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The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2

January 30th, 2014 3 comments

Ricky Lawson Collection 2

A couple of weeks ago I posted the first part of the two-part anthology of the great session drummer Ricky Lawson, who died on 23 December 2013 at the age of 59. This is the second part.

Peruse this tracklisting, revisit that of the first mix, and then look at the list of artists for whom Lawson drummed, but do not feature in the mixes. The man had an impressive CV.

When you look at the tracklisting for this mix, you”ll see a cryptic clue. The gruff-voiced singer”s people has DMCA-happy handlers. Or, who knows, maybe he spends the heart of Saturday nights trawling through music blogs. He (or, indeed, she) who waits will hold on to see how it”s going to end.  I usually don”t post that singer”s songs, but in view of this being a tribute to the drummer on the featured song, I will make an exception.

ricky_lawson_2

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

1. The Jacksons – Things I Do for You (1978)
2. Bobbi Walker – Come Back Lover, Come Back (1982)
3. Lenny Williams – Changing (1984)
4. Roy Ayers – Vibrations (1976)
5. Tania Maria – Just Get Up (1986)
6. John Mellencamp – Walk Tall (2004)
7. Gruff Friend of the DMCA – $29.00 (1978)
8. Steely Dan – Gaslighting Abbie (2000)
9. Robben Ford – North Carolina (1979)
10. Merry Clayton – When The World Turns Blue (Melodies Of Love) (1980)
11. The Pointer Sisters – Where Did The Time Go (1980)
12. Dianne Reeves – Better Days (1987)
13. Phil Perry – Call Me (1991)
14. Faith Evans – Never Gonna Let You Go (1999)
15. Bill Cantos – Cool Drink Of Water (1995)
16. Toots Thielemans feat Lionel Richie – Nothing Else Matters (2000)
17. Ricky Lawson feat Bridgette Bryant – I Will Be Here Waiting For You (1997)

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Crap from the Past: A halfhearted tribute

January 23rd, 2014 5 comments

Crap From The Past Tribute

I don”t know how I heard about him first, but for several years I have been listening to the radio show of Ron “Boogiemonster” Gerber, who presents the “Crap from the Past” show on KFAI community radio in Minneapolis/St Paul.

Of course I don”t live anywhere near KFAI”s catchment area, so it is fortuitous that each episode of CFTP is downloadable in MP3 format (or streamable) via archive.org. Go to www.crapfromthepast.com/archives/index.htm for the archive which goes back to 31 January 1992.

Ron “” and I must point out that the great man and I do not know one another at all, so I”m not pitching for a pal here “” describes his show as a “graduate course in music”, by which he means that his listeners are presumed to know a fair bit about music already. He will play the occasional blast from the past many will be glad to hear again, or revive a long-forgotten gem. But Ron also plays, in keeping with the promise of the show”s moniker, a lot of arcane crap, especially by way of cover versions and novelty numbers.

Ron 'Boogiemonster' GerberThe esoteric mix is great fun, at least once the crap is placed in its proper context. Every now and then I am thankful that I do not have to listen to everything in real-time, but have the relief of being able to fast-forward the really atrocious stuff “” but never without having first heard Ron”s take on it.

The joy of CFTP is that you have no idea what Ron is going to play next, even when he is riffing on a theme. Best of all, it is really obvious that Ron is really enjoying himself.

So, to celebrate “Crap from the Past”, I have compiled a mix of one song per show presented by Ron between 17 January (represented by “Heroes” in French) to 19 July (Ween”s “Hey There Fancy Pants”), counting back in chronological order. I had to skip one show from which I had absolutely no song, 22 November”s “Crappersize Crap Yourself Thin” show of songs from a selection of doubtless dreadful work-out albums.

Most of the songs on the mix will be known to readers of this obscure corner of the Internet. Fans of The Originals (or Copy Borrow Steal) will enjoy Chuck Jackson”s “I Keep Forgettin””, which Michael McDonald”s 1982 song of the same name borrowed so liberally from that songwriters Leiber & Stoller earned themselves a writing credit. Surveying the tracklisting, I”m struck by the number of tracks from 1983.

Ron Gerber has also written a book (the cover is reproduced above); check it out HERE.

EDIT: Ron has kindly given Any Major Dude With Half A Heart a mention on Friday’s show (24 January). Download or stream the show here.

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

1. David Bowie – Heroes (French version) (1977)
2. Sara Bareilles – Brave (2013)
3. Bill Cosby – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1968)
4. Freeez – I.O.U (1983)
5. Archie Bell & The Drells – I Can’t Stop Dancing (1968)
6. Culture Club – Miss Me Blind (1983)
7. Betty Davis – Ooh Yeah (1974)
8. A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It? (1990)
9. Cookie Monster – Cookie Disco (1978)
10. Chuck Jackson – I Keep Forgettin’ (1962)
11. Nik Kershaw – The Riddle (1984)
12. Clout – Portable Radio (1980)
13. Donnie Iris – Ah! Leah! (1980)
14. Edgar Winter Group – Free Ride (1972)
15. Slade – Cum On Feel The Noize (1973)
16. Exile – Kiss You All Over (1978)
17. Stereo MC’s – Get Connected (1992)
18. New York City – I’m Doing Fine Now (1973)
19. Sheena Easton – Swear (1984)
20. Lee Ritenour – Is It You? (1981)
21. Sergio Mendes – Never Gonna Let You Go (1983)
22. The Alarm – The Stand (1983)
23. Ween – Hey There Fancy Pants (2003)

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Any Major Summer Vol. 1

January 16th, 2014 22 comments

Any Major Summer Vol. 1 - front

While most readers of this obscure corner of the Internet are freezing their arses off in their winter climes, we denizens of the southern hemisphere are in the midst of summer. So, for the readers in Australia, South Africa, Brazil (where there are quite a few readers; E aí, tudo certo?)  and possibly New Zealand, here is a mix to get us into the summer groove. And for my friends in the North, I hope this mix will warm you up with the idea of summer.

I think I might have three or four good mixes on the theme, so please don”t bombard me with complaints about how I could possibly have omitted this or that tune. The groundrules are that the songs must be about summer or set in summer. “Heatwave” isn’t about summer, so it won’t feature, nor will “Walking On Sunshine”, nor “It’s June In January” (though if you’re in Europe or the US, listening to this ix might create the illusion that it is indeed June in January).

One song that makes no reference to summer but does feature is “Groovin””; it is inconceivable that the Sunday afternoon on which the groovin’ is taking place falls into any other season but summer.

With one exception, I will follow my usual rule of not duplicating an artist in a series; the exemption here is obvious: I cannot possibly choose only one Beach Boys song. So the Wilson brothers and their pals and cousin will feature on all mixes. The first of these is an anachronistic call by Mike Love to the band to return to the cars, beach and girls tropes of earlier years, released in 1968 (Cousin Mike famously was not a fan of Brian”s innovations)! And often summer is a bit like that: it evokes memories of more innocent, happier times which we cannot hope to recapture; times when the sun shone every day, even if it didn’t.

In case anybody wonders: the version of the War song is the longer LP version; the Style Council’s “Long Hot Summer” is the single version.

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

1. The Beach Boys – Do It Again (1968)
2. Young Rascals – Groovin’ (1967)
3. Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer In The City (1966)
4. Chicago – Saturday in the Park (1972)
5. War – Summer (1976)
6. Roy Ayers – Everybody Loves The Sunshine (1976)
7. Osibisa – Sunshine Day (1975)
8. Kool & the Gang – Summer Madness (1974)
9. Ronnie McNeir – In Summertime (1972)
10. The Style Council – Long Hot Summer (1983)
11. Violent Femmes – Blister In The Sun (1983)
12. Blondie – In The Sun (1976)
13. Ramones – Rockaway Beach (1977)
14. Weezer – Island In The Sun (2001)
15. The Lilac Time – Jeans + Summer (2001)
16. Carly Simon – Two Hot Girls (On A Hot Summer Night) (1987)
17. Johnny Rivers – Summer Rain (1967)
18. Loudon Wainwright III – The Swimming Song (1974)
19. Joni Mitchell – The Hissing Of Summer Lawns (1975)
20. Chad & Jeremy – A Summer Song (1964)
21. The Drifters – Under The Boardwalk (1964)
22. Joe Jones – California Sun (1961)
23. Ann Cole – Summer Nights (1958)
24. The Shangri-Las – Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand) (1964)

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The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1

January 9th, 2014 6 comments

Ricky Lawson Collection 1

When drummer Ricky Lawson died at the age of 59 just before Christmas, we lost one of those musicians whose work we have known, or even loved, but whose identity few have sought to establish “” the lot of many session musicians.

As this mix and a second volume will show, Lawson played on many great tracks. None was as popular and also widely despised as Whitney Houston”s version of “I Will Always Love You”. His single bass drum beat before Whitney launches into her hyperpyrotechnical wailing must rank as one of the most famous single drum beats in pop.

Lawson was born in Detroit in 1954. He was surrounded by music; his uncle, Paul Riser, was an arranger with Motown”s in-house band, the Funk Brothers. It was his uncle Paul who lent Ricky his first drum set. Ricky played in a school band and for an outfit called The Sons of Soul. His break came after being discovered by Stevie Wonder, through whom he landed a gig with Roy Ayers (he would drum for Stevie only many years later). This led to collaborations with another fusion great, George Duke, who also died in 2013.

ricky_lawsonHe played for and with many great musicians, many of whom feature on the two Ricky Lawson mixes. Among those who will not feature on these are Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Babyface, Earth Wind & Fire, Mariah Carey, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, India.Arie, Bette Midler, Harry Nilsson, Smokey Robinson, Patrice Rushen, Beyoncé, Dennis Edwards, Johnny Gill, Teena Maria, Rod Stewart, Toto, Regina Belle, George Benson, Patti Austin, Nancy Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Howard Hewitt, The Emotions, DeBarge, Rockwell (on “Somebody’s Watching Me”), Boney James, Tevin Campbell, Bobby Brown, Gladys Knight, The Winans, Ramsey Lewis, and Lionel Richie. If you caught Michael Jackson on his Bad tour, you will have seen Lawson behind the drums.

Lawson was also a co-founder of the jazz-fusion band The Yellowjackets, with whom he won a Grammy in 1987 for the song “And You Know That”, which he also co-wrote.

His final conscious moments were spent, suitably, behind the drums. He was performing on stage in LA on 13 December when he suddenly became disoriented as he suffered a brain aneurysm. He was kept on life-support for ten days; on 23 December it was switched off.

By every account, Ricky Lawson was a thoroughly nice guy, a widely-liked, humble model professional.

Lawson is the second drummer whose work I have anthologised; the first was Bernard Purdie (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), and soon I plan to feature another great session drummer with a most remarkable story.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Home-highhatted covers are included. PW in comments.

1. Sweet Cream – Pretty Little Black Boy (1978)
2. Al Jarreau – Teach Me Tonight (live, 1985)
3. Randy Crawford and Yellowjackets – Imagine (live, 1982)
4. Anita Baker – Soul Inspiration (1990)
5. Kevin Moore – Rainmaker (1980)
6. Phil Upchurch – When And If I Fall In Love (1982)
7. George Duke – Sugar Loaf Mountain (1979)
8. Flora Purim – Sarara (1979)
9. Maze feat Frankie Beverly – Back In Stride (1985)
10. Deniece Williams – Black Butterfly (1984)
11. Keith Washington – Kissing You (1991)
12. The Dramatics – It Ain’t Rainin’ (On Nobody’s House But Mine) (1980)
13. Sister Sledge – Smile (1983)
14. James Ingram – I Don’t Have The Heart (1989)
15. Michael McDonald – Ain`t No Mountain High Enough (2003)
16. France Gall – La minute de silence (1996)

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Previous Session Musicians:
The Roy Bittan Collection
The Larry Carlton Collection
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 1
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 2
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 3
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Graham Collection
The Louis Johnson Collection
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 2
The Bobby Keys Collection
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Joe Osborne Collection
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ringo Starr Collection


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In Memoriam – December 2013

January 2nd, 2014 4 comments

Dec_RIPThe headline death in December was that of Ray Price, whose passing was announced prematurely by a day or so, lending the occasion a sense of drama. Fans of The Originals will be pleased to receive two additions to their collections: the first recordings of “Heartache By Numbers” and Kris Kristofferson”s mighty “For The Good Times”. Price was also the first to record the classic “Make The World Go Away” in 1963, though Timi Yuro”s version was released before his. A decade earlier, Price was also the first to record the much-covered country classic “I”ll Be There (if You Ever Want Me)”, which he had co-written.

Price”s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2012 cut short plans for a long tour of concerts. His hospitalisation in March brought down the curtain on a performing career that spanned 65 years.

Reggae singer Junior Murvin is best known for his hit “Police And Thieves”, which he recorded in 1976, produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry. The same year it provided the soundtrack to the Notting Hill Carnival riots in London (that, kids, was before Notting Hill was toryfied and gentrified). The song became more widely known in its cover on The Clash”s eponymous debut album in 1977 (the original became a UK hit only in 1980). It seems Murvin was not a fan of The Clash”s interpretation. “They have destroyed Jah work”, was his pithy review.

Earlier in 2013 we lost George Duke; on December 23 his frequent drummer, Ricky Lawson, passed away at 59. Lawson, who was also a co-founder of the fusion band Yellow Jackets, played on Duke tracks such as “Brazilian Love Affair”, and did drumming duty for the likes of The Jackson, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Roy Ayers, Tom Waits, Steely Dan, Anita Baker, The Emotions, Harry Nilsson, Smokey Robinson, Merry Clayton, John Mellencamp, Michael McDonald, Ramsey Lewis, Beyoncé, Bette Middler, Al Jarreau, india.arie, Maze, Pointer Sisters and many more. I”ll post a mix of tracks featuring Lawson”s  drumming next week.

Nominally a jazz tenor saxophonist and flautist, Yusef Lateef (known before his conversion to Islam in 1950 as Bill Evans) Read more…

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