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Song Swarm – Hound Dog

June 18th, 2024 10 comments

Hound Dog gallery_1

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(This post has been recycled from June 2014)

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

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(PW in comments)*

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Any Major ABC of the 1940s

June 6th, 2024 6 comments

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Memoriam – May 2024

May 26th, 2024 6 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken Brader, 70, jazz trumpeter, on May 4

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

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

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

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

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

Christiane Stefanski, 74, Belgian singer, on May 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enrico Musiani, 86, Italian singer, on May 13

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

Mélanie Renaud, 42, Canadian singer, on May 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

Gladys Knight Sings Covers

May 21st, 2024 1 comment

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Mix CD-Rs
Covered With Soul
1970s Soul

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Any Major Billy Joel Songbook

May 9th, 2024 3 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Songbooks
More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

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In Memoriam – April 2024

May 3rd, 2024 2 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dutty Dior, 27, Norwegian rapper, on April 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maria Feliciana, 77, Brazilian singer, on April 27

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

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

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

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Any Hits from 1974 Vol. 1

April 18th, 2024 8 comments

In the first of two mixes of hits from 1974, we concentrate on songs that were hits in the United States. Volume 2 will look at the hits in the UK and Europe.

1974 is not widely regarded as a high-water point of pop music, but it marked an interesting point of convergence, in the US especially. This Hits from 1974 mixes reflect some of that.

Disco started to emerge from the underground club scene into the mainstream, with hits like Rock Your Baby by George McCrae and Rock The Boat by the Hues Corporation (both will be on Vol. 2). These songs helped propel disco into the mainstream consciousness. In the US, Eddie Kendricks’ Boogie Down, as US hit in early 1974, helped pave the way for that, as did The Jackson 5’s Dancing Machine and MFSB’s TSOP.

Funk and soul had already had a presence on the charts in the preceding years. In 1974, that presence seemed to grow. Of 36 US #1 in 1973, 11 were by soul, funk or disco acts.

Country music continued to cross over into pop, with artists like Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Billy Swan enjoying mainstream success. John Denver, who really was a folk singer-songwriter, was co-opted by the country scene, as was Olivia Newton-John. In 1975, Denver was awarded the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award, having scored two #1s in 1974 (Sunshine On My Shoulders and Annie’s Song). A drunk Charlie Rich announced the award which he evidently didn’t agree with — and set fire to the announcement card.

Other singer-songwriters also did well, with acts like Gordon Lightfoot and Carole King, representing their genre here. The sax on the King track is by Tom Scott, seeing as you will probably wonder.

Where possible, I have used the 7” single versions of the featured hits. The tracklisting is roughly chronological. As always, these are not necessarily my choices of the best hits of the year; rather, I hope to recreate a bit of the vibe of the year in question, using some of the better music of the year.

Links for all past mixes in the series are up.  If you dig the feel of 1974, take a look at the collection of posters from West-Germany’s Bravo magazine in 1974 (other years are available, too).

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

1. Eddie Kendricks – Boogie Down
2. Cher – Dark Lady
3. Redbone – Come And Get Your Love
4. The Jackson 5 – Dancing Machine
5. William DeVaughn – Be Thankful For What You Got
6. The O’Jays – For The Love Of Money
7. Wet Willie – Keep On Smilin’
8. The Doobie Brothers – Another Park, Another Sunday
9. Gordon Lightfoot – Sundown
10. Chicago – Call On Me
11. Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Takin’ Care Of Business
12. Billy Preston – Nothing From Nothing
13. First Class – Beach Baby
14. Carole King – Jazzman
15. Neil Diamond – Longfellow Serenade
16. Olivia Newton-John – I Honestly Love You
17. The Three Degrees – When Will I See You Again
18. The Kiki Dee Band – I’ve Got The Music In Me
19. Helen Reddy – Angie Baby
20. Billy Swan – I Can Help
21. J. Geils Band – Must Of Got Lost

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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
Any Major Hits from 1973 Vol. 1
Any Major Hits from 1973 Vol. 2

A Year in Hits
More CD-R Mixes

Categories: A Year in Hits Tags:

Any Major Marvin Gaye Songbook

April 9th, 2024 4 comments

I was 17 and had just got into Motown in a big way. Apart from various Motown compilations, one LP I had was the one of duets by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. I had decided that What’s Going On was my new all-time favourite song (and it has remained one of my all-time favourites). I had liked Gaye for his two comeback singles in 1982, My Love Is Waiting and Sexual Healing, so I paid extra attention to his Motown songs.

We were just about to leave on a long road-trip in early April 1984 when the radio news announced that Marvin Gaye had been shot dead. Bloody hell! First Lennon, now Gaye.

So to mark the 40th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s murder by his own father on April 1 — the day before his 45th birthday — here’s a Songbook. It comes a bit later than the actual anniversary. Diana Ross Sings Covers for her 80th birthday (a mix that featured Marvin on two duets) and the In Memoriam for March got in the way.

I wonder how Marvin’s legacy is regarded today. No doubt, to some people — content creators for clickbait sites and their consumers — he is the carnal crooner who in an aggressively cheesy video pursues a saucy nurse for some “sexual healing”. To them, the healing the singer seeks is the kind that culminates in sticky stuff. But that’s getting Marvin wrong. He was actually addicted to porn and masturbation (he hints at that in the lyrics); what he sought was actual healing from his addictions, to regain a healthy sexuality. But that awful video hardly helped tell that story. The song is covered here by Rita Coolidge.

Of course, Marvin was the loverman who nine years earlier had pleaded to get it on. By then his marriage to Anna Gordy was effectively over. In 1977 Marvin agreed to settle his divorce from Anna by giving her half of the royalties from his next album. His first instinct was to knock off a substandard piece. Indeed, my own instinct would have been to record an album of covers of songs that deal with bitter break-ups.

In the event, he produced an introspective double album, acerbically titled Here, My Dear, which is not an easy listen but maintained Marvin’s artistic integrity. I don’t know of any covers of songs from that album, though.

Marvin’s songwriting creativity exploded in the 1970s, but he scored a number hits as co-writer during his early Motown years, when he still complemented his singing career with session drumming.

With William “Mickey” Stevenson and a changing roster of third partners, he wrote several of his own early hits, such as Stubborn Kind Of Fellow (covered here by Kate Taylor), Hitch Hike (covered by Jean DuShon), Pride And Joy (covered by the Jackson 5), Wherever I Lay My Hat, his duet with Kim Weston It Takes Two, and If This World Were Mine, his duet with Tammi Terrell, which he wrote on his own (it is covered here in a superlative version by Luther Vandross and Cheryl Lynn).

He also co-wrote Motown classics for others, such as Dancing In The Street for Martha & The Vandellas (covered here by The Mamas & The Papas), The Marvelettes’ Beechwood 4-5789, and a little later Baby I’m For Real for The Originals (the latter with Anna Gordy, covered beautifully by the ill-fated soul singer Sherrick). See ID3 tags for co-authors of the featured songs.

For more covers of Marvin Gaye songs, check out the What’s Going On Recovered mix, posted in 2021 for its 50th anniversary.As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-ongotten covers and the above text in PDF format. PW in comments.

1. Jean DuShon – Hitch Hike (1964)
2. The Mamas & The Papas – Dancing In The Street (1966)
3. Kate Taylor – Stubborn Kind Of Woman (1978)
4. The Jackson 5 feat. Michael Jackson – Pride And Joy (1976)
5. Sherrick – Baby I’m For Real (1987)
6. Fourplay feat. El DeBarge – After The Dance (1991)
7. Cheryl Lynn & Luther Vandross – If This World Were Mine (1982)
8. Nancy Wilson – Come Get To This (1975)
9. Sylvia – You Sure Love To Ball (1976)
10. The Three Degrees – Distant Lover (1975)
11. Ken Boothe – Let’s Get It On (1974)
12. Richie Havens – What’s Going On (1973)
13. Sarah Vaughan – Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) (1971)
14. Aretha Franklin – Wholy Holy (1972)
15. Randy Crawford – Just To Keep You Satisfied (1979)
16. Rita Coolidge – Sexual Healing (1993)
17. Kyle Eastwood with Joni Mitchell – Trouble Man (1998)
18. Michael McDonald – Mercy Mercy Me (2004)
19. David Sanborn feat. Howard Hewitt – Got To Give Up (1994)
BONUS TRACKS
20. Stanley Turrentine – Don’t Mess With Mister T. (1973)
21. Cornell Campbell – Wherever I Lay My Head (1975)

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

More Songbooks
More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

Categories: Covers Mixes, Songbooks Tags:

In Memoriam – March 2024

April 2nd, 2024 3 comments

The most remarkable non-music (or any) death in March was that of the South African painting pig Pigcasso, whose artworks have been sold for big money all over the world to finance a farm sanctuary. Pigcasso was rescued from the slaughterhouse by ex-golfer Joanne Lefson (who apparently married a dog once), and taken in at the Farm Sanctuary which she and her sister were running near Cape Town.

Lefson trained the pig to hold the brush in her mouth and apply paint to paper mounted on an easel, thereby creating colourful abstract paintings. The artworks were signed with Pigcasso nose, pressed on the canvas after being dipped into beetroot ink and transferring onto the canvas. She was the first non-human artist to have art exhibitions staged — in South Africa, Netherlands, Germany, Britain and China — and holds the record for most expensive artwork ever sold by an animal, at $20,000. In 2019 she designed a limited-edition timepiece for Swatch.

The pig’s prominence was used to stimulate debate on issues such as veganism, meat production, and animal welfare. Pigcasso died on March 6 at the age of seven of chronic rheumatoid arthritis. Alas, unlike the names that follow here, she never recorded any music.

 

The Power Balladeer
It has become something of a fashion to dismiss Eric Carmen, the singer who has died at 74, with some disdain. One may see why not all of Carmen’s oeuvre is universally appealing — I am not a devotee myself — but the guy didn’t deserve the prejudice, much less the petty derision. Much of it, I suspect, is predicated on received wisdom, a bit like the stupid suggestion that pineapple on pizza somehow constitutes an epicurean crime.

Carmen’s big hit, All By Myself, is a great power ballad, in a league with Nilsson’s Without You. It made sense that the classically-trained Carmen based All By Myself on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Follow-up Never Gonna Fall In Love Again also riffed on Rachmaninoff. Carmen’s contribution to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, Hungry Eyes, was also a cut above most 1980s movie soundtrack fare. He didn’t write the song, but Carmen did produce it.

Before going solo in 1976, Carmen had been the frontman of the power pop band Raspberries (who featured on Any Major Hits from 1972 Vol. 1), for whom he also wrote or co-wrote most songs.

The Cockney Rebel
One of the songs chosen here to mark Eric Carmen’s passing is the Raspberries’ Overnight Sensation, which features a few stop-starts. But Steve Harley perhaps made the greatest stop-start song of them all with Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me). Credited to Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, it was a UK #1 in 1975. The song was written by Harley, and co-produced by him, with Alan Parsons. The target of the embittered lyrics were his former Cockney Rebel bandmates.

With Cockney Rebel, Harley had six UK hit singles in the mid-1970s, including the innovative Judy Teen, Mr. Soft and a cover of The Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun. Prior to UK success, the band had a hit in Europe with the prog-rocker Sebastian.

Harley returned briefly to the upper reaches of the UK charts in 1986 with his duet with Sarah Brightman of the title track of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical The Phantom Of The Opera, which he, however, didn’t perform on the stage.

