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The Originals: Beatles

July 25th, 2019 9 comments

 

With the Beatles’ incredible achievements in mind, it is easy to forget that three of the Beatles’ first four albums were topped up with fillers, many of them cover versions — which is quite ironic since the Beatles went on to become the most covered band ever. Some of these covers are better known in their original versions; the Little Richard and Chuck Berry compositions and Motown classics, for example. Some are generic classics (A Taste Of Honey; Till There Was You), and some are fairly obscure, or would become so.

In this instalment of The Originals, we look at the lesser-known first recordings of songs covered by The Beatles on their albums or singles.

 

Twist And Shout
Twist And Shout is probably the most famous cover by The Beatles, and is most commonly associated with them. And rightly so: their take is rock & roll perfection. It was based on the 1962 cover by the Isley Brothers, who introduced the rhythm guitar riff (which borrows heavily from Richie Valens’ La Bamba) and the “ah-ah-ah” harmonies, to which the Beatles added the Little Richardesque “wooo”.

The song was written by the legendary Bert Berns (sometimes credited to his pseudonym Bert Russell) with Phil Medley. Berns gave Twist And Shout to The Top Notes  —  a Philadelphia R&B group which might have been forgotten entirely otherwise  —  whose recording was produced by a very young Phil Spector.

The result did not please Berns, who accused Spector of “fucking it up”. He was a bit harsh on young Phil; the Top Notes’ version is not bad, but Berns had hoped for something a more energetic. So he took the song to the reluctant Isley Brothers, who had scored a hit two years earlier with the driving Shout, which had the kind of sound Berns imagined for his song.  Their Twist And Shout, which Berns produced, became a US #17 hit and is included here as a bonus track. Read more…

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Any Major Moon

July 18th, 2019 6 comments

 

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first moonlanding, here’s a collection of songs about the moon. Some of them are actually about the moon, upon which Whitey walked; others use the lunar phenomenon that governs our tides as a metaphor. Of course, I could have filled several mixes on this theme.

My memories of the moonlanding… Nothing. I was three years old. I do vaguely recall my surprise at learning at some point in my childhood that men had walked on the moon — which, contrary to literary references I had at hand, was not made of cheese. If, however, there are people who think the moon is, in fact, a dairy product — and voting patterns in democracies around the world seem to suggest that there are many such people — I’d be happy to furnish them with my literary reference, even at the danger that it might be too highbrow for them, so that they can prove their point.

Anyway, for the first few years of my life, I was unaware of that great accomplishment on 20 July 1969, when Neil Armstrong had to take snapshots of Buzz Aldrin, regretting that the selfie culture was still four decades away (to the pedants reading this: yes, I am aware that selfies were not really an option, since the camera was affixed to the astronaut’s spacesuit. And, yes, Armstrong sort of did take a selfie thanks to the reflection in Aldrin’s helmet).

I suppose I missed the last moon landings in 1972, even though by then I was not ignorant of current affairs and have a clear memory of many news events that year. I suppose moon landings were not big news any longer.

There is talk of sending men back to the moon. It’s a stupid idea, also for reasons Gil Scott-Heron succinctly states on this mix.

So, what are your moon landing stories?

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

1. The Waterboys – The Whole Of The Moon (1985)
2. Police – Walking On The Moon (1979)
3. AC/DC – What’s Next To The Moon (1978)
4. Thin Lizzy – Dancing In The Moonlight (1977)
5. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Shame On The Moon (1982)
6. Bobby Womack – Everyone’s Gone To The Moon (1969)
7. Grady Tate – Moondance (1974)
8. Adam Wade – Shine On Silver Moon (1977)
9. Gil Scott-Heron – Whitey On The Moon (1974)
10. The Holmes Brothers – Bad Moon Rising (2007)
11. John Prine – The Moon Is Down (2005)
12. Lyle Lovett – Moon On My Shoulder (1994)
13. The Lilac Time – The Last Man On The Moon (2001)
14. Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1971)
15. Rumer – Moon River (2011)
16. Agnetha Fältskog – Fly Me To The Moon (2004)
17. Fairground Attraction – The Moon Is Mine (1988)
18. Everything But The Girl – Shadow On A Harvest Moon (1988)
19. Sandie Shaw – No Moon (1967)
20. Stackridge – To The Sun And Moon (1974)
21. Neil Young – Harvest Moon (1992)
22. George Harrison – Here Comes The Moon (1979)
23. Cookie Monster – If Moon Was Cookie (1983)

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Any Major ABC: 2000s

July 11th, 2019 1 comment

 

The second decade of the 21st century is coming to an end, but, like an old man fighting off change as if it was the Grim Reaper himself, I’m still coming to terms with this new-fangled millennium. I still have clear memories of the Y2K scam, and to me the Noughties (is that what they called?) are still new territory.

The rapid advance of time is unsettling. Today I noticed that the film The Hangover is ten years old! The 2000s, the timespan covered in this instalment of the ABC in Decades, raced by so quickly, I missed time’s transition to the 2010s.

At least with the Noughties, I have a measure of time: it began when Any Minor Dude was a pre-schooler, looking like a pre-schooler, and ended when he was a teenager in full pubescent swing. In the Noughties, the little dude changed a lot physically. Since 2010, he’s not changed that much physically, the occasional facial hirsuteness, a more muscular body and the obligatory tattoos aside.

Talking of tattoos: I suspect that my son’s generation will rebel against body art. Tats will be like the mullet, the stuff of embarrassing dads.

When the timespan of the present mix began, tattoos were not quite mainstream thing yet. I remember seeing a video of some alt.rock band around 2001; the member had tattoo sleeves. I was quite appalled, wondering what these young gentlemen had been thinking when they disfigured their limbs. Against my hopes, that kind of thing caught on.

So, here are 26 songs from A-Z that cover the 2000s, some by long-forgotten acts. If in the late 1970s everything from the 1960s were “oldies”, then all the tracks here are, strictly speaking, oldies. Except, with instant access to any old song through the Internet, nothing released since the MP3 revolution has had the chance to acquire the necessary distance in time to attain the status of “oldie”. Perhaps some forgotten track may evoke nostalgia, such as the Lucy Peal number here.

Because acts in the 2000s didn’t know the virtue of brevity, this mix doesn’t fit on a standard CD-R. I have made a home-zeroed cover anyway. PW in comments.

1. Amy Winehouse – Love Is A Losing Game (2006)
2. Ben Folds – Trusted (2004)
3. Common – Real People (2005)
4. Darkness – I Believe In A Thing Called Love (2003)
5. Eels – Blinking Lights (For Me) (2005)
6. Farryl Purkiss – Better Days (2006)
7. Gabe Dixon Band – All Will Be Well (2004)
8. Hello Saferide – The Quiz (2006)
9. Ian Broudie – Song For No One (2004)
10. Johnny Cash – Hurt (2002)
11. KT Tunstall – Other Side Of The World (2005)
12. Lucy Pearl – Don’t Mess With My Man (2000)
13. Mindy Smith – Fighting For It All (2004)
14. Neil Diamond – Save Me A Saturday Night (2005)
15. OutKast feat. Sleepy Brown – The Way You Move (2003)
16. Phoenix – Long Distance Call (2006)
17. Queens Of The Stone Age – Gonna Leave You (2002)
18. Rilo Kiley – Portions For Foxes (2004)
19. Scarface – On My Block (2002)
20. Tim McGraw – Live Like You Were Dying (2004)
21. Uncle Kracker – Follow Me (2000)
22. Von Bondies – C’mon C’mon (2003)
23. Wilco – Misunderstood (live) (2005)
24. Xavier Rudd – Better People (2007)
25. Yael Naïm – New Soul (2007)
26. Zero 7 – In The Waiting Line (2001)

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In Memoriam – June 2019

July 4th, 2019 4 comments

It has been a sad month for New Orleans, with two of her greatest sons passing on. And there was the horrible murder of a talented drummer, and the death of the son of an apartheid foreign minister.

The Swamp Doctor
He was around for so long that it seemed he was indestructible. A heart attack showed that Dr. John wasn’t. Death might have claimed Malcolm John Rebennack much earlier: in his young days in New Orleans he had started his music career, but he also was a petty criminal, a pimp and a heroin addict, landing in jail in 1965. Upon release from the clink Rebennack was told to get out of town, so he went to L.A. and, restyled as Dr. John, begun an illustrious career as a swamp-blues singer, session keyboardist (and percussionist, such as on Aretha Franklin’s Rock Steady) and record producer.

New Orleans Legend
One of the strange effects of running, or reading, a series like thus is that sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised that an artist was still alive…until their death. Having reached the great age of 100, the great songwriter and bandleader Dave Bartholomew probably was presumed dead long ago by many people. Even if his name means nothing to you, you’ll have heard his songs: his protégé Fats Domino had hits with Batholomew (co-)compositions such as Ain’t That a Shame, I’m Walking’ and Blue Monday, Elvis Presley’s One Night, Gale Storm/Dave Edmunds’ I Hear You Knocking (like One Night and Blue Monday, originally recorded by Smiley Lewis), and, in a regrettable cover version, Chuck Berry’s My Ding-A-Ling, which Bartholomew had first recorded himself in 1952. A musician, bandleader, composer, arranger, and producer, Bartholomew did much to direct New Orleans’ contribution to rock & roll.

The Session Drummer
If you have listened to country music from the 1960s or ‘70s, you’ll have heard Jerry Carrigan’s drumming along the way. An early member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Read more…

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