Archive for April, 2015

The Originals: Elvis Presley Vol. 2

April 30th, 2015 9 comments

The first part of the Elvis Originals covered (as it were) the Rock & Roll years and early post-GI period. Here we have the originals of songs Elvis covered in the 1960s and ’70s.

Elvis Presley’s artistic decline in the 1960s is symbolised by the coincidence of his most derided movie, Clambake, which opened at about the same time as The Beatles released their groundbreaking Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP. A year later, in 1968, Elvis’ live TV special marked the comeback of Elvis the Entertainer. Elvis the Recording Artist, however, had not had a #1 hit in seven years when in January 1969 he entered the famous American Sound Studios in Memphis.


At first the old soul music veterans at the studio were dubious about working with the washed-up ex-king of rock & roll. Elvis soon had them convinced otherwise. Eight days into the session, on January 20, he recorded the Mac Davis-penned In The Ghetto; two days later Suspicious Minds, which by the end of 1969 would top the US charts.

Suspicious Minds was written by American Sound Studios in-house writer Mark James (whose real name was Francis Zambon), who also wrote hits such as It’s Only Love and Hooked On A Feeling for his friend, country singer BJ Thomas. And it was BJ Thomas was in line to record Suspicious Minds, which James had already released on record to no commercial success, before the song was given to Presley. Elvis insisted on recording the song even when his manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, threatened that he wouldn’t over the question of publishing rights (always an issue with Parker).

Elvis would record four more songs written or co-written by James: Always On My Mind, Raised On A Rock, Moody Blue (which James released in 1975) and It’s Only Love. Chips Moman produced James’ 1968 version of Suspicious Minds, thereby creating a handy template which he returned to when producing Elvis’ version.



Depending on where you live and how old you are, Always On My Mind may be Elvis’ song or Willie Nelson’s, or perhaps the Pet Shop Boys’ (who had a hit with it in late 1987 after earlier performing it on a UK TV special to mark the 10th anniversary of Elvis’ death). Originally it was Brenda Lee’s, released in May 1972. It was not a big hit for her, reaching only #45 in the country charts. Somehow Elvis heard it and found the lyrics expressed his emotions at a time when the marriage to Priscilla was collapsing. He recorded it later in 1972. Released as the b-side to the top 20 hit Separate Ways, Always On My Mind was a #16 hit in the country charts. In the UK, however it was a top 10 hit, and became better know in Europe than in the US.



Another artist whose songs Elvis loved to cover was Jerry Reed, featured here with Guitar Man and US Male, originally released by Reed in 1966 and covered by Elvis two years later. Jerry Reed was a country singer who toiled for a dozen years before scoring a hit in 1967 with Tupelo Mississippi Flash — a song about Elvis. The same year Elvis chose to record Reed’s Guitar Man (the composer is listed as Jerry Hubbard, the singer’s real surname), and Reed played guitar on it. For Elvis, Guitar Man was a redemption of sorts after the degradation of Clambake. His performance of the song at the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special is one of the best moments of the show.



The writers most associated with Elvis are Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller. Their Bossa Nova Baby has been unjustly regarded by some as a novelty number from an Elvis movie (1963’s Fun In Acapulco). Even Elvis is said to have been embarrassed by it. If so, he had no cause: it may not be a bossa nova — it’s too fast for that — but it has an infectious tune and a genius keyboard riff which begs to be sampled widely. Perhaps it was the lyrics which had Elvis allegedly shamefaced, but the lines — “she said, ‘Drink, drink, drink/Oh, fiddle-de-dink/I can dance with a drink in my hand” — are not much worse than some of the doggerel our man was forced to croon in his movie career as singing racing driver/pineapple heir/bus conductor. Or perhaps Elvis was embarrassed by the idea of including a notional bossa nova number in a movie set in Mexico.

Tippie & the Clovers, who were signed to Leiber and Stoller’s Tiger label, recorded it first in 1962 to cash in on the bossa nova craze. Apparently the composer”s preferred the Clovers’ version over Elvis’. These were the same Clovers, incidentally, who had scored a #23 hit with Love Potion No. 9 (also written by Leiber & Stoller and later covered to greater chart effect by the Searchers) on Atlantic in 1959.



Elvis was greatly influenced by the sounds of Rhythm & Blues on the one hand and country music on the other — Arthur Crudup and Hank Snow. A third profound influence was gospel. Here, too, Elvis drew from across the colour line. Often he was one of the few white faces at black church services (as a youth in Tupelo, he lived in a house designated for white families but located at the edge of a black township), but he also loved the white gospel-country sounds created by the likes of the Louvin Brothers, whom he once regarded as his favourite act.

