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In Memoriam – May 2018

May 29th, 2018 7 comments

This month May”s dead and their music come to you before the month is out, due to travelling schedules. It has been another fairly easy-going month. In 2016 the never-ending streak of superstar deaths culminated in the election of Donald Trump. Maybe the unusually quiet year 2018 is preparing the way for the monster”s political demise. What”s that phrase he used to chant about Hilary Clinton?

The funky drummer

May started on a shitty note as James Brown drummer John Jabo Starks died at 79, just over a year after his fellow J.B.”s drummer Clyde Stubblefield passed on. Starks and Stubblefield are likely the most-sampled drummers. Apart from laying down the funky beats for Brown, Starks also drummed for blues legends like Bobby “Blue” Bland and B.B. King.

The inventor’s Satisfaction

Often great innovations have their roots in misadventure. So it as with Glenn Snoddy“s greatest legacy: the invention of the fuzz guitar pedal which came to define the Nashville Sound and found its most famous expression in the intro riff of the Rolling Stones” Satisfaction. Snoddy was engineering Marty Robbins” 1960 song Don”t Worry when he noticed a distortion in Grady Martin”s guitar (coming at 1:24). He found that the transformer in the amplifier had blown up. But the effect was great and so it was retained on record. It proved so popular that Snoddy set about inventing a device which could easily create that sound. Snoddy also engineered some classic country tracks, including Hank Williams” Your Cheating Heart and Johnny Cash”s Ring Of Fire. In 1967 he set up his own studio, Woodlands, were classics like the Charlie Daniels Band”s The Devil Went Down To Georgia, The Oak Ridge Boys” Elvira and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band”s album Will The Circle Be Unbroken was recorded. Oh, and he was the one who hired Kris Kristofferson as the janitor atColumbia, which would lead to great things.

Triple-force

Reggie Lucas made his mark in three fields of record-making: he was a fine guitarist who served a sideman to Miles Davis and others in the 1970s; he was a producer for Madonna (on her debut album), Randy Crawford, The O”Jays, The Spinners, Stephanie Mills, Lou Rawls, Phyllis Hyman and others; and he was a songwriter of classic soul tracks like Mills” Never Knew Like This Before, Hyman”s You Know How To Love Me, Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway”s Back Together Again and The Closer I Get To You, as well as Madonna”s Borderline. For a brief time, he was a member of the soul-funk trio Sunfire.

The last dance

One of the most delightfully dark songs of the 1960s must be Esther & Abi Ofarim‘s One More Dance, wherein two lovers Read more…

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Any Major Music from ‘The Deuce’

May 24th, 2018 5 comments

In many TV shows, music plays a character in its own right. A song on the radio can portend a looming crisis or the state of mind of two lovers in bed (with their Z-shaped sheet). The 2017 HBO drama The Deuce used music to brilliant effect to help set the scene of early 1970s in New York City”s underbelly of prostitution, pornography, police corruption and organised crime.

The series had no orchestral score to guide the viewer; that job is done by the incidental music — on the radio, from passing cars, on a juke box, etc. George Pelecanos, co-producer of The Deuce with David Simon (they also did The Wire and Treme together), has explained that much thought went into choosing the right song for each scene. Music placement on TV is never random, but here extraordinary thought went into it.

Much of the music draws from the pool of late-1960s, early-’70s soul and funk. With the setting being the underworld, and many of the protagonists being black, there must have been a temptation to litter the soundtrack with blaxploitation film music (The Tarantino Option, as I call it). Pelecanos said that this would have been inauthentic; people didn”t play that stuff on their HiFis or on the juke-box. It would have been clichéd and was wisely avoided.

Music supervisor Blake Leyh explained in Billboard that “we made a conscious decision to feature lesser-known tracks to a large degree — although we have some of the more obvious favorites like James Brown and the Velvet Underground when appropriate. But much of the music is more likely found in a record collector’s obscurities bin.”

Starting with the smartly chosen theme song, Curtis Mayfield’s discombobulating If There’s A Hell Below We’re All Going To Go, there are songs that communicate purely by their sound the pressure and violence of that world. Other times there’s the old but useful trick of contrasting a sweet tune with cruelty on screen (one that was employed to particularly memorable effect in The Sopranos, when the weakened Tony Soprano beats up his hapless and innocent driver in a show of strength; all the while the cheerful doo wop tune Every Day Of The Week by The Students is playing).

Pernell Walker, James Franco and Maggie Gyllennhaal in a scene from HBO’s series The Deuce.

As it is with many other TV shows, the choice of music used in them presents us with a treasure of new songs to discover or to revisit forgotten tracks.

Pleasingly, the songs featured in The Deuce, other than the closing theme (by The Wire alumnus Lafayette Gilchrist), fit into the time-frame of the show. An exception is Johnnie Taylor’s Standing In For Jody in Episode 1, set in 1971. The song came out only in 1972 (perhaps the musical directors thought of Taylor’s 1970 song Jody’s Got Your Girl And Gone). And if that is the extent to which one can nitpick, then the music supervisors did a fantastic job.

Few songs here have been used in other TV shows, but Darondo’s sublime Didn’t has been used in several other TV shows: Ray Donovan (another series with excellent music), Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, I’m Dying Up Here and the shortlived Lovesick.

The present mix is a small selection of music featured in the show’s eight episodes (the first episode alone featured close to 30 songs). I’ve tried to create a bit of a story arch: The mix begins with the Mayfield theme, and ends with the Ray Charles track that plays in the jukebox as the series concludes, followed by the closing theme.

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

1. Curtis Mayfield – If There’s A Hell Below We’re All Going To Go (1970)
2. Rufus Thomas – (Do The) Push And Pull (Part 1) (1970)
3. Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – Treat Her Like A Lady (1971)
4. James Brown – Out Of Sight (1965)
5. Darondo – Didn’t I (1972)
6. The Manhattans – I Don”t Wanna Go (1969)
7. James Carr – These Ain’t Raindrops (1969)
8. Lee Williams & The Cymbals – Peeping Through The Window (1967)
9. Johnnie Taylor – Standing In For Jody (1972)
10. Ann Peebles – I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home Tonight (1971)
11. Dusty Springfield – Haunted (1971)
12. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Don’t Pull Your Love (1971)
13. The Guess Who – These Eyes (1969)
14. Velvet Underground – Pale Blue Eyes (1969)
15. The Persuaders – Thin Line Between Love And Hate (1971)
16. The Notations – A New Day (1971)
17. Honey Cone – Want Ads (1971)
18. Jean Knight – Mr. Big Stuff (1971)
19. War – Slippin’ Into Darkness (1971)
20. George McGregor & The Bronzettes – Temptation Is Too Hard To Fight (1967)
21. The Temptations – Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (1971)
22. The Lovettes – I Need A Guy (1967)
23. Ray Charles – Careless Love (1962)
24. Lafayette Gilchrist – Assume The Position (2004)

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Stars Pick Your Songs Vol. 3: Celebs

May 17th, 2018 1 comment

This is the third mix of songs chosen by guests on the long-running BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs. This time, celebs of various backgrounds are choosing their music for your listening pleasure.

Most of them are British, though some are world-famous, like zillionaire Bill Gates, boxer George Foreman, author Bill Bryson, tennis legend John McEnroe, footballer David Beckham, survivalist Bear Grylls, Facebook chief Sheryl Sandberg, over-the-hill comedian Ricky Gervais, 1960s model Twiggy etc.

In any case, the concept is just the framework for putting together a fun eclectic mix that opens with the Sex Pistols anthem of no future and closes with a song promising the return of happy days, chosen in the middle of a war.

The concept of Desert Island Discs, which had remained unchanged since it first aired in 1942, is that the invited guest chooses eight songs he or she would take with them to a lonely island. In the course of often revealing interviews, they explain why they chose those songs. A massive collection of Desert Island Discs episodes is available for download in the form of MP3 podcasts from the BBC website.

The mix ends with a song selected by the first-ever castaway. On that debut Desert Island Disc, broadcast on 29 January 1942, British actor and comedian Vic Oliver chose British bandleader Jack Hylton’s 1930 version of Happy Days Are Here Again. It’s a quite remarkable choice, coming right in the middle of World War 2.

As ever, CD-R length, home-picked covers, PW in comments.

1. Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen (1977 – John McEnroe,2017)
2. The Jam – Going Underground (1980 – Lee Mack,2013)
3. David Bowie – Starman (1972 – Stella McCartney,2017)
4. The Rolling Stones – Wild Horses (1971 – David Beckham,2017)
5. Al Green – So Tired Of Being Alone (2012 – Michael Johnson,2012)
6. The Temptations – I Wish It Would Rain (1967 – George Foreman,2003)
7. Booker T & the MGs – Soul Limbo (1968 – Gary Lineker,1990)
8. Prince – Raspberry Beret (1985 – Steve McQueen,2014)
9. The La”s – There She Goes (1988 – Jamie Oliver,2002)
10. Counting Crows – A Long December (1996 – Sheryl Sandberg,2017)
11. Bright Eyes – First Day Of My Life (2005 – James Corden,2012)
12. Loudon Wainwright III – Your Mother And I (1986 – Bill Bryson,1998)
13. Cat Stevens – Lilywhite (1970 – Ricky Gervais,2007)
14. Johnny Cash & June Carter – Jackson (1967 – Bear Grylls,2012)
15. The Beatles – She”s A Woman (1964 – Brian Epstein,1964)
16. Roy Orbison – Only The Lonely (1960 – Billy Connolly,2004)
17. Ella Fitzgerald – Do I Love You (1956 – Stephen Fry,2015)
18. Edith Piaf – Les amants d”un jour (1956 – Marcel Marceau,1972)
19. Billy Joel – New York State Of Mind (1976 – Brian Cox,2012)
20. Willie Nelson – Blue Skies (1980 – Bill Gates,2016)
21. Francis Ruffelle – On My Own (1985 – Twiggy,1989)
22. Jack Hylton and his Orchestra – Happy Days Are Here Again (1930 – Vic Oliver,1942)

https://rg.to/file/d9d3a569ace995f519fbcbc71fc05293/Stars_3.rar.html

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The Larry Carlton Collection

May 10th, 2018 14 comments

Larry Carlton is a big name for fans of session guitarist and jazz fusion in particular, but most followers of pop will have heard him play.

Perhaps Carlton”s most famous piece music is the guitar on Mike Post”s Theme of Hill Street Blues (or, perhaps, on the theme of Magnum P.I., another Post composition). Carlton made his name as a session in the areas of rock (Steely Dan), pop (Fifth Dimension), soul (Randy Crawford), jazz fusion (Crusaders), folk (Joni Mitchell), country (Dolly Parton), easy listening (Sammy Davis Jr) and so on. He appeared on hundreds of records, many of which previous Session Players in this series appeared on.

A case in point is the Casino Lights recording of Randy Crawford and Al Jarreau singing Your Precious Love, which features Ricky Lawson on drums, while Bernard Purdie drums on Steely Dan’s Kid Charlemagne. B.W. Stephenson’s recording of Shambala features Jim Gordon on drums, as does Joan Baez’s Blue Sky (which Carlton also arranged and plays acoustic guitar on), and on Thelma Houston it’s either Gordon or Jim Keltner doing the stickwork. On the title track of Steely Dan’s Aja, he plays alongside Steve Gadd (as featured on The Steve Gadd Collection Vol.3). And while Carlton does guitar duty on Michael Jackson’s She’s Out Of My Life, Louis Johnson is playing the bass.

Carlton’s guitar solo on Kid Charlemagne was voted #80 in the 100 greatest guitar solos of all time. I really like the solo in Cristopher Cross’ Never Be The Same, as it is with the solo on Your Precious Love. But my favourite Carlton moment is when the band comes in after Wilton Felder’s absurdly long note on the Crusaders’ So Far Away, a musical orgasm led by Carlton’s guitar.

Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen said: “He’s a real virtuoso. In my opinion he can get around his instrument better than any studio guitarist.” Carlton played for Steely Dan on Katy Lied, The Royal Scam, Aja and Gaucho, as well as on Fagen”s solo debut The Nightfly.

On top of that Carlton was a member of the Crusaders and Fourplay, and recorded a bunch of solo albums.

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

1. Mike Post feat. Larry Carlton – Theme from Hill Street Blues (1981)
2. Megan McDonough – Guitar Picker (1972)
3. B.W. Stevenson – Shambala (1973)
4. Christopher Cross – Never Be The Same (1979)
5. Linda Ronstadt – Sail Away (1973)
6. Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford – Your Precious Love (1982)
7. Marlena Shaw – Feel Like Makin’ Love (1975)
8. Michael Franks – The Lady Wants To Know (1977)
9. Paulinho da Costa – Dreamflow (1979)
10. Crusaders – So Far Away (live) (1974)
11. Steely Dan – Kid Charlemagne (1976)
12. Joni Mitchell – Edith And The Kingpin (1975)
13. Dusty Springfield – Who Gets Your Love (1973)
14. Lobo – My Momma Had Soul (1973)
15. Johnny Lee – Lookin’ For Love (1980)
16. Joan Baez – Blue Sky (1975)
17. Greenfield – New York Is Closed Tonight (1973)
18. Four Tops – Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got) (1972)
19. Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker – To Know You Is To Love You (1975)
20. Larry Carlton – Blues Bird (1981)

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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

 

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In Memoriam – April 2018

May 3rd, 2018 9 comments

The soul writer

A close collaborator with the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting and production team, at Motown and on their Invictus label, Ron Dunbar counted among his writing credits some of the greatest soul classics of the early 1970s: Clarence Carter”s hit Patches, Freda Payne”s Band Of Gold (which happened to play at a restaurant where I lunched the day after his death), the Chairmen of the Board”s Give Me Just A Little More Time”¦ The sorry twist is that Lamont Dozier later claimed that it was Brian Holland who write the latter two tracks, but Dunbar was credited because Holland couldn”t be, for legal reasons. Also a prolific producer and A&R man, Dunbar attributed his songwriting success “” much of it with the Chairmen”s General Johnson “” to the great mentorship of Holland-Dozier-Holland. Even if Dozier was talking the truth, Dunbar”s co-writing credits include some other stone-cold classics, including the Flaming Embers” Westbound #9, and Pay To The Piper and Dangling On A String for the Chairmen of the Board (who also recorded the original of Patches, and whose co-founder Danny Woods died in January). He later collaborated also with George Clinton and his P-Funk collective. In the 1990s he returned to work with the Holland company.

The jazz pioneer

Just weeks after his one-time collaborator and bassist Buell Neidlinger died, jazz pioneer and classically-trained pianist Cecil Taylor passed away at 89. In the 1950s they were at the vanguard of introducing a new sound in improvisational jazz, an avant-garde a form which would become known as free jazz. It”s fair to say that Taylor”s music, certainly after the 1950s, was not aimed at a mainstream, but it had great appeal for the few who dig the atonal extemporisations of free jazz, and of immense interest to musicologists.

Big in Sweden

By all accounts, Lill-Babs (born Barbro Margareta Svensson, her moniker is equivalent to Little Barbie) was one of Sweden”s biggest stats, and someone who helped define that country”s pop culture in the 1960s. At 23 she represented Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest with April April, coming 14th out of 16 contestants, but by then she was already a star, Read more…

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