Archive for March, 2015

Copy Borrow Steal – The Collection

March 26th, 2015 22 comments

Copy Borrow Steal


Like many people, I”m conflicted about the jury”s decision that the inspiration Pharrell and Stripey Rapey Guy took from Marvin Gaye”s Got To Give It Up for their hit Blurred Lines constitutes plagiarism. Much has been said on the subject, and I still don”t know where I stand. The precedent the verdict has set disturbs me.

It seems that the real credit for Got To Give It Up resides not with Marvin Gaye. On his blog David Hepworth writes: “It was recorded from various jams, often surreptitiously, by Marvin Gaye’s engineer Art Stewart, who is quoted in David Ritz’s Marvin Gaye biography Divided Soul saying, “˜Marvin wasn’t sure of what I was doing but he left me alone to piece the song together.””

The Marvin Gaye family seemed to be reaching points of hubris in the wake of their courtroom triumph, making the claim that Pharrell also ripped of Marvin”s Ain”t That Peculiar for Happy. Apart from the fact that the songs sound nothing alike, the battle would not be the Gayes” to fight, but for Smokey Robinson, who produced it and co-wrote it with the other Miracles.

So, with all that mind, here”s a collection of songs from which later artists borrowed, copied or stole, or which otherwise bear strong resemblance. Some led to courtcases that found in favour of the original artist or were settled out of court. Others might have inspired the later writer, and some might be purely coincidental, taking into account that there are only so many chord progressions.

Some artists were pretty honest about where they borrowed from, especially The Beatles “” George Harrison cheerfully admitted that he nicked from The Byrds for If I Needed Someone. Likewise, Chuck Berry was quite open about it that his breakthrough hit Maybelline was a reworking of Bob Willis” 1938 song Ida Red.

Of course there are loads more examples that might have been included. I”ve tried to include tracks that are lesser known.

The most famous plagiarism case, at least before the one involving Pharrell & Thicke, is George Harrison”s My Sweet Lord, which supposedly ripped off The Chiffons” He’s So Fine. In his defence, Harrison said that he took inspiration rather from the Edwin Hawkins Singers hit Oh Happy Day, though more in vibe than in melody. And if one listens to Billy Preston”s version of My Sweet Lord, recorded and released before Harrison”s, then one might be open to giving Harrison the benefit of doubt.

The most involved story here is that of the Rolling Stones” The Last Time, which Jagger and Keef quite evidently ripped off from the Staple Singers song, which in turn has been said to have borrowed from the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama”s 1953 song of almost the same title.

The Last Time (Stones version) was adapted in 1966 as an instrumental by their manager Andrew Loog Oldham. He sold his contract to the cut-throat Allen Klein. By 1997, Klein controlled the Stones” 1960s back catalogue. At that time British band The Verve secured permission from Klein to use Oldham”s string loop as a sample for Bitter Sweet Symphony. When Klein heard an advance copy of the song, he threatened to sue, claiming that the use of the sample exceeded what had been agreed on. The band and publishers settled on a 50/50 royalties split.

As the album hit the shops, Klein reneged on the agreement and demanded 100%, successfully so, because by now the album could not be pulled from the shelves. The out-of-court settlement was a defeat for the Verve ““ and, to some extent, for Oldham. All royalties were ceded, and the songwriting credit went to Jagger & Richards, even though their version of The Last Time had no significant influence on Bitter Sweet Symphony. And they picked up a Grammy for Ashcroft”s song”¦

The progression from Otis Redding”s Try A Little Tenderness, from crooner song to soul classic, goes back to 1951: his take was only the fourth (and final) stage of the tune”s evolution as a soul classic.

Before Otis, Sam Cooke had recorded a fragment of the song as part of a rather lovely medley on his 1964 Sam Cooke At The Copa album. It was in fact that fragment which gave Stax executives the idea that Redding should cover it in 1966. Otis did so with great reluctance, not because he hated the song, but because he felt he could not measure up to his by now deceased hero Cooke. Produced by Isaac Hayes and backed by Booker T & the MGs, Redding did all he could to mess up the song so that it could not be released. He failed, and the song is now irrevocably his.

Redding apparently knew only Cooke”s version (hence the abridged lyrics). Cooke in turn had decided to include Tenderness in his medley after having heard the song on Aretha Franklin”s 1962 album The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging Aretha Franklin. As fine an interpreter of songs as Franklin would become (and already was at the age of 20), her version “” soul-inflected vocals backed with an easy listening string arrangement “” seems to have drawn from that by the forgotten Little Miss Cornshucks, whose 1951 recording was the first to Try A Little Tenderness the R&B treatment.

Some of these songs featured in the Copy Borrow Steal series, with backstories. The series was inspired Tim English” fine book Sounds Like Teen Spirit.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-copied covers. Songs in blue are NOT included, but are the songs that copyborrowedstole or otherwise have intentional or coincidental similarities with or were inspired by the older songs. PW in comments.

  1. Edwin Hawkins Singers – Oh Happy Day (1968)
    CBS: George Harrison – My Sweet Lord
  2. Jorge Ben – Taj Mahal (1976)
    CBS: Rod Stewart: Da Ya Think I”m Sexy
  3. Bobby Womack – (If You Want My Love) Put Something Down On It (1975)
    CBS: Rod Stewart: Da Ya Think I”m Sexy
  4. The Javells & Nosmo King – Goodbye Nothing To Say (1974)
    CBS: Maxine Nightingale: Right Back To Where We Started From
  5. William Bell – I Forgot To Be Your Lover (1971)
    CBS: Van Morrison – Have I Told You Lately
  6. Natalie Cole – Our Love (1977)
    CBS: Seal – Kiss From A Rose
  7. Badfinger – Day After Day (1971)
    CBS: Joe Jackson – Breaking Us In Two
  8. The Byrds – Bells Of Rhymney (1965)
    CBS: The Beatles – If I Needed Someone
  9. Johnny Ace ““ Pledging My Love (1954)
    CBS: John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)
  10. Spirit – Taurus (1968)
    CBS: Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven
  11. Robert Johnson – Terraplane Blues (1937)
    CBS: Led Zeppelin ““ Trampled Underfoot
  12. Rex Griffin – Everybody”s Tryin” To Be My Baby (1936)
    CBS: Carl Perkins – Everybody”s Trying to Be My Baby
  13. Bob Wills – Ida Red (1938)
    CBS: Chuck Berry – Maybelline
  14. Hank Williams – Move It On Over (1947)
    CBS: Bill Haley & The Comets – Rock Around The Clock
  15. Little Miss Cornshucks – Try A Little Tenderness (1951)
    CBS: Otis Redding – Try A Little Tenderness
  16. Sam Cooke – Try A Little Tenderness/(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons/You Send Me (1964)
    CBS: Otis Redding – Try A Little Tenderness
  17. Horace Silver – Song For My Father (1964)
    CBS: Steely Dan – Rikki Don”t Lose That Number
  18. Ringo Starr – Back Off Boogaloo (1972)
    CBS: Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
  19. The Banana Splits – The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana) (1969)
    CBS: Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldier
  20. Humphrey Lyttleton – Bad Penny Blues (1956)
    CBS: The Beatles – Lady Madonna
  21. Staple Singers – This May Be The Last Time (1961)
    CBS: The Rolling Stones – The Last Time
  22. Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama – This May Be The Last Time (1953)
    CBS: Staple Singers – This May Be The Last Time
  23. Paul Robeson – No More Auction Block (1962, folksong)
    CBS: Bob Dylan – Blowin” In The Wind
  24. Burl Ives – Lord Randall (1960, folksong)
    CBS: Bob Dylan – A Hard Rain”s A-Gonna Fall


More Copy Borrow Steal

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Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 3

March 19th, 2015 16 comments

Here’s a third mix of the full versions of TV themes, some the original songs that were picked up as the title melody, and others extended versions of the short themes.

In the case of the former, there sometimes are incongruities. For example, what does a 1990s grunge song, great though it is, have to do with a TV series set in the 1920s, as we have with The Brian Jonestown Massacre providing the theme for Boardwalk Empire?

I have seen at least one episode of 16 of the featured 24 shows, and of these I have faithfully watched (or, in the case of Better Call Saul, will watch) at least one season in nine cases. How about you?

There will still be a fourth and final mix.

