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Any Major ABC of France

July 23rd, 2024 1 comment

 

 

On Friday the Summer Olympics will open in Paris, with a likely extravagant ceremony I shall make a point of missing, since these things invariably annoy me. Indeed, I don’t know how much of the Games I will watch. In the past 20 years, my interest has receded.

Time was when I’d switch on the TV at stupid o’clock to watch the 100m sprint final, or the swimming, or any old thing that war running on TV. This time around I might watch Simone Biles, an epochal talent, go for multiple gold — after her experience in Tokyo three years ago, I hope the gymnast will do well — and specific events.

On balance, I expect that I will have spent more time listening to the present ABC of France mix, which I put together, of course, to mark the Olympic Games. I couldn’t really do another Paris-themed mix. Maybe I could, but two are enough: Any Major Paris and Any Major Paris in Black & White.

A couple of songs here are about Paris. There’s Edith Piaf’s anthemic Sous le ciel de Paris (which you can buy in Paris as turn music boxes) from 1954, and from 1957 Patachou’s version of Francis Lemarque’s Paris se regarde. Born in 1918 as Henriette Ragon, Patachou was named after the nightclub she and her husband owned on Montmarte. On the Paris in Black & White we had Patachou sing Sous le ciel de Paris, and Piaf the gorgeous Notre-Dame de Paris.

This ABC — I couldn’t find any act whose name starts with an X or, curiously, a U — has been playing at Maison Demicœur on loop. Last night, Nino Ferrer’s great 1975 hit Le Sud soundtracked my dreams! I’m a great fan of his 1974 album Nino And Radiah, which exists in English and French versions. It will feature again quite soon.

B stands, obviously, for Brigitte Bardot. She recorded the first version of Je t’aime…Moi non plus with Serge Gainsbourg in 1968, but somehow BB’s husband, the German “playboy” Günter Sachs objected to his wife orgasming for all the world to hear. So Bardot asked Serge to shelf her version, and he re-recorded his piece of pervmoania with Jane Birkin. The original remained unreleased until 1986, by which time Sachs was long off the scene and Bardot could be heard getting a little excited.

Two tracks became big global hits in their English versions. C’est si bon didn’t even change its name. Performed here by Jean Sablon in 1950, it was written in 1947 by Henri Betti, with the original French lyrics by André Hornez. I think Sablon was also the first to perform the English version.

Charles Trenet’s La Mer became a huge hit for Bobby Darin as Beyond The Sea. It was written by Trenet a decade earlier, first released by Roland Gerbeau in 1945, and a hit in the writer’s 1946 version. It is, simply put, one of the greatest French songs ever written.

The mix spans 75 years: the oldest track is Lucienne Boyer’s Mon coeur est un violon, which itself was a re-recording of the song with which she had had a hit in the 1930s. The youngest song here is from 2022, by French-Swiss actress Kloé Lang. Oddly, the mix covers all decades from the 1940s to the 2020s, except the 1980s. My shortlist had a few ’80s songs, but none made the cut. Perhaps the 1980s were just a bad decade for French music…

Obviously the tracks run in their alphabetical order, which makes for random listening. But I have also made a more coherently sequenced playlist; I would recommend playing that one. I hope that the mix contains some happy surprises and new discoveries.The playlist slightly exceeds the length of a standard CD-R, but I’ve included home-fabriquéd covers and the above in a PDF. Plus English translations of the songtitles. PW in comments.  Bonne écoute et bons Jeux Olympiques!

Anggun – La neige au Sahara (1997)
Brigitte Bardot & Serge Gainsbourg – Je t’aime…Moi non plus (1968)
Charles Trenet – La Mer (1956)
Danyel Gérard – Butterfly (1971)
Edith Piaf – Sous le ciel de Paris (1954)
Françoise Hardy – Le crabe (1970)
Georges Moustaki – Le Métèque (1969)
Hugues Aufray – Céline (1966)
Indila – Dernière Danse (2014)
Jean Sablon – C’est si bon (1950)
Kloé Lang – Aimez moi (2022)
Lucienne Boyer – Mon coeur est un violon (1945)
Michel Delpech – Pour un flirt (1971)
Nino Ferrer – Le Sud (1974)
Olivia Ruiz – Elle Panique (2009)
Patachou – Paris se regarde (1957)
Quatuor feat. Edmée de Meyer – Jusqu’à la mort! (1959)
Renan Luce – Appelle Quand Tu Te Réveilles (2014)
Sylvie Vartan – La plus belle pour aller danser (1964)
Teri Moïse – Je serai là (1996)
Vanessa Paradis – Mi Amor (2013)
Wallen – Donna (2004)
Yves Duteil – Le fruit de mon verger (1977)
Zaz – Je veux (2010)

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PREVIOUS ABCs:
ABC of 1940s
ABC of 1950s
ABC of 1960s
ABC of 1970s
ABC of 1990s
ABC of 2000s
ABC of Soul
ABC of Country
ABC of Christmas
ABC of South Africa
ABC of Canada

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Categories: ABC in Decades, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major Soul 1984

July 11th, 2024 3 comments

 

In the mid-1980s, much of soul music sounded like action-comedy movie soundtrack fillers: stabbing synth, plastic funk bass, dull drum machines, and soulless electric guitars that tried to recreate the magic of Van Halen’s solo on Beat It and failing dismally in doing so. It was mostly horrible. Diana Ross’ Swept Away is a perfect example of that hideous kind of overproduced musical sterility, the sort of thing no baby was ever made to.

This mix of soul from 1984 avoids these abominations, and there may well be people in their late 30s in the world today who were conceived to one or the other track on this collection. The year 1984 was not a high-water mark for soul music. Perhaps it was its nadir. And yet, I felt compelled to add six bonus tracks, on top of the CD-R length mix. It can’t have been that bad.

By the mid-1980s, the social commentary songs and declarations by strong women telling their no-good men where to get off from the 1970s had made way for love-and-sex lyrics, some as greasy as jheri curls and as predictable as AI prose.

Words were secondary to the jam. And there were some solid jams. The best slow jam of 1984 might have been Eugene Wilde’s Gotta Get You Home Tonight, which featured on Any Major Soul 1984/85. Wilde, who was born as Ronald Eugene Broomfield, returns here with a deep cut from his most successful of the four albums he released between 1984 and 1991 (another one followed in 2011).  After his singing career had fizzled out, Wilde became a songwriter.

Like Wilde, O’Bryan had that jheri-curled look which might detract from his talent (incidentally, O’Bryan and Wilde were born a day apart in December 1961). The singer, whose full and magnificent name is O’Bryan McCoy Burnette II, was a prodigy of Don Cornelius, who used O’Bryan’s funky Soul Train’s A Comin’ as the theme of Soul Train from 1983-87. O’Bryan’s 1984 album Be My Lover was his most successful. By 1986, diminishing returns had set in.

This set opens with a couple of songs that became hits only in 1985. The Intruders’ Who Do You Love was a single release in 1984; a longer version appeared on their 1985 album. A few other acts from back when were still producing good things in 1984. Featured here are the Bar-Kays, Bobby Womack and Major Harris, the Delfonics alumnus whose I Believe In Love was an outstanding comeback, which sadly was not the commercial success it deserved to be.

1980s soul often shone brightest when great singers collaborated with jazz fusion artists (and when these jazz artists appeared on their records). We have two such collaborations here. Bill Withers guests on percussionist Ralph MacDonald’s album. The line-up of musicians on In The Name Of Love, co-written by Withers, is impressive: Steve Gadd on drums, Marcus Miller on bass, Eric Gale on guitar, Richard Tee on electric piano, and Randy Brecker on trumpet. If the sounds seem familiar, it is because you’ve heard these guys play on countless records. Just check out the series of Steve Gadd Collections (Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3).

My favourite track on this collection is Roberta Flack’s collaboration with veteran Japanese fusion saxophonist Sadao Watanabe, Here’s To Love. And guess who the session musicians on that track are: MacDonald, Miller, Gale and Tee, and the great Barry Eastmond on synth.

Among the bonus tracks is a version of I Feel For You by Rebbie Jackson. It was released at the same time as the lightning-in-a-bottle version by Chaka Khan (whose follow-up single, Eye To Eye, features here). The song was originally written in 1979 by Prince for Patrice Rushen — who turned it down. Of course, Rushen features here as well.

.All Any Major Soul mixes from 1964 onwards are up again. Like all of them, this mix  timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-jhericurled covers, and the above text in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Intruders – Who Do You Love
2. The S.O.S. Band – Weekend Girl
3. Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King – Till Midnight
4. Patrice Rushen – High In Me
5. Bobby Womack & Patti LaBelle – Love Has Finally Come At Last
6. Loose Ends – Feel So Right Now
7. Ralph MacDonald feat. Bill Withers – In The Name Of Love
8. Sadao Watanabe feat. Roberta Flack – Here’s To Love
9. Chaka Khan – Eye To Eye
10. Amii Stewart – That Loving Feeling
11. Glenn Jones – Show Me
12. O’Bryan – Go On And Cry
13. Major Harris – Spend Some Time
14. Bar-Kays – Lovers Should Never Fall In Love
15. Mtume – You, Me And He
16. Jermaine Jackson – Do What You Do
17. Eugene Wilde – Rainbow
18. Teddy Pendergrass – This Time Is Ours
BONUS TRACKS
19. Peabo Bryson – If Ever You’re In My Arms Again
20. One Way – Lady You Are
21. Lenis Guess – Lay Your Head Down On Me
22. Cameo – She’s Strange
23. Cherrelle – Who’s It Gonna Be
24. Rebbie Jackson – I Feel For You

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Categories: 80s soul, Any Major Soul, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

In Memoriam – June 2024

July 4th, 2024 2 comments

As promised, the current lot of music deaths includes those who died after I posted in In Memoriam: May 2024.

Parental advisory: don’t play the 2 Live Crew track around children, your mom or others who are offended by explicit lyrics, which might include you (why is everybody so easily offended by stuff these days?).

I saw it reported on Facebook that Lou Lewis, guitarist of Scottish power pop band The Headboys, has died. If so, then he’d be the third member to pass away in successive years, leaving only keyboardist Calum Malcolm behind. However, I could find no confirmation of Lou’s death…

The French Goddess
In the 1960s, Françoise Hardy was the dream woman for the discerning man, one whose sex appeal was predicated as much on her beauty as it was on her French coolness.

Hardy had the ethereal, sometimes melancholic voice of the chanteuse, but she cut her teeth in the ye-ye genre, the French pop of the early-to-mid 1960s. She also had some success across the border as a singer of German songs. As she grew out of all that, Hardy effortlessly merged chanson, pop and folk to create a stylish sound, which was accompanied by lyrics, many written by herself, that often were personal and reflective. As a female artist who explored serious themes that reflected the changing culture, Hardy was a trailblazer for her generation.

The Soul Songstress
Being of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent, Angela Bofill broke barriers as one of the first Latina women to record success in soul music.  A talented singer-songwriter, Bofill scored hits with tracks like This Time I’ll Be Sweeter, I Try, Angel Of The Night, Tonight I Give In, and I Just Wanna Stop. She was also an accomplished jazz singer and composer.

In 2006 and 2007 she suffered strokes which required long rehabilitation processes, with benefit concerts held to assist Bofill with the bills.

The Hitwriter
For many people, Suspicious Minds is their favourite Elvis Presley song. The song was written and originally recorded by Mark James, who has died at 83. The story of Suspicious Minds is told in The Originals: Elvis Presley Vol. 2. Elvis later also recorded the James songs Always On My Mind (originally recorded by Brenda Lee, and a hit for Willie Nelson and for the Pet Shop Boys), Raised On A Rock, It’s Only Love, and Moody Blue, the title track of his final album.

The Texan, born as Francis Zambon, had his first taste of success with Hooked On A Feeling, a song first recorded and taken to #5 in the US pop charts by his childhood friend B.J. Thomas (later also a hit for Blue Swede). Hooked On A Feeling was inspired by James’ high school sweetheart Karen Taylor — who also inspired Suspicious Minds. James also wrote Brenda Lee’s hit Sunday Sunrise.

The Selecter
At the vanguard of the great ska revival of the late 1970s and early ’80s was Coventry’s The Selecter. The band’s co-lead singer Gaps Hendrickson has now died 73. In the band, Gaps tended to operate as second lead behind Pauline Black, but his energetic stage presence lifted the band’s live performances.

The Selecter split in 1982. Subsequent revivals created rival iterations, one led by Black, the other by guitarist and chief songwriter Neol Davis; Gaps joined Team Black, retiring only after he was diagnosed with cancer last year.

The Trumpeter
Last week I was looking at the records which keyboard legend Greg Phillinganes had appeared on (yes, for a future Collection). Literally two hours later I had cause to look at the credits accumulated by session trumpeter Gary Grant — for this post, since he has died — and came across loads of records on which he and Phillinganes had played (at one point I double-checked that I wasn’t reading the latter’s list of credits).

Among those credits are Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, Thriller, Wanna Be Startin’ Something, Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, and Brothers Johnson’s Stomp. Grant also played on one of my favourite late-’70s soul tracks, Cheryl Lynn’s You’re The One (featured on the Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2), and on dance classics like Donna Summer’s Bad Girls and Teena Marie’s Behind The Groove. He was part of the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section on the Faces and Raise albums, played on various Lionel Richie songs, including the gorgeous You Are, on Toto’s Rosanna (featured on Any Major Life in Vinyl 1982), on almost all tracks on Al Jarreau’s excellent eponymous 1983 album (including Boogie Down), on Michael McDonald’s Sweet Freedom, on Teddy Pendergrass’ Joy, and so much more.

I could make a list of the most significant artists Grant played for, but that list would exceed a hundred names…

The Satirist
Few people can make a career out of being a Jew in Texas, but Kinky Friedman achieved that in the 1970s with his provocatively named band The Texas Jewboys. Friedman’s countercultural songs were often satirical — much like those of his contemporary John Prine; both wrote songs titled Dear Abby — and referred to his Jewish background with titles like They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore and Ride ’Em Jewboy. Friedman  hated bigots, but as an equal opportunity offender, he also had ways of annoying the left, especially feminists.

Aside from music, Friedman was a writer of satirical mystery novels, and tried his hand at politics, running as an independent for Texas’ governorship in 2006, getting 12% of the vote, coming fourth out of six candidates.

The Producer
As June ended, news came of the death of producer Peter Collins at 73. Born in 1951 in Reading, England, Collins tried his hand at being a folk singer, releasing a debut album while still a teenager in 1970. Optimistically titled First Album, it was also the last, and Collins moved behind the scenes.

In the 1980s he became the producer of hits such as Musical Youth’s Pass The Dutchie; The Piranhas’ Tom Hark; Matchbox’s Rockabilly Rebel; The Belle Stars’ The Clapping Song; Nik Kershaw’s Wouldn’t It Be Good, I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, The Riddle, Don Quixote, and Wide Boy; The Lambretta’s Poison Ivy; Tracy Ullman’s Breakaway and They Don’t Know; Blancmange’s The Day Before You Came; Matt Bianco’s Half A Minute, Whose Side Are You On, and Sneaking Out The Back Door; Gary Moore & Phil Lynott’s Out In The Fields; Gary Moore’s Empty Rooms and Over The Hills And Far Away; and Alice Cooper’s Hey Stoopid. For Rush he produced the hit albums Power Windows and Hold Your Fire. Between 1992 and 2011 he co-produced six albums of the Indigo Girls.

Other acts he produced for include Bon Jovi, Billy Squire, UK Subs, Shakin’ Stevens, Air Supply, Alvin Stardust, Queensrÿche, Freddie McGregor, Nanci Griffith, Tom Jones, Wax, Jane Wiedlin, The Cardigans,  Voice Of The Beehive, Divinyls, Shawn Mullins, Heather Nova, Kenny Loggins, Lisa Loeb, Jewel, LeeAnn Rimes, Carbon Leaf, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Rick Astley, among others.

The Rap-Rocker
I have dedicated a whole series to the concept of not feeling guilty about enjoying music, but there are some songs which I’d not easily volunteer to admit liking. So it takes the death — at the absurdly young age of 49 — of Shifty Shellshock of alt.rock band Crazy Town for me to publicly confess that I like their one big hit, 2001’s Butterfly. Spin called it a “nu metal power ballad”; I like that description.

I recall watching the video at the time, and noting the singer’s abundance of tattoos, introducing me to the notion of sleeves before that was really a thing (though by today’s standards, Shifty was showing restraint). It certainly did nothing to inspire me to acquire a tat, but Shifty blazed a trail for illustrated men and women everywhere. And then there was all the metal attached to his face; I hope he took great care around magnets.

By all accounts, Shifty — known to Mother Shellshock as Seth Binzer — was a lovely kind of fellow who enjoyed playing practical jokes. His long struggles with addiction eventually killed him, via an accidental drug overdose.

The Golden Age Actress
With the death of Janis Paige at the age of 101, one of the last stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood has left us. Born on September 16, 1922, as Donna Mae Tjaden, she started appearing on stage at the age of 5 at amateur shows. After leaving school, she went to Hollywood as a singer and a pin-up model.

Paige appeared in her first movie in 1944, and subsequently also performed on Broadway (including in the original cast of the 1954 musical The Pajama Game) and TV (starring in her own sitcom in 1955-56, It’s Always Jan). She released an album of standards in 1956, by virtue of which she finds inclusion in this post.

Her last movie appearance was in 1994; her last TV role in 2001.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Kiane Zawadi, 91, jazz trombonist and euphonium player, on May 21
Hank Mobley – Cute ‘N Pretty (1979, on euphonium)

Mark Gormley, 67, singer-songwriter, on May 24

Ghigo Agosti, 87, Italian rock & roll singer-songwriter, on May 27
Ghigo Agosti – Coccinella (1958)

Rodger Fox, 71, New Zealand jazz trombonist and bandleader, on May 27

Gustavo Mullem, 72, guitarist of Brazilian rock band Camisa de Vênus, on May 28
Camisa de Vênus – Controle Total (1982)

John Schweers, 78, country songwriter, on May 28
Charley Pride – Amazing Love (1973, as writer)

Brian Humphries, British sound engineer, on May 29
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975, as engineer)

Mansour Seck, 69, Senegalese singer and musician, on May 29
Mansour Seck – Sanu (1997)

Cayouche, 75, Canadian singer-songwriter, on May 29
Cayouche – Letter From Home (2010)

Doug Dagger, 56, singer of punk band The Generators, on May 30
The Generators – Roll Out The Red Carpet (2003)

Ed Mann, 69, drummer, percussionist and keyboardist for Frank Zappa, on May 31
Frank Zappa – Dancin’ Fool (1979, on percussions and backing vocals)

Harry van Hoof, 81, composer, arranger, Eurovision conductor, on June 1
Mouth & MacNeal – How Do You Do (1972, as co-writer)

Tony Bramwell, 78, Beatles tour manager, Apple exec, producer, on June 2
Swampfox – I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby (1972, as producer)

Colin Gibb, 70, member of British pop novelty act Black Lace, on June 2
Black Lace – Superman (1982)

Janis Paige, 101, actress and singer, on June 2
Janis Paige – Day In Day Out (1944)
Janis Paige – Let’s Fall In Love (1957)

Brother Marquis, 58, rapper with 2 Live Crew, on June 3
The 2 Live Crew – Me So Horny (1989, also as co-writer)

C.Gambino, 26, Swedish rapper, shot on June 4

Ranch Sironi, 32, bassist of stoner rock band Nebula, on June 5

Rosalina Neri, 96, Italian actress and singer, on June 5

Rose-Marie, 68, Northern Irish singer and TV personality, announced June 7
Rose-Marie – When I Leave The World Behind (1983)

Mark James, 83, songwriter, producer and singer, on June 8
B.J. Thomas – Hooked On A Feeling (1968, as writer and producer)
Mark James – Suspicious Minds (1968, also as writer)
Elvis Presley – Moody Blue (1977, as writer)
Pet Shop Boys – Always On My Mind (1987, as writer)

Alex Riel, 83, Danish jazz and rock drummer, on June 9

Françoise Hardy, 80, French singer-songwriter, on June 11
Françoise Hardy – Tous les garcons et les filles (1962)
Françoise Hardy – Ich bin nun mal ein Mädchen (1965)
Françoise Hardy – Song Of Winter (1970)
Françoise Hardy & Jacques Dutronc – Puisque vous partez en voyage (2000)

Gaps Hendrickson, 73, co-lead singer of British ska group The Selecter, on June 11
The Selecter – Too Much Pressure (1979)
The Selecter – Tell Me What’s Wrong (1980, also as writer)

Enchanting, 26, rapper, on June 11

Adam Lewis, 45, bassist of pop-punk group FenixTX, announced June 11
FenixTX – All My Fault (1999)

Axel Kühn, 60, German jazz saxophonist and composer, on June 11

Mark Carr Pritchett, David Bowie collaborator, on June 12
The Arnold Corns – Moonage Daydream (1971, as member on guitar)

Johnny Canales, 81, Mexican Tejano singer and TV host, on June 12

Angela Bofill, 70, soul singer and songwriter, on June 13
Angela Bofill – This Time I’ll Be Sweeter (1978)
Angela Bofill – Still In Love (1986)
Angela Bofill – Heavenly Love (1993, also as writer)

Pepe Guerra, 80, guitarist of Uruguayan folk duo Los Olimareños, on June 13
Los Olimareños – Nuestro camino (1984)

Skowa, 68, singer-songwriter with Brazilian samba-rock band Trio Mocotó, on June 13
Trio Mocotó – Capcaloei (2004)

Nahim, 71, Brazilian singer, on June 13

Ivana Pino Arrellano, 32 Chilean country singer, in car accident on June 15

Buzz Cason, 84, singer, songwriter, producer, on June 16
Robert Knight – Everlasting Love (1967, as co-writer)
Buzz Cason – Adam & Eve (1968)

Graham Dowdall (Gagarin), 70, British percussionist, composer, arranger, on June 16
Nico + The Faction – Into The Arena (1985, as member on percussions and as arranger)

Paul Spencer, 53, musician with British dance act Dario G, on June 17
Dario G – Sunchyme (1997)

Lonnie Gasperini, 73, jazz organist and composer, on June 17

James Chance, 71, no wave saxophonist and singer, on June 18
James Chance & The Contortions – Twice Removed (1979)
James Chance & The Contortions – Super Bad (1981, rel. 1995)

Jan Cremer, 84, Dutch writer, painter and singer, on June 19

Matt Watts, 36, US-born Belgian-based singer songwriter, announced June 19
Matt Watts – Waking Up (2020)

Silvia Infantas, 101, Chilean folk singer and actress, on June 19

Chrystian, 67, Brazilian sertanejo singer, on June 19

James Polk, 83, jazz, funk and soul multi-instrumentalist and arranger, on June 21
James Polk & The Brothers – Just Plain Funk (1969)

Davie Duncan, lead singer of Scottish rockabilly band Shakin’ Pyramids, buried on June 21
Shakin’ Pyramids – Let’s Go (1983)

Julio Foolio, 26, rapper, shot dead on June 23
Foolio – Ion Need Love (2024)

Shifty Shellshock, 49, singer and songwriter with rap-rock band Crazy Town, on June 24
Crazy Town – Butterfly (2000, also as co-writer)
Paul Oakenfold feat. Shifty Shellshock – Starry Eyed Surprise (2002)

Fredl Fesl, 76, German novelty singer, on June 25

Ray St. Germain, 83, Canadian singer, TV host, politician, on June 25
Ray St. Germain – Métis (1978)

Jewel Brown, 86, jazz, soul and blues singer, on June 25
Jewel Brown – If You Have No Real Objections (1962)

John DeFrancesco, 83, jazz organist, on June 25

Gary Grant, trumpeter, composer and producer, on June 26
Woody Herman – MacArthur Park (1969, on trumpet)
Donna Summer – Bad Girls (1979, on trumpet)
Greg Phillinganes – Girl Talk (1981, on trumpet)
Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom (1986, on trumpet)

Kinky Friedman, 79, country musician, satirist, politician, on June 27
Kinky Friedman – We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To You (1973)
Kinky Friedman – They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore (1974)

Martin Mull, 80, actor, comedian and singer-songwriter, on June 27
Martin Mull – Normal (1974)

Betty Veldpaus, 72, singer with Dutch pop group Pussycat, on June 28
Pussycat – Mississippi (1975)

Lucius Banda, 53, Malawian singer-songwriter and politician, on June 30

Peter Collins, 73, English producer, singer, announced June 30
Peter Collins – Get In A Boat (1970)
Piranhas – Tom Hark (1981, as producer)
Gary Moore – Empty Rooms (1984, as producer)
Indigo Girls – Least Complicated (1994, as co-producer)

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

Purple Rain Recovered

June 25th, 2024 4 comments

Today, June 25, it is 40 years since the release of Purple Rain. It gives me some pause to think that as 1984 is to us today, so was 1944 to 1984. I don’t think any music from 1944 sounded still fresh in 1984. Purple Rain — and a lot of music from that era — still is relevant today.

Before I get accused of being one of the “Everything was better in my day” brigade, I ascribe that to the progressive generational culture blur which has meant that a lot of the music from “my day” has never really gone away, has been more easily accessible than old stuff was back then, and has never ceased to be influential on contemporary artists. The music of 1944 was a different country in 1984 — just listen to the Hits From 1944 mix.

I loved Purple Rain when the LP came out. Even the track on the album which I like least, Electric Blue, has great moments (that spoken intro, that keyboard riff, that guitar middle bit). Of course, When Doves Cry is the stand-out track, though I suspect the title number is now the more famous one. Still, Doves might well have been the best song of 1984, maybe of the whole 1980s (if one wishes to be so foolish as to determine a “best” song of the decade).

The album changed the industry in some way when Darling Nikki prompted Tipper Gore, who 16 years later would be a few hanging chads away from becoming the First Lady, to campaign for the advisories on album covers that would commend LPs to kids in search of music with naughty sex words.

I have written about Purple Rain before, in a piece that pitched that album in a track-by-track contest against Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the best-selling album of all time versus the most perfect pop album of the 1980s. You know who wonm and it made some MJ fans cry in the comments section (remember those?). My love for Purple Rain has remained undiminished; I don’t think I shall ever listen to Thriller in full again… Coincidence of dates are meaningless, but it raises an eyebrow that Jackson died on the 25th anniversary of the release of Purple Rain.

The Prince vs Michael Jackson rivalry was really just based on the coincidence of age. They were contemporaries, born three months apart in 1958. But MJ was not really the best point of measure for Prince. Surely that is Stevie Wonder, another prodigious and prolific musical genius who also played any instrument. Both were capable of moments of timeless genius, and both could also drop total clunkers.

It is quite remarkable that Prince started to hit his stride pretty much as Stevie’s genius was exhausted, a handing-over of the baton. Tellingly, while Purple Rain was riding high, Stevie issued the deplorable I Just Called To Say I Love You, an unwitting declaration of unconditional surrender.

Purple Rain was a perfect album, but it was not a great movie. Prince certainly was no thespian. As a drama, Purple Rain is pretty bad, but as a compilation of music videos — albeit interrupted by a bad script being performed poorly — it is glorious. Even if Morris Day and The Time rather threaten to steal the show (that dance routine during The Bird might be the best bit in the whole movie).

So to mark the 40th anniversary, here is Purple Rain Recovered. It kicks off with a rather splendid orchestral version of Let’s Go Crazy, the other stand-out track on a great album. I struggled to find good covers for a couple songs, so one is a live recording from 1985 by Prince & The Revolution, and another I’ve recycled from the Any Major Prince Songbook which I posted in June 2023. Incidentally, I have plenty of material for a second volume of that; maybe I’ll hold on to that until the 10th anniversary of Prince’s death in 2026 (if I’ll still be doing this blog then).

Obviously the mix fits on a standard CD-R, includes home-gonecrazied covers, and the above text in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. Midnite String Quartet – Let’s Go Crazy (2016)
2. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Take Me With U (2009)
3. Mariah Carey feat. Dru Hill – The Beautiful Ones (1997)
4. Prince & The Revolution – Computer Blue (live) (1985)
5. Rihanna – Darling Nikki (2011)
6. Damien Rice – When Doves Cry (2005)
7. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – I Would Die 4 U (2015)
8. Bob Belden feat. Jimi Tunnell – Baby I’m A Star (1994)
9. Etta James – Purple Rain (2006)

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More Recovered albums:
What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye)
Tapestry (Carole King)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
Darkness On The Edge Of Town (Bruce Springsteen)
Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (David Bowie)
Every Beatles album

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Song Swarm – Hound Dog

June 18th, 2024 10 comments

Hound Dog gallery_1

RCA Studios, New York. Monday, July 2, 1956. Elvis turned up for his third and final recording session there to lay down the tracks for Hound Dog, the song’s eventual b-side, Don’t Be Cruel, and the ballad Any Way You Want Me.

By now, Elvis had become confident enough to take charge of the session, for all intents and purposes acting as the producer. He had decided which songs to record, and would run through as many takes as necessary for the perfect recording. Occasionally, when a backing musician would make a mistake, he would sing a note out of key or commit another error, forcing another take. In the seven-hour session, 31 takes of Hound Dog were recorded (and 28 of Don’t Be Cruel). Elvis listened to them all, narrowed down the choices. Eventually, he settled for Take 18 of Hound Dog (some sources say it was number 28, others yet suggest the final one).

Before the session, the story goes, RCA had procured the first recording of the Leiber/Stoller composition, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton’s blues rendition from 1953, to know what their star was planning to record. Everybody was aghast: they thought it was horrible, and were unable to comprehend why Elvis would want to record that, as Gordon Stoker of the vocal backing group The Jordanaires later recalled. Stoker and the other puzzled people in the studio obviously did not watch TV.

Almost a month before the recording session, on June 5, Elvis had performed the song, hip-swivellingly, on The Milton Berle Show, more or less the way he was going to record it on July 2. DJ Fontana had already introduced the drum roll between the verses, and Scotty Moore the guitar solo. He performed the song again on TV the day before the recording session: the performance on The Steve Allen Show when, wearing a tuxedo, Presley had to sing the song to a bemused, top-hatted basset hound. Elvis was a good sport about it, at one point even laughing at the absurd set-up. He later recalled it as the most peculiar experience of his career — and that presumably includes all those bizarre movies! The Berle performance, seen by a reported 40 million people, had created a storm of protest by the guardians of morality at Elvis’ “vulgarity”. Could anybody really have been so oblivious as to regard Rainey’s record as a blueprint, as if Elvis had no idea what to do with the song?

 

elvis

 

The truth is that Elvis didn’t base his version on Big Mama Thornton at all. In fact, the song had crossed the tracks within weeks of Thornton’s record, with versions by country acts such as Eddie Hazelwood, Betsy Gay, Bob Wills, Jack Turner and Billy Starr. But it was a 1955 cover by Freddie Bell and the Bellboys which provided the template for Elvis’ interpretation. Elvis had seen the Italo-American band during his discouraging concert engagement in Vegas in April/May 1956. Having ascertained that Bell wouldn’t mind, Elvis quickly included their reworked Hound Dog in his setlist.

Elvis probably was aware of Thornton’s version, and perhaps heard some of the country covers that had been released; one source says Elvis was familiar with it already in 1953. But Elvis’ Hound Dog is entirely a cover of the Bellboys’ template, incorporating their sound and modified lyrics (“Cryin’ all the time” for Thornton’s “Snoopin” round my door”, “You ain’t never caught a rabbit, and you ain’t no friend of mine” for “You can wag your tail, but I ain’t gonna feed you no more” and so on). Happily Elvis dispensed with the lupine howls. What he produced was arguably the first ever punk song.

Bell and his band enjoyed a mostly undistinguished recording career, with only one real hit, Giddy Up A Ding Dong, which was much bigger in Europe than it was in the US, in 1956. Adapted lyrics notwithstanding, Bell received no writing credit for Elvis’ Hound Dog. The writing credit remained entirely with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who were still R&B-obsessed teenagers when in 1952 they were commissioned by the producer Johnny Otis to write a song for Big Mama Thornton. They did so in 15 minutes. Otis claimed co-authorship, and his co-credit appeared on the label of the Thornton single. Leiber & Stoller fought him in court, and won. Thornton’s recording became a #1 hit on the R&B charts in 1953. Her 12-bar blues inspired a plagiarised response song, which turned out to be the first ever record released by Sun Records, Sam Phillips’ label which would go on to discover Elvis.

 

freddie bell

 

Three years after Thornton’s hit, Stoller honeymooned on board of the sinking Andrea Doria. His life was spared. Returning to New York, he was greeted at the pier by Leiber with the news that Hound Dog had become a smash hit. “Mama Thornton?” Stoller asked. “No, some white kid named Elvis Presley,” replied Leiber.

The songwriters, R&B purists both, resented Elvis’ version. When, inevitably, they were commissioned to write for Elvis a year later, for the Jailhouse Rock film, they were not particularly happy. As a form of revenge, Leiber wrote for Elvis to sing this line in the title track: “You’re the cutest little jailbird I ever did see.” The prison in Jailhouse Rock was not co-ed. When they finally met Elvis, the songwriters realised that Elvis was a kindred spirit who genuinely shared their love for R&B, and they became good friends. Stoller even appeared in the film, as a piano player.

 

thornton_hound_dog

There have been many cover versions of Hound Dog, drawing from both Thornton’s and Presley’s templates (but not from the country versions that came after the former and before the latter). The division is fairly predictably between those who in the lyrics are ejecting a freeloader and those who note in the titular canine an Elmer Fuddian rate of failure in hunting down rabbits.

Blues aficionadoes like Eric Clapton will opt for the Big Mama original, with its coherent lyrics in which the term “hound dog” serves as a euphemism for something quite rude — “something like motherfucker”, according to Leiber. The Elvis fans tend to pay tribute to his doggerel version — and to Presley. In his live version John Lennon drawls “Elvis, I love ya”. The Rolling Stones in their horrible 1978 live version from Memphis, provide an example of when a tribute is exactly the opposite.

Jerry Lee Lewis borrows from Elvis’ sound but goes with Thornton’”s lyrics. Conversely, blues master Albert King‘s version is melodically closer to Thornton, but uses the Presley lyrics. And the Everly Brothers employ a martial beat.

Pat Boone, on an Elvis tribute album whose cover references the gold suit sleeve, croons to a pseudo baroque backing before shifting gear into what might be called an easy listening rock & roll groove which even by 1963 would have sounded hopelessly dated. At one point Patrick sings one of the aggressively ungrammatical lines of the Presley version, and then “corrects” it: “You have not never caught a rabbit and you aren’t no friend of mine.” One suspects that Boone did not cherish the song. Rockin’ Rocky Rockwell also betrayed no fondness for the song in what appears to be a mocking take on the Lawrence Welk Show in 1956. Chubby Checker‘s hound dog is — obviously — “twisting all the time”.

If the twisting and surfing versions provide a time capsule, then so might the 1977 version by the Puhdys, East Germany’s leading rock band at the time. One might imagine Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev boogying along to it after a hard day of watching goose-stepping soldiers and interminable processions of tanks on the International Day of Glorious Proletarian Combine Harvester Soviet Friendship Parade.

Hound Dog gallery_2Obviously Shakin’ Stevens did a version, and does well with a rough-vocaled uptempo boogie treatment, also from 1977. T. Rex‘s outtake came out only in 1993; I don’t know when it was recorded, but it regrettably defies all glam expectations as Bolan comes across all whiney folk-singer with Hound Dog”.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik did their version in 2001, performing it in the way their 1980s incarnation might have expected music to sound like in the year 2000, while Tom Jones‘ take sounds exactly as you’d think it would, Likewise both Jimi Hendrix versions sound as you might imagine them to, even if they are very different from one another (1969’s Hound Dog Blues features Traffic’s Chris Woods on sax).

Among the best re-imaging is, surprisingly, James Taylor‘s 2009 take. I rather like Betty Everett‘s soul cover (like Taylor’s, using Thornton lyrics) from 1964’s It’s In His Kiss LP, or the burning southern soul track by Ruby Andrews, whose invitation to “wag your tail” might mean exactly what we think it does. But the best version of Hound Dog is the one which Elvis Presley recorded that summer’s day in 1956 in New York, Take Number 18.

And count the number of versions in which some barking, woofing or howling takes place — starting with the original.

(This post has been recycled from June 2014)

Big Mama Thornton (1953) • Billy Starr (1953) • Eddie Hazelwood (1953) • Betsy Gay (1953) • Jack Turner (1953) • Little Esther (Phillips, 1953) • Freddie Bell & the Bellboys (1956) • Elvis Presley (Milton Berle Show, June 5, 1956) •  Elvis Presley (Steve Allen Show, July 1, 1956) • Elvis Presley (1956) • Rockin’ Rocky Rockwell (1956) • Gene Vincent and The Blue Caps (1956) • Jimmy Breedlove (1958) • Chubby Checker (1960) • Sammy Davis Jr (as part of a medley with ‘What’d I Say, 1961) • Don Lang & The Twisters (1962) •  Pat Boone (1963) • Betty Everett (1964) • The Surfaris (1964) • Little Richard (1964) • Big Mama Thornton with Buddy Guy (1965) • The Easybeats (1966) • Chuck Jackson (1966) • Duffy’s Nucleus (1967) • Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967) • Jimi Hendrix (as Hound Dog Blues, 1969) • Albert King (1969) • Ruby Andrews (1972) • Conway Twitty (1972) • John Lennon (live 1972) • John Entwistle (1973) • Jerry Lee Lewis (1974) • Elvis Presley (live in Chicago, November 1976) • Puhdys (1977) • Shakin’ Stevens (1977) • The Rolling Stones (live in Memphis, 1978) • Sha-Na-Na (1978) • Scorpions (1978)• James Booker (1982) • Link Wray (1982) • Junior Wells (1983) • Tales Of Terror (1984) • Hugo Strasser und sein Tanzorchester (1978) • Lonnie Mack (as Hound Dog Man, with Stevie Ray Vaughan Man, 1985) • The Delmonas (1986) • Arthur Brown (1988) • Eric Clapton (1989) • Jeff Beck (1992) • Eddy Clearwater (1992) • Koko Taylor (1993) • T.Rex (released 1993) • Carl Perkins (1994) • Bryan Adams (1994) • Susan Tedeschi (1995) • Tom Jones (1999) • The Residents (2000) • Etta James (2000) • Status Quo (2002) • Sigue Sigue Sputnik (2002) • Robert Palmer (2003) • The Stray Cats (2004) • Macy Gray (2004) • James Taylor (2009)

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(PW in comments)*

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Any Major ABC of the 1940s

June 6th, 2024 6 comments

 

It is time to revive the ABC of … series, which I find a real joy (and challenge) to compile. And because the concept — one act for each letter of the alphabet — by its nature creates pretty random playlists, a jumble of genres and/or eras, I find listening to these mixes to be great fun.

The idea initially was to create an ABC for each decade, and there have been ABCs of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1990s, and 2000s. But then I expanded the subject field, so there have also been ABCs of Soul, Country, Canada and South Africa. All links are live again.

There are still other ideas in the works, but today we return to the original concept, with an ABC of the 1940s. Being pre-rock & roll, the ’40s were always a bit marginal in the history of popular music (as are the 1930s). I hope the Any Major Hits of 1944 and 1947 have given lie to the idea that the decade was some kind of medieval age in pop.

Rock & Roll grew out of the R&B, country and gospel of the 1940s. Hear Yank Rachell’s track from 1941 and tell me that Chuck Berry never heard that, or listen to Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s guitar for a taste of what was to come.

Certainly lyrically, it was a golden age. Some titles on this mix promise a dose of humour. Una Mae Carlisle’s Blitzkrieg Baby (You Can’t Bomb Me) combines wit and Zeitgeist.

Tex Williams was on a big smoking trip. There was the satirical Smoke Smoke Smoke (on Any Major Hits from 1947), and here the country singer makes the case for quitting smoking, long before such a thing was fashionable or even regarded as sensible — in exchange for libidinous benefits. Williams died in 1984 — inevitably of lung cancer.

Sometimes the joke came much later. In 1947, Frank Sinatra recorded Everybody Loves Somebody (a week after Peggy Lee laid down the first recording of the song; both flopped). Some 16 years later, Dean Martin covered the song. Having completed the recording, the story goes, Dino walked out of the studio, saw Sinatra, and said: “That’s how you do it.” The story may be apocryphal, but Dino was right.

The US in the 1940s was racially segregated, an apartheid state before South Africa really got into that evil concept. I have made it a point to integrate the music of the 1940s on this mix.

Also see a related group of mixes of Music in Black & White.

This mix is CD-R length, and includes home-whamrebopboombammed covers. The text above is in PDF, and PW is in comments.

1. Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds Of Joy – Wham (Wham Re Bop Boom Bam) (1940)
2. Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters – Pistol Packin’ Mama (1943)
3. Cootie Williams & His Orchestra with Eddie Vincon – Cherry Red Blues (1944)
4. Dooley Wilson – As Time Goes By (1946)
5. Ella Fitzgerald with The Day Dreamers – I’ve Got A Feeling I’m Falling (1948)
6. Frank Sinatra – Everybody Loves Somebody (1948)
7. Glenn Miller and his Orchestra – (I’ve Got A Gal In) Kalamazoo (1942)
8. Horace Henderson and his Orchestra – Oh Boy, I’m In The Groove (1940)
9. Ink Spots – Someone’s Rocking My Dreamboat (1941)
10. Judy Garland & Gene Kelly – For Me And My Gal (1942)
11. Kay Kyser and his Orchestra – A Zoot Suit (For My Sunday Gal) (1942)
12. Lena Horne – Deed I Do (1948)
13. Mel Tormé – Careless Hands (1949)
14. Nat ‘King’ Cole – You Can’t Lose A Broken Heart (1949)
15. Orioles – It’s Too Soon To Know (1948)
16. Peggy Lee – That Old Feeling (1944)
17. Quintones – Harmony In Harlem (1940)
18. Ravens – Write Me A Letter (1947)
19. Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight – Didn’t It Rain (1947)
20. Tex Williams – With Men Who Know Tobacco Best (It’s Women Two To One) (1947)
21. Una Mae Carlisle – Blitzkrieg Baby (You Can’t Bomb Me) (1941)
22. Vaughn Monroe and his Orchestra – Rum And Coca-Cola (1945)
23. Woody Herman and his Orchestra – Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me (1944)
24. Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra – Make It Another Old Fashioned, Please (1940)
25. Yank Rachell – Tappin’ That Thing (1941)
26. Zutty Singleton’s Creole Band – Crawfish Blues (1945)

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PREVIOUS ABCs:
ABC of 1950s
ABC of 1960s
ABC of 1970s
ABC of 1990s
ABC of 2000s
ABC of Soul
ABC of Country
ABC of Christmas
ABC of South Africa
ABC of Canada

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In Memoriam – May 2024

May 26th, 2024 8 comments

This month’s music deaths are listed in the actual month they left us. I wouldn’t be able to post the In Memoriam for May in the beginning of June, so I’ll cover the remaining deaths of May with those whom the Reaper will claim in June. But even without the stragglers, there are plenty of great stories to be told, involving a supporting cast as diverse as Bob Dylan, Albert Einstein and Walt Disney.

I have debated with myself whether to include a write-up about punk legend and trailblazing producer Steve Albini. I’ve decided not to, in light of certain revelations about an aspect of his life. Of course, such a write-up would have generously noted his pioneering role in the hugely influential punk outfit Big Black, and his production of albums such as the Pixies’ Surfer Risa and Nirvana’s In Utero, though Albini saw himself as a facilitator rather than a producer. It would have noted his feats in record engineering, and his general iconoclasm and courageous integrity on many issues that gave him such a dedicated fan base. But then there are those revelations. So, having noted the above, I still feel unable to put up a photo of the man.

The Sax Legend
It is a bit unfair that David Sanborn, who has died at 79, is often written off as a smooth jazz merchant, because he was a serious jazz fusion musician — when he wasn’t making the kind of smooth jazz music that got a bad name for the dull non-excesses of the Kenny G types. But at his best, Sanborn made beautiful jazz, smooth or not. Take the featured song, Seduction, from his 1980 Hideway album. It’s not exactly free jazz, but it is a gorgeous tune, delivered well. Sanborn, it may be noted, himself didn’t like the concept of “smooth jazz”.

Sanborn became a name in fusion in the 1970s as a member of the Brecker Brothers band and with a series of solo albums and broke through in 1980 with Hideaway. By then, he had made his bones as a session man, having started out as a member of The Butterfield Blues Band.

As a session man, he played for — deep breath now —  Stevie Wonder, James Brown (on Funky President), David Bowie (on the Young Americans album, including the title track), Bruce Springsteen (on Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out), The Rascals, B.B. King, Donny Hathaway, Todd Rundgren, Gil Evans, The Fabulous Rhinestones, O’Donel Levy (on Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky, which featured on the Me And Playboy mix), Miles Davis, Esther Phillips, Manhattan Transfer, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Michael Franks (including Monkey See-Monkey Do), Ron Carter, Hubert Laws, Bataan, Loudon Wainwright III, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Phoebe Snow, George Benson, Idris Muhammad, Maynard Ferguson, Bob James, Burt Bacharach, Alessi, Garland Jeffreys, Don McLean, Chaka Khan, JD Souther (on You’re Only Lonely), Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon (on You Belong To Me), Dr John, Tim Curry (on I Do The Rock, which featured on A Life In Vinyl 1980), Nils Lofgren, John McLaughlin, Bonnie Raitt, Eagles, Steely Dan and many more…

And that was just in the 1970s! Later, he played on tracks like Bill LaBounty’s wonderful Livin’ It Up (featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 1), as well as for big hitters like Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Kenny Loggins, The Bee Gees, Roger Waters, Bryan Ferry, Toto, Roberta Flack (on the lovely Oasis), Eric Clapton, Al Jarreau (on So Good, which featured on Any Major Soul 1988/89), Randy Crawford (on her superior version of Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, which featured on Any Major Bob Dylan Songbook Vol. 3), and on the wonderful duets of Jarreau and Crawford on the Casino Lights album, which featured on mixes like Any Major Ashford & Simpson Songbook and Any Major Albums of 1982.

The Electric Light Keyboardist
The distinctive sound of the Electric Light Orchestra is usually attributed to Jeff Lynne, but its creation also owes much to Richard Tandy, who contributed group’s the characteristic keyboards and worked with Lynne to arrange the idiosyncratic strings in the studio recordings.

Tandy, who also played guitar, made his first contribution to a charting record through his old friend Bev Bevan, drummer of The Move, by contributing the harpsichord to the band’s UK #1 hit Blackberry Way. By 1970, The Move trio of Bevan, Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne, formed ELO as a side-project. After Wood decamped to form Wizzard, Tandy joined the band. With Lynne and Bevan, Tandy remained a constant member throughout the band’s hit-making career.

Besides his own projects, Tandy also collaborated on various projects by Lynne.

The Disney Tunesmith
Some of the finest songs from Disney films were written by the brothers Sherman. Now Richard M. Sherman has died at the age of 95, some 12 years after his long-estranged brother Robert. The sons of a well-known Tin Pan Alley songwriter are said to have produced more movie scores than any other songwriting team in history. Their scores and/or songs featured in films such as The Parent Trap, The Sword In The Stone, Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, The Aristocats, Charlotte’s Web, The Slipper And The Rose, and more, as well ass many stage musical productions.

They won Oscars and Grammys for their Mary Poppins soundtrack, which included standards like A Spoonful Of Sugar, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and Chim-Chim-Cheree, which won the Best Song Oscar. Their Sister Suffragette featured in the In Memoriam for January 2024 to mark the death of Glynis Johns. Apparently Feed The Birds was Walt Disney’s favourite song.

Before Disney, the Sherman brothers wrote pop hits such as Your Sixteen (Johnny Burnette, and later Ringo Starr) and Tall Paul (for Anette Funcicello). Their song It’s A Small World (After All), written for the 1964 World Fair in New York City, is reportedly the most publicly performed song of all time, by virtue of being played on rides in all Disney theme parks.

Before the songwriting, Richard Sherman was a US soldier in World Way II, and was among the first US troops to enter Dachau concentration camp.

The Hard Rock Pioneer
With the death of lead singer Doug Ingle, the classic line-up of Iron Butterfly is now gone (a sentence I have to write more often these days, as I will again twice a couple of entries down). Iron Butterfly were greatly influential on all hard rock music of the 1970s.

Their centre-piece was the interminable In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which was written by Ingle in one night, while he was drunk on red wine. Drummer Ron Bushy wrote down the lyrics for Ingle to sing, but in his inebriated state, the singer slurred the words “in the Garden of Eden” as “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”. And thus one of rock’s more mystifying song titles was born.

After Iron Butterfly split in 1971, Ingle had stints with the groups Stark Naked and Car Thieves, but he was no longer part of the Iron Butterfly when they reformed in 1974, or in subsequent reunions.

The Folk Influencer
Last month we lost the last of The Limeliters in Alex Hassilev; this month the last of another influential folk trio passed away. “Spider” John Koerner was the leader, guitarist and a vocalist of the folk-blues trio Koerner, Ray & Glover.

As an 18-year-old in 1956, Koerner began to study aeronautical engineering but dropped that to make music. Instead he formed a folk band with Dave Ray and Tony Glover in Minneapolis, with whom the gifted songwriter became a pioneering figure in the folk born of the early 1960s. In Minneapolis, Koerner took a youngster under his wing who soon would make his mark in New York under the name of Bob Dylan. They sometimes performed as a duo, and Dylan remembered Koerner fondly in his autobiography.

Koerner recorded three studio albums with Ray & Glover, as well as collaborations with others, and several solo sets. Folk experts rate Koerner’s influence on folk and guitar-playing highly, crediting him with being able to fuse folk and blues in an original way, rather than simply copying existing blues styles.

The Hit Drummer
In the mid-1940s, a man was stranded in a boat that had run out of gas. Luckily, a passing woman was able to help the hapless fellow to the shore, while he held her infant in his arms. The luckless sailor was Albert Einstein; the infant future rock drummer John Barbata.

Barbata went on to have a bunch of hits as the drummer of The Turtles, including the classic Happy Together. The band was part of the Laurel Canyon scene (see Any Major Laurel Canyon), so when Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fired drummer Dallas Taylor in 1970, Barbata was roped in. He played on eight of their albums, as well as on records by the individual members. Being with CSN&Y, Barbata turned down an offer to join the upcoming band Eagles.

In the interim, he joined Jefferson Airplane in 1972, and made the transition to Jefferson Starship. In between, he played sessions for the likes of Ry Cooder, JD Souther, John Sebastian, Judee Sill, The Everly Brothers, PF Sloan, Linda Ronstadt, Dave Mason, and (unreleased) Joni Mitchell.

His time with Jefferson Starship ended in 1978, when Barbata broke his neck, arm and jaw in 32 pieces in a car crash. With that, he retired from the music industry, though he still recorded and performed on the side.

The Machine Gun
In February we lost Wayne Kramer of the seminal proto-punk group MC5. Now drummer Dennis Thompson has died at 75 — which means that the classic MC5 line-up is now all gone.

Thompson, who joined the band in 1965, was known as “Machine Gun” for his ferocious drumming, which would come to influence the punk movement that followed in MC5’s trail, as well as metal drummers.

The Arranging Saxophonist
Having made his recording debut as a 22-year-old in 1949, jazz saxophonist Bill Holman’s career as a musician, composer and arranger spanned seven decades, during which he released his own albums and worked with some of the biggest names in jazz. And he arranged a number of pop hits as well.

His career as a sideman was most closely tied to Stan Kenton, but he also played with the likes of Chet Baker, Bud Shank, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, Terry Gibbs, Maynard Ferguson, Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers, Buddy Bregman, and others.

He also arranged and/or composed for many of them, as well as for Count Basie, Gerry Mulligan, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Louie Bellson, Sarah Vaughn, Anita O’Day, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae, Buddy Rich, Zoot Sims, and others.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Holman also did arrangements, usually alongside Bones Howe and Bob Alcivar, for pop acts, especially several hits for The 5th Dimension, but also including the likes of The Monkees, The Association (Never My Love, Windy), The Sandpipers (Come Saturday Morning), and Seals & Croft. From the 1990s, he also arranged for Natalie Cole, Diane Schuur, Tony Bennett and Michael Bublé, among others.

Holman was involved in many Grammy-winning recordings, though he was personally awarded “only” three, out of 16 nominations.

The Yodeller
In the pop interregnum between Elvis’ conscription and the rise of The Beatles, Frank Ifield was one of the biggest stars in the UK, with his trademark yodel which punctuated his easy listening country fare. He peaked in 1962/63, when in the space of a year he scored five consecutive Top 5 hits, four of them hitting #1 — I Remember You (also a US #5), Lovesick Blues, Wayward Wind, and Confessin’. He’d reach the Top 10 one more time in 1964; by 1966 his time on the charts was over, other than a novelty dance remix of his song She Taught Me How To Yodel, renamed The Yodeling Song, in 1991.

Born in England, his Australian family had returned home in 1948, when Frank was 11. He grew up on a farm, listening to hillbilly music, while milking cows. Having recorded as few minor hits in Australia, he moved to England in 1959, returning home only in 1986.

The Vocal Coach
She released only three studio albums, but her work was mostly behind the scenes. Peggi Blu was best-known as an award-winning vocal coach, most visibly on American Idol, and as the 1986 winner of the TV talent show Star Search.

Blu did a lot of backing vocals for some big names, including Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Esther Phillips, Elkie Brooks, Stephanie Mills, The Weather Girls, Quincy Jones, Tracy Chapman (on Freedom Now), The Manhattans, Kylie Minogue, Leonard Cohen, Aaron Neville, Young M.C., among others. She also was one of several backing singers on the Irene Cara hit Fame, alongside Luther Vandross.

Blu released three albums between 1980 and 2002. Her 1987 set Blu Blowin’ was a very good collection which merited greater success than it achieved.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Richard Tandy, 76, English keyboardist of ELO, announced May 1
The Move – Blackberry Way (1968, on harpsichord)
Electric Light Orchestra – Evil Woman (1975)
Electric Light Orchestra – Confusion (1979)
Tandy & Morgan – Suddenly (1986)

Richard Maloof, 84, bassist, tuba player in Lawrence Welk orchestra, on May 1

Gary Floyd, 71, singer of punk band Dicks, on May 2
Dicks – Sidewalk Begging (1984)

John Pisano, 92, jazz guitarist, on May 2
John Pisano & Billy Bean – Take Your Pick (1958)
Sam Cooke – (Ain’t That) Good News (1964, on guitar)

Jim Mills, 57, bluegrass banjo player, on May 3
Dolly Parton – Little Sparrow (2001, on banjo)

Ken Brader, 70, jazz trumpeter, on May 4

Ron Kavana, 73, Irish singer-songwriter, on May 4
Ron Kavana & The Alias Acoustic Band – Reconciliation (2005)

Miroslav Imrich, 71, singer of Czech rock band Abraxas, on May 4

Willie Hona, 70, ex-guitarist of New Zealand reggae band Herbs, on May 5
Herbs – Slice Of Heaven (1986)

Eric ‘E.T.’ Thorngren, producer and engineer, on May 6
Squeeze – Hourglass (1987, as co-producer, arranger and engineer)

Bill Holman, 96, jazz saxophonist, composer and arranger, on May 6
Stan Kenton and His Orchestra – Bags And Baggage (1952, on tenor saxophone)
Bill Holman – Far Down Below (1958, also as composer, conductor and producer)
The 5th Dimension – One Less Bell To Answer (1970, as co-arranger)
Diane Schuur – Deed I Do (1991, as arranger and conductor)

Christiane Stefanski, 74, Belgian singer, on May 6

Wayland Holyfield, 82, country songwriter, on May 6
Don Williams – You’re My Best Friend (1975, as writer)

Steve Albini, 61, punk musician with Big Black, producer and engineer, on May 7
Big Black – He’s A Whore (1987)
Pixies – Where Is My Mind (1988, as producer and engineer)
Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box (1993, as producer and engineer)

Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, 88, Polish jazz musician, composer and arranger, on May 7

Phil Wiggins, 69, harmonica player of blues duo Cephas & Wiggins, on May 7
Bowling Green John Cephas & Harmonica Phil Wiggins – Police Dog Blues (1989)

John Barbata, 79, drummer of The Turtles, CSNY, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, on May 8
The Turtles – Elenore (1968)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Ohio (live) 1971, on drums)
Jefferson Starship – Miracles (1975, as member)

Conrad Kelly, 65, Jamaican ex-drummer of UK reggae band Steel Pulse, on May 8
Steel Pulse – Settle The Score (1997)

Giovanna Marini, 87, Italian singer-songwriter, on May 8
Giovanna Marini – Persi le forze mie (1976)

Suzette Lawrence, 66, singer-songwriter, on May 9

Dennis Thompson, 75, drummer of MC5, on May 9
MC5 – Looking At You (1970)
MC5 – Over And Over (1971)

Fred Noonan, drummer of Australian swamp rock group Six Ft Hick, on May 9

David Sanborn, 78, jazz and session alto saxophonist, on May 12
Stevie Wonder – Tuesday Heartbreak (1971, on alto sax)
David Sanborn – The Seduction (Love Theme) (1980)
Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford – Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong (1982, on alto sax)
Bob James & David Sanborn – Maputo (1989)

Enrico Musiani, 86, Italian singer, on May 13

Christian Escoudé, 76, French gypsy jazz guitarist, on May 13
Christian Escoudé & Jean-Charles Capon – Gousti (1980)

Mélanie Renaud, 42, Canadian singer, on May 14

Jimmy James, 83, Jamaican-British singer, on May 14
Jimmy James & The Vagabonds – Ain’t Love Good, Ain’t Love Proud (1966)
Jimmy James & The Vagabonds – I’ll Go Where Your Music Takes Me (1976)

John Hawken, 84, English keyboardist, on May 15
Nashville Teens – Tobacco Road (1964, as member)
Strawbs – Shine On Silver Sun (1973, as member)

Missinho, 64, singer with Brazilian Axé band Chiclete com Banana, on May 17

Jean-Philippe Allard, 67, French jazz producer, on May 17
John McLaughlin – Django (1995, as producer)
Abbey Lincoln – Black Berry Blossoms (2000, as producer)

Frank Ifield, 86, English-born Australian country singer, on May 18
Frank Ifield – I Remember You (1962)
Frank Ifield – Up Up And Away (1967)

John Koerner, 85, songwriter, guitarist, singer with folk trio Koerner, Ray & Glover, on May 18
Koerner, Ray & Glover – Black Dog (1964, on shared lead vocals)
‘Spider’ John Koerner – Spider Blues (1965, also as writer)
John Koerner & Willie Murphy – Running, Jumping, Standing Still (1969, also as co-writer)

Palle Danielsson, 77, Swedish jazz double bassist, on May 18

Jon Wysocki, 53, drummer of alt.rock group Staind, on May 18
Staind – It’s Been A While (2001)

Peggi Blu, 77, soul singer, American Idol vocal coach and judge, on May 19
Irene Cara – Fame (1980, on backing vocals)
Peggi Blu – Once Had Your Love (And I Can’t Let Go) (1987)
Tracy Chapman – Freedom Now (1989, on backing vocals)

Jan A. P. Kaczmarek, 71, Polish Oscar-winning film composer, on May 21
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek – The Peter Pan Overture (from Finding Neverland) (2005, as composer)

Charlie Colin, 58, ex-bassist of rock group Train, on May 22
Train – Drops Of Jupiter (2001)

Toni Montano, c.61, Serbian rock musician, on May 22

Doug Ingle, 78, ex-lead singer of Iron Butterfly, songwriter, on May 25
Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (single version) (1968, as writer)
Iron Butterfly – In The Times Of Our Lives (1969, also as co-writer)
Iron Butterfly – Easy Rider (Let The Wind Pay The Way) (1970, also as co-writer)

Richard M. Sherman, 95, American film songwriter, on May 25
Johnny Burnette – You’re Sixteen (1960, as co-writer)
Julie Andrews – A Spoonful Of Sugar (1964, as co-writer)
Louis Prima – I Wanna Be Like You (1967, as co-writer)

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

Gladys Knight Sings Covers

May 21st, 2024 1 comment

 

Gladys Knight, who is turning 80 next week, on May 28, apparently is known as “The Empress of Soul”. If this is indeed her title, that makes the Queen of Soul her subordinate. I wouldn’t hazard to make a judgment about which singer is the greater.

As we saw on the Aretha Sings Covers mix, the Queen was a tremendous interpreter — and reworker — of songs. Certainly, no woman soul singer ever exercised as much influence on her genre as Aretha did. But ask me whose voice I’d prefer to hear on my deathbed, I’d vote for Gladys Knight’s over Aretha’s.

Where Aretha was assertive, even strident, and in her later years even shrill, Gladys exercised restrained. She needed no resort to melisma or bellowing to convey emotion. She could (and probably still can) do so through a little drop or rise in tone, and through her flawless phrasing — much like Randy Crawford, who one day ought to be the subject of a covers mix too.

Aretha had female backing singers, often including her sisters. Gladys had one not-at-all-secret weapon: The Pips. These three guys — her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight and cousins William Guest and Edward Patten — are among the greatest backing singers ever. If there should be a Backing Singers Hall of Fame, only ignorance would exclude The Pips from immediate induction.

Of course, Gladys would have been a star even without The Pips, but her interplay with the guys was an principal ingredient in her soul stew. Just consider the exquisite commentary The Pips deliver on Midnight Train To Georgia. (A track which, like other covers which Knight and Pips turned into hits, doesn’t feature here.)

Gladys had some history with the previous singer featured in this series, Diana Ross. It goes back to the 1960s, when Gladys was with Motown. She and The Pips were supporting Dana Ross and The Supremes on tour — and they stole the show. Berry Gordy was unhappy about that, and, according to Knight, Diana had her act dumped from the tour.

Gladys Knight went on to have a prolific career after Motown, with a string of big hits, some covers and others originals. (See  and The Originals: Soul Vol. 2)

This collection of songs here shows Knight to be a magnificent interpreter of songs, often taking ownership of them. Some of these songs were recorded in their hit versions by some of the greatest singers in pop; Gladys matches or even eclipses them.As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-pipped covers, and the text above on PDF format.

1. (I Know) I’m Losing You (1970, The Temptations)
2. Who Is She (And What Is She To You) (1973, Bill Withers)
3. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (1968, Righteous Brothers)
4. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother/Bridge Over Troubled Water (1971, Hollies/S&G)
5. Fire And Rain (1971, James Taylor)
6. One Less Bell To Answer (1971, The 5th Dimension)
7. Goin’ Out Of My Head (1968, Little Anthony and the Imperials)
8. Help Me Make It Through The Night (1971, Kris Kristofferson)
9. Feel Like Makin’ Love (1975, Roberta Flack)
10. The Way We Were/Try To Remember (1974, Barbra Streisand/Ed Ames)
11. The Makings Of You (1974, Curtis Mayfield)
12. Look Of Love (1968, Dusty Springfield)
13. Groovin’ (1968, The Young Rascals)
14. Sugar Sugar (1975, The Archies)
15. Cloud Nine (1970, The Temptations)
16. Grandma’s Hands (2001, Bill Withers)
17. End Of The Road Medley (live) (1994, Boyz II Men a.o.)
18. Since I Fell For You (2005, Lenny Welch)

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Previously in Sings Covers:
Al Green Sings Covers
Aretha Franklin Sings Covers
Diana Ross Sings Covers
Tina Turner Sings Covers

More Mix CD-Rs
Covered With Soul
1970s Soul

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Any Major Billy Joel Songbook

May 9th, 2024 3 comments

Today, May 9, Billy Joel turns 75. He has had a long career, and hasn’t always been the most universally admired singer. But for about ten years, between 1973 and 1983, he had a run of producing excellent songs (amid a few duds, take a bow of shame, Only The Good Die Young). I regard 1977’s The Stranger as a minor masterpiece, and Turnstiles (1976), 52nd Street (1978) and An Innocent Man (1983) are superb albums. The other two efforts were more patchy, though both had great moments, too.

And his Songs In The Attic, released in 1981, is a perfect live album (though it is not a record of a single concert). According to the linernotes, Joel’s aim with the album was to recreate improved versions of songs which he thought had been inadequately produced on the studio albums. He succeeded in that aim on every song.

After 1983 Joel still produced the odd gem (Baby Grand, his duet with Ray Charles was one of them), but the magic was gone. And then came the horrible We Didn’t Start The Fire, a hit so big that it came to define his career, at least in part. Even Billy Joel thinks the song is a pile of crap.

Strangely, it seems difficult to cover Billy Joel, and few singers bothered to do so in the 1980s and ’90s. Some people have done so well, but good covers of his best-known songs are scarce. Look at the tracklisting and see what’s missing: The Stranger, My Life, It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me, You May Be Right, All For Leyna, Allentown, Pressure, Tell Her About It, Leave A Tender Moment Alone, An Innocent Man, And So It Goes, Baby Grand…

Say Goodbye To Hollywood has been covered by Ronnie Spector and the E-Street Band (it featured on the Roy Bittan Collection). It’s an okay cover. Bette Midler in 1978 gave it a jaunty vibe, thus totally misreading the song. Either failed to make the cut here.

Also missing is Uptown Girl, which has been covered by many acts — including Westlife, who had a megahit with it — but by none I’ve heard did so well. I don’t mind that; it’s not a song I particularly like.

Piano Man sneaks into the mix with a good Spanish version; I know of no particularly good English version. I thought maybe one of Billy Joel’s duets with Elton John on their live tours might do. They don’t.

Photo from the shoot for the covers of The Stranger. On the cover, they’re black & white.

 

Likewise, Just The Way You Are tends to be covered in disagreeable easy listening mode. Barry White had a hit with a soulified cover of the song, but I don’t like his self-conscious vocals on it. Just The Way You Are would have failed to appear here too but for the saving grace that is Isaac Hayes. Of course, Ike turns it into a long jam with a long spoken intro.

Indeed, the best interpretations here tend to be by soul acts. The Three Degrees take Stop In Nevada, a lesser known Billy Joel song from 1973’s Piano Man album, and turn it into a quite different number. Zhané turn the doo wop of The Longest Tine (from An Innocent Man) into a slow-burning ’90s R&B groove.

The Manhattans take all the fake gospel out of Everybody Has A Dream (originally on The Stranger) and show why it is really a soul song.

Margie Joseph’s cover of She’s Got A Way — the earliest cover in this collection, from 1974 — starts off like a straight cover, but soon she makes it her own song. Produced by Arif Mardin, listen to the backing singers, who include Cissy Houston and fellow Sweet Inspirations Myrna Smith and Sylvia Shemwell, Gwen Guthrie and Judy Clay (who was also Shemwell’ sister). The drummer is Bernard Purdie (see the Bernard Collection Vol. 1 and Vol. 2); on guitar are Cornell Dupree and Hugh McCracken, and the distinct keyboards are by Richard Tee.

Another old-school soul singer appears here with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Billy Griffin succeeded Smokey Robinson as lead singer of The Miracles (it’s his lead on hit like Love Machine). He was also the co-producer of Take That’s debut album.

The Songbook ends with a song performed by the man himself, recorded live at Carnegie Hall on June 3, 1977. Souvenir, originally on 1974’s Streetlife Serenade, comes from a terrific live set released with 2008’s “legacy edition” of The Stranger.

And my favourite Billy Joel song? Summer, Highland Falls — preferably the live version from Songs In The Attic.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-pressured covers and the text above in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. Waylon Jennings – The Entertainer (1984)
2. The Manhattans – Everybody Has A Dream (1978)
3. Margie Joseph – He’s Got A Way (1974)
4. The Three Degrees – Stop In Nevada (1976)
5. Richard Marx – Miami 2017 (1993)
6. Lauren Wool – Summer, Highland Falls (2004)
7. Zhané – For The Longest Time (1997)
8. Beyoncé – Honesty (2009)
9. Joan Baez – Goodnight Saigon (1991)
10. Ana Belén – El hombre del piano (1981)
11. Angelo – I’ve Loved These Days (1978)
12. Lynda Carter – She’s Always A Woman (1978)
13. Isaac Hayes – Just The Way You Are (1978)
14. Barbra Streisand – New York State Of Mind (1977)
15. Paul Anka – I Go To Extremes (2007)
16. Ladysmith Black Mambazo feat. Billy Griffin – The River Of Dreams (2012)
17. Gregorian – Leningrad (2013)
18. Billy Joel – Souvenir (live) (1977)

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Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 1
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 2
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
George Harrison
Gordon Lightfoot
Hank Williams
Holland-Dozier-Holland
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Paul McCartney Vol. 2
Prince
Rod Temperton
Rolling Stones Vol. 1
Rolling Stones Vol. 2
Sly Stone
Steely Dan

More Songbooks
More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

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In Memoriam – April 2024

May 3rd, 2024 2 comments

Here are the music deaths of April, with two guitar legends leaving us.

The Guitar Man
For many boomers born in the 1940s and early ‘50s, the sound of Duane Eddy’s twangy guitar is an echo of their childhood. Between 1958 and 1962 Eddy had a string of hits in the US and UK with his mostly instrumental rock & roll tracks.

Eddy’s sound prefigured the surf rock of the early 1960s; The Beach Boys lifted his riff from Movin’ n’ Groovin’, released in 1958, for Surfin’ USA (Eddy himself borrowed it from Chuck Berry’s Brown Eyed Handsome Man).

Eddy scored seven US Top 20 hits, from 1958’s Rebel Rouser (#6) to 1962’s (Dance With The) Guitar Man (#12). The latter was also the final of his six UK Top 10 hits. It featured The Blossoms (Fanita James, Jean King and Darlene Love) on vocals.

The Guitar Genius
Few rock guitarists could create their own distinctive sound as Dickey Betts did. When you heard that sound, you knew it was Betts. Perhaps his most famous composition, certainly in Britain, is the instrumental Jessica, which he wrote as a long-time member of the Allman Brothers Band. The track was used as the theme tune for the hugely popular and lamentably reactionary Top Gear show.

With Duane Allman, Betts redefined how two lead guitars can work together — just witness their solos on the wonderful Blue Sky, which Betts also wrote and took lead vocals on. First Duane plays his great solo (said to be the last thing he recorded before he died), then Betts comes in with his solo, and it is every bit Duane’s equal. It featured on Any Major Guitar Vol. 2.

Betts also wrote and sang the band’s big breakthrough hit Ramblin’ Man (featured on Any Major Southern Rock Vol. 1). In between the Allman work, Betts released some solo stuff. In 2000 he was fired from the band over his drug and alcohol use. He would never play with the band or any of its members again. Drummer Jaimoe Johanson is now the last survivor of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band.

The Croaker
Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, who has died at 87, belonged to the group of R&B singer-pianists from New Orleans who managed to cross over into the mainstream (though nobody did it as comprehensively as Fats Domino). He also recorded a number of country records.

Henry, whose nickname Frogman referred to his trademark croak, had a national Top 20 hit with his first record, Ain’t Got No Home, in 1956, while still a teenager.

He went on to have two further Top 20 hits, a cover of Bobby Charles’ (I Don’t Know Why) But I Do (US #4; UK #3) and You Always Hurt The One You Love (US #12, UK #6). The former featured on Any Major Hits 1961.

The hits dried up, but in 1964 he still supported The Beatles on 18 dates during their US tour. For almost two decades he performed nightly in New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. Henry, who was married seven times, performed right up to his end; he was billed to appear at last month’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Alas, he died from complications after surgery on April 7.

The Moody Blue
With the death of keyboard player Mike Pinder at 82, all five original members of The Moody Blues are now dead (of the classic late-1960s/early 1970s line-up Justin Hayward and John Lodge are still with us). Pinder was with the band until 1978, writing several songs on which he took lead vocals. The recited poetry on some Moody Blues songs, written by Graeme Edge, were recited by Pinder.

On the Moody Blues most famous song, Nights In White Satin, Pinder’s mellotron created the orchestral sounds in the main body of the song (that in the beginning, final chorus and fade-out on the LP version, which features here, were by the London Festival Orchestra). Pinder also recited the Edge’s poetry in the album version of the song.

After the Moody Blues, Pinder emigrated to the US, and worked for Atari in the area of music synthesis. In the 1990s he released a second solo album, as well as making spoken-word recordings for children’s albums.

The Limeliter
With the death at 91 of Alex Hassilev, all the founder members of the pivotal folk trio The Limeliters are now gone. The group’s baritone and banjo player was predeceased by Louis Gottlieb in 1996 and the fascinating Glenn Yarbrough in 2016.

Between 1959 and ‘65, the trio had a few hits, but they were more successful as an albums act, at a time when albums, as a commercial proposition, were more commonly the domain of jazz and musical soundtracks. The Limeliters incorporated a lot of humour into their act, and while they were of the left-leaning scene, their political satire was relatively restrained.

They broke up in the mid-‘60s, and Hassilev recorded solo, but reunited and remained a long-running and popular live act.

The Soul Brother
Five brothers from New Bedford, Massachusetts created some of the sweetest soul music in the 1970s. Tavares were the brothers Ralph (who died in December 2021), Tiny, Chubby, Butch and Pooch. In April we lost Arthur ‘Pooch’ Tavares, who was 81.

Pooch didn’t take lead vocals on the group’s biggest hits, such as Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel, Check It Out or More Than A Woman, but his harmonies formed an important part of the whole. Pooch took lead on songs such as Penny For Your Thoughts, Love Calls, Right Back In Your Arms and Never Say Never Again.

The Gospel Singer
Gospel-soul singer Mandisa, who has died at the horribly young age of 47, was a fine performer in her genre; certainly good enough to win a Grammy. But the moment she will probably be remembered for most is her calling out the ghastly Simon Cowell when she was a contestant on American Idol in 2005. Cowell had made several demeaning comments about Mandisa’s weight.

At one point she told Cowell: “What I want to say to you is that, yes, you hurt me and I cried and it was painful, it really was. But I want you to know that I’ve forgiven you and that you don’t need someone to apologise in order to forgive somebody. I figure that if Jesus could die so that all of my wrongs could be forgiven, I can certainly extend that same grace to you.”

Cowell duly apologised and said that he was “humbled”, though you may decide for yourself whether that guy has the capacity for sincerity and humility, or whether his expression of regret was simply performative.

Mandisa didn’t win the talent show but made a good career, which came to a halt in 2014 when she suffered depression following the death of a close friend. She wrote her autobiography and released her final album, Out Of The Dark, in 2017.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Bill Briggs, keyboardist of garage rock band The Remains, on March 26
The Remains – Don’t Look Back (1966)

Michael Ward, 57, rock guitarist (The Wallflowers, School of Fish), on April 1
The Wallflowers – 6th Avenue Heartache (1996, as member on lead guitar)

Phil Delire, c.67, Belgian producer, on April 1

Sue Chaloner, 71, British-born half of Dutch duo Spooky & Sue, on April 1
Spooky & Sue – I’ve Got The Need (1975)

Jerry Abbott, 81, country singer-songwriter and producer, on April 2
Jerry Abbott – The Bottom Of The Bottle (1969, also as writer)
Pantera – Nothin’ On (But The Radio) (1983, as producer, engineer and manager)

John O’Leary, 79 British blues singer and harmonica player, on April 3

Albert Heath, 88, jazz drummer and composer, on April 3
Albert Heath – Dunia (1974, also as writer)
Heath Bros – Mellowdrama (1978, as member)

Joe Aitken, 79, Scottish folk singer, on April 3

Keith LeBlanc, 69, hip hop drummer and producer, on April 4
Malcolm X – No Sell Out (1983, as writer and producer)

Graeme Naysmith, 57, guitarist of English shoegaze band Pale Saints, on June 4
Pale Saints – Kinky Love (1991)

J. Snare, 64, keyboardist and songwriter with rock band Firehouse, producer, on April 5
Firehouse – When I Look Into Your Eyes (1992, also as co-writer)

Phil Nimmons, 100, Canadian free jazz clarinettist, on April 5

Rocket Norton, 73, former drummer of Canadian rock band Prism, on April 5
Prism – Don’t Let Him Know (1981)

Dutty Dior, 27, Norwegian rapper, on April 6

Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, 87, R&B singer, on April 7
Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry – Ain’t Got No Home (1956, also as writer)
Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry – You Always Hurt The One You Love (1961)
Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry – Hummin’ A Heartache (1967)

Joe Viera, 91, German jazz saxophonist and festival founder, on April 7

‘Seth’ Jon Card, 63, Canadian punk drummer, on April 8
SNFU – Black Cloud (1986, as member)

Sturgis Nikides, 66, rock guitarist, on April 9
John Cale – Mercenaries (Ready For War) (1980)

Muluken Melesse, 70, Ethiopian singer and drummer, on April 9

Max Werner, 70, singer and drummer of Dutch band Kayak, on April 9
Kayak – Ruthless Queen (1978, on drums)

Bob Lanese, 82, US-born trumpeter with the James Last Orchestra, on April 9
Lucifer’s Friend- Blind Freedom (1973, on trumpet)
BAP – Silver Un Jold (1996, on trumpet)

Dan Wallin, 97, soundtrack engineer, on April 10
Bob Dylan – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (1973, as engineer)
The Trammps – Disco Inferno (1977, Saturday Night Fever version, as engineer)

Mister Cee, 57, hip hop DJ and producer, announced April 10
Big Daddy Kane – Mister Cee’s Master Plan (1988, as DJ)

Park Bo-ram, 30, South Korean K-pop singer, on April 11

Enrique Llácer Soler, 89, Spanish jazz percussionist and composer, on April 11

Rico Wade, 52, part of producer group Organized Noize and songwriter, on April 12
En Vogue – Don’t Let Go (Love) (1996, as co-producer and co-writer)

Lucy Rimmer, British singer with The Fall, announced April 12
The Fall – Birthday (1996, on lead vocals)

Richard Horowitz, 75, film composer and actor, on April 13
Ryuichi Sakamoto – The Sheltering Sky Theme 1990, as co-composer)

Jun Mhoon, 69, session and touring drummer and producer, on April 13

Calvin Keys, 82, jazz guitarist, on April 14
Calvin Keys – Trade Winds (1974)

Ben Eldridge, 85, banjo player with bluegrass band The Seldom Scene, on April 14
The Seldom Scene – Muddy Water (1973)

Reita, 42, bassist of Japanese rock band The Gazette, on April 15

P.K. Dwyer, 74, jump and folk musician, on April 15
P.K. Dwyer & Donna Beck – Dandy Annie (1975)

Arthur ‘Pooch’ Tavares, 81, singer with soul band Tavares, on April 15
Tavares – Don’t Take Away The Music (1976)
Tavares – More Than A Woman (1977)
Tavares – My Love Calls (1979, on lead vocals)

Clorofila, 56, member of electronic-dance group Nortec Collective, on April 16
Nortec Collective – Olvidela compa (2005)

Topo Gioia, 72, Argentine-born Germany-based percussionist, on April 15

Gavin Webb, 77, bassist of Australian rock band The Masters Apprentices, on April 16
The Masters Apprentices – Buried And Dead (1967)

Dickey Betts, 80, guitar legend, singer and songwriter, on April 18
The Allman Brothers Band – Jessica (1973, also as writer)
The Allman Brothers Band – Ramblin’ Man (1973, on lead vocals and as writer)
Dickey Betts & Great Southern – Sweet Virginia (1977, also as writer)
The Allman Brothers Band – Brothers Of The Road (1981, also as co-writer)

Jack Green, 73, Scottish guitarist, bassist, singer and songwriter, on April 18
Jack Green – This Is Japan (1980)

Steve Kille, bassist of rock band Dead Meadow, on April 18
Dead Meadow – 1000 Dreams (2013)

Mandisa, 47, gospel-soul singer, on April 18
Mandisa – Only The World (2007)
Mandisa – Stronger (2011)

Eddie Sutton, 59, singer of thrash metal band Leeway, on April 19

Michael Cuscuna, 75, jazz producer, journalist, founder of Mosaic label, on April 19
Young-Holt Unlimited – Yes We Can (1972, as producer)

Kaj Chydenius, 84, Finnish singer-songwriter, on April 20

Tony Tuff, 69, Jamaican reggae singer (African Brothers), on April 20
Tony Tuff – Love Light Shining (1980)

Chris King, 32, rapper, shot dead on April 20

MC Duke, 58, British rapper and producer, on April 21
MC Duke – I’m Riffin’ (1989)

Jean-Marie Aerts, 72, guitarist of Belgian new wave band TC Matic, on April 21
TC Matic – Willie (1981)

KODA, 45, Ghanaian gospel-jazz singer, songwriter, musician and producer, on April 21

Alex Hassilev, 91, banjo player and baritone of folk group The Limeliters, on April 21
The Limeliters – The Hammer Song (1959)
The Limeliters – By The Risin’ Of The Moon (1963)
Alex Hassilev – Young Man (1965)

Chan Romero, 82, rock & roll singer-songwriter and guitarist, on April 22
Chan Romero – Hippy Hippy Shake (1959, also as writer)
Chan Romero – A Man Can’t Dog A Woman (1965, also as writer)

Florian Chmielewski, 97, polka accordionist and state senator, on April 23

Brian Gregg, 85, British rock & roll bass player, announced April 23
Johnny Kidd and The Pirates – Shakin’ All Over (1960, as member)

Fergie MacDonald, 86, Scottish folk accordionist, on April 23

Mike Pinder, 82, keyboard player, singer, songwriter with The Moody Blues, on April 24
The Moody Blues – The Night: Nights In White Satin (1967, on mellotrone, spoken words)
The Moody Blues – A Simple Game (1968, on lead vocals and as writer)
The Moody Blues – When You’re A Free Man (1972, on lead vocals and as writer) 

Robin George, 68, English rock guitarist, singer and producer, on April 26
Robin George – Heartline (1984)

Anderson Leonardo, 51, singer with Brazilian samba band Molejo, on April 26

Frank Wakefield, 89, bluegrass mandolin player, arranger and producer, on April 26
Red Allen, Frank Wakefield & The Kentuckians – New Camptown Races (1964)

Jean-Pierre Ferland, 89, Canadian singer-songwriter, on April 27
Jean-Pierre Ferland – Le chat du café des artistes (1970)

Maria Feliciana, 77, Brazilian singer, on April 27

Mac McKenzie, 63, singer of South African jazz-rock band The Genuines, on April 29
The Genuines – Struggle (1986)

Chris ‘Christian’ McClure, 80, Scottish singer and entertainer, on April 29
Chris McClure Section – You’re Only Passing Time (1971)

Duane Eddy, 86, guitar legend, on April 30
Duane Eddy – Movin’ n’ Groovin’ (1958)
Duane Eddy – Peter Gunn (1958)
Duane Eddy – (Dance With The) Guitar Man (1962, also as co-writer)
Duane Eddy & The Rebelettes – Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar (1975)

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