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In Memoriam 2009 Vol. 1

December 24th, 2009 13 comments

About the only reason why I still bother to watch awards shows is to catch the sequence of people who have died since the last show (and of late successive shows have contrived to fuck that up by going for “artistic” camera angles which don”t hep the TV viewer in identifying dead people). Here is my In Memoriam section, with mix-tapes, for 2009, including only musicians, in three parts. The second will run next week, and the third early in the new year to accommodate late entries. so please don”t shout at me for having failed to pick up that the little singer of the Jackson 5 has died; he”ll feature in the second instalment. Feel free, however, to shout at the Grammys for omitting many of the departed musicians I will highlight.

The order of musicians does not run in the chronology of death, but is dictated randomly by the requirements of mix-tape sequencing “” and the total aptness of leading with the Jim Carroll song as the theme of the mix. The songs featured on the mix should remind us what a debt we owe to those who have gone, and in some cases how much we are going to miss them, or cause us regret that we did not get to know them better.

Rest in Peace, y”all.

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Jim Carroll, 60, post-punk musician and writer of The Basketball Diaries, on September 11.
The Jim Carroll Band – People Who Died (1980)

Willy DeVille, 58, punk musician, on August 6
Mink DeVille – Just To Walk That Little Girl Home (1980)

Al Martino, 82, crooner and actor (Johnny Fontane in The Godfather), on October 13
Al Martino – To The Door Of The Sun (1974)

Ellie Greenwich, 68, Brill Building songwriter and occasional singer, on August 26
Ellie Greenwich – I Can Hear Music (1973)

Rusty Wier, 65, country singer and songwriter, on October 9
Rusty Wier – High Road, Low Road (1976)

John Martyn, 60, singer-songwriter, on January 29
John Martyn – Ways To Cry (1973)

Jay Bennett, 45, multi-instrumentalist, engineer, ex-Wilco member, on May 25
Jay Bennett & Edward Burch – Forgiven (2002)

Taylor Mitchell, 19, Canadian singer-songwriter, killed by coyotes on October 28
Taylor Mitchell – Don’t Know How I Got Here (2009)

Mary Travers, 72, folk singer and a third of Peter, Paul & Mary, on September 16
Mary Travers – Five Hundred Miles (1973)

Gordon Waller, 64, half of “60s duo Peter & Gordon (represented here with a Lennon/McCartney composition), on July 17
Peter & Gordon – I Don’t Want To See You Again (1964)

Estelle Bennett, 67, member of The Ronettes and sister of Ronnie Spector, on February 11
The Ronettes – Silhouettes (1962)

Dewey Martin, 68, Buffalo Springfield drummer, on January 31
Buffalo Springfield – Sit Down, I Think I Love You (1966)

Billy Lee Riley, 75, rockabilly singer on Sun Records (sometimes backed by Jerry Lee Lewis on piano, as on this song), on August 2
Billy Riley – Pearly Lee (1957)

Gale Storm, 87, actress and singer born Josephine Owaissa Cottle, on June 27
Gale Storm – Dark Moon (1957)

Huey Long, 105, last surviving member of the Ink Spots (whom he joined in 1944), on June 10
Ink Spots – To Each His Own (1946)

Chris Connor, 81, jazz singer born Mary Coutsenhizer, on August 29
Chris Connor – They All Laughed (1957)

Kenny Rankin, 69, pop and jazz singer, on June 7
Kenny Rankin – Sunday Kind Of Love (1975)

Koko Taylor, 80, blues singer, on June 3
Koko Taylor – I Don’t Care No More (1985)

Johnny Carter, 75, R&B singer with The Flamingos and The Dells, on August 21
The Dells – The Love We Had (Stays On My Mind) (1971)

Leroy Smith, 56, founder and keyboardist of UK soul group Sweet Sensation, on January 15
Sweet Sensation – Sad Sweet Dreamer (1975)

Viola Wills, 69, soul singer who made a comeback as disco diva, on May 6
Viola Wills – Gonna Get Along Without You Now (1979)

Eddie Bo, 79, funky blues legend, on March 18
Eddie Bo – We’re Doing It (The Thang Pt1) (1970)

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\In Memoriam Vol. 1

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Intros Quiz – X-Mas edition

December 7th, 2009 2 comments

The eagle-eyed reader will have observed, if only by their extraordinary powers of deduction, that soon the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour is due to be celebrated, with modesty, discretion and subtlety. To mark the event with the due solemnity, here is a special Christmas edition of the monthly intros quiz.

As always, each of the 20 intros is 5-7 seconds in length “” but I had to cheat a little with one song, which kicks off really long after five seconds. I will post the answers in the comments section by Thursday, so please don”t post your answers. If you can”t wait till then to find out what the blasted number 17 is, please feel free to e-mail me or, better, message me on Facebook. If you”re not my FB friend, click here and become one.

Intros Quiz – X-Mas edition

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Rudolph – Victim of prejudice

December 15th, 2008 7 comments

We have seen the story played out in countless movies: a marginalised and victimised member of a society finding inclusion after turning his handicap into a communal benefit. So it is with Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer.

Rudolph, a victim of prejudice, and his boss.

Rudolph, a victim of prejudice, and his boss.

We don”t know much about Rudolph. The song reports that due to a birth defect or medical condition the reindeer has a shiny, virtually luminous red nose, quite in contrast to his black-nosed peers. These evidently have taken to numerous ways of bullying Rudolph, presumably on account of his red nose. The bullying seems to take on the form of abuse directed at the physical non-conformity as well as deliberate marginalisation from social activities. It may well be that the alienation is prompted by other, perhaps related factors. Perhaps Rudy is excessively shy (a disposition which in itself may be rooted in physical differentiation), or perhaps he is rude (a defence mechanism). Perhaps his unglamorous name influences the group dynamic; like children, reindeer can be cruel, and if your name is as dreary as Rudolph, it may be difficult to gain acceptance in a clique which comprises individuals with such remarkable names as Donner, Blitzen and German favourite Vixen which would not be out of place in the line-up of a glamorous heavy metal band.

But we don”t know. All the song tells us is that Rudolph is being bullied, almost certainly on account of his red nose. But then circumstances beyond the group”s control intervene. Bad weather seems to preclude the execution of an important task: the annual delivery of presents to all good children in the world (an inaccurate characterisation, of course; many good children receive no gifts, and many unattractive juveniles will benefit richly from material bounteousness; as Bob Geldof reminded us in poetry when he reminded us that, departing from metereological norm, there won”t be snow in Africa this Christmastime). The CEO of the organisation hits on an unlikely plan: Rudolph”s incandescent nose can double as a headlight, aiding the navigation of his transporter in unfavourable weather conditions. As we learn, the innovation works. Rudolph, having saved the day, finds immediate acceptance, and even a level of celebrity, among his peers. The heavy metal singers presumably act with magnanimity, perhaps patting Rudy on his back and letting him play the bass guitar.

Superficially, the song celebrates the conquest of social exclusion as a response to deviation from the norm. It celebrates the notion that everybody has something to offer to the common good. These are commendable sentiments. However, we ought to question why these impulses to exclude others from social structures on grounds of defects, inherited or caused by illness, exist in first place. How much more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas might the song be had it addressed this specific characteristic of social dynamics more constructively?

Moreover, how much more valid a testament to the season of reconciliation might the song have been had Santa Claus, apparently an equal opportunities employer, taken concrete action to put a prompt end to Rudolph”s discrimination when the problem initially arose. His failure to afford Rudolph protection is aggravated by his opportunistic exploitation of Rudolph”s perceived defect. The episode”s conclusion “” Rudolph”s acceptance into the group “” is purely accidental. Santa used Rudolph”s distinctive attribute for purposes other than effecting that outcome (though he may well have welcomed it).

Without due intervention, Rudolph”s social rehabilitation could not have taken effect otherwise. But with poor Rudolph there must reside a bitterness that the imperfection that once assured his exclusion is now the cause of his celebrity. He is not being received into the group on his own merits, but on basis of a deep-seated hypocrisy. Moreover, he had to prove his usefulness to the group before being incorporated into it. In other words, the other reindeer”s acceptance of him is not founded in their regard for Rudolph, but in his usefulness to the group. Should Rudolph”s nose lose its luminescence and instead turn, say, green, would he lose his new-found status in the group?

The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is one of reindeer”s cruelty against reindeer, managerial failure and the alienation of the reindeer soul. This, I submit, calls not for the upbeat musical treatment of custom. It should be expected that the song be performed as a two-bar blues, a sad country number, or an emo lament, preferably incorporating a verse or two telling the story from Rudy”s perspective, including his contemplation of reindeer suicide.

Mr Martin, shame on you for the cheer with which you invest the distressing tale of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Shame indeed.

Dean Martin – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Temptations – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Gene Autry – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Bing Crosby – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

A Renaissance Christmas

December 1st, 2008 3 comments

I am not in a habit of uploading full albums. There are blogs that specialise in that. So I have ever only posted two albums which are not easy to find (at least if you don’t do amazon, which is sticky with deliveries to some countries) and which I think are quite special. One of them was A Renaissance Christmas by the Boston Camerata. Since DivShare wiped out my entire account coinciding with the orgy of blog deletions, the link is dead. A reader asked very nicely if I could re-upload the album. And, since Advent kicked off yesterday, and that reader has periodically left comments, I have gladly done so. It was a very popular download, with 2,000 downloads or thereabouts.

A Renaissance Christmas (as I wrote a year ago) was recorded in 1986. As the title suggests, the Boston Camerata recreate the sound of Christmas from the 15th, 16th and 17th century, spreading the international flavour liberally with songs in English, French and German. I’m no expert in such things, but those who are say it is flawlessly performed. Especially fascinating are the brief readings from the Gospel of Luke that intersperse the album, delivered in what is supposed to be the English accent of the 16th century.

DOWNLOAD (Megaupload)  (Badongo)

Read more about A Renaissance Christmas
Buy A Renaissance Christmas

And by another request, I have re-uploaded the notional Beatles album of 1981, titled The Beatles – Finally (previously on ZShare, which seems to be permanently up the creek).

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Boston Camerata – A Renaissance Christmas

December 2nd, 2007 8 comments

I do not usually upload full albums, but I will make an exception to mark the first of Advent and this blog’s first Christmas with something very special: A Renaissance Christmas, recorded in 1986 by the Boston Camerata.

As the title suggests, the Camerata recreate the sound of Christmas from the 15th, 16th and 17th century, spreading the international flavour liberally. I’m no expert in such things, but those who are say it’s flawlessly performed.

Especially fascinating are the brief readings from the New Testament that intersperse the album, delivered in what is supposed to be the English accent of the 16th century.

I tend to put the album on when we have our Christmas dinner. Christmas Eve (when in our family we have our celebrations) I tend to play first CDs that mix the traditional carols with yer red-nosed reindeers. Then some Nat ‘King’ Cole for the mother-in-law (actually, I like it too). For dinner the Boston Camerata. Then the kids used to be chased out of the lounge to await their presents — alas, not an option any longer as they are a bit too old for such fun & games — while the adults would kick back with some Christmas jazz (Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, for example). Then, when the presents come out and when the kids were allowed into the darkened lounge, some traditional carols would play. Once the lights went on for the violent tearing up of lovingly folded and sellotaped wrappings, the pop & rock Christmas CD would come out (Slade!). Once mother-in-law gets stressed, we revert to the old crooners singing about roasting chestnuts on open fires and letting it snow in sunny South Africa.

Read more about A Renaissance Christmas
Buy A Renaissance Christmas

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