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A Life In Vinyl: 1980

November 13th, 2014 7 comments

A Life In Vinyl 1980

In 1980 I turned 14, and shortly before that I bought my 100th single — that is, the 100th single in my collection since I had dumped all my old Schlager platters and started accumulating proper pop records. The honour of providing my century went to Peter Gabriel’s Games Without Frontiers, a song he also recorded in very broken German. I preferred the English version. Within a year I would almost stop buying singles in favour of albums (though I’d rediscover the joy of the single when I lived in London in the mid-’80s).

A couple of months later I bought in short order a quartet of singles which, along with New Musik’s Living By Numbers, define my year 1980: Tim Curry‘s I Do The Rock, The Pretenders‘ Brass In Pocket (to this day I have no idea what Chrissie Hynde is singing much of the time), the Ramones‘ version of Baby I Love You, produced by Phil Spector, and Dexys Midnight Runners‘ Geno.

If forced to choose, I’d call Geno my favourite single ever. It’s not the best single ever, of course, nor is it even my favourite song to be released as a single. It is my favourite single because never before or after have I loved a single — as an item and a song at a particular place and time — as much as Geno. I remember vividly buying it and sitting on the bus home, staring at its stark cover, anxious not so much to play it, but to own it, to place it in my collection of singles, as if this new acquisition was going to complete it.

The song may be somewhat derivative, but it sounded like nothing I had ever heard before: the urgent chants of the titular name, the minor notes of the stirring brass, and then Kevin Rowland’s distinctive style of staccato singing. It caused a weird sensation in my guts. I’ve heard Geno many, many times since then, and I can still feel that sensation of hearing it 34 years ago.

New Musik‘s Living By Numbers is perfectly situated in 1980: the paranoia of the 1970s anticipating the computer age of the 1980s. Towards the end, there is a series of different English-accented individuals proclaiming: “They don’t want your name” (they want “just your numbah”, apparently). I derived much fun, and still do, from imitating the different voices as I sang along; correctly locating the strangely shrill and nasal women’s moment at 2:46 being a moment of particular personal triumph. I associate the song with another new innovation: it was one of the songs I recorded off a music show on our new video recorder, a machine using a format that was already obsolete in 1980!

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1980 was indeed an exciting time for music. Lots of new sounds emerged from Britain. The lyrics, to me as German-speaking teen, were secondary.  And so it was only a couple of years ago that I discovered that The Vapors‘ Turning Japanese is not an ode to acquiring a taste for sushi and saki, nor a narrative about the notoriously difficult act of assimilating to life in Tokyo, Osaka or Fukuoka. Turning Japanese apparently refers to the narrowing of the male’s eyes as he reaches the point of orgasm, in the case of the song brought about by masturbation. It might not be true, but I’ll accept that interpretation as fact.

It seems Germany in general didn’t care much about lyrics. How Frank Zappa‘s Bobby Brown received wide airplay, to the point of turning this 1979 song into a big hit in 1980, is something I shall never understand.

1980 was, of course, also a year bookended by the deaths of two favourite singers. In February AC/DC‘s Bon Scott died in London. Not long before that I had bought the Highway To Hell LP. On 9 December the radio alarm clock went off with more terrible news. I was just rising when the announcer said that John Lennon had been shot dead while we were sleeping. On my turntable was the second LP from The Beatles 1967-70 collection, which I had listened to, for the first time in a long time, the night before, when John was still alive.

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

1. Status Quo – Living On An Island
2. Electric Light Orchestra – Confusion
3. Cheap Trick – Dream Police
4. Cherie & Marie Currie – Since You”ve Been Gone
5. AC/DC – Touch Too Much
6. Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers
7. New Musik – Living By Numbers
8. The Vapors – Turning Japanese
9. Tim Curry – I Do The Rock
10. Marianne Faithful – The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan
11. Pretenders – Brass In Pocket
12. Dexys Midnight Runners – Geno
13. Ramones – Baby, I Love You
14. Frank Zappa – Bobby Brown
15. Randy Newman – The Story Of A Rock And Roll Band
16. Joan Armatrading – Me, Myself, I
17. The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me
18. Robert Palmer – Johnny & Mary
19. David Bowie – Fashion
20. Kate Bush – Army Dreamers
21. John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over

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NYC in black & white

November 10th, 2014 13 comments

New York in Black & White

A reader asked me to re-up the broken link to this mix, first posted in early 2010. So here I post the whole shebang again, this time with covers, since I suspect some thoughtful children and grandchildren of people who witnessed the time this compilation recalls might want to give the mix as a Christmas present. As always, the thing is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. PW in comments.

