Archive

Archive for the ‘Covers Mixes’ Category

Gladys Knight Sings Covers

May 21st, 2024 1 comment

 

Gladys Knight, who is turning 80 next week, on May 28, apparently is known as “The Empress of Soul”. If this is indeed her title, that makes the Queen of Soul her subordinate. I wouldn’t hazard to make a judgment about which singer is the greater.

As we saw on the Aretha Sings Covers mix, the Queen was a tremendous interpreter — and reworker — of songs. Certainly, no woman soul singer ever exercised as much influence on her genre as Aretha did. But ask me whose voice I’d prefer to hear on my deathbed, I’d vote for Gladys Knight’s over Aretha’s.

Where Aretha was assertive, even strident, and in her later years even shrill, Gladys exercised restrained. She needed no resort to melisma or bellowing to convey emotion. She could (and probably still can) do so through a little drop or rise in tone, and through her flawless phrasing — much like Randy Crawford, who one day ought to be the subject of a covers mix too.

Aretha had female backing singers, often including her sisters. Gladys had one not-at-all-secret weapon: The Pips. These three guys — her brother Merald “Bubba” Knight and cousins William Guest and Edward Patten — are among the greatest backing singers ever. If there should be a Backing Singers Hall of Fame, only ignorance would exclude The Pips from immediate induction.

Of course, Gladys would have been a star even without The Pips, but her interplay with the guys was an principal ingredient in her soul stew. Just consider the exquisite commentary The Pips deliver on Midnight Train To Georgia. (A track which, like other covers which Knight and Pips turned into hits, doesn’t feature here.)

Gladys had some history with the previous singer featured in this series, Diana Ross. It goes back to the 1960s, when Gladys was with Motown. She and The Pips were supporting Dana Ross and The Supremes on tour — and they stole the show. Berry Gordy was unhappy about that, and, according to Knight, Diana had her act dumped from the tour.

Gladys Knight went on to have a prolific career after Motown, with a string of big hits, some covers and others originals. (See  and The Originals: Soul Vol. 2)

This collection of songs here shows Knight to be a magnificent interpreter of songs, often taking ownership of them. Some of these songs were recorded in their hit versions by some of the greatest singers in pop; Gladys matches or even eclipses them.As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-pipped covers, and the text above on PDF format.

1. (I Know) I’m Losing You (1970, The Temptations)
2. Who Is She (And What Is She To You) (1973, Bill Withers)
3. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (1968, Righteous Brothers)
4. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother/Bridge Over Troubled Water (1971, Hollies/S&G)
5. Fire And Rain (1971, James Taylor)
6. One Less Bell To Answer (1971, The 5th Dimension)
7. Goin’ Out Of My Head (1968, Little Anthony and the Imperials)
8. Help Me Make It Through The Night (1971, Kris Kristofferson)
9. Feel Like Makin’ Love (1975, Roberta Flack)
10. The Way We Were/Try To Remember (1974, Barbra Streisand/Ed Ames)
11. The Makings Of You (1974, Curtis Mayfield)
12. Look Of Love (1968, Dusty Springfield)
13. Groovin’ (1968, The Young Rascals)
14. Sugar Sugar (1975, The Archies)
15. Cloud Nine (1970, The Temptations)
16. Grandma’s Hands (2001, Bill Withers)
17. End Of The Road Medley (live) (1994, Boyz II Men a.o.)
18. Since I Fell For You (2005, Lenny Welch)

GET IT!

Previously in Sings Covers:
Al Green Sings Covers
Aretha Franklin Sings Covers
Diana Ross Sings Covers
Tina Turner Sings Covers

More Mix CD-Rs
Covered With Soul
1970s Soul

Categories: Covered With Soul, Covers Mixes Tags:

Any Major Billy Joel Songbook

May 9th, 2024 3 comments

Today, May 9, Billy Joel turns 75. He has had a long career, and hasn’t always been the most universally admired singer. But for about ten years, between 1973 and 1983, he had a run of producing excellent songs (amid a few duds, take a bow of shame, Only The Good Die Young). I regard 1977’s The Stranger as a minor masterpiece, and Turnstiles (1976), 52nd Street (1978) and An Innocent Man (1983) are superb albums. The other two efforts were more patchy, though both had great moments, too.

And his Songs In The Attic, released in 1981, is a perfect live album (though it is not a record of a single concert). According to the linernotes, Joel’s aim with the album was to recreate improved versions of songs which he thought had been inadequately produced on the studio albums. He succeeded in that aim on every song.

After 1983 Joel still produced the odd gem (Baby Grand, his duet with Ray Charles was one of them), but the magic was gone. And then came the horrible We Didn’t Start The Fire, a hit so big that it came to define his career, at least in part. Even Billy Joel thinks the song is a pile of crap.

Strangely, it seems difficult to cover Billy Joel, and few singers bothered to do so in the 1980s and ’90s. Some people have done so well, but good covers of his best-known songs are scarce. Look at the tracklisting and see what’s missing: The Stranger, My Life, It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me, You May Be Right, All For Leyna, Allentown, Pressure, Tell Her About It, Leave A Tender Moment Alone, An Innocent Man, And So It Goes, Baby Grand…

Say Goodbye To Hollywood has been covered by Ronnie Spector and the E-Street Band (it featured on the Roy Bittan Collection). It’s an okay cover. Bette Midler in 1978 gave it a jaunty vibe, thus totally misreading the song. Either failed to make the cut here.

Also missing is Uptown Girl, which has been covered by many acts — including Westlife, who had a megahit with it — but by none I’ve heard did so well. I don’t mind that; it’s not a song I particularly like.

Piano Man sneaks into the mix with a good Spanish version; I know of no particularly good English version. I thought maybe one of Billy Joel’s duets with Elton John on their live tours might do. They don’t.

Photo from the shoot for the covers of The Stranger. On the cover, they’re black & white.

 

Likewise, Just The Way You Are tends to be covered in disagreeable easy listening mode. Barry White had a hit with a soulified cover of the song, but I don’t like his self-conscious vocals on it. Just The Way You Are would have failed to appear here too but for the saving grace that is Isaac Hayes. Of course, Ike turns it into a long jam with a long spoken intro.

Indeed, the best interpretations here tend to be by soul acts. The Three Degrees take Stop In Nevada, a lesser known Billy Joel song from 1973’s Piano Man album, and turn it into a quite different number. Zhané turn the doo wop of The Longest Tine (from An Innocent Man) into a slow-burning ’90s R&B groove.

The Manhattans take all the fake gospel out of Everybody Has A Dream (originally on The Stranger) and show why it is really a soul song.

Margie Joseph’s cover of She’s Got A Way — the earliest cover in this collection, from 1974 — starts off like a straight cover, but soon she makes it her own song. Produced by Arif Mardin, listen to the backing singers, who include Cissy Houston and fellow Sweet Inspirations Myrna Smith and Sylvia Shemwell, Gwen Guthrie and Judy Clay (who was also Shemwell’ sister). The drummer is Bernard Purdie (see the Bernard Collection Vol. 1 and Vol. 2); on guitar are Cornell Dupree and Hugh McCracken, and the distinct keyboards are by Richard Tee.

Another old-school soul singer appears here with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Billy Griffin succeeded Smokey Robinson as lead singer of The Miracles (it’s his lead on hit like Love Machine). He was also the co-producer of Take That’s debut album.

The Songbook ends with a song performed by the man himself, recorded live at Carnegie Hall on June 3, 1977. Souvenir, originally on 1974’s Streetlife Serenade, comes from a terrific live set released with 2008’s “legacy edition” of The Stranger.

And my favourite Billy Joel song? Summer, Highland Falls — preferably the live version from Songs In The Attic.

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

1. Waylon Jennings – The Entertainer (1984)
2. The Manhattans – Everybody Has A Dream (1978)
3. Margie Joseph – He’s Got A Way (1974)
4. The Three Degrees – Stop In Nevada (1976)
5. Richard Marx – Miami 2017 (1993)
6. Lauren Wool – Summer, Highland Falls (2004)
7. Zhané – For The Longest Time (1997)
8. Beyoncé – Honesty (2009)
9. Joan Baez – Goodnight Saigon (1991)
10. Ana Belén – El hombre del piano (1981)
11. Angelo – I’ve Loved These Days (1978)
12. Lynda Carter – She’s Always A Woman (1978)
13. Isaac Hayes – Just The Way You Are (1978)
14. Barbra Streisand – New York State Of Mind (1977)
15. Paul Anka – I Go To Extremes (2007)
16. Ladysmith Black Mambazo feat. Billy Griffin – The River Of Dreams (2012)
17. Gregorian – Leningrad (2013)
18. Billy Joel – Souvenir (live) (1977)

GET IT!

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

More Songbooks
More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

Categories: Covers Mixes, Songbooks Tags:

Any Major Marvin Gaye Songbook

April 9th, 2024 4 comments

I was 17 and had just got into Motown in a big way. Apart from various Motown compilations, one LP I had was the one of duets by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. I had decided that What’s Going On was my new all-time favourite song (and it has remained one of my all-time favourites). I had liked Gaye for his two comeback singles in 1982, My Love Is Waiting and Sexual Healing, so I paid extra attention to his Motown songs.

We were just about to leave on a long road-trip in early April 1984 when the radio news announced that Marvin Gaye had been shot dead. Bloody hell! First Lennon, now Gaye.

So to mark the 40th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s murder by his own father on April 1 — the day before his 45th birthday — here’s a Songbook. It comes a bit later than the actual anniversary. Diana Ross Sings Covers for her 80th birthday (a mix that featured Marvin on two duets) and the In Memoriam for March got in the way.

I wonder how Marvin’s legacy is regarded today. No doubt, to some people — content creators for clickbait sites and their consumers — he is the carnal crooner who in an aggressively cheesy video pursues a saucy nurse for some “sexual healing”. To them, the healing the singer seeks is the kind that culminates in sticky stuff. But that’s getting Marvin wrong. He was actually addicted to porn and masturbation (he hints at that in the lyrics); what he sought was actual healing from his addictions, to regain a healthy sexuality. But that awful video hardly helped tell that story. The song is covered here by Rita Coolidge.

Of course, Marvin was the loverman who nine years earlier had pleaded to get it on. By then his marriage to Anna Gordy was effectively over. In 1977 Marvin agreed to settle his divorce from Anna by giving her half of the royalties from his next album. His first instinct was to knock off a substandard piece. Indeed, my own instinct would have been to record an album of covers of songs that deal with bitter break-ups.

In the event, he produced an introspective double album, acerbically titled Here, My Dear, which is not an easy listen but maintained Marvin’s artistic integrity. I don’t know of any covers of songs from that album, though.

Marvin’s songwriting creativity exploded in the 1970s, but he scored a number hits as co-writer during his early Motown years, when he still complemented his singing career with session drumming.

With William “Mickey” Stevenson and a changing roster of third partners, he wrote several of his own early hits, such as Stubborn Kind Of Fellow (covered here by Kate Taylor), Hitch Hike (covered by Jean DuShon), Pride And Joy (covered by the Jackson 5), Wherever I Lay My Hat, his duet with Kim Weston It Takes Two, and If This World Were Mine, his duet with Tammi Terrell, which he wrote on his own (it is covered here in a superlative version by Luther Vandross and Cheryl Lynn).

He also co-wrote Motown classics for others, such as Dancing In The Street for Martha & The Vandellas (covered here by The Mamas & The Papas), The Marvelettes’ Beechwood 4-5789, and a little later Baby I’m For Real for The Originals (the latter with Anna Gordy, covered beautifully by the ill-fated soul singer Sherrick). See ID3 tags for co-authors of the featured songs.

For more covers of Marvin Gaye songs, check out the What’s Going On Recovered mix, posted in 2021 for its 50th anniversary.As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-ongotten covers and the above text in PDF format. PW in comments.

1. Jean DuShon – Hitch Hike (1964)
2. The Mamas & The Papas – Dancing In The Street (1966)
3. Kate Taylor – Stubborn Kind Of Woman (1978)
4. The Jackson 5 feat. Michael Jackson – Pride And Joy (1976)
5. Sherrick – Baby I’m For Real (1987)
6. Fourplay feat. El DeBarge – After The Dance (1991)
7. Cheryl Lynn & Luther Vandross – If This World Were Mine (1982)
8. Nancy Wilson – Come Get To This (1975)
9. Sylvia – You Sure Love To Ball (1976)
10. The Three Degrees – Distant Lover (1975)
11. Ken Boothe – Let’s Get It On (1974)
12. Richie Havens – What’s Going On (1973)
13. Sarah Vaughan – Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) (1971)
14. Aretha Franklin – Wholy Holy (1972)
15. Randy Crawford – Just To Keep You Satisfied (1979)
16. Rita Coolidge – Sexual Healing (1993)
17. Kyle Eastwood with Joni Mitchell – Trouble Man (1998)
18. Michael McDonald – Mercy Mercy Me (2004)
19. David Sanborn feat. Howard Hewitt – Got To Give Up (1994)
BONUS TRACKS
20. Stanley Turrentine – Don’t Mess With Mister T. (1973)
21. Cornell Campbell – Wherever I Lay My Head (1975)

GET IT!

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

More Songbooks
More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

Categories: Covers Mixes, Songbooks Tags:

Diana Ross Sings Covers

March 26th, 2024 2 comments

 

Today, March 26, Diana Ross turns 80. To mark that milestone, here’s a collection of La Ross doing cover versions, drawing from the 1970s and early 1980s.

It is claimed by some that Ross wasn’t even the second-best singer in The Supremes. That may or may not be so, but what she had over her two fellow Supremes was an excess of charisma, which found expression in her physical appearance and also in her vocal interpretation of the songs she performed.

This collection highlights the interpretative attributes of Ross, her charisma and her confidence in delivery. Her best, and best-known, cover is that of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, featured here in its full length from Diana’s self-titled debut album in 1970.

That cover is lightning in a bottle. Produced by Ashford & Simpson, also the song’s writers, the Ross version was arranged by Paul Riser, who had also arranged tracks like Gaye’s version I Heard It Through The Grapevine, My Girl, The Tears Of A Clown, What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted, Ross’ own Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand), and, later, The Temptations’ Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone. The Ross version completely reinvents the original, with Ross’ spoken intro barely hinting at the impending musical tsunami. The best vocal bit: when Diana goes “A-OW!”

Diana’s 1971 reworking of the Four Tops’ glorious Reach Out, I’ll Be There slows down the song — not in the pretentious ways of whispy-voiced-girls-with-guitars that blight TV ads these days, but a total reinvention, also produced by Ashford & Simpson, that builds up as it goes along.

On this collection, that track is followed by a straight, though renamed, cover of Aretha Franklin’s Call Me. Aretha, of course, was the subject of a previous … Sings Covers mix (available here). As was Al Green, though I know of no covers of his songs by Ross. I can imagine her covering Let’s Stay Together, and nailing it.

Some of the originals of songs featured here appeared on The Originals – Motown Edition, specifically the two Stylistics tracks, and Thelma Houstons Do You Know Where Youre Going To, which in Ross hands became the Theme of Mahogany. That mix also includes a couple of originals of Supremes tracks.

Marvin Gaye looms large in this collection. On two tracks, Diana duets with him, three are covers of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell originals, and half a track covers Marvin from his What’s Going On album (which was Recovered in 2021. On that collection, Dizzy Gillespie covers Save The Children). On April 2, we will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s murder. Of course, Diana Ross later recorded a song in tribute to Marvin, titled Missing You.

The tracklisting provides the year of Ross’ version and the name of the act that recorded the song’s best-known version, not necessarily the original artist.

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

1. What You Gave Me (1978 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
2. Baby, I Love Your Way (1983 – Peter Frampton)
3. I Can’t Give Back The Love I Feel For You (1971 – Syreeta)
4. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (1970 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
5. You Are Everything (with Marvin Gaye) (1973 – The Stylistics)
6. Stop, Look, Listen To Your Heart (with Marvin Gaye) (1973 – The Stylistics)
7. You’re All I Need To Get By (1970 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
8. Reach Out, I’ll Be There (1971 – The Four Tops)
9. I Love You (Call Me) (1970 – Aretha Franklin)
10. Brown Baby/Save The Children (1973 – Nina Simone/Marvin Gaye)
11. Something (1970 – The Beatles)
12. Theme From Mahogany (1976 – Thelma Houston)
13. Too Shy To Say (1977 – Stevie Wonder)
14. (They Long To Be) Close To You (1970 – Carpenters)
15. I Won’t Last A Day Without You (1973 – Carpenters)
16. Where Did We Go Wrong (1978 – Maureen McGovern)
17. Imagine (1973 – John Lennon)
18. Smile (1976 – Charlie Chaplin)
19. All Of Me (1972 – Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra a.o.)
20. I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl (1977 – Bessie Smith)

GET IT!

Peviously in Sings Covers:
Al Green Sings Covers
Aretha Franklin Sings Covers
Tina Turner Sings Covers

More Mix CD-Rs
Covered With Soul
1970s Soul

Categories: 70s Soul, Covers Mixes Tags:

Any Major Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 2

December 15th, 2023 1 comment

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GET IT!

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

More Songbooks
More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

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

Any Major Randy Newman Songbook

November 28th, 2023 4 comments

The master storyteller Randy Newman is turning 80 today (November 28), so here is a Songbook to celebrate his great body of work.

It seems absurd now, but when Randy Newman released his song Short People in 1977, there was an outcry about the singer’s supposed bigotry directed at people of diminutive height. The opening verse’s claim that “short people have no reason to live” somehow failed to alert the scandalised kneejerkers that they were witness to pretty obvious satire, albeit one by a quite tall man.

Had they done their due diligence, these critics would have known not to take Newman songs at face value, for he had already built up a repertoire of irony-rich songs, and he would continue that practice for many years, before he became the bard of the Toy Story franchise (from which I include only one song, You’ve Got A Friend In Me).

My favourite of these is 1983’s I Love L.A., whose declarative title and catchy tune moved the organisers of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles to use the Newman composition as a theme song. You can’t really blame them for that in their arrogant enthusiasm they missed the sendup. Though the put-downs in the opening verse and the line, “Look at that bum over there, man, he’s down on his knees”, did provide clues that this was not a love letter to the City of Angels.

Newman played it totally straight on He Gives Us All His Love. The message is unspoken — in the perception of Newman, who is an atheist, love is all God gives, but no practical solutions. One may enter into theological debates about that understanding, but some Christian singers, like Wanda Jackson, covered the track as a song of praise. I assume that in his beautiful version on this Songbook collection, jazz maestro Roy Ayers also sings it straight, since he is a professing Christian.

Other times, Newman’s satire is obvious, as on 1972’s Political Science, which proposes that the US nukes everything in the world, including South America, who “stole our name”, and Canada, for the crime of being too cold. But not Australia, “Don’t want to hurt no kangaroo. We’ll build an all-American amusement park there.”

Of course, Newman also wrote movingly and without sarcasm about relationships, the human condition, even about history. The final verse of Guilty, best performed by Bonnie Raitt, just gets to you: “You know you know how it is with me baby. You know, I just can’t stand myself. And it takes a whole lot of medicine, for me to pretend that I’m somebody else.”

Much as it is with Joni Mitchell, whose 80th birthday on November 7 I marked with an Any Major Joni Mitchell Songbook, it pays to listen to Newman’s lyrics. And much like Joni, the voice can be a distraction in doing so. This Randy Newman Songbook may provide relief for those who have difficulty with his unmellifluous voice and constipated delivery.

I think this collection of covers is great, obviously, and it might serve as a good introduction to Newman’s work for those who are not familiar with it. But it is good to invest time and patience in exploring Newman’s own recordings of these songs, because, like Joni Mitchell, Newman has been a genre-fusing innovator in the singer-songwriter field, drawing from pop, rock, blues, jazz and even ragtime — but not much from folk.

Newman has, of course, featured here before. One of my favourites of his, Birmingham, was on Any Major American Road Trip Part 2, but it doesn’t feature here because I’m not aware of cover versions. The same goes for The Story Of A Rock ‘n Roll Band, which was on A Life In Vinyl 1980. I Love L.A. was on A Life In Vinyl 1983 and Any Major American Road Trip Part 3, and Dayton Ohio 1903 on Any Major American Road Trip Part 6, Lousiana on Any Major Year, and I Think It’s Gonna Rain Again on Any Major Wonder Years. (All the American Road Trip and Life In Vinyl mixes are up again.)

Mama Told Me Not To Come featured in the version by Eric Burdon and The Animals in The Originals: The 1970s Vol. 2, and I Think It’s Going To Rain Today by Maxine Wheldon on Covered With Soul Vol. 10 and then by Grady Tate on Covered With Soul Vol. 24.

Tracks 1-23 are timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Includes home-sailedaway covers, and the above in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. Randy Newman – Short People (1977)
2. Wilson Pickett – Mama Told Me Not To Come (1971)
3. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – Living Without You (1972)
4. Blood Sweat & Tears – Just One Smile (1968)
5. Dusty Springfield – I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore (1969)
6. Cass Elliot – I Think It’s Going To Rain Today (1972)
7. Bonnie Raitt – Guilty (1972)
8. Nilsson – Sail Away (1976)
9. Asleep At The Wheel – Louisiana (1978)
10. Everything But The Girl – Political Science (1993)
11. Neil Diamond – Losing You (2010)
12. Kim Richey – Texas Girl At The Funeral Of Her Father (2006)
13. Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt – Feels Like Home (1999)
14. Johnny Cash – My Old Kentucky Home (Turpentine And Dandelion Wine) (1975)
15. Joe Cocker – Lucinda (1975)
16. Etta James – Leave Your Hat On (1973)
17. The Mills Brothers – Dayton Ohio, 1903 (1969)
18. Roy Ayers – He Gives Us All His Love (1970)
19. Irma Thomas – While The City Sleeps (1964)
20. Jackie DeShannon – Hold Your Head High (1964)
21. Alan Price Set – Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear (1967)
22. Tim Hardin – I’ll Be Home (1972)
23. Lou Rawls – Let’s Burn Down The Cornfield (1970)
BONUS TRACKS
24. Three Dog Night – Cowboy (1970)
25. The Doobie Brothers – Beehive State (1971)
26. The Marshall Tucker Band – Mr. President (1982)
27. Third World – Baltimore (1999)
28. OMC – I Love L.A. (1997)
29. John Martyn – God’s Song (1998)
30. Saint Etienne – Snow (1993)
31. George Jones & Kathy Mattea – You’ve Got A Friend In Me (1996)
32. Randy Newman – Rollin’ (1974)

GET IT!

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

More Songbooks
More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

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

Any Major Joni Mitchell Songbook

November 7th, 2023 4 comments

 

On November 7, Joni Mitchell will turn 80 — and after that health scare a couple of years ago, we may be grateful for that.

I discussed Joni (it sounds a bit disrespectful to refer to her by surname only) in the notes for the Blue Recovered mix in 2021. At the time I called her voice “broccoli” — a vegetable I don’t like even as I appreciate its wholesome properties. Writing that prompted me to revisit Joni’s music in a bid to force my ears to eat their broccoli. It was a good detox; I still flinch at the high notes but defended them when Any Major Dudette — the broccoli eater in our house, as it happens — objected to their sound. In any case, as the 1970s went on, Joni’s voice got deeper.

This mix, as did Blue Recovered, highlights the room for interpretation Joni’s songs allow, despite being so personal. Nothing here is quite as reworked as the Nazareth’s The Flight Tonight on Blue Recovered, but the most surprising interpretation here is Neil Diamond’s Free Man In Paris, which moves between rock and Broadway. It’s great.

Diamond reappears in the bonus tracks with his lovely 1969 version of Both Sides Now. In the CD-R playlist that song is covered by the wonderful German singer Katja Ebstein, in whose diction even German sounds beautiful. Her interpretation and the arrangement is gorgeous; Michael Kunze’s lyrics are not a direct translation, but I imagine Joni would approve of them.

Steely Dan also had to tinker with lyrics in their superb take of Carey, in which the protagonist undergoes the necessary gender-swap to become a “Mean Old Mama”. Fagan and Becker recorded the song for a tribute album to Joni, but it wasn’t used. It was “rediscovered” last year.

In Herbie Hancock, an old pal of Joni’s appears here. Hancock collaborated with Joni during her jazz phase; in 2007 he roped in various vocalists for an album of his interpretations of Mitchell songs. Among these singers was the wonderful UK soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae, who gives the over-covered River just the right treatment.

An even older Joni pal was Tom Rush, who has the honour of representing the song I’d name as my “favourite” Joni Mitchell track: The Circle Game. The coming-of-age song was a more hopeful response to fellow Canadian Neil Young’s Sugar Mountain, which was full of angst about growing up.

Written in 1966, The Circle Game was first recorded by Canadian folk duo Ian & Sylvia and soon after released on single by Buffy Sainte-Marie. Tom Rush, whose support helped many folk artists — including Joni — break through, recorded it in 1968. Two years later Joni finally did it herself. Rush was the first to record two other Mitchell songs, Tin Angel and Urge For Going, both in 1968 (she recorded these herself in 1969 and 1972 respectively).

Urge For Going features here in the rather unexpected hands of Lee Hazelwood, who recorded it for his 1973 album I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, which also included covers of songs by Bob Dylan and Harry Chapin. Bob Dylan also features here, with the much-loved and also much-despised Big Yellow Taxi (a song on which I love Joni’s vocals). It is a pity that of everything that Mitchell has done, this slight song is her most famous. It’s a fine song, but it is neither her best nor her most representative — which is why, I suppose, it is so despised by many Joni fans.

The CD-R playlist closes with Richie Haven’s version of Woodstock, a song written by someone who wasn’t at the festival performed by somebody who was.

The bonus tracks include four tracks for which there was no space on the CD-R playlist, and for more which feature before by other acts.

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

1. The Band with Joni Mitchell – Coyote (1978)
2. Bob Dylan – Big Yellow Taxi (1973)
3. Natalie Merchant – All I Want (1995)
4. Steely Dan – Carey (2001)
5. k.d. lang – A Case Of You (2004)
6. Herbie Hancock feat. Corinne Bailey Rae – River (2007)
7. Judy Collins – Chelsea Morning (1969)
8. Katja Ebstein – Beide Seiten (Both Sides Now) (1973)
9. Tom Rush – The Circle Game (1968)
10. Fairport Convention – I Don’t Know Where I Stand (1968)
11. Bonnie Raitt – That Song About The Midway (1974)
12. Gail Davies – You Turn Me On I’m A Radio (1982)
13. Three Dog Night – Night In The City (1971)
14. Lee Hazlewood – Urge For Going (1973)
15. Hoyt Axton – He Played Real Good For Free (1982)
16. Neil Diamond – Free Man In Paris (1977)
17. Stewart & Gaskin – Amelia (1991)
18. Richie Havens – Woodstock (2004)
BONUS TRACKS:
19. George Michael – Edith & The Kingpin (2005)
20. Diana Krall – Black Crow (2004)
21. Claire Martin – Be Cool (1992)
22. Tim Curry – Cold Blue Steel And Sweet Fire (1979)
23. Barbra Streisand – I Don’t Know Where I Stand (1971)
24. Neil Diamond – Both Sides Now (1969)
25. Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Chelsea Morning (1973)
26. David Crosby feat. Sarah Jarosz – For Free (2021)

GET IT!

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

More Songbooks
More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

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

Any Major Hank Williams Songbook

September 14th, 2023 3 comments

In 1975, Waylon Jennings asked in his song: “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?”. His point was to criticise the rhinestone commercialism of country music, but it’s a question that may be applied to this Hank Williams Songbook. Well, Waylon, the answer is that, musically, most of these songs very much are not the way Hank done them. But, I venture, Hank would probably have approved of most of these versions of his songs anyway.

On September 17, we mark the 100th anniversary of Hank Williams’ birth. Born Hiram King Williams in Mount Olive, Alabama, Hank was a pivotal figure in the development of country music, and therefore also of rock & roll (even if rock & roll covers of Hank’s songs are pretty scarce). “The Hillbilly Shakespeare”, as he came to be dubbed for his lyrical faculties, was a big star in the late 1940s and early 1950s during which he created an astonishing number of great songs.

But the stardom came with personal challenges and health issues, including dependence on alcohol and pain killers, the latter due to chronic back pain caused by spina bifida occulta, a birth defect of the spinal column. When he died at the age of 29, he looked 20 years older.

Williams was scheduled to perform in Charleston, West Virginia, on New Year’s Eve 1952, having cancelled a number of shows before that due to his poor health. While he was being driven there in his blue Cadillac by his friend Charles Carr, Hank’s condition suddenly deteriorated. He never made it there, and the two went on to Canton Ohio, for a gig on January 1, 1953. Somewhere on the way to Canton, Hank died in the back seat of his Cadillac. Carr found him dead when he stopped at a filling station in Oak Hill, West Virginia. As Hank once sang, “I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive”.

The official cause of death was listed as heart failure. The coroner’s report also mentioned the presence of alcohol and morphine in Williams’ system. Hank left behind his recently divorced wife. country singer Audrey Sheppard whom Hank had married in 1944, and their three-year-old son, future country star Hank Williams Jr.

Hank left a rich legacy of songs, including 55 Top 10 hits in the Billboard Country & Western Charts. Some of them have become standards which have been covered dozens or even more than 100 times. Some went on to become even bigger hits as pop songs, such as 1951’s Cold, Cold Heart for Tony Bennett in 1953. It later became a signature tune for Dinah Washington, whose version features here. Bennett is represented her with another hit Hank cover, There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight.

Other Hank standards include Hey Good Lookin’, Your Cheatin’ Heart, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Kaw-Liga, Move It On Over (later ripped off for Rock Around The Clock), You Win Again, and Jambalaya.

Three of these feature twice in this mix: Al Green’s and Barbara Lynn’s versions of I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Fats Domino’s and James Brown’s interpretations of Your Cheatin’ Heart, and Johnny Cash’s 1958 version of You Win Again is echoed in 1978 by The Rolling Stones (who themselves were the subject of a Songbook in June). You Win Again also featured in The Beatles’ film Let It Be, sung by John Lennon.

Hank Williams and wife Audrey Sheppard with Hank’s band The Drifting Cowboys.

The two Hanks, Senior and Junior, open the mix in a pairing that anticipates Nat and Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable duet by 25 years (Nat, by the way, covered Hank at least twice). In 1965 the technology wasn’t quite so advanced as it would be in 1990, so the recording of Move It On Over basically is an overdub of Hank Jr mixed with the original recording from 1947.

The line-up of artists in this collection shows just how adaptable Hank’s songs were: from various types of country to the jazz crooning of Tony Bennett to the rock & roll of Little Richard to the soul of Isaac Hayes to the new wave of Elvis Costello to the folk-rock of Patty Griffin to the indie of Camper Van Beethoven to the jazz of Madeleine Peyroux. Even the Red Hot Chilli Peppers recorded Hank on their 1984 debut, though I won’t feature their version of Why Don’t You Love Me, because it isn’t very good (here we have Elvis Costello’s version).

I can imagine that some people might be put off from investigating Hank Williams’ music because they don’t like his voice, or the songs’ arrangements, or because they are just suspicious of country music, or don’t know where to start. I hope this mix will serve as a decent introduction to the songs of one of the greatest songwriters in popular music.

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

1. Hank Williams Sr. & Hank Williams Jr. – Move It On Over (1965)
2. Johnny Cash – You Win Again (1958)
3. Hawkshaw Hawkins – Kaw Liga (1953)
4. Roberta Lee with The Blue Diamond Melody Boys – We’re Really In Love (1952)
5. Joni James – I’m Sorry For You My Friend (1959)
6. Tony Bennett – There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight (1953)
7. Dinah Washington – Cold, Cold Heart (1962)
8. Ray Charles – Hey, Good Lookin’ (1962)
9. Fats Domino – Your Cheatin’ Heart (1964)
10. Little Richard – Settin’ The Woods On Fire (1971)
11. Professor Longhair – Jambalaya (1974)
12. Townes Van Zandt – Honky Tonkin’ (1972)
13. Waylon Jennings – Let’s Turn Back The Years (1975)
14. Elvis Presley – Men With Broken Hearts (live) (1970)
15. Al Green – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (1973)
16. Isaac Hayes – I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love In Love With You) (1973)
17. Madeleine Peyroux – Take These Chains From My Heart (2012)
18. Cat Power – Ramblin’ (Wo)man (2008)
19. Patty Griffin – House Of Gold (2010)
20. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – My Heart Would Know (2021)
21. Billy Bragg & Joe Henry – Lonesome Whistle (2016)
22. Bap Kennedy – Angel Of Death (1999)
23. Emmylou Harris & Mark Knopfler – Alone & Forsaken (2001)
24. Patty Loveless – I Can’t Get You Off Of My Mind (1988)
25. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used To Do (1981)
26. John Prine – Dear John (I Sent Your Saddle Home) (1999)
27. Tompall And The Glaser Brothers – A Mansion On The Hill (1981)
BONUS TRACKS
28. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – I Saw The Light (1972)
29. Asleep At The Wheel – I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive (1973)
30. James Brown – Your Cheatin’ Heart (1969)
31. Barbara Lynn – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (1969)
32. George Jones – I’m A Long Gone Daddy (1987)
33. Huey Lewis & The News – Honky Tonk Blues (1983)
34. Camper Van Beethoven – Six More Miles To The Graveyard (1993)
35. The The – I Can’t Escape From You (1995)
36. The Rolling Stones – You Win Again (1978)

GET IT! or HERE!

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

More Songbooks
More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

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

Any Major Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 1

July 25th, 2023 7 comments

 

Tomorrow, on July 26, Mick Jagger will turn 80, which is a good time to run the first of two Rolling Stones Songbooks.

The first of these Songbooks covers the years up to 1968, which roughly coincides with the Brian Jones years. Jones was hugely responsible for the sound of the Stones, but he didn’t write much material — the great hits were all written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The latter’s 80th birthday later this year will be an occasion for Volume 2 of the Rolling Stones Songbook. A third volume might follow that.

The Stones started out as a covers band until manager Andrew Loog Oldham encouraged Jagger and Richards to write their own songs — to maximise profits — with further encouragement from Paul McCartney. Clearly, the pair had a great talent for the songwriting gig.

Some of the early material was derivative; The Last Time, the Stones’ first self-written A-side, is effectively a cover version of a Staples Singers gospel song from 1954, This May Be The Last Time. Richards acknowledged the pair’s songlifting but also justified it by saying that the tune was a traditional gospel tune, and thus preceded the Staples Singers’ version. Maybe so, but Pops Staples ought to have received a credit — without it, The Last Time stands as an example of white musicians ripping off black music without letting their original creators share in the credits. I don’t include The Last Time in this Songbook.

 

 

I would also have excluded the nasty Under My Thumb, which in the voice of a man is misogynistic and cruel. Happily, Tina Turner turned the tables and has her man under her thumb. It is still a nasty song, but in Tina’s voice it becomes one of defiant liberation, knowing how Ike treated her as modelled by Jagger’s lyrics. And, my word, Stray Cat Blues is one hell of a dodgy jailbait number — Mick, Keef, it might not be a hanging matter, but it is a crime.

But the problems with some of the lyrics (which will re-occur in Volume 2) should not detract from the genius of Jagger/Richards (or Richard, as Keith styled himself until 1978). The fact that the London Symphonic Orchestra managed to create an album of Stones songs and made it sound better than the novelty idea it was, testifies to that genius.

The weirdest cover here is that of Paint It Black, sung by Czech singer Karel Gott in German. Karel (pictured right) was a crooner who’d obsequiously grin at the aunts in the TV audience, velvet bow-tie and side-parted hair in perfect place. So on Paint It Black, our man rocks out in ways that suggest the accidental consumption of substances which Mick and Keef were themselves familiar with. It’s glorious.

In compiling this set, I have found that it isn’t easy to cover a Stones song well, but if it comes off, it’s great. I suppose that to my (our?) ears, these songs are so tied to the Stones sound, and especially to Mick’s vocals, that it requires something quite special or different to suspend the association with the original. Most of the songs here accomplish that, but why is that circumstance so evident with the Stones and not with The Beatles? Answers on a postcard.

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

1. London Symphonic Orchestra – She’s A Rainbow (1994)
2. Otis Redding – Satisfaction (1965)
3. Tina Turner – Under My Thumb (1975)
4. The Flamin’ Groovies– 19th Nervous Breakdown (1979)
5. Arthur Brown – Out Of Time (1974)
6. Alexis Korner – Get Off My Cloud (1975)
7. Johnny Winter – Stray Cat Blues (1974)
8. Jon English – Play With Fire (1976)
9. Melanie – Ruby Tuesday (1970)
10. The Love Affair – She Smiled Sweetly (1967)
11. Nancy Sinatra – As Tears Go By (1966)
12. Bobby Darin – Back Street Girl (1967)
13. The Rotary Connection – Lady Jane (1967)
14. Mary Coughlan – Mother’s Little Helper (1990)
15. Lindsey Buckingham – I Am Waiting (2006)
16. Miranda Lee Richards – Dandelion (2001)
17. The March Violets – Miss Amanda Jones (1987)
18. Smith – Let’s Spend The Night Together (1969)
19. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott – Connection (1968)
20. Chris Farlowe – I’m Free (1966)
21. Karel Gott – Rot und schwarz (Paint It, Black, 1969)
22. Joe Pass – What A Shame (1967)

Categories: Covers Mixes, Songbooks Tags:

Any Major Prince Songbook Vol. 1

June 1st, 2023 3 comments

On June 7, Prince would have reached the retirement age of 65. Which is as good a reason as any to issue the first of two Prince Songbooks. It is remarkable that the three most iconic (a rare occasion when this word finds correct application) pop stars of the 1980s were born within a few months of one another in 1958: Prince in June, Michael Jackson and Madonna in August (29th and 16th respectively).

The mix kicks off with Sheila E.’s wonderful Love Bizarre, which features Prince on vocals and various instruments. It was co-written with Sheila E. Likewise, Martika’s 1991 hit Love…Thy Will Be Done was produced by Prince, and co-written with the singer. Prince wrote Sheena Easton’s Sugar Walls under the pseudonym Alexander Nevermind, and did backing vocals on it, played several instruments, and co-produced.

When you contemplate the obvious candidates for doing Prince songs, the name Kenny Rogers will not come to mind immediately. Yet there he was in 1986, recording a Prince song titled You’re My Love that hitherto had been unreleased (of which there were, and apparently still are, many). It is not true, as the popular story goes, that Prince wrote the song for Rogers specifically.

Prince had demoed You’re My Love — a title you’d expect rather from Ken’s other soul friend, Lionel Richie — in 1982. When Prince fan Rogers called the man to ask for a song, the Purple One dug into his vaults and gave him this power ballad, demo and all. It was an astute choice; the song suited Rogers well. Hear Prince’s version. The songwriting credit was Joey Coco, one of the many pseudonyms Prince used.

The cover of Raspberry Beret is credited here to Warren Zevon. I must confess, it is a bit of a honey trap. To be sure, Zevon sings the song, and it has appeared on at least two best-of-type compilations. But it was first released in 1990 by the supergroup Hindu Love Gods, which included members of REM and Zevon.

In 1984, Chaka Khan had a mega-hit with I Feel For You, a song that appeared on Prince’s eponymous sophomore album in 1979. But two years before Khan turned a decent song into a minor masterpiece, The Pointer Sisters tried their hands at it. Their version features here, and it’s a fine cover.

Chaka Khan would later work with Prince. She features here with a track from her 1988 album, CK. Eternity is a Prince composition, but originally for Sheena Easton. Prince contributed another track to CK, Sticky Wicked, which he also produced, on which Chaka raps (hear it here — or check out Prince’s unreleased recording).

I imagine the track many will skip to first will be Patti Smith’s version of When Doves Cry. It takes courage or foolhardiness (or both) to cover a song like that, possibly Prince’s greatest. Smith was so confident that she pulled it off that she released it as a single. Her confidence was not misplaced, even if nobody could possibly eclipse Prince’s astonishing original.

On her debut album in 2001, Alicia Keyes covered How Come You Don’t Call Me, which in Prince’s hands was the b-side of his big hit 1999. It was, however, a regular in his live shows, from 1982, when it was first released, until his last concert on 14 April 2016 in Atlanta, a few days before his death.

The first Prince songbook closes with Prince’s demo of a song that would become a massive hit for Sinead O’Connor six years later. Prince recorded Nothing Compares 2 U in July 1984 — he had just released Purple Rain — and gave it to his project, The Family (featured on The Originals: 1990s & 2000s). The song made no impact until O’Connor had a hit with her superior version. Incidentally, the subject of the song was Prince’s personal assistant, Sandy Scipioni, who had left his employ after her father’s death.

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

1. Sheila E – Love Bizarre (1985)
2. The Pointer Sisters – I Feel For You (1982)
3. Corinne Bailey Rae – I Wanna Be Your Lover (2011)
4. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – I Would Die 4 U (2015)
5. Warren Zevon – Raspberry Beret (1990)
6. Foo Fighters – Darling Nikki (2003)
7. Lucky Peterson – Purple Rain (1997)
8. Alicia Keyes – How Come You Don’t Call Me (2001)
9. Valerie Carter – Crazy You (2000)
10. Kenny Rogers – You’re My Love (1986)
11. Martika – Love…Thy Will Be Done (1991)
12. Matt Nathanson – Starfish And Coffee (2004)
13. Eels – I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (2006)
14. Marshall Crenshaw – Take Me With U (2004)
15. Patti Smith – When Doves Cry (2002)
16. TLC – If I Was Your Girlfriend (1994)
17. Sheena Easton – Sugar Walls (1984)
18. Chaka Khan – Eternity (1988)
19. Bob Belden feat. Phil Perry & Everette Harp – Diamonds And Pearls (1994)
20. Prince – Nothing Compares 2 U (1984)

GET IT!

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

More Songbooks
More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

Categories: Covers Mixes, Songbooks Tags: