Archive for February, 2014

The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1

February 27th, 2014 16 comments


There are a few things you need to know about the great drummer Jim Gordon. He played on such classics as “You’re So Vain”, “Sara Smile”, Seals & Croft”s “Summer Breeze” and “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”. He wrote and played that gorgeous piano coda on “Layla”. And he bludgeoned his mother to death.

Gordon, who once ranked alongside such giants as Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer in the roster of drummers in the session musicians’ collective known as the Wrecking Crew, is still a guest of the US government at the California Medical Facility, a psychiatric prison in Vacaville. The fact of his current domicile tips us off that Gordon’s is a profoundly tragic story, not just a sensational tale of a man gone bad.

Jim Gordon was born in 1945 and grew up in California’s San Fernando Valley. At the age of eight he built his first drum set, from trash cans. The kid showed such talent that his middle-class parents bought him a proper drum set and sprung for lessons by a professional drummer. By the time he was 15, Jim was already regarded by many as a prodigy. When he graduated from high school, UCLA offered him a musician scholarship. To the understandable consternation of his parents, he decided to hit the road instead, with the Everly Brothers on their 1963 tour of England.

Returning from the tour, Jim played for local bands and profited from small session jobs, like doing some percussion work for Sonny & Cher and the Everly Brothers. His talent was gradually attracting notice, until in March 1966 the big break came: Brian Wilson invited Jim, still only 20 years old, to play on the Beach Boys album that would become Pet Sounds (on which Hal Blaine, his mentor, did most of the stick work). Within a couple of years, Gordon ranked as an established member of the Wrecking Crew, playing with Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Byrds, José Feliciano, Mason Williams, and helping Linda Ronstadt get her break with the Stone Poneys.


As the 1960s turned into the 1970s, he played on some groundbreaking albums, such as George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and Joe Cockers'” Mad Dogs & Englishmen. Among his steady gigs was that of drumming for the Delaney & Bonnie & Friends scene. Among Delaney & Bonnie’s pals was Eric Clapton. When Clapton decided to form Derek and the Dominos, Gordon was appointed the drummer. Clapton had high regard for Gordon, considering him the greatest rock drummer in the world — greater even than fellow Cream alumnus Ginger Baker! But it was as a pianist that Gordon made his most decisive contribution to the Clapton canon.

The sessions for “Layla” had gone very well. Clapton and Duane Allman had created a rock guitar anthem for the ages. But Clapton was at a loss as to how to end the thing. Then he heard Gordon doodling on the piano. He loved the chords the drummer was playing, and decided that this was exactly what was needed to play out the song. And he asked Gordon to play the piano part on the recording. And so the most famous bit of music one of the greatest drummers ever played was on the piano…

We”ll continue the story of Jim Gordon — for which I have drawn especially from Kent Hartman’s excellent book The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll”s Best-kept Secret (2012) — with Volume 2.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes coverts. PW in comments. Fans of Earth, Wind & Fire will be interested in the arrangement of the Thelma Houston track.

1. Mason Williams – Classical Gas (1968)
2. The Everly Brothers – Hello Amy (1964)
3. The Beach Boys – I’m Waiting For The Day (1966)
4. The Byrds – Wasn’t Born To Follow (1968)
5. The Dillards – Reason To Believe (1968)
6. The Stone Poneys – Different Drum (1967)
7. Mama Cass – California Earthquake (1970)
8. John Lennon – Power To The People (1971)
9. Leon Russell – Alcatraz (1971)
10. The Friends Of Distinction – Grazing in The Grass (1969)
11. Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker – Got To Get You Into My Life (1975)
12. Minnie Riperton – Simple Things (1975)
13. Bill LaBounty – Lie To Me (1975)
14. Steely Dan – Rikki Don’t Lose That Number (1974)
15. Art Garfunkel – The Same Old Tears On A New Background (1975)
16. Joan Baez – Please Come To Boston (live, 1976)
17. Chi Coltrane – Let It Ride (1973)
18. The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band – Believe Me (1974)
19. Crosby Stills & Nash – Marrakesh Express (1969)
20. George Harrison – Let It Down (1970)
21. Traffic – Rock & Roll Stew (1971)
22. Delaney & Bonnie & Friends – They Call It Rock & Roll Music (1970)


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Previous drummer collection:
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

Any Major Soul 1971

February 20th, 2014 9 comments

Any Major Soul 1971

It has been a while since we last had a Any Major Soul post, so let’s remedy that by continuing our year-by-year journey through soul music with the year 1971.