The Singing Oscar-winner
Various illnesses had tried to claim him for the past 30 years, but he kept surviving. But on Good Friday the  lights went out for Louis Gossett Jr, at the age of 87.

Gossett is best-known as being a remarkable actor of film, TV and stage. He provided rare spots of illumination in dreck like Iron Eagle, but he will be forever remembered for his role of Sgt Emil Foley in 1982’s An Officer And A Gentleman. He won an Oscar for that; the second ever for a male black actor.

Less known is that as Lou Gossett, he was also a singer, in the soul-folk genre which his friend Richie Havens made his own. Previously a nightclub singer, Gossett released a series of singles between 1964 and ’68, and one album, titled From Me To You, in 1970. None of them were hits. Gossett also co-wrote Richie Havens’ Handsome Johnny, one of the great anti-war songs.

The Ideas Man
In concerts, Robbie Williams likes to claim that he had written his 1999 hit She’s The One. When the song’s actual writer, Karl Wallinger, objected to this lie, Williams announced the song as his “fifth-best” composition. Wallinger took to calling Williams a “c**t”, a sentiment which doubtless would attract a sizable constituency.

She’s The One was first recorded by Welsh-born Wallinger’s band World Party (their version features on The Originals – 1990s & 2000s), which released five albums, including 1993’s very successful Bang!. World Party’s 1987 song Ship Of Fools, written by Wallinger, just about failed to reach the UK’s Top 40 but was a hit in the US.

Before that, the multi-instrumentalist was a member of The Waterboys, not only playing on their big 1985 hit The Whole Of The Moon but effectively arranging it, with those synth hooks and cymbal beats, turning a good song into a dazzling slice of genius. He left the group soon after; some argue that had Wallinger remained, The Waterboys would have enjoyed more commercial success to go with the critical acclaim.

After his death, his frequent collaborator Peter Gabriel paid tribute to Wallinger: “Karl was overflowing with wonderful musical ideas that blew us all away, all delivered with terrible jokes that had us laughing uncontrollably all day and night. He was such a gifted, natural writer and player, it was a tap that he could turn on at will, effortlessly.”

The Piano Funkster
The shimmering piano notes that open the Blackbyrds’ wonderful 1974 hit Walking In Rhythm were played by Kevin Toney, then only 20 years old. Toney also co-wrote several of the jazz-funk band’s songs, including the Blackbyrd’s own theme, as well the hits Rock Creek Park and Unfinished Business.

As a solo jazz-funk musician, his album Strut was chosen as “official music” for the Winter Olympics of 2002.

The Entertainer
He was an established star in the US, but to me Steve Lawrence was only Maury Sline, the Blues Brothers’ former manager (you may remember the scene where Elroy and Jake have a meeting with him the steam room, both wearing their hats and shades).

Later, as a blogger, my view of his career expanded to knowing that he was the original singer of Gladys Knight & The Pips’ The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me (featured on The Originals – Soul Vol. 1) and I’ve Gotta Be Me from the musical Golden Rainbow, one of my all-time favourites in Sammy Davis Jr’s version (featured on The Originals – Rat Pack Edition).

Before all that, Lawrence had been a singer on Steve Allen’s show in the 1950s, and had a bunch of hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, with 1962’s Go Away Little Girl the most famous of them (the song’s arranger, Marion Evans, also died this month; see below). For decades he also performed in a duo with his wife Eydie Gormé, until her retirement in 2009.

The Gaylad
Among the pioneers of reggae was the Jamaican ska band The Gaylads, whose co-founder B. B. Seaton has died at age 79. Seaton first recorded as a solo artist in 1960 before forming the duo Winston & Bibby with Winston Delano Stewart, which in turn evolved into The Gaylads. After a string of hits, Seaton left The Gaylads and embarked on a solo career. He went on to have hits, especially with covers of songs like Sweet Caroline, Lean On Me, and Thin Line Between Love and Hate.

Seaton might have had success with cover versions, but he was also a prolific songwriter, writing for acts such as Ken Boothe, The Melodians, and Delroy Wilson. In the mid-1970s Seaton moved to Britain in the mid-1970s, where he worked as a producer. He was the first reggae artist to be signed by Virgin Records. In the 2010s, he rejoined The Gaylads and performed with the group.

The Arranger
The musical career of Marion Evans, who has died at age 97, stretched back to the mid-1940s, when he played trumpet in the university band. In the late 1940s, he was one of the arrangers for the Glenn Miller Orchestra, then led by Tex Beneke. He went on to arrange for orchestras such as those of Tommy Dorsey, Vaughn Monroe, Percy Faith, and Count Basie.

From the 1950s, Evans worked as an arranger and orchestra leader for acts including Judy Garland, Diahann Carroll, Dick Haymes, Eydie Gormé, Steve Lawrence (and Gormé & Lawrence as a duo),  Jaye P. Morgan, Jack Lemmon, Perry Como, and Tony Bennett. Evans received Grammy nominations for his work on the albums Blame It On The Bossa Nova by Eydie Gormé and Go Away, Little Girl by Steve Lawrence.

Evans also composed music for 17 TV series and served as an orchestrator for eleven Broadway shows. After a stint in the financial industry in the 1970s, he returned to music in the 1980s. He worked with Tony Bennett on his Grammy-winning/nominated duo albums Duets II (2011) and Cheek To Cheek (with Lady Gaga, 2014).

The Composer
French composer Jean-Pierre Bourtayre, who has died at 82, wrote the tune for one of the great Eurovision Song Contest winners, Séverine’s Un banc, un arbre, un rue, which won the thing for Monaco in 1971 (it featured on Any Major Eurovision). It was a hit throughout Europe in various language version. Bourtayre also wrote for acts like Claude François, Jacques Dutronc, and Michel Sardou.

He also wrote for films and TV shows, including the two closing themes for the 1970s TV series Arsène Lupin, which was popular in many European countries.

The King of the Boogaloo
There are few musical genres with a better name than Boogaloo. Puerto Rico-born Pete Rodriguez was its king during his relatively brief recording career, which spanned from 1964-71. His biggest hit was 1967’s I Like It Like That, which a few years ago was liberally sampled for the big hit by Cardi B (Rodriguez’ song featured on Any Major Samples).

I Like It Like That was written by Tony Pabon and Manny Rodriguez. Pabon, a boogaloo bandleader in his own right, did the lead vocals.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.

 

Gylan Kain, 81, poet, singer and playwright, on Feb 7 (announced March 18)
Kain – Loose Here (1970)

Ernest ‘Bilbo’ Berger, 73, Czech-born drummer of British funk band Heatwave, on March 1
Heatwave – Super Soul Sister (1976)
Heatwave – Mind Blowing Decisions (1978)

Don Wise, 81, tenor saxophonist, songwriter, producer, on March 1
Don Wise – Deeper Shade Of Blue (2001)

Jim Beard, 63, jazz fusion keyboardist and composer, on March 2
Jim Beard – Big Pants (1997, also as writer, producer and vocals)

W.C. Clark, 84, blues guitarist and singer, on March 2
W.C. Clark – Let It Rain (2002)

Eleanor Collins, 104, Canadian jazz singer and TV presenter, on March 3
Eleanor Collins – Lullaby Of Birdland (1965)

Bill Ramsay, 95, jazz saxophonist and bandleader, on March 3

Brit Turner, 57, drummer of country-rock band Blackberry Smoke, on March 3
Blackberry Smoke – Pretty Little Lie (2012)

Félix Sabal Lecco, c.64, Cameroonian session drummer, on March 3
Paul Simon – Born At The Right Time (1990, on drums)

Presto, 31, German rapper, on March 3

Harris B. B. Seaton, 79, Jamaican singer (The Gaylads), songwriter, producer, on March 4
The Gaylads – It’s Hard To Confess (1968, on lead vocals and as writer)
B.B. Seaton – Accept My Apology (1972, also as co-writer)

Jean-Pierre Bourtayre, 82, French composer, on March 4
Jacques Dutronc – L’Arsène (1970, as co-writer)
Séverine – Un banc, un arbre, un rue (1971, as co-writer)

Linda Balgord, 64, stage actress and singer, on March 5

Debra Byrd, 72, backing singer and vocal coach on American Idols, on March 5
Barry Manilow & Debra Byrd – Let Me Be Your Wings (1994)

Pavel Zajíček, 72, member of Czech rock band DG 307, poet, visual artist, on March 5

Ralph Beerkircher, 56, German jazz guitarist, on March 5

Dimos Moutsis, 85, Greek singer-songwriter and composer, on March 6

Steve Lawrence, 88, Pop singer and actor, on March 7
Steve Lawrence – Go Away Little Girl (1962)
Steve Lawrence – I’ve Gotta Be Me (1968)

Joe Cutajar, 83, half of Maltese duo Helen & Joseph, announced March 7

Pete Rodriguez, 89, Latin boogaloo pianist and bandleader, on March 7
Pete Rodriguez – Oye Mira (Guajira Boogaloo) (1965)
Pete Rodriguez – I Like It Like That (1967)
Pete Rodríguez and His Orchestra – Nunca Abandones Tu Mujer (1968)

Pedro Altamiranda, 88, Panamanian singer, on March 7

Ernie Fields Jr, 89, baritone saxophonist and session musician, on March 8
Ernie Fields Jr – Ride A Wild Horse (1978)

Ľubomír Stankovský, 72, member of Czechoslovakian rock group Modus, on March 8

Malcolm Holcombe, 68, American singer-songwriter, on March 9
Malcolm Holcombe – Who Carried You (1999)

Nick Mulder, 51, Australian jazz musician, announced March 10

Karl Wallinger, 66, Welsh musician and songwriter, on March 10
The Waterboys – The Whole Of The Moon (1985, as member on synths, backing vocals)
World Party – Ship Of Fools (1986, as member, writer and producer)
World Party – She’s The One (1997, as member, writer and producer)

M. Stevens, 72, bass guitarist, singer, session musician, on March 10
Pretenders – Don’t Get Me Wrong (1986, as member on bass)
TM Stevens – I’m A Believer (1995)

Paul Nelson, blues-rock guitarist, songwriter, producer, on March 10
Johnny Winter – T Bone Shuffle (2011, on guitar)

Blake Harrison, 48, grindcore musician (Pig Destroyer, Hatebeak), on March 10

Marc Tobaly, 74, Moroccan-born French guitarist, composer, on March 10
Les Variations – Down The Road (1971)

Eric Carmen, 74, singer, musician, songwriter, on March 11
Raspberries – Overnight Sensation (1974, as member on lead vocals and as writer)
Eric Carmen – Change Of Heart (1978, also as writer)
Eric Carmen – Hungry Eyes (1987, also as producer)

Ray Austin, 81, English-porn German jazz, blues and folk musician, on March 11

Boss, 54, rapper, on March 11
BO$$ – Deeper (1993)

Russ Wilson, 62, bassist of Canadian rock band Junkhouse, on March 12
Junkhouse – Be Someone (1995)

Michael Knott, 61, rock singer-songwriter, on March 12
Michael Knott – Deaf And Dumb (1993)

John Blunt, drummer of The Searchers (1966-67), announced March 13

Sylvain Luc, 58, French jazz guitarist, on March 13
Sylvain Luc – Tous les cris les S.O.S. (2009)

Dick Allix, 78, drummer of UK pop group Vanity Fare; darts official, on March 13
Vanity Fare – Early In The Morning (1969)

Frank Darcel, 65, guitarist of French post-punk band Marquis de Sade, on March 14
Marquis de Sade – Conrad Veidt (1978)

Angela McCluskey, 64, Scottish singer and songwriter, on March 14
Télépopmusik – Breathe (2001, on vocals and as co-writer)

Hans Blum aka Henry Valentino, 95, German singer and songwriter, on March 15
Harry Valentino mit Uschi – Im Wagen vor mir (1977, also as writer and producer)
Boney M. – El Lute (1979, as co-writer)

Steve Harley, 73, English singer, songwriter, musician and producer, on March 17
Cockney Rebel – Judy Teen (1974, also as writer and co-producer)
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Come Up And See Me (1975, also as writer and co-producer)
Steve Harley & Sarah Brightman – The Phantom Of The Opera (1986)

Sandra Crouch, 81, gospel singer and minister, on March 17

Cola Boyy, 34, funk singer, songwriter and musician, on March 17
Cola Boyy – You Can Do It (2021)

Kevin Toney, 70, pianist of jazz-funk band Blackbyrds, composer, arranger, on March 18
Blackbyrds – Runaway (1974, also as co-writer)
Blackbyrds – Walking In Rhythm (1974)
Kevin Toney – Strut (2001)

Chavelita Pinzón, 93, Panamanian folk singer, on March 18

Jimmy Hastings, 85, British rock and jazz flautist and saxophonist, on March 18
Caravan – Love To Love You (And Tonight Pigs Will Fly) (1971, on flute)

Greg Lee, 53, singer with ska band Hepcat, on March 19

George Darko, 73, Ghanaian highlife musician, on March 20
George Darko – Obi Abayewa (1986)

Gene Elders, 80, country fiddler and mandolin player, on March 20
George Strait – Hot Burnin’ Flames (1987, on fiddle)

Marion Evans, 97, arranger, conductor, TV composer, announced March 21
Diahanna Carroll – Old Devil Moon (1958, as arranger)
Steve Lawrence – Go Away Little Girl (1962, as arranger – see Steve Lawrence entry)
Eydie Gorme – Blame It On The Bossa Nova (1963, as arranger)
Tony Bennett & Natalie Cole – Watch What Happens (2011, as arranger and conductor)

Laurens van Rooyen, 88, Dutch pianist and composer, on March 21

Daniel Beretta, 77, French pop singer, composer and actor, on March 23
Daniel Beretta – Juliette pour la vie (1970)

Ulf Georgsson, 61, drummer of Swedish dansband Flamingokvintetten, on March 23

Vincent Bonham, 67, singer with soul-funk group Raydio, announced March 24
Raydio – You Need This (To Satisfy That) (1978, on lead vocals)

Def Rhymz, 53, Surinamese-Dutch rapper, on March 24
Def Rhymz – Doekoe (1999)

Humphrey Campbell, 66, Surinamese-Dutch singer and producer, on March 25

Slađana Milošević, 68, Serbian new wave singer, songwriter, producer, on March 26
Slađana & Neutral Design – Hey, Little Boy (1983, also as writer)

La Castou, 75, Swiss singer, dancer and actress, on March 27

Louis Gossett Jr., 87, actor, singer, songwriter, on March 29
Lou Gossett – Red Rosy Bush (1964)
Richie Havens – Handsome Johnny (1967, as co-writer)
Lou Gossett – The River And I (1970, also as producer)

Gerry Conway, 76, English drummer and percussionist, on March 29
Cat Stevens – Tuesday’s Dead (1971, on drums)
Linda Lewis – Old Smokey (1973, on drums)

Mark Spiro, c.66, singer, songwriter and producer, announced March 30
Mark Spiro – Winds Of Change (1986)

Casey Benjamin, 45, jazz & hip hop musician, producer, and songwriter, on March 31

Categories: In Memoriam Tags:

Diana Ross Sings Covers

March 26th, 2024 2 comments

 

Today, March 26, Diana Ross turns 80. To mark that milestone, here’s a collection of La Ross doing cover versions, drawing from the 1970s and early 1980s.

It is claimed by some that Ross wasn’t even the second-best singer in The Supremes. That may or may not be so, but what she had over her two fellow Supremes was an excess of charisma, which found expression in her physical appearance and also in her vocal interpretation of the songs she performed.

This collection highlights the interpretative attributes of Ross, her charisma and her confidence in delivery. Her best, and best-known, cover is that of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, featured here in its full length from Diana’s self-titled debut album in 1970.

That cover is lightning in a bottle. Produced by Ashford & Simpson, also the song’s writers, the Ross version was arranged by Paul Riser, who had also arranged tracks like Gaye’s version I Heard It Through The Grapevine, My Girl, The Tears Of A Clown, What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted, Ross’ own Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand), and, later, The Temptations’ Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone. The Ross version completely reinvents the original, with Ross’ spoken intro barely hinting at the impending musical tsunami. The best vocal bit: when Diana goes “A-OW!”

Diana’s 1971 reworking of the Four Tops’ glorious Reach Out, I’ll Be There slows down the song — not in the pretentious ways of whispy-voiced-girls-with-guitars that blight TV ads these days, but a total reinvention, also produced by Ashford & Simpson, that builds up as it goes along.

On this collection, that track is followed by a straight, though renamed, cover of Aretha Franklin’s Call Me. Aretha, of course, was the subject of a previous … Sings Covers mix (available here). As was Al Green, though I know of no covers of his songs by Ross. I can imagine her covering Let’s Stay Together, and nailing it.

Some of the originals of songs featured here appeared on The Originals – Motown Edition, specifically the two Stylistics tracks, and Thelma Houstons Do You Know Where Youre Going To, which in Ross hands became the Theme of Mahogany. That mix also includes a couple of originals of Supremes tracks.

Marvin Gaye looms large in this collection. On two tracks, Diana duets with him, three are covers of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell originals, and half a track covers Marvin from his What’s Going On album (which was Recovered in 2021. On that collection, Dizzy Gillespie covers Save The Children). On April 2, we will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s murder. Of course, Diana Ross later recorded a song in tribute to Marvin, titled Missing You.

The tracklisting provides the year of Ross’ version and the name of the act that recorded the song’s best-known version, not necessarily the original artist.

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

1. What You Gave Me (1978 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
2. Baby, I Love Your Way (1983 – Peter Frampton)
3. I Can’t Give Back The Love I Feel For You (1971 – Syreeta)
4. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (1970 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
5. You Are Everything (with Marvin Gaye) (1973 – The Stylistics)
6. Stop, Look, Listen To Your Heart (with Marvin Gaye) (1973 – The Stylistics)
7. You’re All I Need To Get By (1970 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
8. Reach Out, I’ll Be There (1971 – The Four Tops)
9. I Love You (Call Me) (1970 – Aretha Franklin)
10. Brown Baby/Save The Children (1973 – Nina Simone/Marvin Gaye)
11. Something (1970 – The Beatles)
12. Theme From Mahogany (1976 – Thelma Houston)
13. Too Shy To Say (1977 – Stevie Wonder)
14. (They Long To Be) Close To You (1970 – Carpenters)
15. I Won’t Last A Day Without You (1973 – Carpenters)
16. Where Did We Go Wrong (1978 – Maureen McGovern)
17. Imagine (1973 – John Lennon)
18. Smile (1976 – Charlie Chaplin)
19. All Of Me (1972 – Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra a.o.)
20. I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl (1977 – Bessie Smith)

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Peviously in Sings Covers:
Al Green Sings Covers
Aretha Franklin Sings Covers
Tina Turner Sings Covers

More Mix CD-Rs
Covered With Soul
1970s Soul

Categories: 70s Soul, Covers Mixes Tags: