Archive for October, 2016

Any Major Mexico

October 27th, 2016 17 comments

Any Major Mexico

On Tuesday, November 8, US citizens will have the option to elect as their president a spittle-spewing sphincter-mouthed polemicist who peddles the delusion the USA can build a wall across the long Mexican border — and make Mexico pay for it.

At least a third of Americans think that the streams of excrement that is being pumped into the US political discourse (and not only by old sphincter-mouth) is reasonable, aside from all the other poisonous stench which that bluster-bully has emitted from the putrid cesspool inside his corroded cranial cavity.

I have no idea whether former Mexican President Vicente Fox has any other redeeming features, but I enjoyed that particular Bad Hombre’s response to the crazy clown’s idea: “We’re not paying for that fucking wall.” This angered the bankrupt billionaire so much that he demanded an apology!

So this seems like a good time to observe the US-Mexico relationship via the medium of song, through which no demagogic dickhead can build a barrier.

Mexico has always fascinated songwriters. In Germany’s schlager scene of the 1960s and ’70s, Mexico was the big thing. The biggest hit of them all was Rex Gildo“s rousing Fiesta Mexicana, which remains a cult hit in Germany, despite (or perhaps because) its cheesy arrangement. Still, Gildo’s exclamations of “Hossa!” rank among the most-inspired moments in ’70s pop, in any language. I include it as a bonus track.

In other songs the dreaded Heino sang about Tampico, Tony Marshall had Adios Amigos, Freddy Quinn chipped in with some Mexico song, Caterina Valente with another, and others with yet more songs about tequila and fiestas and senoritas. The Germany-based Les Humphries Singers sang their 1972 Schlager about Mexico in English (shamelessly ripping off Jimmy Driftwood”s The Battle Of New Orleans), and that is included here.

Old Sphincter mouth.

Old Sphincter mouth.

And Cuban singer Roberto Blanco made a German version of Tom Jones’ The Young New Mexican Puppeteer — and that takes us back to the US elections and the bigotry and fear-mongering and lack of kindness exhibited by the narcissistic nutter and the freak show that is doing his bidding. The song, by Jones or Blanco, isn’t set in Mexico but in a town near Albuquerque (which, of course, was annexed from Mexico), so it doesn’t qualify for inclusion in this mix. But listen to its lyrics HERE; they reference Lincoln, King and Twain. “The young New Mexican puppeteer, he saw the people all lived in fear. He thought that maybe they would listen to a puppet telling them what to do.” Hell, if the US doesn’t need a New Mexican puppeteer right now to bring peace and joy and civil rights, rather than Putin’s or Wall Street’s puppet.

One act German Schlager singers didn’t tend to cover was The Grateful Dead. They feature here in the guise of Bob Weir, from his 1972 Ace LP, which basically was a Dead album. Indeed, Mexicali Blues was a staple of the Deads’ live shows and was included on their 1974 greatest hits collection.

Frank Sinatra confuses matters a little. His 1956 cover of the 1930 hit It Happened In Monterrey takes the spelling of the California town, but the lyrics indicate that the song is still set in the city in Nuevo Leon state.

To be sure: This set is not intended to showcase Mexican music or Mexican acts, though the set closes with a tejano-fusion act, the Texas Tornados, whose members included Sir Douglas Quintet founders Doug Sahm and Augie Meyers, swamp rocker Freddy Fender, and accordionist Flaco Jimenez, one of those artists who have worked with some of the greatest acts in rock (such as like Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder and the Rolling Stones, who open this set) but whose name isn’t widely known.

Indeed, much of the mix is pretty relaxed, with few sounds of mariachi and no Speedy Gonzalez clichés abounding.

Above I disqualify Tom Jones’ song for being set in Albuquerque, not in Mexico. I also excluded Christopher Cross’ Ride Like The Wind for stopping at the border to Mexico. But at least two songs are not located in Mexico either: James Taylor is singing about his desire to go to Mexico, but he certainly is there already in his mind.

Dave Alvin‘s sublime Rio Grande takes various stops in places in Texas and New Mexico, but from there he observes the storm clouds above Juarez and stares at the lights of Mexico before walking to the border bridge where the eponymous river forms the border. The song is wonderful; it also featured on Any Major Country Vol. 20.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R (so there were a few good songs I had to exclude) and includes home-fiestad covers. PW in comments.

1. The Rolling Stones – I’m Going Down (1975)
2. John Prine – Mexican Home (1973)
3. Delbert McClinton – Down Into Mexico (2005)
4. Carbon Leaf – Mexico (2009)
5. Blake Shelton – Playboys Of The Southwestern World (2003)
6. Dave Alvin – Rio Grande (2004)
7. Chris Isaak – South Of The Border (1996)
8. Merle Haggard – Mexican Bands (2010)
9. Steve Earle – Goodbye (1995)
10. Warren Zevon – Veracruz (1978)
11. Hoyt Axton – Evangelina (1975)
12. Emmylou Harris – Spanish Is A Loving Tongue (1981)
13. James Taylor – Mexico (1975)
14. Townes Van Zandt – Pancho And Lefty (1993)
15. Donovan – Sand And Foam (1967)
16. Bob Weir – Mexicali Blues (1972)
17. The Kingston Trio – Tijuana Jail (1959)
18. Long John Baldry – Mexico (1968)
19. Frank Sinatra – It Happened In Monterey (1956)
20. Stan Kenton and His Orchestra feat. June Christy – Tampico (1945)
21. Herb Alpert – Tijuana Taxi (1966)
22. Les Humphries Singers – Mexico (1972)
23. Texas Tornados – Adios Mexico (1990)
Bonus: Rex Gildo – Fiesta Mexicana (1972)


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Any Major Halloween Vol. 3

October 20th, 2016 10 comments


Being nothing if not seasonal, I have put together a third Halloween mix. This one covers the black & white era of rock & roll, from the mid-’50s to the mid-’60s — which also happened to be the golden era for Halloween novelty songs. Some of these are utter gems; the value of others resides in their novelty.

Billy Lee Riley was a big influence on Bob Dylan Dylan influence. Like Warren Smith, another Dylan favourite, he was on Sun Records at a time when Sam Philips diverted all his promotional resources to Jerry Lee Lewis” career. Dylan reckons Riley might have been a bigger star than Lewis. Like Smith, Riley left Sun and went west. He had a few minor hits, and worked as a session musician. In the early 1970 Riley quit music and moved into construction. He made a comeback in the 1990s, even earning a Grammy nomination for his 1997 blues album Hot Damn!. Billy Lee Riley died in 2009 at the age of 75.

Another Sun Records alumnus features here: Jumpin’ Gene Simmons who used to open for the young Elvis. He had only one single on Sun. His only hit, Haunted House, was released by Hi Records, future home to soul legends such as Al Green. One of the singer”s fans was young Israeli-American musician named Chaim Witz. When Witz — a name that, quite suitably, means “joke” — needed a cool name, he took that of Gene Simmons. The real Gene Simmons died in 2006 at the age of 73. The long-tongued douchebag is still around.

Not all acts here are rock & roll and R&B acts; some are garage rock bands. The Kingsmen are represented here with the instrumental Haunted Castle, the song that was the flip-side to their massive hit Louie Louie.

The Castle Kings released only two singles, including the track featured here. The writers of the 1961 song did rather better: Atlantic boss Ahmed Ertugun and future Halloween story Phil Spector.


The Five Blobs were not even a band, but a collection of session musicians assembled by musician Bernie Knee to record the title song for the 1958 Steve McQueen movie The Blob, an early collaboration by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. In the 1970s, Knee recorded a song in support of Richard Nixon as the crook was fighting impeachment charges.

Round Robin does/do some impressive growling on his/their song — except it is not really clear who Round Robin was. Wikipedia suggests it was the songwriter Baker Thomas (who wrote The Wonder Of You); and in absence of any better info, I”ll go with that.

Music wasn’t really Bob McFadden’s claim to fame. He was rather better known as a voice actor on animated shows: his credits include Milton the Monster, Cool McCool and Snarf from the ThunderCats. His appearance here owes to an album he recorded in 1959 with folk-poet Rod McKuen. His background as a cartoon voice shows on the song. McFadden died in 2000 at the age of 76.

If producer/comedian Dickie Goodman sounds like an early version of a white rapper on his 1961 song, consider this: Goodman was the inventor of the “break-in” technique, an early type of sampling.

Of all the weird tracks here, the most bizarre must be Jimmy Cross‘ 1964 song. It is a parody of the road death songs that were popular at the time — Dead Man’s Curve, Leader Of The Pack, Tell Laura I Love Her, Teen Angel or Last Kiss by J. Frank Wilson, whose similarly bizarre song in this mix precedes that by Cross. I Want My Baby Back moves swiftly from the ridiculous to pure WTF. You have to love lines like this: “Well, when I come to I looked around, and there was the leader, and there was the pack, and over there was my baby.” But the denouement”… well, it’s the reason the song features on a Halloween mix.halloween-labels_2Some people may think that I have yielded to cliché by including The Monster Mash. But in this collection, the song is placed within its context and very much belongs here. What is striking is how little it actually stand out from the rest of the crowd.

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

1. Jackie Morningstar – Rockin’ In The Graveyard (1959)
2. Billy Lee Riley – Nightmare Mash (1963)
3. Johnny Fuller – Haunted House (1959)
4. The Duponts – Screamin’ Ball (At Dracula Hall) (1958)
5. Bo Diddley – Bo Meets The Monster (1956)
6. Johnny Otis Show with Marci Lee – Castin’ My Spell (1969)
7. Kip Tyler – She’s My Witch (1958)
8. Little Richard – Heeby Jeebies (1956)
9. David Seville – Witch Doctor (1958)
10. The Monotones – Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958)
11. Round Robin – I’m The Wolfman (1965)
12. The Kingsmen – Haunted Castle (1963)
13. The Diamonds – Batman, Wolfman, Frankenstein Or Dracula (1959)
14. Ronnie Cook and The Gaylads – Goo Goo Muck (1965)
15. The Castle Kings – You Can Get Him – Frankenstein (1961)
16. Dickie Goodman – Horror Movies (1961)
17. Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers – Monster Mash (1962)
18. Jumpin’ Gene Simmons – Haunted House (1964)
19. Lloyd Price – Under Your Spell Again (1962)
20. Lee Ross – The Mummy”s Bracelet (1958)
21. Leroy Bowman – Graveyard (1958)
22. Allen Sherman – I See Bones (1963)
23. Bobby Rydell – That Old Black Magic (1960)
24. The Five Blobs – The Blob (1958)
25. Big Bee Kornegay – At The House Of Frankenstein (1958)
26. The Moontrekkers – Night Of The Vampire (1961)
27. Hollywood Flames – Frankenstein”s Den (1958)
28. J. Frank Wilson – Unmarked And Covered With Sand (1964)
29. Jimmy Cross – I Want My Baby Back (1965)
30. Bob McFadden – The Mummy (1959)
31. Gary “Spider” Webb – The Cave (Part 1) (1961)



Any Major Halloween Vol. 1
Any Major Halloween Vol. 2
Any Major Halloween Vol. 4
Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 7

October 13th, 2016 11 comments

Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 7

Man, how I enjoy this mix, the seventh in the Not Feeling Guilty series of songs one might call soft rock, or smooth rock, or the dreadful term “yacht rock”. I”ve played it so much in my car, the bitrate is deteriorating!

If you share my view that no such mix is complete without the sound of Michael McDonald“s distinctive baritone but are puzzled by his omission upon perusal of the tracklisting “” assuming that this is what you do before you read my blurbs, if you remember to read them “” take heart. The half-man, half-beard appears on two songs here: singing with Lauren Wood and helping out former Ambrosia frontman David Pack, alongside his pal James Ingram.

David Pack has featured previously in this series as lead singer of Ambrosia”s great soft rock hits The Biggest Part Of Me (Vol. 3), How Much I Feel (Vol. 1)and You”re The Only Woman (Vol. 5). Pack has since become a successful  producer, and was the music director for the 1993 and 1997 presidential inaugurations of Bill Clinton.

Lauren Wood is perhaps best known for her hit from the 1990 film Pretty Woman, Fallen. Her 1979 debut album featured McDonald, drummers Jim Keltner, Alvin Taylor and Jeff Porcaro (and his Toto mates Lukather and Hungate), bassist Abraham Laboriel, saxophonist Andrew Love (half of the Memphis Horns) and Little Feat”s Fred Tackett  and Bill Payne, the latter of whom contributes a synth solo on Please Don”t Go.

And then there is Pages, a group that sounds like Michael McDonald should be singing backing vocals with. Pages” two regular members, lead singer-bassist Richard Page and keyboardist Steve George, who would have greater success later in the 1980s as founder members of Mr Mister. Before Pages, the two and other future collaborators backed Andy Gibb on his big 1977 hit I Want To Be Your Everything. Their song Who”s Right, Who”s Wrong was later covered by both Kenny Loggins (on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 4) and to wonderful effect by Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford. That original version might yet appear in a future Not Feeling Guilty mix.


You might wonder whether I”ve lost my sequencing mind, putting Alice Cooper and Seals & Crofts after one another. Isn”t Alice Cooper more liable to bite off Crofts” head and then proceed to bash Seals? Well, here we catch Cooper in a smooth rock mood, and Seals & Crofts are waking grandma with some relatively loud guitars. But fear not for Cooper, who on his live album of the same year, 1977, sandwiched his soft You And Me between songs titled Devil”s Food, The Black Widow, I Love The Dead and Go To Hell.

Really serious movie buffs may recognise the name Chris Montan. Once a soft-rock singer, Montan is now president of Walt Disney Music, which means that the music in Disney and Pixar movies from Pocahontas and Toy Story in 1995 to more recently Frozen are ultimately Montan”s responsibility.

Richard Clapton is not always a soft-rock kind of guy. The versatile Australian can rock hard, and even dabbled with the sounds of new wave. His The Great Escape LP was a favourite of mine when it came out in 1982. Not all of it has aged well, but The Best Years Of Our Lives, featured here, and the slow-burning Walk On Water are still very good tracks.

You don”t often get a marimba solo in rock music, but there it is on Starbuck“s 1976 hit Moonlight Feels Right. I am glad to know that the corporate coffeehouse chain of similar moniker did not take their name from this Mississippi group (it was borrowed from a minor character in Moby Dick). I trust you downloaded the Any Major Coffee mixes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) and agree with my plea to use independent coffee places instead of McStarbucks.

The coolest name here must be Jim Photoglo, which sounds like the sort of name the bassist of A Flock of Seagulls should have (disappointingly, his name was the rather glamourless Frank Maudsley). Very pleasingly, Photoglo is the singer”s real name. After his career as a soft-rock singer he became the bass player for Dan Fogelberg — another artist whose real name sounds made-up and who features here “” and a country songwriter for an impressive list of stars. He still releases records as a folk singer.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes covers. PW in comments. Feel free to leave a comment in that section; even if you have nothing important to say, a hello and thanks is always appreciated.

1. Kenny Loggins & Stevie Nicks – Whenever I Call You “Friend” (1978)
2. Boz Scaggs – Lowdown (1976)
3. James Walsh Gypsy Band – Cuz It’s You Girl (1978)
4. Jim Photoglo – Fool In Love With You (1981)
5. Bobby Caldwell – Carry On (1982)
6. Pages – You Need A Hero (1981)
7. Nicolette Larson – Isn’t It Always Love (1979)
8. David Pack – I Just Can’t Let Go (1985)
9. Dan Fogelberg – Heart Hotels (1979)
10. David Roberts – Anywhere You Run To (1982)
11. Alice Cooper – You And Me (1977)
12. Seals & Crofts – Nobody Gets Over Loving You (1979)
13. America – You Can Do Magic (1982)
14. Starbuck – Moonlight Feels Right (1976)
15. Lauren Wood – Please Don’t Leave (1979)
16. Walter Egan – Magnet And Steel (1978)
17. Chris Montan – Intentions (1980)
18. Richard Clapton – The Best Years Of Our Lives (1982)
19. Bill Champlin – Fly With Me (1978)
20. Bertie Higgins – Just Another Day In Paradise (1982)


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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The Rod Temperton Collection

October 5th, 2016 9 comments


The man who gave us such classics as Thriller, Rock With You, Off The Wall and Stomp has died, and I won”t wait till the next In Memoriam to pay tribute.

Rod Temperton died of cancer some time last week, about a week short of his 69th birthday, which would have been on Sunday. His death was announced only today (October 5).

English-born Temperton got his start as keyboardist and main songwriter of the British funk and soul group Heatwave. As the writer of hits like the dancefloor burners Groove Line and Boogie Nights, and soul burners like Always And Forever and Mindblowing Decisions, Temperton came to the attention of Quincy Jones.

Quincy quickly collaborated with Temperton on songs for Michael Jackson”s Off The Wall LP, for which the Brit wrote the title track, Rock With You and Burn This Disco Out. And not only did Temperton come up with music and lyrics, but also did the arrangements. On many of the songs he wrote, Temperton would arrange and often also produce.

He co-wrote the Brothers Johnson classic Stomp!, as well as a few other songs for the duo. Bassist Louis Johnson and Temperton often worked together on other projects; it is no coincidence that the Louis Johnson Collection which I put together on Johnson”s death in May 2015 and the present Rod Temperton Collection share many artists and even a few songs.

Temperton wrote the three best tracks on George Benson”s Give Me The Night album (the title track, Love X Love, and Off Broadway), and in 1982 contributed another title track to a classic LP: Michael Jackson”s Thriller, for which he also wrote Baby Be Mine and the frequently forgotten but surprisingly often covered (and sampled) The Lady In My Life.

Later he wrote songs like Yah Mo Be There and Sweet Freedom for Michael McDonald, and Baby Come To Me for Patti Austin. The former McDonald song and the Austin track are duets with James Ingram, who also turns up on Quincy Jones” The Secret Garden (which surely must have been intended originally for Michael Jackson).

And so to this tribute to Rod Temperton of songs he wrote, or in some instances co-wrote. As always, it is timed to fit on a standard CD-R (without the bonus tracks), and includes hastily home-arranged covers. PW in comments.

1. Michael Jackson – Rock With You (1979)
2. Heatwave – Boogie Nights (1976)
3. Brothers Johnson – Light Up the Night (1979)
4. Herbie Hancock – Gettin” To The Good Part (1982)
5. George Benson – Love X Love (1980)
6. Patti Austin & James Ingram – Baby Come To Me (1981)
7. Luther Vandross – Always And Forever (1994)
8. Anita Baker – Mystery (1986)
9. Lou Rawls – The Lady In My Life (1984)
10. Karen Carpenter – If We Try (1979/80)
11. Bob James – Sign Of The Times (1981)
12. Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom (1986)
13. Mica Paris – You Put A Move On My Heart (1992)
14. Quincy Jones feat. Barry White, Al B. Sure, James Ingram, El Debarge – The Secret Garden (1989)
15. Randy Crawford – Give Me The Night (Chill Night Mix) (1995)
16. Geno Jordan – Thriller (1983)
17. Marcia Hines – Stomp (2006)
Bonus Tracks:
Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (1979)
Heatwave – Mind Blowing Decisions (1978)
Quincy Jones – Razzamatazz (1980)
Klymaxx – Man Size Love (1986)
Diane Schuur – Nobody Does Me (1991)


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In Memoriam – September 2016

October 4th, 2016 2 comments

im_gallery_1609_1Fans of ska, and the ska revival of the late 1970s in Britain and Europe, will have been particularly saddened by the passing at the age of 78 of the king of the genre. Prince Buster, as the Jamaican musician Cecil Campbell called himself, didn”t have huge commercial success in Britain “” a Top 20 hit in 1967 with Al Capone is the extent of his residency in the charts “” but his influence was felt keenly. When the Two Tone label revived ska, Prince Buster was a revered godfather to the genre. The group Madness named themselves after a Prince Buster song, recorded their debut single The Prince as a tribute to him, and broke through with their sophomore single, a cover of Prince Buster”s One Step Beyond (the b-side of that solitary UK hit, Al Capone).

Before the 1950s there were very few successful women in country music, as explained in A History of Country Music  (get the free eBook of the series). That changed in 1952 with Kitty Wells” huge hit It Wasn”t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels. Jean Shepard, who has died at 82, was the first female singer to follow in Wells” slipstream in 1953 when she had a hit with Dear John, her duet with fellow Bakersfielder Ferlin Husky (both breakthrough hits, Wells” and Shepard”s, were covers, incidentally). At  19 years old, Shepard set a record as youngest female country chart-topper until 14-year-old Tanya Tucker eclipsed her almost two decades later. Along with comedian-singer Minnie Pearl, Shepard joined Wells as one of only three female regular on the Grand Ole Opry in 1955. Last year she became the second person to have been a member of the Opry for 60 consecutive years. Shepard married twice: her first husband, fellow country singer Hawkshaw Hawkins, died in the 1963 plane crash that also killed Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas. She remained with second husband Benny Birchfield till the end.

In the late 1970s, two soul producers were pioneers in the use of the synthesizer in their productions: Stevie Wonder and Michael Jones, the latter a former keyboard player with funk group BT Express who on his conversion to Islam took the name Kashif. A multi-instrumentalist, Kashif wrote and produced Evelyn “Champagne” King”s hit I”m In Love, produced the more soul-oriented songs on Whitney Houston”s debut LP, You Give Good Love and Thinking About You (he co-wrote the latter and sang on it, too). Along the way, he also released his own albums, scoring a sizable hit in 1987 with Love Changes, his duet with Meli”sa Morgan. Privately, Kashif set up an organization to help kids get into suitable foster care.

A couple of years ago, three of the four original members of The Weavers, the pioneers of the folk scene, were still alive. Then Pete Seeger died in 2014; followed by Ronnie Gilbert last year, and with the death on September 1 of Fred Hellerman at 89, Read more…

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