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Party Like It’s 1983

December 28th, 2023 1 comment

The year 1983 marks the time when I set foot in a nightclub for the first time. I had turned 17 a few weeks earlier, and managed to pass for 18, and thus the legal drinking age.

I might have thought that I was big enough to drink, and with having experienced my first hangover at the age of 15½ years, I might have supposed myself to be an experienced imbiber of alcoholic beverages. Like most 17-year-olds, I was neither.

How many Rum & Colas I knocked back that night, I cannot remember – nor much else – but I suspect that my binge did not create a rum shortage in the club, or even in the bottle. It was not my last heroic confrontation with devil alcohol in a club setting, but that first encounter with Rum & Coke cured me of that particular concoction; an aversion that has retained currency even 40 years later.

This mix of dance tracks that came out in 1983 provides a partial soundtrack to those nascent days of clubbing. Two of them scored my experiences in early 1984: Weekend Special by Brenda (Fassie) & The Big Dudes is a stone cold South African classic. How it failed to become an international hit is difficult to understand, even allowing for the cultural boycott of South Africa and the associated lack of promotion.

Last Night The DJ Saved My Life reminds me of a club named Charlie Parker’s, which was not a jazz club but a disco whose popularity didn’t correlate with the music it played or its uninspired decor. In fairness, the club was aimed at an older crowd than my teenage self. I didn’t like the song much then; today I love it.

There is a lot of dance music from 1983 that has aged poorly, especially with the overindulgent use of stabbing synths and grating electric guitar that might have sought to attract (or at least pacify) the “Disco Sucks” constituency of idiots. What we have here represents the more timeless corner of 1983 dance music.

The mix also acknowledges the rise of Hi-NRG, the child of disco which, like a crucial strand of disco, emerged from gay clubs. An early star of the genre was Miquel Brown, whose song So Many Men, So Little Time was a companion piece to It’s Raining Men (the latter doesn’t feature here). A couple of years later Brown’s daughter, Sinitta, had a gay club hit with So Macho.

The mix opens with Love Town by Booker Newberry III, a singer we lost in April this year.

As a little bonus, all seven Any Major Funk mixes are available now in one package. Get it here! 

There are many previous Disco and Party Like It’s … mixes to revisit; I think all links are live. This mix is time to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home Rum&Coked covers, and the above in PDF format. PW in comments.

I hope your 2023 was great, or at least bearable, and that your 2024 will spectacularly joyful, peaceful and healthy.

1. Booker Newberry III – Love Town
2. Oliver Cheatham – Get Down, Saturday Night
3. Second Image – Can’t Keep Holding On
4. Skyy – Show Me The Way
5. Brenda & The Big Dudes – Weekend Special
6. Phil Fearon & Galaxy – Dancing Tight
7. Freeez – I.O.U.
8. Indeep – Last Night A DJ Saved My Life
9. Shannon – Let The Music Play
10. Miquel Brown – So Many Men, So Little Time
11. Toni Smith – (Oo) I Like The Way It Feels
12. Michael Henderson – You Wouldn’t Have To Work At All
13. D Train – Keep Giving Me Love
14. Midnight Star – Wet My Whistle
15. Earth, Wind & Fire – Fall In Love With Me
16. S.O.S. Band – Just Be Good To Me

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Any Major Nasty X-Mas

December 21st, 2023 9 comments

 

The more sherlockian of regular readers may have deduced that I rather like Christmas, as the volume of Christmas mixes I have compiled over the years might suggest.

But there will be those who do not share that affection for festive bonhomie, as well as those who like to lace the sweetness of the season with a shot of bitterness.

For them, here is a mix of anti-Christmas songs, to go with the Not For Mother mix which I posted some years ago. While most of the songs here take a dim view of Xmas — the season, not necessarily the religious significance — a couple of tracks here may express disappointment with it rather than total resentment. Others may wish that they had the festive spirit but lament its absence, or bemoan the hypocrisy that tends to accompany the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

But none of these songs are fit for aural consumption by mother around the Christmas tree, and few are likely to be performed amid fake snow by Michael Bublé on a TV special — though if he ever does perform the song by The Damned, I shall love him forever.

For those who like their Christmases a bit more merry, the whole lot of previous mixes are up again (see the list below).

And with that, I wish you a merry and peaceful Christmas that is lacking in any nastiness.

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

  1. The Kinks – Father Christmas (1977)
    Bah Humbug: Department store Santa gets mugged
  2. Dogmatics – X’mas Time (It Sure Doesn’t Feel Like It) (1984)
    Bah Humbug: “It sure don’t feel like Christmastime”
  3. The Killers – Don’t Shoot Me Santa (2007)
    Bah Humbug: Killer doesn’t want Santa to shoot him.
  4. The Long Blondes – Christmas Is Cancelled (2004)
    Bah Humbug: Deadbeat cheat comes back, but Christmas is cancelled this year
  5. Kate Nash – I Hate You This Christmas (2013)
    Bah Humbug: Puked on her dress, caught her boyfriend cheating
  6. Fay Lovsky – Christmas Was A Friend Of Mine (1981)
    Bah Humbug: No Christmas can compete with the nostalgia of Christmas
  7. Dropkick Murphys – The Season’s Upon Us (2012)
    Bah Humbug: Nephew once gave the singer a gift-wrapped box full of shit
  8. The Chieftains feat Elvis Costello – St. Stephen’s Day Murders (1991)
    Bah Humbug: That Christmas spirit drowned in spirits
  9. The Twang – Fairytale Of New York (2019)
    Bah Humbug: Happy Christmas your ass, I pray God it’s our last – to a Mariachi sound
  10. Everly Brothers – Christmas Eve Can Kill You (1972)
    Bah Humbug: Nobody stops for the lost and lonely at Christmas
  11. Homer & Jethro – Santa’s Movin’ On (1968)
    Bah Humbug: Santa, a sad ole man, has a run of bad luck
  12. Brenda Lee – Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day (1964)
    Bah Humbug: No happy Christmas when you’ve just been dumped
  13. Jimmy Witherspoon – How I Hate To See Xmas Come Around (1948)
    Bah Humbug: Santa only brought Jimmy the blues
  14. Miles Davis feat. Bob Dorough – Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern) (1962)
    Bah Humbug: “All the waste, all the sham, all the haste, and plain old bad taste”
  15. Tom Waits – Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis (1978)
    Bah Humbug: Request to borrow money in a Christmas card
  16. The Fall – Xmas With Simon (1991)
    Bah Humbug: “Pity the people in the desert… Pity the people who had too much dessert”
  17. Pet Shop Boys – It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas (1997)
    Bah Humbug: “Christmas is not all it’s cracked up to be”
  18. Little Charlie & The Nightcats – It’s Christmas Time Again (2003)
    Bah Humbug: “Spend, spend, spend!”
  19. Sensational Alex Harvey Band – There’s No Lights On The Christmas Tree… (1972)
    Bah Humbug: An execution puts out the Christmas tree lights
  20. The Damned – There Ain’t No Sanity Clause (1980)
    Bah Humbug: Not really anti Xmas, but putting candy canes up each other’s butts?
  21. Christopher Lee – Jingle Hell (2013)
    Bah Humbug: Veteran actor says it’s a pain to ride in a one horse open sleigh
  22. Eric Idle – Fuck Christmas (2014)
    Bah Humbug: Well, what it says on the box

GET IT!

More Christmas Mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major 1960s Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Any Major 1940s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

Any Major Santa Claus Vol. 1
The Originals: Christmas Edition
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doo Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major X-Mas Blues
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas ABC
Any Major Gals’ Christmas
Any Major Polygot Christmas
Any Major New Year’s
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

Any Major Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 2

December 15th, 2023 1 comment

 

 

In July we celebrated the 80th birthday of Mick Jagger with the Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 1, which covered the first great period of the band. On December 18 we’ll mark the 80th birthday of Keith Richards, with all the by now clichéd memes about his longevity that this will involve. So here is the second Rolling Stones Songbook.

In the linernotes for Volume 1 I raised the subject of Stones lyrics that have aged even worse than Ronnie Woods’ dyed hairstyle. One such problematic track was sort of unavoidable on a mix that covers the Stones’ output of the 1970s. Brown Sugar is a rock masterpiece, but the lyrics are deplorable. They’re racist and sexist, and not only by the standards of a culture removed 50 years from the song’s origin.

Brown Sugar was racist and sexist in 1971 already. Oh, but the riff and the catchy whooping (and Jagger’s terrible diction) seemed to mask all that nastiness. The song couldn’t be excluded, but who the hell would be suitable to cover it on this mix? Happily, Little Richard stepped up in 1971 to solve that dilemma.

So he kicks off the proceedings, followed by a handful of soul covers which give credence to the idea that blues-fans Jagger and Richards had an authentic black musical streak in them. These include a track by Merry Clayton, who was the “backing singer” on Gimme Shelter. In truth, she was really the lead. Here she covers the song alone, without her original backing singers Jagger and Richards, but with Joe Sample on piano.

This collection marks the return of two acts that smell of novelty but are in fact quite wonderful. On the Beatles 1962-66 Recovered mix posted in March, the Finnish band Leningrad Cowboys teamed up with The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble to save Yellow Submarine from spoiling the barrel of Apple. Here they appear with a glorious cover of It’s Only Rock & Roll.

I’ve featured The Twang (not to be confused with the English indie band formed 20 years after this lot) a couple of times in the past. A German band of talented musicians, they turn all sorts of songs into country covers (as they will again on next week’s Christmas mix). Their countrification of pop and rick classics may sound like a joke that’s funny for ten minutes, but that would be to miss the point. Sure, there’s some tongue firmly lodged in the cheek in the reinterpretations, but these covers aren’t played for laughs, like a hillbilly (hillwilhelm?) Richard Cheese. The fine guitar solos on Sympathy For The Devil show that these guys aren’t joking.

At some point there will be a third Rolling Stones Songbook. In the meantime, I think the first two make for some very good listening.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-sugared covers and the text above in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. Little Richard – Brown Sugar (1971)
2. Thelma Houston – Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1969)
3. Maxayn – You Can’t Always Get What You Want (1972)
4. Merry Clayton – Gimme Shelter (1970)
5. Labelle – Wild Horses (1971)
6. Jennifer Warnes – Shine A Light (1976)
7. Rod Stewart – Street Fighting Man (1969)
8. Gram Parsons & The Flying Burrito Bros – Honky Tonk Women (rel. 1976)
9. Linda Ronstadt – Tumbling Dice (1976)
10. Etta James – Miss You (2000)
11. Bettye LaVette – Salt Of The Earth (2010)
12. The Holmes Brothers – Beast Of Burden (1997)
13. Laurie Geltman – Sway (1992)
14. Taylor Dayne – Fool To Cry (2009)
15. Turin Brakes – Moonlight Mile (2004)
16. Over The Rhine – Waiting On A Friend (2010)
17. Yo La Tengo – Emotional Rescue (2016)
18. Leningrad Cowboys & The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble – It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (1994)
19. The Twang – Sympathy For The Devil (2003)

GET IT!

Previous Songbooks:
ABBA
Ashford & Simpson
Barry Gibb Vol. 1
Barry Gibb Vol. 2
Bill Withers
Bob Dylan Volumes 1-5
Brian Wilson
Bruce Springsteen
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 1
Burt Bacharach & Hal David Vol. 2
Burt Bacharach’s Lesser-Known Songbook
Carole Bayer Sager
Carole King Vol. 1
Carole King Vol. 2
Chuck Berry
Cole Porter Vol. 1
Cole Porter Vol. 2
Elton John & Bernie Taupin
George Harrison
Gordon Lightfoot
Hank Williams
Holland-Dozier-Holland
John Prine
Jimmy Webb Vol. 1
Jimmy Webb Vol. 2
Jimmy Webb Vol. 3
Lamont Dozier
Laura Nyro
Leonard Cohen
Neil Diamond
Paul McCartney Vol. 1
Paul McCartney Vol. 2
Prince
Randy Newman
Rod Temperton
Rolling Stones Vol. 1
Sly Stone
Steely Dan

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Categories: Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs, Songbooks Tags:

Any Major 1960s Christmas Vol. 2

December 12th, 2023 3 comments

 

 

The 1960s might have been the zenith of Christmas records, certainly in sheer quantity. Quality is a matter of taste, of course. And when it comes to Christmas music, good taste is really secondary to the spirit these songs can create.

With my 1970s German background, it is essential for me to get me a yuletide fix of Heintje’s Christmas album. I would not play the records of the Dutch child star under any other circumstances, even when I deep-dive into the shadiest nostalgia of late 1960s/early ‘70s schlager fare, as I might do when nobody can see me. But at Christmas, I cheerfully lift my Heintje blacklist, and damn well love it. You may recall that the lad featured last year on Any Major Polygot Christmas, crooning in Dutch.

Of course, in the avalanche of Xmas dross in the 1960s, there were many gems. Some feature on this second volume of Any Major 1960s Christmas (Volume 1 is here). The Phil Spector Christmas album, of course, is a stone-cold classic; two songs from it feature here. One features Fanita James, who died recently, as a third of Bob B Soxx And Blue Jeans. I expect she also did backing vocals on fellow Blossoms member Darlene Love’s wonderful Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).

Another singer who was still with us last Christmas is Tony Bennett, who chips in with a great big band version of Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.

I have run The Flirtations’ superlative Christmas Time Is Here Again before, but it certainly bears repetition. Their appearance is preceded by a grooving instrumental version of Silver Bells by Booker T. & The MG’s. The mix also closes with a groovy wordless interpretation of Silent Night by jazz organist Jimmy Smith, who did a whole album of that sort of thing in 1965 (as did Booker T).

There are still three more mixes coming this month: another Christmas compilation (one for the “Bah Humbug” crowd), a new Songbook, and the annual Any Major Dance mix for you to party like it’s 1083 on New Year’s Eve.

By the way, after the death of Zippy, I have re-upped all past Christmas mixes, which was quite a project. If there is one I missed, let me know in the comments.

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

1. Booker T. & The MG’s – Silver Bells (1967)
2. The Flirtations – Christmas Time Is Here Again (1968)
3. Darlene Love – Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (1963)
4. Aretha Franklin – Winter Wonderland (1964)
5. Tony Bennett – Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1968)
6. Burl Ives – A Holly Jolly Christmas (1965)
7. Sammy Davis Jr. – Christmas Time All Over The World (1965)
8. Dean Martin – Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (1966)
9. Julius La Rosa – We Need A Little Christmas (1966)
10. The Ventures – Frosty The Snowman (1965)
11. The Beach Boys – Christmas Day (1964)
12. Glen Campbell – I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1968)
13. Marty Robbins – Christmas Time Is Here Again (1967)
14. Elvis Presley – If Every Day Was Like Christmas (1966)
15. Danny Thomas – The First Christmas (1967)
16. Bobby Goldsboro – A Christmas Wish (1968)
17. Andy Williams – The Christmas Song (1963)
18. Adam Faith – Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop) (1960)
19. Marlene Dietrich – Candles Glowing (1967)
20. Patti LaBelle & The Bluebells – Blue Christmas (1963)
21. Bob B Soxx And Blue Jeans – Here Comes Santa Claus (1963)
22. The Supremes – My Christmas Tree (1965)
23. Stevie Wonder – One Little Christmas Tree (1967)
24. The Uniques – Please Come Home For Christmas (1966)
25. Solomon Burke – Presents For Christmas (1966)
26. The Staple Singers – The Last Month Of The Year (1962)
27. Baby Washington – White Christmas (1966)
28. James Brown – Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year (1966)
29. Jimmy Smith – Silent Night (1964)

GET IT!

More Christmas Mixes
Any Major Christmas Favourites
Any Major 1980s Christmas
Any Major 1970s Christmas
Any Major 1960s Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major 1950s Christmas
Any Major 1940s Christmas
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2

Any Major Santa Claus Vol. 1
The Originals: Christmas Edition
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Christmas Bells
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Any Major Doo Wop Christmas
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Any Major X-Mas Blues
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
Any Major Christmas ABC
Any Major Gals’ Christmas
Any Major Polygot Christmas
Any Major New Year’s
Song Swarm: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Or all in one place

Categories: X-Mas Tags:

In Memoriam – November 2023

December 5th, 2023 5 comments

It seemed to be a fairly quiet month, without any really big-name deaths. Of course, with the Christmas season in mind, there was the passing Fanita James, who appeared on the Phil Spector’s classic Christmas album as a member of Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans, and of Mars Williams, whose sax work we may hear this festive season on The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping. Then, just as November was about to fade into December, another Christmas song became a tribute, in the form of Fairytale Of New York. I must admit that no music death has hit me as hard as Shane MacGowan’s has since that double whammy of John Prine and Bill Withers in that cursed month April 2020.

The Great Poet
A couple of years ago, Shane MacGowan said in an interview: “I know that I’m going to live to be 88, at least, and I’m still going to feel cheated… but you can’t argue with death.” Death caught up with MacGowan at the age of 65. It was one of the less surprising news of a celebrity passing, but it landed a heavy punch nonetheless, at least for those who have been fans of The Pogues and MacGowan’s lyrics, many of which are pure poetry.

Even in his twenties, MacGowan looked like he was permanently at death’s door. It turns out, he was just ringing its bell and running away. By all accounts, he was the nicest kind of guys, though his battles with alcohol led to his ejection from The Pogues.

What MacGowan and The Pogues did for Irish folk music, at a time when many young Irish people were feeling alienated from it, is said to be immense. Ireland’s president Michael D. Higgins recognised that when he issued a long and thoughtful statement on the passing of MacGowan, who was born in London as the son of Irish immigrants (his mother was a renowned folk singer).

MacGowan was not just a writer of songs; he was a poet. And those wonderful lyrics, though they can stand as poems in their own right, are really inseparable from that voice which could barely hold a tune. You don’t really want somebody else singing a MacGowan song (which is why I haven’t even entertained the idea of doing a Songbook). It might be competent, it might even be good, but the lyrics would lose some of their meaning. I cannot think of many singing songwriters of whom you can say that.

The Blossom
The girl-group hit He’s a Rebel is attributed to The Crystals, but the song was actually recorded by The Blossoms, a trio comprising Darlene Love, Jean King, and Fanita James, who has died at 85. The Blossoms started recording in the 1950s, but never hit the big time. They were, however, sought-after backing singers.

In 1959, they backed Sam Cooke on his Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha (admittedly not Cook’s finest moment). After singing the 1962 chart-topper He’s A Rebel (The Crystals were mortified by being credited for it), The Blossoms did backing vocals on many of the great Phil Spector recordings. They sung vocals on tracks like You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ by The Righteous Brothers, Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett, Ike & Tina Turner’s River Deep – Mountain High, Doris Day’s Move Over Darling, Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life, Betty Everett’s The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss), and many more.

In 1968, they provided backing vocals on Elvis Presley’s comeback TV special, and on the classic 1964 T.A.M.I. show, they backed Marvin Gaye.

Love (then still Darlene Wright) and James (then still Fanita Barrett) were also part of the trio Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans, scoring a hit with Zip-A-Dee Doo Dah.

Throughout the 1960s, The Blossoms periodically released singles — including their own versions of Righteous Brothers hits they had appeared on, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ and Soul And Inspiration — but released only one album, a very good effort titled Shockwave in 1972. James remained a Blossom for almost all of the rest of her life.

The Joke Guitarist
The heading might mislead you to think that Geordie Walker was a novelty performer. That he most certainly was not. As lead guitarist of post-punk legends Killing Joke, he created his own distinctive sound. On the band’s biggest hit, 1985’s Love Like Blood, his three-note opening sounds like a riff from Bach.

Born as Kevin Walker — Geordie was a nickname referring to his northern English origins — he created his distinctive sound on a 1952 Gibson ES-295 hollow body electric guitar. That sound would find an echo in the works of a generation of rock guitarists. Walker later joined up with other post-punk stars for the “supergroups” Damage Manual and Murder Inc.

The Soul Sister
In 1971 Jean Knight had a huge hit with Mr Big Stuff, a song she had recorded a year earlier and which had found no takers until Stax decided to give it a release. It became a million-seller, and is still a go-to track for any movie or TV scene in which a man who thinks he’s a big shot needs some pegging down.

The New Orleans singer didn’t have hits for many years after but made a living from performing. In 1985 she returned to the charts with her version of the zydeco song My Toot-Toot. Denise LaSalle’s concurrent version was a hit in the UK, but Knight’s did better in the US.  According to the Stax Museum, Knight was the label’s top-selling female artist.

The Kool Drummer
Kool’ gang is slowly diminishing. With the death at 74 of drummer George ‘Funky’ Brown, there are now nine departed members. Of the great 1979-82 Kool & The Gang line-up, six of ten members have departed.

Brown was with Kool & The Gang from the band’s founding in 1963 till his death 60 years later. Until 1998 he played the drums and/or percussions, after that he stuck to percussions only. He also co-wrote many of their songs, including hits such as Ladies’ Night, Celebration, Big Fun, Jungle Boogie, Open Sesame, Jones vs. Jones, Take My Heart, and Summer Madness, and on his own the sublime Too Hot (which I had been playing literally minutes before I learnt of the man’s death).

The African Connection
Portugal has lost a wonderful singer in Sara Tavares, who has died of a brain tumour at the young age of 45. The daughter of immigrants from the African island nation of Cabo Verde, Tavares was 16 years old when she won a Portuguese TV singing contest in 1994, performing Whitney Houston’s One Moment In Time. That same year, she won the national decider for Portugal’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. In the international contest she finished 8th.

Tavares fused the sounds of Portugal with those of Africa, especially the gentle Latin-tinged sounds of Cabo Verde, and jazz and pop.

The Woodstock Producer
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969 was supposed to be a money-making operation. But as the crowds uncontrollably descended upon the farm in Bethel, NY, a voice announced from the stage that it would now be a free concert. That voice belonged to John Morris, the Woodstock production coordinator who has died at 84.

From the stage at Woodstock, Morris announced: “What it means is that the people who are backing this thing, who put up the money for it are gonna take a bit of a bath, a big bath. That’s no hype, that’s truth, they’re gonna get hurt. But what it means is that these people who put this thing here, have it in their heads … that your welfare and their welfare is a hell of a lot more important than the music is, than the dollar.”

Before he got involved with Woodstock, Morris was a concert producer for acts like Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and the Grateful Dead, working with the legendary Bill Graham. After Woodstock, he turned London’s venerable Finsbury Park Astoria cinema into the legendary Rainbow Theatre, with The Who the first of many acts who played there for the next ten years. The Who’s song Long Live Rock refers to that first Rainbow gig: “Down at the Astoria the scene was changing, bingo and rock were pushing out x-rating. We were the first band to vomit at the bar and find the distance to the stage too far”.

The Last Pacemaker
With the death of pianist Les Maguire, all members of the classic line-up of Gerry And The Pacemakers are gone. Gerry Marsden died in 2021, Les Chadwick in 20916, and Freddie Marsden in 2006.

The Liverpool band was the first to have UK #1 hits with each of their first three singles, How Do You Do It? (a song first earmarked for The Beatles), I Like It, and You’ll Never Walk Alone. Maguire had just joined the Pacemakers when the band merged with the still unknown Beatles, still with Pete Best, for a one-off performance at Litherland Town Hall as The Beatmakers. Maguire played the sax that night.

The Soul Brother
Last month I posted the South African pop classic Quick Quick by MarcAlex to mark the death of producer Ricky Wolff. On November 9, the first half of the soul duo passed on. Marc Rantseli died at 58 after two weeks in hospital. The Soweto brothers Marc and Alex had a few hits in 1989 and the early 1990s, but then things went quiet around them, despite collaborations with the likes of Hugh Masekela.

The Original
If you lived in Europe in the 1970s, you will have heard the brutally upbeat hit Y Viva Espana in many different versions, some more annoying than others, but all lowest common-denominator schlager fare. Somehow fittingly, the ode to Spain’s longevity emerged not from Franco’s torture cells but from that bastion of finest pop refinement, Belgium. Written by a pair called Leo Caerts and Leo Rozenstraten (the latter made up the word “eviva”, possibly having confused Italian with Spanish, as you do), it was first recorded in Dutch by Samantha, whose death certificate states her civil name, Christiane Bervoets.

Samantha had a long career in Belgium, releasing records between 1967 and 2008, almost all in Dutch, with rare forays into French and German.As always, this post is reproduced in illustrated PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Elvis with The Blossoms at his 1968 TV Special. Fanita James is second from right.

Bill Rice, 84, country songwriter and singer, on Oct. 28
Mickey Gilley – Here Comes The Hurt Again (1978, as co-writer)

Pelle Hökengren, 61, member of Swedish pop group Trance Dance, on Oct. 29
Trance Dance – Don’t Say Go (1987)

Aaron Spears, 47, American drummer on Oct. 30
Chaka Khan – One For All Time (2007, on drums)

Vic Vergeat, 72, Italian rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, on Nov. 1
Vic Vergat – Down To The Bone (1981)

Pierre Dutour, 91, French trumpeter, composer and conductor, on Nov. 1
Pierre Dutour – Modern Life (1974)

Michel Pilz, 78, German jazz clarinettist, on Nov. 2

Pete Garner, 61, bassist of The Stone Roses (1983–87), on Nov. 3
The Stone Roses – So Young (1985)

Manuel Castillo Girón, 83, Honduran singer-songwriter, on Nov. 4

Lolita Rodrigues, 94, Brazilian singer and actress, on Nov. 5
Lolita Rodrigues – Posso Esquecer (1977)

Anne Hart, 90, British actress and singer, on Nov. 5

Sean Martin, 26, singer-guitarist of English indie band The Night Café, announced Nov. 6
The Night Café – The Way Of Mary (2017)

Darlyn Morais, 28, Brazilian singer, on Nov. 6

Dino Piana, 93, Italian jazz musician, on Nov. 6

Heath, 55, bassist of Japanese rock band X Japan, announced Nov. 7
X Japan – Tears (1993)

C-Knight, 52, rapper with G-funk group The Dove Shack, on Nov. 7
The Dove Shack – This Is The Shack (1995)

Hannelore Auer (Kramm), 81, Austrian Schlager singer and actress, on Nov. 8

Thomas Fink, 88, German jazz musician, on Nov. 8

Marc Rantseli, 58, South African singer with duo MarcAlex, on Nov. 9
MarcAlex – My Love, My Life, My Everythin (1990)
MarcAlex feat. Hugh Masekela – I Want My Baby (1995)

Junko Ohashi, 73, Japanese singer, on Nov. 9
Junko Ohashi – Silhouette Romance (1981)

R.L. Boyce, 68, blues musician, on Nov. 9
R.L. Boyce – Coal Black Mattie (2023)

Johnny Ruffo, 35, Australian singer and actor, on Nov. 10

John Morris, 84, Woodstock co-organiser, on Nov. 10
Matthews’ Southern Comfort – Woodstock (1971)
The Who – Long Live Rock (1978)

Conny Van Dyke, 78, singer and actress, on Nov. 11
Connie Van Dyke – Oh Freddy (1963)

Angelita Vargas, 77, Spanish flamenco singer and dancer, on Nov. 11

Luis Carlos Gil, 72, singer with Spanish vocal group Trigo Limpio, on Nov. 11

Kan, 61, Japanese singer-songwriter, on Nov. 12
Kan – Ai Wa Katsu (1990)

Buzy, 66, French singer, on Nov. 14
Buzy – Baby Boum (1987)

Oladips, 28, Nigerian rapper, on Nov. 15

Karl Tremblay, 47, lead singer of Canadian folk group Les Cowboys Fringants, on Nov. 15
Les Cowboys Fringants – Les étoiles filantes (2004)

George ‘Funky’ Brown, 74, songwriter, drummer of Kool & The Gang, on Nov. 16
Kool & The Gang – Wild Is Love (1972, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Sugar (1976, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Ladies’ Night (1980, also as co-writer)
Kool & The Gang – Take My Heart (You Can Have It) (1981, also as co-writer)

Peter Solley, 75, English musician and producer, on Nov. 16
Fox – Imagine Me, Imagine You (1976, as member)
The Romantics – What I Like About You (1979, as producer)

Charlie Dominici, 72, heavy metal singer, on Nov. 17
Dream Theater – Status Seeker (1989, as lead vocalist and co-writer)

Christiane ‘Samantha’ Bervoets, 75, Belgian singer, on Nov. 17
Samantha – Helicopter U.S. Navy 66 (1970)
Samantha – Eviva España (1971)

Sara Tavares, 45, Portuguese singer-songwriter, on Nov. 19
Sara Tavares – Eu Sei… (1999)
Sara Tavares – One Love (2005)
Sara Tavares – Coisas Bunitas (2017)

Larry McKenna, 86, jazz saxophonist, on Nov. 19

Mars Williams, 68, rock and jazz saxophonist (Waitresses, Psychedelic Furs), on Nov. 20
The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping (1981, as member)
The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty In Pink (1986, as member)

Chad Allan, 80, Canadian singer with Guess Who, Brave Belt, on Nov. 21
Chad Allan & The Expressions (Guess Who) – Hey Ho, What You Do To Me (1965)

Horacio Malvicino, 94, Argentine jazz and tango guitarist, composer, on Nov. 21
Horacio Malvicino – Los Mejores Momentos (1972)

Jim Salestrom, 67, singer-songwriter, on Nov. 22

Jean Knight, 80, American singer, on Nov. 22
Jean Knight – Mr. Big Stuff (1970)
Jean Knight – Why I Keep Living These Memories (1970)
Jean Knight – My Toot Toot Long (1984)

Greg ‘Fingers’ Taylor, 71, harmonica player (Jimmy Buffet), on Nov. 23

Fanita James, 85, singer with soul group The Blossoms, on Nov. 23
The Blossoms – He Promised Me (1957, as member)
Doris Days – Move Over Darling (1963, on backing vocals)
The Blossoms – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling (1969)
The Blossoms – Touchdown (1972)

Morten Omlid, 62, Norwegian blues guitarist, on Nov. 24

Julio Anderson, 74, Chilean folk-rock bass guitarist, on Nov. 25
Los Jaivas – Pregon Para Iluminarse (1975, as member)

Yngvar Numme, 79, singer with Norwegian pop group Dizzie Tunes, on Nov. 25

Les Maguire, 81, pianist of Gerry & The Pacemakers, on Nov. 25
Gerry & The Pacemakers – I Like It (1963)
Gerry & The Pacemakers – Ferry Cross The Mersey (1964)

Terry Venables, 80, English football player and coach, occasional singer, on Nov. 25
Terry Venables – What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For? (1974)

Geordie Walker, 64, guitarist of Killing Joke, songwriter, on Nov. 26
Killing Joke – Requiem (1980, also as co-writer)
Killing Joke – Love Like Blood (1985, also as co-writer)
Killing Joke – Jana (1994, also as co-writer)

Jimmy Owens, 93, Christian music songwriter, on Nov. 26

Brian Godding, 78, Welsh rock and jazz guitarist, on Nov. 26
Blossom Toes – Peace Loving Man (1969, as member and writer)
Brian Godding – Happy Endings (1988)

Joseph Meo, jazz saxophonist, announced Nov. 27

Lanny Gordin, 72, Brazilian guitarist and composer, on Nov. 28
Lanny Gordin – Tomati (2001)

John Colianni, 61, jazz pianist, on Nov. 28
Mel Tormé – The Christmas Song (1992, on piano)

Scott Kempner, 69, rhythm guitarist of rock band The Dictators, on Nov. 29
The Dictators – What It Is (1978, also as co-writer)

Shane MacGowan, 65, singer and songwriter of The Pogues, on Nov. 30
The Pogues – Sally MacLennane (Live on the John Peel Show, 1984, also as writer)
The Pogues – The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn (1985, also as writer)
The Pogues – Thousands Are Sailing (1988)
The Pogues & The Dubliners – Whiskey In The Jar (1990)
Shane MacGowan & The Popes – The Song With No Name (1993, also as writer)

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