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Covered With Soul Vol. 24

May 26th, 2022 4 comments

 

Over the past couple of years I’ve been rather stingy with the Covered With Soul mixes, despite the series having been so popular. Up to August 2015, there were 22 such mixes; since then there have been two, the last one, Vol. 23, in 2018. That sorry situation cries out for relief. So here is Volume 24 — and it’s a really good one.

I won’t claim that every cover in this series eclipses the original or hit version it is based on, but on this collection, I think there are at least four such tracks. In fairness, Wilson Pickett doesn’t have a terribly high bar to clear with Sugar Sugar — but what fun to hear The Wicked Pickett soulifying bubblegum pop.

Aretha Franklin tended to appropriate or at least improve on most songs she covered; here she eclipses, or at least comes close to it, the great Dusty Springfield on her signature song, Son Of A Preacher Man. But it takes something quite special to leave Barbra Streisand in the dust. Gladys Knight’s version of The Way We Were does just that. But then, Knight is one of the great singers in popular music.

Probably the least-known song here is the closer, Randy Newman’s I Think It’s Going To Rain Today. I’ve never been a fan of the song (nor, apparently, is Newman) — except in Grady Tate’s version. His vocal performance is exquisite, and I like the arrangement.

Little known fact: Bread’s Everything I Own, covered here by Barbara Mason, is about David Gates’ loss of his father, rather than a romantic love song. “You sheltered me from harm, kept me warm, you gave my life to me, set me free…”One of the unwieldiest record credits in pop music must be that of the collaboration LP by Diana Ross and The Supremes and The Temptations. At least their 1969 album had the snappier title Together. On the featured track, the Four Seasons’ Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, it isn’t La Ross taking the female lead vocals but Mary Wilson, in duet with Eddie Kendricks.

Pretty Purdie, who here leads on You Got A Friend, is the great drummer Bernard Purdie. The Playboys, with whom he recorded just one album (with mixed results), included guitarist Cornell Dupree, the prolific bassist Chuck Rainey, the great arranger Harold Wheeler on piano and keyboards, the late trumpeter Snooky Young, among others. Purdie was, of course, the subject of two mixes of tracks on which he played drums: Volume 1 and Volume 2.

Purdie’s version of You Got A Friend is one of two Carole King tracks here; the other is It’s Too Late, covered here by Denise LaSalle. That song features in this series for the third time. Previously it was covered by Isaac Hayes on Vol. 1, and the Isley Brothers on Vol. 23. The Any Major Carole King Songbook featured in February.

Also getting a third outing is The Look Of Love. Previous versions were by The Delfonics on Vol. 7 (the Bacharach edition) and Gladys Knight on Vol. 16. Isaac Hayes’ wonderful live version has featured already elsewhere. On this edition, Bobby Womack does the honours.

The Carpenters’ We’ve Only Just Begun also features for the third time, here by Curtis Mayfield, and previously by Charles Brimmer (again Vol. 1) and The Temprees (Vol. 16)

But I don’t think any track has featured more than Wichita Lineman, presently featured by The Meters (with Art Neville on vocals). Previous covers were by The Dells (Vol. 1), Sunday’s Child (Vol. 8), Willie Hutch (Vol. 13), and The Main Ingredient (Vol. 20).

Most of the old mixes are still up; if not I’ll happily re-up those that are missing by request. As always, CD-R length, home-souled covers, above text in PDF. PW in comments.

1. Wilson Pickett – Sugar Sugar (1971)
2. Al Green – Light My Fire (1971)
3. Aretha Franklin – Son Of A Preacher Man (1969)
4. Bobby Womack – The Look Of Love (1973)
5. Denise LaSalle – It’s Too Late (1972)
6. The Meters – Wichita Lineman (1970)
7. Pretty Purdie & The Playboys – You Got A Friend (1971)
8. Curtis Mayfield – We’ve Only Just Begun (1971)
9. Bill Withers – Everbody’s Talkin’ (1971)
10. Four Tops – California Dreamin’ (1969)
11. Jermaine Jackson – Homeward Bound (1972)
12. Maxine Brown – Reason To Believe (1969)
13. Billy Paul – Without You (1976)
14. Etta James – Take It To The Limit (1978)
15. Lou Rawls – She’s Gone (1974)
16. Natalie Cole & Peabo Bryson – What You Won’t Do For Love (1979)
17. Gladys Knight & The Pips – The Way We Were (1974)
18. Barbara Mason – Everything I Own (1972)
19. Merry Clayton – Suspicious Minds (1972)
20. The Supremes and The Temptations – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (1969)
21. Grady Tate – I Think It’s Going To Rain Today (1970)

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Barry Gibb Songbook Vol. 2 (Bearded Edition)

May 20th, 2022 2 comments

 

To coincide with Barry Gibb’s 75th birthday on September 1 last year, I posted Volume 1 of the Barry Gibb Songbook. Here’s Volume 2, covering the years after 1975, when the Brothers Gibb stumbled into disco to become their supposed kings (it’s a discussion for another day why they most certainly were not).

The falsetto disco era brought the Gibbs much fortune, but at the end of it, they — much as Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernie Edwards — were not wanted any longer as headliners. And like the Chic collective, the Bee Gees moved into the background, writing and producing mid-tempo stuff for adult acts like Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick and, later, Diana Ross.

While the early-era Bee Gees were eminently coverable, as we saw on Volume 1, the disco stuff was more difficult to reinterpret. It’s no accident that two of the Bee Gees’ greatest disco-era hits —Night Fever and Tragedy (I wasn’t going to use the Steps cover of Tragedy, thank you) — are missing here. On the other hand, in the hands of the gifted, the disco stuff could be covered to great effect. Exhibit A: Chaka Khan’s slow-burning take on Jive Talking.

I also found no takers for the Streisand ballad Woman In Love, which was rather overplayed when it came out (Babs features here with the infinitely superior Guilty). Even Too Much Heaven has rarely been well covered. In the end, it was a toss-up between the reggae version by Claudette Miller or the cover by serial-coverer Bunny Chanel, the recording moniker used by Filipina actress Helen Gamboa. Chanel’s lush arrangement and warm vocals won out, but Miller’s lovers rock version is included as a bonus track..

A word about the beards designation: let it serve as a rough guide. Of course Barry sported beards for some time during the Volume 1 period, and was clean-shaven for some of the disco years. But latter-day Barry certainly was more often than not luxuriously hirsute.

That dealt with, here’s the conclusion of the Barry Gibb Songbook, which in large part is also the Maurice and Robin Songbook. So it makes perfect sense to issue this second volume on the 10th anniversary of Robin’s death, which we mark today, on May 20.

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

1. Barbra Streisand feat. Barry Gibb – Guilty (1980)
2. Candi Staton – Nights On Broadway (1977)
3. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – Jive Talkin’ (1975)
4. Foo Fighters – You Should Be Dancing (2021)
5. Tavares – More Than A Woman (1977)
6. Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams – Emotion (1978)
7. Bunny Chanel – Too Much Heaven (1979)
8. Andy Gibb & Olivia Newton-John – Rest Your Love On Me (1980)
9. En Vogue – How Deep Is Your Love (2003)
10. Nick Lowe – Heartbreaker (2018)
11. The Twang – Staying Alive (2018)
12. Feist – Inside And Out (2004)
13. Vivian Reed – Shadow Dancing (1979)
14. Melba Moore – You Stepped Into My Life (1978)
15. Donnie Elbert – Love So Right (1977)
16. Dionne Warwick – All The Love In The World (1982)
17. Diana Ross – Chain Reaction (1986)
18. The McAuley Boys – I Just Want To Be Your Everything (1996)
19. Bee Gees – If I Can’t Have You (1977)
Bonus Tracks:
Garth Taylor & Melanie Louw – Islands In The Stream (2003)
The Salsoul Strings – More Than A Woman (1978)
Lionel Hampton – You Should Be Dancing (1978)
Claudette Miller & The Ebonies – Too Much Heaven (1977)
Connie Smith – I Just Want To Be Your Everything (1977)

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Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
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
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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Any Major Teen Dreams

May 12th, 2022 33 comments

(This mix was originally posted in 2015)

Any Major Teen Dream

The stuff of teenager-oriented pop has occupied me lately, with the birth of the Bravo Posters site on which I post a few posters a day from old editions of Germany’s Bravo magazine. I think it’s fair to say that when we look back on our teenage obsessions with pop music, the questions that will evoke the most nostalgic vibes are what your first record was, and which posters you had hanging on your wall.

Your first record most probably was not cool. But ask your music-loving friends about the first record they bought, chances are that everybody else bought something really sophisticated. They were eight and bought, depending on their generation, Kind Of Blue, Sly & the Family Stone, Big Star, Too Drunk To Fuck by the Dead Kennedys, or NWA’s F*ck Da Police. They might even tell the truth, so you feel like a bit of a chump if you first record was “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window”, “Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool” or “Ice Ice Baby”.

I confess: for years I did not acknowledge that the first record I bought was a German Schlager hit by Roy Black (not his real name) teaming up with a nine-year-old Norwegian girl named Anita. The single, it must be said, was aimed squarely at my demographic at the time, the five-year-old, and at grandmothers, like mine, who financed my debut vinyl purchase. Couldn’t you have guided me to buy Black Sabbath instead of Roy Black, granny?

For a long time I was also embarrassed to admit that my first English-language record was by the Bay City Rollers. Today I feel no more embarrassment at that than if my first single had been an obscure Northern Soul classic. While the late Roy Black may still lack cool, the passage of time has forgiven the Bay City Rollers for their droll tartan outfits and for being adored by barely pubescent girls. The Ramones admitted a long time ago that they took inspiration from the teen-orientated bubble-gum pop promulgated by Leslie, Woody, Alan, Eric and Derek. The rest of us have taken a little longer to appreciate that BCR weren’t as awful as their trousers led us to believe. And so I’ll pronounce while flinching only slightly: I was a BCR fan, even though I was a boy. And I liked Woody the best.

The phenomenon of teen idols precedes the advent of Rock & Roll. There was Bing Crosby, who charmed the girls and their Moms in the 1930s. Then came the Bobbysoxers who screamed for young Frank Sinatra from Hoboken, NJ. Then came rock. Elvis provided many a young girl with her first experience of celebrity-inspired wet knickers. But these were singularities, quite extraordinary performers. True, the combination of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s ascent and the Bobbysoxer legacy (among other social events) created a wave of singers marketed directly to the teen market: the likes of Troy Donahue, Fabian, Frankie Avalon or Paul Anka in the US, Marty Wilde in Britain, or Peter Kraus in Germany.

But arguably the real teen revolution came with the ’60s and Beatlemania. It was a whole new deal which inspired a new culture of teen idolatry; some accidental, some manufactured to cash in on the Beatles.

teen dream gallery 1Early teen idol prodigies of the1960s included Billy J Kramer (whose “Bad To Me” was written by Lennon & McCartney) in Britain, The Monkees in the US, and Herman’s Hermits in both countries. Like the Backsteeet Boys or the Spice Girls and their ilk 30 years later, The Monkees were an assembled group calculated to appeal to diverse constituencies within the projected fanbase. The Beatles provided the template: Paul, the cute happy one; John, the tough cynical one; George, the quiet serious one; Ringo, the pet. And the calculation obviously worked; the Monkees were huge, thanks to their image, and their records were great, thanks to brilliant song selection and the seasoned session musicians of the Wrecking Crew.

In the early 1970s, the pretense of musical authenticity evaporated in the US. The Archies had a worldwide hit in 1969/70 with “Sugar Sugar” (as song The Monkees had turned down). Based on the comic, they weren’t even the group. Where The Monkees were a literary equivalent of a photo novel, The Archies actually were a cartoon. The fiction wouldn’t stop there. The Partridge Family was a TV band, backed by the flair of, again, the Wrecking Crew, and the beauty of the talented David Cassidy and, for the boys, Susan Dey. Things would become charmingly peculiar when the Brady Bunch, whose kids weren’t musicians even in the fiction of the show, started releasing records. At the same time, some groups didn’t bother with instruments, even if one or the other minor Jackson 5 did parade with a guitar occasionally, if that could be choreographed into the dance routine.

In Britain, the teen-oriented acts were more credible. T Rex, the Sweet or Slade played their own instruments and produced some fantastic pop whose appeal conquered the linits of age. Other acts were clearly manipulated or manufactured for marketing purposes. Questions remain about how much Woody, Eric, Alan and Derek contributed to the Bay City Rollers on record (we do know that Leslie did sing, and Alan, Eric and Woody wrote a good number of songs).

Based on the template of the early ’70s, UK record label bosses tried to cash in on presenting acts like Hello and Slik (featuring future Ultravox frontman Midge Ure) as the teen dreams they did not aspire to be. The calculation bombed. Hello and Slik were one hit wonders, groups like the Dead End Kids and Buster never took off, BCR disintegrated slowly after Leslie McKeown left (to be replaced by Duncan Faure of South African teeny giants Rabbit), Sweet grew beards and dabbled with prog rock, Dave Hill of Slade shaved his head, and punk happened. The teen dream was dead. Out of punk grew the New Romantic movement, and with it Smash Hits, giving rise to a new generation of organically grown teen idols: Duran Duran, Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet.

In the US, the family idols gig — Jacksons, Osmonds, “Partridge” — slowly lost its lustre. As the late ’70s neared, the pursuit was on for the next pretty boy in the mold of David Cassidy. And so teens were introduced the charms of David’s half-brother Shaun (whose 1977 song provides the title for this mix), Leif Garrett (like David, a child TV star), Andy Gibb and, of course, John Travolta. The time would come for the rise of the boy band, in the US and Britain, with The Monkees and the Bay City Rollers providing a template, but minus the pretense of members playing instruments in terms of personnel selection, and the Jackson 5 inspiring the idea of four or five chaps harmonising their choreography.

teen dream gallery 2

With all that in mind, here is the Any Major Teen Dreams mix, featuring acts that featured on the postered walls of pre-and freshly-pubescent kids, and were marketed as such, between 1963 and 1978.  As ever, the lot is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-lipsynched covers. You might also enjoy the Any Major Teenagers mix of songs about, well, being teenagers.

Now my question to you: what was the first single you bought?

1. The Beatles – Do You Want To Know A Secret (1963)
2. Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas – Bad To Me (1963)
3. Herman’s Hermits – No Milk Today (1966)
4. The Monkees – Last Train To Clarksville (1966)
5. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – The Legend Of Xanadu (1968)
6. Tommy Roe – Dizzy (1969)
7. The Archies – Sugar Sugar (1969)
8. Bobby Sherman – Little Woman (1969)
9. The Jackson 5 – The Love You Save (1970)
10. The Partridge Family – I Woke Up In Love This Morning (1971)
11. Sweet – Co-Co (1971)
12. T. Rex – Metal Guru (1972)
13. David Cassidy – Daydreamer (1973)
14. The Osmonds – Love Me For A Reason (1974)
15. David Essex – Gonna Make You A Star-old (1974)
16. Hello – Tell Him (1974)
17. Bay City Rollers – Rock & Roll Love Letter (1975)
18. Slik – Forever And Ever (1976)
19. John Travolta – Let Her In (1976)
20. Andy Gibb – I Just Wanna Be Your Everything (1977)
21. Leif Garrett – Surfin’ USA (1977)
22. Buster – Love Rules (1977)
23. Shaun Cassidy – Teen Dream (1977)

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In Memoriam – April 2022

May 5th, 2022 3 comments

It was not a safe month to be a Canadian singer; quite a few died in April, including Susan Jacks, singer of the Poppy Family and sister of singer Terry Jacks, and Native American country singer Shane Yellowbird, who was only 42 (the featured song is from a 2007 album titled Life Is Calling My Name). On the other end of the spectrum, one of the behind-the-scenes people who was at the centre of shaping rock & roll passed away at the age of 104.

One name featured already last month: the death of Bunny Simpson of reggae trio Mighty Diamonds came only three days after the death in a drive-by shooting of fellow band member Tabby Shaw, but since they cut across two months, I included Simpson on both lists.

Most poignantly, on the day before Mental Health Month was to begin, one of country music’s great stars died from mental illness.

The Pioneer
Who knows how rock & roll might have turned out had Art Rupe — born in 1917 as Arthur Goldberg, the son of Jewish immigrants — not decided in 1944 to invest $200 into buying loads of different records by black artists. Rupe’s idea was to analyse these records and arrive at a formula for producing hits in what was then called “race music”. He decided the future was in a fusion of swing and gospel. Soon he founded the LA-based Specialty Records, which quickly thrived. Rupe also spearheaded a wave of gospel recordings. His mantra of fusing genres, set out in the 1940s, would become that of rock & roll and soul music, with his particular recipe immensely influential.

In the 1950s, Rupe discovered acts like Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Larry Williams and Little Richard, with whom he’d be at the vanguard of rock & roll. Price’s 1952 song Lawdy Miss Clawdy is a fair claimant (among several) for “first rock & roll record”. And Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti — the original lyrics of which Rupe ordered cleaned up — was one of the great points of explosion in the nascent genre.

Rupe also launched the career of Sam Cooke, though the erstwhile gospel singer enjoyed his secular success at RCA — after Rupe, something of a purist, had told Cooke to take his smooth secular songs elsewhere. One of these songs was You Send Me (interestingly, the great drummer Earl Palmer played on many Specialty records, including Tutti Frutti, but also on the RCA release You Send Me. There’ll be a retrospective of Palmer’s work later this year).

Like other label bosses, Rupe offered hardnosed contracts to artists and paid paltry royalties; unlike many of his colleagues, he actually paid these royalties (though Little Richard did have to take him to court at one point) and treated his artists with a measure of ethics. But by the end of the 1950s — as Little Richard moved into religion and Sam Cooke out of it — Rupe left the music business to invest in gas and oil. His long life, which begun while World War I was still raging, ended at the age of 104 on April 15.

The Folk-Rock Pioneer
Compiling songs on which Earl Palmer played in April clearly was hazardous to the lives of those connected to them. One of the songs I picked for that forthcoming collection was High Flying Bird, the 1963 hit for Judy Henske. On April 27 the folk singer died at the age of 85.

In the early 1960s, Henske’s folk stylings gave her much exposure beyond the folk scene. With husband Jerry Yester of the Lovin’ Spoonful, she became part of the early Laurel Canyon scene (which, in turn, is the subject of next week’s mix, which will include a track by Henske and Yester). She is credited as being an influence on the folk-rock scene; in 1969 she and Yester recorded a baroque/psych-rock album for the label owned by fellow Laurel Canyon resident Frank Zappa.

The High School ‘President’
Usually high schools in the movies are named after presidents or such-like luminaries. In Grease, the school was named after singer Bobby Rydell, who was one of the big stars in the period of Grease’s setting. Rydell first broke through in 1959 with Kissin’ Time, which reached US #11, followed by his first Top Ten hit, We Got Love. A string of hits and a few movie roles followed over the next five years, when the presciently-titled #4 hit Forget Him gave Rydell his last taste of big chart action.

Rydell stayed in music, and in 1976 had a minor hit with a disco version of Sway. Mostly he toured the nostalgia circuit, often alongside Frankie Avalon, who appeared in Grease.

The Country Legend
The last day of April brought the news of the death at 76 of country star Naomi Judd, matriarch of the Judd family which included actress Ashley and singer Wynnona. With the latter, Naomi formed a hugely popular duo The Judds — the duo was to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame the following day.

Naomi had been suffering mental health problems, with the medication prescribed for her depression and anxiety causing severe side-effects. The family framed Naomi’s death as her having lost a long battle with mental illness. They avoided giving the details of the mechanics of her death, which clearly was deliberately done by way of reframing and refocussing the narrative on mental illness as a potentially lethal disease. The destigmatisation of mental health disorders is important. Whether bleeping out the S word is the best way of doing so is up for debate (I might suggest that this word, too, requires destigmatisation), but it is right to say that somebody died from a mental health disease, just as somebody might die of cancer or heart disease.

The Funk Brother
As a member of The Funk Brothers, Motown’s in-house backing collective, guitarist Joe Messina had a hand in countless classics. The trouble is, Motown didn’t always credit which musicians played on which track. But we know that Messina, who has died at 93, played on Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On album and all Temptation albums of the early 1970s. Messina also played on hits such Going To A Go-Go by The Miracles, Dancing in The Street by Martha & The Vandellas, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) by the Four Tops, For Once In My Life by Stevie Wonder, Your Precious Love by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Someday We’ll Be Together by The Supremes, and many others. Often he was one of three guitarists on one record, all innovating in ways that would help create the Motown sound.

Messina was among the top talents of Detroit’s jazz scene recruited by Gordy in the early days of Motown, and had played with acts like Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Jackson. He put down his guitar for two decades after Motown moved to LA in 1972, opening carwash and jewellery businesses instead of making gold records. He eventually returned to music after 21 years, to release his only jazz album, Messina Madness. He’d also jam with local jazz acts. In the early 2000s he was part of the Funk Brothers reunion that would result in the superb documentary Standing In The Shadows Of Motown.

Of the 13 Funk Brothers, only one is now alive, percussionist Jack Ashford, who is turning 88 on May 18. Watch this great interview from 2005 with Joe Messina.

The Trucker
If you need trucking music — and, yes, I have a growing playlist on that theme brewing — then country drawler C.W. McCall was your man. His signature song was 1975’s CB radio hit Convoy, which so captured the imagination that Sam Peckinpah made a film based on it, starring Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw.

For all his polluting with diesel fumes, McCall had an environmental conscience, as he showed on his 1976 song There Won’t Be No Country Music (There Won’t Be No Rock ‘N’ Roll). He later became an environmental activist and mayor of a small town in Colorado. But he probably was no woke lefty snowflake commie liberal — last year, McCall gave express permission for his hit Convoy to be used by the so-called Freedom Convoy protests in Canada, which was not exactly a liberal scene.

The Sax Man
You will have heard the saxophone work of Andrew Woolfolk on any number of Earth, Wind & Fire records. Woodfolk was not the sax player who played the great solo on the live version of Reasons (that was Don Myrick), but he was part of the horn section that helped shaped disco. As a young jazz musician in New York in 1973, the Denver-born Woodfolk was ready to enter a career in banking when his old school friend Philip Bailey drafted him to succeed saxophonist and flautist Ronnie Laws in Earth, Wind & Fire, a band which had just begun to gain traction. Woodford remained with the EWF until 1993. His soprano sax helped the band become legends.

In between, Woodford also did session work for the likes of Deniece Williams, Valerie Carter, Stanley Turrentine, Level 42, Philip Bailey, Tracie Spencer, Ruby Turner, Phil Collins, and others.

The Soul Singer
Early in April I was beginning the process of shortlisting tracks for the 1982 compilation in the Any Major Soul series. That gave me occasion to sample Bloodstone’s album of that year, We Go A Long Way Back. That album featured the superb Go On And Cry (which featured on Any Major Soul 1982-83), but the group’s best-known hit was 1973’s Natural High. A couple of days later, founding member, singer and bassist Charles Cormack, who wrote that track, died at the age of 75. But by 1982, he had just quit the band, only to return two years later, staying with Bloodstone until 2020.

With Cormack’s death, only keyboardist and singer Harry Williams survives of the original line-up, which went back to 1962.

The Electronic Pioneer
German musician Klaus Schulze is regarded as a pioneer in electronic music and as such an important influence on dance music, ambient and new wave. He also veered into other genres, such as jazz and classical (especially Wagner). As a composer he influenced the film score master Hans Zimmer.

Schulze started out as a drummer for Tangerine Dream, but after one album in 1970 switched to keyboards founded Ash Ra Tempel, which he also left after one album. In his career, Schulze released some 60 albums.

The Singing  Actress
In March French-Italian singer and actress Catherine Spaak featured on Any Major Beatles in Italian, with her 1966 cover of Yesterday. Almost exactly month later, she passed away at 77. Better known as an actress whose career started when she was a teenager, Spaak also had a career as a singer, styling herself in the 1960s on Françoise Hardy. That wasn’t entirely at random: Spaak was produced by Ezio Leoni, one of the fathers of Italian pop, who also produced Hardy at one point. Having issued her first single in 1962, she released seven albums between 1964 and 1978, three of them collaborations with then-husband Johnny Dorelli.

The Punk Pioneer
Before the Sex Pistols and The Damned, punk had The Saints, who released a punk single, I’m Stranded, in 1976 before any other non-US act of the genre, a few months even before The Damned’s New Rose — and they were Australian. Formed in Brisbane, the band was an antipodean answer to the Ramones. Their voice was that of 19-year-old Chris Bailey, who has died at 65. In the UK, The Saints managed only chart entry, 1977’s The Perfect Day, which reached #34.

Through various line-up changes, the Kenya-born Bailey kept The Saints going, also releasing solo records, which were more mainstream rock.

The Hippie Executive
Born in grey England, budding young music executive Andy Wickham wanted sunshine and found it in LA. Living among the coterie of present and future stars in Laurel Canyon (whose alumnus Judy Henske died soon after him), Wickham was the hippie among the stiffs at Warner Bros. when he signed the likes of Joni Mitchell (already in New York before both of them ended up in LA), Neil Young (sort of), Van Morrison, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris and others for the label. Warners had discovered him when Wickham handled the publicity for the groundbreaking Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.

Wickham also did some producing, among others for the Everly Brothers, Nancy Sinatra, Phil Ochs, and Van Dyke Parks.

The Swedish Colleague
What must it be like to have played in a band with a future pop legend? That is something which until April 13 Lennart Hegland, bassist of 1960s Swedish folk/pop band Hep Stars might have been able to answer. The band had already enjoyed some success when they discovered future ABBA co-supremo Benny Anderson and invited him to join the band. Benny quickly made his mark, writing many of the group’s songs, some with his friend and future ABBA colleague Björn Ulvaeus. The featured track is the first of their joint compositions.

The Hep Stars split amid some acrimony in 1969. After which Hegland and some other members formed the Gummibandet, which also enjoyed some success in Sweden.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.

 

Andy Wickham, 74, English-born music executive and producer, on March 29
Nancy Sinatra – Hook And Ladder (1971, as producer)

Fitzroy ‘Bunny’ Simpson, 70, singer with reggae trio Mighty Diamonds, on April 1
Mighty Diamonds – Right Time (1975)

Roland White, 83, bluegrass mandolin player, on April 1

C.W. McCall, 93, American country singer and songwriter, on April 1
C.W. McCall – Convoy (1975)
C.W. McCall – There Won’t Be No Country Music (There Won’t Be No Rock & Roll) (1976)

Archie Eversole, 37, rapper, on April 3

Joe Messina, 93, guitarist with Motown’s The Funk Brothers, on April 4
The Temptations – I’m Losing You (1966)
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Your Precious Love (1967)
Stevie Wonder – For Once In My Life (1968)

Bobby Rydell, 79, pop singer and actor, on April 5
Bobby Rydell – We Got Love (1959)
Bobby Rydell – Forget Him (1963)

Paul Siebel, 84, singer-songwriter, on April 5
Paul Siebel – Louise (1970, also as writer)

Helen Golden, 81, Dutch jazz singer, on April 6

Larry Holley, 96, Buddy Holly’s bigger brother, on April 7

Con Cluskey, 86, member of Irish pop group The Bachelors, on April 8
The Bachelors – I Wouldn’t Trade You For The World (1964)

Pastelle LeBlanc, 42, member of Canadian folk trio Vishtèn, on April 8

John Rossi, drummer of swing revival band Roomful of Blues (1970-98), on April 9
Roomful of Blues – Dressed Up To Get Messed Up (1984)

Chris Bailey, 65, lead singer of Australian punk band The Saints, on April 9
The Saints – I’m Stranded (1976)
The Saints – Ghost Ships (1984)

Mario Martínez, guitarist of Spanish new wave group La Unión, on April 10
La Unión – Lobo Hombre en París (1984)

Charnett Moffett, 54, jazz bassist, on April 11
Charnett Moffett – Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (1987)

Charles E. McCormick, 75, bassist and singer with soul group Bloodstone, on April 12
Bloodstone – Natural High (1973)
Bloodstone – Give Me Your Heart (1975, also as writer)

Jacek Szymkiewicz, 47, Polish songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, on April 12

David Freel, 64, singer and guitarist of undue group Swell, on April 12
Swell – Off In My Head (1998)

Tim Feerick, 34, bassist of rock band Dance Gavin Dance, on April 13

Lennart Hegland, 79, bassist of pioneering Swedish beat band Hep Stars, on April 13
The Hep Stars – Isn’t It Easy To Say (1966)

Trygve Thue, 71, Norwegian guitarist and producer, on April 14

Orlando Julius, 79, Nigerian saxophonist, singer and bandleader, on April 14
Hugh Masekela – Mama (1975, on saxophone and backing vocals)

Art Rupe, 104, founder of Specialty Records, producer, on April 15
Jimmy Liggins and His Drops Of Joy – Baby I Can’t Forget You (1947, as label owner)
The Soul Stirrers featuring Sam Cooke – Wonderful (1956, as label owner)
Little Richard – Good Golly, Miss Molly (1958, as label owner)

Leo Boni, 57, Italian-American singer and guitarist, on April 15

Koji, 49, rhythm guitarist of Japanese visual kei rock band La’cryma Christi, on April 15
La’cryma Christi – Siam’s Eye (1994)

Bill Bourne, 68, Canadian folk singer-songwriter, on April 16
Bill Bourne – Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (2012)

James Johnson, 82, blues guitarist, on April 16
Slim Harpo – Baby Scratch My Back (1966, on guitar)

Hollis Resnik, 67, stage musical singer and actress, on April 17

Rick Turner, 78, member of psych rock band Autosalvage, and luthier, on April 17
Autosalvage – Parahighway (1968)

Re Styles, 72, Dutch-born singer with rock band The Tubes (1977-80), on April 17
The Tubes – Prime Time (1979)

Catherine Spaak, 77, Belgian-Italian singer and actress, on April 17
Catherine Spaak – Perdono (1962)
Catherine Spaak – Punto d’amore (1976)

Roderick ‘Pooh’ Clark, 49, singer with soul band Hi-Five, on April 17
Hi Five – I Can’t Wait Another Minute (1991)

Paolo Noël, 93, Canadian singer, actor and TV presenter, on April 17

Jerry Doucette, 70, Canadian musician, on April 18
Jerry Doucette – Mama Let Him Play (1977)

José Luis Cortés, 70, Cuban timba flutist, composer, and bandleader, on April 18
José Luis Cortés y NG La Banda – Química Perfecta (2000)

Guitar Shorty, 87, blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter, on April 20
Guitar Shorty – Let My Guitar Do The Talking (2004)

Orrin Hatch, 88, Republican US senator, Mormon gospel singer and composer, on April 23

Arno Hintjens, 72, lead singer of Belgian new wave band TC Matic, on April 23
TC Matic – O La La La (C’est Magnifique) (1981)

Willi Resetarits, 73, Austrian singer and comedian, on April 24

Henny Vrienten, 73, singer and songwriter of Dutch ska band Doe Maar, on April 25

Andrew Woolfolk, 71, saxophonist with Earth, Wind & Fire, on April 25
Earth Wind & Fire – Spasmodic Movements (1973, on lead soprano sax)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Can’t Hide Love
Valerie Carter – Trying To Get To You (1977, on soprano sax)
Tracie Spencer – Hide And Seek (1988, on soprano sax)

Susan Jacks, 73, Canadian singer-songwriter with The Poppy Family, on April 25
The Poppy Family – Which Way You Goin’ Billy (1969)
Susan Jacks – Elusive Butterfly (1980)

Shane Yellowbird, 42, Canadian country singer, on April 25
Shane Yellowbird – Pickup Truck (2007)

Julie Daraîche, 83, Canadian- Québécoise country singer, on April 26

Klaus Schulze, 74, German electronic musician and composer, on April 26
Tangerine Dream – Asche zu Asche (1970, on drums)
Klaus Schulze – Conquest Of Paradise (1994)

Ica Novo, 70, Argentine folk singer, composer and guitarist, on April 26

Randy Rand, 62, bassist of US hard rock band Autograph, on April 26
Autograph – Turn Up The Radio (1984)

Judy Henske, 85, folk singer, on April 27
Judy Henske – Buckeye Jim (1963)
Judy Henske – Day To Day (1966)
Judy Henske & Jerry Yester – Snowblind (1969)

Roberto Lecaros, 77, Chilean jazz musician and composer, on April 29

Tarsame ‘Johnny Zee/Taz’ Singh Saini, 54, Asian-British singer of Stereo Nation, on April 29
Johnny Zee – Hoon Ta Main Nachchna (1989)

Allen Blairman, 81, jazz drummer, on April 29
Allen Blairman – Till You See The Sun Shining Bright (Keep On Moving’ Baby) (2016)

Gabe Serbian, 45, hardcore punk drummer and guitarist, on June 30

Naomi Judd, 76, half of country duo The Judds and songwriter, on April 30
The Judds – Love Is Alive (1985)
The Judds – Change Of Heart (1988, also as writer)
The Judds – Love Can Build A Bridge (1990, also as co-writer)

GET IT! or HERE!

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Any Major Carole King Songbook Vol. 2

April 28th, 2022 1 comment

 

All she ever wanted to be was a suburban housewife, and yet she wrote some of the greatest hits of the early 1960s, and in a second career released one of the great albums of all time. She inspired Lennon-McCartney, having written as bunch of hits by the time her contemporaries started to record theirs. Carole King wrote or co-write so many sings that her career merits a second Songbook, following on from Any Major Carole King Songbook Vol. 1.

Carole King framed her music around the lyrics created by her songwriting partners — chiefly one-time husband Gerry Goffin and later Toni Stern — or, of course, by herself. Sometimes the melody would be at odds with the lyrics. Take Good Care Of My Baby is far too jolly — but what a tune. It features here in King’s demo version. More often, the melody would give the lyrics their character. Think of Natural Woman, whose gorgeous melody complements those beautiful lyrics (written by a man, Gerry Goffin, and performed on this mix by a man, Bobby Womack), or the percussive thrusting melody of I Feel The Earth Move.

I love King as a singer. I love that intimate, slightly imperfect voice and its economic application. That impeccable phrasing. So it’s rather a pity that King did not record all those great hits of the early and mid-1960s herself: Up On The Roof, I’m Into Something Good, One Fine Day, Chains, The Loco-motion and so on. We have an idea of how that might have been when a decade after it was a #1 for The Shirelles (when King was still 18!), she recorded Will You Love Me Tomorrow on Tapestry. Or, of course, listen to her 1962 single It Might As Well Rain Until September.

Before her solo career, King had a shot at vocal stardom as the lead singer of The City — with future husband Charles Larkey and future Tapestry collaborator Danny Kortchmar — but King’s reluctance to play live and distribution troubles prevented their one album from becoming a hit. But what a star King might have been even before Tapestry (for which she also the Tapestry Recovered mix).

But in those the division of labour was still entrenched: songwriters wrote the songs, singers sang them. Funny enough, it was those guys whom King had inspired — Lennon-McCartney, Brian Wilson — and those whose work opened the way for auteur albums like Tapestry — Dylan et al — who were at the spearhead which broke down that old way of doing things.

In any case, King was not interested in being a pop star. During the Brill Building days, her vision of life was to be a mother in the suburbs. And after Tapestry, she was drawn to the rural life in Idaho (not undramatically; her lifestory had its share of commotion). So here we have the reluctant music legend who resides in music history as one of pop’s greatest treasures

As on Volume 1, the bulk of the songs here were written with Gerry Goffin (tracks 1-3,6-7,10-11,14-24). Others were written with Toni Stern (4 and 8), and the rest were all Carole on her own (5,9, 12-13). The track by The Isley Brothers incorporates their own Keep On Walkin’. There are more covers of Carole King songs on the Brill Building Covered mix.

So, here’s the first lot of Carole King compositions. The lot is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-locomotioned covers and the above text in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. Little Eva – Some Kind-A Wonderful (1962)
2. The Chiffons – One Fine Day (1963)
3. The Monkees – Pleasant Valley Sunday (1967)
4. The City – Now That Everything’s Been Said (1968)
5. Johnny Rivers – So Far Away (1971)
6. Bobby Womack – Natural Man (1973)
7. Isaac Hayes – Hey Girl (1986)
8. The Isley Brothers – Sweet Season/Keep On Walkin’ (1972)
9. Rita Coolidge – Walk On In (1981)
10. The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Never Born To Follow (1996)
11. Nick Lowe – Halfway To Paradise (1977)
12. Jo Mama – Smack Water Jack (1971)
13. Anne Murray – Beautiful (1972)
14. Roberta Flack – Will You Love Me Tomorrow (1971)
15. Turley Richards – Child Of Mine (1971)
16. Paul Davis – When My Little Girl Is Smiling (1971)
17. Sandie Shaw – The Right To Cry (1969)
18. Dusty Springfield – No Easy Way Down (1969)
19. Percy Sledge – So Much Love (1966)
20. The Drifters – At The Club (1965)
21. Betty Everett – I Can’t Hear You (1964)
22. Everly Brothers – Chains (1962)
23. The Righteous Brothers – Just Once In My Life (1965)
24. Carole King – Take Good Care Of My Baby (1961)
BONUS TRACK:
Gene McDaniels – Point Of No Return (1962)
Crusaders – So Far Away (live) (1981)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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Categories: Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs, Songwriters Tags:

Life in Vinyl 1988

April 21st, 2022 2 comments

 

In the 1980s, South Africa suffered shit like apartheid — we didn’t know it yet, but by 1988 that cockroach was soon about to turn on its back and die — but it also had sunshine and a great phenomenon called record libraries. These shops, the most famous chain of these called Disque, were like record stores, except there you could hire records, both latest releases and a great selection of old LPs cutting across genres.

It was a great way of test-driving albums: like them, and buy them in a proper record shop; don’t like them, don’t buy them — and maybe tape them (they might grow on you). Apart from test-driving new releases, these record libraries provided fantastic ways of getting into older music — I remember getting into acts like Little Feat and Van Morrison by that route as a teenager in 1982/83 — or exploring genres I wasn’t familiar with.

Obviously, the record companies and shops didn’t like these places. Hometaping was killing music, as we can see by the absence of music today. I murderously home-taped, but I bought more records because of these shops than I might have otherwise. In 1989 they were finally declared illegal.

The record libraries may explain my genre-hopping ways, which is quite evident on this mix of records I bought in 1988. There’s the indie stylings of Bjork on The Sugarcubes’ hit, the protest folk of Tracy Chapman, the stadium rock of U2 and INXS, the soul music of the unjustly non-famous UK singer Keni Stevens and his compatriot Mica Paris. The mix could also have included jazz fusion and dance tracks.

There are some LPs from this set I longer own: they were lost (The Primitives), weeded out (The Church, U2), or warped in the sun (Will Downing). Some I’d happily listen to if they came on, others I’d not bother (Hothouse Flowers, Tanita Tikaram). A few I still play on occasion: Everything But The Girl’s gorgeous Idlewind, Tracy Chapman’s stunning eponymous debut album, Keni Stevens’ You, and The Pogues’ If I Should Fall From Grace With God.

I think 1988 was the last year when I bought new-release LPs at such a rate and in such diversity. 1989 was a pretty bad year for music, and in 1990 I bought mostly records to play in my role as party DJ. By 1991 vinyl was being phased out in South Africa, and I never fell in love with CDs.

I am adding a bunch of surprise bonus tracks to this lot. So, here is the vibe round my place 34 years ago!

As always, CD-R length, home-hired covers, illustrated PDF, PW in comments.

1. The Primitives – Crash
2. Aztec Camera – Somewhere In My Heart
3. Prefab Sprout – Cars And Girls
4. The Sugarcubes – Birthday
5. The Housemartins – There Is Always Something There To Remind Me
6. The Men They Couldn’t Hang – The Colours
7. The Pogues – Streets Of Sorrow/Birmingham Six
8. The Church – Under The Milky Way
9. Hothouse Flowers – Don’t Go
10. INXS – Never Tear Us Apart
11. Everything But The Girl – Love Is Here Where I Live
12. Sade – Love Is Stronger Than Pride
13. Keni Stevens – 24-7-365
14. Will Downing – A Love Supreme
15. Mica Paris – My One Temptation
16. Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ ‘Bout A Revolution
17. Fairground Attraction – Find My Love
18. Tanita Tikaram – Good Tradition
19. Toto – Pamela
20. U2 – Angel Of Harlem

GET IT! or HERE!

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 12

April 12th, 2022 2 comments

 

 

I have previously expressed my disdain for the term “yacht rock” to describe… well, the kind of music featured in the Not Feeling Guilty series, whose name itself is a play on another hated phrase, “guilty pleasures”. But this 12th volume does sound like sunshine and wind in your hair (if you have any). Like you might experience on a yacht.

Though, since most of us are not oligarchs, the sun and wind effect might be more likely achieved by driving in an open-top car. But since most of us aren’t rich, we may need to make do with riding on a bicycle on a sunny day while playing this mix. But that, in turn, creates health-and-safety problems: firstly, you ought to wear helmet on your hair, and secondly you should be alert to traffic noises, unadulterated by the great music on this collection. Either way, the term yacht rock is crap, even if the music it describes evokes beautiful summer days and sweet summer nights.

On this collection we meet again several acts that featured on previous mixes, and a number which enter the series at this stage. One of these in an English act from Manchester, Sad Café. The featured song, Every Day Hurts, was a UK #3 hit in 1979. Lead singer Paul Young (not that one) later became co-lead singer with Paul Carrack in Michael + The Mechanics. Carrack, in turn, had been the lead singer of Ace, another English band which featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 1 and Vol. 5.

The lead singer of The Doobie Brothers makes a solo appearance here. Having left the band in 1982, Patrick Simmons had a bit of a hit with the disco track So Wrong (and it was). The featured track, Why You Givin’ Up, is from the same album, Arcade. You can almost hear Michael McDonald in that song (there is another song on which you actually do hear McDonald, but more on that later).

Also not exactly obscure, Felix Cavaliere makes his first appearance here. The former singer and organist of the Young Rascals had a successful soft-rock period, scoring a hit in 1980 with Only A Lonely Heart Sees, which is on my Not Feeling Guilty shortlist, but I doubt it will ever feature. The far superior featured track is from 1975.

That’s the same year The Rhinestones issues their eponymous album which includes the happiness-inducing One Time Love. The group was led by Kal David (formerly of Illinois Speed Press) and Harvey Brooks (Electric Flag) and for their first few excellent albums went by the name of The Fabulous Rhinestones. Their R&B-flavoured rock was popular with the critics but that didn’t translate to commercial success. For their last album in 1975, without founding member Marty Gebb (formerly of The Buckinghams) as a permanent member, they dropped the “Fabulous” from their name.  We encounter Kal David a few songs and five years later, doing backing vocals on Robbie Dupree’s It’s Too Late.

It’s a pity Homi & Jarvis released only one album. On their one effort, in 1983, they were backed by some fusion heavyweights, including Marcus Miller, Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour. English-born Amanda Homi, who was of Indian descent, had a lovely voice with an impressive range, reminiscent of Deniece Williams. It was well-complemented by the soft-rock stylings of Brian Jarvis. Homi never achieved commercial success, but has made a career of picking up musical traditions from countries as various as Greece, Jamaica and Senegal.

South Africa’s Karl Kilkillus featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 4 with the excellent Another Shore. Here is the rare flip-side. At the time Kikillus was a popular radio DJ, and he’d go on to become a popular TV presenter of South Africa’s only pop videos show in the 1980s. To my knowledge, he recorded nothing else.

The mix closes with a track from 1980 by the Canadian band Straight Lines. They went on to have a big hit in 1982 with the ballad Letting Go. But when the follow-up singles flopped, the band split later that year. By the time Straight Lines won a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys) for Letting Go in 1983, they no longer were together. Everybody Wants To Be A Star — but they weren’t.

As promised when I posted the Carole Bayer Sager Songbook, here’s her original of It’s The Falling In Love, which is better known in Michael Jackson’s version on Off The Wall. Carole Bayer Sager’s version, which is gloriously arranged, features Michael McDonald on backing vocals.

Bayer Sager co-wrote a few tracks on the album from which Melissa Manchester’s Just Too Many People comes from, titled Melissa, but this featured track was written by Manchester united with producer Vini Poncia. Another track on that album is Party People, with The Rhinestones on backing vocals (they also recorded it on their album).

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R for that retro CD player in the car you’ll cruise down the summer roads as you play this superb mix. Home-sailed covers are included, as well as an illustrated PDF with all the bumph above. PW in comments.

1. The Rhinestones – One Time Love (1975)
2. Felix Cavaliere – Never Felt Love Before (1975)
3. Rita Coolidge – You (1978)
4. Heat – Whatever It Is (1980)
5. Average White Band – For You, For Love (1980)
6. Robbie Dupree – It’s A Feeling (1980)
7. Brooklyn Dreams – Fallin’ In Love (1980)
8. David Roberts – Never Gonna Let You Go (1982)
9. Karl Kikillus – Fallen Angel (1983)
10. Patrick Simmons – Why You Givin’ Up (1983)
11. Homi & Jarvis – I’m In Love Again (1983)
12. Carole Bayer Sager – It’s The Falling In Love (1978)
13. Terence Boylan – Shake It (1977)
14. Pages – If I Saw You Again (1978)
15. Sad Café – Every Day Hurts (1979)
16. Bill Champlin – Gotta Get Back To Love (1981)
17. Melissa Manchester – Just Too Many People (1975)
18. America – You Could’ve Been The One (1980)
19. Exile – Take Me Down (1980)
20. Straight Lines – Everybody Wants To Be A Star (1980)

GET IT! or HERE!

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

In Memoriam – March 2022

April 5th, 2022 3 comments

March was a generally mild month for music deaths — I suppose the Grim Reaper is busy elsewhere — but there were more than the usual number of deaths of relatively young people in March. An English boy band singer died at only 31 of glioblastoma (a particularly nasty kind of cancer), and a member of indie band Freelance Whales died by suicide at 36. And a dazing number of music people died in their 40s and 50s. At the older end of the scale, it was sad to see two members of a legendary reggae trio die within three days of one another (one died on April 1; for purposes of narrative, he gets listed this month and again next month).

I don’t know whether the 1990s alt.rock scene has many devotees among readers of this corner of the Internet, but if there are any, they might have cause to mourn the death of two guitarists in the genre within two days of one another. And, if Foo Fighters are alt.rock (not really, though), the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins was a bit of a shock, especially seeing as he was only 50 and on tour.

The Soul Mover
If nothing else, soul singer-songwriter and keyboardist Timmy Thomas was adept at going with the times. Recording on Goldwax in the 1960s, he was able to do those groovy instrumentals in the mode of Booker T and he could also deliver southern soul vocals. In the 1970s, he tapped into the mood of the time with his classic Why Can’t We Live Together, all the while issuing superb keyboard work. In the 1980s, he did a good line in the synth-and-bass soul numbers, scoring a hit with Gotta Give A Little Love (Ten Years After), and by 1900, he had morphed into an upbeat pop singer.

The Foo Drummer
When the Foo Fighters came off stage in San Isidro, Argentina, nobody expected that 50-year-old drummer Taylor Hawkins, would not live to see the next gig in Bogotá, Colombia, the city where he would be found lifeless in his hotel room. For 25 years he was not only the drummer of Foo Fighters but also the band’s second public face, after Dave Grohl.

He joined Grohl’s band, yet to become superstars, while drumming for Alanis Morrissette on stage at the height of her popularity. It must have been a courageous move for Hawkins to leave that successful gig for a band fronted by Dave Grohl, more so drumming without much studio experience behind a man who was a drumming legend on account of having wielded the sticks in Nirvana. Clearly, Grohl had no complaints about Hawkins drumming.

Besides the Foo Fighters, Hawkins also had his own band, Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders, which included fellow Morrissette alumnus and Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney. The band released three albums between 2006 and 2019. In 2020 Hawkins formed a group with Chaney and Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, named NHC (the members’ initials). An album by the supergroup is due out this year. Hawkins’ most recently drummed on Elton John’s new albums of duets, on the track with Eddie Vedder.

The Marcel
In doo wop, few opening lines are as instantly recognisable — well, “iconic”, to use that chronically overused and misapplied word — as the “Bomp-baba-bomp-ba-bomp-ba-bomp-bomp … vedanga-dang-dang-vadinga-dong-ding” of The Marcel’s version of Blue Moon. That line was delivered by bass singer Fred Johnson, who died on the last day of March at the age of 80 (and whose sister’s hairstyle gave the band its name).

Blue Moon was a million-selling #1 hit, but soon there’d be trouble: The Marcels were multiracial, and that prevented them touring in the Deep South. The two white members soon left the group, and were replaced with black singers. Johnson and his bandmates carried on, with Johnson remaining a Marcel throughout its various iterations, but they never had chart success again after a couple of minor hits in 1962.

The Three Dog Producer
The sound of Three Dog Night was much that created by Richard Podolor, who produced all their material in their pomp. Podolor also produced acts like Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly (Metamorphosis, and Live), Blues Image with their magnificent Ride Captain Ride (see Any Major Hits from 1970), Black Oak Arkansas (see Any Major Southern Rock), The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, Phil Seymour, Alice Cooper (1981’s Special Forces), Dwight Tilley and others.

Before he was a producer and arranger, Podolor was a rock & roll recording artist, and then a session guitarist. He’d still grab the guitar when he was producing; on Iron Butterfly’s Metamorphosis, he even played the sitar. He also wrote music; among that work was Let There Be Drums, which featured in last month’s In Memoriam to mark the death of co-writer and performer Sandy Nelson.

The Two Diamonds
What a tragedy it is for a member of a trio to see two bandmates die in the space three days. So it is for Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson of the reggae group The Mighty Diamonds, who on March 29 lost lead singer and songwriter Donald “Tabby” Shaw at 67 in a drive-by shooting and on April 1 lost singer Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson to diabetes.

Founded in 1969, the group started to gain traction in the mid-1970s, with their first hit Shame And Pride, produced by Jah Lloyd. Their backing harmonies helped Susan Cadogan hit the UK Top 5 in 1975 with Hurt So Good. They became big in 1976, with the release of their Right Time album. The Mighty Diamonds had a string of hits in the 1970s and ’80s, but their biggest song didn’t become famous in their own version. Pass The Kouchie, a ganja anthem written by Simpson and Ferguson, became a worldwide hit (with adapted lyrics) as Pass The Dutchie by Musical Youth. The song featured on Any Major Orginals – 1980s Vol. 2.

The band played popular gigs in Britain in the 1970s, and remained a fixture on Jamaica’s reggae scene for decades, releasing a total of 46 albums, with a 47th in the works. The band had also been preparing for a world tour: tragically, murder and illness within a few days put paid to that.

The Canada Soulman
Canadian soul singer Eric Mercury could do Southern soul with the best of them — and, in fact, at one point he did, recording for Stax with session men like Steve Cropper (who also produced him at times) and The Memphis Horns. Born in Toronto, he was in the group The Pharaohs and then as leader in Eric Mercury and the Soul Searchers before moving to New York in 1968. He issued a number of solo albums which included socially conscious lyrics, with titles like 1969’s Black Electric Man and 1972’s Funky Sounds Nurtured In The Fertile Soil Of Memphis That Smell Of Rock.

His recording career was over by 1981. By then he had written and co-produced a number of tracks for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, including the gorgeous You Are My Heaven (co-written with Stevie Wonder), Only Heaven Can Wait, and Just When I Needed You.

The Street Musician
At an advanced age, Grandpa Elliott became something of a sensation as a soul and blues street musician in New Orleans, where he was a fixture on the corner of Royal and Toulouse Streets in the French Quarter (see video). Long of beard and dressed in a folksy outfit of denim dungarees, red shirt and floppy hat, he attracted media attention throughout the US. Included in Mark Johnson’s Playing for Change project, he would play in stadiums, appear on TV, tour internationally, and go viral on YouTube with his performance of Stand By Me.

In 2009, Elliott, by now blind from glaucoma, released his debut CD, more than three decades after leaving the music industry, disillusioned with the business practices in New York. In the 1960s and ‘70s he released a number of singles, to no commercial success.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.

Mac Martin, 96, bluegrass musician, on Feb. 28

Richard Pratt, bass singer with soul band Blue Magic, announced on March 1
Blue Magic – Stop To Start (1974)

Warner Mack, 86, country singer-songwriter, on March 1
Warner Mack – Is It Wrong (For Loving You) (1957, also as co-writer)

Johnny Brown, 84, comic actor and singer, on March 2
Johnny Brown – Sundown (1961)

Chuck Criss, 36, musician with indie band Freelance Whales, by suicide on March 2
Freelance Whales – Hannah (2010)

Denroy Morgan, c.75, Jamaican-born reggae and funk musician, on March 3
Denroy Morgan – I’ll Do Anything For You (1981)

Jimbeau Hinson, 70, country singer-songwriter, on March 4
The Oak Ridge Boys – Fancy Free (1981, as co-writer)

Jeff Howell, 60, rock bassist with Outlaws, on March 5
Outlaws – Steam On The Blacktop (1994, as member)

Patricio Renán, 77, Chilean pop singer, on March 5

Pau Riba, 73, Spanish singer and author, on March 6
Pau Riba – Noia de porcellana (1969)

Mike Cross, 57, guitarist of alt.rock band Sponge, on March 6
Sponge – Plowed (1994)

Isao Suzuki, 89, Japanese jazz double-bassist, on March 8

Ziggy Sigmund, guitarist with Canadian rock bands Econoline Crush, Slow, on March 8
Econoline Crush – You Don’t Know What It’s Like (1997)

Grandpa Elliott Small, 77, soul singer; street musician, on March 8
Elliott Small – Stay In My Heart (1969)
Grandpa Elliott – Share Your Love With Me (2009)

Ron Miles, 58, jazz trumpeter, cornetist, and composer, on March 8
Ron Miles – A Kind Word (2020)

Richard Podolor, 86, producer and musician, on March 9
Dickie Podolor – I Love You Girl (And I Need You So) (1958, also as writer)
Three Dog Night – Joy To The World (1970, as producer)
Blues Image – Behind Every Man (1970, as producer and arranger)
Black Oak Arkansas – Strong Enough To Be Gentle (1975, as producer)

Bobbie Nelson, 91, country pianist and singer, Willie’s sister, on March 10
Willie Nelson – Local Memory (1973, on piano)

Brad Martin, 48, country singer, on March 11
Brad Martin – Before I Knew Better (2002)

Timmy Thomas, 77, soul singer, keyboardist, songwriter, producer, on March 11
Timmy Thomas – It’s My Life (1967, also as co-writer)
Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together (1972, also as writer)
Nicole with Timmy Thomas – New York Eyes (1985, also as writer)
Timmy Thomas – I Love Your Smile (1990)

Guayo Cedeño, 48, Honduran jazz musician and producer, on March 11

Traci Braxton, 50, R&B singer and reality TV star, on March 12
Traci Braxton – Broken Things (2018)

Barry Bailey, 73, guitarist of Atlanta Rhythm Section, on March 12
Atlanta Rhythm Section – Spooky (1979)

Pete St. John, 90, Irish folk singer-songwriter, on March 12
Dropkick Murphys – Fields Of Athenry (2000, as writer)

Jessica Williams, 73, jazz pianist and composer, on March 12
Jessica Williams – Say It Over And Over Again (2004)

Jody Wayne, 77, South African country singer and producer, on March 14

Eric Mercury, 77, Canadian soul singer, songwriter, producer on March 14
Eric Mercury and The Soul Searchers – Lonely Girl (1968)
Eric Mercury – I Can Smell That Funky Music (1972)
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – You Are My Heaven (1979, as co-writer, producer)

Dennis González, 67, jazz trumpeter, on March 15

Barbara Morrison, 72, American jazz singer, on March 16
Barbara Morrison – I Was Doing All Right (2007)

Bobby Weinstein, 82, songwriter and music executive, on March 16
The Royalettes – It’s Gonna Take A Miracle (1965, as co-writer)
Dionne Warwick – Goin’ Out Of My Head (1971)

Glen Glenn, 87, rockabilly singer, on March 18
Glen Glenn – I’m Glad My Baby’s Gone (1958)

LaShun Pace, 60, gospel singer, on March 21

Tommy Tokyo, 50, Norwegian singer, guitarist and songwriter, on March 22
Tommy Tokyo – The Remaining Days Of Life (2020)

Eva Castillo, 52, Filipino singer, on March 22

Jim Miller, 69, member of roots music trio Western Centuries, on March 24
Western Centuries – Weight Of The World (2016)

Bert Ruiter, 75, bassist of Dutch bands Focus, Earth & Fire, announced March 24
Focus – Hocus Pocus (1973)

Taylor Hawkins, 50, drummer of Foo Fighters, on March 25
Foo Fighters – Aurora (1999)
Foo Fighters – Everlong (live, 2006)
Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders – You’re No Good At Life No More (2019)

Françoise Guimbert, 76, French/Reunionesque singer, discovered on March 25
Françoise Guimbert – Tantine Zaza (1978)

Keith Martin, 55, R&B singer, discovered on March 25
Keith Martin – Because Of You (1995)

Jeff Carson, 58, country singer, on March 26
Jeff Carson – Not On Your Love (1995)

Tina May, 60, English jazz singer, on May 26
Tina May – Lucky To Be Me (2010)

Keaton Pierce, 31, lead singer of rock band Too Close To Touch, on March 26
Too Close To Touch – Heavy Hearts (2015)

Mira Calix, 52, South African-born electronic-classical musician and visual artist, on March 28

Jim Karstein, 78, session drummer (JJ Cale, Eric Clapton), on March 27
JJ Cale – I’m A Gypsy Man (1976, on drums)

Jun Lopito, 64, Filipino rock guitarist, on March 29

Donald ‘Tabby Diamond’ Shaw, 67, lead singer of reggae trio Mighty Diamonds, on March 29
Mighty Diamonds – Shame And Pride (1973)
Susan Cadogan – Hurt So Good (on backing vocals with Mighty Diamonds, 1975)
The Mighty Diamonds – Pass The Kouchie (1982)

Tom Parker, 33, singer with English boy band The Wanted, on March 30

Ian ‘Natty Wailer’ Wynter, 67, Jamaican musician, on March 30
Natty Wailer – Lift Your Spirits (2000)

Fred Johnson, 80, bass singer with doo-wop band The Marcels, on March 31
The Marcels – Blue Moon (1961, on bass voice)
The Marcels – Heartaches (1961, on bass voice)

Fitzroy ‘Bunny Diamond’ Simpson, 71, member of Mighty Diamonds, on April 1
(See entry for Tabby Diamond. Pass The Kouchie also as co-writer)

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Previous In Memoriams

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Saved! Vol. 6 – The Angels edition

April 1st, 2022 12 comments

Angels cover

Recently I stumbled on this mix from 2015, ad found I enjoyed it very much. And with Easter approaching, the subject matter of angels seems to fit. Originally this mix was part of ther SAVED! series, even though this lot of songs is not particularly riffing on religious themes, even though angels are very much part of religious (and pagan) dogma.

So this mix of songs addresses the subject of angels from different perspectives: as those ethereal beings with wings, of course, but also as goodhearted people, love interests and metaphors. Unlike the angels in heavy metal, who must either bleed or fall or are evil, those represented here mostly are doing saving through acts of love — and that also suits the theme of Easter.

And I managed to cobble together this mix without resort to Robbie Williams, U2, The Eurythmics or Sarah MacLachlan, nor songs about one-night stands. I even had to leave some good songs out. What is remarkable, though, is that three songs about angels here were released posthumously: those by Jimi Hendrix, Gram Parsons and Hank Williams.

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

1. Jimi Hendrix – Angel (1970)
2. The Black Crowes – She Talks To Angels (1990)
3. Delbert McClinton – Sending Me Angels (1997)
4. Aretha Franklin – Angel (1973)
5. Abba – Like An Angel Passing Through My Room (1981)
6. Martina McBride – Wild Angels (1995)
7. Glen Campbell – Angel Dream (2008)
8. Rilo Kiley – The Angels Hung Around (2007)
9. Jordan Trotter – Angels By My Side (2008)
10. Mindy Smith – Angel Doves (2004)
11. Cry Cry Cry – Speaking With The Angel (1998)
12. Jack Johnson – Angel (2008)
13. Chris Rea – God Gave Me An Angel (2000)
14. David Sylvian – When Poets Dreamed Of Angels (1987)
15. Emmylou Harris – Angel Band (1987)
16. Bob Dylan – Three Angels (1970)
17. Kris Kristofferson – Hall Of Angels (2009)
18. The Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys – Angel Band (1955)
19. Hank Williams – Angel Of Death (rel. 1954)
20. Edna Gallmon Cooke – Angels, Angels, Angels (c. 1950)
21. The Crew-Cuts – Angels In The Sky (1955)
22. Bobby Helms – You Are My Special Angel (1958)
23. The Louvin Brothers – The Angels Rejoiced Last Night (1959)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous SAVED! mixes

Categories: God Grooves, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major Elton John & Bernie Taupin Songbook

March 24th, 2022 10 comments

 

Just a couple of hours ago as I write this, Elton John’s 1985 hit Nikita came on the car radio. I hadn’t heard that song for a long while, and I was grateful for that, in as far as I paid the wretched song’s absence in my life any attention. I dislike it now as much as I did when I first heard it in November 1985. And it’s not like I was anti-Elton back in 1985. I bought Act Of War, his duet with Millie Jackson, on 12” that summer, unheard. Which was a mistake. I also bought the follow-up to Nikita, a record called Wrap Her Up featuring the late Wham! bassist Deon Estus. That, too, has not aged well.

Some years later, Elton John had his first solo UK #1 with Sacrifice, a turgid number for the CD generation. Nothing the erstwhile Reg Dwight has produced since has impressed me, other than Hakuna Matata from The Lion King.

In fairness, the man produced some great songs in the 1980s, before he offended with Nikita. I’m Still Standing is a superb piece of songwriting, arrangement and vocal performance (plus, it had a great video). I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues was vintage Elton. And I did like Passengers, in the way of nursery-rhyme-pop. That was intended as an anti-apartheid song, though you had to be told it was to know. Perhaps it was Elton’s way of saying sorry for having helped legitimise apartheid by playing at Sun City in 1983. Which is a lot more than what Queen, The Beach Boys, Linda Ronstadt, Cher, Millie Jackson, Status Quo or Rod Stewart did.

But very little of what Elton John produced in the 1980s comes close to the incredible run of songwriting genius which he and lyricist Bernie Taupin put together from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. And it is this run of genius this collection of covers of John/Taupin songs celebrates, by way of marking Elton John’s 75th birthday on March 25.

So, all of these songs are from the 1970s, except one bonus track: I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues, performed by Major Schiffer & Majories Bundeswehr Showband — a band of the German army. It appeared on a 1985 album titled Tanzweltmeisterschaft (Dancing World Championship). It is surprisingly okay, with the vocals soulful and the arrangement competent, with a heartfelt sax solo. One might have expected a Bundeswehr Showband to go the easy listening route, maybe a bit like James Last, but with more oomp than oomph. Well, not so.

There are plenty of easy listening covers of Elton John’s 1970s tunes; none feature here. But some tracks just don’t have many good covers. Candle In The Wind, for example, is a song so Elton that it’s very difficult to re-interpret well. I suspect the present version, by Sandy Denny, is about the only good cover of the song. For Daniel, I had to go to France (alas, I knew of no good Spanish covers).

Bernie Taupin and Elton John in 1971. (Wikipedia/PD-PRE1978)

Some John/Taupin classics are missing altogether, such as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. The former has already featured on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Recovered set (though I do recycle two tracks from that collection here), so I didn’t recycle that version. And I didn’t expect to find a great cover of Crocodile Rock, the first Elton John song I loved, long before I even knew who the guy was. My older sister had the single, and I loved it as a seven-year-old (mainly the falsetto bits).

An unusual number of covers here are live versions: Neil Diamond reworks Rocket Man (superbly), Ben Folds does Tiny Dancer, Brandi Carlile does Sixty Years On with the Seattle philharmonic orchestra, Heart do the gorgeous Seasons, and George Michael eclipses Elton John in his stunning rendition of Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me from Live Aid, guesting on Elton’s set. The latter is also far superior to the hit version from 1995. The Live Aid version invariably gives goosebumps (and how about that drummer?).

In the 1970s, much was made of the rivalry between Elton John and Rod Stewart; they more lately had a bigger feud about some slight by someone over something or other that was said. On his fine Gasoline Alley album, Rod covered Elton’s 1970 song Country Life, with Jack Reynolds (aka Harry) from the rock band Silver Metre on backing vocals. And then Rod borrowed a little bit of 1970’s The Greatest Discovery (covered here by The Lettermen) for his song The Killing Of Georgie.

One song here is not a cover: Snookeroo was written by John & Taupin for Ringo Starr, who in the US titled it No No Song. Elton John provides the count-in and plays the piano on the song.

Quite a few songs here may be unfamiliar to those who have followed Elton John’s career only casually. By my count, only ten of the featured 28 tracks were UK single releases. Elton John fans, I hope, will enjoy the interpretations of the lesser-known songs; and those who don’t may well be turned on to Elton John’s incredible run of great albums between 1970 and 1974 or 1975 (in my view, everything from 1970s eponymous album to at least 1975’s Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy).

As always, CD-R length, home-tinydancered covers, and the above in PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Who – Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) (1991)
2. George Michael – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (1985)
3. Ben Folds – Tiny Dancer (2002)
4. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Philadelphia Freedom (1991)
5. Billy Paul – Your Song (1972)
6. Walter Jackson – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word (1977)
7. Latimore – Take Me To The Pilot (1973)
8. Bo Diddley – Bad Side Of The Moon (1971)
9. Al Kooper – Come Down In Time (1971)
10. Rod Stewart – Country Comfort (1970)
11. Marie Laforet – Daniel (1974)
12. Sandy Denny – Candle In The Wind (1977)
13. Square Set – Friends (1972)
14. Colin Blunstone – Planes (1976)
15. Neil Diamond – Rocket Man (1978)
16. Heart – Seasons (1995)
17. Mandy Moore – Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters (2003)
18. Brandi Carlile – Sixty Years On (2011)
Bonus:
Lee Ann Womack – Honky Cat (2018)
Ringo Starr – Snookeroo (1974)
Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’77 – Where To Now St Peter (1976)
Kate Taylor – Ballad Of A Well Known Gun (1971)
Three Dog Night – Lady Samantha (1969)
The Letterman – The Greatest Discovery (1971)
Mary McCreary – Levon (1974)
Diana Ross – Harmony (1976)
Major Schiffer & Majories/Bundeswehr Showband – I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues (1985)
Solomon Burke – Three Psalms For Elton (1972)

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Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

Categories: Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs, Songwriters Tags: