Archive for August, 2012

A History of Country Vol. 20: 2000-04

August 30th, 2012 7 comments

We are slowly coming to the end of the History of Country series. The history narrative will resume and conclude with the next, 21st volume of compilations; a final mix will then bring the series to an end.

As always, I don’t endorse everything on the mixes, though I have filtered out a lot of material that is representative of the era but not worth hearing, or owning. Having said that, there are only two songs on this collection which I’d not care to hear again, and a lot which I warmly recommend “” especially Mindy Smith, Tift Merritt, Dave Alvin and Patty Griffin, and Dolly’s glorious bluegrass version of the Collective Soul song.

As always, the thing includes covers and is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. If you like the song, please buy the artist’s album.

1. Travis Tritt – It’s A Great Day To Be Alive
2. Soggy Bottom Boys – I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow
3. Dolly Parton – Shine
4. Alison Krauss & Union Station – The Lucky One
5. Brooks and Dunn – The Long Goodbye
6. Alan Jackson – Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)
7. Cyndi Thomson – What I Really Meant To Say
8. George Strait – Living And Living Well
9. Dixie Chicks – Travelin’ Soldier
10. Brad Paisley – Little Moments
11. Buddy Jewell – Sweet Southern Comfort
12. Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around
13. Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Long Way Home
14. Marty Stuart – Sundown In Nashville
15. Dave Alvin – Rio Grande
16. Mindy Smith – Fighting For It All
17. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Walkin’ In The Sunshine
18. Patty Griffin – Cold As It Gets
19. Tift Merritt – Good Hearted Man
20. Tim McGraw – Live Like You Were Dying

(includes front and back covers. PW here)


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Any Major Soul 1960-63

August 23rd, 2012 13 comments

A while ago I compiled a series of mixes covering soul music from 1970 to 1989, all the links of which I’ve updated. So it seems essential to also cover the 1960s — for many people the golden age of soul. We’ll start with 29 songs from 1960 to 1963. Some of them are classics, such as I’m Blue, It’s Raining, Ya Ya, Monkey Time or Fingertips (represented here in its full version). Others are lesser known, or album tracks or b-sides — but all, in my opinion, great songs.

Some of the names are well-known, and a few still at the beginning of great things, such as Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Eddie Holland, who’d have much bigger success as a songwriter and producer at Motown, on which his Leaving Here appeared.

Others have been widely forgotten. Among them are The Sapphires, whose debut single Where Is Johnny Now is a firm favourite of mine. The Philadelphia group was among Gamble & Huff’s earliest protégés; the song features Leon Huff as well as Thom Bell on keyboards.

There is no name on this tracklist that sounds more ’60s than Doris Troy. Discovered in New York by James Brown (who doesn’t like his music to be featured on blogs, hence his absence), she had a couple of hits, including a Top 40 hit in the UK in 1964 which The Beatles liked so much that they later signed her to the Apple label.

The Butlers are so obscure that they are a trivia question on Northern Soul pub quiz nights. The group’s claim to fame, and this song’s, is that the lead vocalist is Frankie Beverley, who would become a soul legend as the frontman of Maze.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes front and back covers.

1. Ray Charles – Sticks And Stones
2. LaVern Baker – Bumble Bee
3. Mable John – You Made A Fool Out Of Me
4. The Ikettes – I’m Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)
5. Arthur Alexander – A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues
6. The Mar-Keys – Last Night
7. Gladys Knight and The Pips – Letter Full of Tears
8. Little Milton – Saving My Love For You
9. Lee Dorsey – Ya Ya
10. Irma Thomas – It’s Raining
11. Bettye Lavette – My Man, He’s A Lovin’ Man
12. Ann Cole – Have Fun
13. Marvin Gaye – Get My Hands On Some Lovin’
14. Aretha Franklin – I’m Wandering
15. Solomon Burke – Go On Back To Him
16. Sam Cooke – Nothing Can Change This Love
17. Dee Dee Sharp – Village Of Love
18. The Marvelettes – Playboy
19. Joe Henderson – Snap Your Fingers
20. Betty Harris – It’s Dark Outside
21. Baby Washington – Who’s Gonna Take Care Of Me
22. Eddie Holland – Leaving Here
23. Doris Troy – But I Love Him
24. The Sapphires – Where Is Johnny Now
25. Stevie Wonder – Fingertips (full version)
26. Major Lance – Monkey Time
27. Barbara Lewis – Hello Stranger
28. Betty Everett – Gonna Be Ready
29. The Butlers – She Tried To Kiss Me

(link updated on July 7, 2024)

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Intros Quiz: 1982 edition

August 16th, 2012 5 comments

We continue our five-yearly cycle of intros quizzes, arriving at 30 (thirty! YIKES!!) years ago: 1982.