Indeed, gospel was the genre Elvis loved the most. In recording studios, he would warm up with gospel numbers. When he jammed with Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in the Sun studio (Johnny Cash left before any of the misnamed Million Dollar Quartet session was recorded), much of the material Read more…

Categories: Elvis Presley, The Originals Tags:

The Bobby Graham Collection

April 23rd, 2015 14 comments

Bobby Graham Collection

Some session drummers build up a colossal body of work over many years of tireless slog, but English drummer Bobby Graham did so in the space of three or so years before going away to do his own thing. In that time he drummed on pop classics such as You Really Got Me, Downtown, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, Gloria, The Sun Ain”t Gonna Shine Anymore, Tossin” And Turnin”, I Only Want To Be With You, Green Green Grass Of Home and loads more.

As part of the British equivalent of The Wrecking Crew “” which also included the likes of Jimmy Page (yes, that one), Big Jim Sullivan, Vic Flick, Andy White “” Graham played on 13 UK chart-toppers and 40 more Top 5 hits, all within a couple of years of one another. He claimed to have played on 15,000 tracks “” many of those presumably in the genre that was his first love, jazz “” and nobody has challenged that number. It is not without cause that the producer Shel Talmy described Graham as “the greatest drummer the UK has ever produced”.

His reputation, built up as part of producer Joe Meek”s set-up, was such that by 1962 Brian Epstein reportedly asked Graham to replace Pete Best in The Beatles, probably without John, Paul and George”s knowledge. The North Londoner, then just 22, turned Epstein down since he was a member of a group that was more famous than The Beatles, Joe Brown and The Bruvvers.

label_collection_2As a session drummer, Graham took over Mick Avery”s part when The Kinks recorded their double whammy of 1964 hits, You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night. (Avery played the tambourine.) His drumming at the end of Them”s Gloria “” Morrison was not happy about the presence of session musicians “” was something quite new.

Graham might also have played on the Dave Clark Five”s Glad All Over, although Clark denied that. According to Graham, Clark didn”t want to produce and drum at the same time, and so roped in Graham, telling him to keep his drumming simple, so that Clark could reproduce it in concerts.

After 1966, Graham first worked in France, without great success, and then moved to the Netherlands, where he stayed until 1971. By then he had acquired a debilitating alcohol addiction. Having beaten that, he produced Christian music bands, then opened a North London record shop named The Trading Post, produced training videos and gigged in a jazz band. He died on 14 September 2009 of stomach cancer, aged 69.

Read more about Bobby Graham.

label_collection_1As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes banged-together covers. PW in comments.

1. The Outlaws/Joe Meek – Crazy Drums (1961)
2. The Ivy League – Tossin’ and Turnin’ (1965)
3. Herman’s Hermits – Silhouettes (1965)
4. The Walker Brothers – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (1966)
5. Petula Clark – I Know A Place (1965)
6. Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (1966)
7. Francoise Hardy – Je n’attends plus personne (1966)
8. Lulu – Here Comes The Night (1964)
9. Them – Gloria (1964)
10. The Kinks – All Day And All Of The Night (1964)
11. Jimmy Page – She Just Satisfies (1965)
12. The First Gear – A Certain Girl (1964)
13. The Pretty Things – Don’t Bring Me Down (1964)
14. The Sneekers – Bald Headed Woman (1964)
15. The Animals – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (1964)
16. Rod Stewart – Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl (1964)
17. Brian Poole & The Tremeloes – Candy Man (1964)
18. Joe Cocker – I’ll Cry Instead (1964)
19. Chad & Jeremy – Yesterday’s Gone (1963)
20. Marianne Faithfull – Come And Stay With Me (1965)
21. The Fortunes – Here It Comes Again (1965)
22. Dave Berry – The Crying Game(1964)
23. David & Jonathan – Lovers Of The World Unite (1966)
24. The John Barry Seven – Zulu Stamp (1964)
25. Antoinette – Jenny Let Him Go (1964)
26. Brenda Lee – What’d I Say (1964)
27. Adriene Poster – Shang A Doo Lang (1965)
28. The Bachelors – No Arms Can Ever Hold You (1964)
29. The Brook Brothers – Trouble Is My Middle Name (1963)
30. Billy Fury – In Summer (1963)
31. Bobby Graham – Zoom Widge And Wag  (1965)


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

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

Any Major Soul 1973 – Vol. 2

April 16th, 2015 5 comments

Any Major Soul 1973_2

What a great reception the first volume of Any Major Soul 1973 received! Such nice comments. Be assured that your comments “” here and on Facebook (become my friend) “” keep this blogging gig going.

