Archive for March, 2012

Covered With Soul Vol. 11

March 29th, 2012 10 comments

In this instalment in the Covered With Soul series we have a second selection of soul songs covered by soul acts. We have met most of the featured artists before, perhaps none more so than Erma Franklin. Here we have Erma covering a song originally performed by her bigger sister, Aretha Franklin (whose 70th birthday we have just celebrated). One act here is quite unlike any of the others we have heard in this series: Una Valli was not only white (as were the Flaming Embers), but also  South African, having some local success as a soul singer in the late 1960s — and, boy, did she have soul!

So, in this mix there are covers of songs that were hits for Eddie Floyd, The Temptations, Jackie Wilson, Clarence Carter, Bill Withers, Sam Cooke, Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, Al Green, Freda Payne, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Friends Of Distinction, Aretha Franklin (three of them), Willie Mitchell, Ike & Tina Turner, Sly & the Family Stone, Marvin Gaye, Luther Ingram, Sam & Dave (two of them, though the Rotary Connection version is barely recognisable as their song), Eddied Holman, and Ray Charles.

PW in comments.

1. Archie Bell & the Drells – Knock On Wood (1968)
2. Marvin Gaye – I Wish It Would Rain (1970)
3. The Dells – (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher (1968)
4. The Chairmen Of The Board – Patches (1970)
5. Denise LaSalle – Lean On Me (1973)
6. Mavis Staples – You Send Me (1969)
7. Lyn Collins – If You Don’t Know Me By Know (1975)
8. Margie Joseph – Let’s Stay Together (1973)
9. Ronnie Dyson – Band Of Gold (1970)
10. The Persuaders – Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me (1974)
11. Flaming Ember – Going In Circles (1971)
12. Tina Britt – Dr. Feelgood (1969)
13. Madeline Bell – Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (1968)
14. Rosetta Hightower – River Deep And Mountain High (1971)
15. Erma Franklin – Baby I Love You (1969)
16. Hearts Of Stone – ‘Thank You’ Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin (1970)
17. Marlena Shaw – Save The Children (1972)
18. Millie Jackson – (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right (1974)
19. Una Valli – I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You (1968)
20. Spooky & Sue – When Something Is Wrong With My Baby (1975)
21. The Glass House – Hey There Lonely Girl (1971)
22. Gene Chandler – Hallelujah, I Love Her So (1970)
23. Rotary Connection – Soul Man (1967)



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Intros Quiz: 1972 edition

March 19th, 2012 3 comments

It was a relief for 1972 people to get past those embarrassing 1960s fashions and wear sensible yet stylish clothing.


We continue our five-yearly cycle of intros quizzes, arriving at 4o years ago: 1972 (the year I started primary school). Next we”ll skip to 1977.

1972 was the year 11 Israelis were murdered by terrorists at the Munich Olympics and 14 unarmed Catholic protesters were gunned down by British police in Northern Ireland on “Bloody Sunday”, the last US troops left Vietnam, Idi Amin expelled 50,000 people of Indian extraction from Uganda, Cameroon gains independence, astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan become the last people to walk on the moon, and Atari released the Pong video game.

As always, twenty intros to hit songs from that year of 5-7 seconds in length. All were single releases and/or hits that year. The answers will be posted in the comments section by Thursday. If the pesky number 19 bugs you, go to the Contact Me tab above for the answers, or  better, message me on Facebook. If you”re not my FB friend, click here.

And for a bit of 1972 nostalgia, the Stepping Back instalment for that year might do the trick.

Intros Quiz – 1972 Edition


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Copy Borrow Steal Vol. 5

March 8th, 2012 6 comments

I haven”t done a Copy Borrow Steal for ages. Inspired by Tim English” fine book Sounds Like Teen Spirit (website and buy), it really is a very occasional series: this is the fifth article in two and a half years. In this instalment we’ll look at a Van Morrison hit that sounds a bit like a soul number from 1968/71; an early Elvis hit written almost a hundred years earlier; and a Led Zeppelin song that doesn’t draw inspiration from some blues singer, but from the Doobie Brothers.

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William Bell – I Forgot To Be Your Lover (1971).mp3
Billy Idol ““ To Be A Lover (1986).mp3
Van Morrison ““ Have I Told You Lately  (1989 “” YouTube)

When Van Morrison wrote Have I Told You Lately, the committed and exceptionally gruff Christian was addressing God. Four years later, Rod Stewart donned his lounge lizard suit and turned it into the soup of mush  that now serves as one of a trinity of über-love songs which grooms croon to their wives (the others are Joe Cocker”s version of You Are So Beautiful and Clapton”s Wonderful Tonight).

Have I Told You Lately is utterly gorgeous, and very much a Van Morrison song, and therefore best heard in the version by one of the greatest songwriters of any generation. So I feel almost sorry to point out that the very line that gives the song its title is almost identical to the opening line of William Bell”s I Forgot To Be Your Lover, in melody and lyrics.

Far be it for me to accuse Morrison of plagiarism, or even deliberately copying somebody else”s melody. Morrison could even plausibly claim never to have heard the William Bell and Booker T Jones composition, which was a hit for Bell in 1968 and then was re-recorded for the soul singer”s 1971 album Wow”¦ (it”s the slightly longer 1971 version featured here, because it is the more uncanny-sounding one).

