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Any Major ABC of South Africa

June 17th, 2021 1 comment

Over the weekend, an article on how Malcolm McLaren brazenly plagiarised a South African song from 1977 for his 1983 hit Double Dutch came to my attention. The piece, written by Carsten Rasch and published in South Africa’s Sunday Times, is poorly edited, but it serves as a reminder of the ways in which black artists especially have been ripped off over and over again. At the centre here is how McLaren ripped off a 1977 tune, Puleng by The Boyoyo Boys, to create his biggest hit, the very catchy Double Dutch.

This sorry tale of theft and exploitation echoes the infuriating story of how a South African song named Mbube became a mega hit called The Lion Sleeps Tonight, on which all manner of white people cashed in — but not the man who wrote and first recorded it (and his family had to fight to get crumbs off the table). You can revisit my brief account of it at The Originals: Classics. Or seek out the very good 2019 Netflix documentary ReMastered: The Lion’s Share.

McLaren might have called his acts of theft — he looted various musical traditions — “taking inspiration”, but he betrayed these traditions when he failed to credit them. Before he ripped off the Bayoyo Boys, he plagiarised a tune by another South African outfit, the Mahotella Queens, for the Bow Wow Wow hit See Jungle! (Jungle Boy). Links to both songs are embedded in the Sunday Times article.

These were acts of cultural violence, and of cultural appropriation, though that term was not a big issue when these tunes were whitewashed (except to Peter Gabriel, who called McLaren out on it at the time). Where the lyrics of The Lion Sleeps Tonight riffed on African cliché, McLaren barely gave a nod to the cultural origins of the tune he stole, emigrating the mbaqanga sounds of South Africa’s townships to New York City.

Double Dutch, and other tracks by McLaren, were recorded in South Africa, with South African musicians, produced by Trevor Horn, who is also complicit in this sorry tale. The musicians were paid a flat fee, which in itself is fair practice. But Horn revealed the business ethics behind McLaren’s global raid on musical heritage himself: “The Africans got married on what we paid them. The Cubans charged us a lot of money, they really had their heads screwed on right. The Dominicans charged us a fortune. They screwed us!” That’s what it sounds like when music’s colonialists exploit people. “The Africans got married on what we paid them.” Translation: “These fools should be grateful for what we bothered to pay them.”

The copyright holders of the songs which McLaren plagiarised eventually sued, and the case was settled out of court — but no composer of the song saw the money, or received a songwriting credit for it. White justice!

The writer of the Sunday Times article sums it up well: “Truth is, McLaren and Horn arrived at these shores, and like a pair of modern-day Cecil John Rhodeses, took what they wanted from the ‘gullible natives’ — so grateful to be blessed by the presence of these big white music bwanas they bent over backwards, allowed themselves to be morphed into ‘McLarenettes’ (a contrived group name for the musicians who played the music on the various tracks) — and deprived them of their just composer credits, not to mention money.”

Graceland and apartheid

The question of cultural appropriation brings me to Paul Simon’s 1986 Graceland album, which he recorded with a host of South African artists during the time of the cultural boycott against apartheid. These artists included groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Stimela, and local jazz giants like Morris Goldberg and Mike Makhalemele. These musicians suffered under apartheid and opposed it. And the South African musicians appreciated the fair royalties, ethical attributions, and exposure their involvement created. For example, bassist Bakithi Kumalo built a great career as an international session musician on account of that bassline on You Can Call Me Al.

One can accuse Simon of arrogance in not following Harry Belafonte’s counsel to consult the exiled ANC first, but he did obtain the support of the South African musicians’ union — hardly collaborators with apartheid — and the approval of exiled heavyweight like Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba. Clearly, there’s a world of a difference between empowering musicians living under oppression, and acts like Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart or Queen playing Sun City in contempt of the oppressed. And there’s a canyon of a difference between the exploitation of culture and people perpetrated by McLaren and Horn, and the mostly respectful way Simon treated his fellow musicians.

Though, it must be said, Simon might have included a proper anti-apartheid tune in his set, and his dismissal of that idea was petulant and even disrepctful. You Can Call Me Al’s lyrics weren’t that good to begin with, and its video might have featured the South African musicians who played on it — (Ray Phiri on guitar; Morris Goldberg on pennywhistle, Isaac Mtshali on drums, Ladysmith Black Mambazo on background vocals, and Kumalo on bass) — rather than a pair of middle-aged white American men pretending to play these instruments.

An ABC of South Africa

That article on McLaren’s theft prompted me to complete this mix of Any Major ABC of South Africa — one artist per letter of the alphabet. The timing is appropriate: Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising against apartheid education, a public holiday in the country.

As always, the choice of artist to represent letters is quite random; they don’t necessarily are the best or most representative act for that letter. If that was so, I’d have given the letter H to Hugh Masekela.

This mix doesn’t tell the history of South African music, nor is it complete. But it gives what I hope is a taste of some of the country’s incredibly broad music scene, which ranges from ever-developing township pop styles to jazz to reggae to country to hip hop to indie to rock to gospel to musicals to Afrikaans schlagers (and more).

I was glad to include a few favourites by way of collaborations. The Skylarks were Miriam Makeba’s first group in the 1950s, and on the present song they recorded with Spokes Mashiane, the “King of the Pennywhistle”. Togegher they cover the letter S. Theirs was the sound of Sophiatown, a black neighbourhood in Johannesburg which was ethnically cleansed in the 1950s and renamed by the regime as Triomph (which means exactly what you suspect it does).

A few years later, the regime declared District 6, a mixed-race neighbourhood on the edge of the city centre of Cape Town, a “white group area”. Over the next decade, the entire area was razed, and its “mixed-race” population dumped into far-off townships. One of these is called Manenberg, which inspired a superb jazz tune by Dollar Brand (now known as Abdullah Ibrahim). In the midst of the gangs and poverty (well, geographically at the periphery of it), the late jazz pianist Tony Schilder helped open a sophisticated jazz club named Montreal. The song here is the club’s “theme song”, sung by the great vocalist and saxophonist Robbie Jansen (who appeared, with the above-mentioned Graceland contributor Morris Goldberg, on Dollar Brand’s jazz classic). Montreal, here in its rare 1985 version, also features Jonathan Butler on guitar. It is the sound of Cape Town.

As is Pacific Express’ Give A Little Love. The jazz-rock band — led by Tony Schilder’s brother Chris and whose former members included Jonathan Butler and Robbie Jansen — was having a radio hit with the uncharacteristic soul ballad in 1978. All went well, until the state broadcaster realised that the group was mixed-race and South African, whereupon the video clip of the song was banned from TV.

A couple of songs here are stone-cold South African classics. Mandoza’s 2000 kwaito hit Nkalakatha still fires up parties; it crossed over like no other kwaito hit before or since.

And 1980s Paradise Road by Joy was an anti-apartheid song about interracial love, which was strictly illegal under apartheid. State radio didn’t notice, and the song, with Anneline Malebo’s soaring vocals, topped the SA charts for nine weeks — and crossed the racial divides. Malebo’s story ended unhappily: in 2002 she died in poverty from AIDS-related causes, having contracted the virus after being raped at a party. Shortly before her death, old friends discovered her living in squalor in a Cape Town township, and had her transferred to a hospice where she died in some dignified comfort.

And under B, we hear the Bayoyo Boys with the song Malcolm McLaren stole. Any other day, the late Brenda Fassie would have taken that spot. There is no X… Even so, the mix is too long to fit on a standard CD-R, but I’ve made home-jived covers anyway. The above text is included in an illustrated PDF for comfortable reading and later reference. PW in comments.

1. Allou April – Bringing Joy (2002)
2. Boyoyo Boys – Puleng (1977)
3. Cofield Mundi – Count Me Out (2006)
4. Dorothy Masuka – Khauleza (1959)
5. Emil Dean Zoghby – Won’t You Join Me (1970)
6. Farryl Purkiss – Ducking And Diving (2006)
7. Goldfish feat. John Mani – One Million Views (2013)
8. Harari – Get Funky (1981)
9. Isochronous – The Curve (2010)
10. Joy – Paradise Road (1980)
11. Karma – Pachelbel (1998)
12. Lira – Mali (2011)
13. Mandoza – Nkalakatha (2000)
14. Nancy Jacobs & Her Sisters – Meadowlands (1956)
15. Oskido – Une Mali (2020) [BUY]
16. Pacific Express – Give A Little Love (1978)
17. Qkumba Zoo – Harbour Song (2021) [BUY]
18. Ringo – Sondela (1997)
19. Skylarks with Miriam Makeba & Spokes Mashiyane – Ekoneni (1950s)
20. Tony Schilder with Robbie Jansen – Montreal (1985)
21. Una Valli – Take Me For A Little While (1968)
22. Vusi Mahlasela – Moleko (2006)
23. Wendy Oldfield – Acid Rain (1991)
24. Yvonne Chaka Chaka – Umqombothi (1986)
25. Zahara – Ndize (2011)

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PREVIOUS ABCs:
ABC of 1950s
ABC of 1960s
ABC of 1970s
ABC of 1990s
ABC of 2000s
ABC of Soul
ABC of Country
ABC of Christmas

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Life In Vinyl 1987 Vol. 2

June 10th, 2021 3 comments

 

By the second half of 1987, the rate by which my record collection was growing had slowed down. Unemployment for part of that time was one reason, employment at strange hours another, and a phase of intense socialising in the little time I had complicated the acquisition of records further.

Still, I bought records, including some quite awful ones. What we have here, then, is a collection of what is still presentable. It includes a few pop hits which the purists might scoff at, but I stand by them. Bananarama, that still underrated trio of women, had long decamped to the dreaded Stock Aitken Waterman, who had produced their 1986 hit Venus. In 1987, SAW gave Bananarama two great pop songs, I Heard A Rumour and Love In The First Degree. The latter is especially good, as far as commercial pop goes.

The same goes for I’ve Had The Time Of My Life, the excellence of it is obscured by its mega-hitness and the mainstream nature of the movie it scored, Dirty Dancing. The arrangement is very much 1980s, but the saxophone solo that leads up to the breakdown… sometimes you just have to love’80s pop! This track might also be the swansong for this series of A Life in Vinyl.

Then there is a song whose title is immediately suspect, but what a great slice of fun Walk The Dinosaur is, with that percussive “Boom boom, ackalacka boom”. Inevitably the Was (Not Was) song provoked a dance craze (no, I didn’t, since you ask), and the video had sexy cavewomen and Flintstones. A total novelty number, right? Well, the song apparently is about nuclear holocaust: “A shadow from the sky much too big to be a bird/A screaming crashing noise louder than I’ve ever heard.”

I have mentioned Bright Blue’s Weeping before, as the song that surreptitiously smuggled the anthem of the anti-apartheid movement on to South Africa’s state radio, in the middle of the racist regime’s state of emergency. Bright Blue were a group of white South Africans, so the controllers either suspected nothing untoward in the song, or (more likely) subversively pretended not to notice. The lyrics are hardly obscure, especially as they were written in a time of frantic oppression, and the strains of Nkosi Sikel’ iAfrika (now half of South Africa’s national anthem) are hidden in plain sight. And so this rather lovely song served as another kick against the pricks.

Apartheid was defeated within a couple of years, and in 1994 South Africa became a democracy, with Nelson Mandela as its first president. Until 1990, the law decided where you could live, according to race. Many communities were uprooted and destroyed, with the people dumped into new townships which soon became gang-ridden because with the destruction of communities came the destruction of the values these communities enforced. Today, communities — in South Africa and around the world — are being destroyed and uprooted by “urban development”, the evil of gentrification. Spike Lee referred to it in 1989 in Do The Right Thing. Two years earlier, The Housemartins raised the issue in Build. And 34 years later, the economic cleansing (which in some areas is linked to race and ethnicity) continues.

And on that cheerful note: CD-R length, home-built covers, text above in illustrated PDF, PW in comments.

1. Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield – What Have I Done To Deserve This
2. Black – Wonderful Life
3. Then Jericho – The Motive
4. Squeeze – Hourglass
5. Alexander O’Neal & Cherelle – Never Knew Love Like This
6. Smokey Robinson – Just To See Her
7. Bananarama – Love In The First Degree
8. Was (Not Was) – Walk The Dinosaur
9. Aztec Camera – Deep & Wide & Tall
10. Bright Blue – Weeping
11. Chris Isaak – Blue Hotel
12. The Smiths – Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before
13. The Housemartins – Build
14. Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands
15. INXS – Never Tear Us Apart
16. Gino Vannelli – Wild Horses
17. Bruce Springsteen – Tougher Than The Rest
18. George Michael – Kissing A Fool
19. Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes – (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life

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In Memoriam – May 2021

June 3rd, 2021 3 comments

Ironically, it was raining when I learnt of the death of B.J. Thomas. It would have been even better had I been in a branch of the Personality franchise of shops when I read that Lloyd Price had died, but that night have been irony overkill.

Overall, May was a fairly quiet month, though not for samba singers, three of whom died in Brazil within days of one another.

The Rock & Roll Pioneer
Had he not been drafted into the US army to fight in Korea in 1954, Lloyd Price might have become a “King of Rock & Roll”. By the time he came home, other R&B singers had become kings of that new type of music which Price had pioneered. One of the great prototype Rock & Roll records was Price’s self-written debut single, Lawdy Miss Clawdy, recorded in 1952 in New Orleans with the great Dave Bartholomew leading the band which included the yet-unknown Fats Domino on the piano.

After returning from Korea, Price was able to resume his recording career with some success, scoring big hits with ’50s rock & roll classics such as Personality, I’m Gonna Get Married, and Stagger Lee.

When the hits dried up, he became a mover behind the scenes, co-founding the label on which Wilson Pickett got his start, and another label in the 1970s with boxing Don King. In 1974 Price helped King organise the “Rumble in Jungle” extravaganza in Kinshasa, Zaire (now DR Congo), with the legendary bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, and the attendant concert featuring James Brown and B.B. King. Price was also a successful entrepreneur outside music, in businesses ranging from construction to canned foods.

The Raindrops Guy
It is strange that B.J. Thomas never became a big star in Europe. His songs were know there, even if Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head was a bigger hit in Sasha Distel’s inferior version, but he never broke really big. Thomas had already enjoyed a couple of US Top 10 hits (with I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry in 1966 and Hooked On A Feeling in 1968) when Raindrops forced itself on him. He wasn’t songwriter Burt Bacharach’s first or even second choice, but when Bob Dylan and Ray Stevens cried off, the song was offered to Thomas… who had laryngitis at the time. It seems providential: the relaxed singing style, the better to avoid straining his larynx, suited the beautiful arrangement perfectly.

Thomas went on to have a few more hits — including I Just Can’t Help Believing, which Elvis would cover — before switching to Christian contemporary music in the late ’70s, becoming the genre’s first superstar. He’d still have a few country hits as well. TV viewers would get to hear Thomas again in the late 1980s, when he duetted with Jennifer Warnes on the theme of the sitcom Growing Pain, which he then released in a full song recording with Dusty Springfield.

The Soul Drummer
By the time he was 25, Roger Hawkins had played the drums on dozens of stone-cold soul classics. Born in 1945, Hawkins was only 20 when his stick-work, as drummer of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (or Swampers) featured on a US Top 10 single, Percy Sledges’s When a Man Loves A Woman. Many followed, including Wilson Pickett’s Land Of A 1000 Dances and Mustang Sally; James & Bobby Purify’s I’m Your Puppet; Clarence Carter’ Slip Away; R.B. Greaves’ Take A Letter Maria; The Staple Singers’ I’ll Take You There and Respect Yourself; Paul Simon’s Kodachrome, Still Crazy After All These Years, and Loves Me Like A Rock; and Eddie Rabbitt’s Suspicion. And then there were all those Aretha Franklin classics: Respect, I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), Chain Of Fools, Since You’ve Been Gone, Think, Call Me, Do Right Woman – Do Right Man, and so on. All with a guy on the drums who looked like a postgrad chemistry student (no offense to postgrad chemistry students, of course).

Hawkins also played on Bob Seger tracks like Mainstreet, We’ve Got Tonight, Old Time Rock & Roll and Good For Me. And he drummed on a couple of tracks by model-singer Nick Kamen, who died earlier in the month (see below).

In 1969m Hawkins co-founded the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The Lesbian Activist
At a time when gay and lesbian singers were hiding their sexuality, folk singer Alix Dobkin broke it out into the open in the 1970s, with albums like Lavender Jane Loves Women (1973) and Living With Lesbians (1975). She started her career on the Greenwich Village coffeehouse circuit in 1962, where she performed with folk legends like Bob Dylan and Buffy Sainte-Marie. A marriage followed, after the breakdown of which Dobkin came out as a lesbian. Her activism cause the lovely people at the FBI to see her as a “troublemaker”. She wrote and recorded until the turn of the century, and performed until her death at 80.

The Croce Producer
Practically every song you know by Jim Croce was co-produced by Tommy West, who has died at 78. And on many of them, he played the keyboard and/or bass or the rhythm guitar. Having started his music career in the 1950s as a member of the Doo Woo band The Criterions, he was a backing vocalists for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Connie Francis, and Perry Como. He was also a songwriter (including for the Partridge Family), and a producer for acts like Ed Bruce, Holly Dunn, Judy Rodman, Dion and Ann Murray. He and long-time collaborator Cashman also produced the 1976 million-seller Shannon for Henry Gross, and recorded a number of albums together.

The Real Singer
One of the biggest scandals in pop took place when it turned out that the two charismatic members of Milli Vanilli had not been the actual vocalists on mega hits like Girl You Know It’s True, Blame It On The Rain, and Girl I’m Gonna Miss You. The Grammy Awards people took back the gongs they had given Milli Vanilli, proclaiming to be shocked — shocked! — that pretend-singing was going on. Of course, the Grammy people hadn’t done their due diligence. Milli Vanilli were produced by Frank Farian, the former German Schlager singer who had produced Boney M to world stardom — while providing the voices for two of their singers, one of them female.

Farian didn’t bless us with his own vocal stylings on Milli Vanilli records, but he employed several studio backing singers to give voice to the lip-synchers Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan. One of them was John Davis, who has died at 65 from causes related to Covid-19. A singer and bass player born in South Carolina, he came to Germany in the 1980s, and released a bunch of records under his own name. In the 1990, having been outed as one of the real voiced behind Milli Vanilli, he tried his hand at performing as the Real Milli Vanilli, but with limited success.

The 501s Guy
In 1985 British TV viewers gut an eyefull of model Nick Kamen taking off his Levi’s 501s in a launderette. The commercial for the jeans brand inaugurated a series of popular ads that used 1960s soul as background music. Kamen stripped to Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine, which on the back off that would become a #8 hit in April 1986. That ad was followed by Levi’s ads using soul standards such as Sam Cooke’s Wonderful World (*#2 in March 1986), Ben E. King’s Stand By Me (#1 in 1987) and Percy Sledge’s When A Man Loves A Woman (#2 in 1987), as well as The Temptations’ My Girl and The Ronettes’ Be My Baby, neither of which were re-released as singles.

The effect of the ads was two-fold: 501s became the hippest thing going (and I wear them to this day), and it brought the already ongoing ’60s soul revival into the mainstream. And it also made a star of Kamen, who has died at the young age of 59 from bone marrow cancer. His debut single, the Madonna-written and produced Each Time You Break My Heart, hit #5 in the UK in 1986, at around the same time Grapevine was in the charts. It would be his biggest hit, though 1990s I Promised Myself was huge throughout Europe. Kamen was particularly successful in Italy, where he notched up five Top 10 hits.

As always, this post is reproduced in PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

Danny ‘Panamas Red’ Finley, 76, outlaw country musician, on April 29
Billy Joe Shaver – Bottom Dollar (1973, on guitar and as co-writer)

Wondress Hutchinson, 56, jazz and dance music singer, on May 1
Mantronix feat. Wondress – Got To Have Your Love (1989, on lead vocals)

Tommy West, 78, producer, musician, singer, songwriter, on May 2
The Criterions – I Remain Truly Yours (1959, as member)
Cashman & West – American City Suite (1972)
Jim Croce – Time In A Bottle (1973, as co-producer, an on bass, keyboards and harpsichord)
Judy Rodman – Until I Met You (1986, as producer)

Marcel Stellman, 96, Belgian producer and lyricist, on May 2
Drafi Deutscher And His Magics – Marble, Breaks And Iron Bends (1966, as lyricist)

Phil Naro, 63, rock singer, guitarist, songwriter and producer, on May 3
Phil Naro – ‘6Teen’ Theme (2005, on vocals)

Rodolfo García, 75, drummer of Argentine rock band Almendra, on May 4
Almendra – Hoy todo el hielo en la ciudad (1968)

Henrik Ohlin, bassist of heavy metal spoof band Black Ingvars, on May 4

Nick Kamen, 59, English singer and model, on May 4
Nick Kamen – Each Time You Break My Heart (1986)
Nick Kamen – Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever (1986, with Roger Hawkins on drums)

Lloyd Price, 88, pioneering R&B singer, songwriter, label owner, on May 6
Lloyd Price And His Orchestra – Lawdy Miss Clawdy (1952, also as writer)
Lloyd Price – I’m Gonna Get Married (1959, also as co-writer)
Lloyd Price – What Did You Do With My Love (1976, also as writer)

Cassiano, 77, Brazilian soul singer-songwriter and guitarist, on May 7
Cassiano – Coleção (1976)

Curtis Fuller, 86, jazz trombonist, on May 8
Curtis Fuller’s Quintet – Five Spot After Dark (1959)

Svante Thuresson, 84, Swedish jazz singer and drummer, on May 10
Lill & Svante – Nygammal Vals (1966)

Bernard Lachance, 46, Canadian singer-songwriter, on May 11

Bob G. Koester, 88, jazz & blues producer, label owner, on May 12
Big Joe Williams – Drop Down Mama (1958, as producer)

Herman Celis, 67, Belgian new wave drummer, on May 12

Norman Simmons, 91, jazz pianist, arranger and composer, on May 13
Carmen McCrae – Sunday (1963, on piano)
Norman Simmons – Eleanor Rigby (2002)

Jack Terricloth, 50, leader of The World/Inferno Friendship Society, on May 13
World/Inferno Friendship Society – Brother Of The Mayor Of Bridgewater (2012)

Mario Pavone, 80, jazz bassist, on May 15
Mario Pavone – Monk In Soweto (1992)

Jacky van Dam, 83, Dutch musician and singer, on May 15

Patsy Bruce, 81, country songwriter, on May 16
Gibson/Miller Band – Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys (1994, as co-writer)

MC Kevin, 23, Brazilian singer-songwriter, in a fall on May 16

Nicolas Ker, 50, singer of French electronic band Poni Hoax, on May 17
Poni Hoax – She’s On The Radio (2006)

Franco Battiato, 76, Italian singer-songwriter and filmmaker, on May 18
Battiato – La convenzione (1972)

Alix Dobkin, 80, folk singer-songwriter, on May 19
Alix Dobkin – A Woman’s Love (1973)
Alix Dobkin – Toughen Up! (1976)

Johnny Ashcroft, 94, Australian country singer, on May 19
Johnny Ashcroft – Little Boy Lost (1960)

Zion Aquino, 42, Filipino singer, on May 20

Roger Hawkins, 75, drummer and co-owner Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, on May 20
Wilson Pickett – Land Of 1000 Dances (1966, on drums)
Etta James – I’d Rather Go Blind (1968, on drums)
Herbie Mann – Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty (1970, on drums)
Eddie Rabbitt – Suspicions (1982, on drums)

Roberto González, 68, Mexican musician and composer, on May 20

Mel Buckley, guitarist of blues-rock group Someone’s Band, on May 21
Someones Band – A Story (1970, also as writer)

Xerardo Moscoso, 77, Spanish singer-songwriter and playwright, on May 22
Xerardo Moscoso – Deuda cumprida (1968)

Dewayne Blackwell, 84, country songwriter, on May 23
The Fleetwoods – Mr. Blue (1959, as writer)
Garth Brooks – Friends In Low Places (live) (1998, as co-writer)

Lorrae Desmond, 91, Australian singer and actress, May 23
Lorrae Desmond & The Rebels – Ding Dong Rock A Billy Weddin’ (1957)

John Davis, 66, singer and real voice of Milli Vanilli, on May 24
John Davis – Check It Out (1984)
Milli Vanilli – Girl You Know It’s True (1989; as vocalist)
The Real Milli Vanilli – When I Die (1990)

Søren Holm, 25, singer of Danish R&B group Liss, on May 25
Liss – Miles Apart (2016)

Rusty Warren, 91, comedian- singer, on May 25
Rusty Warren – Knockers Up! (1960)

Patrick Sky, 80, folk singer-songwriter, on May 27
Patrick Sky – Many A Mile (1965)

Nelson Sargento, 96, Brazilian samba musician, on May 27
Nelson Sargento – Sonho de Um Sambista (1979)

Freddy Marks, 71, English kids’ music singer and actor, on May 27

Jimi/Jimmy Bellmartin, 71, Dutch singer, on May 28
Jimmy Bellmartin – This Is My Love Song (1970)

B.J. homas, 78, pop and country singer, on May 29
B.J. Thomas – Hooked On A Feeling (1968)
B.J. Thomas – If You Must Leave My Life (1969)
B.J. Thomas – Another Done Somebody Wrong Song (1975)
B.J. Thomas & Dusty Springfield – As Long As We Got Each Other (1988)

Johnny Trudell, 82, jazz trumpeter and composer, on May 29
Johnny Trudell – Free & Easy (1979)

Dominguinhos do Estácio, 79, Brazilian samba musician, on May 30

Lil Loaded, 20, rapper, by suicide on May 31

Firmino de Itapoan, 78, Brazilian samba musician and composer, on May 31
Firmino De Itapoã – Bada-Uê (1978)

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What’s Going On Recovered

May 25th, 2021 4 comments

 

On May 21, it was 50 years since the release of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On LP, an album that broke the mould.

It certainly broke Motown’s rules, which preferred its artists to be apolitical — social commentary was permissible if it brought in cash, as it did with Edwin Starr’s War or The Temptations’ Ball Of Confusion or Gaye’s own cover of Dion’s Abraham, Martin & John. But Marvin Gaye wasn’t proposing an album of politics you can dance or sing along to; quite the contrary. This was a meandering exercise in quiet reflection on social ills, from economic inequality to drug abuse to racism to war to the ecology. Even Gil Scott-Heron provided some light relief on his Pieces Of A Man, recorded the month before What’s Going On came out (like Gaye’s album, it also featured a track titled Save The Children).

Motown also wasn’t in a habit of issuing concept albums. What’s Going On is just that — it is a reflection on various social ills from the perspective of a Vietnam veteran, a proxy for Gaye’s own brother Frankie. Gaye’s Christian faith permeates the exercise, not only in the song God Is Love but in its hopeful tone that the mess we’re in now can be redeemed.

What’s Going On is a song cycle LP, with one song fading into another, almost like a jazz concept album. That wasn’t the clean-cut, vigorous Marvin with his beautiful smile; this was a troubled man in a depressive state, surrounded by toxic people, facing a hostile world. At one point, Gaye had contemplated suicide. He was talked off the proverbial ledge by Berry Gordy Sr — evidently a better father than the one Marvin had.Just as Gaye was becoming sensitised to the politics of social justices, so was Obie Benson of The Four Tops. After witnessing the brutal suppression of an anti-war demo at Berkeley, he and Motown songwriter Al Cleveland wrote what would become What’s Going On, the song. The other Four Tops were not interested in a protest song, but over a game of golf, Benson offered it to Gaye, who took the song and then added his own tweaks to it.

The final version of the song was a series of happy accidents, with its saxophone into and multi-layered voices. Motown wasn’t going to release it — too political, too jazzy — but executives Harry Balk and Barney Ales managed to swing a single release in January 1971. It turned out to become Motown’s fastest-selling single ever. Now Berry Gordy Jr was interested, and gave Gaye until the end of March to record whatever he wanted. That was unprecedented at Motown, and would encourage Stevie Wonder to demand full creative control when time came to renew his Motown contract a year later.

To his credit, Gordy backed the final result of What’s Going On, even if it delivered little obvious potential for hit singles, unlike Stevie Wonder’s album Where I’m Coming From, released in April 1971, on which personal and socially conscious material is leavened with traditional love-song tracks like If You Really Love Me or Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer. Happily for Gordy, What’s Going On yielded two more Top 10 hits, Mercy Mercy Me and Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler).

What’s Going On was a very different album from others on Motown in content, and it was different in its cover art. The cover was designed by Curtis McNair, who was responsible for hundreds of Motown covers, with photographs by Jim Hendin. The latter had presented several photos he had taken of Gaye in the singer’s Detroit backyard (note the kids’ swing on the back cover). It was a wet winter’s day. Sleet settled on Marvin’s hair, water on his coat, and Gaye is looking pensively into the distance, as if trying to make sense of all this madness. But there is a little smile trying to emerge: this man is sad but strangely hopeful. Physically, Gaye is no longer the pretty face of the 1960s, but the beard accentuates those beautiful dark eyes. He looks mature and sensual. See more Hendin photos here.

Recovering What’s Going On is not entirely easy, and it required the inclusion of a song that’s not on the LP, I Want You, since it is part of a two-song medley by Robert Palmer. The only version of Flying High I was happy to use was that by Dizzy Gillespie (or that by Everette Harp, who covered the whole album in 1997, but I need him to feature with God Is Love). But Gillespie’s instrumental comes with Save The Children. That track, however, must feature with its lyrics, so the great Marlena Shaw reprises that song, with lyrics. I think Marvin Gaye would approve.

There are two final contenders for the title track which I found difficult to choose between. But since the album ends with a reprise of What’s Going On, the “losing” contender can go there.

As ever, CD-R length, home-conceptualised covers. Text above in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. Donny Hathaway – What’s Goin’ On (live, 1971)
2. Keb’ Mo’ – What’s Happening Brother (2004)
3. Dizzy Gillespie – Flyin’ High (In The Friendly Sky)/Save The Children (1988)
4. Marlena Shaw – Save The Children (1972)
5. Everette Harp – God Is Love (1997)
6. Robert Palmer – Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You (1990)
7. Sons Of Slum – Right On (1971)
8. John Legend & The Roots – Wholy Holy (2010)
9. Gil Scott-Heron – Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler) (1981)
10. The Undisputed Truth – What’s Going On (1971)

GET IT! or HERE!

 

More Recovered albums:
Tapestry
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Every Beatles album

More Cover Mixes:
Bob Dylan Songbooks
John Prine Songbook
Bill Withers Songbook
Bruce Springsteen Songbook
Steely Dan Songbook
Leonard Cohen Songbook
Elvis Presley Songbook
Chuck Berry Songbook
ABBA Songbook

And check out the Covered With Soul series

Categories: Album cover art, Covers Mixes, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

The Roy Bittan Collection

May 20th, 2021 4 comments

 

 

There are few piano men in rock whose sound stands out — no matter how loud the drums, bass and guitars around it — as much as Roy Bittan’s. As a member of the E Street Band, his piano (and Clarence Clemons’ sax) was a defining ingredient in Bruce Springsteen’s sound — and when Springsteen dropped the E Street Band in 1989, Bittan was the one member he kept on board.

Bittan’s piano was similarly crucial to the sound of the recently late Jim Steinman, on Bat Out Of Hell and Total Eclipse Of The Heart and pretty much anything Steinman produced between 1977 and the mid-1990s.

Nicknamed “The Professor”, because he was the only member of the E Street Band to have a university degree, Bittan has made most profitable use of the Yamaha grand piano, whose clear sound cuts through the din of the other instruments — and drummers like Max Weinberg or Liberty De Vitto, who often sat behind Bittan, made such a noise, it required health and safety regulations.

As a member of the E Street band, Bittan contributed to Ronnie Spector’s version of Billy Joel’s Say Goodbye To Hollywood (so Weinberg took over the drums from De Vitto). It’s perhaps the perfect meeting point of the two New Jersey giants, whose careers for a long time rose and dipped more or less symmetrically: Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. Most of the E Street Band also came together to give Garland Jeffreys that Springsteen sound on the 1981 LP Escape Artist, especially on R.O.C.K. and Jump Jump.

Another act dancing on the Springsteen timeline is Bob Seger; he, to, has benefitted from Bittan’s distinctive piano.

 

The E Street Band in 1980, with Roy Bittan (channeling Martin Scorsese) third from left.

 

Outside the E Street Band and Steinman circuits, Bittan has played with David Bowie, on the Station To Station and Scary Monsters albums (including Ashes To Ashes) and Dire Straits’ Making Movies albums, as well as with acts like Jackson Browne, Peter Gabriel, Ian Hunter, Stevie Nicks, Gary US Bonds, Chicago, Bon Jovi, Warren Zevon, Tracy Chapman, Donna Summer, Jeff Healy Band, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Nelly Furtado, and Lucinda Williams (whom he also produced), among others.

Bittan cut his teeth in the early 1970s with the rock band Tracks; a song from their rather good 1972 album Even A Broken Clock Is Right Twice A Day, their only LP, features here.

The Professor, who will turn 72 in July, has also served as a producer and accordion player for various artists. He has released only ever one solo album, a rather lovely, jazzy set of instrumentals titled Out Of The Box, issued in 2015. When the album was released, Bittan told Rolling Stone magazine about how he came to work with some of the acts mentioned above. ()

This mix provides a brief overview of the career of the genius piano player. If you are a CD-R length devotee, tracks 1-17 on this mix will fit on a standard disc. The rest are bonus tracks. The shebang includes home-ivorytinkled covers, and the text above in illustrated PDF format (for later reference). PW in comments.

1. Garland Jeffreys – R.O.C.K. (1981)
2. Jim Steinman – Stark Raving Love (1981)
3. Stevie Nicks – Edge Of Seventeen (1981)
4. Bruce Springsteen – Candy’s Room (live) (1981)
5. Bob Seger – Roll Me Away (1983)
6. Dire Straits – Tunnel Of Love (1980)
7. Warren Zevon – Reconsider Me (1987)
8. Jackson Browne – Your Bright Baby Blues (1976)
9. Tracks – Can I Leave You (1972)
10. Tracy Chapman – Bang Bang Bang 1992)
11. Lucinda Williams – Right In Time (1998)
12. Ian Hunter – Cleveland Rocks (1979)
13. David Bowie – Golden Years (1976)
14. Meat Loaf – Read ‘Em And Weep (1981)
15. Ronnie Spector & The E Street Band – Say Goodbye To Hollywood (1977)
16. Peter Gabriel – Mother Of Violence (1978)
17. Roy Bittan – Q’s Groove (2015)
Bonus Tracks:
Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart (1983)
Air Supply – Making Love Out Of Nothing At All (1983)
Barbra Streisand – Left In The Dark (1984)
Pandora’s Box – It’s All Coming Back To Me Now (1989)
Clarence Clemons – Something Always Happens (1987)
Herb Alpert – Cat Man Do (1987)

GET IT or HERE

Previous Session Musicians collection:
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 1
The Hal Blaine Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Gordon Collection Vol. 2
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 1
The Ricky Lawson Collection Vol. 2
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 1
The Jim Keltner Collection Vol. 2
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 1
The Bernard Purdie Collection Vol. 2
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 1
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 2
The Steve Gadd Collection Vol. 3
The Joe Osborne Collection
The Larry Carlton Collection
The Bobby Keys Collection
The Louis Johnson Collection
The Bobby Graham Collection
The Ringo Starr Collection

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

Any Major Hits from 1971

May 11th, 2021 1 comment

 

To me the sound of 1971 is fun and sunshine, mostly because when you are 4-5 years old, most memories are fun and sunshine (and snow, when snow is fun). I had elder siblings, so I’m sure I’ll have heard many of the songs featured here back 50 years ago, though of those, my only clear memory is of Danyel Gerard’s Butterfly, Never Ending Song Of Love (but in The New Seekers’ facile cover of the Bonnie & Delaney original), and Sweet’s Co-Co. And still, this mix evokes, to me, the feel of 1971. Which of course is the effect I’m trying to achieve here, rather than compiling a “Best of 1971” compilations — that would turn out as bit differently, though some tracks might feature on such a list, too.

There are many other songs not on this mix which I remember very well from back then: Middle of the Road’s Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, Soulful Dynamics’ Saah-Saah-Kumba-Kumba, Springwater’s mournful instrumental I Will Return (and its vocal version in German by Michael Holm), Dawn’s Knock Three Times, Clodagh Rodgers’ Jack In The Box, Middle of the Road’s Soley Soley, several versions of Mamy Blue, a number of schlager hits… and Peret’s Europe-wide novelty hit Borriquito, which is so impossibly catchy, I’ll add it as a bonus track.

It must be noted that 1971 was a better year for albums than it was for singles — and what a year for LPs it was! But the charts were great fun in their diversity and, certainly in the UK, some incongruity. In schlager-centric West-Germany, crooner Roy Black and hard rockers Black Sabbath peacefully coexisted in the charts. In the UK, American crooners Perry Como and Andy Williams (with his Home Lovin’ Man providing relief from the sexual liberation of the era) had huge hits amid a bit of a reggae craze and the incipient glam phase. The UK charts saw some good stuff at #1  — T. Rex, Slade, Diana Ross, The Tams. But the year began with a terrible rocking-chair novelty hit called Grandad by Clive Dunne at #1, and ended with a preposterous novelty song by Benny Hill at the top. I suppose fans of the TV series Dad’s Army and skirt-chasing comedy loved it. Suffice it to say, Benny Hill is not my bag of humour.

In Germany, Danyel Gerard’s Butterfly (not the English recording on this mix but the superior original arrangement, with German lyrics) spent 14 consecutive weeks at #1. That was knocked off the top by The Sweet with Co-Co, who reigned for six weeks before they got knocked off the charts by a rehatched Butterfly. The Sweet regained #1 for a week, but were then dumped by Peret and his Borriquito song for two weeks. Then Mamy Blue was at the top for ten weeks. When the Germans liked something, they clearly couldn’t let go of it. Butterfly was a huge hit throughout Europe. In the UK it stalled at #11; in the US at #76. I blame the inferior English arrangement. To see Gerard without beard and hat in the 1960s, check out this video with cool Paris street scene footage.

The US charts were much saner, but they became a bit bizarre for a bit when Vice-President Spyro Agnew — that unimpeachable beacon of probity — demonstrated how hip he was to the happening hit parades and condemned one song here for representing the acute dangers of the counterculture. I suppose country rockers Brewer & Shipley were quite happy for the publicity their song One Toke Over The Line received from the other wing of the White House.

 

French singer Danyel Gerard, whose Butterfly spent 14 consecutive weeks at #1 in West-Germany

 

For some the bands here, 1971 was a time of swansongs, or close to it. The Move, here with their UK #11 hit Tonight, would fold in 1972, when Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne (who shared the lead vocals on Tonight) and Bev Bevan went on to found the Electric Lights Orchestra.

For Ashton, Gardner & Dyke the chart action was over after their transatlantic hit (which was covered by, of course, Tom Jones), the only single of theirs to chart. They’d split in 1972.

Badfinger had one more hit in the UK — but none with their most famous song Without You, which would become a huge hit for Harry Nilsson in 1972. The sad story of that song, which led to at least one suicide, is told in brief in The Originals – 1970s Vol. 1.

John Kongos had two UK #4 hits in 1971, and nothing else. 1971 was a good year for him: apart from his own hits, two of his songs, Won’t You Join Me und Will You Follow Me were huge hits in German for Israeli singer Daliah Lavi as Oh, wann kommst du und Willst du mit mir geh’n.

The Five Man Electrical Band followed their US #3 hit Signs with another Top 30 song, but they never reached even that height anymore until they split in 1975. They did have a bunch of hits in their native Canada.

The soul band Free Movement only ever released one album and four singles. One might say that a Us Top 5 hit is not a bad strike rate.

Other acts would go on to huge things, such as T.Rex, Sweet and Slade. For The Sweet, Co-Co was the breakthrough; after two disappointing chart-placings they’d rack up seven consecutive UK Top 10 singles. Slade also broke through with their second hit. Chart-topper Coz I Luv You was followed by 11 consecutive Top 5 singles (five of them #1s). T.Rex would have nine more consecutive Top 10 hits, to add to the track here and on the 1970 mix.

Finally, if you feel the tracks by US soul bands The Fantastics, Johnny Johnson & The Bandwagon and English pop group The Fortunes have a similar sound, you may be right. All three tracks were written by the songwriting team of Tony Macaulay, Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway (as was Home Lovin’ Man, the Andy Williams hit mentioned earlier).

If you dig the feel of 1971, take a look at the collection of posters from West-Germany’s Bravo magazine in 1971 (other years are available, too). And two previous mixes of hits from as particular year are available: 1970 and 1944.

The mix is timed to be in CD-R (or double LP) length and includes home-stomped covers. The text above is included in an illustrated PDF booklet (including the charts from June 1971). PW in comments.

1. Ashton, Gardner & Dyke – Resurrection Shuffl
2. John Kongos – He’s Gonna Step On You Again
3. Slade – Coz I Luv You
4. Badfinger – No Matter What
5. Five Man Electrical Band – Signs
6. Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – Treat Her Like A Lady
7. The Jackson 5 – Mama’s Pearl
8. The Fantastics – Something Old Something New
9. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Don’t Pull Your Love
10. Delaney & Bonnie & Friends – Never Ending Song Of Love
11. Lobo – Me And You And A Dog Named Boo
12. Brewer & Shipley – One Toke Over The Line
13. The Move – Tonight
14. Free – My Brother Jake
15. T. Rex – Hot Love
16. The Sweet – Co-Co
17. Mungo Jerry – Lady Rose
18. Johnny Johnson & His Bandwagon – (Blame It) On The Pony Express
19. The Fortunes – Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again
20. The Free Movement – I’ve Found Someone Of My Own
21. Cher – Gypsys, Tramps And Thieves
22. Georgie Fame & Alan Price – Rosetta
23. Tony Christie – I Did What I Did For Maria
24. Danyel Gerard – Butterfly (English Version)
Bonus Tracks:
Danyel Gerard – Butterfly (French Original)
Peret – Borriquito

GET IT! or HERE!

More Mixes
More A Year In Hits

Categories: A Year in Hits, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

In Memoriam – April 2021

May 4th, 2021 6 comments

Sometimes the Grim Reaper has as twisted sense of quirk: on April 28, he claimed the drummer of 1960s Texan garage rock band The Bad Seeds, and on the same day he took Australian singer Anita Lane, who in the 1980s was a member of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds. Those two, of course, were not the month’s headliners. The deaths of Jim Steinman and Bay City Rollers singer Leslie McKeown rightly dominated. Both guys played an important part in my musical journey: as a kid I was a Bay City Rollers fan for a while (then I grew hair in strange places, and that was that), and soon after I became addicted to the Bat Out Of Hell album.

 

The Rock Rossini
If rock music was opera, the broad consensus holds, then Jim Steinman was Richard Wagner: a man whose brilliance found expression in the overblown and preposterous mythology, always straddling the fine line between the sublime and the absurd. To be sure, Steinman was operatic, bombastic and given to Valkyre-helmet shenanigans. But he could also do tender ballads, such as Two Out Of Three on Bat Out Of Hell, or Air Supply’s Making Love Out Of Nothing At All, or the Celine Dion hit All Coming Back To Me Now, a cover of Pandora Box’s gloriously mad 1989 original, with a typical Steinman spoken intro. Slow down Total Eclipse Of The Heart, and you have a pretty melody, albeit less effective than the kitchen-sink production we know. (Steinman certainly exercised as little economy in song titles as he did in song lengths.) And his melodies were always accessible and catchy, which is one thing you cannot accuse Wagner of. Could Wagner have written anything as catchy as You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth? No, we must look for another heavy-metal classical composer. I’ll have Steinman down not as a rock Wagner, but as ”The Rossini of Rock”.

With Bat Out Of Hell, one of the greatest moments in rock music (the VH-1 documentary on the making of the album is superb, incidentally), Steinman peaked early. But he productively wrote for others, except when he recorded his own solo album, Bad For Good, released in 1981. One wonders how great that album might have been in Meat Loaf’s hands (he did the absurd spoken track Love And Death Of An American Guitar as an intro to All Revved Up With No Place To Go on the original Bat Out Of Hell tour, and reprised it on Bat Out Of Hell II tour). As it was, Bad For Good was a bit like its cover: partly audaciously good, and partly embarrassingly bad. The Streisand song featured here is a cover of a track from Bad For Good.

The range of people who benefited from Steinman’s mad genius is pretty broad, ranging from classic rock singers like Meat Loaf and Billy Squier to Australian soft-rockers like Air Supply to Euro-pop singers like Bonnie Tyler to divas like Barbra Streisand to boybands like Boyzone, whose mega-hit No Matter What he co-wrote with Andrew Lloyd-Webber for a musical.

 

The Teen Idol
It seems that almost every year, a former Bay City Roller dies. Now the Reaper caught up with frontman Leslie McKeown. Before Les joined the band, around the same time as Stuart Wood, the Bay City Rollers were a rather scruffy-looking pop band which had enjoyed a couple of hits. With the two new good-looking boys, and the gimmick of the tartan looks, the Bay City Rollers became a teen-dream band, scoring nine consecutive UK Top 6 hits, including two #1s between 1974 and 1976. They were huge even longer in Germany, where You Made Me Believe In Magic (their best song but only a UK #35) and Don’t Stop The Music (featured on Any Major Disco Vol. 2) were hits in 1977.

But by then BCR were falling apart, with McKeown in conflict with the other Rollers. Then he got fired/jumped ship (depending on whose version you believe). At one point in around 1978, McKeown invaded a BCR concert on stage, leading to physical altercations between him and his old tartan compadres. Leslie’s solo career never took off, and he was afflicted with alcoholism for many years. Eventually he returned to performing with his own version of the Bay City Rollers, wearing the old tartans, and being an amiable uncle on UK quiz shows.

 

The Bass Warrior
The soul-funk group War broke barriers as one of the first multiracial outfits in pop music. Initially led by Eric Burdon, War veered between genres. In the mix of all that was bassist B.B. Dickerson, who played with the band from 1970-79, and had already been a member of its precursor, The Creators. Apart from playing bass, Dickerson also added percussion, and vocals, as lead (for example, on the great The World Is A Ghetto) or as backing singer, in a band in which backing vocals were an important part of the sound. In War, all members received co-writing credits, in unalphabetical sequence; mostly Dickerson’s name is listed first.

 

The Disco Legend
It was only a few week before he died that I had learnt that Euro-disco legend Patrick Juvet had represented Switzerland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1973, just four years before he became a disco star, first recording with Jean-Michel Jarre, having a hit with Où sont les femmes in 1977. The following year he hooked up with French disco producers Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo — who also produced the Village People and Richie Family — to record hits like I Love America and Got A Feeling. After the disco boom, Juvet’s career declined. He did a bit of composing, but the big hits stayed away.

 

The Super Engineer
There aren’t many stars among recording engineers, but Al Schmitt surely was one of them. In his career, he won a record 20 Grammys for engineering, including for Steely Dan’s Aja, George Benson’s Breezin’, Toto’s IV, and Ray Charles Genius Loves Company. He got his break in the 1950s when the engineer for a Duke Ellington session couldn’t be reached, so Schmitt, hitherto an assistant, had to fill in. Evidently, he did well. He then worked with Henry Mancini, including on Moon River, and various jazz and folk acts, while also engineering Sam Cooke hits like Bring It On Home To Me, Cupid, and Another Saturday Night.

In the 1970s and 80s he engineered for acts like Steely Dan, Earth, Wind & Fire, Jackson Browne (For Everyman; Late For The Sky), Dave Mason, Linda Ronstadt (Don’t Cry Now), Barbra Streisand (The Way We Were, Wet), Michael Franks (The Art Of Tea, Sleeping Gypsy, The Lady Wants To Know, Burchfield Nines, Blue Pacific), Glenn Campbell (Southern Nights), Samantha Sang (Emotions), George Benson (In Flight, Weekend In LA, Living Inside Your Love, 20/20, Tenderly), Dr John (City Light, In A Sentimental Mood), Randy Crawford (Secret Combination, Nightline), Joe Sample (Spellbound), and the beautifully recorded Casino Lights album of Randy Crawford, Al Jarreau, The Yellow Jackets and others in Montreaux.

Schmitt’s 1990s and 2000s engineering included both Duets albums by Frank Sinatra, Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable sets, as well as work for acts like Everything But The Girl, Madonna, Michael Bolton, Teddy Pendergrass, Diane Schuur, Anita Baker, Willie Nelson, Diane Krall, Quincy Jones, Dolly Parton, Luther Vandross, Toni Braxton, Robbie Williams, Rod Stewart, Michael Bublé, Paul Anka (the great Rock Swings album), Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Brian Wilson, Neil Young, Trisha Yearwood, Gregory Porter, Paul McCartney, and loads others.

On top of that, in the late 1960s and ‘70s Schmitt also produced a number of albums for acts like Jefferson Starship, Jackson Browne, Hot Tuna, Neil Young, Spirit, and Al Jarreau.

 

The Hitmaker
In 2019, we lost English songwriter Les Reed, who created an impressive number of hits. Exactly two years and a day later, his frequent songwriting partner Barry Mason joined the great hit parades in the sky. With Reed, Mason wrote such hits as Tom Jones’ Delilah and I’m Coming Home, The Fortunes’ Here It Comes Again, Dave Clark Five’s Everybody Knows, Des O’Connor’s I Pretend, Petula Clark’s Kiss Me Goodbye, and Engelbert Humperdinck’s The Last Waltz, Les Bicyclettes De Belsize (also a hit for Mireille Mathieu) and Winter World Of Love. Mason also co-wrote the 1970 #1 Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) by Edison Lighthouse, and other UK hits like Tom Jones’ Love Me Tonight, Des O’Connor’s One, Two, Three O’Leary, When Forever Has Gone by Demis Roussos, and You Might Just See Me Cry by Our Kid. More recently, he wrote the 2002 UK hit Tell Me Why for English child singer Declan Galbraith.

While he was writing for others, he recorded also a bunch of singles between 1966 and 1981 (none troubled the charts), and a later couple of albums of his own songs, released in the 1970s and 1990s.

 

The Red Panther
Born into poor circumstances in Italy in 1939, Maria Ilva Biolcati became an internationally famous singer under the name Milva. She became so famous as a singer of chansons and as a film actress that she became widely known by nicknames: La Rossa, on account of her red hair (and, perhaps, also her political views), and La Pantera. She had much success outside Italy as well, especially in Germany.

On stage she was acclaimed as a premier interpreter of Berthold Brecht. She was equally at home in opera and appeared in some of the great houses, including the Royal Abert Hall in London and La Scala in Milan, the city in which she died at 81 on April 23.

 

The Country-Rock Pioneer
In the five decades of the pioneering folk-rock band Poco, multi-instrumentalist Rusty Young was the one constant, from its founding in 1968 to the last album, released in 2013. Created from the debris of Buffalo Springfield, Poco were pioneers in the country-rock sound that became hugely popular in the 1970s, especially in the work by the Eagles (who would include two Poco alumni). Young’s innovative use of the pedal steel-guitar was one of the essential elements in the development of that sound.

Eventually Young became the frontman of Poco — he wrote their hits Rose of Cimarron and Crazy Love — but he also played on many records by other people, including former Poco pals Jim Messina, Richie Furay and Paul Cotton, as well as the likes of Three Dog Night, Rita Coolidge, Scott McKenzie, Rusty Wier (including on one of my favourites, Texas Morning, featured on Any Major Morning), Gladys Knight & The Pips, and Earl Scruggs. He recorded two solo albums, released in 2017 and 2019.

 

Taking the Rap
It took me until the rapper’s death to realise — or to become curious about — what the letters DMX stand for. Turns out, it’s after a drum machine as well as serving as an acronym for Dark Man X, the moniker Earl Simmons adopted when he began his career in hip hop as a teenager. And a rich career it was, with grammatically loose hits like Where The Hood At?, We Right Here, Party Up (Up In Here),  Who We Be, and X Gon’ Give It To Ya.

Earl’s childhood was rough. Abandoned by his father, he was brutalised by his mother and temporary stepfathers, and in turn became violent himself, culminating in the teenager living on the streets, and spending several stints in jail for petty crimes (such as stealing a dog!) and later for carjacking, interrupting what was already promising to be a career in music. It was during a stint in jail for robbery that he turned his direction to music, with success.

But even during his music career, he found himself in frequent trouble with the law, with several stints in jail over issues like drug possession, animal cruelty, failing to pay child support, or tax fraud. And yet, DMX was also trying to live the Christian life, recording songs about religious faith (and struggles to live up to the ethics of religion), and even planning to become a pastor.

 

The One Season
Big success let Joe Long wait: the bass player joined the Four Seasons in 1965, just as the group’s hits were drying up. He was involved in the influential 1969 prog-rock album The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette, but that was not a commercial success. But Long was still with the band when they made a comeback in 1975 with the hit December 1963 (Oh What A Night). He also played on Frankie Valli’s great solo hit My Eyes Adored You. He might also have played on Valli’s 1967 hit Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, but I couldn’t find any personnel listings to confirm that.

 

The Label Owner
Having cut his musical teeth in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, before it became a soul capital, Quinton Claunch moved to Memphis in 1948, where a few years later he would co-found Hi Records, another great name in soul music.

Claunch, who has died at 99, started out in country, and as such met up with an old pal from the Muscle Shoals days, Sam Philips, who gave him session and production work at Sun Records. In 1957 he co-founded Hi Records, but sold his share in 1959 (some say he was muscled out). A decade later Hi would become an iconic soul label under Willie Mitchell’s guidance.

By then, Claunch had co-founded the soul/gospel label Goldwax, also in Memphis, on which he produced the likes of by James Carr, The Ovations and Spencer Wiggins, including Carr’s classic On The Dark End Of The Street. Goldwax folded in 1969, but when it was relaunched in the 1980s, Claunch served as its president for a few years.

 

The Keyboard Man
You might not know the name Ralph Schuckett, but you’ll have heard him playing keyboards on many songs. He played on Carole King’s It’s Too Late and Where You Lead (electric piano), on Hall & Oates’ She’s Gone and Every Time You Go Away (on the organ), on albums by the likes of The Monkees, James Taylor, Kate Taylor, Todd Rundgren, Bette Midler, Nona Hendryx, Four Tops, Phoebe Snow, The Manhattans, Evelyn King, Rodney Crowell, Cher and Whitney Houston. He also produced acts like Clarence Clemons, Belinda Carlisle and Sophie B. Hawkings, including her 1992 hit Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover.

As always, this post is reproduced in PDF format in the package, which also includes my personal playlist of the featured tracks. PW in comments.

 

Eddie ‘Wally’ Rothe, 66, English drummer, on March 26
Liquid Gold – Any Way You Do It (1980, on drums and backing vocals)

Patrick Juvet, 70, Swiss disco singer-songwriter, on April 1
Patrick Juvet – Je vais me marier, Marie (1973)
Patrick Juvet – Où sont les femmes? (1977)
Patrick Juvet – I Love America (1978)

Oscar Kraal, 50, Dutch pop drummer, on April 1

Morris B.B. Dickerson, 71, bassist, percussionist and singer with War, on April 2
Eric Burdon and War – Spill The Wine (1970, also as co-writer)
War – The World Is A Ghetto (1972, on lead vocals and as co-writer)
War – Low Rider (1975, also as co-writer)

Quindon Tarver, 38, R&B singer, in a car crash on April 2
Quindon Tarver – Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good) (1996)

Tony Pola, Australian rock drummer, on April 2
Beasts Of Bourbon – Just Right (1992, as member)

Agnaldo Timóteo, 84, Brazilian singer and politician, on April 3

Ralph Schuckett, 73, keyboardist, arranger and composer, on April 4
Carole King – Where You Lead (1971, on electric piano)
Hall & Oates – She’s Gone (1974, on organ)
Todd Rundgren – The Death of Rock ‘N’ Roll (1975, on clavinet)
The Manhattans – Forever By Your Side (1983, on piano, arrangement)

Paul Humphrey, 61, member of Canadian new wave band Blue Peter, on April 4

Henry Stephen, 79, Venezuelan rock & roll singer, on April 5

Krzysztof Krawczyk, 74, Polish pop singer, guitarist and composer, on April 5

Sonny ‘Huey’ Simmons, 87, jazz saxophonist, on April 6
Prince Lasha Quintet feat. Sonny Simmons – Congo Call (1963)

Bill Owens, 85, country songwriter, Dolly Parton’s uncle, on April 7
Dolly Parton – Put It Off Until Tomorrow (1967, as writer)

Isla Eckinger, 81, Swiss jazz bassist, on April 9

DMX, 50, rapper, on April 9
DMX – I Can Feel It (1998)
DMX feat. Faith Evans – I Miss You With (2001)

Bob Petric, guitarist of rock band Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, ann. April 10
Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments – My Mysterious Death (Turn It Up) (1995)

Quinton Claunch, 99, guitarist, songwriter, producer and label owner, on April 10
Carl Perkins – Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing (1955, on guitar)
Wanda Jackson – Day Dreaming (1962, as co-writer)
James Carr – Dark End Of The Street (1967, as co-producer)

Bob Porter, 80, blues and jazz producer, arranger and discographer, on April 10
Houston Person – Son Of Man (1970, as producer)

Bosse Skoglund, 85, Swedish drummer, on April 10

Shay Healy, 78, Irish songwriter and chat show host, on April 10
Johnny Logan – What’s Another Year (1980, as writer)

Michel Louvain, 83, Canadian singer, on April 14
Michel Louvain – C’est Un Secret (1965)

Artur Garcia, 83, Portuguese singer, on April 14
Artur Garcia – Meu lament (1962)

Rusty Young, 75, (steel)-guitarist of Poco and songwriter, on April 14
Three Dog Night – Never Been To Spain (1971, on pedal steel guitar)
Poco – You Better Think Twice (1970)
Poco – Rose Of Cimarron (1976, also as writer)
Rusty Young – Waitin’ For The Sun (2017)

Barby Kelly, 45, singer with Irish family pop group Kelly Family, on April 15
The Kelly Family – I Can’t Help Myself (I Love You I Want You) (1996)

Gabriel Raymon, 77, Colombian singer and songwriter, on April 15

Barry Mason, 85, English songwriter and singer, on April 16
Dave Clark Five – Everybody Knows (1964, as co-writer)
Barry Mason – Over The Hills And Far Away (1966, also as co-writer)
Mireille Mathieu  -Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (1968, as co-writer)
Barry Mason – The Last Waltz (2011, also as co-writer)

Mike Mitchell, 77, singer-guitarist of rock band The Kingsmen, on April 17
The Kingsmen – Louie Louie (1963)
The Kingsmen – You Better Do Right (1973)

Black Rob, 51, rapper, on April 17
Black Rob – Whoah! (2000)

Lars Ratz (Ranzenberger), 53, bassist of German metal band Metalium, on April 18

Lew Lewis, English harmonica player, announced April 18
The Stranglers – Old Codger (1978, on harmonica)

Paul Oscher, 71, blues harp & guitar player and singer, on April 18
Muddy Waters – Screamin’ And Cryin’ (1969, on harmonica)
Paul Oscher – I’m Goin’ Away Baby (2005)

Jim Steinman, 73, composer-lyricist, producer, musician, on April 19
Jim Steinman – Bad For Good (1981)
Meat Loaf – I’m Gonna Love Her For Both Of Us (1981, as writer and co-producer)
Barbra Streisand – Left In The Dark (1985, as writer and co-producer)
Pandora’s Box – It’s All Coming Back To Me Now (1989, as writer/producer, spoken intro)

Joaquín Cúneo, 34, Peruvian rock vocalist, on April 19

Bob Lanois, 73, Canadian producer and engineer (Daniel’s brother), on April 19
Willie P. Bennett – Lace And Pretty Flowers (1977, as engineer)

Les McKeown, 65, lead singer of The Bay City Rollers, on April 20
Bay City Rollers – Give A Little Love (1975)
Bay City Rollers – You Made Me Believe In Magic (1977)
Leslie McKeown – Shall I Do It (1979) (1979)

Diamantina Rodríguez, 100, Spanish folk singer, on April 21

Joe Long, 88, bassist of The Four Seasons (1965-75), on April 21
Four Seasons – Something’s On Her Mind (1969)
Frankie Valli – My Eyes Adored You (1975, on bass)
Four Seasons – December ‘63 (Oh What A Night) (1975)

Thomas Fritsch, 77, German actor and singer, on April 21
Thomas Fritsch – Geschichten eines Twen (1964)

Lea Dali Lion, 47, Estonian singer, on April 21

Shock G, 57, rapper with Digital Underground, on April 22
Digital Underground – The Humpty Dance (1990)

Charlie Black, 71, country songwriter, on April 23
George Strait – Write This Down (1999, as co-writer)

Victor Wood, 75, Filipino singer and actor, on April 23

Milva, 81, Italian singer and actress, on April 23
Milva – Bella Ciao (1965)
Milva & Ennio Morricone – D’amore Si Muore (1972)
Milva – Liberta (Freiheit In Meiner Sprache)

Sergio Esquivel, 74, Mexican singer-songwriter, on April 24

Denny Freeman, 76, blues guitarist and keyboardist, on April 25
Denny Freeman – Soul Street (1988)

Jan Verhoeven, 80, Dutch singer with Holland Duo, on April 26

Al Schmitt, 91, engineer and producer, on April 27
Sam Cooke – Cupid (1962, as engineer)
George Benson – Breezin’ (1976, as engineer)
Anita Baker – Body And Soul (1993, as engineer)
Paul Anka – Eye Of The Tiger (2005, as engineer)

Paul Couter, 72, founding guitarist of Belgian rock band TC Matic, on April 27
Tjens-Couter – Walking The Dog (1978)

Sammy Kasule, 69, Ugandan musician and singer with Afrigo Band, on April 27
Afrigo Band – Kasongo (2006)

Mara Abrantes, 86, Brazilian-Portuguese singer and actress, on April 28

Bobby Donaho, 73, drummer of garage rock band Bad Seeds, on April 28
The Bad Seeds – Taste Of The Same (1965)

Anita Lane, 61, Australian singer-songwriter, announced April 28
Anita Lane – The Next Man That I See (2001)

Nick Weaver, 37, guitarist of Australian rock band Deep Sea Arcade, on April 29
Deep Sea Arcade – Close To Me (2018)

Will Mecum, guitarist with rock band Karma to Burn, on April 29
Karma To Burn – Ma Petite Mort (1997)

John Hinch, 73, British drummer (Judas Priest, 1973-75), on April 29
Judas Priest – Rocka Rolla (1974)

Ali McKenzie, singer of British rock band The Birds, announced April 30
The Birds – You’re On My Mind (1964)

Toni Dalli, 88, Italian singer, announced April 30
Toni Dalli – More Than Ever (1958)

Ray Reyes, 51, Puerto Rican singer with teen band Menudo, on April 30
Menudo – Si Tu No Estas (1983, on lead vocals)

John Dee Holeman, 92, guitarist, singer and songwriter, April 30
John Dee Holeman – I Don’t Care Where You Go (1992)

Tony Markellis, rock bassist (Trey Anastasio Band) on April 30
Trey Anastasio – Ether Sunday (2002, on bass)

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Any Major Top 75 Acts (1-17)

April 29th, 2021 3 comments

 

We’re hitting the top in Any Major Dude’s Top 75 acts, a list compiled with my assistance at Rolling Stone magazine. The previous three volumes covered positions 18-34 and 35-56 and 56-75. The system was explained in the first instalment of this 4-part series.

Much as the final Top 75 rankings differed from the Rolling Stone list of Top 100 acts, the Top 3 is non-negotiable, though I think my order of those three makes better sense than that arrived at by my assistants.

Several acts that failed to make the Rolling Stone list made it onto my list. The highest-placed entries of those 19 acts are ABBA and Steely Dan, coming in at 11 and 15 respectively. One may explain the absence of ABBA in the Rolling Stone list by the Swedes’ relative lack of success in the US; a European list of any merit, however, would not exclude them. Steely Dan’s presence in my Top 20… well, look at the name of this blog!

A combination of the way in which the assistants overrated U2 and the circumstance that I have several of their albums (for which points were allocated) kept Bono and pals in the Top 20, a place ahead of Michael Jackson. That guy was hurt by being undervalued by RS — #35, Rolling Stone? Really? — and the fact that I own only three MJ solo albums. But that’s the way these lists work: they are by definition subjective. Though, as mentioned, the Top 3 are pretty much science and gospel.

I’ve also explained the method of song-selection on the playlists before — basically a favourite act per act. The Top two get two tracks here, one from those acts’ early and late periods. Number 3’s later period track didn’t fit on the CD-R length mix, so I’m including it as a bonus track. The chosen tracks are supposed to be my favourites of these acts, but for most, how can there be one, or two, or even five? So for #6, I chose the song that first turned me on to him four decades ago. The early period tracks for #1 and #2 have been my nominal favourites of theirs since I was 12.

The comments on the previous three parts don’t suggest that this was the most beloved series on Any Major Dude yet. I’m hoping that everybody waited for the final part to tell me how much they agree or disagree…

As I said, the mix is time to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-hyped covers, and the above text and full Top 75 in an illustrated PDF booklet. And I include an updated back cover for the last mix (the blue cover), which had the incorrect title on the spine. PW in comments.

Here is the countdown from #17 to the first place, with RS rankings in brackets. Featured songs in parenthesis (on the playlist they follow a more logical sequence)

17 (22)  U2 (Bad, 1984)
16 (18)  Marvin Gaye (What’s Going On, 1971)
15 (—)  Steely Dan (Any Major Dude Will Tell You, 1974)
14 (12)  The Beach Boys (Wouldn’t It Be Nice, 1966)
13 (11)   Bob Marley (Trenchtown Rock [live], 1975)
12 (7)    James Brown (Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine, 1970)
11 (—)  ABBA (The Name Of The Game, 1977)
10 (31)  Johnny Cash (Hurt, 2002)
9 (27)    Prince (Baby I’m A Star, 1984)
8 (4)     The Rolling Stones (Wild Horses, 1971)
7 (9)     Aretha Franklin (Rock Steady, 1972)
6 (23)   Bruce Springsteen (The Ties That Bind, 1980)
5 (40)   Simon & Garfunkel (America, 1968)
4 (15)    Stevie Wonder (As, 1976)
3 (2)     Bob Dylan (Positively 4th Street, 1965)
2 (3)     Elvis Presley (I Want To Be Free, 1957 / In The Ghetto, 1969)
1 (1)     The Beatles (You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away / Strawberry Fields Forever, 1967)

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Any Major Shakespeare

April 22nd, 2021 3 comments

 

 

No, please don’t run away — this will be fun! As Stephano said to Caliban in The Tempest: “We’ll not run!” What we have here is a mix of songs that include phrases introduced to the English language by William Shakespeare, the Leonard Cohen of his day.

Shakespeare, whose anniversary of birth and death we officially mark on April 23, coined dozens of phrases and words (or, at least, was the first to use them in surviving writings). As a coiner of popular phrases, Shakespeare is second only to the Bible. So it is to be expected that common phrases find their way into the lyrics of pop songs.

This mix concerns itself with phrases — “Heart of gold”, “Break the ice”, “The wheel is come full circle”, “Give the devil his due”, “In a pickle”, et cetera — rather than with single words. And there’s enough for another mix.

Single words alone would yield a never-ending number of compilations. One site counted 422 words, many of which we still use today; others count as many as 1,700. Such words include: accommodation, amazement, auspicious, baseless, castigate, countless, courtship, critical, dishearten, dwindle, eventful, exposure, generous, gloomy, gnarled, hurry, impartial, laughable, lonely, majestic, misplaced, monumental, obscene, premeditated, radiance, sanctimonious, submerge, suspicious…

This mix works well as just an eclectic sequence of songs, finding themselves bundled together by the random circumstance of linguistics and literature, but it’s very enjoyable nonetheless. And I imagine that English teachers might get a spark of an idea from this mix, getting their pupils to spot the Shakespeare in pop. I counsel caution with the Billy Holiday track, an old blues number from the 1920s which has lyrics one would not sing today…

To quote Caliban in The Tempest: “Wilt thou be pleased to hearken once againe to the mixt’re of CD-R lengthe, with home-rhymeth cov’rages, I made to thee?” Passworde be founde in ye comments.

 

1. The Beach Boys – Fun, Fun, Fun (1964 – “Wild-goose chase” from Romeo and Juliet)

2. Moby Grape – Come In The Morning (1968 – “Come what may” from Macbeth)

3. Colin Blunstone – Lovelight (1980 – “This denoted a foregone conclusion” from Othello)

4. Little River Band – Full Circle (1981 – “The wheel is come full circle” from King Lear)

5. Gallagher And Lyle – Heart On My Sleeve (1976 – “Wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve” from Othello)

6. Neil Young – Heart Of Gold (1972 – “A heart of gold” from Henry V)

7. The Waterboys – Love And Death (1993 – “With bated breath” from The Merchant of Venice)

8. INXS – Disappear (1990 – “All our yesterdays” from Macbeth)

9. The Darkness – Love Is Only A Feeling (2003 – “The be-all and the end-all” from Macbeth)

10. James Dean Bradfield – Still A Long Way To Go (2006 – “Cold comfort” from King John)

11. David Bowie – Ashes To Ashes (1980 – “Break the ice” from The Taming of the Shrew)

12. Spandau Ballet – Gold (1983 – “My salad days” from Antony and Cleopatra)

13. Rod Stewart – Ain’t Love A Bitch (1978 – “I’ll not budge an inch, boy” from The Taming of the Shrew)

14. Charlie Daniels Band – The Devil Went Down To Georgia (1979 – “Give the devil his due” from 1 Henry IV)

15. John Prine – Please Don’t Bury Me (1973 – “In maiden meditation, fancy-free” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

16. Tift Merritt – Hopes Too High (2008 – “In my mind’s eye” from Hamlet)

17. Kim Richey – Cowards In A Brave New World (2002 – “O, brave new world” from The Tempest)

18. Carly Simon – The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of (1987 – “Such stuff as dreams are made on” from The Tempest)

19. Mary Hopkin – Those Were The Days (1968 – “Farewell for ever and a day” from The Taming of the Shrew)

20. Lou Christie – All That Glitters Isn’t Gold (1963 – “All that glitters isn’t gold” from The Merchant of Venice)

21. Billie Holiday – Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do (1949 – “In a pickle” from The Tempest)

22. Chan Romero – Hippy Hippy Shake (1959 – “For goodness sake, consider what you do” from Henry VIII)

23. Kitty Wells – Kill Him With Kindness (1965 – “This is a way to kill a wife with kindness” from The Taming of the Shrew)

24. Glen Campbell – Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) (2008 – “A good riddance” from Troilus and Cressida)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 11

April 13th, 2021 6 comments

 

In the latest installment of the Not Feeling Guilty series, we are looking at singers whose names sound like those of school teachers; that is, artists who went by their given names, regardless of how ordinary and un-rock & roll they were (the gallery below, which is intended to inject a little gentle humour into the proceedings, might bear out my point. A bigger version of the collage is included in the package). You weren’t going to become a big star with the name Ruhnke (though LaBounty is a pretty cool name).

Many of these singers also looked like they might have been your teacher. And that is not a slur on teachers nor the artists. These singers were recording artists, not creations of image. Their names, bad beards and bald heads assured us that they were here to create music, for the sake of music. Their craft was honest. And, as this mix shows, there was plenty talent behind the ordinary names. If their music’s point is to make you feel good, these people have probably succeeded.

Only few of the acts here struck it really big, though one is married to a man who is one of the godfathers of this genre. Amy Holland married Michael McDonald, who produced and played keyboards on the featured song, the title track of the album which won her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 1981. Holland and McDonald have been married since 1983.

The biggest hit here is Alan O’Day’s Undercover Angel, which was a US #1 and a global hit. It wasn’t his first chart-topper: three years earlier his composition Angie Baby was a #1 hit for Helen Reddy. He also co-wrote the The Righteous Brothers’ 1974 hit Rock And Roll Heaven (originally by a group called Climax). Later O’Day won an Emmy for his music on the Muppets Babies show. O’Day, whose hairline moved forward as he got older, died at 72 in 2013.

US-born and Australia-raised Steve Kipner had some success as a young man in Australia, sang backing vocals on a number of the Bee Gees’ early recordings (which were produced by his father), and had a couple of hits as part of the band Tin Tin. He released only one solo album, in 1979. But his greater success came as the co-writer of a string of hit records spanning four decades. These include Olivia Newton-John’s Physical, Chicago’s Hard Habit To Break, Christina Aguilera’s Genie In A Bottle, Natasha Bedingfield’s These Words, The Hardest Thing by 98 Degrees, He Loves U Not by Dream, Kelly Rowland’s Stole, The Script’s Breakeven and The Man Who Can’t Be Moved, Cheryl Cole’s Fight for This Love, Camilla Cabello’s Crying In The Club, James Arthur’s Say You Won’t Let Go…

Another prolific songwriter was Bruce Roberts, whose co-writing credits includes the Donna Summer & Barbra Streisand disco classic No More Tears. He also co-wrote Streisand’s The Main Event, Bette Midler’s You’re Moving Out Today, Starmaker for Paul Anka/Judy Collins/The Kids from ‘Fame’, Rita Coolidge’s Fool That I Am, Laura Branigan’s The Lucky One, Dolly Parton’s You’re The Only One, Jeffrey Osborne’s You Should Be Mine (featured on Any Major Soul 1986/87), and more. He also co-wrote Lani Hall’s Where’s Your Angel?, which featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 10.

 

If AOR singers were teachers…

 

Yet another singer here with an impressive record of writing hits for others is Randy Goodrum, to whom we owe, as writer or co-writer, the Ann Murray hit You Needed Me, Kenny Rogers & Dottie West’s What Are We Doin’ In Love, Steve Perry’s Oh Sherrie, DeBarge’s Who’s Holding Donna Now, Toto’s I’ll Be Over You, and George Benson’s 20/20, among others. Goodrum also wrote songs for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns.

Goodrum also wrote two other (colour-coordinated) songs here. Pop-gospel-country singer Micki Fuhrman recorded Goodrum’s Blue River Of Tears in 1979; it was a single release only, and made no impact, which is a pity. Fuhrman released three albums and a bunch of singles until 1983.

Goodrum’s Bluer Than Blue was a hit in 1978 for Michael Johnson, an musical all-rounder. As a youth, he studied classical guitar in Barcelona; in the 1960s he was a member alongside John Denver in the folk outfit Chad Mitchell Trio. In the late 1970s he ventured into AOR, and in the 1980s became a country musician. One of Johnson’s hits was This Night Won’t Last Forever, a US #19 in 1979, which features here in Bill LaBounty’s 1978 original version. Johnson died in 2017 at 72.

In the 1960s, the British musician Graham Dee — the only artist in this lot operating with a stagename; his real name is Davidson — worked with future Led Zep members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, filled in for Syd Barrett in Pink Floyd and in Them, and played for Elkie Brooks, The Walker Brothers and Carl Perkins.

Near-namesake Larry Lee must not be confused with the guitarist of the same name who played with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. This Larry Lee was a founder member of the Ozark Mountains Daredevils. As the band’s drummer, Lee wrote and took lead vocals the band’s best-known song Judy Blue, which like the Warnes song mentioned above featured on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 10. Later he joined The Vinyl Kings, with Not Feeling Guilty alumnus Jim Photoglo (introduced on Vol. 7).

Terence Boylan had cool classmates, who helped him record his debut album in 1969: Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, yet to become Steely Dan. Boylan released three LPs between 1969 and 1980, and that was it for his recording career. Happily, Boylan had science to fall back on. He is now director of a foundation he founded to facilitate research and international scientist exchange fellowships.

The best teachers’ name here must be Dick St Nicklaus. I couldn’t find much about him, except that he once worked with Lamont & Dozier, released two albums which were huge hits in Japan, and wrote a number of sings which were recorded by the likes of Laura Branigan, Peter Allen, Vanilla Fudge and Bill Medley.

Craig Ruhnke was introduced in Vol. 9, Peter McCann in Vol. 10. Oh, and I think I’ll opt for religious instruction classes.

As ever, this mix is timed to fit on as standard CD-R and includes home-cruised covers, the whole caboodle above in PDF format, and the yearbook gallery above in larger format. PW in comments.

1. Roby Duke – Seasons Of Change (1982)
2. Alan O’Day – Undercover Angel (1977)
3. Randy Goodrum – Fool’s Paradise (1982)
4. Amy Holland – How Do I Survive (1980)
5. Graham Dee – Too Good To Last (1977)
6. Jim Schmidt – Love Has Taken It All Away (1983)
7. Bill Champlin – Tonight Tonight (1981)
8. Bill LaBounty – This Night Won’t Last Forever (1978)
9. Craig Ruhnke – It’s Been Such A Long Time (1983)
10. Terence Boylan – Tell Me (1980)
11. Larry Lee – Number One Girl (1982)
12. John Valenti – Did She Mention Me (1980)
13. Teri De Sario – The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of (1978)
14. Dwayne Ford – Lovin’ And Losin’ You (1981)
15. Richard Torrance – Anything’s Possible (1978)
16. Dick St. Nicklaus – Can’t Give Up (1979)
17. Michael Johnson – Bluer Than Blue (1978)
18. Micki Fuhrman – Blue River Of Tears (1979)
19. Peter McCann – Do You Wanna Make Love (1977)
20. Bruce Roberts – Cool Fool (1980)
21. Steve Kipner – The Ending (1979)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 3
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 4
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 5
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 6
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 7
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 8
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 9
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 10

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