I think I”ve mentioned most of the artists featured here before, and I”ve got other deadlines to take care off, so here”s part 2 of the 1973 soul mix, which I think might be even better than the first. Plus, there are two bonus tracks I could not squeeze into the CD-R timed playlist. Enjoy! (PW in comments)

1. Joe Simon – Power Of Love
2. Lamont Dozier – Breaking Out All Over
3. Al Wilson – For Cryin’ Out Loud
4. The Intruders – To Be Happy Is The Real Thing
5. The Dells – My Pretending Days Are Over
6. The Ebonys – You”re The Reason Why
7. Tommie Young – You Came Just In Time
8. William Bell – Gettin’ What You Want (Losin’ What You Got)
9. Bobby Powell – I’m Going To Try You One More Try
10. The Sweet Inspirations – Sweet Inspiration
11. 8th Day – I Gotta Get Home (Can”t Let My Baby Get Lonely)
12. First Choice – Newsy Neighbors
13. Kim Tolliver – Learn To Get Along Without You
14. Jackie Moore – Willpower
15. Claudia Lennear – Goin’ Down
16. Gloria Jones – Tin Can People
17. The Temptations – Law Of The Land
18. The Dynamics – She’s For Real (Bless You)
19. The Main Ingredient – I Am Yours
20. Willie Hutch – I Just Wanted To Make Her Happy
21. The Majestic Arrows – Another Day
22. Marlena Shaw – Waterfall
23. Gladys Knight & The Pips – It”s Gotta Be That Way


More Any Major Soul

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Should Have Been A UK Top 10 Hit – Vol. 1

April 9th, 2015 10 comments

Should Have Been A Top 10 Hit

Every year an American radio DJ invites the public to vote for songs that should have been Top 10 hits in the US. Billing the vote as “It Really Shoulda been a Top 10 hit!”, Rich Appel releases the annual list to coincide with 15 April, the big tax day in the US (hence the initials IRS).

Borrowing the concept, here’s the first lot of UK hits that missed the Top 10. More will follow, for UK chart outrages are many. But to keep the number of tracks in check, I instituted certain rules. The songs must have had a shot at the Top 10, so only songs that reached the Top 40 qualified (though on my shortlist there are a couple of exceptions) . If songs were Top 10 hits in the US, they were usually disqualified, so were songs that are now bona fide classics, else the Motown catalogue alone would flood my already long shortlist. And I used the year 1990 as a cut-off, since after that the UK charts gradually lost any meaning, even if the Oasis vs Blur battle for #1 was big news a few years after.


While promotion strategies and pure chance often decided whether a song would become a Top 10 hit or not, it is inexplicable why some of those included here failed to climb such heights. How did The Whole Of The Moon, a real classic, stagnate at #26, when in the week the song peaked the Top 10 included such garbage as Elton John’s Nikita and Jennifer Rush’s The Power Of Love? How did The Undertones’ utterly glorious Teenage Kicks get stuck at #31 when awfulness such as Frankie Miller’s Darlin’, Smokie’s Mexican Girl and, have mercy, Father Abraham & The Smurfs’ Dippety Day ranked above it?

And what injustice befell The Cure’s Inbetween Days to get stuck behind such horrors as Baltimora’s Tarzan Boy, Opus’ Life Is Live,  and Tina Turner’s We Don”t Need Another Hero?

One song here that failed to even crack the Top 30 did make it to #1, in a way, when Dexys Midnight Runners hit the top with Geno, a song dedicated to soul singer Geno Washington which references his #39 hit Michael (The Lover) from 1967.

And for the UK election in May, let”s have The Redskins’ song as the anthem, even as the return of the ghastly David Cameron seems always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-charted covers. PW in comments.

1. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks (#31 1978)
2. Aztec Camera – Oblivious (# 18 1983)
3. Big Sound Authority – This House (Is Where Your Love Stands) (#21 1985)
4. The Blow Monkeys – Diggin’ Your Scene (#12 1986)
5. Hipsway – The Honeythief (#17 1986)
6. The Waterboys – The Whole Of The Moon (#26 1985)
7. The Redskins – Bring It Down (This Insane Thing) (#33 1985)
8. The Jesus And Mary Chain – Darklands (#33 1987)
9. China Crisis – Black Man Ray (#14 1985)
10. Prefab Sprout – When Love Breaks Down (#25 1985)
11. The Colourfield – Thinking Of You (#12 1985)
12. ABC – When Smokey Sings (#11 1987)
13. Geno Washington – Michael (#39 1967)
14. The Foundations – Back On My Feet Again (#18 1968)
15. The Young Rascals – A Girl Like You (#37 1967)
16. Jesse Green – Nice And Slow (#17 1976)
17. The Beginning Of The End – Funky Nassau (Part 1) (#31 1974)
18. Osibisa – Sunshine Day (#17 1976)
19. Kiki Dee – Star (#13 1981)
20. Susan Fassbender – Twilight Cafe (#21 1981)
21. The Alarm – Sixty-Eight Guns (#17 1983)
22. The Cure – In Between Days (#15 1985)