The thing kicks off with Chris Hills, a multi-instrumentalist and arranger whom we previously encountered on The Ghetto Vol. 1 (one of my all-time favourite mixes on this blog) with the opening track of his excellent  Everything Is Everything: Comin’ Out Of The Ghetto album, which was co-produced by jazz flautist Herbie Mann. The LP might have suggested the artist’s emergence from the projects, but more likely Hills had just visited, for he was white. The vocals on Talkin’ About Soul, which issues a rollcall of ’60s soul legends and sounds like it, are by Chico Walters.

Another white act on this mix are the Flaming Ember, whose singer-drummer Jerry Plunk once left a comment here to thank me for posting the group’s music, on the Any Major Soul 1970-71 mix four years ago. The Flaming Ember are, of course, best known for their great hit Westbound #9. Likewise, The Presidents are best remembered for their 1970 hit 5-10-15-20 (25-30 Years of Love). The featured song here, Sweet Magic, is one of those happiness-inducing soul songs that were such a hallmark of early ’70s soul. The Presidents, as the name hints at, came from Washington D.C., and were produced by fellow Washingtonian Van McCoy.

The early 1970s provided the good years for the doomed Holland-Dozier-Holland  labels, Invictus and Hot Wax, which the songwriting trio founded after leaving Motown. Among H-D-H artists featured here are the Flaming Ember, The Honey Cone, The 8th Day and Glass House (there was no space for Freda Payne, Chairmen of the Board or Parliament).

The 8th Day in 1971 was the group 100 Proof (Aged in Soul) by another name. After the pseudonymous had minor hits with She’s Not Just Another Woman and the song featured here, You’ve Got To Crawl (Before You Can Walk), H-D-H put together a proper 8th Day group, but that incarnation enjoyed only modest success.

Lolleatta Holloway is probably best known for her 1980 disco hit Love Sensation, which was sampled so liberally for Black Box’s 1989 hit Ride On Time”, including Holloway”s vocals (albeit uncredited). But before all that, Holloway was a superb soul singer. Alas, she died in 2011.

The Detroit trio Love Peace & Happiness were short-lived, releasing only two LPs, but the three members — former Marvelettes member Ann Bogan (she replaced Gladys Horton in 1968) and Leslie and Melvin Wilson — found greater success after they were absorbed into the reconstituted New Birth, who went on to have a string of hits throughout the 1970s.

The mix ends with a track by Frankie Beverley’s Raw Soul, a forerunner of the mighty Maze. At this point Frankie was still in Philadelphia, were he had previously led, with little success, a group called The Butlers (they featured on Any Major Soul 1960-63). In 1971 Beverley made some personnel changes to Raw Soul, moved to San Francisco and was discovered there by Marvin Gaye. The band changed its name, at Gaye’s suggestion, to Maze in 1976.

As always: CD-R length, covers, PW in comments

1. Chris Hills – Talkin’ Bout Soul
2. Tommy Tate – I Remember
3. The Presidents – Sweet Magic
4. The Whatnauts – I Dig Your Act
5. William Bell – I Can’t Make It (All By Myself)
6. Honey Cone – Blessed Be Our Love
7. The Flirtations – Little Darling (I Need You)
8. The 8th Day – You’ve Got To Crawl (Before You Can Walk)
9. Loleatta Holloway – Our Love
10. Margie Joseph – I’ll Always Love You
11. Donnie Elbert – Can’t Get Over Losing You
12. Bobby Byrd – It’s I Who Love You (Not Him Anymore)
13. Labelle – Time And Love
14. Madeline Bell – Sweet Lovin’
15. The New Rotary Connection – Hey, Love
16. Shuggie Otis – Sweet Thang
17. S.O.U.L. – Memphis Underground
18. Love Peace & Happiness – Strip Me Naked
19. The Dells – Freedom Means
20. Melba Moore – Look What You’re Doing To The Man
21. Vessie Simmons – Baby Me
22. The Glass House – I Surrendered
23. Flaming Ember – The Empty Crowded Room
24. Frankie Beverly’s Raw Soul – Color Blind


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More Any Major Soul

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Categories: 70s Soul, Any Major Soul Tags:

Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals

February 13th, 2014 13 comments


Fifty years ago this month, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and thereby changed the trajectory of pop music. The first of their three consecutive weekly performances, on February 9, was seen by an estimated 73 million viewers, setting a new record (read Echoes in the Wind’s fine post on watching that show).

Also on that show were impressionist Frank Gorshin (doing a routine about movie stars as politicians), acrobats Wells & the Four Fays, comedians McCall & Brill, and Broadway star Georgia Brown, joined by the cast of Oliver!, including a pre-Monkees Davy Jones singing “I”™d Do Anything”.

Beatles on Sullivan

They all were, it is safe to say, thoroughly overshadowed by the Beatles, who played All My Loving, Till There Was You (presumably for all the Moms), She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There and I Want To Hold Your Hand.
The following Sunday’s show, on February 16, was broadcast from Miami Beach and tied to the first heavyweight title bout between Sonny Liston and Cassius Clay – another decade-defining event. Only the champion was present. Also in the audience was boxing legend Joe Louis.
Brought to you by Lipton Tea, which was punted poolside by TV announcer George Fenneman, the line-up also included singing actress Mitzi Gaynor (performing a rousing version of Too Darn Hot and a medley of blues songs), comedians Marty Allen & Steve Rossi (riffing only mildly amusingly, at least by modern standards, on the theme of boxing), the affable comedian Myron Cohen, Swiss way-pole acrobats The Nerveless Nocks, and unicyclist act The Volantes. Allen, now 91, Rossi, 81, and Gaynor, 82, are still alive.


The Feb. 16 show: Title card from Miami Beach; George Fenneman and random woman punt Lipton Tea; Ed Sullivan and his shadow; The Beatles in full song (note John's wide-apart legs); Beatles fan controls her hysteria; today she probably tells her grandchildren about seeing the Beatles.

The Feb. 16 show: Title card from Miami Beach; George Fenneman and random woman punt Lipton Tea; Ed Sullivan and his shadow; The Beatles in full song (note John’s wide-apart legs); Beatles fan controls her hysteria; today she probably tells her grandchildren about seeing the Beatles. (Right-click and open in new window/tab for larger version of the pics)


The Beatles played She Loves You, This Boy, All My Loving, I Saw Her Standing There, From Me to You and I Want To Hold Your Hand (“A song,” according to Paul, “that was recorded by one of our favourite American groups, Sophie Tucker”).

The performance which was broadcast on February 23 was pre-recorded. In fact, it was really the first Beatles performance for Sullivan since it was recorded before the first show. By then Beatlemania was in full swing in America. The Beatles played Twist and Shout, Please Please Me and I Want to Hold Your Hand. Also on the show were jazz singer Cab Calloway (singing St James Infirmary and Old Man River), English clarinettist Acker Bilk, English comedy duo Morecambe & Wise, comedians Dave Barry and Morty Gunty, comedy duo Gordon & Sheila MacRae, singer Gloria Bleezarde (no, me neither), and marionettes Pinky & Perky.

The Beatles returned to The Ed Sullivan Show on September 12, 1965. A week later, the show began broadcasting in colour.

On the Feb 16 show: Heavyweight champ Sonny Liston is introduced; comics Steve Rossi & Marty Allen; Mitzi Gaynor and pals; comedian Myron Cohen; Ed Sullivan greets the Fab Four.

On the Feb 16 show: Heavyweight champ Sonny Liston is introduced; comics Steve Rossi & Marty Allen; Mitzi Gaynor and pals; comedian Myron Cohen; Ed Sullivan greets the Fab Four.


We’ve been through a lot of Beatles covers in the past (and the links are live again). To mark the 50th anniversary of the pivotal Sullivan shows, here is something a little different: a mix of jazz and soul (and early fusion) instrumental covers.

There might be jazz, but there’s very little jazzy noodling going on. Arif Mardin might go a bit psychedelic during Glass Onions, as does Steve Marcus on Rain, Mongo Santamaria might go on a trip halfway through his song, and Jim Caravan might take some serious liberties with A Day In The Life after a faithful start, but Jonah Jones de-cheeses Michelle, and Shirley Scott’s version of Get Back has enough energy to light up New York City during one of its famous powercuts. It’s all great stuff.

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

1. Steve Cropper – With A Little Help From My Friends (1969)
2. Shirley Scott & The Soul Saxes – Get Back (1969)
3. Cal Tjader – Lady Madonna (1969)
4. Jimmy Ponder – While My Guitar Gently Weeps (1974)
5. Arif Mardin – Glass Onion (1969)
6. Buddy Rich Big Band – Norwegian Wood (1967)
7. Count Basie – Come Together (1969)
8. Harvey Averne Dozen – The Word (1968)
9. Jimmy Caravan – A Day In the Life (1968)
10. Jonah Jones – Michelle (1968)
11. Booker T. & The MG’s – Eleanor Rigby (1968)
12. Gabor Szabo – In My Life (1969)
13. Wade Marcus – Something (1971)
14. The Mar-Keys – Let It Be (1971)
15. Mongo Santamaria – Day Tripper (1970)
16. Steve Marcus – Rain (1968)
17. Bobby Bryant – Happiness Is A Warm Gun (1969)
18. Freddy McCoy – I Am A Walrus (1968)
19. Ramsey Lewis – Julia (1968)
20. Bud Shank – Yesterday (1966)
21. The Soulful Strings – Within You Without You (1967)
22. Don Randi Trio – Tomorrow Never Knows (1966)


More great Beatles stuff:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles
Beatles Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 1
Beatles Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 2
Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Photographs (1974)


Categories: Beatles, Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

In Memoriam – January 2014

February 6th, 2014 4 comments

In Memoriam - January 2014Two giants of music, men who demonstrably influenced pop music, died in January.

Phil Everly and his brother Don did not invent the harmonising that was their trademark “” they simply followed in the well-trodden path of other duos, many of them also fraternal, in the world of country and country-gospel (most famously the Louvin Brothers). But the Everlys brought this tradition into the mainstream of pop music, whence it inspired acts like The Byrds, The Hollies, The Beatles, Crosby Stills & Nash and, above all, Simon & Garfunkel.

The remarkably long career of Pete Seeger began when the Spanish Civil War was raging and ended as the US government fought their battles by remote-controlled rocket bombs. Much has been written about Seeger”s musical legacy, and about his politics, which I broadly endorse but which at one point crossed into the terrain of the risible with his apologetics for Stalin (he later disowned them). But, all that aside, what impressed in particular was that he remained married to the same woman for 70 years, a marriage that ended with Toshi Seeger”s death at 91 last July. They had met in 1939, and she has been credited with being the force behind Pete”s great career.

For all her accomplishments, music history might remember Anna Gordy best for being something of a novelty: the ex-wife whose divorce settlement required Marvin Gaye to write his bitter and quite brilliant Here, My Dear, royalties of which went to her. Before their divorce, Anna and Marvin wrote several songs together, including “God Is Love” and “Flyin’ High (In the Friendly Sky)” on What”s Going On, and The Originals” great hit “Baby I”m For Real”.

In 1958 Gordy founded Anna Records, a year before brother Berry set up Tamla, the precursor to Motown. Anna Records distributed Barrett Strong”s “Money” under licence from Tamla. Berry absorbed Anna Records in 1961, whereupon Anna became president of Motown”s Artist Development, the label”s famous grooming academy. She persuaded Berry to let session drummer and songwriter Marvin Gaye  record as a singer, and their romance inspired Marvin to write songs such as “Pride And Joy”. Their marriage was turbulent and collapsed in 1973. They reconciled, as friends, a couple of years before Marvin”s death in 1984.

For fans of acid jazz in the early 1990s, English guitarist Ronny Jordan, who has died at the young age of 51, was an instant legend, at least to those jazz fans who were not inclined to jerk their elitist knees at well-produced stuff. I spent a lot of time with his 1992 album The Antidote. But to many people Jordan”s work might be best known for a classic bit of lip synching. His 1993 song “the Jackal”, with very sexy vocals by the poet-singer Dana Bryant, was used for a scene in The West Wing in which CJ Cregg, played by Allison Janney, gets the men of the White House hot under their collective collars by mouthing the vocals and pouting through “The Jackal” (see the video. The original video is worth checking out too, in HQ)

When a jazz musician dies at 95, he might have a wealth of stories from another era to tell. Read more…

Categories: In Memoriam Tags: