Archive for August, 2014

Any Major Soul 1972 – Vol. 2

August 28th, 2014 9 comments

Any Major Soul 1972 - Vol.2

The second volume of Any Major Soul 1972 features a number of well-known acts, but few of them doing their better-known songs. This compilation demonstrates the sheer quality from which labels could choose singles.

Aretha Franklin, for example, covers Dusty Springfield”s “A Brand New Me” (though I prefer the original). A composition by Philly soul giants Thom Bell, Jerry Butler and Kenneth Gamble, Aretha departs from the early Philly soul to give it a southern soul vibe which turns into an extended jazzy outro.

One famous name missing on both volumes is Stevie Wonder, who released two soul classics in 1972, Music Of My Mind and Talking Book. Like the two Donny Hathaway classics also issued that year, these should be in every good record collection. Stevie is represented here by his ex-wife Syreeta, whose eponymous album he produced and wrote seven out of nine songs for, including the featured “Keep Him Like He Is”.

Few soul songs have give rise to a documentary. Billy Paul“s “Am I Black Enough For You” provided the context for a 2009 documentary by Swedish director Göran Hugo Olsson, which examines the career of Billy Paul, Philly soul, money in the record business and black politics. The song was Paul”s follow-up single to the crossover mega-hit “Me And Mrs Jones”. Needless to say that it did not provide another crossover hit. An expression of Paul”s political activism, its choice as a single did much to undermine the career of Billy Paul, even as it appeared at the same time of soul singers making statements of African-American assertiveness “” it was the year, after all, in which Aretha Franklin, universally admired Queen of Soul, titled her LP Young, Gifted and Black.

Between The Blossoms and The Glass House there was some controversy. The latter were on Holland-Dozier-Holland”s Invictus Records; the former were ready to sign for the label. The Blossoms “” Darlene Love, Fanita James and Jean King “” had been one of the great backing bands of the 1960s. Some great Phil Spector productions, such as The Crystal”s “He”s A Rebel”, were recorded by the trio but were credited to others.  By 1972 they were recording with the Dozier and the Holland brothers.

The trouble came when they apparently released The Blossoms” recording of a great gospel-soul song titled “Touch Me Jesus” (which featured on Saved! Vol. 2) under the Glass House moniker, even though Glass House singer Scherrie Payne (Freda”s sister) sounded nothing like the very recognisable Darlene Love. The Blossoms didn”t sign with Invictus, and “” probably still pissed off at the betrayals of Spector “” sued H-D-H instead. Don”t let that put you off The Glass House, though “” they were excellent.

Jazz fans might be surprised to encounter Leon Thomas here, and, indeed, Thomas was a jazz singer, even singing with Count Basie”s band in the 1960s. But he also dabbled in soul, as he did on 1972″s Blues And The Soulful Truth, which has some soul songs, a few funk numbers, a bit of blues, and some jazz, including a ten-minute avant-garde piece titled “Gypsy Queen”.

Followers of 1990s soul will be interested to learn that the lead singer of The Montclairs was Phil Perry, who in 1991 had a hit with a cover of Aretha”s “Call Me”. Perry was scheduled to play a set of lunchtime jazz at the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. Luckily he had not yet arrived when the towers came down, but for years after he was in an artistic depression. With The Montclairs he recorded only one album, 1972″s Dreaming Out Of Season.

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

1. The Temptations – What It Is
2. Billy Paul – Am I Black Enough For You?
3. Ann Peebles – How Strong Is A Woman
4. Earth, Wind & Fire – They Don’t See
5. The Dramatics – Thank You For Your Love
6. The Glass House – V.I.P.
7. The Montclairs – Dreaming’s Out Of Season
8. Al Green – What Is This Feeling
9. Aretha Franklin – A Brand New Me
10. Bobby Womack – Woman’s Gotta Have It
11. Bill Withers – Lonely Town, Lonely Street
12. Syreeta – Keep Him Like He Is
13. Leon Thomas – Love Each Other
14. Grady Tate – I Just Wanna Be There
15. Eddie Kendricks – Someday We’ll Have A Better World
16. The Soul Children – Hearsay
17. The Bar Kays – Be Yourself
18. Bobby Patterson – I Get My Groove From You
19. Ollie Nightengale – Here I Am Again
20. The Blossoms – Cherish What Is Dear To You
21. The Supremes – Your Wonderful Sweet Sweet Love
22. Ruby Andrews – You Made A Believer Out Of Me


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A Life In Vinyl: 1977

August 14th, 2014 12 comments

Life In Vinyl 1977

Here’s a new series in which I follow my life as a music-consumer, from the time I became a serious buyer.

1977 was the year I turned 11. It was a pivotal year in my life, perhaps more than any other. My family was torn apart by my father’s sudden death, I discovered love, I began to take learning English seriously, and I became a serious fan of pop music. My love for the cute girl from a different suburb was short-lived, my family remained broken, but music was my big passion, alongside football.

Reviewing the music I listened to in 1977 and after that, I made some rapid leaps: in October 1977 I bought a record by teen idol Leif Garrett and in December still two by Swedish popster Harpo; by April 1978 I bought singles by Kate Bush and Jethro Tull, then by The Stranglers and Sham 69.

I didn’t have most of what is featured on the present mix on record, but these songs recreate the year for me. When I hear “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” I hear my mother’s grief. When I hear Kenny Roger’s “Lucille”, I can smell the leather of my new black shoes I received that autumn. “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” prompted me to become serious about learning English when I looked up a four-syllable word (“esitayshon”). Raffaella Carra’s “A Far L’Amore Comincia Tu” became the first song for which I developed an active hatred; I feel slightly more generous towards it now.

Since the mix is timed to fit on a CD, I had to omit some songs which would tell a fuller story of my year in music. So you are deprived of Rosetta Stone’s cover of “Sunshine Of Your Love”, songs by The Rubettes, Tina Rainford and La Belle Epoque, Lonzo’s German version of “No Milk Today”, and Hoffmann & Hoffmann’s German cover of the Bellamy Brother’s “Crossfire” (and, indeed, the original). You might consider yourself lucky.covers-77-a I might well have duplicated some artists, especially Harpo, who had three other songs I had on record (“Rock ‘n’ Roll Clown”, “Television” and “With A Girl Like You”), Baccara (“Sorry, I’m A Lady”), Boney M (“Sunny” and “Ma Baker”) and the Bay City Rollers (“Yesterday’s Hero”, “It’s A Game” and “Don’t Stop The Music”) . The BCR track that is included is a great pop song, incidentally.

The opening track by Marianne Rosenberg is now a cult hit, especially popular with Germany’s drag queens. It”s a slice of wonderful Schlager-disco, with a lyrical concept which simulates that of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”.

Since this mix reflects the listening pleasures and experiences of an 11-year-old, I don’t necessarily endorse any of the featured tracks, but I’d describe the ABBA song as my favourite by that great group.covers-77-bAs always, CD-R length, covers, PW in comments.

1. Marianne Rosenberg – Marleen
2. Smokie – Lay Back In The Arms Of Someone
3. Manhattan Transfer – Chanson d’Amour
4. Bonnie Tyler – Lost In France
5. Julie Covington – Don’t Cry For Me Argentina
6. Lynsey de Paul & Mike Moran – Rock Bottom
7. Oliver Onions – Orzowei
8. Space – Magic Fly
9. David Soul – Silver Lady
10. Amanda Lear – Queen Of Chinatown
11. Harpo – In The Zum-Zum-Zummernight
12. Baccara – Yes Sir, I Can Boogie
13. Boney M. – Belfast
14. Bay City Rollers – You Made Me Believe In Magic
15. Leif Garrett – Surfin’ USA
16. Umberto Tozzi – Ti Amo
17. Kenny Rogers – Lucille
18. Carole King – Hard Rock Cafe
19. Glen Campbell – Southern Nights
20. Raffaella Carra  – A far l’amore comincia tu (Liebelei)
21. Abba – The Name Of The Game
22. Santa Esmeralda – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood


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Songs about Vietnam Vol. 1

August 7th, 2014 8 comments


August 9 will be the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon showing the country called Godblessamerica the Victory sign “” because leaving the presidency in disgrace apparently was a moment of triumph “” before climbing into the helicopter that would take him to a place called Ignominy. It was still better than being thrown out of it over the Atlantic, as was the wont of the regimes which Nixon, Kissinger and pals helped install in South America.

Two years earlier Nixon had ended the war (sort of) which he didn”t start but nonetheless cheerfully perpetuated, having sabotaged a peace in order to win the 1968 election. It was Johnson”s war, and it was Nixon”s war. The Vietnam War gave cause to many protest songs, and some of them will be covered here over at least two mixes (perhaps the second mix will run in November, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of LBJ being elected).

All these songs are in protest against the war; there were, of course, pro-war songs, but I”m quite glad to leave these well alone. Where the pro-war songs focussed on misplaced patriotism, jingoistic promises to kick Charlie”s ass and revulsion at treacherous hippies too cowardly to fight for America”s freedom, man, the anti-war songs took many different approaches.

Many were concerned with the soldiers. The most famous of these was Freda Payne”s “Bring The Boys Home”, a hit on which Change of Pace riffed with their “Bring My Buddies Back”, sung from the perspective of a soldier who has escaped the hell of combat. William Bell“s “Marching Off To War” (written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper) is also from the POV of a soldier about to depart for Vietnam, as is Archie Bell & the Drells” “A Soldier’s Prayer, 1967″, while the narrator of Mike Williams” “I”m A Lonely Soldier” speaks as a combatant in a war that “they said would set me free”.

The human interest angle was apparent also in songs about people who had loved ones in Vietnam, or leaving for the wear, with the distinct possibility that they will not return. The three tracks closing this set cover that beat. The Charmels” track was written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter.

In the powerful “Hymn No. 5″, The Mighty Hannibal (who died earlier this year) describes the effect of war on the soldier.


Of course, things also had to be political. Creedence Clearwater Revival“s “Fortunate Son” attacked the exemptions from combat which the scions of the elites enjoyed. It was inspired by David Eisenhower, grandson of Ike, who married Julie Nixon, daughter of the crook, and git out of seeing combat duty by enrolling into military academia. It also could have been about George W Bush and Dick Cheney, draft dodgers by patronage who nonetheless felt equipped to send young people to their deaths in wars which have caused much harm, to the regions they invaded and to the US itself.

Steppenwolf, who provided hairy bikers with their anthem, made their conscientious objection clear, preferring to be called a draft resistor and, unlike Dick and Dubya, avoid combat not because they were privileged dodgers, but because they held on to values.

Richie Havens” “Handsome Johnny” (co-written by actor Louis Gossett Jr) references war in general, but also mentions the Vietnam War, during which it was released. It juxtaposes a series of wars and the weapons that were used with the non-violent battle for civil rights. The final verse, with its reference to guided missiles, has application even today, when that great disappointment of a president cheerfully applies drones and defends the indefensible in the bombing of Gaza.

Some songs took a soft approach. Jay and the Americans issued their appeal to Nixon to make peace through his daughter, because apparently he was everybody”s daddy for a while. It might be soft-pedalling, but the message is critical of Nixon”s war policy, and therefore of Nixon himself.

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

1. William Bell – Marching Off To War (1966)
2. Change Of Pace – Bring My Buddies Back (1971)
3. Jay & the Americans – Tricia Tell Your Daddy (1970)
4. Richie Havens – Handsome Johnny (1967)
5. Lou Rawls – The Politician (1972)
6. Nina Simone – The Backlash Blues (1967)
7. John Lee Hooker – I Don’t Wanna Go To Vietnam (1968)
8. The Mighty Hannibal – Hymn No. 5 (1966)
9. Archie Bell & the Drells – A Soldier’s Prayer, 1967 (1968)
10. Ernie Hines – Our Generation (1972)
11. Sammy Brown – Vietnam (You Sun Of A Gun) (1973)
12. Edwin Starr – War (1970)
13. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Fortunate Son (1969)
14. Steppenwolf – Draft Resister (1969)
15. Deep Purple – Child In Time (1970)
16. The Byrds – Draft Morning (1968)
17. Johnny Cash – Roll Call (1967)
18. John Prine – Sam Stone (1971)
19. Eugene McDaniels – Silent Majority (1970)
20. Mike Williams – Lonely Soldier (1966)
21. The Charmels – Please Uncle Sam (Send Back My Man) (1966)
22. Melverine Thomas – A Letter From My Son (1970)
23. Thelma Houston – Don’t Cry My Soldier Boy (1967)



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In Memoriam – July 2014

August 4th, 2014 7 comments

In Memoriam - July 2014When The Ramones were inducted into the Hall of Fame, drummer Marky Ramone paid tribute to his predecessor Tommy Ramone for inventing the drumming style which Marky had to keep up with.

Tommy, who was born Thomas Erdelyi to Hungarian Holocaust survivors and died on July 11, was supposed to be the band”s manager. But when it turned out that Dee Dee couldn”t play bass and sing at the same time, Joey was moved from the drums to the mic, and Tommy, who couldn”t even play the drums, took up the sticks. It was a master stroke: Joey was a natural frontman, Dee Dee looked cool with his mouth shut, and Tommy”s machine-gun drumming drove a sound which inspired the punk movement, even in England where The Clash sought to emulate the guys from Queens.

Most musicians who feature in this series have been retired from recording music, or otherwise have faded from public view. Not so blues-rock legend Johnny Winter, who died in a hotel room in Switzerland while on tour in Europe. He had just recorded an album, Step Back, with people like Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons and Joe Perry guest-starring (it will be released in September), and was about to tour the US. Winter, who shared the trademark long blonde mane with his keyboardist brother Edgar, was rated highly as a guitar-great. He also produced a trio of Grammy-winning albums for Muddy Waters, the commercial peak for the blues legend.

Times were when a 16-year-old session drummer could be involved in making a stone cold rock & roll classic. So it as with drummer Idris Muhammad, Read more…

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