates – Everytime You Go Away (1980)
The Usurper: Paul Young (1985)

Dionne Warwick – Never Gonna Let You Go (1982)
The Usurper: Sérgio Mendes (1983)

Floy Joy – Weak In The Presence Of Beauty (1986)
The Usurper: Alison Moyet (1987)

O’Chi Brown – Whenever You Need Somebody (1985)
The Usurper: Rick Astley (1987)

GET IT! or HERE!

More Originals:
The Originals: The Classics
The Originals: Soul
The Originals: Motown
The Originals: Country
The Originals: The Rock & Roll Years
The Originals: 1960s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1960s Vol. 2
The Originals: 1970s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1970s Vol. 2
The Originals: 1980s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1990s & 2000s
The Originals: Beatles edition
The Originals: Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 1
The Originals:  Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 2
The Originals: Carpenters Edition
The Originals: Burt Bacharach Edition
The Originals: Rat Pack Edition
The Originals: Schlager Edition
The Originals: Christmas Edition

Categories: The Originals Tags:

Any Major Falsetto Vol. 1

August 13th, 2020 9 comments

 

The heyday of the falsetto was the in 1970s, when every vocal soul group worth its name had at least one guy who’d hit the high register, much a relic of doo wop. For some groups, such as The Stylistics or Blue Magic, it was a selling point. Giants in falsetto singing like Eddie Kendrick or Philip Bailey raised the already mighty output of their respective groups — The Temptations and Earth, Wind & Fire — with their falsetto.

Erotic though the growls of Barry White might have been, the sex was on when Bailey would hit the high notes on Reasons or I Write A Song For You. According to a recent podcast by insider.com, we are “hardwired to have a strong response to falsetto in music because of the way our brains process pitch and because of the unique relationship between falsetto and emotion”. It is, apparently, in our DNA.

“According to the music cognitive psychologist David Huron, when you hear high-pitched, loud singing your brain releases excitatory hormones that increase your arousal state and make you more attentive. So falsetto gets your attention. But that’s not the only way it affects you. It also ignites your emotion.”

So with this mix, get those excitatory hormones ready for some arousal — and hopefully you are with the one you love when those emotions get ignited.

On the mix, I included the studio version of EWF’s Reasons, for purposes of keeping the mix down to CD-R length. But also hear the live version from the Gratitude album. Being blessed with a pretty good vocal range, I can sing the studio version alright, but the live one in some parts shreds my vocal chords.

Philip Bailey recently appeared on the Grammy Tribute to Prince, where he sang the late singer’s Adore. It was as marvellous performance. I was thinking of including Adore here, but went for The Most Beautiful Girl In The World instead, on strength of Prince suddenly dropping down to the lowest baritone (or is it bass by then?). A superb vocal performance.

I have tried to be purist in this collection and include only songs that feature falsetto, rather than head voice. Experts in the field of singing may confirm that I succeeded in my endeavour, or point out where I didn’t (I think the Buckley track might feature head voice). Here’s a teaching opportunity for y’all vocal coaches.

But that doesn’t really matter. Just enjoy the music and, if you are blessed with a decent falsetto, happy crooning along!

As mentioned, CD-R length. Home-eunuched covers (featuring renowened 1980s soul singer Prince Rahotep). PW in comments.

1. The Four Seasons – Sherry (1962)
2. Eddie Holman – Hey There Lonely Girl (1970)
3. The Dells – Oh What A Night (1969)
4. The Chi-Lites – Stoned Out Of My Mind (1973)
5. Eddie Kendricks – Keep On Truckin’ (Part 1) (1973)
6. Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up (Part 1) (1977)
7. The Bee Gees – Love You Inside And Out (1979)
8. Earth, Wind & Fire – Reasons (1975)
9. Heatwave – Always And Forever (1977)
10. Prince – The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (1994)
11. Lenny Kravitz – It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over (1991)
12. Jeff Buckley – Everybody Here Wants You (1998)
13. The Rolling Stones – Fool To Cry (1976)
14. Darondo – True (c.1973)
15. Curtis Mayfield – No Thing On Me (1972)
16. Jimmy Helms – Gonna Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse (1972)
17. The Delfonics – Think It Over (1973)
18. Blue Magic – Sideshow (1974)
19. The Stylistics – I’m Stone In Love With You (1972)

GET IT! or HERE!

More CD-R Mixes

Categories: Mix CD-Rs Tags:

In Memoriam – July 2020

August 4th, 2020 5 comments

The month started off quite brutally, with July 6 being particularly harsh. Things eased as the month neared its end. I’m still noting where people died of complications from Covid-19, since there are still idiots who think that protecting others from catching this virus is unimportant or incompatible with their screwed ideologies. Not masking up kills people. Be decent. Wear those masks.

The Maestro
You know a musician’s lifework is universally beloved when it is hailed by music fans of every genre, a top football club and the Vatican. The AS Roma football team got it right when it wore on its sleeves the legend “Grazie, Maestro” below the outline of the face of film composer Ennio Morricone by way of tribute. Readers of this blog needn’t be instructed about the genius of Morricone, nor be subjected to a tortured list of my favourite pieces of Morricone compositions — such a list would never end. But should there be anybody left who is uncertain what the Morricone fuss is all about, let me refer them to the exquisite soundtrack of Once Upon A Time In America, a masterpiece which guides you through an emotional journey (one of the featured tacks is from that soundtrack).

The Big Mac
Readers of this corner of the Internet also needn’t be reminded that before Fleetwood Mac were coked-up million-sellers in sunny California, they were a blues-rock band in grimy England (possibly experimenting with a variety of drugs, but more of that in a bit). The first incarnation had at its centre guitarist and songwriter Peter Green, whose blues guitar chops moved BB King to issue highest praise. For Fleetwood Mac, Green wrote Black Magic Woman (later a hit for another gifted guitarist, featured on Any Major Originals – The Classics), the instrumental mega-hit Albatross, Oh Well, The Green Manalishi, and others.

Green wasn’t into the stardom or the money that came with it. His experimentations with LSD also had an effect on his mental state. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Green left Fleetwood Mac in 1971. He continued to record here and there, but faded into obscurity (though his 1979 album In The Skies was very good). In 1979 his old pals from Fleetwood Mac included Green, uncredited, on the song Brown Eyes from Tusk.

The Devil’s Competitor
Will there be a rematch for a fiddle after the death of Charlie Daniels? The country-rocker became a sorry example of the hateful culture-warrior that brought the world the Disaster Express that is Donald Trump. But in his younger day, Daniels was a member of the counterculture and a supporter of Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. Let us remember that Charlie Daniels objected to the KKK’s use of his poorly-titled Southern Rock anthem The South’s Gonna Do It Again.

Before he broke through as a headliner, Daniels was a session musician, playing for the likes of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Al Kooper, Flatts & Scruggs, Ringo Starr and, especially, the Marshall Tucker Band.

The Jazz Singer
With the death of Annie Ross, all three of the pioneering jazz vocalese trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross are gone, with Dave Lambert having died already in 1966, and Jon Hendricks in 2017. Ross left the trio in 1962, succeeded by Yolande Bavan, the sole survivor of either line-up. Born in London as Annabelle Short, Ross came to the US as a child. In 1943 she played Judy Garland’s sister in Presenting Lily Mars. A year later she won a songwriting contest, with Johnny Mercer recording her song, Let’s Fly. She joined Lambert and Hendricks in 1957, having earlier worked alongside Lambert. Initially they wanted to record with different female singers, but Ross so impressed them that she was invited to join the group.

While with the trio, she also recorded solo albums, and in 1962 left the group. She went on to found a high-class jazz club in London, and had a good career as a film actress.

The Synth Pioneer
Remember that strange keyboard solo on Del Shannon’s Runaway (a song with so many delightful touches)? That was played on a musitron by its inventor, Max Crook. The musitron was an early type of monophonic synthethiser which, according to Wikipedia, was “a clavioline heavily enhanced with additional resistors, television tubes, and parts from household appliances, old amplifiers, and reel-to-reel tape machines”. It influenced the likes of Berry Gordy, Joe Meek, Ennio Morricone, John Barry and Roy Wood.

Crook was operating his invention on stage as a member of Del Shannon’s backing group when he played a chord-change from A-minor to G. The singer and the keyboardist used that as the basis for Runaway, which turned out to be a million-seller.

The Toto Father
I imagine growing up in the Porcaro household must have been a blast, at least from a music point of view. Joe Porcaro, who has died at 90, was a session drummer and percussionist in the Wrecking Crew, and all three of his sons — Jeff, Steve and Mike (two of whom Joe outlived) — became sought-after session musicians themselves, and founders of the group Toto. Porcaro Sr did percussion work on all Toto albums in their heyday (including percussions and marimabas on their 1982 mega-hit Africa). Joe Porcaro also made it a point to teach budding musicians: he was a co-founder of the Los Angeles College of Music.

Porcaro also played on the scores of films such as Kelly’s Heroes, Enter The Dragon, The Color Purple, E.T., Romancing The Stone, The Right Stuff, Alien Resurrection, Independence Day, Taps, The Abyss, Empire Of The Sun, Die Hard, Joe Versus The Volcano, The Naked Gun, Edward Scissorhands, Dances With Wolves, and many more.

The Soul Singer
The news came too late for inclusion in last month’s In Memoriam, so we pay tribute to Tami Lynn here. The New Orleans soul singer didn’t have the long career her talent deserved. Her only hit, I’m Gonna Run Away From You, came in the UK six years after she first recorded it. Lynn did frequent backing vocals for Dr John as well as for The Rolling Stones.

The Glee Singer
Naya Rivera is the third main cast member of the TV series Glee to die young (a subject she sang about in Season 5 of the show). Preceding her tragic death in a drowning were those of Cory Monleith (of suicide) and Mark Salling (also of suicide, after being convicted of possessing child porn). Even before Rivera’s apparent death, there was talk of the “Curse of Glee”. Rivera died heroically, saving her four-year-old son from drowning in a lake, but not able to save herself. It seems a cruel irony that at the time of her death, Rivera was a star on a TV series titled Step Up: High Water.

The text above and the list below is included as a PDF file.

Tami Lynn, 77, soul singer, on June 26
Tami Lynn – I’m Gonna Run Away From You (1965)
Dr John – Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya (1968, on backing vocals)
Tami Lynn – Wings Upon Your Horn (1972)
The Rolling Stones – Let It Loose (1972, on backing vocals)

Max Crook, 83, American keyboardist and songwriter, on July 1
Del Shannon – Runaway (1961, as co-writer and on musitron)
Maximilian – The Snake (1961, as Maximilian)
Brian Hyland (1970, on keyboards)

Marvin Brown, 66, falsetto singer of soul group The Softones, on July 3
The Softones – Maybe Tomorrow (1977, on lead vocals)

Sebastián Athié, 24, Mexican actor and musician, on July 4

Silvano Silvi, 83, singer of Italian pop group Gli Erranti, on July 4
Silvano Silvi e gli Erranti – Tenendoti per mano (1963)

Cleveland Eaton, 80, jazz bassist, producer, composer, publisher, on July 5
Ramsey Lewis Trio – Wade In The Water (1966, on bass)
Cleveland Eaton – Bama Boogie Woogie (1978)

Tiloun, 53, Réunionese singer, on July 5
Tiloun – Regninay

Ennio Morricone, 91, Italian film composer, on July 6
Ennio Morricone – The Man With The Harmonica (1968)
Ennio Morricone – My Name Is Nobody (1973)
Ennio Morricone – Childhood Memories (1984)
Ennio Morricone – Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Joe Porcaro, 90, session drummer and percussionist, on July 6
Nancy Sinatra – Sugar Town (1966, on percussions)
Boz Scaggs – Lido Shuffle (on drums)
Cheryl Lynn – You’re The One (1978, on percussions)
Toto – Pamela (1988, on percussion)

Charlie Daniels, 83, country singer-songwriter and musician, on July 6
Bob Dylan – Lay Lady Lay (1969, on electric guitar)
Charlie Daniels Band – Long Haired Country Boy (1975)
Charlie Daniels Band – High Lonesome (1976)
Charlie Daniels Band – Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye (1985)

Lane Tietgen, 74, musician and songwriter, on July 7
The Serfs – Evil Days (1969, on guitar and bass, as writer)

Naya Rivera, 33, actress (Glee), singer and author, drowned on July 8
Naya Rivera – Valerie (2010)
Naya Rivera – If I Die Young (2014)

Patricia Majalisa, 53, South African singer, on July 9

Eddie Gale, 78, jazz trumpeter, on July 10
Eddie Gale – The Rain (1968)
Sun Ra and His Arkestra – Flamingo (1979, on trumpet)

Gordon Stone, 70, bluegrass musician, on July 10
Gordon Stone – Alabama Banjo Dream (1981)

Phil Ashley, 65, session keyboardist, on July 10
Debbie Harry – French Kissin’ In The USA (1986, on keyboards)

Cosmas Magaya, 67, Zimbabwean mbira musician, of Covid-19 on July 10

Rich Priske, 52, Canadian bassist, on July 11
Matthew Good Band – Strange Days (2000, as member)

Lil Marlo, 30, rapper, shot dead on July 11

Benjamin Keough, 27, backup singer and Elvis Presley’s grandson, suicide on July 12

Rod Bernard, 79, swamp pop singer, on July 12
Rod Bernard – This Should Go On Forever (1959)

Jarno Sarkula, 47, member if Finnish avant garde group Alamaailman Vasarat, on July 12

Judy Dyble, 71, English folk singer-songwriter, on July 12
Fairport Convention – I Don’t Know Where I Stand (1968, as member on lead vocals)
The Conspirators with Judy Dyble – One Sure Thing (2008)

Raúl Pagano, Argentinian rock keyboard player, on July 14

J. Lionel, 72, Belgian singer, on July 14

Rudy Palacios, 74 member of Tejano group Sunny & the Sunliners, of Covid-19 on July 14

Jimmy Walker, drummer of 1960s pop group The Knickerbockers, on July 15
The Knickerbockers – Lies (1965)

Jamie Oldaker, 68, session drummer and percussionist (Eric Clapton), on July 16
Eric Clapton – Lay Down Sally (1978, on drums and percussions)

Víctor Víctor, 71, Dominican singer-songwriter, Covid-19 on July 16

Ken Chinn, 57, singer of Canadian punk band SNFU, on July 16
SNFU – She’s Not On The Menu (1986)

Emitt Rhodes, 70, singer-songwriter and musician, on July 19
The Merry-Go-Round – Live (1967, as writer and on lead vocals)

Dobby Dobson, 78, Jamaican reggae singer, producer, of Covid-19 on July 21
Dobby Dobson – Loving Pauper (1970)

Annie Ross, 89, singer jazz trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, songwriter, and actress, on July 21
Charlie Parker And His Orchestra – In The Still Of The Night (1957, on vocals)
Lambert, Hendricks & Ross – Twisted (1959, also as co-writer)
Annie Ross with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet – All Of You (1959)

Tim Smith, 59, English rock singer-songwriter, musician, producer, on July 22
Cardiacs – Is This The Life? (1988, as singer and writer)

Dominic Sonic, 55, French rock singer, on July 23
Dominic Sonic – When My Tears Run Cold (1989)

Regis Philbin, 88, TV personality and entertainer, on July 24
Regis Philbin – You Make Me Feel So Young (2004)

CP Lee, 70, English musician, on July 25
Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias – Gobbing On Life (1977)

Peter Green, 73, English blues rock singer-songwriter and guitarist, on July 25
Fleetwood Mac – The Green Manalishi (1970)
Peter Green – A Fool No More (1979)
Fleetwood Mac – Brown Eyes (1979, uncredited on guitar)

Miss Mercy, 71, singer with Zappa project The GTO’s, on July 27
The GTO’s – Circular Circulation (1969)

Denise Johnson, 56, singer with Scottish rock group Primal Scream, on July 27
Primal Scream – Don’t Fight It, Feel It (1991, on lead vocals)

Richard Wallace, 80, singer and guitarist with The Mighty Clouds of Joy, on July 27
The Mighty Clouds Of Joy – Stoned World (1974)
The Mighty Clouds Of Joy – In These Changing Time (1979)

Bent Fabric, 95, Danish jazz pianist and composer, on July 28
Bent Fabric – The Alleycat (1962, also a writer)

Renato Barros, 76, Brazilian singer and guitarist, on July 28
Renato e seus Blue Caps – Darling (1971, as frontman)

Malik B., 47, rapper with The Roots, on July 29
The Roots – Section (1996, on rap)

Balla Sidibé, 78, bandleader of Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab, on July 29
Orchestra Baobab – Balla Daffe (2001, also as writer)

Juan Ramón, 80, Argentine singer and actor, on July 30

Bill Mack, 88, country singer, songwriter and radio DJ, of Covid-19 on July 31
Bill Mack – Drinking Champagne (1966, also as writer)
LeAnn Rimes – Blue (1996, as writer)

GET IT! or HERE!

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

The Originals – 1960s Vol. 2

July 30th, 2020 10 comments

 

In this second volume of Lesser-known Originals of 1960s hits (get Vol. 1 HERE), we look at the first recordings of songs made famous by the likes of The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel,  The Animals, The Mamas & The Papas,  Cilla Black, The 5th Dimension,  Harry Nilson, The Byrds, and many others…

 

Louie Louie
There are people who like to designate The Kingsmens’ 1963 version of Louie Louie the first-ever punk song. One can see why: its production is shambolic, the drummer is rumoured to be swearing in the background, his diction is non-existent, the modified lyrics were investigated by the FBI for lewdness (the Feds found nothing incriminating, not even the line which may or may not have been changed from “it won’t be long me see me love” to “stick my finger up the hole of love”), and by the time the song became a hit — after a Boston DJ played it in a “worst songs ever” type segment — the band had broken up and toured in two incarnations.

Originally it was a regional hit in 1957 for an R&B singer named Richard Berry, who took inspiration from his namesake Chuck and West Indian music. In essence, it’s a calypso number of a sailor telling the eponymous barman about the girl he loves.

Louie Louie was originally released as a b-side, but quickly gained popularity on the West Coast. It sold 40,000 copies, but after a series of flops Berry momentarily retired from the recording business, selling the rights to Louie Louie for $750. In the meantime, bands continued to include the song in their repertoire. It was a 1961 version by Rockin’ Robin Roberts & the Fabulous Wailers which provided The Kingsmen with the prototype for their cover.

 

Hang On Sloopy
The McCoys hit it big in 1965 with Hang On Sloopy, a cover version, of The Vibrations’ 1964 US Top 30 hit My Girl Sloopy, written by the legendary Bert Berns and Wes Farrell. The Vibrations were a soul group from Los Angeles which kept going well into the 1970s; one of their members, Ricky Owens, even joined The Temptations very briefly. Several of their songs are Northern Soul classics (which basically means that they were so unsuccessful that their records are rare).

The McCoys version was originally intended for The Strangeloves, who did the original of the Bow Wow Wow hit I Want Candy. While on tour with their group, the producers decided that My Girl Sloopy, the backing track already recorded, should be the band’s follow-up to I Want Candy. But the Dave Clark Five, on tour with the Strangeloves, got wind of it, and said they’d record Sloopy, too.

So the trio, afraid that the Dave Clark Five might have a hit with the song before they could release theirs, acted fast to scoop the English group. They recruited an unknown group based in Dayton, Ohio, called Rick and the Raiders, renamed them The McCoys, and in quick time released the retitled Hang On Sloopy.

But it wasn’t all the McCoys playing on the single. Only singer Rick Zehringer (later Derringer) performed on it — his vocals having been overlaid on the version already recorded by the Strangeloves, and a guitar solo added to it. The single was a massive hit, reaching the US #1. In 1985 it was adopted as the official rock song of Ohio (honestly).

 

Dedicated To The One I Love
The “5” Royales’ name screams 1950s novelty band. But that they were not. Indeed, they were cited as influences by the likes of James Brown (who recorded their song Think), the legendary Stax musician Steve Cropper, and Eric Clapton. By the time the band from Salem, North Carolina, released Dedicated To The One I Love in 1958, their heyday was past them, and the single did not do much in two releases. It deserved better, alone for that great guitar.

Likewise, The Shirelles’ cover (with Doris, not Shirley, doing lead vocals), recorded in 1959 initially flopped. It became a hit only on its re-release in 1961 to follow up the success of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, reaching #3 in the US pop charts.

The Mamas and the Papas’ 1967 cover did even better, getting to #2. As on the Shirelles’ recording, the second banana took lead vocals; it was the first time Michelle Phillips, not Mama Cass, sang lead on a Mamas and Papas track.

 

Turn! Turn! Turn!
For all their collective songwriting genius, The Byrds were something of an über-covers band. Few acts did Dylan as well as The Byrds did. Some songs they made totally their own. One of these was Turn! Turn! Turn!, a staple of ‘60s compilation written by Pete Seeger (co-written, really: the lyrics are almost entirely lifted from the Book of Ecclesiastes).

Before Seeger got around to record it in 1962, or The Byrds were even formed, a folk outfit called The Limeliters put it out under the title To Everything There Is A Season. The first post-Seeger cover was by Marlene Dietrich as Für alles kommt die Zeit, recorded during the actress’ folk phase which also saw her record German versions of Blowin’ In The Wind and Where Have All The Flowers Gone.

The same year, 1963, Judy Collins also issued a version, arranged by Jim McGuinn, who had played on The Limelighters recording. After Collins’ version, McGuinn co-founded The Byrds, for whom Turn! Turn! Turn!, released in October 1965, became their second hit. Jim turned turned turned into Roger in 1968.

 

I Am A Rock
After the disappointing sales of Simon & Garfunkel’s Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. album, the duo split and Read more…

Categories: The Originals Tags:

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 10

July 23rd, 2020 6 comments

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GET! or HERE! or HERE!

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

More CD-R Mixes

Any Major Hits from 1970

July 9th, 2020 6 comments

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Memoriam – June 2020

July 2nd, 2020 7 comments

At last, there was a month of some respite, at least in comparison to the past few months of carnage (though the last week was pretty brutal). Still, we lost as few legends in their field, and one singer’s assassination sparked off social unrest.

The Pointer Sister
When on 9 June I posted the Protest Soul Vol. 3 mix, featuring the Pointer Sisters song Yes We Can Can, I didn’t know that Bonnie Pointer had died the day before. Bonnie started the band with younger sister June in 1969, with Anita and then Ruth joining later. In the earlier days, the Pointer Sisters were eclectic, adopting an image based on the Andrews Sisters, and performing material that ranged from soul to funk to jazz to country. Their 1974 crossover hit Fairytale, which Bonnie co-wrote with Anita, was full-on country.

Bonnie left the group in the late 1970s to pursue a solo career, but that yielded only one hit, 1979’s disco version of The Elgins’ Heaven Must Have Sent You, which peaked at #11. After Bonnie left, the sisters carried on as a trio.

The Glam Bassist
Glam rock introduced the British public (and people beyond) to male pop stars wearing make-up, but even then, few really camped it up as heterosexually as Steve Priest, bassist of The Sweet. His interjection on the 1973 hit Block Buster “They just haven’t got a clue what to do” is the stuff of legend. So when The Sweet went square and released 1978’s Level Headed LP, it was disappointing to see Steve looking, well, like a school teacher who’ll have to take action against hell-raisers on a teenage rampage. With Priest’s death, Andy Scott is the final survivor of the classic Sweet line-up.

The Guitar Man
The Any Major Guitar Vol. 2 mix featured songs with guitar parts I particularly like. Among them was the solo on Rod Stewart’s Sailing by Pete Carr. I noted that another one of his solos, on Bob Seger’s Against The Wind might have featured instead. Carr was still a teenager when he recorded, as a bassist, an album with Duane and Gregg Allman in the band Hour Glass. That led to him to the FAME studios, where soon he became lead guitarist for the in-house band, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. At FAME he played on most hits produced there in the 1970s, and also worked behind the scenes in production and engineering. In between, he formed a duo with Lenny LeBlanc, and had a hit with their song Falling.

Carr’s guitar can be heard on hits such as Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s The Night, Luther Ingram’s If Loving You is Wrong, Barbra Streisand’s Woman In Love (that intro!), Paul Simon’s Kodachrome and Take Me To The Mardi Gras, Mary McGregor’s Torn Between Two Lovers, Bob Seger’s Main Street, Still The Same, Hollywood Nights and practically everything else Seger did between 1972 and 1986. And, having recorded with both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Carr was in the backing band in their Concert In The Park reunion.

The War Singer
A few weeks ago I reposted a mix of German hits from the WW2 years, among which were subtly-spun propaganda songs exhorting the German population to keep courage while their cities were bombed and sons and husbands fell in the field. In Britain, Vera Lynn filled a similar function by singing about meeting again at an unknowable time in the future (in the 1940s hit version, backed by a choir of servicemen), how there’ll always be an England, and about how the white cliffs of Dover would greet returning soldiers.

With these songs that gave comfort and the spirit of endurance, Lynn’s name in the book of British music legends was still shone bright for the remaining 75+ years of her life. Her big hits were used a lot for jingoistic propaganda to agitate for Brexit, but if We’ll Meet Again isn’t remembered as war-time classic, it might be as the song that scores the final scene of Dr Strangelove, as the world fades away in an atomic armageddon.

The Theme Composer
The man who write the theme of M*A*S*H has died, apparently of natural causes, at 94. Johnny Mandel put the music to the lyrics by director Robert Altman’s 14-year-old son Michael, who was roped in to write the most intentionally idiotic lyrics to fit the title Suicide Is Painless. Against Mandel’s wishes, it became the movie’s theme song. As an instrumental theme for the TV series, the tune became one of the most recognisable of the 1970s.

He won Grammy awards for his songs Emily (from the 1964 comedy film The Americanization of Emily) and the much-covered The Shadow of Your Smile (from The Sandpiper), which also won the Oscar for Best Song in 1966. Films whose scores he composed included Caddyshack, Being There, The Verdict, Freaky Friday (1976 version), Agatha, Escape to Witch Mountain, Point Blank, Pretty Poison, I Want To Live! and The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (which starred Carl Reiner, who died on the same day as Mandel).

Mandel was not only a prolific songwriter and score composer for film and TV, but was also a sought-after arranger for the likes of Hoagy Carmichael, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Mel Tormé, Anita O’Day, Buddy Rich, Quincy Jones, Peggy Lee, Diane Schuur, Diane Krall, Barbra Streisand, Lee Ritenour, James Ingram, Natalie Cole, Michael Jackson (on Will You Be There) and Steely Dan (he arranged the strings on FM).

The Reggae Pioneer
Jamaican guitarist Hux Brown played on pioneering reggae songs such as Bangarang by Lester Sterling, Rivers of Babylon by The Melodians, The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff Girl, I’ve Got A Date by Alton Ellis, Ba Ba Boom by the Jamaicans; and many tracks by Lee “Scratch” Perry, Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers, and Toots And The Maytalls, whom he joined in the 1970s and stayed with for 35 years. Outside reggae, he backed Paul Simon (on Mother And Child Reunion) and Herbie Mann.

The Singing Producer
As a young folk musician in England, Rupert Hine was pals with a pre-fame Paul Simon (rough month for Paul, with three former collaborators dying this month). In the 1970s he had a Top 10 UK hit with his band Quantum Jump and recorded prolifically as a solo artist, without bothering the charts (though he sang on the Better Off Dead soundtrack in 1985).

It was as a producer Hine left a mark with acts like Yvonne Elliman, Kevin Ayers, After The Fire, Murray Head, Camel, The Members, Tina Turner (Better Be Good To Me; Break Every Rule), The Fixx, Chris De Burgh (Don’t Pay The Ferryman; High On Emotion), Jona Lewie, Howard Jones (What Is Love; Like To Get To Know You Well; Hide And Seek, Things Can Only Get Better, Life In One Day), The Waterboys (A Girl Called Johnny), Thompson Twins (The Long Goodbye; Get That Love), Bob Geldof, Rush, Stevie Nicks (Rooms On Fire), Duncan Sheik, Suzanne Vega and others.

The Last Left Banker
The Left Banke is now empty, after the death of the last surviving member of the classic line-up, bass player Tom Finn. Just over five years ago, they were all still alive. Since then, keyboardist and chief songwriter Michael Brown died in 2015; drummer George Cameron in 2018, and guitarist Steve Martin Caro in January this year.  After the band split, Finn went on to engineer at Bell Records, and then became a DJ, at the prompting of Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell. Among Finn’s clients were Bill and Hilary Clinton.

The Assassins’ Victim
It seems to become a common event that musicians are killed or otherwise persecuted for advocating social justice. In the past few months we’ve seen the death of gospel singer Kizitio Mihigo  while in police custody in Rwanda in February, and the hunger strikes deaths of Ibrahim Gökçek and Helin Bölek in Erdogan’s Turkey in April and May. On June 29, assassins’ bullets killed Ethiopian singer-songwriter Hachalu Hundessa, who was an activist for political and social reform and the rights of the Oromo ethnic group, which has been discriminated against by successive Ethiopian regimes, starting with that of Haile Selassie.

Hundessa’s murder sparked off civil unrest, with at least 11 protesters shot dead. The day after his murder, the Ethiopian government shut down the internet in much of the country.

 

As last month, this post is included as a PDF booklet for easy future reference, replacing the old *.txt files. It takes a bit of effort to create. Let me know in the comments if I should continue with it.

Joey Image, 63, drummer of punk rock band Misfits, on June 1
Misfits – Horror Business (1978)

Majek Fashek, 57, Nigerian reggae singer and songwriter, on June 1
Majek Fashek – Send Down The Rain (1988)

Chris Trousdale, 34, singer with boy band Dream Street, of Covid-129 on June 2

Werner ‘Gottlieb Wendehals’ Böhm, 78, German singer and musician, on June 3

Dulce Nunes, 90, Brazilian singer, composer, producer & actress, of Covid-19 on June 4
Dulce Nunes – Pobre Menina Rica (1964)

Steve Priest, 72, bassist and later singer of The Sweet, on June 4
Sweet – Wig-Wam Bam (1972)
Sweet – Block Buster (1973)
Sweet – The Six Teens (1974)
Sweet – Love Is Like Oxygen (1978)

Rupert Hine, 72, English musician, songwriter and producer, on June 5
Quantum Jump – The Lone Ranger (1976, as member on vocals and keyboard)
Howard Jones – Hide And Seek (!984, as producer)
Rupert Hine – Arrested By You (1985, also as co-writer)

Frank Bey, 74, blues singer, on June 7
Frank Bey – Idle Hands (2020)

Floyd Lee, 86, New York blues busker and musician, on June 7
Floyd Lee Band – Mean Blues (2001)

Jesse Sanders, 76, member of surf-rock band The Tornadoes, on June 7
The Tornadoes – Bustin’ Surfboards (1962)

James ‘Slim’ Hand, 67, country singer-songwriter, on June 8
James Hand – In The Corner, At The Table, By The Jukebox (2006)

Bonnie Pointer, 69, singer with The Pointer Sisters, on June 8
The Pointer Sisters – Fairytale (1974, also as co-writer)
The Pointer Sisters – Easy Days (1975, on lead vocals & as co-writer)
Bonnie Pointer – Heaven Must Have Sent You (1979)

Uta Pilling, 71, German musician, songwriter and illustrator, on June 8

Pau Donés, 53, singer-songwriter, guitarist with Spanish rock group Jarabe de Palo, on June 9
Jarabe de Palo – Agua (1998)

Paul Chapman, 66, Welsh guitarist (UFO, Lone Star), on June 9
UFO – This Fire Burns Tonight (1980, on lead guitar & as co-writer)

Ricky Valance, 84, Welsh pop singer, on June 12
Ricky Valance – Tell Laura I Love Her (1960)

Claude Ndam, 65, Cameroonian singer-songwriter, on June 12

Dodo Doris, 71, drummer of Congolese/Kenyan Orchestra Super Mazembe, on June 12
Super Mazembe Orchestra – Shauri Yako (1983)

Marc Zermati, 75, French producer and promoter, on June 13
The Flamin’ Groovies – River Deep Mountain High (1981, as co-producer)

Keith Tippett, 72, British jazz-rock pianist, on June 14
Keith Tippett Group – Black Horse (1971)

Omondi Long’lilo, 37, Kenyan Benga musician, on June 15

Nana Tuffour, 66, Ghanaian highlife singer, on June 15
Nana Tuffour – Abeiku (2002)

Yohan, 28, singer with South Korean K-pop boyband TST, on June 16

Yuji ‘You’ Adachi, 56, guitarist, songwriter of Japanese hard rock band Dead End, on June 16
Dead End – So Sweet So Lonely (1989)

Hugh Fraser, 62, Canadian jazz pianist, trombonist and composer, on June 17

Vera Lynn, 103, British singer, on June 18
Vera Lynn – We’ll Meet Again (1939, original version)
Vera Lynn – Be Like The Kettle And Sing (1944)
Vera Lynn – When You Hear Big Ben, You’re Home Again (1954)

Hux Brown, 75, Jamaican guitarist with The Maytals, on June 18
Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers – Rocksteady (1969, on guitar)
Paul Simon – Mother And Child Reunion (1972, on guitar)
The Maytals – Give Us A Piece Of The Action (1977, on guitar as member)

Ellington ‘Fugi’ Jordan, 80, soul & blues singer, songwriter and producer, on June 18
Fugi ‎- Mary Don’t Take Me On No Bad Trip (1968, also as writer and co-producer)
Clarence Carter – I’d Rather Go Blind (1969, as writer)

Aaron Tokona, 45, New Zealand guitarist and singer, on June 20

Joan Pau Verdier, 73, French chanson singer, on June 21
Joan Pau Verdier – Vivre (1976)

Ian Stoddart, drummer and bassist of pop band Win, announced on June 22
Win – You’ve Got The Power (1985)

Margarita Pracatan, 89, Cuban novelty singer, on June 23

Claude Le Péron, 72, French bass guitarist, on June 24

Jacques Coursil, 82, French jazz trumpeter and composer, on June 25

Graeme Williamson, singer of Canadian new wave band Pukka Orchestra, on June 25
Pukka Orchestra – Cherry Beach Express (1984)

Huey, 31, rapper, shot on June 25

Charles Lawton Jiles, 90, country musician and songwriter, on June 26
Porter Wagoner – My Baby’s Not Here (In Town Tonight) (1963, as co-writer)

Sandra Feva, 73, soul singer, on June 26
Sandra Feva – Choking Kind (1979)
Sandra Feva – Leaving This Time (1981)

Mats Rådberg, 72, Swedish country singer, on June 27

Freddy Cole, 88, jazz singer and pianist, brother of Nat ‘King’ Cole, on June 27
Freddy Cole – Black Coffee (1964)
Freddy Cole – This Time I’m Gone For Good (2014)

Tom Finn, 71, bassist of pop band The Left Banke, on June 27
The Left Banke – I’ve Got Something On My Mind (1967)
The Left Banke – Nice To See You (1969, also as writer)

Pete Carr, 70, Muscle Shoals guitarist, on June 27
Hour Glass – Power Of Love (1968, as member on bass)
Sandra Wright – I’ll See You Through (I’ll Be Your Shelter) (1974, on guitar)
LeBlanc & Carr – Falling (1977)
Bob Seger – Against The Wind (1980, on lead guitar)

Simon H. Fell, 61, British free jazz bassist, on June 28

Benny Mardones, 73, soft-rock singer, on June 29
Benny Mardones – Into The Night (1989, also as writer)

Willie Wright, 80, soul singer, on June 29
Willie Wright – I’m So Happy Now (1977)

Stepa J. Groggs, 32, rapper (original member of Injury Reserve), on June 29

Johnny Mandel, 94, film composer, arranger, on June 29
Frank Sinatra – Ring-A-Ding-Ding (1960, as arranger and conductor)
Tony Bennett – The Shadow of Your Smile (1966, as co-writer and arranger)
The Mash – Suicide Is Painless (1980, as co-writer and arranger)
Quincy Jones – Velas (1980, as arranger)

Hachalu Hundessa, 34, Ethiopian singer and songwriter, assassinated on June 29
Hachalu Hundessa – Maalan Jira (2016)

Walter Nita, 69, Dutch singer, on June 30

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The Originals – Rat Pack Edition

June 18th, 2020 6 comments

 

In this instalment of The Originals we go to the first recordings or releases of songs that later became hits for Frank Sinatra (most of them), Dean Martin or Sammy Davis Jr — the so-called Rat Pack.

Frank Sinatra was a supreme interpreter of music. Even in the later stages of his career, when the arrangements often transgressed the boundaries of good taste, Sinatra still knew how to appropriate a song. So one may well think that he was essentially a cover artist — after all, he never wrote a song — and much of his catalogue consists of songs more famous in other artists’ hands. But many of Sinatra’s most famous songs were first recorded by him, and often written especially for him, particularly by Sammy Kahn and Jimmy Van Heusen.

The songs that were first recorded by others but became known as Sinatra standards are relatively few. Hence the need to fill up this collection with tracks made famous by Dino and Sammy. And we’ll kick this thing of with one that connects Sinatra and Martin.

 

Everybody Loves Somebody
One of the originals is by Sinatra himself: Everybody Loves Somebody. When Dean Martin covered to it two decades later to good effect, he reportedly told the master interpreter of songs: “That’s how you sing it.”

Sinatra had released the song in 1948, a month before Peggy Lee’s version, though hers was recorded earlier. Neither version was a hit, though it can’t have been too obscure either. That same year, Dean Martin sang it on Bob Hope’s Show as well as on his own radio show with Jerry Lewis. Still after 1948, it was rarely recorded.

In 1964 Martin filled a little spare time at the end of a session by recording the song, at the suggestion of his pianist, Ken Lane, who had co-written it. The result was so good that Martin re-recorded the song with a full orchestra. It became a huge hit, knocking The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night off the top of the US charts. Apparently Martin celebrated that by sending a telegram to his friend Elvis Presley. It said: “If you can’t handle the Beatles, I’ll do it for you, pally.”

 

I’ve Got You Under My Skin
Sinatra was a marvellous interpreter of Cole Porter’s songs, and both of his solo versions of I’ve Got You Under My Skin are superb (whereas his long-distance duet with Bono was embarrassing). The song was originally written for the 1936 MGM musical Born To Dance, in which Virginia Bruce vied with star Eleanor Powell for the affection of James Stewart. The film was the first to be entirely scored by Porter (and his first engagement for MGM), and featured another classic in the exquisite Easy to Love, crooned by Powell and, in an unusual singing role, Stewart.

But before the film it is from was even released in November 1936, I’ve Got You Under My Skin had been recorded by singer-actress Frances Langford with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. But the first act to have a hit with it Ray Noble and his Orchestra, with the South African-born English singer Al Bowlly on vocals. Bowlly met an untimely end in 1941 when the explosion of a Blitzkrieg bomb on London blew his bedroom door off its hinges, lethally smashing the crooner’s head.

Sinatra first performed I’ve Got You Under My Skin as part of a medley with Easy To Love on radio in 1946 (some sources say 1943), but he didn’t record it until 1956, with Nelson Riddle’s arrangement on the Songs For Swingin’ Lovers album. He recorded the song again in 1963, in full swing mode, for an album of remakes of some of his favourite hits.

In 1966 the song was a hit in the popified remake by The Four Seasons.

 

I Get A Kick Out Of You
Trust Cole Porter to identify in his lyrical witticisms a yet undiscovered matter of science. As we now know, the emotion of love triggers Read more…

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Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 3

June 9th, 2020 2 comments

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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