Archive

Posts Tagged ‘BJ Thomas’

In Memoriam – January 2012

February 3rd, 2012 10 comments

Last month I announced the end of the In Memoriam column. The reaction, by comments and messages via email and Facebook, surprised me. I had been under the impression, acquired by the few comments they received and the very average hits recorded, that the feature was only mildly popular (which serves to stress the importance to comment on posts in features you enjoy).

The labour required for the In Memoriam feature remains prohibitive, but by cutting out what really took a lot of time ““ researching and collating the music and pictures ““ I can still provide a list, and at least some tunes, of the month’s music deaths.

The headline death of the month was that of Etta James on January 20, just three days after the death of the man who discovered her, R&B legend Johnny Otis. The father of Shuggie Otis, Johnny Otis was the son of Greek immigrants to the US (his real name was Ioannis Alexandros Veliotes) who decided to live and work in the black community. Along the way Otis produced Big Mama Thornton’s Hound Dog, and discovered artists such as Esther Philips, Jackie Wilson and Hank Ballard.

January 17 was a sad day indeed for soul fans ““ much of the month was (and the passing of Don Cornelius on Wednesday didn’t lighten things up much). On the same day Johnny Otis went, a day after Jimmy Castor’s departure, Leroy Taylor of New Birth and Walter Gaines of The Originals (you might remember their Baby I’m For Real on Motown) passed away.

*     *     *

Robert Dickey, 72, Bobby of James & Bobby Purify, on December 29
James & Bobby Purify – I’m Your Puppet (1966)

Fred Milano, 72, singer with Dion and The Belmonts, on January 1
Dion and the Belmonts – A Teenager in Love (1959, as backing singer)

Larry “Rhino” Reinhardt, 63, guitarist with Iron Butterfly and Captain Beyond, on January 2

Ian Bargh, 76, Canadian jazz pianist, on January 2

Bob Weston, 64, briefly guitarist with Fleetwood Mac, found on January 3

Kerry McGregor, 37, British singer and X-Factor contestant, on January 4

Tom Ardolino, 56, drummer of rock band NRBQ, on January 6
NRBQ – Boys In The City (1972)

Nicole Bogner, 27, singer of Austrian metal band Visions of Atlantis, on January 6

Dave Alexander, 73, blues singer and pianist, suicide on January 8

Bridie Gallagher, 87, Irish singer, on January 9

Ruth Fernandez, 92, pioneering Puerto Rican singer, on January 9

Ernie Carson, 74, Dixieland jazz musician, on January 9

Cliff Portwood, 74, English-born Australian singer and former professional football player, on January 10

Edgar Kaiser Jr, 69, soft-rock singer, on January 11

Charlie Collins, 78, member of Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys, on January 12

Phil Kraus, 94, jazz percussionist and drummer, on January 13
Sarah Vaughan – Street Of Dreams (1949, as drummer)

Robbie France, 52, drummer (Skunk Anansie, Diamond Head, UFO, Ellis, Beggs, & Howard), on January 14
Skunk Anansie – Weak (1994, as writer and drummer)

Pee Wee Moultrie, 89, member of Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys, on January 15

Terry Dolan, 68, singer and guitarist of 1960s folk-rock group Terry & the Pirates, on January 15

Jimmy Castor, 71, R&B and funk saxophonist, on January 16
Jimmy Castor Bunch – Troglodyte (Cave Man) (1972)
Jimmy Castor Bunch – Bertha Butt Boogie (1975)

Johnny Otis, 90, R&B singer, songwriter and producer, on January 17
Johnny Otis – Willy And Hand Jive (1958)
Etta James – The Wallflowerr (a.k.a. Roll With Me Henry) (1955, as producer and co-writer)

Leroy Taylor, 67, funk bassist of funk-soul group New Birth, on January 17
The New Birth – Brand New Lover (1970)

Walter Gaines, founder and baritone of soul group The Originals, on January 17
The Originals – Why When Love Is Gone (1969)

Al Urban, 77, rockabilly singer and songwriter, on January 18

Winston Riley, 65, Jamaican reggae musician and producer, on January 19

Etta James, 73, R&B and blues legend, on January 20
Etta James – Stop The Wedding (1962)
Etta James – Don’t Go To Strangers (1995)

Larry Butler, 69, country music producer, songwriter and musician, on January 20
B. J. Thomas – Hey Won’t You Play Another Done Somebody Wrong Song (1975, as co-writer)

John Levy, 99, jazz double-bassist and manager (Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderley,  Ramsey Lewis a.o.), on January 20
Don Byas & Big Bill Broonzy – You Go To My Head (1945, as bassist)

Dick Kniss, 74, bassist for Peter, Paul and Mary,  John Denver a.o., on January 25
John Denver – Sunshine On My Shoulder (1971, as co-writer)

Mark Reale, 56, founder and guitarist of heavy metal group Riot, on January 25

Clare Fischer, 83, jazz and pop composer, arranger and keyboardist, on January 26

Todd Buffa, 59, singer of jazz group Rare Silk, on January 27
Rare Silk – New York Afternoon (1983)

Leslie Carter, 25, pop singer and sister of Nick and Aaron Carter, on January 31

King Stitt, 71, Jamaican ska singer, on January 31

Mike Kelley, 57, artist and musician with cult rock band Destroy All Monsters, suicide on January 31

DOWNLOAD
(Mirror)

* * *

Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

TV Themes: ’80s family shows

July 7th, 2011 2 comments

There aren”t many sitcoms about families on American TV anymore. It”s not like it was in the 1980s. Leaving aside the bizarre living arrangements of the dreadful Full House (for which Bob Saget has made ample reparations lately), the nuclear family or variations thereof ruled the ratings. There were Family Ties (hippie parents vs Reaganite kids), Growing Pains (vaguely creepy dad vs a bunch of kids nobody can really remember), and Who”s The Boss (Tony Danza vs humour), and a TV series starring Jason Bateman whose character”s mother had died. Whatever it was called, it was nothing like the next great family show that starred Bateman: Arrested Development.

Bateman”s sister Justine was the airhead daughter in Family Ties, in which Marty J McFox played a Republican who pitches his wits against his cartoon hippie parents. Usually it was more comforting than amusing; familial love always won out and every crisis ““ Alex disappoints the parents; the parents don”t trust the kids “” ended with a metaphorical family hug. The show jumped the goldfish when the drippy father grew a midle-class beard. Family Ties really went past its sell-by date when the even drippier mother had a fourth baby. New babies in TV shows almost invariably signal the writers’ desperation, and for us provides the cue to switch off. So almost every viewer will have missed Courtney Cox”s stint as Alex”s girlfriend.

The show had more than its fair share of guest stars who”d become more famous: Tom Hanks, River Phoenix, Will Wheaton, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Christina Applegate and Crispin Clover, who”d later play Michael J Fox”s father in Back To The Future.

Family Ties“˜ theme tune was as cheesy as the storylines, ending with the über-drippy “sha la la la”. Or, rather, the part which we heard was drippy. In the full version of Without Us, the duet by the marvellous Deniece Williams and Johnny Mathis, the “sha la la la” signals a turn towards some serious slow-funk fusion, with a cool bassline and a saxophone backing which I presume to be by co-writer Tom Scott. The saxophonist”s writing partner was Jeff Barry, erstwhile husband of Ellen Greenwhich with whom he wrote such classics as Leader Of The Pack, Doo Wah Diddy, Be My Baby, Chapel Of Love and, as we saw in last week’s instalment of The Originals, Hanky Panky.

Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams – Without Us.mp3
Family Ties Theme.mp3


Another family show with a theme song sung by two well-known singers was Growing Pains, wherein we first witnessed the thespian gifts of a juvenile Leonardo DiCaprio, playing a permanently scowling “troubled but essentially good kid”. He thus stole the show from Ben, the bizarre looking son (not the evangelical militant nutcase Kirk Cameron; the other one).

The series started from a low base ““ it never was very good ““ and, the occasional clever gag notwithstanding, went on to justify the second part of its title. Of course, Growing Pains had the obligatory late baby that was supposed to rescue the show (and I don”t mean DiCaprio). It couldn”t. Nor could a succession of not yet famous guest stars that included Brad Pitt, Matthew Perry, Hilary Swank, Olivia d’Abo, Heather Graham and, best of all, Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis (who administered the weird-looking kid’s first kiss).

Growing Pains” dad, Alan Thicke, had written a couple of sitcom themes himself ““ for Diff”rent Strokes and The Facts Of Life ““ but the father of pop singer Robin Thicke had nothing to do with the theme for his own show. That was written by John Bettis and Steve Dorff. You will have sung along to many of Bettis” lyrics, especially if you like the Carpenters. He wrote the words to their Top Of The World, Only Yesterday, Goodbye to Love and Yesterday Once More, as well as for Madonna”s Crazy For You, Michael Jackson”s Human Nature and more. Steve Dorff has written mostly for country artists, but he also composed the themes of Murphy Brown and Murder She Wrote.

The Growing Pains theme, As Long As We Got Each Other, was first sung y BJ Thomas, then by BJ Thomas and serial-theme duetist Jennifer Warnes, then for one season (the fourth, in 1988/89) by BJ Thomas and Dusty Springfield, and later by some random singers.

B.J. Thomas & Dusty Springfield – As Long As We Got Each Other.mp3
Growing Pains Theme (BJ Thomas & Jennifer Warnes).mp3



Who”s The Boss had a couple of things which other family shows didn”t have. A saucy grandmother, for example. And an unconventional habitation arrangement. And in Alyssa Milano one of the few really good child actors. But it also had Tony Danza (are you also singing “Hold me closer”¦”).

When Who”s The Boss appeared, two of the actors had already been in big hit shows: Danza had been part of the dazzling ensemble of Taxi, saucy granny Mona”s  Katherine Helmond had been the mother in the brilliant S.O.A.P.. This did not mean, however, that Who”s The Boss would become a triumph of levity. The dynamics between Danza and Milano were at times interesting, and Mona had one or two moments. Mostly it was trite ““ and it eventually resorted to the baby option (though in this case the pitter patter was that of a virtually adopted five-year-old). Still, people watched.

And if they watched, they heard the theme tune, with the catchy whistling sounds. There were several versions of the song composed by Robert Kraft and ex-Crusaders guitarist Larry Carlton (who played the guitar on the theme of Hill Street Blues and the solo on Steely Dan”s Kid Charlemagne). The first was sung by Larry Weiss, writer and original singer of Rhinestone Cowboy (see The Originals Vol. 5). Country singer Steve Wariner sung it during the show”s golden run, 1986-90.

Larry Weiss – Brand New Life (Who’s The Boss).mp3
Who”s The Boss (Steve Wariner).mp3

.

More TV Themes

.

More somebody done somebody wrong songs

April 24th, 2009 5 comments

After the break-up comes the longing for a love lost or forfeited. Or so it seems with this bunch of singers.

B.J. Thomas – Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song (1975).mp3
bj-thomasWhen one wallows in misery, it is good to know that others are feeling just as badly. B.J. Thomas wants his sorrow over a break-up validated by knowing about the romantic distress of others; a union of broken hearts standing together in spiritual solidarity. B.J. is calling for that fraternity through the medium of song. So if he is still wallowing, this post might be just what he needs while he misses his baby. “So please play for me a sad melody, so sad that it makes everybody cry; a real hurtin” song about a love that”s gone wrong, “cause I don”t want to cry all alone.” Lyrics Morrissey would have killed for.
.

Richard Hawley – Valentine (2007).mp3
valentineAlas, poor Richard Hawley. Earlier in this series he went to a popular hang-out in a futile bid to pull (here), and here his heart is so irreparably broken that he wants no company. He appears to outline the chain of events leading to this unhappy state. First he feels secure in the arms of the woman, then he sees “a warning in your eyes”. The chorus comes in with Hawley pleading not to receive gifts from what potential new love interests on February 14 because he”s still not over the one whose optomological alert he had so perceptively discerned.”Don”t need no valentines, no, no; don”t need no roses, “cause it just takes me back in time”¦Now you”re not here” (and listen out for the way he sings “here anymore” in the third chorus).

.
Rose Royce – Wishing On A Star (1977).mp3
rose_royce1Here the singer was responsible for the break-up and desperately regrets it by way of cliché: “I didn”t mean to hurt you, but I know that in the game of love you reap what you sow.” She is proposing a reconciliation, but seems to understand that this may be a hope to far. Still, she insistently and repeatedly articulates her petition: “And I wish on all the rainbows that I see; I wish on all the people we”ve ever been; and I”m hopin” on all the days to come and days to go, and I”m hopin” on days of lovin” you. So I”m wishing on a star, to follow where you are.”

.

Rosie Thomas – Since You”ve Been Around (2005).mp3
rosie_thomasIn the most beautiful and moving of all the beautiful and moving songs here, Rosie had been maltreated by love before, as we learn in the song”s punchline. Now the person who healed her damaged heart is gone too, pulling the rug from under Rosie”s feet. “I”m wandering, I”m crawling, I”m two steps away from falling ““  I just can”t seem to get around. I”m heavy, I”m weary, I”m not thinking clearly. I just can”t seem to find solid ground since you”ve been around.”
.

Kate Walsh – Don”t Break My Heart (2007).mp3

kate-walshAbout as beautiful as Rosie Thomas” track, fellow songbird Kate Walsh”s song protests that the object of her desire should make himself scarce because just seeing him opens up still raw wounds. “I”ll fall again if I see your face again, my love, and I”ve done all my crying for you love.” So meeting him again, with his antics such as rolling his blue eyes at her, will break her heart all over again. She wants to forget him, because “I cannot be in matrimony with a dream of love”.
.

Joseph Arthur – A Smile That Explodes (2004).mp3
jarthurIt has been a while since the woman left poor Joseph, and he is depressed. “The plants have died, my hair has grown from the thought of you coming home.” He gets by through the consumption of alcohol, which is never a good idea in his mental condition. And in between he writes her letters which “I won”t send, except for across the floor” (what a fantastic line). Now and then he dreams of happier times, with her in his arms, but then the image of bliss turns to abrupt dread with “a smile that explodes” “” again, wonderful imagery “” “I could never understand”.

.
Smokey Robinson – Just To See Her (1987).mp3
smokeyIf B.J. Thomas had chosen to be more precise in his instruction, he may well have specified that he wanted a Smokey song to be played, because nobody does broken-heartedness the way Smokey Robinson does (even if here, the lyrics aren”t his). The tune is a cheerful, upbeat affair. Smokey sounds like he has no care in the world. But, as we know from past experience, in situations of heartache, Smokey pretends to be the life a party, putting on an out-of-place smile, masquerading outside while inside is heart is breaking. So the melody is deceiving us: Smokey is desperate to see his love again. “I would go anywhere. There”s nothing I wouldn”t do, just to see her again” and “hold her in my arms again, one more time”.

.

Foo Fighters – Walking After You (live) (2006).mp3
dave_grohlWhile our other friends in this post have taken to despondency, dreaming, drinking, and descending into despair, Grohl is taking action before anything can happen. Anticipating that she is leaving him, he psyches himself into dumped mode and pledges to become a stalker. “I cannot be without you, matter of fact. I”m on your back”. Just to be sure she gets the sinister message he repeats: “I”m on your back.” And once more for creepy emphasis:”I”m on your back.” So, “if you walk out on me, I”m walking after you.” And with big Dave Grohl on her back, she won”t get very far.

.

In this series so far:
Love hurts
Unrequited love
Being in love
Longing for love
Heartbreak
Adultery
Death
Impossible Love
Love Songs Mix