Perhaps Van Morrison, a soul fan who described himself as a soul singer, heard it and forgot about it. Maybe it resided in the deeper recesses of his subconscious iPod, a forgotten but not erased memory, jogged perhaps by Billy Idol”s 1986 cover of  I Forgot To Be Your Lover, then retitled To Be A Lover (though Idol probably covered the George Faith version of 1977). Whatever the case, the similarity of the opening of Bell”s song and that of Morrison”s is striking.

Van Morrison doesn”t like his songs posted on blogs, so you”ll have to forgive its absence here.


Frances Farmer – Aura Lea (1936)
Shelton Brothers – Aura Lee (1938)
Elvis Presley ““ Love Me Tender (1956)

Look at the label for Love Me Tender, Elvis” first ballad to be released as a single, and you”ll find the writing credits as listing singer”s name and that of one Vera Matson “” and neither had any hand in writing the title song of Elvis” debut movie. The melody was in fact written in 1861 by an English-born chap called George R Poulton (1828-67) for the song Aura Lee, which would become a hit during the US civil war (a time in which the film Love Me Tender is set). It was popular with soldiers from both sides; so much so, it is said, that enemies by day would sing the song together across their positions at night.

Aura Lee made a comeback (as Aura Lea) in 1936 when it featured in the film Come And Get It, in which it is sung by the tragic Frances Farmer.

By the 1950s, Aura Lee was in the public domain, and with copyright out of the way, the Oscar-winning film composer and arranger Ken Darby (The King And I, Porgy & Bess, South Pacific “” all as co-arranger ““ How The West Was Won) was commissioned to write new lyrics for what would be Love Me Tender. When the songwriting credits were assigned, Poulton”s name was missing. Elvis received his customary co-writing credit, and Darby ceded his rightful credit to his wife Vera Matson. The reason for that related to the distribution of royalties, but Darby had an even better explanation: “Because she didn”t write it either.”


The Doobie Brothers ““ Long Train Running (1973)
Robert Johnson – Terraplane Blues (1937)
Led Zeppelin – Trampled Underfoot (1975)
In Sounds Like Teen Spirit, Tim English fingers just a few songs by Led Zeppelin which one might say benefitted from an overzealous spirit of drawing inspiration from the work of others. Some blues musicians successfully sued Led Zep for plagiarising their work; many others have provided the basis for songs by the hoary old rockers but have not been credited; and sometimes they even needn”t be.

By the band”s own admission, the lyrics for Trampled Underfoot, a stomper from 1975″s Physical Grafitti album, drew inspiration from Robert Johnson”s 1937 hit Terraplane Blues, and drummer John Paul Jones has said that he borrowed the beat from Stevie Wonder”s Superstition.

English has spotted another influence: the verses of The Doobie Brothers” 1973 hit Long Train Running, saying it “betrays obvious melodic, rhythmic and even lyrical similarities” to the Doobies” track. He does not allege plagiarism (and that is always refreshing when discussing Led Zep songs), but speculates that the band probably heard Long Train Running during their 1973 tour of the US, which coincided with the Doobie songs” residence in the charts.

Whether Tim has a point, you decide.

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In Memoriam – February 2012

March 1st, 2012 3 comments

The month opened with a headline death, followed by another towards the middle of the month, and ended with a third headline departure: I wrote about Don Cornelius and Whitney Houston; Davy Jones of The Monkees is honoured here with two tracks: his I Want To Be Free from The Monkees” debut album, and the Italian version of the Theme From The Monkees.

We rarely feature band managers, but Jon McIntire merits an exception. The Grateful Dead manager initiated the band”s cult by putting a notice into the sleeve of the band”s 1971 Skull and Roses album. It said: “Dead Freaks Unite! Who are you? Where are you? How are you? Send us your name and address and we”ll keep you informed.” The proto-Facebook Group scheme obviously worked. McIntire also managed country-rock band New Riders of the Purple Sage.

You may not know his name, but Billy Strange was responsible for some of the finest moments in pop music. A songwriter, guitarist and arranger, he played guitar on several Beach Boys songs, including on the Pet Sounds album, and arranged many of Nancy Sinatra”s songs, including her creepy duet with Frank Sr. He played the guitar on her Bang Bang, and the horns at the end of These Boots Are Made For Walking were his ideas (and I have a great post about that song lined up).

Mike Melvoin”s name might not be well-known either, at least outside jazz circles, but his piano work will have been heard by everybody who reads this blog: it features on the Jackson 5″s ABC, on the Beach Boys” Good Vibrations and on tracks on Pet Sounds (that album again!), on Natalie Cole”s duet with her father, Unforgettable, subtly in the background on Streisand”s Evergreen, on John Lennon”s cover of Stand By Me, on Helen Reddy”s I Am Woman, on Frank Sinatra”s That”s Life, and on We Are The World… On top of that, he sired musicians Wendy Melvoin (of Wendy & Lisa), the late Jonathan Melvoin (Smashing Pumpkins) and Susannah Melvoin.

And talking of departed family members, soul singer David Peaston was 1960s soul singer Fontella Bass” brother.

Don Cornelius, 75, host and producer of Soul Train, suicide on February 1
MFSB – TSOP (1974) Read more…