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Any Major Soul 1984

July 11th, 2024 3 comments

 

In the mid-1980s, much of soul music sounded like action-comedy movie soundtrack fillers: stabbing synth, plastic funk bass, dull drum machines, and soulless electric guitars that tried to recreate the magic of Van Halen’s solo on Beat It and failing dismally in doing so. It was mostly horrible. Diana Ross’ Swept Away is a perfect example of that hideous kind of overproduced musical sterility, the sort of thing no baby was ever made to.

This mix of soul from 1984 avoids these abominations, and there may well be people in their late 30s in the world today who were conceived to one or the other track on this collection. The year 1984 was not a high-water mark for soul music. Perhaps it was its nadir. And yet, I felt compelled to add six bonus tracks, on top of the CD-R length mix. It can’t have been that bad.

By the mid-1980s, the social commentary songs and declarations by strong women telling their no-good men where to get off from the 1970s had made way for love-and-sex lyrics, some as greasy as jheri curls and as predictable as AI prose.

Words were secondary to the jam. And there were some solid jams. The best slow jam of 1984 might have been Eugene Wilde’s Gotta Get You Home Tonight, which featured on Any Major Soul 1984/85. Wilde, who was born as Ronald Eugene Broomfield, returns here with a deep cut from his most successful of the four albums he released between 1984 and 1991 (another one followed in 2011).  After his singing career had fizzled out, Wilde became a songwriter.

Like Wilde, O’Bryan had that jheri-curled look which might detract from his talent (incidentally, O’Bryan and Wilde were born a day apart in December 1961). The singer, whose full and magnificent name is O’Bryan McCoy Burnette II, was a prodigy of Don Cornelius, who used O’Bryan’s funky Soul Train’s A Comin’ as the theme of Soul Train from 1983-87. O’Bryan’s 1984 album Be My Lover was his most successful. By 1986, diminishing returns had set in.

This set opens with a couple of songs that became hits only in 1985. The Intruders’ Who Do You Love was a single release in 1984; a longer version appeared on their 1985 album. A few other acts from back when were still producing good things in 1984. Featured here are the Bar-Kays, Bobby Womack and Major Harris, the Delfonics alumnus whose I Believe In Love was an outstanding comeback, which sadly was not the commercial success it deserved to be.

1980s soul often shone brightest when great singers collaborated with jazz fusion artists (and when these jazz artists appeared on their records). We have two such collaborations here. Bill Withers guests on percussionist Ralph MacDonald’s album. The line-up of musicians on In The Name Of Love, co-written by Withers, is impressive: Steve Gadd on drums, Marcus Miller on bass, Eric Gale on guitar, Richard Tee on electric piano, and Randy Brecker on trumpet. If the sounds seem familiar, it is because you’ve heard these guys play on countless records. Just check out the series of Steve Gadd Collections (Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3).

My favourite track on this collection is Roberta Flack’s collaboration with veteran Japanese fusion saxophonist Sadao Watanabe, Here’s To Love. And guess who the session musicians on that track are: MacDonald, Miller, Gale and Tee, and the great Barry Eastmond on synth.

Among the bonus tracks is a version of I Feel For You by Rebbie Jackson. It was released at the same time as the lightning-in-a-bottle version by Chaka Khan (whose follow-up single, Eye To Eye, features here). The song was originally written in 1979 by Prince for Patrice Rushen — who turned it down. Of course, Rushen features here as well.

.All Any Major Soul mixes from 1964 onwards are up again. Like all of them, this mix  timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-jhericurled covers, and the above text in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Intruders – Who Do You Love
2. The S.O.S. Band – Weekend Girl
3. Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King – Till Midnight
4. Patrice Rushen – High In Me
5. Bobby Womack & Patti LaBelle – Love Has Finally Come At Last
6. Loose Ends – Feel So Right Now
7. Ralph MacDonald feat. Bill Withers – In The Name Of Love
8. Sadao Watanabe feat. Roberta Flack – Here’s To Love
9. Chaka Khan – Eye To Eye
10. Amii Stewart – That Loving Feeling
11. Glenn Jones – Show Me
12. O’Bryan – Go On And Cry
13. Major Harris – Spend Some Time
14. Bar-Kays – Lovers Should Never Fall In Love
15. Mtume – You, Me And He
16. Jermaine Jackson – Do What You Do
17. Eugene Wilde – Rainbow
18. Teddy Pendergrass – This Time Is Ours
BONUS TRACKS
19. Peabo Bryson – If Ever You’re In My Arms Again
20. One Way – Lady You Are
21. Lenis Guess – Lay Your Head Down On Me
22. Cameo – She’s Strange
23. Cherrelle – Who’s It Gonna Be
24. Rebbie Jackson – I Feel For You

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Any Major Soul Women

March 15th, 2024 3 comments

Coincidence can be a strange thing. A while ago, as I was leaving my house to do some shopping, I had an Amy Winehouse track playing (Love Is A Losing Game). As I got into the car, I switched on the radio, and another Amy Winehouse song was playing (Rehab, predictably). And I was thinking of a mix of soul women which I had posted alongside my reflections on her death in 2011, with the idea that I should repost the collection.

A day later, I received a request from regular reader and coffee-buyer rat-ta-tat for a few re-ups. One of them was the Soul Women mix on the Winehouse post. I happily obliged.

But here is the repost of the mix, separated from the Winehouse article (which today I might frame a little differently), because it really is a fine set of music.

In the 1960s and ’70s, rock music was still holding on to its patriarchal ways, even as strong women emerged from the singer-songwriter scene. Soul didn’t have that members-only Men’s Club mindset of rock music. Of course, female artists in soul music often faced challenges and barriers in a male-dominated industry. They had to navigate issues such as unequal pay, limited creative control, and stereotypes about women’s roles in music.Still, there were many women in soul music. Leading them were the legends, like Aretha Franklin or Diana Ross, who were so big that they crossed over with great success. But by the 1970s especially, there were many other strong women in soul: Millie Jackson, Gladys Knight, Betty Wright, Marlena Shaw, Jean Knight, Lyn Collins and so on.

They were singing of love and sex, and of empowerment and social justice. They embodied the strength and resilience of women, and the aspiration and/or declaration of emancipation.

Women also brought a diversity of styles and voices to the soul, ranging from the gritty, blues-inflected vocals of Etta James to the polished, poppy sound of Diana Ross

This mix covers 11 years of soul women, from Mitty Collier’s Little Miss Loneliness in 1963 to Sandra Wright’s Wounded Woman, which was recorded in 1974 but not released until many years later. It features a few quite well-known singers — Candi Staton, Tammi Terrell, Fontella Bass, Betty Everett, the recently late Marlena Shaw — who tend to be known widely for only a few songs, and some whom time has forgotten such as Lorraine Ellison, Ila Vann, Marie ‘Queenie’ Lyons, or Linda Jones, who died of diabetes-related causes in 1972 at the age of 27.

Most have featured in the Any Major Soul series at some point, but the idea is to highlight singers who ought to be better known than they are.

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

1. Anna King – Sittin’ In The Dark (1964)
2. Baby Washington – You Are What You Are (1966)
3. Betty Everett – Until You Were Gone (1964)
4. Rhetta Hughes – Cry Myself To Sleep (1969)
5. Irma Thomas – She’ll Never Be Your Wife (1973)
6. Laura Lee – Mama’s Got A Good Thing (1972)
7. Ila Vann – Got To Get To Jim Johnson (1967)
8. Erma Franklin – You’ve Been Cancelled (1969)
9. Fontella Bass – I Surrender (1966)
10. Marlena Shaw – Go Away, Little Boy (1969)
11. Mitty Collier – Little Miss Loneliness (1963)
12. Tami Lynn – I’m Gonna Run Away From You (1972)
13. Candi Staton – I’ll Drop Everything And Come Running (1972)
14. Jean Knight – Pick Up The Pieces (1970)
15. Sandra Wright – Wounded Woman (1974)
16. Esther Phillips – I Don’t Want To Do Wrong (1972)
17. Margie Joseph – Sweeter Tomorrow (1971)
18. Lyn Collins – Take Me Just As I Am (1973)
19. Marie ‘Queenie’ Lyons – Your Thing Ain’t No Good Without My Thing (1970)
20. Linda Jones – Don’t Go (I Can’t Bear To Be Alone) (1972)
21. Barbara Mason – I Miss You Gordon (1973)
22. Rosetta Hightower – I Don’t Blame You At All (1971)
23. Tammi Terrell – That’s What Boys Are Made For (1968)
24. Brenda Holloway – I’ll Always Love You (1964)
25. Dee Dee Warwick – We’re Doing Fine (1965)
26. Jean Wells – Have A Little Mercy (1968)
27. Lorraine Ellison – Try (1969)
28. Ruby Andrews – Overdose Of Love (1972)

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Categories: 60s soul, 70s Soul, Any Major Soul, Mix CD-Rs Tags:

Any Major Nicky Hopkins Collection

February 22nd, 2024 9 comments

 

 

Some time ago, a follower of this little corner of the Internet requested that I add pianist Nicky Hopkins to the series on session musicians. It was a good idea.

On February 26, Hopkins would have turned 80. Sadly, he never got to experience the advance of old age. He died on September 6, 1994, at the age of 50, after an operation relating to his lifelong battle with Crohn’s disease. Matthew Sweet’s Swan Song, on which Hopkins appeared, was released a year earlier. Its title and timing made it the natural closing track for the CD-R playlist.

In his time, English-born Hopkins’ versatility and adaptability made him one of the most sought-after session pianists and keyboardist. On the English scene in the 1960s alone he played with acts like The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, The Yardbirds, Cat Stevens and, especially, The Rolling Stones.

In the US he backed acts like Harry Nilsson, Carly Simon, Lee Hazlewood, The Steve Miller Band, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Art Garfunkel, Gene Clark, Jerry Garcia Band (of which he briefly was a member), Martha Reeves, Tina Turner, Climax Blues Band, Carole Bayer Sager, Jennifer Warnes, Eddie Money, Meat Loaf, The Jayhawks and others.

Hopkins had a particularly close relationship with The Rolling Stones, to the point that he was something of an adjunct member. He played on all their studio albums from 1967’s Their Satanic Majesties Request to Tattoo You in 1981, except for 1978’s Some Girls. It’s fair to say that Hopkins played a substantial role in shaping the Stones’ sound.

The Who also valued Hopkins highly. His presence was central on 1971’s pivotal Who’s Next album. Pete Townshend would have liked him to join The Who full-time, politely inviting Hopkins: “If you would ever like to join a band, we’d love to be considered first.”

He played the electric piano on The Beatles Revolution (the rock version), and later Hopkins played on solo records of all four Beatles, mostly for Lennon but for Paul not until 1989.

Hopkins was an innovator in rock, on par with many of the great names of the era. He was technically brilliant, versatile and creative. His piano could be gentle and melodic, but it could also be powerful, driving a song. His creative input and musical ideas helped shape the songs of many artists he worked with.

The playlist closes with a band Hopkins of which was a member. In 1967, he joined the Jeff Beck Group, which had as its lead singer Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood on bass and future session man Micky Waller on drums. After that, from 1969-70, Hopkins was a member of US psychedelic rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service. All the time he still did session work. One client was Jefferson Airplane, with whom he appeared at Woodstock.

Hopkins released three solo albums in his time. The first was an easy listening effort titled The Revolutionary Piano Of Nicky Hopkins in 1966. In 1973 and 1975 two more albums followed, The Tin Man Was A Dreamer and No More Changes. Among the session players on the former was saxophonist Bobby Keys, himself the subject of a Any Major Collection.

Keys played on many sessions with Hopkins, including several Stones songs and the featured Martha Reeves track, a rousing cover of Van Morrison’s Wild Night. That recording also had Jim Keltner on drums, himself the subject of two Collections (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). Hopkins played with Keltner on several John Lennon songs (including the hit #9 Dream). Hopkins, Keltner and Keys were all playing on the featured Carly Simon track.

All previous Session Players’ Collections are up again. As always, the playlist is tied to fit on the standard CD-R (that is, without the bonus tracks), and includes home-slurred covers and the text above in a PDF. PW in comments.

1. The Beatles – Revolution (1968)
2. Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers (1969)
3. The Who – Getting In Tune (1971)
4. Nicky Hopkins – Shout It Out (1973)
5. Rolling Stones – Angie (1973)
6. Rod Stewart – You’re In My Heart (1977)
7. Martha Reeves – Wild Night (1974)
8. Mood Mosaic – A Touch Of Velvet-A Sting Of Brass (1966)
9. Cat Stevens – Matthew & Son (1967)
10. Nilsson – Joy (1972)
11. New Riders Of The Purple Sage – Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Loud Loud Music (1972)
12. Lee Hazlewood – The Night Before (1970)
13. The Steve Miller Band – Never Kill Another Man (1970)
14. Joe Cocker – I Can Stand A Little Rain (1974)
15. John Lennon – How (1971)
16. Climax Blues Band – I Love You (1980)
17. Brooklyn Dreams – A Moment In Time (1980)
18. Badfinger – Lost Inside Your Love (1979)
19. Eddie Money – Gimme Some Water (1978)
20. Tina Turner – The Acid Queen (1975)
21. Matthew Sweet – Swan Song (1993)
BONUS TRACKS:
22. Meat Loaf – More Than You Deserve (1981)
23. Jennifer Warnes – You’re The One (1976)
24. Carly Simon – Night Owl (1972)
25. Quicksilver Messenger Service – Just For Love (Part 1) (1970)
26. The Easybeats – Heaven & Hell (1967)
27. Jeff Beck – I’ve Been Drinking (1968)

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

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, Session Players Tags:

Any Major Love Vol. 2

February 8th, 2024 1 comment

 

 

Just in time for your mix-tape needs on Valentine’s Day, here’s a new collections of love songs that say it best when you say nothing at all.

This mix is marked Volume 2, but my numbering is a little bit all over the place. There is a Any Major Love Volume 1, of course. But after that, I compiled a Any Major Love Songs in Black & White mix, which might have been Vol. 2, but wasn’t. And last year I made a Any Major Forever Love mix, to mark a season of weddings I was going to attend in 2023. That, too, might have been Vol. 2, but wasn’t.

So this is Volume 2, and here I set myself a goal: to include only songs that came out since Any Major Dudette and I have been together. So the oldest track here is from 1994 (when we had been together for a few years already), Sarah McLachlan’s lovely Ice Cream, and the youngest is from 2018. The Dudette and I have been together for a pretty long time, and we’re still going strong.

If you are with the one you love, I congratulate you. If you lost the one you loved, I hope you’ll find a new love (if that’s your desire). If you are yet to find your love, or a new love, good luck. And if you’re a voluntarily celibate, rock on!

Perhaps one of the less ecstatic mixes might speak for you: Any Major Impossible Love, when you and the other cannot be together, or Any Major Unrequited Love. All mixes have been re-upped.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-cuddled covers (the photo is by Abdul Gani on Unsplash). PW in comments.

1. Mayer Hawthorne – Finally Falling (2011)
2. Ron Sexsmith – Whatever It Takes (2004)
3. Michelle Featherstone – Rest Of My Life (2007)
4. Mindy Smith – It’s Amazing (2004)
5. Richard Hawley – Baby, You’re My Light (2001)
6. Josh Rouse – Wonderful (2006)
7. Bright Eyes – First Day Of My Life (2005)
8. Neil Diamond – Save Me A Satuday Night (2005)
9. Rumer – Slow (2010)
10. Alicia Keys – If I Ain’t Got You (2003)
11. Corinne Bailey Rae – Call Me When You Get This (2006)
12. The Weeknd – Die For You (2016)
13. Daniel Caesar feat. H.E.R. – Best Part (2017)
14. Kacey Musgraves – Love Is A Wild Thing (2018)
15. Alison Krauss – When You Say Nothing At All (1995)
16. Sarah McLachlan – Ice Cream (1994)
17. Jonatha Brooke – Because I Told You So (1997)
18. The Weepies – Somebody Loved (2004)
19. Mason Jennings – Ballad For My One True Love (2000)
20. Josh Kelley – To Make You Feel My Love (2004)
21. The Crimea – Lottery Winners On Acid (2005)
22. Jens Lekman – You Are The Light (By Which I Travel Into This And That) (2004)

GET IT!

Previously in Any Major Love:
Any Major Love
Any Major Forever Love
Any Major Love in Black & White
Any Major Unrequited Love
Any Major Impossible Love

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix Vol. 13

January 25th, 2024 4 comments

 

Lately I have found that at times when I am at a loss as to what music to put on, the Not Feeling Guilty series is a convenient go-to. I’m still playing Vol. 11 and Vol. 12, and now Volume 13 joins the rotation. All previous volumes have been re-upped to Mega.

The playlist features several names that have featured frequently in this series. Leading them are soft-rock heavyweights Bill LaBounty (on eight mixes) and Robbie Dupree (seven times). Jim Messina turns up for the fourth time (once with Kenny Loggins), as does the Little River Band. David Pack appears as a solo artist for the second time, but as singer of Ambrosia he featured another four times. The superbly named Jim Photoglo (it’s his real name) features for the third time.

But a couple of well-known names debut on this collection: Eric Carmen is overdue, but Dusty Springfield is a rather unexpected inclusion. In 1978, the English singer released a soft rock album of variable quality. The session musicians included guitarist Jay Graydon, fresh from playing that great solo on Steely Dan’s Peg.

Karla Bonoff also makes her debut in this series. The backing crew on her song Personally is impressive: Eagles Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmitt are on backing vocals (Glenn Frey was supposed to produce), Carole King sidekick Danny Kortchmar on guitar with Andrew Gold, who also plays the percussion, David ‘Hawk’ Wolinski of Rufus & Chaka Khan on organ, Al Stewart’s saxophonist (on albums like Year Of The Cat and Time Passages) Phil Kenzie, and on drums Russ Kunkel, a legend among folk-rock and soft-rock dummers (in 1971 he played on Tapestry AND Blue!).

Russ Kunkel was married to Nicolette Larson at the time. His ex-wife, Leah Kunkel, also features on this mix. The younger sister of Cass Elliott was born as Born Leah Cohen. She had little commercial success, despite being championed by Art Garfunkel. She recorded only two albums. She featured on the Any Major Jimmy Webb Songbook Vol. 2. She now works as a lawyer.

Also coming for the first time is David Lasley, whom we lost in December 2021. But a song he wrote featured in this series before: Boz Scaggs’ JoJo (it was on Vol. 2). Lasley’s high tenor voice was heard as backing vocals of various hits by Chic (such as Dance Dance Dance and Everybody Dance), Odyssey (such as Native New Yorker) or Sister Sledge (We Are Family, Lost In Music, He’d The Greatest Dancer, Thinking About You). He also backed acts like James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, Garland Jeffreys, Boz Scaggs, Cher, Tim Curry, Valerie Carter, Aretha Franklin, Randy Crawford, Teddy Pendergrass, Culture Club, Whitney Houston, Rita Coolidge, and especially his close friend Luther Vandross. Lasley and Vandross did a lot of the back-up singing together, especially on the Chic collective’s songs. Luther did backing vocals on Lasley’s 1982 solo album, though not on the featured track.

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

1. Little River Band – Lonesome Loser (1979)
2. Jim Messina – Do You Want To Dance (1978)
3. Karla Bonoff – Personally (1982)
4. Robbie Dupree – Are You Ready For Love (1981)
5. Bill LaBounty – Didn’t Want To Say Goodbye (1982)
6. Eric Carmen – End Of The World (1978)
7. Bruce Hibbard – All Of Me (1980)
8. Jim Photoglo – Beg, Borrow, Or Steal (1980)
9. Leah Kunkel – Step Right Up (1979)
10. John O’Banion – Love You Like I Never Loved Before (1981)
11. David Pack – That Girl Is Gone (1985
12. Jeff Lorber – It’s A Fact (1982)
13. Niteflyte – If You Want It (1979)
14. Dusty Springfield – Living Without Your Love (1978)
15. Larry Lee – Don’t Talk (1982)
16. John Valenti – Why Don’t We Fall In Love (1976)
17. David Lasley – Never Say (1982)
18. Pieces – Heaven Must Have Made You (1979)
19. Kazu Matsui Project feat. Robben Ford – Standing On The Outside (1983)
20. Dr Hook – Sharing The Night Together (1978)

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Not Feeling Guilty Mix 1
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 2
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 3
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 4
Not Feeling Guilty Mix 5
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 6
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 7
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 8
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 9
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 10
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 11
Not Feeling Guilty Vol. 12

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Any Major Favourites 2023 – Vol. 2

January 18th, 2024 1 comment

Here’s part 2 of my review of stuff I posted in 2023. It was a year in which I cut back on my output a bit, owing to other commitments. Here’s hoping that this hear will be a bit easier.

In the Any Major Favourites 2023 Vol. 1, I mentioned which of 2023’s Songbook mixes got extra spins on my virtual turntable. Of other mixes, the two volumes of Hits from 1973 (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) got a lot of play, as did the two recycled Any Major Morning mixes (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) — perennial favourites since I first posted them during the reign of Queen Victoria. A third volume in that series will drop this year.

Any Major Power Ballads Vol. 2 was another favourite, and one I could play with no complaints from Any Major Dudette. I also played the Any Major Soul 1983 mix more often than many of its predecessors. And the Any Major Favourite mixes are always happy go-to places.

In the new year, I hope to come up with a few more original mixes and want to pick up from a few previous ones, such as Any Major Southern Rock, and get a new Not Feeling Guilty mix out — time (and, to be honest, sometimes motivation) permitting, of course. This mix also include a PDF with the links below, for later reference. PW in comments.

1. Junior Campbell – Sweet Illusion (1973)
Any Major Hits from 1973 Vol. 2
2. The Temptations – Papa Was A Rolling Stone (live) (1973)
Song Swarm: Papa Was A Rolling Stone
3. Bobby Marchan – There Is Something On Your Mind (Parts 1 & 2) (1964)
Any Major Murder Sings Vol. 4
4. Billy Preston – All Things Must Pass (1970)
Any Major George Harrison Songbook
5. Lucky Peterson – Purple Rain (1997)
Any Major Prince Songbook
6. Peter Mayer – Now Touch The Air Softly (1999)
Any Major Forever Love
7. Jon English – Play With Fire (1976)
Any Major Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 1
8. Rusty Wier – Texas Morning (1974)
Any Major Morning Vol. 1
9. Katja Ebstein – Und wenn ein neuer Tag erwacht (1970)
Any Major Schlager
10. Isaac Hayes – I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love In Love With You) (1973)
Any Major Hank Williams Songbook
11. Luther Vandross – A House Is Not A Home (1980)
Any Major Bacharach/David Songbook Vol. 2
12. Shine – So Into You (1983)
Any Major Soul 1983
13. Chaka Khan – We Can Work It Out (1981)
Beatles Recovered: The Beatles 1962-66
14. Art Of Noise feat. Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens – Yebo! (1989)
A Life In Vinyl: 1989

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Any Major Favourites 2023 – Vol. 1

January 9th, 2024 6 comments

The past year saw the sudden disappearance of Zippyshare, so I spent much time in 2023 migrating material to a new external host. That one works better and is faster than the previous option. Unlike Zippy, however, it offers no stats, so I have no idea which mixes are popular and which are not.

My Facebook page (make friends at facebook.com/amdwhah) offers some indication, but the numbers of “likes” and “shares” tend to be steady. So while in the past I could observe that, for example, the Songbook mixes did well, without the stats I don’t know, and the lack of comments suggests that readers may be fed up with them. Or they quietly love them. I have no idea.

This year, I’ve done Songbooks on Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Burt Bacharach/Hal David, Sly Stone, Prince, Randy Newman, Gordon Lightfoot, Hank Williams and twice The Rolling Stones (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). Too much? I don’t know. But I’m having big fun compiling these things and listening to them (this year especially the Mitchell, Newman and Stones mixes). So there’ll be more in 2024, to mark special birthdays or recent deaths.

I was thinking of a Led Zeppelin Songbook to mark Jimmy Page’s 80th birthday on January 9, but didn’t get around to it. What that tells you is that there is a list!

So, as every year since 2015, here’s the first of two mixes containing tracks from mixes posted in the past year (excluding the In Memoriams, which in themselves are a great way of discovering a few gems), with links to the relevant posts, so you can catch up with stuff you might have missed. This mix also include a PDF with the links below, for later reference. PW in comments.

1. Edgar Winter Group – Free Ride (1972)
Any Major Hits from 1973 Vol. 1
2. The Young Rascals – A Girl Like You (1967)
Any Major Blue-Eyed Soul
3. Ike & Tina Turner and The Ikettes – Respect (1969)
Tina Turner Sings Covers
4. Love Childs Afro Cuban Blues Band – Life And Death In G&A (1975)
Any Major Sly Stone Songbook
5. Gwen Guthrie – It Should Have Been You (1982)
Any Major Disco: Party Like It’s 1982
6. Claudia Lennear – Let It Be (1971)
Beatles Recovered: The Beatles 1967-70
7. Bonnie Raitt – Guilty (1972)
Any Major Randy Newman Songbook
8. Tom Rush – The Circle Game (1968)
Any Major Joni Mitchell Songbook
9. Linda Lewis – Reach For The Truth (1973)
Any Major Albums of the Year: 1973
10. Fleetwood Mac – Silver Springs (1977)
Any Major B-Sides
11. Big Star – Watch The Sunrise (1972)
Any Major Morning Vol. 2
12. Eric Clapton – Looking At The Rain (1977)
Any Major Gordon Lightfoot Songbook
13. Jennifer Warnes – Shine A Light (1976)
Any Major Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 2
14. Sheriff – When I’m With You (1982)
Any Major Power Ballads Vol. 2
15. Sheryl Crow – Callin’ Me When I’m Lonely (2013)
Any Major Telephone Vol. 4

GET IT!

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Party Like It’s 1983

December 28th, 2023 1 comment

The year 1983 marks the time when I set foot in a nightclub for the first time. I had turned 17 a few weeks earlier, and managed to pass for 18, and thus the legal drinking age.

I might have thought that I was big enough to drink, and with having experienced my first hangover at the age of 15½ years, I might have supposed myself to be an experienced imbiber of alcoholic beverages. Like most 17-year-olds, I was neither.

How many Rum & Colas I knocked back that night, I cannot remember – nor much else – but I suspect that my binge did not create a rum shortage in the club, or even in the bottle. It was not my last heroic confrontation with devil alcohol in a club setting, but that first encounter with Rum & Coke cured me of that particular concoction; an aversion that has retained currency even 40 years later.

This mix of dance tracks that came out in 1983 provides a partial soundtrack to those nascent days of clubbing. Two of them scored my experiences in early 1984: Weekend Special by Brenda (Fassie) & The Big Dudes is a stone cold South African classic. How it failed to become an international hit is difficult to understand, even allowing for the cultural boycott of South Africa and the associated lack of promotion.

Last Night The DJ Saved My Life reminds me of a club named Charlie Parker’s, which was not a jazz club but a disco whose popularity didn’t correlate with the music it played or its uninspired decor. In fairness, the club was aimed at an older crowd than my teenage self. I didn’t like the song much then; today I love it.

There is a lot of dance music from 1983 that has aged poorly, especially with the overindulgent use of stabbing synths and grating electric guitar that might have sought to attract (or at least pacify) the “Disco Sucks” constituency of idiots. What we have here represents the more timeless corner of 1983 dance music.

The mix also acknowledges the rise of Hi-NRG, the child of disco which, like a crucial strand of disco, emerged from gay clubs. An early star of the genre was Miquel Brown, whose song So Many Men, So Little Time was a companion piece to It’s Raining Men (the latter doesn’t feature here). A couple of years later Brown’s daughter, Sinitta, had a gay club hit with So Macho.

The mix opens with Love Town by Booker Newberry III, a singer we lost in April this year.

As a little bonus, all seven Any Major Funk mixes are available now in one package. Get it here! 

There are many previous Disco and Party Like It’s … mixes to revisit; I think all links are live. This mix is time to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home Rum&Coked covers, and the above in PDF format. PW in comments.

I hope your 2023 was great, or at least bearable, and that your 2024 will spectacularly joyful, peaceful and healthy.

1. Booker Newberry III – Love Town
2. Oliver Cheatham – Get Down, Saturday Night
3. Second Image – Can’t Keep Holding On
4. Skyy – Show Me The Way
5. Brenda & The Big Dudes – Weekend Special
6. Phil Fearon & Galaxy – Dancing Tight
7. Freeez – I.O.U.
8. Indeep – Last Night A DJ Saved My Life
9. Shannon – Let The Music Play
10. Miquel Brown – So Many Men, So Little Time
11. Toni Smith – (Oo) I Like The Way It Feels
12. Michael Henderson – You Wouldn’t Have To Work At All
13. D Train – Keep Giving Me Love
14. Midnight Star – Wet My Whistle
15. Earth, Wind & Fire – Fall In Love With Me
16. S.O.S. Band – Just Be Good To Me

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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)

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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

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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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