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Any Major ABC of the 1940s

June 6th, 2024 6 comments

 

It is time to revive the ABC of … series, which I find a real joy (and challenge) to compile. And because the concept — one act for each letter of the alphabet — by its nature creates pretty random playlists, a jumble of genres and/or eras, I find listening to these mixes to be great fun.

The idea initially was to create an ABC for each decade, and there have been ABCs of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1990s, and 2000s. But then I expanded the subject field, so there have also been ABCs of Soul, Country, Canada and South Africa. All links are live again.

There are still other ideas in the works, but today we return to the original concept, with an ABC of the 1940s. Being pre-rock & roll, the ’40s were always a bit marginal in the history of popular music (as are the 1930s). I hope the Any Major Hits of 1944 and 1947 have given lie to the idea that the decade was some kind of medieval age in pop.

Rock & Roll grew out of the R&B, country and gospel of the 1940s. Hear Yank Rachell’s track from 1941 and tell me that Chuck Berry never heard that, or listen to Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s guitar for a taste of what was to come.

Certainly lyrically, it was a golden age. Some titles on this mix promise a dose of humour. Una Mae Carlisle’s Blitzkrieg Baby (You Can’t Bomb Me) combines wit and Zeitgeist.

Tex Williams was on a big smoking trip. There was the satirical Smoke Smoke Smoke (on Any Major Hits from 1947), and here the country singer makes the case for quitting smoking, long before such a thing was fashionable or even regarded as sensible — in exchange for libidinous benefits. Williams died in 1984 — inevitably of lung cancer.

Sometimes the joke came much later. In 1947, Frank Sinatra recorded Everybody Loves Somebody (a week after Peggy Lee laid down the first recording of the song; both flopped). Some 16 years later, Dean Martin covered the song. Having completed the recording, the story goes, Dino walked out of the studio, saw Sinatra, and said: “That’s how you do it.” The story may be apocryphal, but Dino was right.

The US in the 1940s was racially segregated, an apartheid state before South Africa really got into that evil concept. I have made it a point to integrate the music of the 1940s on this mix.

Also see a related group of mixes of Music in Black & White.

This mix is CD-R length, and includes home-whamrebopboombammed covers. The text above is in PDF, and PW is in comments.

1. Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds Of Joy – Wham (Wham Re Bop Boom Bam) (1940)
2. Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters – Pistol Packin’ Mama (1943)
3. Cootie Williams & His Orchestra with Eddie Vincon – Cherry Red Blues (1944)
4. Dooley Wilson – As Time Goes By (1946)
5. Ella Fitzgerald with The Day Dreamers – I’ve Got A Feeling I’m Falling (1948)
6. Frank Sinatra – Everybody Loves Somebody (1948)
7. Glenn Miller and his Orchestra – (I’ve Got A Gal In) Kalamazoo (1942)
8. Horace Henderson and his Orchestra – Oh Boy, I’m In The Groove (1940)
9. Ink Spots – Someone’s Rocking My Dreamboat (1941)
10. Judy Garland & Gene Kelly – For Me And My Gal (1942)
11. Kay Kyser and his Orchestra – A Zoot Suit (For My Sunday Gal) (1942)
12. Lena Horne – Deed I Do (1948)
13. Mel Tormé – Careless Hands (1949)
14. Nat ‘King’ Cole – You Can’t Lose A Broken Heart (1949)
15. Orioles – It’s Too Soon To Know (1948)
16. Peggy Lee – That Old Feeling (1944)
17. Quintones – Harmony In Harlem (1940)
18. Ravens – Write Me A Letter (1947)
19. Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight – Didn’t It Rain (1947)
20. Tex Williams – With Men Who Know Tobacco Best (It’s Women Two To One) (1947)
21. Una Mae Carlisle – Blitzkrieg Baby (You Can’t Bomb Me) (1941)
22. Vaughn Monroe and his Orchestra – Rum And Coca-Cola (1945)
23. Woody Herman and his Orchestra – Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me (1944)
24. Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra – Make It Another Old Fashioned, Please (1940)
25. Yank Rachell – Tappin’ That Thing (1941)
26. Zutty Singleton’s Creole Band – Crawfish Blues (1945)

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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
ABC of South Africa
ABC of Canada

Categories: ABC in Decades, Black & White Music Tags:

Any Major ABC of Canada

June 28th, 2022 2 comments

Today I’ll provide a little glimpse into Any Major Dude’s sausage factory. Every day people stop me in the streets and ask: “Any Major Dude With Half A Heart, how the blazes do you come up with all those brilliant ideas for CD-R mixes?” Usually I just tap the side of my nose and sign their autograph books, and politely decline their request for selfies.

It was last week, after just one such episode, or maybe it was while I was having my annual shower, when my interior monologue observed that Canada has produced a good number of famous musicians, with the obvious implication that I should do something about that. I decided that this was a good idea indeed, and concluded that the ABC of … series might be a good platform for that endeavour. It would place discipline upon me by limiting the number of artists that I could feature.

The idea for an ABC of Canada duly put into the works, I set out to make a shortlist of Canadian acts. The letters B, J, L and N selected themselves. And I have fond memories of the song that represents H, so that picked itself. “And out of interest,” I said to myself, “when is Canada’s national day?” Turns out, it’s on Friday, July 1. “Well, in that case, better get cracking,” I instructed myself. Get cracking I did, and here’s the result.

One can argue the toss about some acts I picked over others. Gino Vanelli over Gordon Lightfoot or the Guess Who? Kate & Anna McGarrigle over k.d. lang? Tragically Hip over The Band? Why no Weeknd? No French-language song (but one in Italian)? Well, it’s all a bit random. But having listened to this mix several times, I think it’s a really good one, ranging from rock to nu-soul, folk to indie.

Some of these acts are well-known outside Canada. Everybody knows Joni, Lenny and Neil, and everybody knows at least the voice of David Clayton-Thomas from his hits with Blood, Sweat & Tears. Folk fans will know and love the McGarrigles. April Wine surely are legends in their genre, as are Martha and The Muffins. Acts like Crash Test Dummies, Feist and the Barenaked Ladies (who did the Big Bang Theory theme song), Ron Sexsmith and perhaps Tragically Hip have crossed borders as well.

Readers of the In Memoriam series will have encountered soul singer Eric Mercury in the March 2022 instalment. He was the writer and co-producer of a number of tracks for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway who produced a couple of underappreciated albums.

Perhaps the most interesting, and certainly most topical, act in this collection is Willie Thrasher, an Inuit who was taken from his family at age 5 and placed the Canadian government’s controversial residential school system, which was designed to alienate indigenous people from their cultural roots and force their assimilation into the dominant Western culture. Thrasher left that compulsory system at 16, worked as a forest firefighter, and took up music — returning to his Inuit roots which he incorporated into his folk-rock style, and using his music to speak out on political issues.

Their name might sound like that of a metal or ’80s new wave group, but UHF is a folk-rock supergroup, consisting of singer-songwriters Shari Ulrich, Bill Henderson (of rock band Chilliwack) and Roy Forbes. In the same genre, Valdy is a bit of a legend in Canada, but he doesn’t seem to have made much impact outside the country.

Also from the folk tradition is Oh Susanna, the name under which Suzie Ungerleider used to recorded. She was actually born in the US but has obtained Canadian citizenship.

Jazz singer Salomé Bey was also born in the US but emigrated to Canada in 1966, at the age of 33. Bey died in 2020; this year she was honoured with a commemorative postage stamp.

You’ll find two playlists here: one is a straight A-Z, the other a more ordered sequence of the same tracks.

Though this mix exceeds CD-R length, it includes home-canucked covers. The text above is in PDF, and PW is in comments.

1. April Wine – Roller (1978)
2. Barenaked Ladies – What a Good Boy (live, 1996)
3. Crash Test Dummies – Afternoons And Coffeespoons (1993)
4. David Clayton-Thomas – Anytime…Babe (1974)
5. Eric Mercury – Long Way Down (1969)
6. Feist – 1234 (2007)
7. Gino Vannelli – Wheels Of Life (1978)
8. Hot Hot Heat – Middle of Nowhere (2005)
9. Ivana Santilli – Nostalgia (1999)
10. Joni Mitchell – The Circle Game (1970)
11. Kate & Anna McGarrigle – My Town (1975)
12. Leonard Cohen – One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong (live, 1968)
13. Martha and The Muffins – There’s A Song In My Head (1986)
14. Neil Young – Comes A Time (1978)
15. Oh Susanna – Tangled And Wild (1999)
16. Pukka Orchestra – Might As Well Be On Mars (1984)
17. Quanteisha – Someday (2009)
18. Ron Sexsmith – Whatever It Takes (2004)
19. Salome Bey – Hit The Nail Right On The Head (1970)
20. Tragically Hip – Fiddler’s Green (1991)
21. UHF – Day By Day (1990)
22. Valdy – Rock And Roll Song (1972)
23. Willie Thrasher – Old Man Carver (1981)
24. X-Quisite – No Regrets (2003)
25. Yves Jarvis – In Every Mountain (2020)
26. Zaki Ibrahim – Draw The Line (2013)

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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
ABC of South Africa

Categories: ABC in Decades, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major ABC of South Africa

June 17th, 2021 3 comments

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 Canada
ABC of Country
ABC of Christmas

Categories: ABC in Decades, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major ABC: 1990s

April 1st, 2021 3 comments

In every decade there seems to be a cultural revival of eras that are 15-30 years in the past. I suppose these revivals are the natural consequence of people who grew up 15-30 years ago becoming the cultural decision-makers of the day, resuscitating their happy days of growing up, of being teenagers, of being consumers of music, movies and TV. And if those days weren’t always happy, these people always had music, TV and film to comfort them. So the culture of past generations is revived by middle-age decision-makers and consumed by both their peers and by young people, together and apart.

That generational nostalgia cycle really took hold in the 1970s, when the 1950s revival started with movies like American Graffiti and The Last Picture Show, and bands like Sha Na Na, and then TV shows like Happy Days (a title that signposts that nostalgia I mentioned above) and revival groups like Showaddywaddy in the UK. The death of Elvis gave it further momentum, and it culminated with the musical and movie Grease. Even in the mid-1980s the ’50s revival still had currency, with the Back To The Future film presenting a particular version of 1955.

By then, the 1960s revival was in full swing. In Britain, Mods were already in a Battle of Revivals with Teddy Boys in the late 1970s. Then the murder of John Lennon in 1980 drove ’60s nostalgia into overdrive, bringing us Dirty Dancing and, in the UK, Levi jeans commercials soundtracked by soul hits of that era. And in the 1990s and 2000s, nostalgia for the 1970s even brought bell bottoms back into fashion, their death certificates from the ’80s having been declared briefly invalid.

Now we are in the midst of a 1990s revival, which is unnerving for those of us who are still coming to terms with the advent of the third millennium AD. But suddenly 1990s sitcoms have become all the rage, and the Spice Girls have been artistically rehabilitated by many! Has Garth Brooks started touring again, flying above the cheering crowds?

The 15-30 year revival cycle suggests that the nostalgia for the 2000s should be in full swing now, which means baggy T-shirts must be in soon (or they already are; what would I know?). But the 2000s never really went away, and that is probably the key to nostalgia and the revivals it generates: the eras must have died before they can be revived.

The 1990s is in the grey area of nostalgism: some of it never went away, and yet some of it seems like a different country now.

This mix of music — one act representing each letter of the alphabet — will, I hope, make the 1990s present as an interesting decade. It’s a decade that had its own culture — grunge or Brit pop, for example — but also served as a bridge between a segmented past and the blur of slowly shifting culture in an age when the spirit of the past couple of decades is ever-present, through the Internet and Netflix.

Politically, it was the last summer of relative peace, before 9/11 and the devastation of personal rights that followed that event. It was still a decade of hope, with the fall of the Eastern Bloc, Germany reuniting, South Africa’s peaceful transition from apartheid, the appearance of economic stability (the price for which we paid after 2008, with the lie of austerity), and the optimism that the new-fangled World Wide Web would be a force only for good.

The writing was already on the wall, of course. In the US, there was rise of Republican obstructionism and ultra-partisanship in the 1994 midterms — which came to full bloom in the Tea Party and the social dystopia of Trumpism. The Columbine massacre in 1999 proved to be not an aberration but the starting salvo for a culture of mass shootings so frequent that they have lost the power to truly shock. And in South Africa, the liberators turned out to be just as corrupt as their racist predecessors. But it is not an act of nostalgia to observe the 1990s were better than the two awful decades that followed them.

But back to the music… These ABC mixes are a bit like nostalgia radio stations, though here the playlist compiler has better taste than many of those who decide which old song should play twice a day on the radio. Your kids (or gandchildren) might be pleased to hear something from the 1990s that’s not Bryan Adams, Whitney Houston or “What if God was one of us”.

The mix couldn’t be timed to fit on a CD-R, but I made home-shellsuited covers anyway, in case these come in handy. The text above is included as an illustrated PDF booklet.

1. Arrested Development – People Everyday (1992)
2. Barenaked Ladies – Brian Wilson (live) (1996)
3. Crowded House – Distant Sun (1993)
4. Duran Duran – Ordinary World (1993)
5. En Vogue – My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It) (1992)
6. Fastball – Out Of My Head (1998)
7. George Michael – Spinning The Wheel (1996)
8. Harvey Danger – Flagpole Sitta (1997)
9. Indigo Girls – Galileo (1992)
10. James – Laid (1993)
11. Khadja Nin – Wale Watu (1996)
12. Lemonheads – It’s A Shame About Ray (1992)
13. Mango Groove – Hometalk (1990)
14. Nick Heyward – The Man You Used To Be (1998)
15. Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger (1995)
16. Primal Scream – Rocks (1994)
17. Queen Latifah – U.N.I.T.Y. (1993)
18. R.E.M. – Man On The Moon (1992)
19. Shawn Mullins – Lullaby (1998)
20. Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite (1992)
21. US3 – Cantaloop (1992)
22. Verve – Lucky Man (1997)
23. Weezer – Falling For You (1996)
24. Xzibit – Paparazzi (1996)
25. Youssou N’Dour feat. Neneh Cherry – 7 Seconds (1994)
26. Zhané – Groove Thang (1994)

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MORE ABC MIXES:

Any Major ABC of the 1950s
Any Major ABC of the 1960s
Any Major ABC of the 1970s
Any Major ABC of the 2000s
Any Major ABC of Soul
Any Major ABC of Canada
Any Major ABC of South Africa
Any Major ABC of Country
Any Major ABC of Christmas

Categories: ABC in Decades, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major ABC of Soul

September 10th, 2020 2 comments

 

These ABCs of… mixes are a great way to spend some time: making them and, I hope, listening to them.

The concept is simple: one artist per letter (with solo artists going by the first letter of their first name), from A-Z. And that’s where the fun comes in: for most letters there are so many different acts one can choose, and from those so many different songs. My method was easy: instead of surveying every soul artist beginning with B or S, I went for the acts that first came to mind. For X, the search went on for a bit longer…

I set myself a challenge: it was my goal to limit the running time of the mix to fit the whole thing on to a standard CD-R. All the while keeping in mind that I’ll have to enjoy the end result. Well, I’ve listened to the result many times over, and I do enjoy it very much.

PW in comments.

1. Arthur Conley – Sweet Soul Music (1967)
2. Blackbyrds – Walking In Rhythm (1974)
3. Chairmen Of The Board – Pay To The Piper (1970)
4. Denise LaSalle – Trapped By A Thing Called Love (1972)
5. Earth, Wind & Fire – Sing A Song (1975)
6. Flirtations – Nothing But A Heartache (1969)
7. Geno Washington – Michael (1966)
8. Honey Cone – Want Ads (1971)
9. Irma Thomas – It’s Raining (1962)
10. Jimmy Ruffin – Its Wonderful (To Be Loved By You) (1970)
11. Keni Stevens – Never Gonna Give You Up (1988)
12. Laura Lee – Wedlock Is A Padlock (1972)
13. Marlena Shaw – Liberation Conversation (1969)
14. Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators – If This Ain’t Love (Don’t Know What Is) (2005)
15. O’Jays – Love Train (1972)
16. Peaches & Herb – Close Your Eyes (1967)
17. Quincy Jones – Betcha’ Wouldn’t Hurt Me (1980)
18. Randy Crawford – Tender Falls The Rain (1980)
19. Sly and The Family Stone – Everyday People (1969)
20. Temptations – Since I Lost My Baby (1965)
21. Una Valli– Satisfaction (1968)
22. Velvelettes – Needle In A Haystack (1964)
23. Windjammer – Tossing And Turning (1984)
24. Xscape – Who Can I Run To (1995)
25. Yellow Sunshine – Yellow Sunshine (1973)
26. Zulema – You Changed On Me (1974)

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More Mixes:
More ABCs
More ’60s Soul
More ’70s Soul
More ’80s Soul

Categories: 60s soul, 70s Soul, 80s soul, ABC in Decades Tags:

Any Major ABC of Christmas

November 28th, 2019 5 comments

 

This year we use the ABC compilation concept for Christmas. One artist each representing the letters A through to Z. So it’s all a bit random, and great fun. I’m really enjoying this mix.

Some of the tracks here are pretty interesting. Take The Qualities, a Chicago doo wop band in the mid to late 1950s. They were produced by a young Sun Ra, whose acquaintance with LSD had by then progressed to a friendship. And it shows on this doo wop Christmas track, which sounds like nothing you’d expect.

Four tracks later, we have the Universal Robot Band celebrating a Disco Christmas. Released in 1977, it may sound like a horrible cash-in, especially if I tell you that it includes a conversation between Santa and Rudolph. But don’t skip the track! Recorded by the soul-disco band Kleeer, the groove is solid, and the conversation between our heroes is amusing. Santa decides to “add a little soul to this white Christmas”, and Rudolph affirms, “I can dig it, boss.”

You have to love the idea of a song title that takes the unsnappy route of declaring: “I Don’t Intend To Spend Christmas Without You” (I hope there was a swinging, finger-clicking answer record titled: “I reciprocate your determination to realise the objective of forestalling the absence of seasonal companionship”). The song by French singer Claudine Longet, then Andy Williams’ wife, is bright and quintessential 1960s fare. It was written for Longet by jazz songwriter Margo Guryan at the request of producer Tommy LiPuma.

There are a couple of slightly curmudgeonly tracks here. South African-born British comedian Paddy Roberts’ Merry X-Mas You Suckers (And A Happy New Year) pokes fun at the commercialism and revelry of the season. “You’ll be spending your money on cartloads of junk, and from here to new year you’ll be drunk as a skunk.” But in the end, you might as well party down: “But stick to it suckers, go swallow a pill, for this is the season of peace and goodwill. While we patiently wait for that nuclear blast… Merry Christmas you suckers, it may be your last.”

The Everly Brothers are quite morose about Christmas. “Christmas Eve can kill you when you’re trying to hitch a ride to anywhere… A car goes running by, the man don’t even turn his head. Guess he’s busy being Santa Claus tonight. The saddest part of all is knowing if I switched with him I’d leave him stumbling ragged by the road.” Written by Dennis Linde (who also wrote the Elvis hit Burning Love), this is not comedy.

Comedy is provided by the marvellous Richard Cheese, whose shtick is to rework well-known songs in the way of a cheesy nightclub singer (hence the name). Cheese does so with much wit and musical flair. The featured track, Christmas In Vegas, is the only original track on his 2006 Silent Nightclub album (which features a quite unsettling version of Silent Night). The lyrics are quite savage: “Christmas in Las Vegas, Decorate your tree with chips. Let’s roll a yo beneath the mistletoe while that angel strips.”

As ever, CD-R length, homemistletoed covers. PW in comments. Another Christmas mix will drop in two weeks.

1. Aaron Neville – Louisiana Christmas Day (1993)
2. B.B. King – Merry Christmas Baby (2001)
3. Claudine Longet – I Don’t Intend To Spend Christmas Without You (1968)
4. Dean Martin – The Christmas Blues (1953)
5. Everly Brothers – Christmas Eve Can Kill You (1972)
6. Fountains of Wayne – I Want An Alien For Christmas (1997)
7. Granville Williams Orchestra – Santa Claus Is Ska-Ing To Town (1964)
8. Hot Chocolate – Brand New Christmas (1980)
9. Isley Brothers – Winter Wonderland (2007)
10. Jimmy Beaumont and The Skyliners – You’re My Christmas Present (1990)
11. Kylie Minogue – It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (2015)
12. Leadbelly – Christmas Is A-Coming (1940s)
13. Mel Tormé – Sleigh Ride (1992)
14. Neil Diamond – You Make It Feel Like Christmas (1984)
15. Otis Redding – Merry Christmas, Baby (1968)
16. Paddy Roberts – Merry X-Mas You Suckers (And A Happy New Year) (1962)
17. Qualities – It’s Christmas Time (1956)
18. Richard Cheese – Christmas In Las Vegas (2006)
19. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Please Come Home For Christmas (2015)
20. TLC – Sleigh Ride (1993)
21. Universal Robot Band – Disco Christmas (1977)
22. Ventures – Blue Christmas (1965)
23. Wilson Phillips – Warm Lovin’ Christmastime (2010)
24. XTC (as Three Wise Men) – Thanks For Christmas (1983)
25. Yellowman – Santa Claus Never Comes To The Ghetto (1998)
26. Zee Avi – No Christmas For Me (2009)

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Any Major ABC: 2000s

July 11th, 2019 1 comment

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Any Major ABC of Country

February 14th, 2019 1 comment

Having been asked a few times, I’ve re-upped the whole History of Country series, which I put together between 2010 and 2012. The eBook of the series is still up as well; the eBook and series are what I hope is a decent and brief primer for country music. My idea was that the series might attract people to dig a bit deeper into country.

So to announce the re-upping of the series, here’s an ABC of Country. In absence of any country acts starting with X, the playlist is a letter short. The artists were chosen more or less at random, though I was conscious of including at least one black country singer (the superb O.B. McLinton), and to have some very old and some newer material. The oldest song here is by Uncle Dave Macon, who was born in 1870, and was already 57 when the present song was recorded in 1927, only a couple of years after the first country track was put down on shellac.

Get your free copy of the A Brief History of Country Music eBook.

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

1. Alison Krauss – When You Say Nothing At All (1995)
2. Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys – Bubbles In My Beer (1947)
3. Carter Family – Broken Hearted Lover (1935)
4. Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner – The Last Thing On My Mind (1967)
5. Emmylou Harris – Boulder To Birmingham (1975)
6. Flying Burrito Brothers – Farther Along (1970)
7. George Jones – From Here To The Door (1966)
8. Hoyt Axton – Never Been To Spain (1971)
9. Irene Kelly – My Sun And Moon (2004)
10. John Prine – Hello In There (1971)
11. Kris Kristofferson – Darby’s Castle (1970)
12. Lefty Frizzell – Shine, Shave, Shower (It’s Saturday) (1950)
13. Merle Haggard and The Strangers – (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers (1969)
14. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band feat. Merle Travis – Dark As A Dungeon (1972)
15. O.B. McLinton – Obie From Senatobie (1973)
16. Patsy Cline – A Church, A Courtoom, Then Goodbye (1955)
17. Quartette – Lost Between Barren Shores (1994)
18. Rusty Wier – High Road, Low Road (1976)
19. Skeeter Davis – Gonna Get Along Without You Now (1964)
20. Tompall Glaser – When It Goes, It’s Gone Girl (1975)
21. Uncle Dave Macon – Walking In The Sunshine (1927)
22. Vern Gosdin – Chiseled In Stone (1988)
23. Woody Guthrie – This Land Is Your Land (1944)
24. Yonder Mountain String Band – Half Moon Rising (1999)
25. Zac Brown Band – All The Best (2017)

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Any Major ABC: 1950s

January 22nd, 2019 6 comments

 

The ABC of the 1950s might be a random selection of songs, with each artist representing a letter of the alphabet, but there are some interesting tracks here.

Listen to The Orioles‘ 1951 song Baby Please Don’t Go, which James Brown surely took more than just a dollop of inspiration from for Please Please Please. That song, better known as the soul classic that had James Brown fall to his knees in exhausted despair, features here in its initial version, which still had to acquire the raw soul of later interpretations.

Singing in 1959 about securing a date with the school’s prettiest girl, during biology class, is Tony Perkins, who a year later would use his formal name as an actor in the Alfred Hitchcock romantic comedy Psycho (I only got as far as just after the girl checks into the hotel run by the slightly geeky but nice young man played by Perkins. I left it when she takes a shower, which I’m sure will lead to screwball comedy stuff. No Spoilers, please).

 

The Hollywood Flames. In front are (left) Bobby Day and Earl Nelson.

 

The lead singer of R&B and doo wop band Hollywood Flames on their hit Buzz-Buzz-Buzz was Earl Nelson, half of the 1960s R&B duo Bob & Earl. And the writer of the song was fellow Hollywood Flame Bobby Day, who went on to be the original Bob in Bob & Earl. By 1962, Nelson recruited a new Bob and had a hit with Harlem Shuffle. By then Byrd had already a hit under his belt with Rockin’ Robin (later covered by Michael Jackson). Byrd also wrote the hits Over and Over by The Dave Clark Five and Little Bitty Pretty One by Thurston Harris. He died in 1990 at 60.

The singer of Real Wild Child, a cover of Australian rock & roller Johnny O’Keefe’s original and precursor of Iggy Pop’s version, is called just Ivan. That was Jerry Ivan Allison, drummer of The Crickets, who is backed here by Buddy Holly on guitar.

Few people on this mix were really likely to score a disco hit two decades after the setting of this ABC. Yet, this is just what R&B singer Dee Clark did in 1975 when he reached #16 in the UK charts with Ride a Wild Horse. Here, in 1959, he still fantasises about the content of high school girls’ sweaters. Clark died in 1990 at only 52.

Fifty-two was also the age at which Amos Milburn died, in 1980. Initially a jazz pianist and singer of those blues and boogie and jump songs that helped pave the way for rock & roll, Milburn’s line was good-natured songs about women and drinking too much which in his day were timeless stuff. His biggest fan was the similarly good-natured Fats Domino, who often cited Milburn as a major influence.

Even younger at the time of her death was Una Mae Carlisle, who was only 40 when she passed on of pneumonia in 1956. A performer since the age of three, the singer-pianist was discovered in the 1930s by Fats Waller. A bandleader in her own right (Lester Young was among her sidemen), Carlisle had as radio show, toured internationally, and wrote many songs, which were covered by the likes of Cab Calloway and Peggy Lee.

 

The Bobettes, whose record company made them turn their contempt for a teacher into a song of inappropriate infatuation.

 

And younger yet was Jannie Pought of the teenage R&B group The Bobettes, who was stabbed to death in a random killing at the age of 34 in 1980. Her group’s Mr Lee is about a schoolgirl’s crush on the eponymous teacher, though their song was initially intended to satirise their teacher, who apparently was indeed a Mr Lee. Atlantic Records ordered that the lyrics be rewritten. The song became a huge hit. The Bobettes continued to record into the early 1980s and performed together even longer. By now four of the five members are dead.

This mix was prepared before the death on December 28 of Christine McGuire of The McGuire Sisters, whose Rhythm ‘n’ Blues (Mama’s Got The Rhythm, Papa’s Got The Blues) is rather more entertaining than their dreary signature tune Sincerely.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-brylcreemed covers. PW same as always.

1. Amos Milburn and his Aladdin Chickenshackers – Bad, Bad Whiskey (1951)
2. Bobettes – Mr. Lee (1957)
3. Connie Francis – No Other One (1956)
4. Dee Clark – Hey Little Girl (In The High School Sweater) (1959)
5. Everly Brothers – Bird Dog (1958)
6. Four Aces – Love Is A Many Splendored Thing (1956)
7. Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps – Be Bop A Lula (1956)
8. Hollywood Flames – Buzz-Buzz-Buzz (1957)
9. Ivan – Real Wild Child (1958)
10. James Brown with The Famous Flames – Please Please Please (1956)
11. Kirby Sisters – Red Velvet (1956)
12. Little Richard – Ooh My Soul (1958)
13. McGuire Sisters – Rhythm ‘n’ Blues (Mama’s Got The Rhythm, Papa’s Got The Blues) (1956)
14. Nutmegs – Story Untold (1955)
15. Orioles – Baby Please Don’t Go (1951)
16. Penguins – Earth Angel (1954)
17. Quin-Tones – Ding Dong (1958)
18. Roy Orbison – Go! Go! Go! (1956)
19. Spaniels – Goodnight Sweetheart (1954)
20. Tony Perkins – Prettiest Girl In School (1959)
21. Una Mae Carlisle – Long (1950)
22. Valentines – The Woo Woo Train (1955)
23. Wrens – Come Back My Love (1955)
24. Xavier Cugat & Abbe Lane – Cuban Mambo (1955)
25. Youngsters – You’re An Angel (With The Devil In Your Eyes) (1956)
26. Ziggy Talent – Please Say Goodnight To The Guy, Irene (1950)

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Any Major ABC: 1960s

October 18th, 2018 10 comments

 

No other decade offers as much fun in the task of compiling music as the 1960s. Indeed, the idea for the concept of this series — whereby we go through a decade through the medium of the alphabet, from A-Z, each letter getting a song — was prompted by the first song on this mix. One morning on my way to work I heard Amen Corner’s If Paradise Was Half As Nice, and I thought: “How would I accommodate this in a standard CD-R mix with home-made covers; PW in comments”?

This is the result: a jukebox of 1960s joy, completed by a suggestion from reader rntcj (try saying that when you’re drunk) who filled the X-shaped gap. Reader Randy T. has been helpful with filling gaps in other decades; so before I die, I seek to cover the ABCs from the 1940s to the 2000s.

For the most part, the song choices are a bit random. How do you choose between Mamas & Papas, Monkees, Marvin Gaye, Manfred Mann, Marvelettes, Moody Blues, Martha Reeves, McCoys or Mindbenders? There were some difficult choices, often made of the spur-of-the-moment variety. And after sampling a lot of favourites along the way.

And then which Mamas & Papas song? Well, the one featured has always intrigued me: as a declaration of sexual liberation by women in the 1960s, Go Where You Wanna Go must have seemed revolutionary. But there is also the payback of John Philips, who had his wife sing about her affair with songwriter Russ Titelman (other stories suggest that it was about Philips’ affair with Papas singer Denny Doherty). John Philips had a habit of doing that sort of thing to his bandmates.

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

Amen Corner – (If Paradise Was) Half As Nice (1968)
Bar-Kays – Soul Finger (1967)
Chris Andrews – Pretty Belinda (1969)
Doris Days – Move Over Darling (1963)
Equals – Soul Groovin’ (1968)
Foundations – Baby Now That I’ve Found You (1967)
Gene Chandler – Duke of Earl (1962)
Hollies – Bus Stop (1966)
Impressions – It’s Alright (1963)
Jay & the Americans – Come A Little Bit Closer (1964)
Kinks – Dandy (1966)
Lemon Pipers – Green Tambourine (1968)
Mamas & The Papas – Go Where You Wanna Go (1966)
Nancy Sinatra – The City Never Sleeps At Night (1965)
Otis Redding & Carla Thomas – Bring It On Home To Me (1967)
Procol Harum – Homburg (1967)
Quicksilver Messenger Service – Dino’s Song (1968)
Ronettes – (The Best Part Of) Breakin’ Up (1964)
Supremes – The Happening (1967)
Tom Jones – It’s Not Unusual (1965)
Unit 4 + 2 – Concrete And Clay (1965)
Velvelettes – He Was Really Saying Somethin’ (1964)
Walker Brothers – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (1966)
X-Cellents – Hey Little Willie (1965)
Young Rascals – Lonely Too Long (1967)
Zombies – She’s Not There (1964)

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