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

1. Mike Post – Theme from Magnum P.I. (1982)
2. Bill Conti – Theme from Cagney And Lacey (1982)
3. Sammy Davis Jr – Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow (Baretta) (1976)
4. Heinz Kiessling – Temptation Sensation (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) (1970s)
5. Jeff Beal – Main Theme of House Of Cards (2013)
6. Dave Porter – Theme from Better Call Saul (2015)
7. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Straight Up And Down (Boardwalk Empire)(1996)
8. Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers – This Life (Sons Of Anarchy) (2011)
9. Washed Out – Feel It All Around (Portlandia) (2009)
10. The Scrantones – Theme of The Office (2005)
11. Mike Post – Main Theme of Quantum Leap (1989)
12. Jack Elliott & Allyn Ferguson – Theme from Barney Miller (1975)
13. Tom Scott – Gotcha (Starsky & Hutch) (1977)
14. Lalo Schifrin – Theme from Mission Impossible (1967)
15. Quincy Jones – The Streetbeater (Sanford & Son) (1973)
16. Sonny Curtis – Love Is All Around (The Mary Tyler More Show) (1970)
17. W.G. Snuffy Walden & Stewart Levin – Main Theme from thirtysomething (1991)
18. Angelo Badalamenti – Theme from Twin Peaks (1990)
19. James Newton Howard – Theme from E.R. (1994)
20. Triple X – The Truth (X-Files Theme) (1995)
21. PSAPP – Cosy In The Rocket (Grey’s Anatomy) (2005)
22. Bear McCreary – Main Theme from The Walking Dead (2013)
23. Presidents of the United States of America – Cleveland Rocks (Drew Carey Show) (1998)
24. Morning Runner – Gone Up In Flames (The Inbetweeners) (2005)


Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 1
Any Major TV Theme Songs Vol. 2
84 Original Length TV Themes
More TV themes stuff

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 4

March 12th, 2015 12 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 4

And we”re still not feeling guilty. This is the fourth mix in the series, and I think there are still one or two good ones to come.

Kenny Loggins” Who”s Right, Who”s Wrong has been done much better by Randy Crawford and Al Jarreau on the wonderful Casino Lights album, but this version is notable for the backing singer: Michael Jackson.

Bill LaBounty has featured on previous mixes “” his Living It Up is one of the best tracks on any of these mixes “” and he returns here with a 1979 re-recording of a song he had previously released in 1975. Incidentally, LaBounty released what might well be my favourite album of 2014, Into Something Blue.

Very few who”ll hear this mix will have any idea of Karl Kikillus is, and that isn”t surprising. Kikillus was a radio DJ in South Africa, and then the presenter of the country”s first pop video show in 1983, the year his jazzily grooving Another Shore was released, as a b-side to a song called Fallen Angel. As far as I know, that”s all Kikillus released.

Greg Guidry“s story had a sad ending. He wrote for the likes of Climax Blues Band, Robbie Dupree, Exile, Johnny Taylor, Sawyer Brown and Reba McEntire, but his 1982 album Over The Line was his only one for 18 years. In 2003 his charred body was found in his garage in an apparent suicide. He was 53.

Another singer featured here who died relatively young is Paul Davis, who is perhaps most famous for his hit I Go Crazy (covered to superior effect by Lou Rawls). In 1986 he survived being shot in the abdomen in a robbery in Nashville. He died from a heart attack in 2008, a day after his 60th birthday.

Eric Tagg featured before in this series, on Volume 3 with Is It You, though the credit went to jazz-fusion guitarist Lee Ritenour, with whom Tagg recorded several songs (and who produced the Dreamwalking album on which No One There, with a Rit solo, appears).. Indeed, he is probably best known for these, even though he released three LPs between 1975 and “82, and a fourth in 1997.

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

1. Average White Band – Atlantic Avenue (1979)
2. Steve Winwood – Valerie (1982)
3. Greg Guidry – (I’m) Givin’ It Up (1982)
4. Karl Kikillus – Another Shore (1983)
5. Bobby Caldwell – Can’t Say Goodbye (1978)
6. Bill LaBounty – Lie To Me (1978)
7. Valerie Carter – What’s Become Of Us (1978)
8. Christopher Cross – Never Be The Same (1979)
9. Kenny Loggins – Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong (1979)
10. Firefall – Just Remember I Love You (1977)
11. Paul Davis – Cool Night (1981)
12. Sweet Comfort Band – Don’t Tell Me You Love Me (1979)
13. Michael McDonald – I Gotta Try (1982)
14. Adrian Gurvitz – Untouchable And Free (1979)
15. Eric Tagg – No One There (1982)
16. James Vincent – You’ll Be Right There (1980)
17. Elkie Brooks – Fool If You Think It”s Over (1981)
18. Little River Band – Reminiscing (1978)
19. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Fallin’ In Love (1975)
20. Stephen Bishop – On And On (1976)
21. Deliverance – Leaving L.A. (1979)


Not Feeling Guilty Mix 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 3
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 4
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 5
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 6
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 7
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 8
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 9
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 10
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 11
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 12
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 13

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In Memoriam – February 2015

March 5th, 2015 4 comments

Now only one of Buddy Holly”s Crickets is still alive, following the death of John B. Mauldin this month. Buddy, of course, died the day the music died; guitarist Niki Sullivan in 2004. The last survivor is drummer Jerry Allison, now 75 years old. In 2012 the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame corrected a huge clanger which they had dropped in 1986 when they inducted Buddy Holly but not the other Crickets; by special committee decision Allison (who, after all, co-wrote hits like Peggy Sue and That”ll Be The Day), Mauldin and Sullivan were included, as was Holly successor Sonny Curtis. Alas, Mauldin was too ill to attend. After the Crickets, Mauldin worked as an engineer in LA”s Gold Star studios, where Phil Spector made all those great records.

gallery-1The curse of AMDWHAH struck again: one moment I was playing music by Visage, in preparation for the Life in Vinyl 1981 post, next moment Steve Strange, the frontman of Visage, was dead, of a heart attack at only 55. Strange, who was born Steven John Harrington, was a pioneer in the New Romantic movement which would shape 1980s pop music, especially in Britain. Before he donned the make-up, he was active in the punk scene, booking The Sex Pistols” first gig in his native Wales, and playing in a punk band, The Moors Murderers, that also included Chrissie Hynde, future Psychedelic Furs drummer Vince Ely, and future Clash drummer Topper Headon. Before his breakthrough with Visage, Strange and fellow Visage member Rusty Egan ran the legendary Blitz club in London”s Covent Garden, the cradle of the nascent New Romantic movement.

In early December, all members of the classic four-member line-up of The Manhattans were alive. With the deaths of two members in December and now that of Kenny “˜Wally” Kelley, only lead singer Gerald Alston is still alive. The other two founding members of the group are also dead, George “˜Smitty” Smith, whom Alston replaced, died 1970, Richard Taylor, who left in 1976, in 1987. Kelley left The Manhattans in 1990 to pursue his Ph.D. studies. He became a high school biology teacher.

The obituaries for Lesley Gore tended to focus on her string of classic 1960s hits, from It”s My Party to You Don”t Own Me to Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows. But what is also noteworthy is Gore”s activism for the LBGT community, among which she counted herself, including hosting a TV show aimed at LBGT communities. Gore received an Oscar nomination as co-composer, with her brother Michael, of the ballad Out Here on My Own from the film Fame.

Clark Terry, the trumpeter and flugelhornist who has died at the age of 94, is said to be one of the most recorded jazz artists of all time. After serving in a US Navy band during World War 2, he played with Charlie Barnet (1947), Count Basie (1948″“1951), Duke Ellington (1951″“1959), Quincy Jones (1960) and Oscar Peterson (1964-1996). Giants like Miles Davis and Quincy Jones have acknowledged his influence. And when he wasn”t blowing his trumpet, Terry was known for his scat singing, especially as a member of the Tonight Show house band in the 1960s, which led to a hit record with Oscar Peterson titled after his nickname, Mumbles. He played for eight US presidents and received many awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Another great session musician went with keyboardist Bobby Emmons. You”ll have heard him on many recordings from Memphis” American Studios, including Elvis” Suspicious Minds, In The Ghetto and Kentucky Rain, Dusty Springfield”s Son Of A Preacher Man, Neil Diamond”s Sweet Caroline and B.J. Thomas”; Hooked On A Feeling. He backed musicians like Bobby Womack, Waylon Jennings (for whom he wrote the hit Luckenbach, Texas), Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Wilson Pickett, King Curtis, Joe Tex, Dionne Warwick, Roy Orbison, Willie Mitchell, Herbie Mann, Hubert Laws, Billy Swan, J.J. Cale, Crystal Gayle, Willie Nelson, George Strait, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Highwaymen, Shirley Caesar and many more.

The most shocking death of the month probably was that of Charmayne ‘Maxee’ Maxwell, a member of 1990s soul trio Brownstone, Read more…

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