1982 was the year Argentina and Britain fought a war over the Falklands/Mavinas. Solidarity leader Lech Walesa is released after 11 months in detention. A guy named Michael Fagan paid the queen of England an unsolicited bedroom visit. Sony brought out the first CD player (kids, ask your parents). Time magazine named the computer Person of the Year (yes, they did). Guitar-strumming German singer Nicole won the Eurovision Song Contest with Ein Bisschen Frieden, and Italy won the football World Cup.  Deaths include John Belushi, Leonid Brezhnev, Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Henry Fonda, Thelonious Monk, Lester Bangs, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Mr Hooper of Sesame Street.

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 Monday. If the pesky number 14 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.

Intros Quiz ““ 1982 Edition


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A History of Country Vol. 19: 1995-99

August 8th, 2012 8 comments

The invention of country-pop, as spearheaded by the likes of Shania Twain, has proven to be a sustainable commercial, though artistically not harmless, proposition. Bland eye-candy singers, their vocals auto-tuned, guitar strapped on and sold as country. The inarguably talented Taylor Swift reportedly asked to be marketed as a country singer not because her music has its roots embedded firmly in that genre, but because such a claim would deliver an audience. Many teenagers today may describe themselves as country fans, but they don”t mean any of the many Hanks or George Jones, but Swift and Carrie Underwood.

While the wildly successful diluted country with their commercialism, the genres integrity was maintained by several strands. Bluegrass had been kept alive since its 1940s heyday with Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs by the likes of Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, Del McCoury, Jimmy Martin, Ricky Skaggs and in the 1990s by acts like the angel-voiced Alison Krauss and her band, the Union Station, the Soggy Bottom Boys, and Rhonda Vincent. Bluegrass festivals began to spring up in the 1970s, the International Bluegrass Music Association was founded in 1985, and the Grammys instituted a bluegrass award in 1988. Bluegrass crossed over into the public consciousness with the soundtrack of the Coen Brothers” 2000 film O Brother Where Art Thou, which won a Grammy and was led by Stanley, the Union Station and the Soggy Bottom Boys.

Serving as an antidote to the smooth pop puppetry, some female singers made an impression with a “don’t-fuck-with-with-me-mister” attitude. Though Gretchen Wilson had a hit with Redneck Woman, these barroom chicks aren’t going to threaten the autotuned country-pop brigade, but singers like Wilson and Miranda Lambert help ensure that their genre will survive the inevitable collapse of corporate country and help rebuild it “” much as the Outlaws did in the 1970s and Strait and Skragg in the 1980s.

Another antidote to the bland commercialism was administered by Johnny Cash and erstwhile rap svengali Rick Rubin. Cash had sunk into musical irrelevance in the 1970s and did not emerge from it until Rubin approached him to record an album of acoustic country. Backed only by his guitar, Cash recorded a few demo songs in his lounge. It sounded so soulfully raw that Rubin used that approach for a series of critically acclaimed albums, still releasing material after Cash”s death in 2004.

1. David Lee Murphy – Dust On The Bottle
2. Garth Brooks – The Beaches of Cheyenne
3. Jo Dee Messina – Heads Carolina, Tails California
4. George Strait – Blue Clear Sky
5. Wilco – Forget The Flowers
6. Townes Van Zandt – For The Sake Of The Song
7. Alison Krauss & Union Station – So Long, So Wrong
8. Anita Cochran & Steve Wariner – What If I Said
9. Martina McBride – A Broken Wing
10. Kathy Mattea – 455 Rocket
11. Alan Jackson – Gone Crazy
12. Dixie Chicks – Wide Open Spaces
13. Randy Travis – Spirit Of A Boy, Wisdom Of A Man
14. Lyle Lovett – Step Inside This House
15. Ralph Stanley & Patty Loveless – Pretty Polly
16. Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band – I’m Still In Love With You
17. John Prine – So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)
18. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Almost Home
19. Chely Wright – Single White Female
20. Mickey Gilley – Make The World Go Away
21. Tim McGraw – Please Remember Me

(includes front and back covers. PW here)


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In Memoriam – July 2012

August 2nd, 2012 7 comments

Two Funk Brother died in July: first Maurice D Davis, who played trumpet on songs like Papa Was A Rolling Stone, and a couple of days later, on July 16, Bob Babbitt, who played the bass on Motown hits such as Tears Of A Clown, War, Just My Imagination; on soul classics like Midnight Train To Georgia and Band Of Gold. Also listen to his bass solo on Dennis Coffey”s 1972 hit Scorpio.

July 16 was a bad day for music. We lost Jon Lord, the great innovative organist of Deep Purple and Whitesnake. We also lost Kitty Wells, whose breakthrough as a country singer paved the way for female stars in that genre, such as Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. Wells was already in her 30s and a mother of three when she became a star; the first female ever to top the country charts. Wells introduced feminist themes into country long before that was regarded as ordinary and articulated a female self-confidence that would become characteristic of many women who succeeded her. Read more…