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Any Major Bizarre Beatles

February 16th, 2024 8 comments

 

With this month’s 60th anniversary of The Beatles’ invasion of the US with their three appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, it seems suitable to recycle (with a couple of tweaks) this collection from 2014, which testifies to the hype there was around the band.

 

The Bulldoggs – John, Paul, George & Ringo (1964)
The Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. It was seen by over 73 million viewers. They returned the following week, and on February 23, the show screened a recording from the February 9 session. And just like that, Beatlemania had gripped the US. A pair of British songwriters, Bill Crompton and Morgan Jones, took it upon themselves to educate the US public about their four compatriots by way of a rather poor pastiche of the Beatles sound, drawing on assorted yeah-yeah-yeah’s, whooo’s and Paul-screams and guitar chords which would be a staple of the new genre of Beatles-related songs.

The Hi-Riders – Stamp Out The Beatles (1964)
Obviously, not everybody was excited about these shaggy-haired louts from England invading the godfearing US of A to corrupt the virgins of the Land of the Free. It is said that Elvis Presley’s ever-charming manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, produced pro- and anti-Beatles merchandise to cash in on the split sentiments. By June 1964, The Hi-Riders arrived on the scene to deliver the promise to stamp out The Beatles. History shows that The Hi-Riders succeeded in their scheme, and went to on to become the biggest band in the world. Sixty years later, a blog named after a Steely Dan song compiled a playlist called Any Major Bizarre Hi-Riders.

Sonny Curtis – A Beatle I Want To Be (1964)
Given The Beatles obsession with Buddy Holly, it must have been a pretty cool tribute when Buddy’s successor as singer of The Crickets surfed the Beatles Invasion wave. Sonny Curtis, in the song he co-wrote with Lou Adler, even samples bits of their music as he sings and raps about “A little British bug from across the way, talks like Southern USA”. Curtis educates the listener about history (and in 1964, the year 1956 must have seemed a lifetime ago): “Remember what happened when Elvis came? One little wiggle and the whole world changed. So mamas and papas lend me your ear, lock up your daughters ’cause a Beatle is here.”

Bonnie Jo Mason (Cher) – Ringo, I Love You (1964)
A future star recording Beatles-related material under a different name was Cher, who in 1964 sought to buy into the Zeitgeist by declaring her love for the drummer. Before her brief stint as Bonnie Jo Mason, Cherilyn Sarkasian sang backing vocals on classics such as The Ronettes’ Be My Baby, The Chiffons’ Da Doo Ron Ron and the Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling — and it was the producer of those songs, Phil Spector, who co-wrote and produced Ringo, I Love You. After that, she recorded as plain Cherilyn and in a duo as Cleo to Sonny Bono’s Caesar. Within just over a year of releasing Ringo, I Love You, Sonny & Cher were stars. The flipside of the Ringo anthem was an instrumental titled Beatles Blues, a deliberately bad song placed on the B-side to deter DJs from ignoring the A-side, as they often did. The ploy backfired: apparently radio DJs were thrown by Bonnie Jo’s deep voice and refused to play what they thought was a gay declaration of affection for the Beatles drummer..

Ella Fitzgerald – Ringo Beat (1964)
There were loads of Ringo-themed songs in the mid-’60s, apparently some 50 of them. They included The Rainbows’ My Ringo, Christine Hunter’s Santa, Bring Me Ringo, Treat Him Tender, Maureen by Angie & The Chicklettes, Al Fisher & Lou Marks’ Ringo Ringo Little Star, Three Blond Mice’s Ringo Bells, The Whippets’ Go Go Go With Ringo, Neil Sheppard’s You Can’t Go Far Without A Guitar (Unless You’re Ringo Starr), Ringo Did It by Veronica Lee, I Want To Kiss Ringo Goodbye by Penny Valentine, and Bingo Ringo by Daws Butler (who voiced Huckleberry Hound). Even Ella Fitzgerald got in on the act with Ringo Beat, a rather nice number written by Ella herself (one of her 27 compositions), which naturally features a “yeah yeah” reference and namechecks other contemporary popsters..

The Young World Singers – Ringo For President (1964)
Released in August 1964, the Young World Singers in their cover of the vile Rolf Harris’ song sought to offer an alternative to Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater in that year’s elections for US president, evidently oblivious to the rule that disqualifies those not born in the United States from standing as candidates. And since Ringo was a Kenyan Muslim… In any case, it is doubtful that Ringo, who has acknowledged his limitations in intellectual pursuits, would have been a great president (though the US voters elected a man of even less cerebral qualities to the presidency in 2004).

Of course, it wasn’t cleverness the Young World Singers and the others engaged in the Ringo For President campaign were looking for in their candidate: “He’s our candidate ’cause he makes us feel so great. We could talk about war out on the big dance floor. Oh my gee, oh my gingo…if I could vote, I’d vote for Ringo!” Asked at a press conference in August 1964 about the Ringo For President campaign, Starr admitted: “I’m not sort of politically minded.” Asked whether he would appoint the other Beatles to his cabinet, the conversation descends into a typical Beatlesque farce, with George interjecting: “I could be the door”, and John nominating himself to serve as the cupboard.

Don Bowman – The Other Ringo (1966)
In the early ’60s, there was a popular cowboy hit titled Ringo, recorded by Bonanza star Lorne Green (the Cartwright patriarch), which Don Bowman parodied to coincide with the height of Beatlemania. Bowman notes the death of the old Ringo and the rise of the Beatle by the same name. He seems to be taken particularly with the length of Ringo’s hair. Bowman, who died in 2013, was a country singer, comedian, TV presenter and DJ who recorded this rather amusing novelty number for his 1966 LP titled Funny Way To Make An Album, which also included a song called Freddy Four Toes. Bowman clearly did not compromise his comedy with artistic credibility: other LPs were titled Fresh From The Funny Farm (1965), Recorded Almost Live (1966), Support Your Local Prison (1967) and Still Fighting Mental Health (1979).

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Dick Lord – Like Ringo (1965)
Don Bowman wasn’t the only one to make the connection between Lorne Greene’s hit and the Beatles drummer. The magnificently-named Dick Lord was not a porn actor but a comedian. At the time of recording Like Ringo, Dick Lord was a close friend of the great Bobby Darin. In the song, Dick Lord’s girlfriend is rather obsessed with the Beatles drummer, and Dick Lord’s exasperation at being rejected by the obsessed fan turns to ingenuity as he adopts the Ringo look. Eventually Dick Lord’s girlfriend returns to Dick Lord, informing him tearfully that her Ringo infatuation is over. A great punchline awaits, and I shall not spoil it..

The Bon Bons – What’s Wrong With Ringo? (1964)
A persistent rumour has it that the Bon Bons were the Shangri-Las by another name. It is, alas, not true. What’s Wrong With Ringo was released before the Shangri-Las’ debut single, Remember (Walking In The Sand), was issued on Red Birds Records in September 1964. The Ringo song was released on the Coral label, the Decca subsidiary that had also issued records by Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline and The Vogues, but never had the Weiss and Ganser sisters under contract.

The Ringo song was not the Bon Bons’ only release; also in 1964 Coral issued the follow-up single Everybody Wants My Boyfriend. Anyway, the question of the song’s title concerns the shortage of Beatles songs sung by Ringo. It seems the record-buying public did not share their concern, and so ignored this quite catchy girl-group record (which includes, of course, the “yeah yeah yeah yeah” thing).

The Swans – The Boy With The Beatle Hair (1964)
The Twiliters – My Beatle Haircut (1964)
When The Beatles arrived at JFK Airport in New York in February 1964, they held a press conference, with a Pan Am sign providing the backround. An intrepid reporter asked whether the boys would get a haircut during their stay in the States. John, Paul and Ringo just about avoided responding with the words: “Fuck off.” George Harrison deadpanned: “No, I had one yesterday.” The obsession with the Fabs’ mushroom-heads was intense. Little did those who were exited about these hairdos know what hirsute transgressions were to come before the next Olympics would be held.

Buying into that obsession about hair were a soul duo called The Swans and the better-known doo wop group The Twiliters. The Swans were Jeanne and Tina Thomas, and their song about the boy with the Beatle hair was co-written by Kenneth Gamble, future Philly soul supremo. Jeanne/Tina adore the boy with the Beatle hairstyle and wish he’d come and talk to her at school. Maybe the by is the lead singer of The Twiliters, who will defy all to continue wearing his Beatle haircut.

Frank Sinatra – Maureen Is A Champ (1968)
This tribute to Mrs Ringo is not only a great novelty item, but also something of a historical artifact: it’s the first record to be catalogued on the Beatles’ Apple label — its number being Apple 1 (Hey Jude was the first Apple release, but it wasn’t catalogued). Only a few copies, some say only one, of Maureen Is A Champ were made on acetate before the master tape was destroyed, because this was a private recording to mark Maureen’s 22nd birthday.

Maureen was a big Sinatra fan, so a train of events was set in motion, apparently by Beatles business manager Peter Brown, which involved the great Sammy Cahn rewriting Lorenz Hart’s lyrics for The Lady Is A Tramp, and Frank Sinatra — who by that point was a Beatles fan (and covered several of their songs) — singing the reworked number, with Cahn on piano. We can assume that when Ringo presented his wife with that special record on 4 August 1968, she probably was quite pleased.

Rainbo (Sissy Spacek) – John, You Went Too Far This Time (1968)
Before she became famous as an actress, including her singing role as country singer Loretta Lynn, Sissy Spacek tried to become a folk singer, releasing a solitary single under the trite moniker Rainbo (which she apparently disliked) before being fired by her label for not being a best-seller. The John whom Sissy Rainbow addresses on this breathtakingly bad record would be Mr Lennon, and his transgression would be letting it all hang out post-coitally on the cover of Two Virgins, his avant garde nonsense recorded with Yoko Ono, who also appears naked on the cover.

Sissy loves John and forgives him many things, but she is not one who would endorse exhibitions of public nudity — and in this particular instance I am inclined to concur with her, purely on aesthetic grounds. John and Yoko were not attractive naked people. But if Lennon went too far on a record sleeve, then Spacek (and the chaps who wrote this bizarre thing, John Marshall and Ronald Dulka) overstepped the boundaries of musical decency with that chorus, which supposedly was meant to evoke the Beatles sound.

In 1983 Spacek released a full country album, titled Hangin’ Up My Heart. She was fully clothed on the cover.

Mystery Tour – Ballad Of Paul (1969)
Terry Knight – Saint Paul (1964)

The initial Paul Is Dead rumour preceded the release of Abbey Road by a week. The album’s cover “confirmed” that Macca was indeed dead, but the story began with an error-filled student newspaper article publishd on 18 September 1969 by one Tim Harper for the Drake University’s Times-Delphic. From Harper’s fertile imagination sprang a wild conspiracy theory which caused quite a hysteria. There is an 8-CD series of radio recordings covering in detail the reaction to Paul’s death. The moderately talented Mystery Tour (yes, Mystery Tour) explained why the evidence of Paul’s death, with reference to the Abbey Road cover, of course (apparently left-handers are incapable of smoking with their right hand). We also learn that “John Lennon is a holy man [who]provided lots of clues” as to the conspiracy of Paul’s death and its cover-up. This site has all the answers: it was them Rolling Stones wot dun Paul in, Constable.

Record producer and general music pusher Terry Knight’s single came out before the Paul Is Dead hoax started. He had met the Beatles at a fraught time during the White Album sessions in 1968. Convinced that the Beatles would break up soon, he wrote Saint Paul. His single was released in May 1969, before Harper’s article. Once the rumour had gathered pace, however, Knight’s single was presented as an obituary to Paul, feeding the rumour mill further. Knight himself became the subject of obituaries when he was murdered in 2004 while protecting his daughter from a clearly unsuitable boyfriend.

Mae West – Twist And Shout (1967)
Mae West – Day Tipper (1967)

We’re having Mae West warbling Twist And Shout, so how might the septuagenarian top that? Why, by doing Day Tripper, of course. Her interpretation, as it turned out, was unnecessary, because time has shown the Beatles’ original to be quite adequate, even without the sub-Jimi Hendrix antics at 1:13, which morph into a Chuck Berry-lite solo, and Ms West’s seductive moanings. Her 1966 cover of From Me To You appeared on Please Please Me Recovered.

Big Daddy – A Day In The Life (1992)
Big Daddy aren’t really bizarre; they are inventive re-interpreters of Beatles songs. Still, one has to arrive at the idea to cover A Day In The Life in the style of Buddy Holly, and have balls of steel to end the song with what sounds like a crash.

Keith Moon – When I’m Sixty-Four (1976)
In 1976, The Who’s drummer and Beatles pal Keith Moon contributed his take on McCartney’s music hall number to a documentary titled All This and World War II. The docu scored World War II footage with covers of Beatles songs, by some of music greatest names of the time, including Elton John, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Status Quo, Leo Sayer, Bryan Ferry and so on. And Keith Moon, who quite cleverly recreated the recorded sound of the 1920s for McCartney’s music hall number from Sgt Pepper’s. Except that even in the 1920s, singers were expected to be able to hold a tune. As for the documentary, the concept was to contrast the innocence of The Beatles’ music with the harsh realities of war. Which is an idea one can have but need not necessarily put into practice.

Peter Sellers – She Loves You (1965)
Peter Sellers — a Goon Show alumnus, of course — recorded a series of comedy versions of Beatles songs, some funnier than others, in 1965. His masterpiece is his teutonic take on She Loves You, performed in the character of Dr Strangelove, whose 60th anniversary we are also observing this year (“She said you hhhuuurrrrt her so”… “Gut!”). Recorded some time around 1965, it was released only in 1981..

Peter Sellers – A Hard Day’s Night (1965)
Sellers performs A Hard Day’s Night in the manner of Laurence Olivier as Shakespeare’s Richard III. Released as a single in late 1965 (backed with his take on Help), it reached #14 in the British charts in early 1966. It was obviously too early for Nazi spoofs.

Mrs Miller – A Hard Day’s Night (1966)
Bless Mrs Miller. She was serious and entirely unironic about her singing, but also possessed the self-awareness to know that she was a bit of a joke. She did her limited best, and was aware that there was no consensual admiration of her singing chops. Though she never intended to create comedy — she was motivated to disseminate her art widely as a way of inspiring others — she knew that her cult status was based on listeners deriving amusement from her stylings. Her version of Hard Day’s Night is notable for her lapses in timing and the aggressive licence she takes with reaching the right notes.

The Woofers And Tweeters Ensemble – Love Me Do (1983)
The torture began with an outfit called The Bulldogs, and it ends with canines barking Love Me Do, supported by assorted farm animals. It’s one of the better musical moments on this collection.

This collection fits on a standard CD-R (if you really must), includes a home-whooo’d covers, and the above text in PDF. PW in comments.

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More great Beatles stuff:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles
Beatles Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 1
Beatles Album tracks and B-Sides Vol. 2
Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Photographs (1974)

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Any Major B-Side

November 16th, 2023 18 comments

Any Major B-Sides

This mix of great b-sides to (mostly) hit singles was first run in August 2015. As usual, I set myself a few rules in selecting tracks. The b-side must not have become a hit after being flipped, as many classic songs have been. So, for example, Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, originally the b-side to Substitute, doesn’t qualify. I also discounted double a-sides, such as Elvis’ Don’t Be Cruel which in some countries was an actual b-side (and here one might pick an argument whether I ought to have disqualified The Jams’ The Butterfly Collector). B-sides that are famous in their own right, such as The Beatles’ Rain or Beth by Kiss, or are famous album tracks were also excluded.

One track here actually was initially an a-side: The Beach Boys‘ Don’t Worry Baby was released in 1964 as the lead, backed with I Get Around. The radio DJs quite rightly flipped the single; as a consequence I Get Around was the a-side in countries outside the US.

Some singles had different b-sides in different countries. My German copy of Blondie‘s X-Offender was backed with Man Overboard, but in most countries the flip side was the excellent In The Sun. The single version was a shorter mix of the song that appeared on the debut album. The sublime X-Offender, which was a commercial flop, later appeared as a b-side itself, on the Rip Her To Shreds single.

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Fleetwood Mac‘s Silver Springs is perhaps the finest non-hit, non-on-classic-album-featuring b-sides ever. Written by Stevie Nicks for the Rumours album, it was dumped for length, much to Nicks’ frustration, and instead used as a b-side to Go Your Own Way. On that great album, it would have been a highlight (maybe instead of Oh Daddy or Gold Dust Woman); latter CD releases include it as a bonus track.

Color Him Father — which featured on Any Major Fathers and Any Major Soul 1969 Vol. 1 — was the Grammy-winning 1969 hit for The Winstons, but it was the b-side that had the impact. The drum break of Amen Brother, an instrumental interpretation of Jester Hairson’s Amen song in the film Lilies of the Field, is said to be the most sampled piece of music ever. Played by Gregory Coleman, it’s 1:23 minutes into the song.

And that”s almost the length of Culture Club‘s That”s The Way. A longer version appears on the Color By Numbers album; the version included here is the actual b-side of Karma Chameleon, which ends rather abruptly before Helen Terry’s vocals kick in. I admit that on this mix, I’m using the LP version.

Al Green‘s Strong As Death has a tragic back story. Apparently he wrote the song for his girlfriend Mary Woodson and recorded it on the very day — 18 October 1974 — she threw a pot of boiling grits at the singer, causing the singer second-degree burns on his arms, stomach and back. She then ran to the bedroom and allegedly killed herself with Green’s gun (there are some who claim it wasn’t a suicide). It was this episode that made Green become the Singing Reverend. Other sources say Green recorded Sha La La (Make Me Happy), but that’s not as good a story as a lyric that goes: “We don’t have that much time, there’s no need in us crying. Hey baby, I’m in the mood for love.”

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

1. Blondie – In The Sun (1976 – b-side of X-Offender)
2. The Jam – The Butterfly Collector (1979 – Strange Town)
3. Depeche Mode – But Not Tonight (Extended Remix) (1986 – Stripped)
4. Culture Club – That’s The Way (1983 – Karma Chameleon)
5. Fleetwood Mac – Silver Springs (1977 – Go Your Own Way)
6. Bruce Springsteen – Shut Out The Light (1984 – Born In The USA)
7. Harry Nilsson – Gotta Get Up (1972 – Without You)
8. Steely Dan – Any Major Dude Will Tell You (1974 – Rikki Don’t Lose That Number)
9. Badfinger – Carry On Till Tomorrow (1970 – No Matter What)
10. Nancy Sinatra – The City Never Sleeps At Night (1965 – These Boots Are Made…)
11. The Beach Boys – Don’t Worry Baby (1964 – I Get Around)
12. The Walker Brothers – But I Do (1965 – Make It Easy On Yourself)
13. The Rolling Stones – Long Long While (1966 – Paint It, Black)
14. The Troggs – I Want You (1966 – With A Girl Like You)
15. The Winstons – Amen Brother (1969 – Color Him Father)
16. Otis Redding – The Happy Song (Dum Dum) (1966 – Open The Door)
17. Al Green – Strong As Death (Sweet As Love) (1975 – Oh Me Oh My)
18. Hot Chocolate – You’re A Natural High (1974 – Disco Queen)
19. KC & the Sunshine Band – I Betcha Didn’t Know That (1979 – Don’t Go)
20. Wham! – Blue (Armed With Love) (1983 – Club Tropicana)
21. David Bowie – Velvet Goldmine (1972 – on 1975 reissue of Space Oddity)
22. New Order – 1963 (1987 – True Faith)
23. The Smiths – Jeane (1983 – This Charming Man)
24. The Pogues – Wild Rover (1985 – Sally MacLennane)

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Song Swarm: Papa Was A Rolling Stone

September 5th, 2023 16 comments

In Motown’s happy family it was common that the same songs would be recorded by different artists. So it is with Papa Was A Rolling Stone, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong.

The Undisputed Truth, who may be remembered for their hit Smiling Faces Sometimes (which was originally recorded by the Temptations), recorded Papa Was A Rolling Stone as a single release in 1971. It did not perform well, peaking at #63 in the US charts. A year later, Whitfield gave the song to The Temptations when he produced their 1972 All Directions album on which it appeared as a 12-minute workout of the kind that recalled the epic soul symphonies of Isaac Hayes (though the Undisputed Truth version sounds more like an Ike arrangement). The shortened single version went on to top the US charts. The original is discussed further in Any Major Originals: Motown Edition.

The Temptations line-up for that period differed significantly from that of the 1970s glory days, with only Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin remaining. Dennis Edwards had replaced David Ruffin; Richard Street, who had been a member of a Temptations precursor, had replaced the troubled Paul Williams; and Damon Harris had replaced Eddie Kendricks.

The Temptations perform Papa Was A Rolling Stone on Soul Train in 1973.

Recorded in June 1972 and released the following month, all but Otis Williams took lead vocals on Papa Was A Rolling Stone (see below), backed by Motown’s in-house session band, The Funk Brothers, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It topped the US charts, but only made #14 in the UK, two positions lower than the Was (Not Was) 1990 cover.

Cover versions sprung up almost immediately. The earliest featured here is by jazz multi-instrumentalist Jay Berliner, in 1972. The same year Stevie Wonder performed it on TV, using the then little known vocoder. Billy Wolfer’s electronic version in 1982 featured the artist on the vocoder, and Michael Jackson — who had been party to the Jackson 5’s live cover in 1973 — contributing to the background vocals. In 1996 Isaac Hayes, who clearly influenced Whitfield in both of his versions, finally got around to recording Papa Was A Rolling Stone, live with Soul II Soul.

A couple of other versions of the 30 featured here are worth mentioning. Malik Adouane gives it the Arab-Funk treatment, and Los Lobos’ soft acoustic version is quite splendid. I’ll spare us the recent versions by Phil Collins and Craig David.

Back to The Temptation’s version, here are the vocal leads:

Dennis Edwards:
It was the third of September.
That day I’ll always remember, yes I will.
‘Cause that was the day that my daddy died.
I never got a chance to see him.
Never heard nothing but bad things about him.
Mama, I’m depending on you, tell me the truth.
And Mama just hung her head and said,

Dennis Edwards: It was the third of September. That day I’ll always remember.

ALL (lead Edwards)
“Son, Papa was a rolling stone.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.
Papa was a rolling stone, my son.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.”

Edwards
Well, well.
Hey Mama, is it true what they say,
that Papa never worked a day in his life?

Melvin Franklin: And that ain”t right.

Melvin Franklin
And Mama, bad talk going around town
saying that Papa had three outside children and another wife.
And that ain’t right.

Richard Street
Heard some talk about Papa doing some store front preaching.
Talking about saving souls and all the time leeching.
Dealing in debt and stealing in the name of the Lord.
Mama just hung her head and said,

All (lead Street)
“Papa was a rolling stone, my son.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.
Hey, Papa was a rolling stone.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.”

Richard Street (left) and Damon Harris, both died in February 2013

Damon Harris
Hey Mama, I heard Papa call himself a jack of all trade,
Tell me is that what sent Papa to an early grave?
Folk say Papa would beg, borrow, steal to pay his bill.
Richard Street
Hey Mama, folk say that Papa was never much on thinking,
Spent most of his time chasing women and drinking.
Damon Harris
Mama, I’m depending on you to tell me the truth.
Mama looked up with a tear in her eye and said,
All (lead Harris)
“Son, Papa was a rolling stone.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.
Papa was a rolling stone.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.
I said, Papa was a rolling stone. Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.”

Here are the featured versions:

The Undisputed Truth (1971) • The Temptations (1972) • Stevie Wonder (1972) • Jay Berliner • Fausto Papetti (1973) • The Pioneers (1973) • Roy Ayers (1973) • The Jackson 5 (1973) • The Temptations (live, 1973) • Gene Ammons (1973) • Sidney, George and Jackie (1973) • 20th Century Steel Band (1975) • Bill Wolfer (1982) • Precious Wilson (1983) • Was (Not Was) (1990) • South Central Cartel (1992) • Isaac Hayes & Soul II Soul (1996) • Third World (1996) • Los Lobos (1999) • Paul Bollenback (1999) • Ray Brown, John Clayton, Christian McBride (2001) • Malik Adouane (2002) • Lee Ritenour feat Lisa Fischer & Chris Botti (2003) • Leningrad Cowboys (2003) • Rare Earth (2005) • Horace Andy (2005) • Gilbert Montagné (2006) • Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (2009) • Papa John Defrancesco (2011)

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And more pictures from Soul Train on my Flickr series.

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Any Major Blue-Eyed Soul

June 27th, 2023 6 comments

 

 

(This post is recycled from February 2019)

The term commonly used for white people doing R&B, or music influenced by the genre, is “blue-eyed soul”. I’m not sure I like the term much, because it suggests that only black people are able to produce authentic soul music. This mix shows that this notion is nonsense.

This lot of songs draws from, the period 1964-73, the prime of soul music. For the challenge of it, I’ve even left out some obvious choices, such as the Righteous Brothers, The Four Seasons or Motown’s Chris Clark. And not all of the acts here were strictly or always soul, but they all produced records that nonetheless merit inclusion in the genre. Including the effort by a future country superstar.

 

Linda Lyndell, targetted by racist assholes for singing soul music.

One of the artists here had her career destroyed by the Ku Klax Klan. Linda Lyndell was beginning to enjoy some success on Stax records with the original version of the Salt N Pepa hit What A Man when death threats by the KKK, which objected to a white woman singing black music on a black label, persuaded her to go into retirement. She made a comeback much later, and still performs occasionally.

Another white singer, from a country background, once recorded soul music before selling records by the shedload to audiences which included KKK types. Charlie Rich started his career in the late 1950s as a rock & roll singer. In the mid-1960s he branched out into soul, recording with Willie Mitchell at Hi Records, including the original recording of the Sam & Dave classic When Something Is Wrong With My Baby (which went unreleased until 1988). The Silver Fox escaped commercial success as a soul singer and the wrath of racists, and went on to become the self-appointed guardian of pure country.

Another exponent of blue-eyed soul who went country was Roy Head, whose Treat Her Right is something of a blue-eyed soul anthem, having been kept off the US #1 by The Beatles’ Yesterday.

On December 9, 1967, Mitch Ryder played with Otis Redding on a Cleveland TV station (the song was Knock On Wood.) The following day, Otis Redding died in a plane crash. Had Otis lived, he might well have made a star of a white teenage kid with a real soul voice whom he had discovered in Pittsburgh, Johnny Daye. In the event, Daye released just a few singles on Stax before retiring from music in 1968. The featured song is the flip side of his best-known song, What’ll I Do for Satisfaction (which Janet Jackson covered in 1993 as What’ll I Do).

 

Bob Kuban & The In-Men, with the ill-fated lead singer Walter Scott in front.

Bob Kuban & The In-Men occupy a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s one-hit wonder exhibit for their 1966 #12 hit The Cheater, which features here. The eponymous Bob Kuban was the bandleader and drummer. The singer on The Cheater was Walter Scott. In a cruel twist of irony, Scott was murdered with premeditation in 1983 by his wife’s lover, who had also killed his own wife. There’s another murder coming up later.

We know Robert John better for his 1979 hit Sad Eyes (which featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 1). He had enjoyed his first chart action as a 12-year-old in 1958 under his birth-name, Bobby Pedrick Jr. His claim to blue-eyed soulness dates to his short-lived time at A&M records, which saw the release of only two singles.

Jimmy Beaumont was the lead singer of the doo wop band The Skyliners – who had hits with their superb Since I Don’t Have You and Pennies Of Heaven – before he tried his hand as a soul singer. Commercial success eluded him, but soul aficionados know to appreciate his vocal stylings. Later life Beaumont returned to The Skyliners, whom he fronted until his death in 2017.

We have a few UK artists doing their soulful thing; Dusty Springfield‘s meddling in the genre is well-known, especially her Dusty In Memphis album, whence the featured track comes. Kiki Dee is less celebrated for her soul exploits (and internationally most famous for her 1976 duet with Elton John, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart). Early in her career, Kiki Dee was styled as a Spectoresque girl singer. She also did backing vocals for Dusty Springfield. She was doing well enough as a soul singer to become the first white British artist to be signed by Motown in 1970. Other UK acts featured here are the Spencer Davis Group and Junior Campbell, whom I introduced in the Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 9 post.

 

South African soul singer Una Valli, pictured in 1964.

Geographically most remote is South Africa’s Una Valli, who as a white woman singing black music probably did not earn the love of the apartheid regime. Valli performed almost exclusively cover versions of soul and pop songs. In any other world, she might have become a stone-cold soul legend (she previously featured on Covered With Soul Vol. 6 and Vol. 11 and Covered With Soul: Beatles Edition). Stop Thief is one of her more obscure covers, a Carla Thomas b-side written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. Half of Valli’s 1968 album Soul Meeting was recorded with the backing of a pop group called The Peanut Butter Conspiracy; the other half (including Stop Thief) with a soul-funk band called The Flames, whose Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin later joined the Beach Boys on three albums.

Two years after the featured song by Bill Deal and the Rhondels was released, saxophonist Freddy Owens joined the group. In 1979 the band was playing in Richmond, Virginia, when Owens was shot dead in the pursuit of a man who had raped his wife. Bill Deal never really got over that and four years later quit the music industry. He died in 2003.

Several of the songs featured here were favourites on England’s Northern Soul scene, in which DJs would compete to find the most obscure 1960s soul records to be played in specialist clubs which were located mostly in northern England. The most famous venue in this sub-culture, which had its own dress codes and dancing styles, was the Wigan Casino. When the venue closed in 1981, Dean Parrish‘s I’m On My Way was the last record to be played there. Six years earlier, the popularity of the 1967 tune on the Northern Soul scene had led to its re-release, selling a million copies in the UK – and Parrish earned no money from it.

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

1. The O’Kaysions – The Soul Clap (1968)
2. Soul Survivors – Expressway To Your Heart (1967)
3. The Young Rascals – A Girl Like You (1967)
4. Robert John – Raindrops, Love And Sunshine (1970)
5. Bill Deal and the Rhondels – What Kind Of Fool Do You Think I Am (1969)
6. Charlie Rich – Don’t Tear Me Down (1966)
7. Johnny Daye – I Need Somebody (1968)
8. Linda Lyndell – What A Man (1969)
9. Roy Head – Treat Her Right (1965)
10. Sunday Funnies – Whatcha Gonna Do (When The Dance Is Over) (1967)
11. Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels – Sock It To Me Baby (1967)
12. Bob Kuban & The In-Men – The Cheater (1966)
13. Jimmy Beaumont – I Never Loved Her Anyway (1966)
14. Flaming Ember – The Empty Crowded Room (1971)
15. The Box Tops – Turn On A Dream (1967)
16. Kiki Dee – On A Magic Carpet Ride (1968)
17. Laura Nyro – Stoned Soul Picnic (1968)
18. Dusty Springfield – Just A Little Lovin’ (1969)
19. The Illusion – Falling In Love (1969)
20. Una Valli and The Flames – Stop Thief (1968)
21. The Monzas – Instant Love (1964)
22. Len Barry – 1-2-3 (1965)
23. The Grass Roots – Midnight Confessions (1967)
24. Junior Campbell – Sweet Illusion (1973)
25. Dean Parrish – I’m On My Way (1967)
26. The Spencer Davis Group – I’m A Man (1967)
27. Chi Coltrane – Thunder And Lightning (1971)
28. Tommy James & The Shondells – Crystal Blue Persuasion (1969)

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Any Major Morning Vol. 2

April 27th, 2023 9 comments

Any Major Morning_2

Last week I reposted ago I recycled from August 2013 one of the Any Major CD-R mixes I have listened to more than most other collection of music, Any Major Morning Vol. 1. Likewise, I have have played the present, second morning mix many, many times. It’s that good, and it is high time I re-share it with you, having originally run in August 2014.

The previous mix simply featured songs with the word “morning” in the title, provided the lyrics were set in the morning. The titles in this lot don’t all include the word “morning”, but they abide broadly by the latter rule. So I disqualify songs like Touch Me In The Morning or Angel Of The Morning wherein the singer is anticipating behaviours that still lie ahead. I’ve not been steadfast with that rule; the Crash Test Dummies survived it, as did Hall & Oates.

Obviously I have tried to avoid songs that use the idea of “morning” as a metaphor, so no It’s Morning Britain by Aztec Camera. And, Faron Young: 4 am is hardly “morning”, chum.

I’m surprised by how few songs there are about that great morning activity: breakfasts. The songs included here are not exactly about croissants and flapjacks (unless those can be applied as euphemisms), though the cute and amusing K’s Choice song sort of is.

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

1. The Beatles – Good Morning Good Morning (1967)
2. The Pretty Things – She Says Good Morning (1968)
3. Big Star – Watch The Sunrise (1972)
4. Richie Havens – Morning, Morning (1968)
5. Badfinger – Sweet Tuesday Morning (1971)
6. Daryl Hall & John Oates – When The Morning Comes (1973)
7. Neil Diamond – Deep In The Morning (1969)
8. Jimmy James & The Vagabonds – Good Day Sunshine (1968)
9. Chuck Jackson – I Wake Up Crying (1961)
10. The Rascals – A Beautiful Morning (1968)
11. The Monkees – Sometime In The Morning (1967)
12. Dusty Springfield – Breakfast in Bed (1969)
13. Gil Scott-Heron – I Think I’ll Call It Morning (1971)
14. The Bar Kays – Memphis At Sunrise (1972)
15. Bill Withers – Lovely Day (1977)
16. The Partridge Family – I Woke Up In Love This Morning (1971)
17. Glen Campbell – Sunflower (1977)
18. George Strait – Amarillo By Morning (1982)
19. Cowboy Junkies – Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning (1990)
20. Crash Test Dummies – Get You In The Morning (1999)
21. The Boo Radleys – Wake Up Boo! (1995)
22. Eels – Saturday Morning (2003)
23. Richard Hawley – As The Dawn Breaks (2009)
24. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Someday Some Morning Sometime (2000)
25. K’s Choice – Breakfast (1993)
26. Norah Jones – Sunrise (2004)

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Any Major Morning Vol. 1

April 20th, 2023 16 comments

Any Major Morning

[This is a repost from August 2013. This mix and its follow-up are among my all-time Any Major CD-R mixes, so after almost a decade, it’s good to recycle them.]

Here’s a mix I have played more often than perhaps any I have ever done on this site. I dreamed it up, almost literally, when I had to drop my son at the airport for a red-eye flight. Trying to cheer myself up, I sang the Good Morning song from Singin’ In The Rain, Good Day Sunshine by The Beatles, and “It’s Four In The Morning by Faron Young. Funny enough, none of these made it into this eclectic mix.

It kicks off with the full version of the song you’ll know as the theme to The Sopranos, by London band Alabama 3. I hope you’ll have better mornings than the subjects of the song. It’s based on the 1989 killing of English wife-beater Malcolm Thornton by his wife Sarah, who stabbed him 20 times. A trial in 1990 found her guilty of murder; a retrial in 1996 reduced the verdict to manslaughter and Sarah was set free for time served.

The version featured here of Kevin Ayer‘s infectious Religious Experience (Singing A Song In The Morning), the psychedelic rocker”s first single in 1970, is the longer one which remained unreleased until 2003. It has Pink Floyd legend Syd Barrett on guitar, while The Ladybirds, who are best known from The Benny Hill Show, perform the backing vocals.

Perhaps the most obscure track here is Joyce Williams‘ The First Thing I Do In The Morning. This gospel-funk number burns it up, with its hot flutes, sizzling wah-wah guitar and incendiary bass. The only other record Williams seems to have recorded was a single titled Dance The Wrangler Shake (take that, Harlem) six years earlier, in 1966 — for the jeans company.

A few songs here are covers of well-known songs. Harry Nilsson covers Louis Jordan’s 1947 hit Early In The Morning, Paul Weller does Paul Lightfoot’s Early Morning Rain.

And listen to Bernard Purdie’s great drums on the Tim Rose track.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-brewed covers. Volume 2 will follow next week.

1. Alabama 3 – Woke Up This Morning (1997)
2. Velvet Underground – Sunday Morning (1967)
3. Harry Nilsson – Early In The Morning (1971)
4. Tim Rose – Morning Dew (1967)
5. Kevin Ayers – Religious Experience (Singing A Song In The Morning) (1970)
6. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Deep One Perfect Morning (1987)
7. The Lilac Time – This Morning (2001)
8. The Pogues – Tuesday Morning (1993)
9. Paul Weller – Early Morning Rain (2004)
10. Brandi Carlile – Late Morning Lullaby (2007)
11. Lyle Lovett – Just The Morning (1994)
12. Rusty Wier – Texas Morning (1974)
13. Dolly Parton – Early Morning Breeze (1971)
14. Isaac Hayes – Early Sunday Morning (1971)
15. Joyce Williams – The First Thing I Do In The Morning (1972)
16. David Ruffin – Morning Sun Looks Blue (1979)
17. Al Jarreau – Mornin’ (1983)
18. Major Harris – Each Morning I Wake Up (1974)
19. The Temptations – Love Woke Me Up This Morning (1972)
20. Tim Buckley – Morning Glory (1967)
21. Townes Van Zandt – I’ll Be Here In The Morning (1968)
22. Bobbie Gentry – Mornin’ Glory (1968)
23. Joan Baez & Bill Wood – So Soon In The Morning (1959)

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Ziggy Stardust Recovered (1972)

June 9th, 2022 8 comments

Ziggy

Next week, on June 16, it will be 50 years since the release of David Bowie’s landmark album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. I recovered that album some years ago, and posted the story behind the cover to go with it. I’m reposting that story with that first Ziggy Stardust Recovered mix — but I have made a NEW Ziggy Stardust Re-recovered mix. So download them and mix-and-match to your preference.

There is a sweet irony in the cover picture of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: the alien superstar is photographed in a seedy sidestreet in London’s West End, not a glitzy glamour spot. Instead of shining brightly in a metallic science fiction wonderland, the monochrome photo is hand-coloured in the way of postcards from the turn of the last century.

The cover holds not the promise of the story we are coming to hear, but its denouement: Ziggy has come back down to earth as David Bowie. There’s trash, there’s rain, there’s a bin, there’s the sign of the furrier K. West, where the fiction of left-handed Ziggy and the fact of Bowie, holding his guitar right-handed, come together.

Or that’s how I choose to see it. The story of Ziggy Stardust is vague enough to let you project your own ideas upon it. In fact, by writing about the cover, by stripping away a veneer of its mystique, I may be depriving you, if you do not know the story of the cover, of your ability to freely project. Read on at your own peril.

What we will find is that the story of the cover is rather ordinary. The photo was taken on a cold January night in 1972 in Soho’s Heddon Street, then an insalubrious sidestreet, but today a fashionable pedestrian zone. The photographer was Brian Ward, who had studio in the street.

He took 17 photos that night, including the back cover shot of Ziggy/Bowie in the telephone booth. The front cover pic was taken at house number 23, under the big sign for K. West. Apparently Bowie turned up (with a posse of two girls), posed for a few minutes, and quickly disappeared into the rainy night, leaving Ward to develop his black-and-white photos. Did Bowie feel like Ziggy in “Five Years”? “It was cold and it rained and I felt like an actor.”

ziggy-bwThe winning shot was colourised, giving the jumpsuit a blue hue when it was, in fact, green. Have look at all 17 photos of the session at the Five Years site (from which I’ve borrowed one here).

As for the signs on the wall? They were for Paquerette Dresses (4th Floor), Ramar Dresses Ltd (3rd Floor), International Wool Secretariat, Cravats Ltd (main entrance), and T.H. Ferris (2nd Floor)

So, to mark the Ziggy anniversary, here are the two track-by-track mixes of Ziggy covers. Every track of the album is performed in sequence by various artists. On the first Ziggy Stardust Recovered mix, two tracks are by Bowie himself. One is from the famous Hammersmith Odeon concert at which he killed off Ziggy Stardust — obviously the final track, Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide — the other a new mix of the largely uncovered Star. In fact, there’s a third Bowie number: The Arnold Corns was a Bowie project on which he test-drove some Ziggy tracks a year before he gave birth to the alien superstar. They feature on both the Ziggy Stardust Recovered and Ziggy Stardust Re-Recovered mixes. One song on the album was a cover itself: It Ain’t Easy was a Ron Davies song. The cover of that on the Recovered mix also precedes the Ziggy LP.

Obviously, each mix will fit on a standard CD-R. I’ve not made home-ziggied covers, but the text above is included in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

ZIGGY STARDUST RE-RECOVERED
1. Old 97’s – Five Years (2010)
2. Cerys Matthews – Soul Love (2006)
3. The Chameleons – Moonage Daydream (2002)
4. Culture Club – Starman (1999)
5. Claudia Lennear – It Ain’t Easy (1973)
6. Midge Ure – Lady Stardust (2008)
7. Cuff The Duke – Star (2013)
8. The Arnold Corns – Hang On To Yourself (1971)
9. Def Leppard – Ziggy Stardust (1995)
10. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Suffragette City (1986)
11. Black Box Recorder – Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide (2000)

ZIGGY STARDUST RECOVERED
1. The Polyphonic Spree – Five Years (2002)
2. Marti Jones – Soul Love (1986)
3. The Arnold Corns – Moonage Daydream (1971)
4. Leningrad Cowboys – Starman (2006)
5. Three Dog Night – It Ain’t Easy (1970)
6. Seu Jorge – Lady Stardust (2005)
7. David Bowie – Star (40th Anniversary Mix) (1972/2012)
8. Contraband – Hang On To Yourself (1991)
9. Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust (1982)
10. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Suffragette City (2012)
11. David Bowie – Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide (live) (1973)

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More Recovered albums:
Blue (Joni Mitchell)
What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye)
Tapestry (Carole King)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
Darkness On The Edge Of Town (Springsteen)
Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (Bowie)
Every Beatles album

Any Major Teen Dreams

May 12th, 2022 36 comments

 

Any Major Teen Dream

The stuff of teenager-oriented pop has occupied me lately, with the birth of the Bravo Posters site on which I post a few posters a day from old editions of Germany’s Bravo magazine. I think it’s fair to say that when we look back on our teenage obsessions with pop music, the questions that will evoke the most nostalgic vibes are what your first record was, and which posters you had hanging on your wall.

Your first record most probably was not cool. But ask your music-loving friends about the first record they bought, chances are that everybody else bought something really sophisticated. They were eight and bought, depending on their generation, Kind Of Blue, Sly & the Family Stone, Big Star, Too Drunk To Fuck by the Dead Kennedys, or NWA’s F*ck Da Police. They might even tell the truth, so you feel like a bit of a chump if you first record was “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window”, “Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool” or “Ice Ice Baby”.

I confess: for years I did not acknowledge that the first record I bought was a German Schlager hit by Roy Black (not his real name) teaming up with a nine-year-old Norwegian girl named Anita. The single, it must be said, was aimed squarely at my demographic at the time, the five-year-old, and at grandmothers, like mine, who financed my debut vinyl purchase. Couldn’t you have guided me to buy Black Sabbath instead of Roy Black, granny?

For a long time I was also embarrassed to admit that my first English-language record was by the Bay City Rollers. Today I feel no more embarrassment at that than if my first single had been an obscure Northern Soul classic. While the late Roy Black may still lack cool, the passage of time has forgiven the Bay City Rollers for their droll tartan outfits and for being adored by barely pubescent girls. The Ramones admitted a long time ago that they took inspiration from the teen-orientated bubble-gum pop promulgated by Leslie, Woody, Alan, Eric and Derek. The rest of us have taken a little longer to appreciate that BCR weren’t as awful as their trousers led us to believe. And so I’ll pronounce while flinching only slightly: I was a BCR fan, even though I was a boy. And I liked Woody the best.

The phenomenon of teen idols precedes the advent of Rock & Roll. There was Bing Crosby, who charmed the girls and their Moms in the 1930s. Then came the Bobbysoxers who screamed for young Frank Sinatra from Hoboken, NJ. Then came rock. Elvis provided many a young girl with her first experience of celebrity-inspired wet knickers. But these were singularities, quite extraordinary performers. True, the combination of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s ascent and the Bobbysoxer legacy (among other social events) created a wave of singers marketed directly to the teen market: the likes of Troy Donahue, Fabian, Frankie Avalon or Paul Anka in the US, Marty Wilde in Britain, or Peter Kraus in Germany.

But arguably the real teen revolution came with the ’60s and Beatlemania. It was a whole new deal which inspired a new culture of teen idolatry; some accidental, some manufactured to cash in on the Beatles.

teen dream gallery 1Early teen idol prodigies of the1960s included Billy J Kramer (whose “Bad To Me” was written by Lennon & McCartney) in Britain, The Monkees in the US, and Herman’s Hermits in both countries. Like the Backsteeet Boys or the Spice Girls and their ilk 30 years later, The Monkees were an assembled group calculated to appeal to diverse constituencies within the projected fanbase. The Beatles provided the template: Paul, the cute happy one; John, the tough cynical one; George, the quiet serious one; Ringo, the pet. And the calculation obviously worked; the Monkees were huge, thanks to their image, and their records were great, thanks to brilliant song selection and the seasoned session musicians of the Wrecking Crew.

In the early 1970s, the pretense of musical authenticity evaporated in the US. The Archies had a worldwide hit in 1969/70 with “Sugar Sugar” (as song The Monkees had turned down). Based on the comic, they weren’t even the group. Where The Monkees were a literary equivalent of a photo novel, The Archies actually were a cartoon. The fiction wouldn’t stop there. The Partridge Family was a TV band, backed by the flair of, again, the Wrecking Crew, and the beauty of the talented David Cassidy and, for the boys, Susan Dey. Things would become charmingly peculiar when the Brady Bunch, whose kids weren’t musicians even in the fiction of the show, started releasing records. At the same time, some groups didn’t bother with instruments, even if one or the other minor Jackson 5 did parade with a guitar occasionally, if that could be choreographed into the dance routine.

In Britain, the teen-oriented acts were more credible. T Rex, the Sweet or Slade played their own instruments and produced some fantastic pop whose appeal conquered the linits of age. Other acts were clearly manipulated or manufactured for marketing purposes. Questions remain about how much Woody, Eric, Alan and Derek contributed to the Bay City Rollers on record (we do know that Leslie did sing, and Alan, Eric and Woody wrote a good number of songs).

Based on the template of the early ’70s, UK record label bosses tried to cash in on presenting acts like Hello and Slik (featuring future Ultravox frontman Midge Ure) as the teen dreams they did not aspire to be. The calculation bombed. Hello and Slik were one hit wonders, groups like the Dead End Kids and Buster never took off, BCR disintegrated slowly after Leslie McKeown left (to be replaced by Duncan Faure of South African teeny giants Rabbit), Sweet grew beards and dabbled with prog rock, Dave Hill of Slade shaved his head, and punk happened. The teen dream was dead. Out of punk grew the New Romantic movement, and with it Smash Hits, giving rise to a new generation of organically grown teen idols: Duran Duran, Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet.

In the US, the family idols gig — Jacksons, Osmonds, “Partridge” — slowly lost its lustre. As the late ’70s neared, the pursuit was on for the next pretty boy in the mold of David Cassidy. And so teens were introduced the charms of David’s half-brother Shaun (whose 1977 song provides the title for this mix), Leif Garrett (like David, a child TV star), Andy Gibb and, of course, John Travolta. The time would come for the rise of the boy band, in the US and Britain, with The Monkees and the Bay City Rollers providing a template, but minus the pretense of members playing instruments in terms of personnel selection, and the Jackson 5 inspiring the idea of four or five chaps harmonising their choreography.

teen dream gallery 2

With all that in mind, here is the Any Major Teen Dreams mix, featuring acts that featured on the postered walls of pre-and freshly-pubescent kids, and were marketed as such, between 1963 and 1978.  As ever, the lot is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-lipsynched covers. You might also enjoy the Any Major Teenagers mix of songs about, well, being teenagers.

Now my question to you: what was the first single you bought?

1. The Beatles – Do You Want To Know A Secret (1963)
2. Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas – Bad To Me (1963)
3. Herman’s Hermits – No Milk Today (1966)
4. The Monkees – Last Train To Clarksville (1966)
5. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – The Legend Of Xanadu (1968)
6. Tommy Roe – Dizzy (1969)
7. The Archies – Sugar Sugar (1969)
8. Bobby Sherman – Little Woman (1969)
9. The Jackson 5 – The Love You Save (1970)
10. The Partridge Family – I Woke Up In Love This Morning (1971)
11. Sweet – Co-Co (1971)
12. T. Rex – Metal Guru (1972)
13. David Cassidy – Daydreamer (1973)
14. The Osmonds – Love Me For A Reason (1974)
15. David Essex – Gonna Make You A Star (1974)
16. Hello – Tell Him (1974)
17. Bay City Rollers – Rock & Roll Love Letter (1975)
18. Slik – Forever And Ever (1976)
19. John Travolta – Let Her In (1976)
20. Andy Gibb – I Just Wanna Be Your Everything (1977)
21. Leif Garrett – Surfin’ USA (1977)
22. Buster – Love Rules (1977)
23. Shaun Cassidy – Teen Dream (1977)

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Saved! Vol. 6 – The Angels edition

April 1st, 2022 12 comments

Angels cover

Recently I stumbled on this mix from 2015, ad found I enjoyed it very much. And with Easter approaching, the subject matter of angels seems to fit. Originally this mix was part of ther SAVED! series, even though this lot of songs is not particularly riffing on religious themes, even though angels are very much part of religious (and pagan) dogma.

So this mix of songs addresses the subject of angels from different perspectives: as those ethereal beings with wings, of course, but also as goodhearted people, love interests and metaphors. Unlike the angels in heavy metal, who must either bleed or fall or are evil, those represented here mostly are doing saving through acts of love — and that also suits the theme of Easter.

And I managed to cobble together this mix without resort to Robbie Williams, U2, The Eurythmics or Sarah MacLachlan, nor songs about one-night stands. I even had to leave some good songs out. What is remarkable, though, is that three songs about angels here were released posthumously: those by Jimi Hendrix, Gram Parsons and Hank Williams.

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

1. Jimi Hendrix – Angel (1970)
2. The Black Crowes – She Talks To Angels (1990)
3. Delbert McClinton – Sending Me Angels (1997)
4. Aretha Franklin – Angel (1973)
5. Abba – Like An Angel Passing Through My Room (1981)
6. Martina McBride – Wild Angels (1995)
7. Glen Campbell – Angel Dream (2008)
8. Rilo Kiley – The Angels Hung Around (2007)
9. Jordan Trotter – Angels By My Side (2008)
10. Mindy Smith – Angel Doves (2004)
11. Cry Cry Cry – Speaking With The Angel (1998)
12. Jack Johnson – Angel (2008)
13. Chris Rea – God Gave Me An Angel (2000)
14. David Sylvian – When Poets Dreamed Of Angels (1987)
15. Emmylou Harris – Angel Band (1987)
16. Bob Dylan – Three Angels (1970)
17. Kris Kristofferson – Hall Of Angels (2009)
18. The Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys – Angel Band (1955)
19. Hank Williams – Angel Of Death (rel. 1954)
20. Edna Gallmon Cooke – Angels, Angels, Angels (c. 1950)
21. The Crew-Cuts – Angels In The Sky (1955)
22. Bobby Helms – You Are My Special Angel (1958)
23. The Louvin Brothers – The Angels Rejoiced Last Night (1959)

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Any Major Blaxploitation Tracks

October 12th, 2021 6 comments

Last month filmmaker and musician Melvin Van Peebles died, so this is a good time to launch a mix of music from the Blaxploitation genre which Van Peebles helped pioneer with his 1971 film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.

There are lots of opinions about Blaxploitation movies: some see them as having given African-Americans a presence in film that previously had been lacking; others see them as a denigration of black dignity, much like gangsta rap in the 1990s. The NAACP was critical of many those movies, seeing unwelcome racial stereotypes and a glorification of crime and violence in them, while other leaders saw these movies as vehicles for Black Pride.

I wouldn’t like to offer my opinion on those arguments because, as a white man, it isn’t my place to do so. But there cannot be no blanket opinion about a genre that had many sub-genres. It wasn’t all movies about gritty drug dealers, pimps, junkies, vigilantes and private dicks who are bad mutha-shut-your-mouths, the kind which Quentin Tarantino would later appropriate and fetishize. There were also flicks of comedy, horror, martial arts, nostalgia, musical and so on.

I have enjoyed some films in that genre, including the gritty street movies. Especially as time capsules of a particular time and setting, even the less brilliant ones are fascinating. Some have greater artistic merit and production values than others, but the soundtracks tend to be quite outstanding, regardless of the quality of the movie. It is a happy circumstance that the era of Blaxploitation — roughly 1968 to 1978 — coincided with a creatively fertile period in soul and funk music.

Some of these soundtracks are rightly famous: Isaac Hayes’ Shaft, Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street, Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly. In the case of the latter, Mayfield went as far subverting the tone of the movie, which took an agnostic view on the morality of the drug trade. Mayfield stakes out his position clearly: pushing dope for The Man is bad, and, as he sings in No Thing On Me, “You want it funky, but you don’t have to be no junkie”. But since most of Mayfield’s tracks were instrumentals in the film, with lyrics added for the soundtrack album, that message didn’t resound in the cinemas.

From Superfly, I’ve opted to include Freddie’s Dead, which on the single release was described as the movie’s theme song, presumably because it plays over the opening sequence.

Blaxploitation soundtrack music is usually associated with funky guitars, wah-wah pedals, driving basslines, and brass and/or flutes. It’s fair to say that these elements are common, but this mix shows that these soundtracks mustn’t be reduced to cliché.

Many of the acts here are well-known, but who were Sister Goose And The Ducklings? One (pretty great) song on the soundtrack of 1973’s Gordon’s War is the extent of their recording career, it seems.

For once, this mix doesn’t fit on a standard CD-R (it comes in at 1h45min), but it does includes home-shafted covers, this text in an illustrated PDF file, and a collection of posters of the films featured on this mix. PW in comments.

1. Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street (Across 110th Street) (1972)
2. Barry White – Somebody’s Gonna Off The Man (Together Brothers) (1974)
3. James Brown – Slaughter’s Theme (Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off) (1973)
4. Willie Hutch – Mack Man (Got to Get Over) (The Mack) (1972)
5. Isaac Hayes – Truck Turner Main Title (Truck Turner) (1974)
6. Curtis Mayfield – Freddie’s Dead (Superfly) (1972)
7. Marvin Gaye – Trouble Man (Trouble Man) (1972)
8. Millie Jackson – Love Doctor (Cleopatra Jones) (1973)
9. Edwin Starr – Don’t It Feel Good To Be Free (Hell Up In Harlem) (1973)
10. JJ. Johnson feat. Martha Reeves – Willie D (Willie Dynamite) (1974)
11. Dennis Coffey – Congress Six (Black Belt Jones) (1974)
12. Roy Ayers with Dee Dee Bridgewater – Coffy Is The Color (Coffy) (1973)
13. Monk Higgins & Alex Brown feat. Barbara Mason – Sheba, Baby (Sheba, Baby) (1975)
14. The Originals – Supernatural Voodoo Woman (Sugar Hill) (1974)
15. Sister Goose And The Ducklings – Super Shine #9 (Gordon’s War) (1973)
16. The Hues Corporation – There He Is Again (Blacula) (1972)
17. Lyn Collins – Mama Feelgood (Black Caesar) (1973)
18. Melvin Van Peebles – Mojo Woman (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song) (1971)
19. Isaac Hayes – Soulsville (Shaft) (1971)
20. Mary Love – Power Of Your Love (Dolemite) (1975)
21. The Dells – No Way Back (No Way Back) (1976)
22. Willie Hutch – Foxy Lady (Foxy Brown) (1974)
23. Grant Green – The Final Comedown (The Final Comedown) (1972)
24. Rose Royce – Car Wash (Car Wash) (1977)
25. Rudy Ray Moore – The Human Tornado (The Human Tornado) (1976)
26. Don Julian & The Larks – Shorty The Pimp (Shorty The Pimp)(1972)
27. The Impressions – That’s What Love Will Do (Three The Hard Way) (1974)
28. H.B. Barnum – Hit Man (What You’re Gonna Do) (Hit Man) (1972)
29. Booker T. & the M.G.’s – Time Is Tight (UpTight) (1969)
30. Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street, Pt. 2 (Across 110th Street) (1972)

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