More Mixed CD-Rs

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Non-Top 10 hits Tags:

In Memoriam – March 2015

April 2nd, 2015 3 comments

The mind that co-wrote one of the great rock classics is no more: Andy Fraser, bass player of Free, has died at 62. He was a founding member of Free at 15, having had a previous (!) stint with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. He was not yet 18 when he wrote All Right Now, with the help of Paul Rodgers (himself barely 20 years old). His career after Free couldn”t reach the heights of his time with Free.

Something similar can be said of Michael Brown of the Left Banke, who co-wrote the classic Walk Renee and follow-up hit Pretty Ballerina at the age of 16 and 17. By 18 he left the group and never really had notable success again. It is said that Brown wrote the lyrics of both songs about Renée Fladen, the platinum blonde girlfriend of The Left Banke”s guitarist Tom Finn, on whom he had a crush. Tony Sansone, who co-wrote the lyrics for Walk Away Renée, claimed that the titular name was just a random riff on French names in the aftermath of the Beatles” Michelle, which had come out a year before Renee was released in 1966.

gallery1It was no shock to learn of the death at 59 of Mike Porcaro, the bassist in the Porcaro family dynasty that also included brothers Steve on keyboards, the late drummer Jeff, and percussionist/drummer father Joe. Mike had been ill with Lou Gehrig”s disease for many years. He began his career as a young session bassist for acts like Seals & Croft, Lee Ritenour, Christopher Cross, Donna Summer and Michael McDonald (including on That”s Why, which I nearly featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 4, posted three days before Porcaro”s death). He also played on the Grease soundtrack. In 1982 he finally appeared with Jeff, Steve and Joe on a Toto album “” on one track, playing the cello. But after that hit album, Toto IV, came out, bassist David Hungate left the group, and Mike finally joined his brothers” band. He stayed with Toto until illness forced his retirement in 2007, while still continuing his session work.

British singer and songwriter Jackie Trent was a fine interpreter of songs by the likes of Jimmy Webb and Burt Bacharach, but she also co-wrote with Tony Hatch a string of hit songs, much in the vein of Burt and Webb, for herself and others. These include her UK #1 hit Where Are You Now (My Love) and the masterpiece that is Scott Walker”s Joanna. Trent and Hatch wrote prolifically for Petula Clark “” including Don”t Sleep in the Subway and I Couldn”t Live Without Your Love (about Hatch and Trent”s affair before they got married in 1966)”” as well as for the likes of including Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Bassey and Dean Martin. In the 1970s Trent and Hatch turned to writing musicals, as well as Stoke City”s run-out song We”ll Be With You. Having emigrated to Australia in 1980, they composed the theme for the soap opera Neighbours.

The trouble with trumpeters is that they rarely work alone, and therefore don”t get much attention as soloists, the way a saxophone player might. One way of determining how good they are is by looking at their catalogue: who worked with them, and on what. By that standard, Lew Soloff must rank among the greats. He was a member of Blood, Sweat & Tears” great brass section in the group”s heyday. As a session man he played on hits such as Chaka Khan”s What Cha” Gonna Do For Me, Paul Simon”s You Can Call Me Al and Bonnie Tyler”s Holding Out For A Hero. He backed artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Boz Scaggs, George Benson, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Art Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, The Four Tops, Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Eric Clapton, Herbie Mann, Mongo Santamaria, Bob James, Stanley Clarke, Chuck Mangione, Spyro Gyra, Roy Ayers, O”Donnel Levy, Frankie Valli, Odyssey, Ian Hunter, John Mayall, Angela Bofill, Marlena Shaw, Peter Tosh, Marianne Faithfull, Michael Franks and especially Gil Evans, with whom he released a number of albums.

The list of Jewish soul singers is fairly short, more so those who recorded at Stax with Booker T & The MG”s and Isaac Hayed backing them. But so it was with Sharon Tandy, who was born in Johannesburg as Sharon Finkelstein. She had early success in South Africa, Read more…

Categories: In Memoriam Tags: