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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
Rod Temperton
Rolling Stones Vol. 1
Sly Stone
Steely Dan

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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More Covers Mixes
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Categories: Covers Mixes, Songbooks Tags:

Tina Turner Sings Covers

May 25th, 2023 6 comments

The death of Tina Turner yesterday brought to a close one of the great stories in pop music. It’s a well-known story, and it requires no rehashing here (in any case, if you didn’t know it and missed the movie, you’ll read it in the obituaries). Still, it is a triumph of the human spirit that Tina left her abusive husband at the risk of everything she had and knew, and came back, eventually, a bigger star than she was with him.

I don’t have much love for Tina’s output after the Private Dancer album, her big comeback in 1984, but I love her success, which was a permanent fuck-you to her erstwhile abuser, who lived out huis days as a public fool. I hope Tina’s story inspired many abused women to leave their abusive partners (and before anyone objects, “Men are abused, too”, yeah, sure. But that is a different story).

It is remarkable that Tina Turner was seen as a bit of a rock granny when she made her comeback at the age of 44. It seemed so unlikely, and it was unprecedented that a woman of that age might have a second stab at superstardom (and here we might remember the role the members of Heaven 17 played in returning Tina to the big stage). If you were a woman, you were considered past-it once you had crossed the threshold of 30. That comeback helped change things for women in popular music. Beyoncé is only three years younger than Tina was in 1984; nobody would even think of calling her a granny, or even an aunty. At 43, Pink is topping the album charts around the world; try calling her “old”…

Poster of Tina Turner in Germany’s Bravo magazine in February 1974.

As performers, Ike and Tina were dynamite, especially when they were backed by The Ikettes. Ike’s arrangements were of such genius that the covers he produced often turned out to be new songs (check out what he and Tina did to the hoary old standard You Are My Sunshine as an example), or improved on the original, even when the initial version seemed pretty much perfect (Proud Mary is a good example).

Tina’s vocals might have lacked in elegant beauty, but Tina inserted so much character in their delivery — and when required also explosive energy. She sang with authority, even when she lacked that in her private life. Few vocalists have ever been both soul and rock singers simultaneously, and nobody in the way Tina Turner was. She was unique.

This mix of covers by Tina Turner demonstrates that duality in music sensibility; and a couple of tracks here — Kris Kristofferson’s Lovin’ Him Was Easier and Brenda Lee’s If This Is Our Last Time — are from her foray into country in 1974 , though they were released only in 1979.

By then she had already released her cover of Dan Hill’s Sometimes When We Touch, the original of which features on the Any Major Power Ballads Vol. 2 mix, which I posted only a day before Tina Turner’s death.

Some of Turner’s biggest post-comeback hits were covers, though they don’t feature here. The comeback started with her fine version of Al Greens Let’s Stay Together and took pace with What’s Love Got To Do With It, a much superior cover of a song by Bucks Fizz. Her signature tune probably is (Simply) The Best, a terrible song first recorded by Bonnie Tyler, which was included in The Originals: 1980s Vol. 2. None of them feature here, but I close the mix with her slowed-down interpretation of Help, from Private Dancer, which was in contention for the Beatles 1962-66 Recovered mix I posted in March.

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

1. Ike & Tina Turner – Proud Mary (1971)
2. Ike & Tina Turner and The Ikettes – Gimme Some Lovin’/Sweet Soul Music (1969)
3. Ike & Tina Turner and The Ikettes – Respect (1969)
4. Ike & Tina Turner – Honky Tonk Woman (1973)
5. Tina Turner – The Bitch Is Back (1978)
6. Tina Turner – Whole Lotta Love (1975)
7. Ike & Tina Turner – Higher Ground (1974)
8. Tina Turner – Back Stabbers (1979)
9. Ike & Tina Turner – You Are My Sunshine (1973)
10. Ike & Tina Turner and The Ikettes – Son Of A Preacher Man (1969)
11. Ike & Tina Turner – With A Little Help From My Friends (1973)
12. Tina Turner – Let’s Spend The Night Together (1975)
14. Ike & Tina Turner – I Wish It Would Rain (1969)
15. Ike & Tina Turner – I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (1969)
16. Ike & Tina Turner – Save The Last Dance For Me (1966)
17. Tina Turner – If This Is Our Last Time (1974)
18. Ike & Tina Turner – Drift Away (1973)
19. Tina Turner – Lovin’ Him Was Easier (1974)
20. Tina Turner – Sometimes When We Touch (1978)
21. Tina Turner – Help (1984)

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Beatles Recovered: 1962-66

March 29th, 2023 6 comments

 

For many people who missed the Beatles years, the red and blue compilation gatefold-covered double-albums, 1962-66 and 1967-70, served as an introduction to the band’s music. In the 1970s, every family seemed to have a set, especially those who had no the Beatles LP.

In my family’s case, it was my older sister who had both sets. I had known Beatles songs like Obladi-Oblada and She Loves You, but it was Side 2 of the red album hooked me, and I’ve remained hooked on The Beatles ever since.

April 2 will mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the two sets, one of the last acts as Beatles manager by the reviled Allen Klein. It was a reaction to a bootleg compilation titled Alpha Omega, which was even advertised on TV. Still, the albums were a great idea.

They are sort of greatest hits collections, but not quite. The hits are there, but so are album tracks, such as (on the Red Album) All My Loving, Eight Days A Week, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, In My Life or Girl. Any of them could have been a #1 hit. Oddly, no George Harrison features on the Red Album, but the Blue Album features his quite redundant Old Brown Shoe.

The present mix features one cover that was produced by John Lennon himself, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away by folkies The Silkie, a recording that also featured Paul McCartney and Harrison. That quartet was billed as the English Peter, Paul and Mary, and they kicked off their brief recording career with an album of Dylan covers. So it made sense that they’d cover Lennon’s (superb) attempt at emulating Dylan — and fill the rest of their second and final LP with more Dylan covers.

In 1983 Tina Turner released a slowed-down version of Help. A year before that, South African band PJ Powers & Hotline did the same, and it’s their version which features here. I think the song’s lyrics are served well by being slowed down. Tina will feature on the Blue Album.

The greatest difficulty in projects like these is to find versions of Yesterday that aren’t cheesy and of Yellow Submarine that are worth giving a listen. On the Any Major Beatles Covers 1962-66 mix I made in 2010 (it’s up again, as are 1967-68 and 1968-70), Smokey Robinson & The Miracles did Yesterday duty, and on Help! Recovered, it was The Dillards. Here we have Gladys Knight & The Pips, with Gladys totally owning the song.

Yellow Submarine is a tougher proposition. On Revolver Recovered, The Pickin’ On Picks did a bluegrass version, on Yellow Submarine Recovered, The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band got funky with it (and it was reprised by Sesame Street). I might have recycled Maurice Chevalier’s remarkable version from The Beatles in French Vol. 2, but in the interest of trying to include only tracks not previously used,  I hunted down a fantastic version by Finnish group Leningrad Cowboys performing the song live with the Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble. Four great versions of a pretty awful song. But I’m glad I’ll never have to recover it again

There are many other great covers here. Chaka Khan works over We Can Work It Out — the most soul of all Beatles songs? — and Otis Redding’s live version of Day Tripper eclipses the original (you can almost feel his sweat hitting you). But you’d expect Chaka and Otis to deliver brilliant covers, for Beatles songs tend to be adaptable to soul. The two Covered With Soul mixes of Beatles tracks showed that (Covered With Soul Vol. 14 and Vol. 15).

I’m not sure how much Beatles songs lend themselves to country music. But in Herb Pederson’s hands, Paperback Writer does become a fine country tune. And in his version, you can actually understand the cruelly funny words.

Junior Campbell had a big hit with a Beatles song as a member of Marmalade, Obladi-Oblada. On his 1974 solo album Second Time Around, he covered another Beatles track I don’t particularly love, Drive My Car. His keyboard solo on it is quite excellent. We previously encountered Junior Campbell on Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 9, and will meet him again on Vol. 2 of Any Major Hits from 1973.

As a bonus track, you will find Mrs Miller’s version of A Hard Day’s Night. If you know it, you’ll know what to expect. If you don’t, you’re in for a treat unlike any you have known.

On a note of housekeeping: Zippyshare will close down as of April 1. There are 369 Any Major mixes still sitting there, most of which I won’t re-up. So grab what you can while you can. I have already reupped all Beatles Recovered, and other Beatles cover mixes as well as the Beatles Reunited series on a new server.

As for this mix, they are two CD-R mixes with home-fabbed covers, and the above in PDF format. PW in comments. The Blue Album Recovered will follow after next week’s In Memoriam.

Disc 1
1. The Persuasions – Love Me Do (2002)
2. Keely Smith – Please Please Me (1965)
3. Del Shannon – From Me To You (1963)
4. Count Basie & His Orchestra – She Loves You (1966)
5. Sparks – I Want To Hold Your Hand (1976)
6. Nick Heyward – All My Loving (1996)
7. Blackstreet – (Money Can’t) Buy Me Love (1996)
8. Bar-Kays – A Hard Day’s Night (1969)
9. Reggie Milner – And I Love Her (1969)
10. The Runaways – Eight Days A Week (1978)
11. Sweethearts Of The Rodeo – I Feel Fine (1988)
12. The 5th Dimension – Ticket To Ride (1967)
13. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Yesterday (1968)

Disc 2
1. P.J. Powers & Hotline – Help (1982)
2. The Silkie – You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (1965)
3. Chaka Khan – We Can Work It Out (1981)
4. Otis Redding – Day Tripper (Live) (1967)
5. Junior Campbell – Drive My Car (1974)
6. P.M. Dawn – Norwegian Wood (1993)
7. Carpenters – Nowhere Man (1967)
8. Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals – Michelle (2005)
9. Richie Havens – In My Life (1987)
10. Joe Jackson Trio – Girl (Live) (2010)
11. Herb Pedersen – Paperback Writer (1976)
12. Aretha Franklin – Eleanor Rigby (1969)
13. Leningrad Cowboys & The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble – Yellow Submarine (1994)

GET IT! or HERE!

BEATLES RECOVERED:
Beatles Recovered: Please, Please Me
Beatles Recovered: With The Beatles
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Recovered: Let It Be

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Any Major Sly Stone Songbook

March 23rd, 2023 6 comments

 

 

Last week, on 15 March, it was Sly Stone’s 80th birthday. It passed me by until I saw a friend mentioning it on Facebook, expressing his surprise that the man born Sylvester Stewart was still alive. And it indeed seems to be a miracle, given Sly’s unwholesome lifestyle as a younger man.

Sly’s use of cocaine — stored in a violin case — was so prolific that it destroyed his nasal cavities. Apparently, his party trick was to insert a shoelace up one nostril and pull it out through the other. When Sly appeared at the Grammys in 2006, he looked ready for knocking on heaven’s door. But 17 years later, at 80, he’s still with us. Stand!

His body of work merits Any Major Songbook, kicking off with a collaboration of the man himself with Buddy Guy and John Mayer, from an album of collaborations with well-known names.

Some tracks here are by acts whose decision to cover Sly & The Family Stone is not surprising. But one name you might not have immediately thought of as featuring on this mix when you saw the title is that of James Last. The German bandleader was the perpetrator of much disposal easy listening fare, but it’s not well-known that the baton-swinger Last could be dangerously funky, as he is on Sing A Simple Song. Nor would you have expected venerable Big Band leader Woody Herman to cover a track called Sex Machine, his first name notwithstanding.

The bonus tracks include an early, pre-Family Stone track which Sly co-wrote and produced for Bobby Freeman in 1964. C’mon And Swim was a #5 pop hit in the US, and thus Sylvester’s first chart outing. He had been involved in music since he was a child, singing gospel music with his siblings Loretta, Freddie and Rose. The latter two would become members of Sly & The Family Stone, and are also survivors of their band’s militant hedonism pf the 1970s. Their solitary single as juvenile gospel singers, released in 1952, featured on Saved! Vol. 1.

Sly & The Family Stone are important as a musical act, having integrated various genres to create their funky music, using a drum machine when that was still nascent technology, and so on. And they were one of the first major multiracial act to score hits — much to the chagrin of the Black Panthers, who demanded the two white members be replaced. That wasn’t Sly’s way. His way was to advise abstention from the use of racial epithets.

This collection exceeds CD-R length, though tracks 1-19 are timed to fit on one, and so covers made be mice elf are included, as is the above text in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. Sly & The Family Stone with Buddy Guy & John Mayer – You Can Make It If You Try (2005)
2. Bettye LaVette – Thankful N’ Thoughtful (2012)
3. Manhattan Transfer with Chaka Kahn – Hot Fun In The Summertime (1995)
4. Dr John – Thank You (Falletin’ Me Be Mice Elf Again) (1994)
5. Billy Paul – Everyday People (1970)
6. The Ghana Soul Explosion – Family Affair (1973)
7. The Nineteenth Whole – You Caught Me Smilin’ Again (1972)
8. Al Jarreau – Somebody’s Watching You (1976)
9. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Everybody Is A Star (1971)
10. The Jackson 5 – Stand (1969)
11. Ike & Tina Turner – I Want To Take You Higher (1970)
12. The Three Degrees – You’re The One (1970)
13. Love Childs Afro Cuban Blues Band – Life And Death In G&A (1975)
14. James Last – Sing A Simple Song (1972)
15. Bar-Kays – Dance To The Music (1971)
16. Gene Harris – Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey (1974)
17. Dillard-Hartford-Dillard – The Same Thing (1980)
18. The Colourfield – Running Away (1987)
19. Maceo Parker – In Time (1990)
Bonus Tracks:
20. Bobby Freeman – C’mon And Swim (1964)
21. Eric Burdon & The Animals – I’m An Animal (1975)
22. George Howard – Just Like A Baby (1998)
23. Diana Ross – Le Lo Li (1976)
24. Simply Red – Let Me Have It All (1987)
25. Mercury Rev – If You Want Me To Stay (1992)
26. Woody Herman – Sex Machine (1969)

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
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
Steely Dan

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Categories: Covers Mixes, Songbooks Tags:

Any Major George Harrison Songbook

February 23rd, 2023 9 comments

 

On 25 February we mark the 80th anniversary of the birth of George Harrison. That deserves a Songbook mix.

I won’t be the first person ever to marvel at the circumstance that George Harrison was only the third-best songwriter in The Beatles. That’s the man who wrote the best songs on The Beatles’ perhaps best album, Something and Here Comes The Sun (a time when the other two struggled to finish their songs).

George was perhaps the most innovative of the three innovators, even though some of these innovations I could do without [you within you].

He was the first Beatle to release a solo album, and the first have a solo UK #1 hit, in January 1971 with My Sweet Lord (I’ve discussed before what I think of the plagiarism charges brought by the publishing company who owned the rights to He’s So Fine), and the first to release a bona fide classic album, the three-LP set All Things Must Pass. And George sort of invented charity concert festivals. I wonder whether Geldof thought to invite him to appear at Live Aid…

And George was the first Beatle to die of natural sources (if we discount Stu Sutcliffe, of course), though he almost became the second Beatle to be murdered, when in 1999 he was stabbed 40 times by an intruder. By then George was already battling throat cancer, which had been diagnosed in 1997. Fucking cigarettes! He died on 29 November 2001, at the age of only 58.

Harrison’s solo career after All Things Must Pass isn’t always appreciated. McCartney produced more hits (and Ringo as many UK Top 10 hits as George); Lennon created more material for discussion. George produced a couple of stinkers (Going Troppo!), and after All Things Must Pass no real classics, so it is indeed easy to overlook his solo career. But that would be to ignore some excellent music, as the Beatles Reunited series might have shown. Only seven of the tracks here were originally Beatles releases.

Something that struck me as I compiled this Songbook was that Harrison’s solo stuff is more accessible to interpretation in cover versions than that by Paul McCartney, whose post-Beatles Songbook I ran last year. Remarkably, George’s material adapts well to soul music — not surprisingly, given that the first version of My Sweet Lord was recorded by Billy Preston. It sounds more like the Edwin Hawkins Singers rip-off Harrison had intended to be than a Chiffons number. Fittingly, the cover here falls within the soul-gospel genre.

A few Harrison compositions here were not recorded by him. He co-wrote Cream’s Badge with Clapton (the title is Clapton’s misreading of Harrison’s handwritten word “Bridge”), and played rhythm guitar on the recording. It seems fitting that George’s close friend Clapton should appear twice on this mix, with Badge and his quite lovely recording of Love Comes To Everyone, a song that appeared originally on George’s self-titled 1979 album (the one with the wonderful Blow Away, for which no good cover seems to exist). The men shared their music and their loves…

Harrison also co-wrote Ringo Starr’s big hit Photograph, writing the gorgeous melody and helping Ringo with the lyrics. It was his first writing credit with Starr, though Harrison had also contributed, uncredited, to the Ringo hits It Don’t Come Easy and Back Off Boogaloo. The recording of the hit version of Photograph (an earlier Harrison-produced take was discarded) featured George on 12-string acoustic guitar, plus Nicky Hopkins on piano, Klaus Voormann on bass and Jim Keltner on drums — all of whom were playing at the time on the recording of Harrison’s Living In The Material World LP — with a saxophone solo by Bobby Keys. Jim Keltner and Bobby Keys have both been subject of Any Major Collections.

Sour Milk Sea was written specifically as a debut single for Apple Records signing Jackie Lomax. George wrote it in 1968 during his Maharishi phase, and the lyrics promote transcendental meditation. The song was in the running for the White Album, and The Beatles recorded a demo of it. In the end it was given to Lomax, with three Beatles playing on it (Lennon took the day off, presumably) and Eric Clapton and Nicky Hopkins chipping in on the Harrison production. Alas, the single flopped.

The mix ends with another Maharishi-inspired track and White Album contender. Circles was demoed by The Beatles at Harrison’s Esher home in 1968. Harrison eventually re-recorded it for 1982’s Gone Troppo album.

As ever: CD-R length, home-meditated covers, and the above text in PDF format included. Password in comments.

1. George Harrison – Dark Horse (Live) (1991)
2. Olivia Newton-John – What Is Life (1972)
3. Ringo Starr – Photograph (1973)
4. The Lambrettas – I Want To Tell You (1981)
5. Nick Heyward – If I Needed Someone (1996)
6. Ocean Colour Scene – Wah Wah (2005)
7. Eric Clapton – Love Comes To Everyone (2005)
8. Kenny Lattimore – While My Guitar Gently Weeps (1998)
9. Billy Preston – All Things Must Pass (1970)
10. The Three Degrees – Isn’t It A Pity (1972)
11. Richie Havens – Here Comes The Sun (1971)
12. Bobby Womack – Something (1970)
13. Ralfi Pagan – I’d Have You Anytime (1973)
14. John Gary Williams – My Sweet Lord (1972)
15. Cream – Badge (1969)
16. Loose Ends – Tax Man (1966)
17. Jackie Lomax – Sour Milk Sea (1969)
18. David Bowie – Try Some, Buy Some (2003)
19. Low – Long Long Long (1998)
20. Leon Russell – Beware Of Darkness (1971)
21. The Beatles – Circles (1968)
22. Tony Bennett – Give Me Love, Give Me Peace (1973)

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
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
Steely Dan

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More Covers Mixes
More CD-R Mixes

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