I hope that this collection of songs about or set in New York, spanning 30 years, will find an audience. And I hope that some of these songs will inspire the listener to seek out more music by some of the artists who are largely forgotten now.

Here I think of the great Anita O’Day, featured here twice, an extraordinary vocalist whose lifestory would mirror any sordid rock & roll tale. Or Red Nichols, the innovative jazzman who is said to have recorded 4,000 songs before he turned 25. Danny Kaye played him in the 1959 biopic The Five Pennies, which also starred Bob Crosby, the younger brother of Bing, who was a vocalist and bandleader in his own right, though here he appears as a guest of The Dorsey Brothers, both of who feature in this mix heading their own bands.

Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey played with Sam Lanin as did two other future bandleaders included here: Red Nichols on the cornet and saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer. Lanin was more an arranger than he was a musician, but a 1920s hit factory nonetheless (Bing Crosby got his break with Lanin’s orchestra). By the late 1930s, Lanin had retired from the music business.

The Mills Brothers may be most widely remembered better for their 1952 proto-doo wop hit Glow Worm, but by then they were veterans in the music game, having started in 1928, paving the way for the similar Ink Spots. The brothers stopped performing 61 years later, in 1989 (by then having been decimated to two by death).

Dolly Dawn, known to her mother by the more demure name Theresa Maria Stabile, was a massive singing star in the 1930s and early ’40s. She was one of the very first female singers to lead her own band, the Dawn Patrol. Her career was cut short when many members of her band were drafted to serve Uncle Sam in WW2.

The 1920s and ’30s were the golden age of African-American vaudeville acts of the age of the tap dance and the soft-shoe, silver-capped canes and gleaming cufflinks, the Bojangles scene. Jimmy Lunceford, whose orchestra began as a high school band which Lunceford taught in Memphis, is perhaps the best example here of that influence on jazz, incorporating humour in the music (in much the some way the Italian Louis Prima would). Rumour has it that Lunceford died in 1947 after being poisoned by a restaurateur in Oregon who resented the presence of a black patron in his establishment. More extreme things happened in the sorry history of 20th century US racism.

TRACKLISTING
1. Anita O’Day – Take The ‘A’ Train (1958)
2. Tommy Dorsey & Jo Stafford – Manhattan Serenade (1943)
3. Dolly Dawn and her Dawn Patrol – Blossoms On Broadway (1937)
4. Mound City Blue Blowers – She’s A Latin From Manhattan (1935)
5. Louis Prima and his Orchestra – Brooklyn Bridge (1945)
6. The Dorsey Brothers feat. Bob Crosby – Lullaby Of Broadway (1935)
7. The Quintones – Harmony In Harlem (1940)
8. The Mills Brothers – Coney Island Washboard (1932)
9. Tempo King’s Kings Of Tempo – Bojangles Of Harlem (1936)
10. Albert Ammons & Pete Johnson – Sixth Avenue Express (1941)
11. Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra – Cowboy From Brooklyn (1938)
12. Judy Garland & Fred Astaire – A Couple Of Swells (1948)
13. Lee Wiley & Ellis Larkins – Give It Back To The Indians (1954)
14. Dinah Washington – Manhattan (1959)
15. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Autumn In New York (1956)
16. Gene Krupa feat. Anita O’ Day – Let Me Off Uptown (1941)
17. Cab Calloway Cotton Club Orchestra – Manhattan Jam (1937)
18. Mills Blue Rhythm Band – There’s Rhythm In Harlem (1935)
19. Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra – Slumming On Park Avenue (1937)
20. Artie Shaw and his Orchestra – To A Broadway Rose (1941)
21. Red Nichols and his Orchestra – The New Yorkers (1929)
22. Sam Lanin’s Orchestra with Jack Hart – The Broadway Melody (1929)
23. Frankie Trumbauer – Manhattan Rag (1929)
24. Leadbelly – New York City (1940)

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In Memoriam – October 2014

November 6th, 2014 6 comments

I fear this blog is becoming a death trap: Of the songs featured on the first two Life in Vinyl compilations, covering the years 1977 and 1978, three musicians died in October. First there was Lynsey de Paul (Rock Bottom, 1977), then Tim Hauser of The Manhattan Transfer (Chanson d”Amour, 1977), and a few days later Raphael Ravenscroft, the man who played that great saxophone on Gerry Rafferty”s Baker Street.

in_memoriam_1410Raphael  Ravenscroft was not only a session sax man who tried his hand, unsuccessfully, as a solo recording artist, but also wrote books on saxophione technique. Other than on Baker Street and other Rafferty tracks, you might have heart him on Pink Floyd”s The Final Cut and Roger Waters” The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, or Marvin Gaye”s Heavy Love Affair.

Among the great 1960s rock trios, two stood out: Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And while the members of the latter was all dead by 2008 (the only big rock act I can think of whose members are now all dead), Cream lost its first member in October: bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce (his were the vocals on hits like Sunshine Of Your Love, Crossroads, I Feel Free etc). I think it”s fair to say that Bruce pioneered the electric bass as a central element in rock.

Before Cream, Bruce had played with Ginger Baker in the Graham Bond Organisation (apparently they hated each other) and with Eric Clapton in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, with whom he later joined a trio named Powerhouse, featuring Steve Winwood. In between he played on UK #1 hits such as Manfred Mann”s Pretty Flamingo and The Scaffold’s Lily the Pink. After Cream he recorded solo and played with artists such as Frank Zappa, Lou Reed, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Gary Moore and others.

Reggae legend John Holt led the way in what was to be called lovers rock, with his reggae ballads which often drew from the word of pop and soul. He had hits with songs such as Help Me Make It Through The Night, Just The Way You Are and Touch Me In The Morning “” but he also wrote a pop classic with The Tide Is High, which he first recorded with his band The Paragons in 1967 and became a global hit for Blondie in 1980.

For those who complain about the artificiality in pop today, the answer is Read more…

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Songs about Vietnam Vol. 2

October 30th, 2014 7 comments

Songs_About_Vietnam_2

To mark the 50th anniversary of the election of Lyndon B Johnson as US President, here is the second mix of anti-Vietnam songs (you can find the first mix HERE). Nixon might have sabotaged the opportunity for peace in 1968, just to win an election, and Kennedy might have started it, but Vietnam was very much LBJ”s war, as Bill Frederick noted in his 1967 song and Tom Paxton in his song two years earlier.

Soul and folk singers were in the forefront of protesting against the war, though Motown “” the voice of young America “” played it safe until 1970. That year Martha Reeves and the Vandellas released the first protest sing on the label, I Should Be Proud. That opened the floodgates a little. Soon Edwin Starr had a hit with War, The Temptations with Ball Of Confusion and Marvin Gaye with a large swathe of his What”s Going On LP (and long after the fact, Stevie Wonder on his blistering 1982 track Front Line, which with Do I Do marks an end to classic Stevie brilliance).

Perhaps the most touching song here is Bill Withers” I Can”t Write Left Handed. The opening verse lands a couple of punches the way Lennon”s thesaurus-robbing Give Peace A Chance doesn”t: “I can”t write left-handed. Would you please write a letter, write a letter to my mother? Tell her to tell, tell her to tell, tell her to tell the family lawyer, trying to get, trying to get a deferment for my younger brother…”

vietchoppers

And if it”s straight-talk you want, Gene McDaniels (who featured on Vol. 1) socks it to us via Roberta Flack in Compared To What: “The President, he”s got his war. Folks don”t know just what it”s for. Nobody gives us rhyme or reason; have one doubt, they call it treason.” Three and a half decades later, another president had his war, and his critics were called traitors.

Sensitive listeners might want to avert their ears when Country Joe McDonald does his swearwordy chant in the beginning of his Woodstock performance. He clearly isn”t impressed with the crowd”s spirited singing to his 1967 song: “Listen people, I don”t know how you expect to ever stop the war if you can’t sing any better than that. There”s about 300,000 of you fuckers out there. I want you to start singing. Come on!” With that in mind, the placing of the next song, by Pete Seeger, is no accident. Listen to it to see why.

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

1. Stevie Wonder – Front Line (1982)
2. Roberta Flack – Compared To What (1969)
3. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – I Should Be Proud (1970)
4. Freda Payne – Bring The Boys Home (1971)
5. Joe Tex – I Believe I’m Gonna Make It (1966)
6. Bill Withers – I Can’t Write Left Handed (1973)
7. Kris Kristofferson – Broken Freedom Song (1974)
8. Tom Paxton – Lyndon Johnson Told The Nation (1965)
9. Bill Frederick – Hey Hey LBJ (1967)
10. Country Joe McDonald – Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die Rag (1969)
11. Pete Seeger – Bring Them Home (1969)
12. Phil Ochs – Draft Dodger Rag (1965)
13. B.J. Thomas – Viet Nam (1966)
14. Bob Seger System – 2+2=? (1968)
15. Grand Funk Railroad – People Let’s Stop The War (1971)
16. Jimmy Cliff – Vietnam (1970)
17. Terry Callier – Ho Tsing Mee (A Song Of The Sun) (1973)
18. Marvin Gaye – What’s Happening Brother (1971)
19. Johnny King & the Fatback Band – Peace, Love Not War (1969)
20. Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – Let’s Make Love Not War (1971)
21. The Emotions – So I Can Love You (1971)
22. Johnny & Jon – Xmas In Vietnam (1965)

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 1

October 23rd, 2014 7 comments

Halloween_1

A few years ago I posted a couple of Halloween mixes. Neither exists any longer, so it seems good to revisit the project. So, for this Halloween, the first new mix.

There are spooky and unnerving songs “” The kind of stuff that might freak out Bart, Lisa and Milhouse in their treehouse. “” as well as a few more light-hearted novelty tracks, and a pretty funny comedy song by a young Jimmy Fallon. None of them are The Monster Mash.

One artist features twice: Dr John with 1968″s unsettling Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya, and nine years before that as Morgus & The 3 Ghouls, riffing on a popular TV character of the time.

Stan Ridgway“s Camouflage is as spooky a song as they come with the story of a ghostly soldier in battle; Warren Zevon has a similar theme, with some politics thrown into the stew for good measure.

For a truly sad tale, read the tragic story of Jackson C Frank, who was produced in the mid-“˜60s by Paul Simon and went on to influence artists such as Nick Drake and his ex-girlfriend Sandy Denny. He might well be the most luckless man ever in music history.

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

1. The Go! Team – Phantom Broadcast (2005)
2. Rob Zombie feat. The Ghastly Ones – Halloween (1998)
3. The Pogues – Turkish Song Of The Damned (1988)
4. Tony Joe White – They Caught The Devil And Put Him In Jail In Eudora, Arkansas (1971)
5. Dr John – Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya (1968)
6. The Box Tops – I Must Be The Devil (1969)
7. Donovan – Wild Witch Lady (1973)
8. The Who – Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1968)
9. Fleetwood Mac – The Green Manalishi (1970)
10. Golden Earring – The Devil Made Me Do It (1982)
11. Squirrel Nut Zippers – Hell (1996)
12. Sam the Sham – Haunted House (1964)
13. The Duponts – Screamin’ Ball (At Dracula Hall) (1958)
14. Soupy Sales – My Baby’s Got A Crush On Frankenstein (1962)
15. Big Bopper – Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor (1958)
16. Morgus & The 3 Ghouls – Morgus The Magnificent (1959)
17. The Moon-Rays – Blues For Vampira (2004)
18. Hoodoo Gurus – Hayride To Hell (1985)
19. Stan Ridgway – Camouflage (1986)
20. Warren Zevon – Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner (1978)
21. Jackson C Frank – Halloween Is Black As Night (1960s)
22. Tim Curry – Anything Can Happen On Halloween (1986)
23. Nancy Dupree – Fankenstein (1970)
24. Jimmy Fallon – Happy Halloween (1998)

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Any Major Halloween Vol. 2
Any Major Halloween Vol. 3
Any Major Halloween Vol. 4
Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1

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A Life In Vinyl: 1979

October 16th, 2014 8 comments

A Life in Vinyl 1979.

As 1979, the year I turned 13, began I tried to fast-track myself to serious popfanship. The previous year I had started to investigate the pop music of the past. I had read up about the rock & roll of the 1950s in a fanzine, and I had been particularly taken with the 1960s. The Box Tops’ The Letter, released ten years earlier and therefore in another lifetime altogether, was a particular favourite. For Christmas I asked for and received the three essential Beatles double album compilations: 1962-66, 1967-70 and Love Songs.

And in 1978 I had dabbled in punk. Now I flirted with the other side. I listened to Al Stewart, whose music I still like but who didn’t really aim for 13-year-olds. I pompously expounded on the “brilliance” of Barclay James Harvest’s XII album, which I neither understood nor actually liked. It is, indeed, quite awful. I soon became sick of the pretense. That didn’t stop me, however, from getting Supertramp’s Breakfast in America album later in the year.

By the time my birthday in April arrived, I had reverted to eclectic record-buying. LPs by Status Quo and Queen, and singles by artists as diverse as Thin Lizzy, Hot Chocolate, Billy Joel and the disco outfit The Richie Family. With that in hand, Barclay James Harvest and their prog-rock noodling was soon passé.

I was not immune to questionable musical choices. I would hesitate to describe ownership of Olivia Newton-John”s Totally Hot LP or Suzi Quatro’s Smokie-produced If You Knew Suzi…  album as evidence of musical sophistication. Still, I knew the real horrors of 1979, the songs which are forgotten by the nostalgia that recalls the year  as a highwater mark in pop — which, of course, it was.

Much of the charts were infected by some of the worst music ever made. There were some post-disco horrors around in Europe: Snoopy, Luv and Luisa Fernandez (couldn’t sing, couldn’t dance) were among the most talent-free offenders, and the Vader Abraham Smurfs song cannot be redeemed even by the most indulgent childhood nostalgia (Holland, you nearly fucked up 1979!).

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But I reserved my most virulent bile for two particular songs which, with hindsight, I acknowledge to be quite brilliant. First there was Patrick Hernandez Born To Be Alive”, which blighted every German school disco (where I lived, it was “danced” to by jumping with legs closed from one side to another, if possible tothe beat). The song still evokes the taste of cheap cola and peanut twirls, and the anxiety of relating to girls who suddenly had become romantic notions.

The other musical nemesis was Cliff Richard’s We Don”t Talk Anymore. It’s a very good song, but it was ubiquitous in the summer of 1979. Besides, I had taken a dislike to Cliff Richard before I ever knowingly heard a note he sang. I was not going to surrender my antipathy to that song.

In 1979 I was sent on a church youth camp, as I had been two years before. In 1977 the camp group had been great. I had fallen “in love”, we had great outings and fantastic leaders. In 1979 the group was populated by creeps, and I didn’t like any of the girls other than those older than I was, and therefore unattainable. On top of that, the camp leaders ignored my complaint of theft, the sort of commandment-violation one might think would require some sort of reaction in a church-run jam. I never went again.

Things picked up in autumn. And what an autumn it was — indeed, the stretch from autumn 1979 to early summer 1980 produced a fantastic run of singles purchases. It started with The Knack’s My Sharona, the cover of which, I must confess, excited my hormones the way the girls in my age cohort on summer camp didn’t (I liked the song, too. Still do, dodgy lyrucs apart). There were some new kind of sounds. Gary Numan’s Tubeway Army, with the synth sound that seemed more musical to me than the robotic Kraftwerk, set the scene for the New Romantics which would arrive within a year and a bit. Video Killed The Radio Star sounded very unusual too.

But my favourite act of 1979 was the Boomtown Rats. I had liked them before, of course, but I Don”t Like Mondays was a few cuts above She’s So Modern or Like Clockwork. I loved their The Fine Art Of Surfacing LP. It has not really stood the test of time, but I’ll stand by the trio of singles — Mondays, Diamond Smile, Someone’s Looking At You, and closing track When the Night Comes .

And as 1979 ended, I started to get into AC/DC — just in time for Bon Scott”s death in February 1980.

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For those who really need to know, songs with a green asterisk I owned in 1979 on Single, red on LP (track 7 on a compilation album), blue on tape.

1. Status Quo – Accident Prone **
2. Thin Lizzy – Rosalie (live) *
3. Hot Chocolate – I’ll Put You Together Again *
4. Patrick Hernandez – Born To Be Alive
5. Ritchie Family – American Generation *
6. Billy Joel – My Life *
7. Gerard Kenny – New York, New York *
8. Elton John – Return To Paradise *
9. George Harrison – Blow Away *
10. Art Garfunkel – Bright Eyes *
11. Clout – Save Me *
12. Amii Stewart – Knock On Wood *
13. The Knack – My Sharona *
14. Tubeway Army – Are ‘Friends’ Electric *
15. Electric Light Orchestra – Don’t Bring Me Down *
16. B.A. Robertson – Bang Bang *
17. The Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star *
18. Thom Pace – Maybe *
19. Boomtown Rats – Diamond Smiles *

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 3

October 9th, 2014 15 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 3

After two recycled mixes in this series, here”s a brand-new collection. This one is at least as good as the other two, with some glorious songs one doesn”t hear often today, even on radio stations that specialise in retro stuff. And because I have relaxed the no-duplication-of-artists rule, some acts return with tracks that are as good as those I picked for the first two mixes “” Ambrosia are one example; Boz Scaggs, Dan Folgelberg and Player others. And there is Kenny Loggins, a man who is unjustly maligned by some people.

His “Heart To Heart” is mighty, with its great bridge leading to the punchy chorus.  The thing was co-written with David Foster and Michael McDonald, who does backing vocals and keyboard duty. David Sanborn, operating in an era before he was the Kenny G it was sort of OK to like, adds a nice sax solo. It”s good to be alive when one hears that song.

As far as I can see, only one song here is a cover, Carly Simon”s version of The Doobie Brothers” “You Belong To Me”, later covered to good effect by soul singer Anita Baker.

As previously noted, the genre which some call yacht rock (I”ll watch the satirical series of the name one day, but, the cover above notwithstanding, I hate the moniker) or adult contemporary (yeurgh) was underpinned by top class session work, its practitioners often coming from the world of jazz fusion. Two songs here are in fact credited to fusion people: Lee Ritenour”s “Is It You”, with Eric Tagg on vocals, and Stanley Clarke & George Duke”s “Sweet Baby”. The Internet tells me some people don”t like the latter; I think it has a lovely vibe.

There will be a fourth mix. In the meantime, this lot is timed to fit on a CD-R, and includes home-knitted covers. PW in comments.

1. Boz Scaggs – Lido Shuffle (1976)
2. Hall and Oates – Say It Ain”t So (1983)
3. Kenny Loggins – Heart To Heart (1982)
4. Lee Ritenour with Eric Tagg – Is It You (1981)
5. Eddie Rabbitt – Suspicions (1979)
6. Ambrosia – The Biggest Part Of Me (1980)
7. Jim Messina – Seeing You (For The First Time) (1979)
8. Stanley Clarke/George Duke Project – Sweet Baby (1981)
9. Bill LaBounty – Never Gonna Look Back (1982)
10. Player – Givin” It All (1980)
11. Dan Fogelberg – Missing You (1982)
12. Robbie Dupree – Steal Away (1980)
13. Carly Simon – You Belong To Me (1978)
14. Gino Vanelli – I Just Want To Stop (1978)
15. Bertie Higgins – Key Largo (1982)
16. England Dan & John Ford Coley – We”ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again (1978)
17. Orleans – Dance With Me (1975)
18. Nicolette Larson – Give A Little (1978)
19. Elvin Bishop – Fooled Around And Fell In Love (1975)
20. Andrew Gold – Lonely Boy (1976)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 3
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 4
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 5
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 6
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 7
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 8
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 9
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 10
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 11

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Any Major Summer Vol. 4

October 2nd, 2014 6 comments

Any Major Summer Vol. 4

The title of a rather peculiar Beach Boys instrumental once announced that “Fall Breaks And Back To Winter”. And so it is for the northern hemisphere. Summer”s gone, and here is a fourth summer mix to say farewell till next year. For us in the southern half of the globe, of course, summer is still coming.

This mix brings the summer comps to a full cycle: I posted the first summer mix during the northern winter, to warm you up. The second mix was in spring, by way of anticipation. The third mix was posted during summer, which made sense. And now the fourth goes out in the autumn.

There”s still enough for a fourth mix (yes, with The Doors closing the series).

summer-covers

As always, the mix fits on a CD-R and includes bright, summery covers. PW same as always.

1. Meat Loaf – You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (1977)
2. The Cars – Magic (1984)
3. The Go-Go”s – Vacation (1982)
4. Bananarama – Cruel Summer (1983)
5. Wham! – Club Tropicana (1983)
6. Windjammer – End Of Summer (1982)
7. Chairmen Of The Board – Summerlove (1983)
8. Billy Paul – July, July, July, July (1975)
9. Brighter Side Of Darkness – Summer Ride (1972)
10. Spanky Wilson – The Last Day Of Summer (1969)
11. The Beach Boys – The Girls On The Beach (1964)
12. Lesley Gore – Sunshine, Lollipops And Rainbows (1965)
13. Connie Francis – Vacation (1962)
14. Pat Boone – Love Letters In The Sand (1957)
15. Robin Ward – Wonderful Summer (1963)
16. John Tavolta & Olivia Newton-John – Summer Nights (1978)
17. Stray Cats – Lonely Summer Nights (1981)
18. The Kinks – Sitting In The Midday Sun (1973)
19. Elvis Costello – The Other Side Of Summer (1991)
20. Belle & Sebastian – A Summer Wasting (1998)
21. The Alarm – Rain In The Summertime (1987)
22. Foo Fighters – Summer”s End (2007)

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Any Major Summer Vol. 1
Any Major Summer Vol. 2
Any Major Summer Vol. 3
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In Memoriam – September 2014

September 25th, 2014 7 comments

The round-up of September”s dead and their music comes prematurely this month because owing to travel commitments I shall be unable to complete the post in time for first Thursday of the next month. Of course next month”s In Memoriam will include the remainder of September”s musical deaths.

In Memoriam - September 2014Just as there is an increased interest again in the Four Seasons, due to the release of the The Jersey Boys film, their long-time songwriter and producer Bob Crewe has died. Crew co-wrote classics, as lyricist, such as Big Girls Don”t Cry, Walk Like A Man, Sherry, Rag Doll, Can”t Take My Eyes Off You, Let”s Hang On, My Eyes Adored You and Bye, Bye, Baby for the Four Seasons/Frankie Valli, for whom he also wrote songs that became big hits for others, Silence Is Golden (for The Tremeloes) and The Sun Ain”t Gonna Shine Anymore (Walker Brothers).

Crewe”s first hit record was Silhouettes, recorded in 1957 by both The Rays and then The Diamonds, but a bigger hit later for Herman”s Hermits. The Rays” b-side was Daddy Cool, a 1977 hit for Darts, also co-written by Crewe. Later he wrote the lyrics to such hits as Music to Watch Girls By (which he originally recorded as The Bob Crewe Generation) and Lady Marmalade.

On the same day as Crewe died, we lost another musician featured (briefly) in The Jersey Boys was composer, arranger and musician Johnny Rotella. Like the next artist, he did session work for Steely Dan (on My Old School). Better yet, the multi-talented musician “” he played the saxophone, flute, piccolo “” played for Frank Zappa and wrote for Frank Sinatra. Early in his career he played with the big bands led by Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Billy Vaughn. He played on the scores for both Godfather films in the 1970s as well as The Wiz. He was a band regular on the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and played on many other television shows, including those hosted by Andy Williams and Sinatra.

In April we lost original Jazz Crusaders trombonist Wayne Henderson; in September the band”s great keyboardist Joe Sample left us. He stayed with The Crusaders until their end, in 1987. He wrote or co-wrote many of their great songs, including the two classics featuring Randy Crawford, Streetlife and One Day I”ll Fly Away. In between he released a few acclaimed solo albums. He also did a lot of session work, much of it on songs heard in the Covered With Soul and Any Major Soul series (Merry Clayton, Maxine Weldon, Marvin Gaye, Minnie Riperton),for jazz giants (Gene Ammon, Quincy Jones) and legends of rock and folk (Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Steely Dan, Tina Turner, for whom he produced her slowed-down version of The Beatles” Help). Conscious of his mortality, in 2011 Sample put the band together again, with Henderson, saxophonist Wilton Felder and flautist Hubert Laws, but without drummer Stix Hooper, who declined taking part.

Depending on your age, Polly Bergen may not be remembered so much as a singer — despite releasing 11 albums, singing on her 1960s TV show and appearing in Broadway musicals “” but as an actress. As a fan of the TV series The Sopranos I feel duty-bound, however, to give her a special mention: in the show she played the former mistress of Tony”s father Read more…

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A Life in Vinyl: 1978

September 18th, 2014 6 comments

Life In Vinyl 1978

In 1978 I made it my business to become a respectable buyer of pop music — at least, to be more respectable than my fellow 12-year-olds. My benchmark in such things was my older brother, who had a broad record collection. He introduced me to things like Jethro Tull’s Aqualung LP (which I’d buy two years later). So in April I bought a bunch of singles: Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”, Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” and, yes, something by Jethro Tull. My brother never indicated whether he was impressed; happily I liked my purchases.

A little before that I had also discovered punk. In the spring and summer of 1978, my best friend at the time and I bought records by the Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, Sham 69, The Damned, Boomtown Rats and, erm, Plastic Bertrand (who, it later turned out was the Milli Vanilli of punk).

I was aware of disco, of course, and bought the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, though I didn’t play it much. I liked Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven” though.

1978_1

But the records I’m most proud of are the singles I bought in January 1978, just weeks after I had still bought a single by Harpo: The Runaways’ “School Days”, Tom Robinson’s “2-4-6-8 Motorway” and Blondie’s “X-Offender”. All are still favourites, though the Blondie track featured here is the single I bought on a trip to Amsterdam.

Which brings me to the illustrations for these posts: of the records I actually owned, I include the cover of the format in which I bought them — single or LP. In the case of the Blondie record, I naturally use the Dutch cover.

And of this lot, I had all the records except those of John Paul Young (who would lend his name to two popes later that year), El Pasador, Brian & Michael, Marshall Hain and Exile — those I include because they recreate the smells and sounds of my 1978.

1978_2As always, CD-R length, covers, PW in comments.

1. The Runaways – School Days
2. Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway
3. Status Quo – Rockin All Over The World
4. Uriah Heep – Free Me
5. Wings – With A Little Luck
6. John Paul Young – Love Is In The Air
7. Darts – Come Back My Love
8. Genesis – Follow You, Follow Me
9. Brian & Michael – Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats And Dogs
10. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – Davy’s On The Road Again
11. Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street
12. Jethro Tull – Moths
13. Goldie – Making Up Again
14. Blondie – (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear
15. Sham 69 – Angels With Dirty Faces
16. The Stranglers – Nice ‘n’ Sleazy
17. The Motors – Airport
18. Sex Pistols – My Way
19. Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plane Pour Moi
20. Boomtown Rats – Like Clockwork
21. Marshall Hain – Dancing In The City
22. Clout – Substitute
23. Exile – Kiss You All Over

GET IT!

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More Life in Vinyl
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