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A Life in Vinyl – 1989

March 14th, 2023 1 comment


What a bitter-sweet year 1989 was: throughout the year, I was in love, which is nice. Alas, it was unrequited, which is decidedly not nice. Worse, it was in the “friends-zone”. But it was a beautiful, profound friendship, which is nice… It was also a year of parties, more deep friendships, lots of cinema (the bonus track pays tribute to a great year for movies), and political engagement in the struggle against apartheid. It was a wonderful year, despite or perhaps because of the pain of the friend-zone, and so the memories of the music of the year is intense, too.

Nobody can accuse 1989 of having been a fantastic year for mainstream pop music — though it was great for certain subcultures. But some terrible things happened, including Tina Turner’s The Best, with the worst excess led by the intolerable Jive Bunny hits.

At the time, I used to DJ at houseparties, executing carefully judged sequences which would guide and ride the mood of the guests. Sometimes the host would demand Jive Bunny, and would answer my excuse that I did not own this platter of iniquity by recourse to his own record collection. I would like to claim that my hitherto happily boogying audience resolutely sat down in revolt against the evil Bunny, but the fuckers would actually dance extra-hard to it. To this day, the strains of In The Mood and Jailhouse Rock can awaken a homicidal rage in me.

Still, all a good DJ should want is a full dancefloor, and Jive Bunny kept the party going. I’d follow that crap with The Gypsy Kings (a sure-fire winner at these parties), and then find the way back to the better things. I still love Black Box’s Italo-disco megahit Ride On Time (despite all the ethical problems surrounding it), and I said it then and I say it now: Pump Up The Jam is a stone-cold slice-of-genius dance classic.

But I don’t include those tracks in this mix. Still, the songs represented here all were frequent guests on my turntable that year, alongside all the 1970s soul records I bought at the time in superb second-hand record shops I had found.

One album I bought on the day of its local release was Fine Young Cannibals’ The Raw And The Cooked, the long-awaited follow-up to their fine 1985 debut album. Oddly, I soon grew tired of the two big hits on the album, Good Thing and She Drives Me Crazy. It was only in recent years that I have come to appreciate those songs again.

South African music features on three tracks. One of these was an international hit, The Art of Noise’s collaboration with the legendary Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens (the title, Yebo!, simply means “Yes”). Special Star by the multiracial Mango Groove pays tribute to the pennywhistle legend Spokes Mashiane; the song really ought to have been a global hit. It’s Only Me by Rush Hour is rather more obscure. Rush Hour were big on the jazz club circuit, and though their one LP was quite marvellous, the group was soon forgotten. I love the keyboard solo on the featured track.

This mix closes with Wet Wet Wet’s Sweet Surrender. I’ve long argued that the Scottish group is rather underrated. Sweet Surrender is a lovely song, but it has a special meaning for me. The story takes us a few weeks into 1990. I was at my regular club on a Saturday afternoon (the matinee jazz sessions were a great tradition) when a remix of Sweet Surrender was playing. Suddenly the DJ interrupted the song to announce to loud cheers the news that the next day, Nelson Mandela would be released. Oh, I remember, apartheid’s sweet surrender!

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

1. Traveling Wilburys – Handle With Care
2. Marc Almond & Gene Pitney – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart
3. Fine Young Cannibals – Good Thing
4. Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – What I Am
5. Simply Red – You’ve Got It
6. Natalie Cole – Miss You Like Crazy
7. Diane Schuur – Louisiana Sunday Afternoon
8. Najee – Personality
9. Rush Hour – It’s Only Me
10. Malcolm McLaren feat. Lisa Marie – Something’s Jumping In My Shirt
11. Art Of Noise feat. Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens – Yebo!
12. Mango Groove – Special Star
13. Swing Out Sister – You On My Mind
14. Soul II Soul – Back To Life
15. De La Soul – Me, Myself And I
16. Tracy Chapman – Freedom Now
17. Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
18. Wet Wet Wet – Sweet Surrender
Bonus Track:
Harry Connick Jr. – It Had To Be You


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In Memoriam – February 2023

March 2nd, 2023 2 comments

The big headline death this month was that of Burt Bacharach, a true giant in the story of pop music. A few days after Burt, one of his earlier collaborators, Chuck Jackson, followed him into the great recording studio in the sky.

The Master
At 94, Burt Bacharach had a long and full life, as chronicled in his autobiography, which I read a couple of years ago. The memoirs revealed a man who must have been good company in good times and pretty awful to know in bad. Burt certainly had ways of establishing great friendships and also of burning bridges, not rarely involving litigation. Nobody could accused him of false modesty or of excessive humility. Attractive though qualities as modesty and humility are, if your body of work was that of Bacharach’s, their scarcity could be forgiven.

I’ve posted five Bacharach collections, the latest in the week after Burt’s death. I wrote at some length about Burt & Hal for the Bacharach & David Songbook Vol. 1. The other four collections:
Bacharach & David Songbook Vol. 2
Bacharach: The Lesser Known Songbook
The Originals: Bacharach Edition
Covered With Soul Vol. 7: Bacharach/David Edition

The R&B Singer
Among the first R&B artists for whom Bacharach wrote in the early 1960s — before he found his muse in Dionne Warwick — was R&B singer Chuck Jackson, who has died at 85. Their most notable collaborations were Any Day Now (featured on The Originals: Bacharach Edition) and I Wake Up Crying (featured on Any Major Morning Vol. 2). In a bad career move, Jackson bought out his contract with Sceptre Records to sign for Motown. There his career stalled, with the release of only two singles. One of them was the gorgeous Honey Come Back, which featured on the Jimmy Webb Songbook Vol. 1.

Jackson’s career never really recovered from the Motown disaster. He continued recording into the 1980s, and had an audience, but he never scored a big hit again.

When they first shot to prominence, the members of The Beatles regularly referred to Jackson as being among their favourite acts. One of the songs the Fabs very likely dug was I Keep Forgetting. When 20 years later Michael McDonald had a hit with a song of the same name, the similarities were so apparent that the writers of the Jackson song, Leiber & Stoller, received a credit for McDonald’s hit.

The Boogie Woogie Man
A prime exponent of New Orleans R&B, Huey ‘Piano’ Smith never became a rock & roll superstar, perhaps because he did not put himself and his piano in the spotlight, the way Little Ruchard or Jerry Lee Lewis did. He had some success in the late 1950s, and was hugely influential on the New Orleans scene. Among those young musicians who were mentored by Smith was Dr John.

Smith’s big hit was Rocking Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu (covered in 1972 to good commercial effect by Johnny Rivers) and Don’t You Just Know It. The latter was reworked in 1966 by Cass & The Governors as Don’t Ha Ha; it featured in In Memoriam – December 2022. Huey’s song Sea Cruise was summarily given to a white singer, Frankie Ford, whose vocals were dubbed over Smith’s backing track. Huey was not happy about that.

Smith also backed other acts, including Smiley Lewis on his original of I Hear You Knocking.

By the 1960s the hits had dried up, and Smith gradually retired from music. Having made bad publishing deals, he was in frequent financial trouble, even after court judgments provided some relief.

The Hip Hop Hippie
For a brief time in the early 1990s, it looked like the softer side of hip hop might have future, with acts like De La Soul, PM Dawn and Arrested Development channelling hippie vibes, with a space for social consciousness, humour and a bit of romance, and graceful genre-hopping. Gangsta rap blew that stuff out of the water.

Still, De La Soul were pioneers in hip hop, especially in the art of sampling. Now the trio’s Trugoy, or David Jude Jolicoeur, has died at the horribly young age of 54. Trugoy (backwards for Yogurt) would rightly object to the heading above: De La Soul’s hippie phase was only a snapshot in time — the time of the great 1989 debut 3 Feet High And Rising. The response to that image was stated in the follow-up’s title: De La Soul Is Dead.

For the past few years, Trugoy was living with congestive heart failure, for which he had to wear a defibrillator machine vest at all times. When De La Soul performed at the Grammys on February 5, Trugoy could not be part of it. A week later he was dead.

The Assassination Victim
The USA has Biggie and 2Pac, South Africa now has AKA — a big-name rapper shot dead point blank in an assassination, in public outside a restaurant. The 35-year-old, born Kiernan Forbes, was preparing to perform gig at a nightclub in Durban when he was murdered. His friend, celebrity chef Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane, was also killed, apparently by a second gunman giving the hitman cover. As of writing, no suspects have been identified.

In South Africa, AKA’s three bestselling albums since his 2011 debut and his collaborations with other acts made him a hip hop superstar, maybe the biggest. Why a hitman would kill him remains a mystery.

The TV Scorer
If you watch American movies or TV, you very likely have heard the music of Gerald Fried, who has died at 95. Oddly, there are no compositions one can refer to which everybody would immediately know, except maybe the Star Trek score for the episode where Kirk and Spock have a fight, which became a recurring score throughout the series.

Fried also composed much of the soundtrack for the seminal TV min-series Roots, though Quincy Jones usually gets all the attention for it. Other TV series he scored many episodes for include M Squad, Shotgun Slade, Gilligan’s Island, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Man Who Never Was, It’s About Time, Mission: Impossible, Roots: The Next Generations, Dynasty, and many more.

The Racing Drummer
Among the more unusual career paths in pop music is that of Slim Borgudd. In the 1960s he was drumming for the Swedish rock band Lea Riders Group and helped out the Hootenanny Singers, among whose members was future ABBA legend Björn Ulvaeus.

He was already racing cars, but his career took off in 1972, culminating in Borgudd joining the Formula 1 circuit in 1981. He collected points in only one Grand Prix, but earned media attention when he placed the ABBA logo on his car — it was a move to attract sponsors; ABBA didn’t pay him for that. While he was rising up the racing world, Borgudd continued to swing the sticks, and in 1976 even released his one LP, a funk-rock effort cleverly titled Funky Formula.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.

Butch Miles, 78, jazz drummer, on Feb. 2
Count Basie and His Orchestra – Bundle O’ Funk (1977, on drums)

Tim Quy, 61, percussionist of UK rock band Cardiacs, on Feb. 2
Cardiacs – Is This The Life? (1988)

Paul Janovitz, 54, singer-guitarist of alt.rock band Cold Water Flat, on Feb. 3
Cold Water Flat – Magnetic North Pole (1995)

Lillian Walker, 78, singer with soul group The Exciters, on Feb. 5
The Exciters – A Little Bit Of Soap (1966)

Phil Spalding, 65, English bassist, on Feb. 6
Mike Oldfield – Moonlight Shadow (1983, on bass)
Terence Trent D’Arby – Wishing Well (1987, on bass)

Steve Sostak, 49, member of art-punk band Sweep the Leg Johnny, on Feb. 7

Mendelson Joe, 78, Canadian singer-songwriter, on Feb. 7
Mendelson Joe – The Name Of The Game (1975)

Burt Bacharach, 94, legendary pop composer, on Feb. 8
Jimmy Radcliffe – (There Goes) The Forgotten Man (1962)
Burt Bacharach – (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me (1969)
Isaac Hayes – The Look Of Love (live) (1973, as co-writer)
Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach – God Give Me Strength (1998, as co-writer)
Rumer – Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) (2015, as co-writer)

Dennis Lotis, 97, South African-born British singer and actor, on Feb. 8
Dennis Lotis – Look At That Girl (1953)

Marijke Merckens, 83, Dutch actress and singer, on Feb. 9

AKA, 35, South African rapper, shot dead on Feb. 10
AKA feat. K.O – Run Jozi (Godly)

Tito Fernández, 80, Chilean singer-songwriter, on Feb. 11

David Jude ‘Trugoy’ Jolicoeur, 54, rapper and songwriter with De La Soul, on Feb. 12
De La Soul – Eye Know (1989, also as co-writer)
De La Soul – Keepin’ The Faith (1991, also as co-writer)
De La Soul – Breakadawn (1993, also as co-writer)
Gorillaz feat. De La Soul – Feel Good Inc. (2005, also as co-writer)

Huey ‘Piano’ Smith, 89, R&B pianist and songwriter, on Feb. 13
Smiley Lewis – I Hear You Knocking (1955, on piano)
Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & The Clowns – Rockin’ Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu (1957)
Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & The Clowns – Don’t You Just Know It (1958)

Spencer Wiggins, 81, soul singer, on Feb. 13
Spencer Wiggins – Double Lovin’ (1970)

Guido Basso, 85, Canadian jazz trumpeter, on Feb. 13

Alain Goraguer, 91, French jazz pianist, arranger and film composer, on Feb. 13
Serge Gainsbourg avec Alain Goraguer et son Orchestre – La Jambe De Bois (1959)
France Gall – Poupée De Cire Poupée De Son (1965, as conductor and arranger)

Tohru Okada, 73, Japanese musician, creator of PlayStation 1 startup theme, on Feb. 13

Akira Tsuneoka, 51, drummer of Japanese pop-punk bank Hi-Standard, on Feb. 14
Hi-Standard – My First Kiss (2000)

Peter Renkens, 55, singer of Belgian pop band Confetti’s, announced on Feb. 14
Confetti’s – The Sound Of C (1988)

Tim Aymar, 59, singer of heavy metal band Pharaoh, on Feb. 14

Raquel Welch, 82, actress and occasional singer, on Feb. 15
Raquel Welch – This Girl’s Back In Town (1987)

Chuck Jackson, 85, American R&B singer, on Feb. 16
The Del Vikings – Willette (1959, as member on lead vocals)
Chuck Jackson – I Keep Forgettin’ (1962)
Chuck Jackson – Good Things Come To Those Who Wait (1967)
Chuck Jackson – Through All Times (1973)

Tony Marshall, 85, German schlager singer, on Feb. 16

Alberto Radius, 80, Italian rock guitarist, singer-songwriter, producer, on Feb. 16
Formula 3 – Io ritorno solo (1970, as member on lead vocals and guitar)
Alberto Radius – Il Respiro di Laura (1975)

Maon Kurosaki, 35, Japanese pop singer, on Feb. 16

Michael Kupper, 65, ex-guitarist of German heavy metal band Running Wild, on Feb. 16
Running Wild – Bad To The Bone (1989)

Tom Whitlock, 68 or 69, pop songwriter, on Feb. 17
Berlin – Take My Breath Away (1986, as co-writer)

Kyle Jacobs, 49, country songwriter, on Feb. 17
Garth Brooks – More Than A Memory (2007, as co-writer)

Otis Barthoulameu, musician and producer, on Feb. 17

Gerald Fried, 95, film and television composer, on Feb. 17
Joe Williams – The Sounds Of The Night (1963, as writer)
Star Trek – Amok Time (1967, as composer)
Hank Crawford & Jimmy McGriff – Second Time Around (1986, as writer)

Jerry Dodgion, 90, jazz saxophonist and flautist, on Feb. 17
Benny Goodman – Mission To Moscow (1962, live in Moscow, on alto sax)
Bob James – Angela (Theme from Taxi) (1978, on flute, with two others)

Hans Poulsen, 77, Australian singer and songwriter, on Feb. 17
Hans Poulsen – There’s A Light Across The Valley (1970)

Don Shinn, 77, English prog-rock multi-instrumentalist, composer, vocalist, on Feb. 18
Don Shinn & The Soul Agents – A-Minor Explosion (1966, also as writer)

Davis Causey, 74, guitarist of fusion/rock band Sea Level, on Feb. 19
Sea Level – It Hurts To Want It So Bad (1977)

Victor Brox, 81, English blues musician, on Feb. 20
Victor Brox & Annette Reis – I’ve Got The World In A Jug (1965)

Bruce Barthol, 75, bassist of Country Joe and the Fish, on Feb. 20
Country Joe And The Fish – The Fish Cheer & I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die (1967)

Jesse Gress, 67, rock guitarist, on Feb. 21

Ron Altbach, 76, co-founder and keyboardist of King Harvest, on Feb. 21
King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight (1972)

Germano Mathias, 88, Brazilian samba singer, on Feb. 22

Slim Borgudd, 76, Swedish racing driver and drummer, on Feb. 23
The Lea Riders Group – Got No Woman! (1966, as member on drums)
Slim Borgudd – Hot Metal (1976)

Jeff Young, keyboardist and songwriter, on Feb. 23
Vonda Shepard – Searchin’ My Soul (1998, on Hammond organ)

Junnosuke Kuroda, 34, guitarist of Japanese rock band Sumika, on Feb. 23

Walter ‘Gavitt’ Ferguson, 103, Panama-born Costa Rican calypso singer, on Feb. 25
Walter Ferguson – Carnaval Day (2003, also as writer)

Carl Saunders, 80, jazz trumpeter, on Feb. 25
Carl Saunders – Some Bones Of Contention (2002)

François Hadji-Lazaro, 66, French alt.rock musician, on Feb. 25
Les Garçons Bouchers – La Bastringue (1988, also as co-writer)

Hansi Behrendt, 68, drummer of German new wave group Ideal, on Feb. 27
Ideal – Blaue Augen (1980)


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Any Major George Harrison Songbook

February 23rd, 2023 7 comments


On 25 February we mark the 80th anniversary of the birth of George Harrison. That deserves a Songbook mix.

I won’t be the first person ever to marvel at the circumstance that George Harrison was only the third-best songwriter in The Beatles. That’s the man who wrote the best songs on The Beatles’ perhaps best album, Something and Here Comes The Sun (a time when the other two struggled to finish their songs).

George was perhaps the most innovative of the three innovators, even though some of these innovations I could do without [you within you].

He was the first Beatle to release a solo album, and the first have a solo UK #1 hit, in January 1971 with My Sweet Lord (I’ve discussed before what I think of the plagiarism charges brought by the publishing company who owned the rights to He’s So Fine), and the first to release a bona fide classic album, the three-LP set All Things Must Pass. And George sort of invented charity concert festivals. I wonder whether Geldof thought to invite him to appear at Live Aid…

And George was the first Beatle to die of natural sources (if we discount Stu Sutcliffe, of course), though he almost became the second Beatle to be murdered, when in 1999 he was stabbed 40 times by an intruder. By then George was already battling throat cancer, which had been diagnosed in 1997. Fucking cigarettes! He died on 29 November 2001, at the age of only 58.

Harrison’s solo career after All Things Must Pass isn’t always appreciated. McCartney produced more hits (and Ringo as many UK Top 10 hits as George); Lennon created more material for discussion. George produced a couple of stinkers (Going Troppo!), and after All Things Must Pass no real classics, so it is indeed easy to overlook his solo career. But that would be to ignore some excellent music, as the Beatles Reunited series might have shown. Only seven of the tracks here were originally Beatles releases.

Something that struck me as I compiled this Songbook was that Harrison’s solo stuff is more accessible to interpretation in cover versions than that by Paul McCartney, whose post-Beatles Songbook I ran last year. Remarkably, George’s material adapts well to soul music — not surprisingly, given that the first version of My Sweet Lord was recorded by Billy Preston. It sounds more like the Edwin Hawkins Singers rip-off Harrison had intended to be than a Chiffons number. Fittingly, the cover here falls within the soul-gospel genre.

A few Harrison compositions here were not recorded by him. He co-wrote Cream’s Badge with Clapton (the title is Clapton’s misreading of Harrison’s handwritten word “Bridge”), and played rhythm guitar on the recording. It seems fitting that George’s close friend Clapton should appear twice on this mix, with Badge and his quite lovely recording of Love Comes To Everyone, a song that appeared originally on George’s self-titled 1979 album (the one with the wonderful Blow Away, for which no good cover seems to exist). The men shared their music and their loves…

Harrison also co-wrote Ringo Starr’s big hit Photograph, writing the gorgeous melody and helping Ringo with the lyrics. It was his first writing credit with Starr, though Harrison had also contributed, uncredited, to the Ringo hits It Don’t Come Easy and Back Off Boogaloo. The recording of the hit version of Photograph (an earlier Harrison-produced take was discarded) featured George on 12-string acoustic guitar, plus Nicky Hopkins on piano, Klaus Voormann on bass and Jim Keltner on drums — all of whom were playing at the time on the recording of Harrison’s Living In The Material World LP — with a saxophone solo by Bobby Keys. Jim Keltner and Bobby Keys have both been subject of Any Major Collections.

Sour Milk Sea was written specifically as a debut single for Apple Records signing Jackie Lomax. George wrote it in 1968 during his Maharishi phase, and the lyrics promote transcendental meditation. The song was in the running for the White Album, and The Beatles recorded a demo of it. In the end it was given to Lomax, with three Beatles playing on it (Lennon took the day off, presumably) and Eric Clapton and Nicky Hopkins chipping in on the Harrison production. Alas, the single flopped.

The mix ends with another Maharishi-inspired track and White Album contender. Circles was demoed by The Beatles at Harrison’s Esher home in 1968. Harrison eventually re-recorded it for 1982’s Gone Troppo album.

As ever: CD-R length, home-meditated covers, and the above text in PDF format included. Password in comments.

1. George Harrison – Dark Horse (Live) (1991)
2. Olivia Newton-John – What Is Life (1972)
3. Ringo Starr – Photograph (1973)
4. The Lambrettas – I Want To Tell You (1981)
5. Nick Heyward – If I Needed Someone (1996)
6. Ocean Colour Scene – Wah Wah (2005)
7. Eric Clapton – Love Comes To Everyone (2005)
8. Kenny Lattimore – While My Guitar Gently Weeps (1998)
9. Billy Preston – All Things Must Pass (1970)
10. The Three Degrees – Isn’t It A Pity (1972)
11. Richie Havens – Here Comes The Sun (1971)
12. Bobby Womack – Something (1970)
13. Ralfi Pagan – I’d Have You Anytime (1973)
14. John Gary Williams – My Sweet Lord (1972)
15. Cream – Badge (1969)
16. Loose Ends – Tax Man (1966)
17. Jackie Lomax – Sour Milk Sea (1969)
18. David Bowie – Try Some, Buy Some (2003)
19. Low – Long Long Long (1998)
20. Leon Russell – Beware Of Darkness (1971)
21. The Beatles – Circles (1968)
22. Tony Bennett – Give Me Love, Give Me Peace (1973)


Previous Songbooks:
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
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
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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Bacharach & David Songbook Vol. 2

February 14th, 2023 15 comments


The 1960s had a generation of songwriters which in its breadth and quality is ummatched.

Jimmy Webb, Bob Dylan, Lennon & McCartney, Brian Wilson, Paul Simon, King & Goffin and the rest of the Brill Building scene, Holland/Dozier/Holland and Smokey Robinson and the rest of the Motown crew, Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Curtis Mayfield, Hayes & Porter, Ray Davies, the evil John Phillips, Bert Berns, Crewe & Gaudio, James Brown, Sly Stone, Neil Diamond, Lee Hazlewood, Shadow Morton, Jagger & Richards, Stephen Stills, Van Morrison, and God knows whom I have forgotten and whose name you’ve just shouted out, unable to understand their inexplicable omission.

I don’t think it is remotely possible to name a “greatest” from that lot, but Burt Bacharach was a towering figure in that collection of genius songsmiths. His collaborations with Hal David, which comprises almost all of Burt’s 1960s prime, are near the level of Cole Porter, who perhaps was the greatest songwriter of all time (of course, Porter did music & lyrics himself).

Many of these songwriters and tunesmiths have already left us, some may follow soon. Burt Bacharach followed Hal David to the great recording studio in the sky last week. So this mix — a long overdue Vol. 2 to the Bacharach/David Songbook I posted in 2017 —  is by way of tribute to this giant in popular music. A third Bacharach/David mix will follow later in the year; it will include some songs that didn’t make it on this collection, and a few versions of songs that did.

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I have previously put up three Bacharach Songbooks:
The Bacharach/David Songbook Vol. 1
Bacharach: The Lesser Known Songbook
Covered With Soul: Bacharach/David Edition
Any Major Originals: Bacharach Edition

As ever, this mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-trumpeted covers.

1. Gwen Guthrie – (They Long To Be) Close To You (1986)
2. Robin McKelle & The FlyTones – Walk On By (2013)
3. Jennifer Warnes – Don’t Make Me Over (1979)
4. Luther Vandross – A House Is Not A Home (1980)
5. James Brown – What The World Needs Now Is Love (1976)
6. Lyn Collins – Reach Out For Me (1972)
7. Jimmy Ruffin – Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head (1970)
8. The Dells – I Just Dont Know What To Do With Myself (1972)
9. Barbara Acklin – The Look Of Love (1969)
10. Dionne Warwick – I Say A Little Prayer (1967)
11. Dusty Springfield – TwentyFour Hours From Tulsa (1964)
12. Nancy Sinatra – Wishin’ And Hopin’ (1966)
13. Dee Dee Warwick – Alfie (1969)
14. Jackie Trent – Make It Easy On Yourself (1969)
15. Bobbie Gentry – I’ll Never Fall In Love Again (1969)
16. The Fifth Dimension – One Less Bell To Answer (1970)
17. Gabor Szabo & Lena Horne – A Message To Michael (1970)
18. Pretenders – The Windows Of The World (1988)
19. Neil Diamond – Do You Know The Way To San José (1993)
20. Rumer – You’ll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart) (2016)
21. Ronald Isley & Burt Bacharach – In Between The Heartaches (2003)
22. Bob Marley and The Wailers – What’s New Pussycat (1965)


Previous Songbooks:
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
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
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Paul McCartney Vol. 2
Rod Temperton
Steely Dan

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Any Major Forever Love

February 9th, 2023 10 comments

This year for me will be one of weddings. Not my own, of course. Any Major Dudette and I have been married for more than half our lives now. As Orleans say in their song, we’re still having fun and she’s still the one. But three young couples in our family and circle of friends will marry this year.

The Dudette and I will celebrate one of those milestone anniversaries this year, and as we are attending those three weddings, we hope that when those couples will in the future mark their milestone anniversaries, they shall feel about their marriage the way The Dudette and I feel about ours.

Sure enough, all those years have not been without problems, but even when it approached the verge of the abyss, we came back from it — and stronger! Are there things I’d change about The Dudette, or she about me? Of course, but none of that darkens our love and — this is, I think, the key to a good marriage — our friendship. The Dudette is my best friend, just as John Deacon of Queen wrote about his wife Veronica (in happy news, John and Veronica are still together, having just recently celebrated 48 years of marriage).

So this mix is intended to reflect long-time love, not the first flushes of romance with its attendant physical attraction — though the physical attraction may last the course — but the romance of having grown together, fused by love and time, having become one. These songs address these dynamics in different ways. Some specifically address having been together for a long time, others can apply also to younger love. All featured songs, I think, tell the story of love that has grown to be strong and lasting.

If you are among the fortunates to have that kind of relationship, you might play this mix for your loved one, maybe on Valentine’s Day. Or play just those songs that resonate with you, of course.

And if you are not among those privileged people — because life didn’t work out that way or because you are still seeking it — I hope you might simply enjoy the music. If you like your love music a little more disappointing, you might like Any Major Unrequited Love or Any Major Impossible Love.

This mix is a companion to the Any Major Love mix which I posted in 2015, also just before Valentine’s Day (like the other love mixes, it’s still up). One track from that mix is recycled here, but in a live version: Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. It’s a song I’d love to play for Any Major Dudette as I hold her close and look in her eyes. If only she liked it… The version here is from a live performance at the Ryman Theater in LA; the swishing percussion beat you hear is created by… a broom! And Glen Campbell song here covers the track that closed Any Major Love.

There are other tracks on Any Major Love that might have suited this Forever Love mix well. Let’s Stay Together, of course, or Ben Fold’s The Luckiest, which I nearly recycled as well, but include here in a live version as a bonus track.

And a different companion compilation: Any Major Babymaking Music Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

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

1. The Presidents – 5-10 15-20 (25-30 Years of Love) (1971)
2. Blood, Sweat & Tears – You’ve Made Me So Very Happy (1968)
3. Queen – You’re My Best Friend (1975)
4. Orleans – Still The One (1976)
5. Keith Whitley – When You Say Nothing At All (1988)
6. Neil Young – Harvest Moon (live) (2005)
7. Glen Campbell – Grow Old With Me (2008)
8. John Legend – All Of Me (2013)
9. Al Jarreau – We’re In This Love Together (1981)
10. Minnie Riperton – Simple Things (1975)
11. O.C. Smith – Friend Lover Woman Wife (1969)
12. Andre de Villiers – Memories (1999)
13. Brandi Carlile – The Story (2007)
14. Kacy Crowley – Kind Of Perfect (2004)
15. The Cure – Love Song (1989)
16. Modern English – I Melt With You (1990)
17. Cowboy Junkies – Anniversary Song (1993)
18. Jack Johnson – Do You Remember (2005)
19. Dan Seals – One Friend (1987)
20. Collin Raye – In This Life (1992)
21. Alan Jackson – I’d Love You All Over Again (1989)
22. Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt & Dolly Parton – When We’re Gone, Long Gone (1999)
Bonus Tracks:
Eastmountainsouth – So Are You To Me (2003)
Ben Folds – The Luckiest (live) (2002)


Previously in Any Major Love:
Any Major Love
Any Major Love in Black & White
Any Major Unrequited Love
Any Major Impossible Love

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In Memoriam – January 2023

February 2nd, 2023 7 comments

In January the world lost its oldest person on record, a French nun who died at the age of almost 119 (she is now in the Top 4 of oldest people on record ever). But seeing as Sister André Randon never contributed meaningfully to the world of rock & roll, she won’t feature on this month’s list.

Nor will the man who gave his name to the Marshall Tucker Band. I am not the only person in the world who took it as read that the southern rock band was founded and led by Mr & Mrs Tucker’s martially-named son. Turns out, it wasn’t. The band on its Facebook page picks up the story: “In the early days when we were rehearsing in an old warehouse in Spartanburg, we found a keychain inscribed with [Marshall Tucker’s] name. We needed a name asap… and the rest is history! Marshall was blind since birth but amazingly could play the heck out of the piano.” Mr Tucker plied his trade as a piano tuner, and died in January at the age of 99.

And in January we lost three guitar legends: Jeff Beck, Tom Verlaine, and Dennis Budimir.

The Folk-Rock Legend
He was born to sing harmony, David Crosby once said. Cass Elliott knew that, and at one of her parties, she introduced ex-Byrds man Crosby to ex-Hollies man Graham Nash and Buffalo Springfield alumnus Stephen Stills, with the suggestion that their voices would work well together. They did, with Stills and Nash taking on the lion’s share of the creative work on CSN(&Y) albums — though Crosby, never a child of gratuitous modesty, fancied himself a better songwriter than the others. But Crosby, with his expressive, mellifluous voice, was at the centre of the harmonies.

The Byrd’s breakthrough was also due to its harmonies. Mr Tambourine Man featured on Roger McGuinn on instruments (on the chiming guitar; the rest were Wrecking Crew guys like Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel and Leon Russell). But it is the harmonies, with Crosby in the mix, that made the cover of the track by Bob Dylan (who very much was not a harmonies kind of guy) so special. Eventually, Crosby was kicked out of The Byrds. Crosby later said he would have kicked Crosby out himself.

By all accounts the son of the Oscar-winning cinematographer was a mellow soul who could turn character and exasperate you. Crosby said what he thought, and what he thought wasn’t always charitable (look up how his friendship with Neil Young ended). Crosby would continue to work with Stills, Nash and Young for decades, despite their differences. Perhaps it was the shared trauma of recording the Déjà Vu album that created a bond: during the sessions, all four had their hearts broken, three of them by break-ups, and Crosby by the death in a traffic accident of his girlfriend Christine Hinton. In the end, his relationship with all three soured, though he remained on speaking terms with Stills.

David Crosby became as famous for his prodigious use of drugs and unconventional domestic arrangements (he wrote a song called Triad about it), and after he got off drugs (while in jail for being in possession of cocaine and a loaded gun), for being an outspoken spokesman for his sub-culture on numerous docus. These included one on Crosby himself, in which the man was brutally honest about his many failings.

Crosby has been widely acclaimed, but the most unexpected honour must have come from the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. In 2010 it ranked his critically-panned 1971 solo debut If I Could Only Remember My Name second in a (highly subjective and culturally narrow but otherwse quite good) list of Top 10 Pop Albums of All Time, behind The Beatles’ Revolver.

The Guitar Legend
Rolling Stone magazine once named Jeff Beck one of the five all-time greatest guitarists; some people claim that he should top any list of rock guitarists. That, of course, is as futile an exercise as it is to name the “greatest-ever football player” or “best Sesame Street character” (well, Oscar the Grouch or Cookie Monster, obviously, but you get the drift).

AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine regarded Beck “as innovative as Jimmy Page, as tasteful as Eric Clapton, and nearly as visionary as Jimi Hendrix”, but unable to achieve sustained mainstream success “primarily because of the haphazard way he approached his career”, and often working without a “star singer” to make his music more popularly accessible.

There’s something to it: Beck won six Grammys and was nominated for many more: I knew none of the Grammy-rated records. As a solo act, he scored only two UK Top 20 hits, both releases of Hi Ho Silver Lining, which reached the Top 20 in 1967 and again in 1972. He scored no UK hit with the Jeff Beck Group nor with his other outfit, the “supergroup” Beck, Bogert & Appice. Jeff Beck, it’s safe to say, was a musician’s musician.

Beck contributed to many artists’ music, most notably on Stevie Wonder’s Lookin’ For Another Pure Love on the Talking Book album.

Not long after Beck, The Yardbird’s original guitarist, Top Topham, died at 75. Topham was replaced by Eric Clapton before the group became famous. Unlike Beck, Clapton or Jimmy Page, Topham never became a guitar legend.

The Motown Pioneer
It seems fitting that Tamla-Motown’s first-ever national hit was titled Money (That’s What I Want), and its co-writer was cheated out of a lot of it… The song, a hit in 1960, sounded like it was sung by an old hand; in fact, singer and co-writer Barrett Strong was all of 18 when he recorded it in 1959.

Berry Gordy disputed that Strong co-wrote Money – a song that would be widely covered, including by The Beatles – saying that Strong’s credit was a clerical error, and had his credit later removed. But eyewitnesses, including the session’s engineer, say that Strong laid down the distinctive piano riff before Gordy even turned up at the studio.

After a series of flops, Strong went to work in Detroit’s auto industry, but returned to co-write several Motown classics, especially for The Temptations: Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone, Just My Imagination, I Wish It Would Rain, Cloud Nine, I Can’t Get Next To You, Psychedelic Shack, Ball Of Confusion, Superstar, I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You), and others

He also co-wrote the double-hit I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye’s That’s The Way Love Is and Too Busy Thinking About My Baby, The Dells’ Stay In My Corner, Gladys Knight’s Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me and The End Of Our Road, War (first recorded by The Temptations but a hit for Edwin Starr); and the Undisputed Truth’s Smiling Faces Sometimes (also initially a Temptations song; though Papa… was originally recorded by the Undisputed Truth, see Any Major Motown Originals). The Marvin Gaye track Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home) was not a Motown hit, but became a UK #1 for Paul Young in 1983.

Strong left Motown in the early 1970s and returned to singing, releasing five albums between 1975 and 2008.

The New Wave Forerunner
As the leader, singer, guitarist and songwriter of Television, Tom Verlaine was at the vanguard of New York’s CBGB punk rock scene which also included the likes of the Ramones and Blondie. But, like Blondie, Television were more sophisticated than the punk label suggests, and arguably more a forerunner of what would come to be called new wave.

Verlaine had been something of a jazz prodigy as a kid who had been turned on to rock by the Rolling Stones, so he was trained to experiment and improvise. His guitar work is regarded as influential; with his Fender guitars, Verlaine was pivotal in introducing the surf sound of the early 1960s into the punk of the 1970s.

After Television, Verlaine had a productive solo career, wit even David Bowie covering his song Kingdom Come on Scary Monsters. Verlaine was a keen collaborator, including with ex-girlfriend and CBGB alumn Patti Smith.

The Fantasy Drummer
The year 2023 started with the sad news of the death of Fred White, drummer of Earth, Wind & Fire, and brother of the late Maurice and bassist Verdine. Fred had already been an established session drummer — having worked with acts like Little Feat, Linda Ronstadt, and Donny Hathaway — before he joined his brothers in EWF in 1974, just in time for the breakthrough That’s The Way Of The World album. He was still only 19

He stayed with the band throughout its long peak years, leaving in 1984. He went on to drum for acts like Toto, Sergio Mendes, Rick Springfield, Jennifer Holliday, Phyllis Human, Rod Stewart, ABC and others.

The King’s Daughter
If you’re the daughter if Elvis Presley, can you ever hope to measure up to your dad? Lisa Marie Presley was a pretty good singer with a powerful voice, and — unlike her dad — she could write songs. In a remix of In The Ghetto that merges her voice with Elvis’ vocals, Lisa Marie did not expose herself as a fraud, though the choice of song was not ideal. Five years later, in 2012, she released a second duet, I Love You Because, which worked beautifully.  On the same album, she released a track called You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, which is quite different from the song which the next victim of The Reaper helped make famous.

But Lisa Marie never really had the chance to step out of her dad’s shadow, as a musician or as a person. It has been said that as a bride, she was a trophy for Elvis-fanatic Nicolas Cage, the ultimate memorabilia in his collection. I don’t know whether that’s true, but their marriage lasted only a few months. Her marriage to Michael Jackson — the “King of Pop” wedded to the daughter of the King of Rock & Roll — seemed grotesque, though we cannot know or judge the hearts if those two people at that time. One area where Lisa Marie was able to use her surname to good effect was in her philanthropy, especially those initiatives that preceded and followed her time as a Scientologist.

The B in BTO
Well, Robbie Bachman was one of the Bs in Bachman-Turner Overdrive. The drummer was the younger brother of frontman Randy Bachman, with whom he had played in BTO predecessor band Brave Belt, and founding guitarist Tim Bachman. Robbie left the band in 1979, and legal troubles and disagreements with Randy made BTO reunions difficult. There was one in the late 1980s, but then Randy left. Later Robbie successfully sued Randy over the use of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive name.

Robbie is credited with designing the familiar BTO logo.

The Wrecking Crew Guitarist
Readers of a certain age may remember David Cassidy as Keith in the Partridge Family laying down some serious guitar licks. Chances are that those axeman moves were the work of Dennis Budimir, the Wrecking Crew guitarist who has left us at the age of 84, on the same day as fellow guitarist Jeff Beck. And when he (or Louie Shelton or Tommy Tedesco) was not making teenage girls swoon with his guitar work, Budimir was also a serious jazz musician.

Budimir backed acts like The Fifth Dimension, Jimmy Webb, Van Dyke Parks, Elvis Presley, TThe Association, Burt Bacharach, Bobbie Gentry, Helen Reddy, The Hues Corporation, Sergio Mendes, Clarence Carter, Freda Payne, Maria Muldaur, Randy Newman, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Ravi Shankar, Harry Nilsson, Cher, Bill Withers, Marlena Shaw, Brian Wilson, Barbra Streisand, Melissa Manchester, Dusty Springfield, Judy Collins, Ringo Starr (including on Back Off Boogaloo), Juice Newton (incl. Angel Of The Morning), Carpenters, Frank Zappa, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Waits, George Harrison, Robert Palmer, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Rod Stewart, and many more.

Like all Wrecking Crew alumni, he also played in many of the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” records.

In jazz he worked with the likes of Chico Hamilton (as a member of his quintet), Harry James, Gene Krupa, Bud Shanks, Keely Smith, Les McCann, Stan Kenton, Gabor Szabo, Bob Thiele, Nelson Riddle, David Axelrod, Lalo Schifrin, Lou Rawls, Julie London, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Ammons, Peggy Lee, Quincy Jones, Jon Lucien, Henry Mancini, Lee Ritenour, Milt Jackson, Stan Getz, Jimmy Smith, Rodney Franklin, Dave Grusin, Eric Dolphy, Toots Thielemans, Diane Schuur, and others.

Budimir also released a string of jazz albums of his own in the 1960s, and appeared on many soundtracks, including Quincy Jones’ award-winning The Color Purple, Bill Conti’s The Right Stuff, Elmer Bernstein’s Ghostbusters, and Randy Newman’s Toy Story.

A word of explanation: The featured track by The Monkees was first partially recorded in 1968, with Budimir and fellow Wrecking Crew regulars like the late Earl Palmer and Mike Melvoin, and completed in 2016 with Peter Tork on lead vocals for the band’s Good Times! album.

The Aussie Soul Singer
One of Australia’s premier pop singers, especially in the field of soul, Renee Geyer described herself, with more humour than pinpoint accuracy, as “a white Hungarian Jew from Australia sounding like a 65-year-old black man from Alabama”. Indeed, daughters of Holocaust survivors are rare in soul music. Geyer was named Renée after a woman who had saved her mother from the monstrous Dr Mengele at Auschwitz.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Geyer had hits in Australia with her cover of James Brown’s It’s a Man’s Man’s World, Heading In The Right Direction, Stares And Whispers (on which she was backed by Stevie Wonder’s band), and Say I Love You. Sher never broke through internationally, despite a long stay in the US. There she became a sought-after backing singer in the 1980s for acts like Sting (on tracks like Englishman In New York and Fragile) Chaka Khan, Joe Cocker, Neil Diamond, Men At Work, Buddy Guy, Toni Childs, Paul Anka, Jackson Brown, Bonnie Raitt, and others.

The Swedish Cult Singer
I’ve said it before: doing the In Memoriam gives me a chance to discover some good music I had never known about. One such gem is Swedish pop singer Doris, who has died at 75. Her 1970 album Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby apparently is a cult classic, especially after its re-release in the 1990s. It incorporates pop, soul, psychedelic, funk, folk, country, schlager… it’s really good fun.

Doris Svensson started recording in 1960 as a 13-year-old and sung with several groups. Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby was her debut album. When it didn’t sell well, Doris left the music business. Doris was inducted into the Swedish Music Hall of Fame in 2018.

The Video Man
I never really include directors of music videos in the In Memoriams, but British video and TV specials director Bruce Gowers, who has died at 82, merits inclusion for being a pioneer in the development of a promotional tool that changed music.

Gowers directed VH-1 staple videos such as several for Queen, including Bohemian Rhapsody and Somebody To Love, 10cc’s I’m Not In Love, Bee Gees Staying Alive, Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s The Night and Da Ya Think I’m Sexy, Kansas’ Dust In The Wind, Player’s Baby Come Back, Ambrosia’s How Much I Feel, Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman, Alicia Bridges’ I Love the Nightlife, Michael Jackson’s She’s Out Of My Life and Rock With You, Supertramp’s Logical Song and Breakfast in America, Christopher Cross’ Ride Like the Wind,  The Jackson’s Can You Feel It, Prince’s 1999, John Cougar’s Hurts So Good and Jack And Diane, Huey Lewis & The News’ The Heart of Rock & Roll, Arrested Development’s People Everyday, and loads more hits.

Gowers also directed many music shows and specials, and comedy specials (for acts like George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams and, most famously, Eddie Murphy’s Delirious). Music specials included Live 8 Philadelphia; Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration; Genius: A Night for Ray Charles; MTV Unplugged With Paul McCartney; and Rolling Stones: Bridges to Babylon.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.

Fred White, 67, drummer of Earth, Wind & Fire, on Jan. 1
Donny Hathaway – Little Ghetto Boy (1972, on drums)
Deniece Williams – Watching Over (1976, on drums, also as co-writer)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Magic Mind (1977, also as co-writer)
Earth, Wind & Fire – Star (1979)

Lázaro Valdés, 83, Cuban jazz musician, on Jan. 1
Lázaro Valdés – Quimbara (2011)

Sebastian Marino, 57, guitarist with metal bands Overkill, Anvil, on Jan. 1

Gangsta Boo, 43, rapper with hip hop band Three 6 Mafia, on Jan. 1
Gangsta Boo – Victim Of Yo Own Shit (2001)

Kingsize Taylor, 83, British rock & roll singer and guitarist, on Jab. 2
King Size Taylor and The Dominos – Stupidity (1964)

Alan Rankine, 64, Scottish keyboardist, guitarist and producer, on Jan. 3
The Associates – Party Fears Two (1982, also as co-writer)
Alan Rankine – The Sandman (1986)

Notis Mavroudis, 77, Greek guitarist and composer, on Jan. 3

Gordy Harmon, 79, singer with soul band The Whispers (1963-73), on Jan. 5
The Whispers – I Was Born When You Kissed Me (1966)

Kevin Lemons, 44, gospel singer, on Jan. 6

Jeff Blackburn, 77, rock songwriter and guitarist, on Jan. 6
Neil Young – My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue) (1979, as co-writer)

Danny Kaleikini, 85, Hawaiian singer, on Jan. 6

Steve James, 72, folk-blues singer, songwriter and guitarist, on Jan. 6

Tony Pantano, 74, Italian-born Australian singer, songwriter and actor, on Jan. 7
Tony Pantano – Every Time You Touch Me (1971)

Slim Newton, 90, Australian country singer-songwriter, on Jan. 8
Slim Newton – Redback On The Toilet Seat (1973, also as writer)

Séamus Begley, 73, Irish traditional musician, on Jan. 9

Frank Wyatt, musician, songwriter with prog-rock group Happy The Man, announced Jan. 10
Happy The Man – Open Book (1978, also as writer)

Jeff Beck, 78, guitar legend, on Jan. 10
The Yardbirds – For Your Love (1965, as member)
Jeff Beck – Hi Ho Silver Lining (1967, also as writer)
Stevie Wonder – Lookin’ For Another Pure Love (1972, on guitar)
Jeff Beck – Nessun Dorma (2010)

Dennis Budimir, 84, session guitarist with The Wrecking Crew, on Jan. 10
Chico Hamilton Quintet – Good Grief, Dennis (1959, as member)
The Fifth Dimension – Living Together, Growing Together (1973, on rhythm guitar)
Joni Mitchell – Trouble Child (1974, on electric guitar)
The Monkees – Wasn’t Born To Follow (1968/2016, on guitar)

Haakon Pedersen, 64, Norwegian singer, on Jan. 11

Robbie Bachman, 69, Canadian drummer of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, on Jan. 12
Brave Belt – Crazy Arms, Crazy Eyes (1971, as member)
Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Takin’ Care Of Business (1973)
Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Roll On Down The Highway (1975, also as co-writer)

Lisa Marie Presley, 54, singer-songwriter, on Jan. 12
Elvis Presley with Lisa Marie Presley – In The Ghetto (2007)
Lisa Marie Presley – You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (2011)

Thomasina Winslow, 57, blues musician, on Jan. 13
Thomasina Winslow – I’m Goin’ Away (2002)

Keith Beaton, 72, tenor singer with soul group Blue Magic, announced Jan. 14
Blue Magic – Stop To Start (1973)

Matthias Carras, 58, German pop singer, on Jan. 14

Yukihiro Takahashi, 70, drummer of Japanese electropop band Yellow Magic Orchestra, on Jan. 14
Yellow Magic Orchestra – Computer Game (1978, also as co-writer)
Yukihiro Takahashi – Drip Dry Eyes (1981)

J. Harris, 31, singer, American Idol contestant, on Jan. 15

Doris, 75, Swedish pop singer, on Jan. 15
Doris – Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby (1970)
Doris – Don’t (1970)

Bruce Gowers, 82, British television and music video director, on Jan. 15
Ambrosia – How Much I Feel (1978, as video director)

Johnny Powers, 84, American rockabilly singer and guitarist, on Jan. 16
Johnny Powers – Long Blond Hair, Red Rose Lips (1957, also as writer)

Larry Morris, 75, singer of New Zealand garage rock band Larry’s Rebels, on Jan. 17
Larry’s Rebels – Dream Time (1967)

Renee Geyer, 69, Australian jazz and soul singer, on Jan. 17
Renee Geyer – It’s A Man’s Man’s World (1973)
Renee Geyer – Stares And Whispers (1977)
Sting – Englishman In New York (1988, on backing vocals)

T.J. deBlois, 38, drummer of metal band A Life Once Lost, on Jan. 17

Van Conner, 55, bassist of grunge band Screaming Trees, on Jan. 17
Screaming Trees – Nearly Lost You (1992)

David Crosby, 81, folk-rock singer and songwriter, on Jan. 17
The Byrds – All I Really Want To Do (1965, as member; lead on bridge)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Almost Cut My Hair (1970, as writer & lead vocals)
David Crosby – Laughing (1971, also as writer)
David Crosby – Time I Have (1994, also as writer)

Gary Smith, producer, announced Jan. 18
Juliana Hatfield – Everybody Loves Me But You (1992, as producer)

Marcel Zanini, 99, Turkish-born French jazz musician, on Jan. 18

Rudy Englebert, 72, ex-bassist of Dutch band Herman Brood & His Wild Romance, on Jan. 19

Stella Chiweshe, 76, Zimbabwean mbira player, on Jan. 20

B.G., The Prince of Rap, 57, US-born German-based rapper and dance musician, on Jan. 21
BG, The Prince Of Rap – The Power Of The Rhythm (1992)

Nikos Xanthopoulos, 88, Greek actor and folk singer, on Jan. 22

Top Topham, 75, original guitarist The Yardbirds, on Jan. 23
Christine Perfect – I’m On My Way (1969, on guitar)

Carol Sloane, 85, jazz singer, on Jan. 23
Carol Sloane – Taking A Chance On Love (1962)

Cindy Williams, 75, actress and duetist as part of Laverne & Shirley, on Jan. 23
Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams – Five Years On (1977)

Jackson Rohm, 51, country and pop singer-songwriter, on Jan.24
Jackson Rohm – Never Alone (2018)

Dean Daughtry, 76, co-founder and keyboardist of Atlanta Rhythm Section, on Jan. 26
Classics IV feat. Dennis Yost – Traces (1968, as member)
Atlanta Rhythm Section – Champagne Jam (1978)

Floyd Sneed, 80, Canadian drummer of Three Dog Night, on Jan. 27
Three Dog Night – Rock & Roll Widow (1970, also as co-writer)

Tom Verlaine, 73, rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, on Jan. 28
Television – Venus (1977)
Tom Verlaine – Words From The Front (1982)
Tom Verlaine – Stalingrad (1990)
Tom Verlaine – Blue Light (2006)

Odd Børre, 83, Norwegian pop singer, on Jan. 28

Barrett Strong, 81, soul singer and songwriter, on Jan. 29
Barret Strong – Money (1959, also as uncredited co-writer)
The Temptations – I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1969, as co-writer)
Barrett Strong – Man Up In The Sky (1976, also as co-writer)
Barrett Strong – I Wish It Would Rain (2001, also as co-writer)

Heddy Lester, 72, Dutch singer and actress, half of duo April Shower, on Jan. 29
April Shower – Railroadsong (1971)

Charlie Thomas, 85, tenor singer with The Drifters (1958-67), on Jan. 31
The Drifters – Sweets For My Sweet (1961, on lead vocals)
The Drifters – When My Little Girl Is Smiling (1962, on lead vocals)

Donnie Marsico, 68, singer of rock band The Jaggerz, on Jan. 31
The Jaggerz – The Rapper (1970)


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Any Major Hits from 1973 – Vol. 1

January 26th, 2023 2 comments

Flashback 50 years ago to 1973! This is the first of two mixes of hits in that year. As in the mixes covering past years, it’s supposed to be a snapshot of the year’s charts, rather than a representative overview — because if it was that, these mixes could be pretty bad (US top song of 1973? Tie A Yellow Ribbon…). I’ve also not necessarily chosen the biggest or even the best hits of the year; if I had, Superstition would feature.

So, the goal is to evoke a little bit of 1973, with some classics and some perhaps half-forgotten hits. The first mix for 1973 focuses on the US charts; the follow-up will cover the UK. What surprised me in researching these two mixes is how few British acts had hits in the US in 1973. The British invasion had been repelled.

In the Top 100 hits of the year, there were British mega acts like Elton John, Wings, George Harrison, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd — all global stars whose fame transcended their passports. Otherwise, Sweet featured with Little Willy, Stealer’s Wheel with Stuck In The Middle With You, and Gilbert O’Sullivan (who was Irish) with the awful Get Down and the rather sweet Clair. Plus Focus, who were Dutch.

By contrast, the UK charts were full of US acts, including a number of tracks on this mix. That mix will drop later in the year.

The debates about the “first-ever disco record” are futile, because how do you define disco, a genre of several strands? But I think that any list of proto-disco songs should include First Choice’s quite wonderful Armed And Extremely Dangerous.

I suppose a companion series to this one before us today is A Life In Vinyl, which goes back to 1977, when I started to invest seriously in records.  That series tracks my music-buying behaviour in the decade or so that followed.

If you dig the feel of 1973, take a look at the collection of posters from West-Germany’s Bravo magazine in 1973 (other years are available, too).

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-lovetraineded covers. PW in Comments.

1. Deep Purple – Smoke On The Water
2. Alice Cooper – No More Mr Nice Guy
3. Edgar Winter Group – Free Ride
4. Doobie Brothers – Long Train Runnin’
5. Jim Croce – I Got A Name
6. Helen Reddy – Delta Dawn
7. Skylark – Wildflower
8. Dobie Gray – Drift Away
9. The Independents – Leaving Me
10. Barry White – I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Babe
11. O’Jays – Love Train
12. Three Dog Night – Shambala
13. Ozark Mountain Daredevils – If You Wanna Get To Heaven
14. King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight
15. Seals & Crofts – We May Never Pass This Way (Again)
16. Chicago – Just You ‘N’ Me
17. The Isley Brothers – That Lady
18. Ike & Tina Turner – Nutbush City Limits
19. Billy Preston – Will It Go Round In Circles
20. First Choice – Armed And Extremely Dangerous
21. Carole King – Corazon
22. Maria Muldaur – Midnight At The Oasis


Any Major Hits from 1944
Any Major Hits from 1947
Any Major Hits from 1961
Any Major Hits from 1970
Any Major Hits from 1971
Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 1
Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 2

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Any Major Favourites 2022 – Vol. 2

January 17th, 2023 3 comments

Last week I ran the first set of “favourites” from Any Major mixes in 2022, with links to the respective posts (with a PDF containing them included). Here’s the second volume.

I noted last week how popular the Songbooks have been. In 2022, I songbooked Carole King, Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson on their respective 80th birthdays, and Elton John, Carol Bayer Sager and the late Laura Nyro on their 75th, and Lamont Dozier (alone and with the Holland brothers) on his passing. I’ll have to see what jubilees there are in 2023 (a couple are pencilled in already); obviously there needn’t be a special occasion to run a Songbook.

Of course I’ll continue other regulars: Covered With Soul (for which I have a surprise coming up), Any Major Soul, A Year in Hits, Albums of the Year, and so on. And no doubt here’ll be a few stand-alones, like 2022’s Any Major Laurel Canyon, Any Major Party and Any Major Sugar. And there will be more Beatles in foreign languages.

All this presumes, of course, that I will have the time to continue as I have in the past. Professional and private priorities must obviously take precedence, but how can I think of cutting back when I get such kind comments, such as this by a reader signing off as Le Trev:

I have no idea how I came across your site only a few days ago but it is my best Christmas present so far. (Albeit the only one but no matter!) If you are a one-man Operator, then your knowledge of “popular music” probably cannot be bettered by anybody in ” The business”!

Of course, you are invited to leave comments on posts — even if to say you enjoyed or didn’t like a mix. In fact, I would be very happy if you could tell me which mixes you particularly liked over the past year. This mix also include a PDF with the links below, for later reference. PW in comments.

1. Jo Jo Gunne – Run Run Run (1972)
Any Major Hits from 1972 – Vol. 2

2. Ike & Tina Turner – Get Back (1973)
Paul McCartney Songbook Vol. 1

3. Wilson Pickett – Sugar Sugar (1970)
Covered With Soul Vol. 24

4. The Monkees – Pleasant Valley Sunday (1967)
Any Major Carole King Songbook Vol. 2

5. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – The Legend Of Xanadu (1968)
Any Major Teen Dreams

6. Southern Freeze – Freeez (1981)
Any Major Disco Vol. 10 – Party Like It’s 1981

7. Charles & Eddie – Would I Lie To You (Acoustic Version) (1992)
Any Major Charlies

8. Dexys Midnight Runners – Liars A To E (1982)
Any Major Albums of the Year: 1982

9. The Pogues – Streets Of Sorrow/Birmingham Six (1988)
Life in Vinyl 1988

10. Carole King – Sweet Seasons (1970)
Any Major Laurel Canyon

11. Salome Bey – Hit The Nail Right On The Head (1970)
Any Major ABC of Canada

12. Chairmen Of The Board – Everything’s Tuesday (1970)
Any Major Lamont Dozier Songbook

13. Z.Z. Hill – Cheating In The Next Room (1982)
Any Major Soul 1982

14. The Bushmen – Pioggia (1966)
Any Major Beatles in Italian

15. Jody Reynolds – Endless Sleep (1958)
Any Major Teenage Tragedy

16. Merle Travis – So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed (1947)
Any Major Hits From 1947


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Any Major Favourites 2022 – Vol. 1

January 10th, 2023 2 comments


I noticed with some surprise that I’ve been doing these reviews of mixes posted throughout the gone year since 2015. Happily, it seems that people aren’t getting tired of what I’m doing in this little corner of the Internet, so I hope that I’ll be able to offer new Any Major Favourites comps in 2024.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. What we have here is the first of two mixes featuring a song from each mix posted in 2022 (with the exception of the Party Like It’s 1981 set, which ran in December 2021, and the year’s only Christmas album). These songs are among my favourites on each compilation.

In the tracklisting, I give a link to the particular mix these tracks come from, for easy click-through in case you missed it the first time around. I also have these links in a PDF file that is included.

So, which Any Majors have I listened to most? Obviously I don’t keep count — that would be weird — but the one I have loved the most is the Any Major Laurel Canyon mix, which I had put together long before I posted it. Because it is my top mix of the year, it will feature again on Vol. 2.

Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 12 got a lot of play, as did the Songbooks of Carole King (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) and Elton John (actually, all the Songbooks did), the Any Major Hits from 1972 (Vol. 1 and Vol.2), and Albums of 1972 and 1982.

The Songbooks seems to be a very popular feature, and I have a few more in store for 2023. Poignantly, I compiled this playlist last month, before the death on New Year’s Eve of Anita Pointer. It closes with a song by the Pointer Sisters, from the Carole Bayer Sager Songbook, on which Anita took the lead vocals.

Older Any Major Favourite posts contain links to mixes you might have missed. Many of their links are still live. This post is also included as a PDF, for later reference.

At this point I want to thank the good people who have bought me coffees over the past year, and thereby helped in covering the costs of running this thing. With that, I wish everybody a superb and superbly healthy 2023.1. Rhinestones – Party Music (1975)
Any Major Party

2. Sad Café – Every Day Hurts (1979)
Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 12

3. Malo – Suavecito (1972)
Any Major Hits from 1972 – Vol. 1

4. The Style Council – Long Hot Summer (1983)
Best of Any Major Summer

5. Soft Cell – Where Did Our Love Go (1981)
Holland-Dozier-Holland Songbook

6. Richie Havens – Band On The Run (1974)
Paul McCartney Songbook Vol. 2

7. Martha Reeves – Dixie Highway (1974)
Any Major Carole King Songbook Vol. 1

8. Claudia Lennear – It Ain’t Easy (1973)
Ziggy Stardust Recovered (1972)

9. The Allman Brothers Band – Blue Sky (1972)
Any Major Albums of the Year: 1972

10. Jimi Hendrix – Angel (1971)
Saved! Vol. 6 – The Angels edition

11. Judee Sill – Crayon Angels (1971)
Any Major Laurel Canyon

12. Dave Alvin – Surfer Girl (2006)
Brian Wilson Songbook

13. Joseph Arthur – Honey And The Moon (2002)
Any Major Sugar

14. Neil Diamond – Rocket Man (1978)
Any Major Elton John & Bernie Taupin Songbook

15. Swing Out Sister – Stoned Soul Picnic (1997)
Any Major Laura Nyro Songbook

16. Candi Staton – Nights On Broadway (1977)
Barry Gibb Songbook Vol. 2

17. Pointer Sisters – The Love Too Good To Last (1980)
Any Major Carole Bayer Sager Songbook


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In Memoriam – December 2022

January 5th, 2023 5 comments

What a depressingly brutal, never-ending pestilent month closed down the year 2022! The list of music people who deserved a write-up is much longer than what I could find the time for. Those who might have featured most other months include Maxi Jazz of UK dance group Faithless, Lars Lönndahl (the “Swedish Sinatra”), the drummer of the Young Rascals or the bassist of The Tubes, Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, rock & roll singer Charlie Gracie, and more.

It was a truly awful month for soul fans, with three huge losses and a few smaller ones, and for English new wave/punk/indie/dance fans, for Portugal and Sweden….

Lastly, if you are of a sensitive nature, better don’t translate the title of the song by Italian band Stadio.


The Philly Soul Man
In July we lost Delfonics singer William ‘Poogie’ Hart, now the writer, producer and arranger of most of those great hits by The Delfonics (and The Stylistics and The Spinners) has left us. Thom Bell was in the vanguard in defining Philly Soul in the late 1960s and the ’70s, along with his collaborators Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

The son of Jamaican immigrants once sang in a band with Gamble, Huff and Daryl Hall, the future sidekick of John Oates. A classically-trained musician, Bell first worked for the Cameo/Parkway label, writing a series of songs and producing Chubby Checker and, by 1967, The Del Fonics (who’d soon streamline their name). With Poogie Hart, Bell wrote harmonies-heavy hits which would shape what we’d come to call Philly Soul, such as the parentheses-heavy classics La-La (Means I Love You), Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), and Ready Or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide From Love). Bell also produced and arranged these tracks, and many others he didn’t co-write.

Other hits he wrote (many of them with Linda Creed) include The Stylistics’ I’m Stone In Love With You, You Make Me Feel Brand New, Betcha by Golly Wow, People Make The World Go Round, Ebony Eyes, Break Up To Make Up, Stop Look Listen (To Your Heart), and You Are Everything (the latter two were later covered by Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye); The Spinners’ I’ll Be Around, Ghetto Child, and The Rubberband Man (Bell only produced Could It Be I’m Falling In Love); Dusty Springfield’s Brand New Me (covered to great effect by Aretha Franklin); New York City’s I’m Doin’ Fine Now. (Links are to mixes that feature these tracks.)

Bell produced all the big Stylistics, Spinners and Delfonics hits, as well as records by acts like The O’Jays (including Backstabbers), Dionne Warwick (including her chart-topping duet with The Spinners, Then Came You), Johnny Mathis, Billy Paul, Ronnie Dyson, New York City, Elton John (including the 1979 hit Mama Can’t Buy You Love) and others. After Philly Soul faded away, Bell produced hits such as Deniece Williams’ It’s Gonna Take A Miracle James Ingram’s I Don’t Have The Heart.

In November we also lost Joseph Tarsia, in whose Sigma Sound Studios Bell created many of these hits.

The Pointer Sister
With the death on New Year’s Eve of Anita Pointer, there is only one surviving Pointer Sister, namely Ruth (who keeps carrying the Pointer flame with her daughter and granddaughter). Bonnie left us in 2020, and June in 2006.

Anita was the last sister to join the group. At one point, she was also in charge of making the most unexpected impact when she and Bonnie wrote the country-soul song Fairy Tale, a 1974 hit on which Anita took the lead vocals. It not only earned the sisters a Grammy for best country song but also a place on the stage of the usually integration-sceptic Grand Ole Opry. The following year, the song was covered by Elvis Presley. For the sisters, singing country was a normal extension of what they had grown up with. In 1986, Anita went on to have a country hit with Earl Thomas Conley, titled Too Many Times. The following year she released her only solo album.

Anita took the lead on many of Pointer Sister hits, including Yes We Can Can, Slow Hand, Fire (the original of which featured on Any Major Soul Originals Vol. 2), and the wonderful I’m So Excited.

The Specials One
Few artists manage to score hits with three different groups and then make a mark as a critically-acclaimed solo act. Terry Hall did so as lead singer of The Specials, then with his trio Fun Boy Three, then with The Colourfield — all in the space of just six years, between 1979 and ’85.

With The Specials he inspired a generation, in Britain and in many parts of Europe, of ska or two-tone fans. In 1981, Hall suddenly left The Specials and founded Fun Boy Three with two fellow Specials alumni. That group had hits of their own, and two more with Bananarama. One of these collaborations, with Bananarama as the headliners, was a cover of The Velvelettes’ Really Saying Something — and we lost a Velvelette in December, too.

In 1983, after four Top 10 hits — including Our Lips Are Sealed, which Hall wrote with The Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin — the trio split. Hall went on to found The Colourfield, another trio, which scored one hit with the wonderful Thinking Of You (featured on A Life In Vinyl 1985 Vol. 1). Further bands and collaborations — notably with the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart and Steven Duffy — followed.

For much of his life Hall suffered from depression, a result of a horrifying crime of sexual abuse when he was 12. Known for his political principles, humility and kindness, Hall was widely mourned after his death by cancer at only 63.

The Soul Builder
It was a fiddle-playing hillbilly who changed rhythm & blues music so fundamentally that the record label he co-founded and ran has become a byword for soul music. Jim Stewart, who has died at 92, was the co-founder of Stax Records, the label that gave us a galaxy of soul stars such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, William Bell, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Eddie Floyd, the Bar-Kays, Johnnie Taylor, The Staple Singers, and so on. The label’s name was a contraction of the first letters of Stewart’s surname and that of co-founder Estelle Axton, his sister.

Stax was a non-racial oasis in segregated Memphis, with even the house session band racially mixed. Atlantic Records sent many of their acts to record at Stax; Atlantic also was a distributor for Stax, and screwed over the label royally in the late 1960s. This and the death of Redding forced the label to rebuild itself, as a subsidiary of Paramount. It did so to spectacular effect in the early 1970s, giving us the eternal gift that is Isaac Hayes, culminating in 1972’s Wattstax concert, the “Black Woodstock”. Even Elvis Presley recorded at Stax.

But financial troubles soon hit, especially owed taxes. Stewart lost almost all he had trying to save Stax. He returned to producing in the 1980s, but soon left the music business.


The Inspirer
As half of the folky Canadian singing-songwriting duo Ian & Sylvia, Ian Tyson helped inspire the greats of the genre which his country would soon give to the world, such as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Gordon Lightfoot. The latter would later have a hit with his cover the duo’s Early Morning Rain, which featured in Any Major Orginals – The 1970s.

Tyson and Sylvia Fricker started performing in 1959, and had a number of hits as Ian & Sylvia and later with their band The Speckled Bird. They hosted a TV show, and in 2005 the Tyson-composed Four Strong Winds topped a poll by CBC Radio One listeners of the all-time greatest Canadian song. It has been covered by many great artists, including Canadians Neil Young and The Band.

Ian and Sylvia divorced amicably in 1975. Tyson enjoyed a long solo career in folk and country music.

The Strangler
In the first vanguard of punk in the UK were The Stranglers, though they could be better described as a pub-rock band. They certainly were older than the other bands in that vanguard, and drummer Jet Black was older than the other Stranglers. Black, who has died at 84, was in his late 30s when punk happened, and had success as a businessman before co-founding The Stranglers in 1974. He had 23 UK Top 40 singles with the band.

Black, born in 1938 as Brian Duffy, stayed with The Stranglers until 2018, when poor health forced his retirement.

The Velvelette
The narrative with Motown bands usually involve housing projects, high schools or factories. Not so with the Velvelettes, who had their roots at the music school of the Western Michigan University. There students Bertha Barbee-McNeal — who has died at 82 — and Mildred Gill formed The Velvelettes, roping in Bertha’s cousin Norma, Mildred’s sister Carolyn, and a friend. And it was their performances on campus that brought them to Motown’s attention in 1962.

The Velvelettes never broke huge — their biggest hit was the superb Needle In A Haystack, which reached US #45 — but they occupy a firm place in Motown’s history. By 1967, Bertha and all but one of the group left. Bertha went on to raise a family, obtained a masters degree in music education, and worked in that field in the Michigan city of Kalamazoo.

The Bob
The kindly Bob McGrath was a fixture of my childhood as one of the adults on Sesame Street, whose cast he joined at its inception 1969 and remained with for the following 36 years. Before he was Bob on Sesame Street, McGrath was a singer with easy listening legend Mitch Miller in the 1960s, and Miller presented an album of McGrath singing easy listening songs (it’s not my cup of tea, I have to say). McGrath also enjoyed a string of hits in Japan, singing in Japanese.

How decent a guy was Bob? Well, he remained married to his wife for 64 years, till his death at the age of 90.


The Composer
In June we lost Julee Cruise, who gave a voice to the theme of Twin Peaks. Now the theme’s composer Angelo Badalamenti, has followed her at the age of 85. The New York-born film and television composer had a rich vein of film scores, many with director David Lynch, including Blue Velvet, The Straight Story and Mulholland Drive. Badalamenti also scored films such as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The City of Lost Children, Holy Smoke!, and A Very Long Engagement.

In his long career, which started in 1962, he also recorded with acts like Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Pet Shop Boys, Dusty Springfield, Marianne Faithfull, and David Bowie.

The Krautrock Guitarist
As the leader of the groups Ash Ra Tempel (with drummer Klaus Schulze and bassist Hartmut Enke) and Ashra in the 1970s and 80s, Manuel Göttsching was one of the most influential guitarists of the Krautrock genre. Born in 1952 in West-Berlin, he drew his influences widely, from the pop and rock of the 1960s he grew up with, from classical music, and from the free jazz which encouraged the trained classical guitarist to improvise. According to Wikipedia, “his style and technique influenced dozens of artists in the post-Eno ambient and Berlin School of electronic music scenes in the 1980s and 1990s”, a statement I’m not qualified to cast doubt on.

I don’t know if Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo have conveyed their crooning skills to record, but Brazilian football legend Pelé made a couple of compentent turns as a bossa nova singer, in 1969 in a duet with Regina Elis (written by Pelé himself) and in 1977 for the Sergio Mendes-produced soundtrack to a film about the GOAT’s life. On the latter, Pelé was accompanied by singer Gracinha Leporace (who also happened to be Mendes’ wife). On saxophone we hear Gerry Mulligan, on drums Jim Keltner — both also legends in their fields.

The Latino Belgian
Among the most unusual exponents of Latin music were the Chakachas, whose recording career spanned almost 20 years, from 1958 to 1977. Formed in Brussels, its members were all Flemish Belgians (and a Dutchman), including bandleader and percussionist Gaston Bogaerts, who has died at 101.

In the 1950s and 1960s — a time when cultural appropriation was not a problem yet — the Chakachas created Latin dance music, and even entered the lower reaches of the UK charts once, The group may be best known for their superb 1970 Latin funk song Jungle Fever, or perhaps 1972’s funk groover Stories.


The Casey
When The Beatles were one of several beat groups among many, their rivals for Merseybeat supremacy included Cass & the Cassanovas, whose leader Brian Casser (a.k.a. Casey Jones) has died at 86. Casser also ran his own club in Liverpool, the Casanova Club, where The Silver Beetles appeared. There is a story according to which it was Casser who suggested that the young band change the spelling of their proposed rebranded name from The Beatals to The Beatles.

Having moved to London, Casser restyled himself as Casey Jones, and formed Casey Jones and The Engineers, with whom he recorded a 1963 single, One Way Ticket. The group at one point included pre-fame Eric Clapton and Tom McGuinness. Soon Casey moved to Germany, where his group, now Casey Jones & The Governors, followed in the Beatles’ footsteps with a residency at Hamburg’s Star Club. The group had a few hits in West Germany, including Don’t Ha Ha, a reworking of Huey Smith’s Don’t You Just Know It.

Casey remained in Germany, working later as a DJ, and died there on December 27.

The Moog Co-inventor
One featured track here isn’t much to listen to, except as a historic artefact: “Jazz Images – A Worksong And Blues” was the first piece of music ever written for the Moog synthesizer by the instrument’s co-inventor, Herbert Deutsch, who has died at 90.

For pop music, the introduction of the Moog was a moment of revolution, with Giorgio Moroder being at the forefront in popularising it through his song Son Of My Father, which became a global hit in Chicory Tip’s cover in 1972.

The Hep Swede
In the 1960s, one of Sweden’s biggest groups was the Hep Stars, whose keyboard player, Benny Anderson, went on to become a global star and musical genius as one of the Bs in ABBA. At the height of their success, the Hep Stars’ lead singer was Svenne Hedlund, who has died at 77.

Hedlund was also a member of the band Idolerna, and with his US-born singer wife Charlotte formed the duo Svenne & Lotta in the late 1960s, having a string of minor hits in Europe as Sven & Charlotte (they divorced in 2014). The featured songs by the duo were written by old pals: Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA. Dance is a cover of the ABBA album track, Funky Feet was intended for ABBA’s Arrival album but was rejected because it supposedly sounded too much like Dancing Queen.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.

Andrew Speight, 58, Australian-born saxophonist, in train accident on Dec. 1

Jo Carol Pierce, 78, singer-songwriter and playwright, on Dec. 2
Jo Carol Pierce – Borderline Tango (1995)

Svenne Hedlund, 77, Swedish singer (Hep Stars), on Dec. 3
The Hep Stars – Sunny Girl (1966)
Sven & Charlotte – Dance (While The Music Still Goes On) (1974)
Svenne & Lotta – Funky Feet (1977)

Bobby Naughton, 78, jazz vibraphonist and pianist, on Dec. 3
Bobby Naughton – Nauxtagram (2014)

Alexandre Zelkine, 84, French folk music singer, on Dec. 3

Jamie Freeman, 57, British singer and songwriter (actor Martin’s brother), on Dec. 3
The Jamie Freeman Agreement – Steel Away (2013)

Manuel Göttsching, 70, German musician (Ash Ra Tempel) and composer, on Dec. 4
Ash Ra Tempel – Daydream (1973)
Ashra – Sunrain (1977)

Jim Stewart, 92, co-founder of Stax Records, producer, on Dec. 5
Otis Redding – Respect (1965, as producer)
Wilson Pickett – 634-5789 (Soulsville) (1966, as producer)
The Soul Children – Hearsay (1972, as producer)
Shirley Brown – Woman To Woman (1974, as co-producer)

Bob McGrath, 90, actor and singer (Sesame Street), on Dec. 4
Bob McGrath – On The Street Where You Live (1965)
Bob and Sesame Street Cast – People In Your Neighborhood (1969)

Hamsou Garba, 63, Niger singer, on Dec. 5

Jess Barr, 46, guitarist of alt.country band Slobberbone, on Dec. 5
Slobberbone – Pinball Song (2000)

Alexandre Zelkine, 84, French folk music singer, on Dec. 5

Jet Black, 84, drummer of The Stranglers, on Dec. 6
The Stranglers – (Get A) Grip (On Yourself) (1977)
The Stranglers – Nice ‘n’ Sleazy (1978)
The Stranglers – Always The Sun (1986)

Hamish Kilgour, 65, co-founder of New Zealand indie band The Clean, found Dec. 6
The Clean – Flowers (1982)

Peter Cooper, 52, country singer, songwriter, producer, exec, journalist, on Dec. 6
Peter Cooper – Wine (2008)

Fionna Duncan, 83, Scottish jazz singer, on Dec. 6

Carmen Jara, 85, Spanish copla singer, on Dec. 6
Carmen Jara – Amor que te di (1966)

Quin Ivy, 85, soul songwriter and producer, on Dec. 7
Percy Sledge – When A Man Loves A Woman (1966, as co-producer)
Bill Brandon – Rainbow Road (1969, as producer)

Roddy Jackson, 80, rock & roll singer, songwriter and pianist, on Dec. 7
Roddy Jackson – I’ve Got My Sights On Someone New (1958)

Mack Allen Smith, 84, rockabilly and blues singer, on Dec. 7
Mack Allen Smith – Skeleton Fight (1964)

Leno, 73, Brazilian singer, guitarist and composer, on Dec. 8

Djalma Corrêa, 80, Brazilian musician and composer, on Dec. 8
Djalma Correa – Salsa (1984)

Yitzhak Klepter, 72, guitarist of Israeli bands The Churchills, Kaveret, on Dec. 8

Gaston Bogaerts, 101, bandleader and percussionist of Belgian Latin-funk band Chakachas, on Dec. 9
Les Chakachas – Eso es el amor (1958)
Chakachas – Jungle Fever (1970)
Chakachas – Stories (1972)

Herbert Deutsch, 90, co-inventor of the Moog synthesizer, composer, on Dec. 9
Herbert Deutsch – Jazz Images – A Worksong And Blues (1960s, first music written for Moog)

Tony Hill, rhythm guitarist of UK-based rock group The Misunderstood, announced Dec. 10
The Misunderstood – I Can Take You To The Sun (1966, also as co-writer)

J.J. Barnes, 79, soul singer, on Dec. 10
J. J. Barnes – Hold On To It (1968)
J.J. Barnes – She’s Mine (1976)

Tshala Muana, 64, Congolese singer, on Dec. 10
Tshala Muana – Cicatrice d’amour (1985)

Zak Godwin, 57, rock guitarist and singer, in hit-and-run on Dec. 10
Zak Godwin – Missin’ The Muse (2000)

José Ángel Trelles, 78, Argentine singer, musician and composer, on Dec. 10

Tracy Hitchings, 60, former lead singer of UK prog-rock group Landmarq, on Dec. 10
Landmarq – Prayer (Coming Home) (2012)

Georgia Holt, 96, singer and actress (mother of Cher), on Dec. 10
Georgia Holt – I Sure Don’t Want To Love You (2013)

Angelo Badalamenti, 85, film and television composer, on Dec. 11
Christine Hunter – Santa Bring Me Ringo (1964, as co-writer and arranger)
Nina Simone – I Hold No Grudge (1967, as co-writer)
Angelo Badalamenti – Theme from Twin Peaks (1990, as writer and conductor)

Stuart Margolin, 82, TV actor, singer and songwriter, on Dec. 12
Shango – Day After Day (It’s Slippin’ Away) (1969, as co-writer)

Roberto Ferri, 75, Italian singer and songwriter, on Dec. 12

Ekambi Brillant, 74, Cameroonian makossa singer, on Dec. 12
Ekambi Brillant – Ayo Mba (1977)

Sol Amarfio, 84, Ghanaian drummer of Afro-funk band Osibisa, on Dec. 13
Osibisa – Flying Bird Anoma (1976)

Lalo Rodríguez, 64, Puerto Rican salsa singer, on Dec. 13
Lalo Rodriguez – Tu No Sabes Querer (1980)

Grand Daddy I.U., 54, rapper with Juice Crew, on Dec. 13
Grand Daddy I.U. – Something New (1990)

Kim Simmonds, 75, founder and guitarist of English rock group Savoy Brown, on Dec. 13
Savoy Brown – Cold Hearted Woman (1981)

Benjamin Bossi, 69, saxophonist of new wave band Romeo Void, on Dec. 13
Romeo Void – A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing) (1984)

Koji Ryu, 60, member of Japanese pop band C-C-B, on Dec. 14

Rock Nalle, 79, Danish rock musician, on Dec. 14
Nalle – Amanda (1980)

Djene Djento, 59, Cameroonian singer-songwriter, on Dec. 14

Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss, 40, DJ on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, suicide announced Dec. 14

Dino Danelli, 78, drummer of The Rascals, on Dec. 15
The Young Rascals – Good Lovin’ (1966)
The Young Rascals – How Can I Be Sure (1967)

Shirley Eikhard, 67, Canadian singer-songwriter, on Dec. 15
Shirley Eikhard – Say You Love Me (1976, as writer)

Bertha Barbee-McNeal, 82, founding member of The Velvelettes, on Dec. 16
The Velvelettes – Needle In A Haystack (1964)
The Velvelettes – These Things Will Keep Me Loving You (1966)

Rick Anderson, 75, bassist of The Tubes, on Dec. 16
The Tubes – Don’t Touch Me There (1976)
The Tubes – The Monkey Time (1983)

Jean-Paul Corbineau, 74, singer-songwriter with French folk-rock band Tri Yann, on Dec. 16
Tri Yann – Si mort à mors (1981, also as co-writer)

DJ Shog, 46, German trance DJ and producer, on Dec. 16

Charlie Gracie, 86, rock & roll singer, on Dec. 17
Charlie Gracie – Butterfly (1957)

Yuji Tanaka, 65, drummer of Japanese rock band Anzen Chitai, on Dec. 17

Terry Hall, 63, English singer and songwriter, on Dec. 18
The Specials – Gangsters (1983)
Fun Boy Three – The Tunnel Of Love (1983)
Colourfield – Castles In The Air
Terry Hall – Sonny And His Sister (1997)

Martin Duffy, 55, keyboardist with English groups Felt, Primal Scream, on Dec. 18
Felt feat. Elizabeth Fraser – Primitive Painters (1985)
Primal Scream – Rocks (1994)

Sandy Edmonds, 74, New Zealand pop singer, on Dec. 19
Sandy Edmonds – Daylight Saving Time (1967)

Randy Begg, 71, drummer of Canadian pop band Wednesday, on Dec. 20
Wednesday – Last Kiss (1973)

Iain Templeton, drummer of British rock band Shack, on Dec. 20
Shack – Natalie’s Party (1999)

Anton Habibulin, 44, guitarist of Russian rick band Tantsy Minus, on Dec. 20

Claudisabel, 40, Portuguese singer, car accident on Dec. 20
Claudisabel – Não Vou Voltar A Chorar (2002)

Mauro Sabbione, 65, keyboardist of Italian pop group Matia Bazar, on Dec. 21

Harvey Jett, 73, guitarist of rock band Black Oak Arkansas (1970–74), on Dec. 21
Black Oak Arkansas – Hot And Nasty (1971)

Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington, 79, blues singer and guitarist, on Dec. 22
Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington – It’s Rainin’ In My Life (2011)

Thom Bell, 79, Jamaican-born soul songwriter, producer and arranger, on Dec. 22
The Delfonics – Ready Or Not Here I Come (1969, as co-writer, co-producer, arranger)
The Stylistics – You Make Me Feel Brandnew (1973, as co-writer, producer)
Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye – You Are Everything (1974, as writer)
The Spinners – Rubberband Man (1976, as co-writer, producer)

Big Scarr, 22, rapper, on Dec. 22

Maxi Jazz, 65, musician, rapper, singer, songwriter of UK electronic band Faithless, on Dec. 23
Maxi Jazz – What More Can I Say? (1992)
Faithless feat. Dido – One Step Too Far (2002, also as co-writer)

Massimo Savić, 60, Croatian singer of Yugoslav rock band Dorian Gray, on Dec. 23

Madosini, 78, South African traditional musician, on Dec. 24
Madonisi – Uthando Luphelile (1997)

Mampintsha, 40, member of South African kwaito band Big Nuz, on Dec. 24
Big Nuz – Serious (2013, also as co-writer)

Freddie Roulette, 83, blues guitarist and singer, on Dec. 24
Freddie Roulette – Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven (1999)

Luther ‘Guitar Junior’ Johnson, 83, blues singer and guitarist, on Dec. 25
Luther Johnson – Luther’s Blues (1976)

Camilo Azuquita, 76, Panamanian salsa singer and composer, on Dec. 25
Camilo Azuquita – Borombon (1969)

Penda Dallé, 64, Cameroonian Mokassa musician and artist, on Dec. 26

Lasse Lönndahl, 94, Swedish singer and actor, on Dec. 26
Lars Lönndahl – Tangokavaljeren (1949)

Alexander Shevchenko, 61, Russian singer, composer and producer, on Dec. 26

James ‘Jabbo’ Ware, 80, jazz saxophonist, on Dec. 26

Ashley Henderson, bassist of Australian soul-funk band Stylus, announced Dec. 27
Stylus – I Just Don’t Wanna Fall In Love (1976, also as writer)
Stylus  Funky Fig (1976, also as co-writer)

Harry Sheppard, 94, jazz vibraphonist, on Dec. 27

Brian Casser, 86, British rock & roll singer and guitarist, announced Dec. 27
Casey Jones and His Engineers – One Way Ticket (1963)
Casey Jones & The Governors – Don’t Ha Ha (1964)

Jo Mersa Marley, 31, Jamaican reggae musician, Bob’s grandson, on Dec. 27

John Neff, 71, musician, songwriter, producer, engineer, producer, on Dec. 27
Buffy Sainte-Marie – Starwalker (1992, on bass)

Pat Briggs, member of industrial band Psychotica, on Dec. 27

Scott Nash, bassist of Australian hard rock band Asteroid B-612, on Dec. 28
Asteroid B-612 – Edge A Little Closer (1994)

Linda de Suza, 74, Portuguese singer, on Dec. 28
Linda de Suza – Un Portugais (1978)

Black Stalin, 81, Trinidadian calypso musician, on Dec. 28

Ian Tyson, 89, Canadian folk singer and songwriter, half of Ian & Sylvia, on Dec. 29
Ian & Sylvia – Four Strong Winds (1963, also as writer)
Ian Tyson – Fifty Years Ago (1963, also as writer

Pelé, 82, Brazilian football legend and bossa nova singer, on Dec. 29
Pelé & Elis Regina – Perdão, Não Tem (1969, also as writer)
Pelé & Gracinha – Meu Mundo é Uma Bola (1977)

Margriet Eshuijs, 70, Dutch singer, on Dec. 29

Giovanni Pezzoli, 70, drummer of Italian pop-rock group Stadio, on Dec. 29
Stadio – Grande figlio di puttana (1982)

Vivienne Westwood, 81, British fashion designer and punk pioneer, on Dec. 29
The Sex Pistols – Who Killed Bambi (1979, as co-writer)

Jeremiah Green, 45, drummer of indie band Modest Mouse, on Dec. 30
Modest Mouse – The View (2004)

Anita Pointer, 74, singer and songwriter with the Pointer Sisters, on Dec. 31
The Pointer Sisters – Fairy Tale (1974, also as co-writer and on lead vocals)
The Pointer Sisters – Fire (1979, also on lead vocals)
The Pointer Sisters – I’m So Excited (1982, also as co-writer and on lead vocals)
Anita Pointer – Temporarily Blue (1987)


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