Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Stranglers’

In Memoriam – June 2011

July 4th, 2011 5 comments

One of the true greats passed away this month: Clarence Clemons, a legend to every Springsteen fan. There are many things which made the E Street Band’s sound so unique, but the key ingredients, in my view, were Roy Bittan’s keyboards and Clemons’ sax. It is on Clemons’ shoulder on which Springseen leans on the Born To Run cover, literally and symbolically (and imagine the title track without that orgasmic saxophone build-up). The featured E Street Band song, here in the live version from  the 1975 Hammersmith Odeon concert, tells the story of how the E Street Band came together.

What would rock & roll have been without Elvis’ Hound Dog? This month we lost the trumpeter in the version of the song which Elvis heard in Las Vegas and decided to base his explosive version on (as recounted in The Originals Vol. 15). We also lost Carl Gardner, leader of The Coasters, who often are unjustly remembered as a novelty act because they knew how to be funny. I’d argue that The Coasters helped invent soul music.

Also noteworthy was the death of Andrew Gold, whom we previously encountered as the writer of the theme of The Golden Girls. He was also the son of Marni Nixon, who provided the singing voices on film for Natalie Wood, Deborah Kerr and Audrey Hepburn.

I rarely feature non-musicians in my monthly litany of mortality, but the designer of the iconic Rolling Stone magazine logo merits a mention.

A bizarre death this month was that of Anet Mook, Dutch ex-singer of ’90s grunge band Cay, who was hit by a train in her native Netherlands. I could find no indication of the date of her death, and so list the date of her funeral.

* * *


Ray Bryant, 79, jazz pianist, on June 2
Ray Bryant – It’s Madison Time (1960)

Andrew Gold, 59, singer-songwriter, on June 3
Andrew Gold – Never Let Her Slip Away (1978)
Andrew Gold – Thank You For Being A Friend (1978, full version of The Golden Girls theme)

Benny Spellman, 79, R&B singer, on June 3
Benny Spellman – Life Is Too Short (1960)

Martin Rushent, 63, English record producer (Human League, The Stranglers, The Buzzcocks, Dr Feelgood), on June 4
The Stranglers – No More Heroes (1977)
Human League – Seconds (1981)

Kevin Kavanaugh, 59, keyboardist for Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, on June 4
Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes – Talk To Me (1978)
Frankie Toler, 59, American drummer with latter versions of The Allman Brothers Band and Marshall Tucker Band, on June 4

Leon Botha, 26, South African artist and DJ (appeared with Die Antwoord), progeria sufferer, on June 5
Die Antwoord – Enter The Ninja (2010)

J Harold Lane, 82, gospel songwriter and singer of the Speer Family Quartet, on June 6

Buddy Gask, 64, singer with Showaddywaddy, on June 7
Showaddywaddy – Under The Moon Of Love (1976)

Alan Rubin, 68, trumpeter with The Blues Brothers (Mr Fabulous in the film), on June 8
The Blues Brothers – Sweet Home Chicago (1980)
Darryl Pandy, 48, house music singer, on June 10
Farley’ Jackmaster’ Funk feat. Darryl Pandy – Love Can’t Turn Around (1986)

Gennaro Meoli, 76, trumpeter of Freddie Bell & the Bellboys, on June 10
Freddie Bell & the Bellboys – Hound Dog (1956)

Jamie Toulan, 31, guitarist For “90s juvenile punk band Old Skull, on June 10

Seth Putnam, 43, member of charmingly named balladeers Anal Cunt, on June 11

Carl Gardner, 83, founder and lead singer of The Coasters, on June 12
The Coasters – Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart (1958)
The Coasters – Along Came Jones (1959)

Mack Self, 81, rockabilly singer, on June 14
Mack Self – Mad At You (1959)

Bill Johnson, 68, LP cover art director and designer of Rolling Stone magazine’s logo, on June 15
Dr Hook & the Medicine Show – Cover Of The Rolling Stone (1972)

Anet Mook, Dutch ex-singer of ’90s UK grunge band Cay, funeral on June 15

Wild Man Fischer, 66, eccentric singer-songwriter and pal of Frank Zappa, on June 16
Wild Man Fischer – Merry Go-Round (1969)

Calvin Scott, 73, soul singer, on June 17
Calvin Scott – Can I Get A Witness (1972)
Clarence Clemons, 69, saxophonist of the E Street Band, on June 18
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (live, 1975)
Clarence Clemons & Jackson Browne – You’re A Friend Of Mine (1985)

Gustaf Kjellvander, 31, Swedish singer-songwriter (as The Fine Arts Showcase) and brother of Christian Kjellvander, on June 18
The Fine Arts Showcase – Brother In Black (2006)

Mike Waterson, 70, British folk singer, on June 22
The Watersons – The Good Old Way (1975)

Jared Southwick, 34, guitarist of punk band The Dream Is Dead, on June 22

Fred Steiner, 88, film and TV composer (The Color Purple, Perry Mason, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Dynasty)
Theme – Perry Mason (1959)
Theme – Rocky and Bullwinkle (1959)
Gaye Delorme, 64, Canadian musician and Cheech & Chong collaborator, on June 23
Gaye Delorme – Sailor Sailor (2007)

Benton Flippen, 90, old-time fiddler, on June 28

Perry Jordan, 62, guitarist of folk-rock group Heartsfield, on June 29
Heartsfield – Pass Me By (1974)

Jimmy Roselli, 85, crooner from Hoboken, NJ, on June 30
Jimmy Roselli – The Sheik Of Araby (1962)

Ron Foster, 61, drummer and singer of new wave bands The Silencers (US) and Iron City Houserockers, on June 30
The Silencers – Modern Love (1980)

DOWNLOAD

* * *

Previous In Memoriams

Keep up to date with dead pop stars on Facebook

Step back to 1978 – Part 1

November 11th, 2010 11 comments

In 1977 I started to build a record collection; in 1978, the year I turned 12, I began to be really serious about music, buying singles by the Sex Pistols and Jethro Tull alike. And I became a Blondie fan before anyone else I knew was even aware of them. In early 1978 I had my first kiss (which also was the last for a while), went to my first rock concert (ditto), and made a friend whom I recently met again for the first time in 29 years (but more of that at a later stage). The first part of my 1978 nostalgia trip ““ on which songs are chosen only if they have the power to transport me back to the time ““ covers the first three months or so of the year.

*     *     *

Blondie – X-Offender.mp3
What a difference a couple of months make when you”re 11. In the autumn I had bought a single by teen herbert Leif Garrett; in winter I bought a single by NYC punk scene regulars Blondie. Or, better put, my not yet impressive penis bought it. I saw the cover of the re-released X-Offender single (it had originally been issued in 1976), and fell for Debbie Harry. Like a week or so before with the Runaways record, I tingled with excitement at the thought of hearing Debbie Harry sing. The very sexy spoken intro followed by the rapid drums and that guitar which sounded unlike anything I had heard before instantly broadened my musical horizon. I am still impressed with my nascent trendspotting talents: Blondie”s breakthrough with Denis was still a couple months off, but I already was a fan, even if I knew only X-Offender and the rather good b-side, Man Overboard.

.

Long Tall Ernie & the Shakers – Do You Remember.mp3
A few years before Stars on 45 afflicted us, fellow Dutch nostalgia merchants Long Tall Ernie and the Shakers visited their Sha Na Na stylings upon us in medley format. Actually, it isn”t at all bad, as these things go. In the song lead singer Arnie Treffers introduces the notion of nostalgia and memories of Buddy Holly, and then the rest of the band lets go with songs like Little Richard”s Lucille, the New Beats” Bread And Butter and the Everly Brother”s excellent Bird Dog (one of my constant earworms), occasionally enquiring of us whether we can remember. Obviously I couldn”t, having been not even nearly alive in the 1950s. In fact, those early days of rock & roll seemed very distant to me in 1978, so that the song was something of a history lesson for me. Considering that the songs in the medley were all about 20 years old at the time, today”s corollary medley might include songs by Tracy Chapman, U2, Kylie Minogue, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Crowded House and Babyface.

.

Uriah Heep – Lady In Black.mp3
Uriah Heep – Free Me.mp3

Originally from 1971, Lady In Black was re-released in Germany in 1977, and became a Top 20 hit. This and Free Me, which I bought in March or thereabouts, are the only Heep records I have ever acquired. But Lady In Black is important for a very good reason: it reminds me of my first kiss. I would like to say that it was a beautiful moment, like Kevin and Winnie”s first kiss in The Wonder Years. Alas, it was more the product of a bet. My friend, who was just half a year older than me but much more advanced, dared me and my “girlfriend” to French kiss. So we accepted the dare, rather unsure about what to do with our tongues once our open mouths met. Our tongues touched lightly before we both withdrew them in mild disgust, yet excited by the sensation. It was dark and it was winter. I felt her warm breath exhaling on my face, which was probably more sensual than the meeting of lips. And, er, her long hair was blowing in the mid-winter wind”¦

.

Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway.mp3
Around the time I bought this, Tom Robinson was causing a bit of a furore with his song Glad To Be Gay, sentiments that were not often publicly expressed. At a time when punk was finally seeping into the German consciousness, Robinson”s proclamation was so counter-cultural as to include him in the movement. Of course, like many others who were included under the punk banner, Robinson was more of a pub rocker. Or pop rocker. Still, his lyrics were militant for their time (Motorway itself has a gay subtext, of course), and I think I can credit Robinson for making an important contribution to my unconditional rejection of homophobia.

.

Bonnie Tyler – It”s A Heartache.mp3
In February 1978 I saw my first live concert, a multiple bill organised by Bravo magazine, headed by Slade. It was not in our city, so my friends Jens and Andreas and I took a train to the town where the gig was held, about 250km away. Jens, the leader was 12, Andreas and I were 11 (and some fraction which I”m sure we were willing to state as an indication that we were, in fact, closer to being 12 than 11). Times have changed, I think. I have no memory of how we found our way from the station to the arena, but we got there. The bill included a British teen outfit called The Busters (whose identifying gimmick consisted of having black hair and wearing identical denim jackets), Schlager singer Bernhard Brink (who had a white man”s “fro) and Bonnie Tyler, who was just then having a big hit with It”s A Heartache. A year previously ““ hell, two months previously ““ I would have liked the song. Now I had tasted Blondie, and Jens and I were into punk. Tyler was for the housewives. We enjoyed Slade though. Dave Hill, he of the stupid haircut, no longer had a stupid haircut: he was now completely bold, at a time when shaved heads were very unusual. I cannot say whether it was a good gig, but I remember emerging from the hall into the cold winter’s evening air soaked in sweat.

.

Sweet – Love Is Like Oxygen.mp3
My affection for Sweet was such that I bought the Level Headed LP when they made their comeback on the Polydor label, a big financial outlay which requireed much sacrifice (that is, at least that of three singles). By now, Andy Scott was wearing a middle-aged men”s beard, as though he was going to join the Beach Boys; Steve Priests looked sober and serious, and Mick Tucker and Brian Connolly were about to shear their locks. The music now was much more prog than pop rock. The lads obviously wanted to be taken seriously. Well, they might have been, had they not produced an album that was even more boring than one by Barclay James Harvest, and less deprived of the Zeitgeist than Emerson Lake Palmer. The lead single, however, was pretty good, like a song by the Electric Light Orchestra.

.

Darts – Come Back My Love.mp3
The inclusion of Long Tall Ernie may have tipped off the reader that I rather enjoyed the odd bit of retro-rock & roll, even if I fancied myself at the time as a bit punk (though I didn”t dress punk, or act  punk, or hated society any more than my non-punk mates). Among the revivalists, The Darts were the greatest. I remember buying the Darts LP, alongside The Tubes” What Do You Want from Live, on a trip to Stockholm. I still have the Darts album; the Tubes LP was lost long ago. Daddy Cool/The Girl Can”t Help It was the bigger hit, and it was that song which turned me on to Darts. But soon I preferred the cover of the Wrens 1954 song, which featured in The Originals Vol. 3 (as did the original of Daddy Cool by The Rays).

.

Sex Pistols – No One Is Innocent.mp3
Sex Pistols – My Way.mp3
At the time it seemed the height of impertinence: Sid Vicious ““ we didn”t know yet just how undeserving of adulation that miscreant junkie was ““ first warbling and then quite amusingly violating My Way, by way of telling Sinatra: “Oi, old geezer, your song is shit!” We had no idea at the time that Sinatra himself hated the song and, if he had cared to acquaint himself with Mr Vicious” interpretation, he probably applauded its defilement, in the principle of it, if not in execution. My Way just is too easy and obvious a target to be subversive, really. Roping in Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs for what was initially presumed to be the a-side was a touch more seditious. Musically, the song was, well, not very good. Biggs deserved to be locked up just for singing in public.

Of course, at the time I also had The Sex Pistols” Never Mind The Bollocks LP. It is fair to say that my brother, two years younger than I, did not like their music much. So one day he scribbled on the vinyl with a ballpoint pen, apparently in retaliation to my alleged act of iconoclasm involving his poster of Winnetou, the noble Native American friend of Old Shatterhand dreamt up by the 19th century German author Karl May (who had never been to the USA, never mind the Wild West, but whose stories are still hugely popular in Germany). As far as disproportionate responses go, my brother belonged in the camp of those who sought to exterminate and subjugate Winnetou and his people”¦

.

The Stranglers – Nice “n Sleazy.mp3
My friend Jens had a fine collection of punk albums, which I tried to match with punk singles. Of course, time would show that most of the stuff we called punk wasn”t punk at all. Still, Jens had albums by the Damned, Boomtown Rats, Ultravoxx and so on. I had Holiday In The Sun and later No One Is Innocent/My Way. And I had this single, a fine track with expert sneering featuring one of my favourite rock riffs ever, though I had no idea what sleazy was (till I looked it up and found the answer richly satisfying). The pun, of course, passed me by, seeing as I was still learning English. Same day I bought a single by an outfit called The Killers (not to be confused with the currently successful band). That single “” it had a German shepherd on the cover ““ was utterly horrible.

.

Brian & Michael – Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats & Dogs.mp3
One of the great discoveries in 1978 was the weekly radio broadcast of the latest UK charts ““ it might have been the Top 10 or Top 20 ““ by which I got to know all the latest tunes (like Brian & Michael”s number) before they would finally make it in West-Germany. So I would sit with my grandmother”s cassette-radio portable and recorded most songs. The recorder very usefully had a fade-out button, so the shock of the inevitable cut forced by jabbering DJs was not as brutal as it otherwise might have been. At the time, I might have bought records by the Sex Pistols and the Stranglers, and by Gerry Rafferty and Kate Bush and the Rolling Stones ““ but I was still 12. Of course I liked Matchstick Men & Matchstick Cats & Dogs, even if I didn”t buy the record, because that certainly would not have been at all cool. And how could a song featuring a children”s choir be cool? Here it was the St Winifred”s School Choir, who would later torment Britain with songs about their collective grandma. On Matchstalk Men, they are singing the children”s song The Big Ship Sails On The Alley-Alley-O. Matchstalk Men, incidentally, was a tribute to the northern English artist LS Lowry, who died in 1976 and is mentioned in the song.

.

Wings – With A Little Luck.mp3
I admit it: I liked Mull Of Kintyre, which I bought the week it came out in 1977. By the time With A Little Luck was released, Kintyre was still a massive hit in Germany, and I was beginning to get sick of it. In fact, I liked With A Little Luck better; so much so that I bought the London Town album (or it might have been on the Greatest Hits album, which I think came out before that, and which I also bought. Anyone know which came first?). It’s a charming little tune, with a synth that actually sounded warm. I liked the “with a-little-luck-a-little-luck-a-little-luck” bit, and the double “we can do it”, which sounds like it was a production mistake. Now, do I have an unnecessarily dirty mind when I detect a sexual meaning in this line: “With a little love, we could shake it up, don”t you feel the comet exploding”?

.

More Stepping Back

Going retro

June 22nd, 2007 1 comment

Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run (live) (1975)
From the Live At The Hammersmith Odeon ’75 recording which was released on DVD released. One of the ultimate live songs. Who’s Wendy?

Johnny Cash – Ring Of Fire (1968)
Bonus track on the re-released CD of Live at St Quentin. As a kid in Germany, Cash was always on the radio in a context with whoever was uncool. So I grew up thinking the Man In Black was not cool. Lesson: Don’t look at the people listening to the music but listen to the music.

Dexys Midnight Runners – Geno (1980)
Dexys Midnight Runners – Until I Believe In My Soul (1982)
Every two years or so I go on my Dexys trip. In 2005, I revisited the young soul rebel to observe his 25th birthday and that of my weeks-long obsession with “Geno”; in July I shall celebrate the silver jubilee of the most wonderful Too-Rye-Ay. “Until You Believe In My Soul”, from which that twat Sting stole the idea for a jazz solo interlude, features Kevin Rowlands sneering the immortal line: “You have to be fuckin‘ joking”, at a time when swearing still meant something.

Tim Curry – I Do The Rock (1979)
The song from which I learned that John and Yoko lived at a place called The Dakota. Prescient Tim. This song made me into a Curry fan before I knew about that overhyped Rocky Twaddle Picture Show. One day in 1985 he came into a restaurant in London where I worked. Lovely, shy chap. The 80-year-old owner heard that someone famous was at Table 9, so he waddled over, stood for a minute at the table staring at Curry and female companion while rolling his tongue over his open mouth, and the blurted out: “So, you’re famous?” I caught a glimpse of Curry’s totally bemused look before I dashed to the kitchen where I ROTFLed.

Ram Jam – Black Betty (1977)
Those was mentioned on my favourite forum, populated by very clever people who know their music. One confessed that he had heard “Black Betty” for the first time today, on the radio. I associate this, and Bowie’s “Starman“, with the first club I frequented (without mother’s knowledge) as a 15-year-old.

Sweet – The Six Teens (1974)
Too easily derided as bubble-gum glam rockers, the Sweet had some killer tunes. “The Six Teens” had the group all grown up since their “Little Willie” days, borrowing a bit from prog, foreshadowing Meat Loaf’s operatic rock drama, and still sounding incredibly fun! R.I.P. Messrs Connolly and Tucker.

Immaculate Fools – Immaculate Fools
(1984)
December 1984 in London: my favourite pub in Notting Hill had a video juke box (ooooh!). This was on constant rotation. In Blighty these soft rockers (think China Crisis) were a one-hit wonder. Google tells me that the Fools became so big in Spain that they over there.

Prince – Starfish And Coffee (1987)
From Sign O’ The Times. How was this, one of Prince’s three greatest songs, never a single? The alarm clock at the beginning always gives me a fright. To recreate that effect upon others, I like to put this track first on mix-tapes (well, CDs, these days) for others.

The Stranglers – Nice ‘n’ Sleazy (1977)
This might have been my first “punk” single. This or Sham 69’s “Angels With Dirty Faces”. Other punk rock acts of the time included the Boomtown Rats, Ultravoxx and Elvis Costello, who were to punk what Tony Blair is to socialism. Still, “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy”, with its sneering riff and insolent vocals is a great, great song.